Sunday, February 28, 2016


The Santuario de Guadalupe

Santa Fe, N.M., has been dubbed “The City Different” for good reason.
Artists and writers have been inspired by its beauty to seek out Santa Fe as a place to live and create since the early 19th century.
A high percentage of residents are affiliated with the arts, with more than 80 art galleries on Canyon Road alone. Many quality museums and theatrical venues reflect a rich cultural life. It is a home for New Age healing, with many centers for yoga, massage and acupuncture.
Santa Fe is nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in northeastern New Mexico. Under enormous blue skies, with seemingly boundless high desert landscapes framed by the Sandia peaks to the south and the Jemez mountains in the west, the city invites visitors. At an altitude of 7,199 feet, Santa Fe is the highest and oldest state capital in the United States.
It is not unusual to hear Tewa, Navajo, Spanish and English spoken on the streets of Santa Fe. The unique mix of the tri-cultures of Anglo/Hispanic and Native American (population at just under 70,000), and its colorful history have encouraged tourism to this architecturally beautiful city.
High on the list of “must see” places in the world, Santa Fe has survived a remarkable, diverse events since the arrival of the Conquistadores in 1540 searching for gold in the fabled Seven cities of Cibola.

The city of Santa Fe sits on a site originally occupied by a number of Pueblo villages dating back to 900 A.D. Efforts to colonize the region began in 1598 under the first Spanish governor, Don Juan de Onate. It was its second governor, Don Pedro de Peralta, who founded the city in 1607, made it capital of the province in 1610.
The Pueblo Revolt drove the Spanish out in 1680, but was reconquered a dozen years later by Don Diego de Vargas. It was Spain’s provincial seat until the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) when this Mexican territory became known as Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico.
The Mexican government opened the northernmost territory up to trade, something the Spanish refused to do. The Santa Fe Trail from Missouri to New Mexico brought flourishing business to the area. Santa Fe became a booming commercial hub where Mexicans and Americans exchanged goods and hard currency.
The Mexican-American War in 1846 was an easy victory for the Americans, bringing the territory under U.S. control. The Palace of the Governors constructed by the Spanish on the plaza in Santa Fe became the residence of Governor Lew Wallace, who wrote Ben Hur in 1870 while contending with Indian conflagrations. (The portal running the length of the palace facing the square is a lively enclave today of Native Americans who commute daily from their pueblos to sell their jewelry and small pottery.)

The Palace of the Governors
 Willa Cather’s immortal “Death Comes to the Archbishop” relates Frenchman Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy’s three-decade struggle with both Spanish Catholic and Native American cultures to “elevate” Santa Fe to European standards during the late 19th century. His grandiose St. Francis Cathedral near the plaza is a major tourist attraction today.
St, Francis Cathedral
After much turmoil, New Mexico achieved statehood in 1912 as the 47th state of the United States. At this time, a collective vision of the Santa Fe town council determined that the city should adopt a distinctive look to appeal to tourists. The Spanish Pueblo Revival became official. Many territorial buildings were demolished so that “the City Different” could appear more cohesive in architecture. Regulations limiting the height of buildings and the use of adobe became official. Adobe (sometimes mockingly called “faux-dobe”) charmingly adorns “the City Different,” and it is a continuing visual delight to tourists and residents alike in this Land of Enchantment.
Santa Fe boasts a wide selection of hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts. Dining choices cater to all tastes and pocketbooks.
For more information, including the annual Indian Market, Spanish Market, the International Folk Art Market or daytrips to Santuario de Chimayo, Abiquiu, or Ghost Ranch, contact Tourism Santa Fe at (800) 777-2489 or

