Between the Monaco Pre-rally, the FMCA Rally and just plain ole sightseeing, we had been in Albuquerque for three weeks and were ready to change the scenery and head north to Santa Fe.   Three weeks is a long time to be in one place. . . 

The landscape in northern New Mexico and Santa Fe was breathtaking.  It's amazing to see the terrain change from grazing land, to desert,  to mountains all within your line of sight.    It's not uncommon to see mule deer grazing close to inhabited areas.


Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the United States and boasts of many examples of Spanish architecture, Native American influences and modern eateries.   The streets of old town Santa Fe are lined with EXPENSIVE boutique shops housed within buildings that are 100+ years old.  Mixed in are a number of historical homes and churches. 

The Palace of the Governors was built in 1610 and is located on the Plaza in Santa Fe.   It has witnessed first-hand much of New Mexico's colorful history.   As the oldest public building in the United States, the Palace is the history museum of the State of New Mexico.   The historical placard reads "[i]t is a fortress and castle built by order of the Spanish crown (1610-1612).   It has been the seat of government under three flags -- Spanish, Mexican and American."  Each weekend local Native Americans set up a marketplace on the grounds to sell their crafts. [no picture; see  From 1610 to 1910, this was the home of over 100 governors.  

One of the most ornate of the historical buildings is Loretto Chapel.   "Inside the Gothic structure is the staircase referred to as miraculous, inexplicable, marvelous and is sometimes called St. Joseph’s Staircase.   The stairway confounds architects, engineers and master craftsmen.   It makes over two complete 360-degree turns, stands 20’ tall and has no center support.   It rests solely on its base and against the choir loft.   The risers of the 33 steps are all of the same height.   Made of an apparently extinct wood species, it was constructed with only square wooden pegs without glue or nails."   (


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1 -- Native American Sculpture;     2 -- Native American Sculpture;     3 -- Oldest House in the USA, circa 1646 AD; 4 -- Loretto Chapel;
 5 --  Entrance Arch to the Courtyard at Loretto Chapel;  6 -- Fajita Cart;    7 -- Native American Sculpture

We walked through Old Santa Fe on a Sunday afternoon and found the Fajita Cart sitting in the middle of the Plaza.  The atmosphere was just like a hot dog cart in New York City or Boston.  The fajitas were the best we've had on the entire trip!  $4 bought you enough food to feed both of us. . .


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1 -- Mission;    2 -- Original Exterior Wall;    3 -- Ceiling Beam in Mission;    4 -- Original Tower Bell

The San Miguel Mission is the oldest mission church in America, built in the early 1600's to minister to the needs of the Indian servants of the Spaniards. It's a beautiful old building that is the perfect example of the pueblo mission style of architecture.  The Mission is open to visitors.  As you enter the Mission, you can "feel" the almost 400 years of history that the walls have seen.  If you look closely at Photo 1, off to the left you will see a stucco building -- that's the Oldest House in the USA (Photo 3, above).



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1 -- Los Alamos Water Tower;   2 -- Bradbury Science Museum;   3 --  Fat Man Atomic Bomb;   4 -- Los Alamos Highway Marker (damaged by forest fire); 
 5 -- Jeep in the Snow;  6 -- March 20th/75 degrees in NM Mountain;   7 -- Elk Crossing

The drive from Santa Fe to Los Alamos takes you through some of the most beautiful countryside in New Mexico.  As you climb into the hills, snow appears on the mountain tops.

Numerous facilities of The Los Alamos National Laboratories lie scattered in the high country of New Mexico.    The Los Alamos National Laboratory remains one of the world's largest scientific research centers.  The laboratory employs over 10,000 people and is operated by the University of California for the US Department of Energy.  LANL is home to the "Manhattan Project."  Remember learning about the Manhattan Project in high school?  Manhattan Project was the code name for the government's pre-WW II secret project to develop a nuclear bomb.  The first atomic bomb was exploded at Los Alamos in July 1945.

The Bradbury Science Museum is home to a phenomenal collection of artifacts, equipment, materials and story boards regarding the development of the atomic bomb worldwide.  This museum is so interesting and extensive -- it has not one, but two movies -- that you need to allow an entire day to be able to see and read all of the information.   Admission is FREE.

A large portion of the forest Northwest of Los Alamos had been destroyed by a forest fire.  The placard (#4) was such a poignant reminder of the destruction caused by fire.  It was unbelievable to be high up in the mountains and be able to play in the snow while soaking up 75 degree weather


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1 -- Pueblo Cave Dwellings;  2 -- Pueblo Cave Dwellings (Ron climbed to this home);  3 -- Pueblo (each section is a room);  4 -- Multiple-family dwelling w/gardens on the roof;  5 -- Petroglyp in the Caves

Bandelier is park of the National Parks system and showcases 12th century Pueblo cliff dwellings.  The area is best known for mesas, sheer-walled canyons, and 23,000 acres of designated Wilderness.  (



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1 & 4 -- Ron the Explorer;  2 -- Sante Fe Trail Placard (we found this on the side of an old building in Old Santa Fe);  3 -- Aloe Plant (these grow everywhere in the Southeast and this is a small one)
Check out the National Parks Service website for a complete history of the Santa Fe Trail.    Here's a quote from that website:  "[b]etween 1821 and 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was primarily a commercial highway connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 1821 until 1846, it was an international commercial highway used by Mexican and American traders. In 1846, the Mexican-American War began. The Army of the West followed the Santa Fe Trail to invade New Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe ended the war in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. Commercial freighting along the trail continued, including considerable military freight hauling to supply the southwestern forts. The trail was also used by stagecoach lines, thousands of gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. In 1880 the railroad reached Santa Fe and the trail faded into history."  (

Museum Hill is a group of  " four world-class museums presenting the art, history and culture of the Native American Southwest, the Spanish colonial past, and folk traditions from around the world."  (  These pictures were taken at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture.  The landscaping, sculpture gardens and architecture is well worth the visit and that's all before you even go inside the Museums. 

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1 -- Museum Marker;   2 -- Native American Sculpture;   3 -- Winter Rock Garden

NEXT STOP:   EL MALPAIS  (pronounced ell-mal-pie-ees) means "the badlands" in Spanish, PAINTED DESERT AND PETRIFIED FOREST -- National Parks/New Mexico