Santa Fe Trip 24 April 2004

This year for Sally's "end of tax season - birthday trip", we took a long drive to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This was going to be a long driving trip (it turned out to be about 2200 miles). We started out north on I-15 to Riverside where we took I-10. We headed out through the high desert toward Indio. Our gas tank was was about 1/3 full around Indio but we saw a sign saying gas in 83 miles at a small town in the desert. Well that town was gone when we got there and our gas tank was getting pretty empty. Blythe was 40 miles away and we had 2 gallons of gas left. We dropped our speed down to about 60mph where the gas mileage was better than at 75mph and we limped into Blythe. The gas was $2.399/gallon, the highest on our trip. The lowest was $1.759 in Lemitar, New Mexico.

In Phoenix, we took I-17 north to our first stop in Flagstaff, AZ. We didn't have reservations so we just drove around until we found a place that looked ok. It was right next to the BNSF rail line east from Los Angeles. I thought it would be a great place to watch trains.

It was - unfortunately! The train ran every 10 minutes TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY! And we were right next to a grade crossing. Trains are required to blow their whistle as they enter the grade crossing TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY! The accepted sequence is long-long-short-long with the last long toot held as the engine enters the crossing. Around 3 AM, I got pretty good at telling if the train was eastbound or westbound.

The Worst Western King's House in Flagstaff, AZ.
BNSF Grade Crossing
Eastbound loaded (5 engines) from Los Angeles
Westbound Empties to LA (only two engines)

The Lowell Observatory is located in Flagstaff because of its altitude (over 7000 feet). This is where Pluto was discovered. We checked to see if tours were available (which there were) but we couldn't fit them into our schedule.

The next day, we continued on I-40 to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I-40 follows the old Route 66 and we saw a lot of old diners and stores along what was now just the frontage road. We turned north on I-25 to Santa Fe. We stayed at the Casa Pacifica Bed & Breakfast  about a mile from the downtown Plaza. It was a very nice place - we even had our own steam room and private patio. This is the off season in Santa Fe so things were not very crowded. For two of the nights, we were the only people at the B&B. For the other two nights, one other room was occupied.

The large room had a couch and chair which many B&B don't have.
 It had a refrigerator and microwave.
 Below, you can see the steam room and the patio.

On Tuesday, we took a walk to downtown Santa Fe. We saw the Saint Francis Cathedral and a lot of old buildings (which look surprisingly new) many of which are museums and stores.

Saint Francis Cathedral (above left).
Native American Vendors Program of the Palace of the Governors (above).
Santa Fe River (left).

There is a railroad spur line to Santa Fe. The Acheson, Topeka and Santa Fe (AT&SF) Railroad never ran through Santa Fe. We were told that when the railroad was being built, a group of land speculators bought up all the land around Santa Fe. When the railroad balked at paying their asking price for the land, the railroad executives moved the line to go through Albuquerque. Eventually, a short spur line was built from the AT&SF line at Lamy, New Mexico to Santa Fe.

That line is now run as a tourist train from Santa Fe. We didn't have time to take it on this trip (maybe next time).

Santa Fe Station
Mark and Sally posing in front of a Santa Fe Southern Engine.

Two long time friends of Sally moved to Santa Fe from San Diego several years ago. Dick and Barbara Davis were church friends that Sally has known from her childhood. They live in Pecos, New Mexico. We had lunch with them on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, we took a drive to Raton and Dawson, New Mexico to visit two graveyards. This was part of my effort to trace the genealogy of my family. My great great uncle Teridano diTella lived and died in Dawson and is buried in Raton. Click on these two links for photos from the cemeteries:

   Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Raton.

   Dawson Cemetery.

On the way back, we drove through Taos. Taos is a big ski town. We were told that there still was snow at the ski area.

All of New Mexico has barely 2 million residents,  75% of them in Albuquerque, 20% in Santa Fe and 5% in Taos. The remaining 0% live in the rest of the state.

On Thursday, we took a bus tour of the city. We saw a lot of art and a lot of buildings. We were told that Santa Fe has the third largest art business in the country, behind New York and Los Angeles. Canyon Road is the street where all the art action takes place.

Canyon Road

We visited the Loretto Chapel, were the legend is that St. Joseph (a carpenter) built the free standing staircase to the choir loft.

Loretto Chapel
Staircase in Loretto Chapel
The Chapel is no longer an active church and is privately owned. Saint Francis of Assisi

On Thursday afternoon we drove to Bandelier National Monument. Bandelier is similar to Mesa Verde National Park. It is a long abandoned home of Native Americans.

Sally just loved those ladders! When occupied, there were adobe buildings in front of these caves. The holes in the walls were where the "vegas" or roof beams were anchored. The caves were dug out as storage since they stayed cooler than the buildings. From the holes, we could tell that some of the buildings were 3 stories high. The buildings were gone except for some that have been reconstructed.

Friday, we started our drive home. We went south on I-25 to where it connects to I-10 then we headed west. We spent Friday night in Tucson, AZ and we got home Saturday afternoon via I-8 through El Centro.

Mark and Sally

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