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Santa Fe

2018-10-10 – Day 53 – Camp Verde and Sedona

We left Gallup at 8:00 am.  It was 36 degrees outside… We stopped briefly for a mid-morning snack.  We are driving west along the 40 through northern Arizona…

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At Winslow we turned south on tiny highway 89; the sign said, “No services next 51 miles”… They weren’t kidding:

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We turned west again and soon arrived at Camp Verde, site of Historic Fort Verde (1865).  Camp Verde is a working class town, a few miles south of Sedona.

We parked and set up at a very nice RV Park, then we drove to Sedona.  Sedona seems like they took Santa Fe and dropped it into the middle of Bryce Canyon…

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Sedona, like Santa Fe, consists of hotels and shopping areas aimed directly at tourists:  gift shops, art galleries, spas, restaurants, and bars.  Compared to Santa Fe, it has a little less Indian culture and a lot more spiritual culture…

Being tourists, we found a nice restaurant.  Lynda ordered a small margarita…

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I was still pondering the menu and the Yelp ratings…

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We had a nice, but small and simple lunch, then walked through the shops amongst the other tourists.  I was surprised by the number of families in town; I would have expected more well dressed ladies of a certain age (with tiny yippie dogs) and their equally well dressed male companions…

We returned to the Villa.  Internet service was bad, so I had to hang out at the office to get anything done.  We walked around the RV park.  It is very nice, mostly seasonal and long term visitors.  There were six other Airstreams in the park… Oh! Wait! We just noticed a brand new Airstream Atlas!  Make that seven other Airstreams in the park…

At dinner time we sought out all the fine dining options in the area.  There was one.

We went to Moscato, a fine Italian place in Camp Verde, about four miles from the RV park…

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We arrived early and we walked a bit in the town, such as it is…

We found a liquor store that carried all the essentials…

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We’re not in California any more…

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The restaurant was VERY nice – it soon became our favorite restaurant in Camp Verde…

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The food and service were great.  The room is beautiful.  They also have a lovely outdoor patio, but it was a bit cool for that.  There were several large parties and families celebrating something or other…

We made a reservation again for tomorrow night…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-26 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 8 – Los Alamos

Another free day in Pojoaque.  We had a relaxing morning, then headed out to see Los Alamos.

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As most of you know, Los Alamos was the site of the Manhattan Project during World War II, and it continues to be a large research center even today.

In 1942, when FDR decided to consolidate all nuclear research into one, top-secret location, there was no Los Alamos.  There was an exclusive boys boarding “prep” school, The Ranch School, plus a dozen or so homesteaders who farmed these mesas in the summer.  The US government instituted eminent domain proceedings and gave the residents about two months to vacate the premises, with an insistence that the reasons for leaving must be kept secret.  It’s hard to understand what it must have been like to abruptly close a school, and be unable to tell anyone why…

What drew the leaders of the Manhattan Project to this location was the infrastructure of the school itself, which included water supply, electricity, and buildings. Another reason was the geography and the remote location.

Los Alamos is located approximately 35 miles to the northwest of Santa Fe.  The elevation is about 7,320 feet, and total land area is 11.14 square miles, most of which was already owned by the Federal government.

Los Alamos is located on flat mesa tops separated by steep canyons.

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This relative inaccessibility was a key reason for its selection – to help protect the secret activities of the Manhattan Project.

Everything was top secret.  There were no radio broadcasts – the “radio” signals were hard-wired to each house…  Everyone shared the same address – Post Office Box 1663, Santa Fe, NM.  No one could tell their friends and relatives where they were and what they were doing.  It is all very hard for us today to understand what this must have been like…

Today, Los Alamos is a lovely little town.  All the research laboratories have been moved to an adjacent mesa.  Some of the original buildings, mostly from the Ranch School days, still exist, plus some houses used by some of the most prominent members of the community.

This is “The Lodge”, the Ranch School’s Dining Hall.  The newer wings were added after WWII…

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This is a cabin, originally used by the Ranch School founder, Ashley Pond.  It was moved to this site.  It was originally in a remote location, and was used for some early research activities…

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One of the houses used by scientist Bethe has been restored…

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The Guest House was used by prominent visitors.  Today it is the Museum…

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The Ranch School was founded by Ashley Pond in 1917.  The boys of the school built this small lake, and named it Ashley Pond… All the original research labs were built around the pond.  It is the centerpiece of a city park today…

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Los Alamos now has a proper Post Office.  Residents no longer need to share one P.O. Box in Santa Fe…

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We returned to Pojoaque; we had another Fandango, and at 8:00 pm we had a Drivers Meeting to review tomorrow’s drive as we move to Durango, CO, high in the Rocky Mountains

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

2018-08-24 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 6 – Chimaya and Santa Fe

We began the day with a short drive to Chimayo and the Church of the Dirt…

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Legend has it that the dirt beneath the chapel has healing powers.  The Community that has grown up around this church is quite ancient, and a little ramshackle…

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There is much lovely art…

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And the countryside is beautiful…

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We joined the other Caravaners for lunch at Rancho de Chimayo Restaurante, a highly rated “destination” restaurant, even in this remote part of the world…

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As we left the restaurant after lunch, we beheld a a sight familiar to all caravaners…

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After lunch Lynda and I returned to Santa Fe to do some serious shopping.  As we shopped Lynda was stopped by several people who commented on her new shirt:

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(If you can’t quite read it, it says, “Carpe Manana”…)

We bought Lynda some “cute” earrings…

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And, if you are wondering, the turquoise is not “natural”, we did not get a certificate of authenticity, they are not signed by the artist, and they were not made by local Indians.  But you must admit they are cute…!

