Sunday in Santa Fe
We had a nice time exploring Santa Fe. The weather held out, for the most part, and we were able to explore the downtown area, and take a trolley tour around town.
Santa Fe is a quaint artsy, community – in fact, it’s been named the #1 Top City for Art Lovers – with nearly 300 galleries, carrying everything from ancient Native American art to contemporary sculpture and painting.
There’s a lot of history to Santa Fe as well. One of the sites we toured was the Loretto Chapel which showcases its “miraculous staircase.”
According to the Santa Fe tourist bureau:
When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.
Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters’ prayers.
The stairway’s carpenter, whoever he was, built a magnificent structure. The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.
The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. It is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers relative to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway’s construction.
Of course we shopped and dined too! Overall, it was a nice couple of days.
We just had to make a stop in Roswell – UFO capitol of the world – so we could tour the International UFO museum.
The museum was a bit underwhelming. There are ton of letters, affidavits, and what are purported to be “top secret” documents that have been released. It’s a ton of reading, and some is pretty interesting and compelling – particularly accounts of people who had objects embedded under their skin that was not of an earthly origin.
The bulk of the museum centers on the controversy that happened in Roswell in the summer of 1947. A rancher discovered debris in his sheep pasture that was not identifiable. The newspapers reported it as a crashed UFO at first, then gradually the story (as the government got involved) changed – multiple times.
It’s the stuff of legend, and the accounts have spawned documentaries and major motion pictures.
One of the more interesting exhibits was what was purported to be a “top secret” memo from Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter to President-elect Dwight Eisenhower detailing the Roswell sighting and investigation.
There are also exhibits speculating about ancient hieroglyphics. The museum was interesting, yet disappointing at the same time. We are glad we went. Check that off the bucket list!
Next stop: Texas.