Thursday, February 25, 2016

SILVER CITY: From booming mining town to artist haven

Rough and tumble, brash and bawdy, Silver City during the 19th century was a mixture of miners, inn keepers with their saloons and “soiled doves” together with ranchers and pioneers from the East trying to establish a new life for themselves in the Wild West.
Ever watchful were the Apaches, who had long before occupied this area as their campsite. Hostile to the intrusive newcomers, they perfected a talent for sudden bloody attacks and rapid retreats that were a constant challenge to the settlers. Geronimo and Cochise were among their war leaders.
Legendary Butch Cassidy and Kit Carson, as well as other infamous desperadoes, were always drifting through to add their own color to this disparate melange.
The infamous “Billy the Kid” grew up in Silver City during the 1870s. Thought to be a scrawny little student with delicate hands and an artistic nature, Henry McCarty (later Atrium when his mother remarried, aka William Bonney), took to burglary while in his teens. The skulduggery and killing led “Billy the Kid” to the Arizona territory where he became an icon in Old West outlawry.
 Billy the Kid was born in a log cabin similar to this one in Silver City.
At an altitude of 6,000 feet and perched on the edge of the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest in a high desert wonderland, Silver City enjoys an incredibly moderate climate.
The natural beauty, favorable climate and low cost of living have encouraged artists and writers to take up residence. Every Saturday, some two dozen galleries encourage visitors to enjoy the work of local artists and artisans.
Aside from a wide range of contemporary paintings and sculptures displayed in the many galleries, unique jewelry, pottery and weavings make a broad selection for visitors to peruse. Hosana Eilert, owner of Wild West Weaving is a transplant from Chimayo, N.M., where her family has had a tradition of hand weaving. She, like many other artists, came to Silver City for the practical reasons mentioned, and enjoys a lively community of like minded artists.
Gaily painted store fronts line the streets in downtown Silver City.
In this unusual city of a little more than 10,000 residents, there are a surprising number of very delightful culinary retreats to reward diners.
 The Curious Kumquat is on the top of the list. Award-winning Chef Rob Connoley forages the adjacent mountainsides to add to his freshly grown produce in creating what he calls “New American Cuisine.”

Another place to dine well is Tre Rosat. Nearby at the Hub Plaza is a small eatery for an unusual lunch of stuffed crepes: the Tapas Tree Grill.
A few predictable motels are on the southern outskirts of Silver City along Route 180, but an outstanding choice of lodging can be found at the Bear Mountain Lodge, located a few miles north of town. Only 10 minutes from the heart of Silver City, this historic 1928 lodge is fully restored with 12 guest rooms, each with a private bathroom (some with jacuzzi).
Sitting on 178 secluded acres bordering on the Gila National Forest, the lodge has four miles of on-site walking trails. The Cafe Oso Azul serves breakfast, lunch and dinner by reservation only.
The Mansard-Italianate Ailmann House, built in 1881, houses the Silver City Museum. Displays include pottery and relics from the Mimbres and other Mogollan cultures who lived in the vicinity until the 12th century. Extensive local artifacts and large photograph collection indicate life in Silver City over the centuries.
The Mansard-Italianate Ailmann House (1881)

 The largest and most complete collection of Mimbres pottery and materials in existence is housed at the Western New Mexico University located at 1000 College Avenue. In 1893, the New Mexico Normal School was founded. In 1963, the university was officially established.
Fascinating side trips from Silver City could be taken to the Mattocks Ruin Site where the Mimbres built their homes from 550 to 1140, and the Gila Cliff Dwellings built by the Puebloans of the Mogollon Area who abandoned them around 1300.
Traces of ancient people, the Spanish, Apache, and the 1870s establishment of Silver City in the midst of a mining boom all are part of this unique city’s ambiance.
Further information about restaurants and hotels in the downtown historic district can be obtained from the Murray Ryan Visitor Center at 210 N. Hudson Street. A map of the city and nearby points of interest are available there as well. Call (575) 538-5555 or visit for more information.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


At the turn of the 20th century, Las Vegas, N.M., was considered the Queen of the West. It was also considered the wildest town in the West.
The arrival of the railroad in 1879 inspired the building of the rail side Depot Hotel. English restaurateur Frederick Henry Harvey opened a lunchroom/dining room there, providing the Harvey Girls to wait on the customers.
Will Rogers quipped that Fred Harvey “kept the West in food – and wives.”
Many a lonesome cowboy or railway worker fell in love with a Harvey Girl working in the hotels and dining houses servicing the AT&SF Railway. It has been estimated that out of the 100,000 girls hired to be Harvey Girls, 20,000 of them married cowboys or railroad men, much to the exasperation of Fred Harvey.
Yet he should not have been too surprised. The girls had been handpicked for being of good character, single and attractive. They were trained in rules of etiquette and in providing first class service in their serving high quality food. Before Fred Harvey’s innovations, travelers suffered poor food and little service while on their trips through the Southwest.

The Depot Hotel was later destroyed by fire but replaced by the Spanish Mission Revival-styled La Castañeda, which opened in 1898. The Harvey Girls worked here, as well as at the Montezuma Castle up the road from Las Vegas. Two previous hotels at the hot springs burned down, but the third version, a Queen Anne Revival exists today but is now the United World College – USA.

Rough Riders Reunion
La Castañeda Hotel was the site for the first Rough Rider Reunion in 1899, attended by New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt, who served as Lt. Colonel for the Rough Riders. Las Vegas provided 21 Rough Riders to Teddy Roosevelt’s 1898 Cuban Campaign of the Spanish-American War. The City of Las Vegas and the Rough Riders Memorial trace the history of the Rough Riders, and their official reunion home is Las Vegas.