We also checked out the Meyer Art Gallery.  They are the local representative of the sculptor Dave McGary.  His specialty is sculpting bronze Indians…

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These are “miniatures”, about 36″ – 48″ tall.  He also does “life-size” statues, at 120% life size, in which the Indians are about 7′ tall, with the headdress, spear, etc., making the whole sculpture over 8′ tall…

Back in the olden days, when I was working, I did a custom house, for a German client, in Palm Desert.  He had one life size Indian in the house, in a space custom designed for the statue, another life size on a rotating turntable in the back yard, and a miniature in a niche inside the house.  These are really spectacular pieces of art.  It was nice to see some of them again…

We returned to the RV “Resort”…

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And an enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-23 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 5 – Santa Fe

We traveled as a group to Santa Fe today.  Besides some detours on the highway and some miscommunication on where we were to meet, we all finally boarded a tourist trolley to get oriented in and around Santa Fe.

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We had an interesting guide/driver who told us of the history of Santa Fe and showed us the various neighborhoods and significant buildings around the town.  After about 1 1/2 hours we were let off to explore the city on our own.

As usual, I was most interested in the architecture.  Everyone knows “Santa Fe Style”, right?

The regional architecture from which the “Santa Fe Style” draws its inspiration is primarily found in Pueblos of New Mexico and other southwestern States.  In the 1890s, architect A. C. Schweinfurth incorporated Pueblo features into a number of his buildings in California.  Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter’s Hopi House (1904) in Grand Canyon National Park drew heavily on the Pueblo style. The Pueblo Revival style made its first appearance in New Mexico in 1908 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where UNM president William G. Tight adopted the style for a number of building projects during his tenure. 

At the time, Santa Fe looked like Anytown USA, with French, Italian, Victorian, Bungalow, and Carpenter Gothic buildings, mixed in with New Mexican Territorial styles common throughout the State.  In an attempt to attract tourists and the railroad, the city fathers remodeled all of the prominent downtown buildings to resemble what would be known as the Santa Fe Style.  In 1957, a committee drafted Santa Fe “H” Historical District Ordinance No. 1957-18, commonly known as the Historical Zoning Ordinance.  This ordinance mandated the use of the “Old Santa Fe Style,” which encompassed “so-called Pueblo, Pueblo-Spanish or Spanish-Indian and Territorial styles,” on all new buildings in central Santa Fe.  To be exact, the ordinance require all buildings be earthy brown, include rounded edges, room-block massing, and protruding vigas.  This ordinance remains in effect, meaning the Pueblo style continues to predominate.  The point to remember is that the Santa Fe Style is not something indigenous to Santa Fe, but something made up (by Anglos, not Mexicans or Indians or Spanish) to attract tourists.

So here we have it:  Vigas, Brown, block massing, rounded edges…

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Even giant buildings follow this style, which is more suited to small buildings…

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Even parking garages follow the style…

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The Territorial style shows brick cornices and a little more exposed wood, but otherwise is quite similar…

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I like regional architecture as much as the next guy, and I have commented on how well the architecture here addresses the harsh sun.  My only pet peeve is the religious-like adherence to arbitrary rules, despite all evidence that the rule should be modified or abolished.  Nothing exemplifies this idea better than the vigas.

As I showed in my earlier blog, authentic vigas are extensions of roof beams, projecting through the adobe walls…

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Today, vigas are rarely structural, but are only decoration tacked on to an exterior stucco wall.  There is one problem:  In this dry, hot climate, exposed wood rots:

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This has led to attempts to protect the wood with sheet metal – hardly an elegant solution…

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On the other hand, not ALL buildings have vigas, and they look just fine to me…

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Certainly historic buildings need to be accurately restored.  If the wood rots, replace it with wood.  But if you must have vigas, even fake vigas, why not use steel or some other weather resistant material?

One reason why new buildings, or additions to existing buildings, in Santa Fe’s historic district should sometimes employ modern materials, and even a few tastefully contemporary design elements: A century from now, 2018 construction should be distinguishable from that of earlier times. And if the architecture is exceptional, it also may be prized alongside the old.  It shouldn’t mimic the old so perfectly that you can’t see the evolution of the style.  As soon as everything looks the same and you can’t date it, it’s dead. It’s the vocabulary that’s important, not the material or the technique.

More reasons why the wood vigas, protruding through the exterior wall, is a bad idea:  they break the thermal envelope of the building, allowing cool air to escape in the summer and warm air to escape in the winter. They also break the waterproofing envelope, allowing moisture into the building, creating the potential for mold and other water-related issues…

So enough of my rant about Santa Fe style.  We actually had a very good time in Santa Fe…

We saw the country’s oldest house, built in 1646…

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And we saw the country’s oldest church, built in 1610…

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We saw the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi… The interesting story here is that while the church was under construction they ran out of money.  Bankers in the Jewish community loaned them the money to complete the construction.  After many more years of struggling and being unable to pay on the loan, the Jewish bankers forgave the loan as a gift to the church.  This is memorialized in the top arch stone over the main doors with the Hebrew scrip and the triangle.  Also, the doors have 20 panels in bas relief telling the history of Santa Fe…

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We saw the Loretto Chapel…

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And we saw the quaint shopping and gallery district on Canyon Rd…

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We spent some time shopping in the blocks around the plaza…

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We learned that the New Mexico flag has a circle representing the sun and the Indian’s cultural belief in the circle of life.  The four groups of four rays symbolize the four cardinal directions, the four seasons of the year, the four times of the day and four stages of life…
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And we had time for lunch at The Shed…

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After more window shopping we returned to the RV “Resort” in Pojoaque…

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We enjoyed another Fandango”, meeting new Airstream friends.  And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

2018-08-22 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 4 – Moving to Santa Fe

This morning we found that there had been a little rain overnight…

Today is a travel day, so we started by doing a little laundry, cleaning up, and hitching up The Villa.  We pulled out of the RV park about 9:30.  Today’s travel is to the Pueblo of Pojoaque, just north of Santa Fe.  It is only about 85 miles from Albuquerque… An easy drive…

We stopped alongside the freeway after about an hour to stretch our legs and to keep our Apple watches happy…

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Since we could not check into the next RV park until after noon, we took a detour to chase down the two Frank Lloyd Wright houses in New Mexico…

A few miles north of Pecos is the Alfred Friedman House, “Fir Tree” (1945).  The good news is that we found it easily; the bad news is that it is not visible from the street and it is a private residence, not open to the public…

We respected their privacy and did not pull The Villa up their driveway…

We turned around at the next wide spot in the road, getting mud all over The Villa.  We headed into Sante Fe and looked for the “Pottery House”, 1984.  Obviously, this was built long after FLLW’s death; he did the design in the early 1950s; the lot and the plans were purchased by a builder, who modified and enlarged the house.  It may or may not be a “real” Frank Lloyd Wright house – but we’ll never know.  We could not find it.

So on we went, to the RV park in Pojoaque.  We set up (in the rain…) and walked around.  It is very sparse and bleak in the RV park, but the surrounding high desert is quite pretty…

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Tonight we enjoyed a dinner with the caravaners at Gabriel’s, a very nice New Mexican restaurant near by; we rode along with caravan neighbors from Houston…

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We returned to The Villa, and enjoyed a lovely sunset…

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An enjoyable time was had by all…

2018-08-21 – WBCCI 2018 Southwest Adventure Caravan – Day 3 – Albuquerque

Today’s adventure started at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Museum…

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This is a very nice museum that explains the history and culture of the Pueblo Indians.  There are 19 Pueblos in New Mexico today (historically, there have been more than 100 over the years…), with many more in Arizona, and other adjacent States.  While these cultures and these Indians tend to be grouped together, each Pueblo has a different language, different culture, and different religious traditions.  The museum explored the prehistoric years, the years under the subjugation of the Spanish and then the Mexicans, and finally life under the US, with treaties, broken treaties, lands being stolen, lands being returned, forced boarding school and forced assimilation, and the era of the casinos.  It was very informative.  We will visit many of the Pueblos on the caravan.  The museum even had an exhibit on how their adobe houses were built:

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Note the “logs” poking through the walls;  these are called vigas; we will discuss these more when we get to Santa Fe…

Following the Indian Pueblo Cultural Museum we traveled to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History…

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Another interesting place…

The museum has three areas: the history, the science, and the uses of nuclear energy.

The history section had exhibits on the early scientists, the Manhattan Project, and other military exhibits, including the cold war.  They had full-size models of the three atomic bombs tested and used in World War II.  This area was of the most interest to us.

Personal side note here:  In the exhibits describing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki they explained how Col. Paul Tibbetts selected 15 crews to train for these secret missions.  The crews were trained in the new B-29 bombers.  During each mission there were seven planes involved, including three weather reconnaissance planes, plus a back-up plane waiting on the runway on Iwo Jima.  Here is the personal connection:  Our family dentist back in the 1970s and 1980s was Dr. Raymond Biel.  Biel was the co-pilot of one of the weather planes over Hiroshima and the co-pilot of the backup plane on Iwo Jima during the Nagasaki mission.  He learned of the atomic bomb after returning to the base on Tinian… Dr. Biel wrote a novel and retired early from his dental practice…

After the nuclear museum we did a little grocery shopping, fueled the truck, and returned to the RV Park.  Thunderstorms were threatening, but they never materialized;  at 7:00 we had our first “Drivers Meeting”, where we discussed the activities of this location, driving instructions for tomorrow’s travel, and future activities in and around Santa Fe…

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Tomorrow we travel to another RV Park in Pojoaque, just north of Santa Fe… We will also attempt to drive by two Frank Lloyd Wright houses…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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