Some years ago, Allan Affeldt purchased and restored La Posada in Winslow, Ariz. This was also a Harvey hotel prestigiously located on the AT&SF route. In 2014, Mr.Affeldt expanded his interest in restoring historic hotels by purchasing both the Plaza Hotel and La Castañeda. Today, the historic Plaza Hotel is in full operation complete with a haunted room (#310), a full service dining room, saloon and expanded ballroom. The restoration of La Castañeda at the railway station is a work in progress, with partial occupancy projected for later this year. These two vintage hotels will bring a renewed energy into Las Vegas along with the lingering spirit of the Harvey Girls.

Wild West Oasis
Las Vegas has had a colorful history. During the 19th Century, it enjoyed a prestigious location on the old Santa Fe Trail where the Great Plains meet the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and trade flourished. Being on the Mexican frontier with the United States to the east was a boon to this bustling town. It was the first town of any size to be encountered after 600 miles of travel along the Santa Fe Trail from Kansas.
Earlier, the Mexican colonists were awarded Las Vegas in a land grant in 1835. The plaza was built as a complete square of adobe buildings with gates to the north and south for communal protection from Apache Indian raids. From atop one of these buildings in 1846, General Stephen Watts Kearny declared New Mexico a United States territory. Las Vegas was a quasi-military fort until the opening of Fort Union in 1851. The Las Vegas Hotel was built in 1850, the first two-story adobe building in New Mexico. The growth of the town exploded with the arrival of the railway.
John Henry “Doc” Holliday, a dentist from Georgia, opened a saloon that year. Wyatt Earp visited him for a month and convinced him to move with him to Tombstone, Ariz.
Las Vegas was a wild frontier town hosting the Dodge City gang and other outlaws. It was thought to be the worst of the worst places in  the West for violence. Gambling, gun fights, robbery and murder prompted the town to organize vigilantes, whose main leader was Miguel Antonio Otero, Jr. He later became the Governor of the Territory of New Mexico (1897-1906).
Law breaking diminished as Las Vegas embraced the Twentieth Century. The train bought visitors as prosperity increased with the availability of good hotels and the fine service of the Harvey Girls. The West was tamed!
For more information about the sights and sounds of Las Vegas, N.M., contact the Las Vegas Visitor Information Center at (800) 832-5947 or For information about the Historic Plaza Hotel, call (505) 425-3591 or email them or visit

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hudson, an old whaling town on the Hudson River?

Having heard many diverse comments on the small town of Hudson on the Hudson River, two hours north of New York City by Amtrak, across from Catskill, New York, it was time to experience the place for myself.

I made a reservation at Country Squire B & B on Allen Street near the hub of the town's activities. The amiable inn keeper, Paul Barrett, welcomed me to his Victorian establishment. He explained the lay-out of this small town and I was off for a wonderful adventure.

Lunchtime encouraged me to try Verdigris on Third Street. A bustling tea room with many delicious looking desserts and an array of luncheon quiche and salads tempted me to indulge to the fullest. It was one of the best lunches I can remember. The apple/cranberry crumble was a superb finish to an amusing meal. I say amusing because the local garden club was there in force. Three women independently approached me with obvious ploys: "What is that book you are reading," etc. Yes, I was being hit on, and at my age that is a compliment! (My attire of a Nehru jacket clearly labelled me a visitor open for investigation.

Next on my agenda was a visit to the Opera House. Originally built as a City Hall in the 19th century, it later became a music hall for various entertainments. The top floor is a large space with stage but needing a complete overhaul. What interested me was the diverse use of space on the ground floor. There were art exhibitions, a room for music lessons or rehearsals, administration offices and the potential for diverse arts disciplines.

The greatest surprise for me about Hudson is that it was a thriving whaling town in the mid-18th century through the mid-19th century! Imagine whalers sailing their cargos of slaughtered whales from Nantucket, Cape Cod and Rhode Island down around New York City to the deep harbor of Hudson where the whales were dissected and oils extracted for shipment to the west!

Later a huge cement factory and other industries replaced the whaling business. However, the town sank into lean times. A depressed town along the majestic Hudson River resulted.

In the '80's this industrial town turned itself around with the influx of antique dealers who attracted trade from both Boston and New York, creating an unexpected gaiety and pizzazz. The main street of Warren is replete with interesting shops, purveyors of antiques and other quality goods. Much restoration of Victorian and Federal buildings have been undertaken giving the town a revitalized appearance.

There are excellent restaurants (my favorite being Ca Mea, and a choice of guest houses for the visitors. I mentioned the Victorian pleasant atmosphere of Country Squire earlier; in delightful contrast is the charm of Warren Street B&B with the chatelaine Carolyn Lawrence to make visitors comfy.

Just five miles south of Hudson on Route 9G is Olana State Historic Site. This is the Persian style home created by Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church. The original furnishings and house are on view from April through November. Church and his mentor Thomas Cole immortalized these spectacular views during the 19th century, leaving for posterity magnificent works of art.

This is a highly recommended over-night jaunt from New York City or environs.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Preface: Making the impossible possible!

For years, I have enjoyed driving to Abiquiu and strolling around the outside of Georgia O'Keeffe's house and the penitente chapel above as the house itself has always needed special permission to enter it.

This visit, I called the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe to request admission to the house. The public relations person did not answer his phone but I left a message with my intention included. With no response, I drove off to Abiquiu and went to the gate of the house. Coming out were two men in a pick-up truck. I asked if the manager was available. No, as cell phones were out of range, I would have to go down to the village and use a public pay phone, calling a number they gave me with the name of the person.

Needing to mail a letter, I entered the post office and after making my small purchase, I asked the woman behind the desk where the nearest pay phone was to call up to the O'Keeffee house. She responded with the very words that I had hoped she would: "Here, use my phone."

I explained my request to the very cheerful voice at the house above. She informed me of the protocol of going through the museum for admission. Having patiently (and sweetly) explained that I had tried that without success, she said "Oh, come on up!"

A truly lovely time was had being shown around by this most amiable and knowledgeable woman. When I returned to Santa Fe later that day, a message was waiting for me from the public relations man. "It will be utterly impossible to grant permission to visit the Georgia O'Keeffe house, blah, blah...."

What fun it was to call him the next day to view photos for use in an upcoming article, having viewed the house on my own chutzpah. So much for things being impossible!

In a commanding position on a bluff over-looking the Hispanic village of Abiquiu and the Chama Valley sits the famous home of Georgia O’Keeffe, an icon of American painting. Now a national historic landmark, it houses the essence of this remarkable artist expressed by the furniture, art work and the everyday objects she used in her simple, but richly spirited creative life.

Though Santa Fe has the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, it is the drive of just a little more than one hour northwest to Abiquiu that best exposes the life and work of this artist. Surrounded by the bright, sun drenched stark mountains and mesas, multi-colored in strata, a deeper understanding of her work presents itself.

Familiar objects and natural formations used in her paintings present themselves at every turn: the black door in her courtyard, the mesa across the valley, the highway below her windows and such.

Further along the highway is the Ghost Ranch, where the great woman spent many a summer painting in the studio she used to escape from the heat of Abiquiu. Her studio there is not open to the public, but her residence in Abiquiu is well worth the visit. One must apply through the museum in Santa Fe.

At the house, a most gracious, affable Agapita Judy Lopez will take you around for a tour of the artist’s home, courtyard, and gardens which were rich in various vegetables, fruit trees and flowering plants. This live-in manager knew Georgia O’Keeffe and effectively guides the visitor, implanting a deep understanding of her environment and artistry.

Aside from the many books and DVDs about Georgia O’Keeffe, a wonderful place to search out other books, magazines and enjoy a coffee, tea or light refreshment is Collected Works. Owner Dorothy Massey recently moved her long popular bookstore from West San Francisco Street to 202 Galisteo Street , only a couple of blocks away.

On moving day, it was extraordinary to see a line of people passing books from hand to hand down the street from the old bookstore to the new location. Among the many supporters of the bookstore in line were prominent citizens, film stars, and enthusiastic locals and students. A wonderful notion, very Santa Fe style, but the action slowed down as members of the line began to get too interested in looking at the passing books, holding up the procedure.

Dorothy Massey is a strong supporter of the community. She installed a coffee house in the bookstore which serves light refreshments. A small stage was installed so that musicians could come to play; authors read; speakers discuss various topics of community interest. The Collected Works has a truly a lively atmosphere of people exchanging ideas or simply gathering to hear music, peruse a book, or sip delicious coffee. Open seven days a week; this is a useful place to enjoy in Santa Fe.

A major consideration for most travelers to “City Different” in “The Land of Enchantment” is accommodations. The Sage Inn at 725 Cerrillos Road and Don Diego is ideally situated for those who like to walk around to most places of interest. There is a Sage Inn shuttle available for other destinations that one might not wish to walk to. The cost of a large room, dressing area and bathroom with plenty of hot water at all times for the long bath is very reasonable. Longer stays earn lower rates. A diverse choice of breakfast items is available from 6 to 10 a.m. in the breakfast room, free of charge.

As a bonus, the staff is unusually helpful, courteous, and friendly making the visitor feel welcome and at home. You can not beat it! Enjoy!

This article will be printed in the 17 Recorder Newspapers on the cover of OUT & ABOUT on March 11th.