Our plans were to head north to Santa Fe, where Debbie and I, among others, had never visited before.
We did, however, rise early to try to get a glimpse of the “Morning Glow” (an ascension of a small number of hot air balloons which, then, light up their balloons in the dark) some twenty miles to the south. Unfortunately, while we could see them, it was impossible to take any decent pictures.
After sunrise, however, over 200 balloons took to the skies, still well to our south. To our surprise, however, these balloons began to appear larger and as the winds uncharacteristically drove them to the north.
Eventually, we were able to make out the shapes of some of the more creative entries.
There is an old adage that, what goes up must come down. As there hot air balloons are not immune to such laws of nature, suddenly, one began to descend within feet of the edge of our campground.
I actually met the French balloon’s crew
and helped tow it across the campground to an area where they could deflate and pack it up.
Then as we were getting ready to leave for Santa Fe, another balloon descended into the campground.
Again, I got to meet the pilot and one of his chase crew (whose cap was adorned with Balloon Fiesta pins).
It is doubtful that we could have gotten a more up-close-and-personal look at any of the balloons if we’d been on the mesa where they launched.
Santa Fe, one of the oldest towns in North America … permanently settled circa 1607 (the year the British reached Jamestown)and it’s the Governor’s Palace built in 1620 (the year the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth) … is a typical tourist community.
San Miguel Mission, the oldest church structure in the USA, originally constructed in 1610 by the Tlaxcalan Indians from Mexico. The original adobe walls remain under the stucco exterior. The church’s roof was destroyed by fire during the Pueblo Indian rebellion of 1680. A new roof was fashioned and built between 1694 and 1710. The three-tiered tower was added in about 1830.
The Palace of the Governors, built in 1610, is the nationas’s oldest continuously occupied public building. Originally, four towers stood at its corners and a church (demolished in 1714) occupied one of the towers.
Today, it is a market place for local people, largely Native peoples and descendants of the early Mexican settlers, selling locally-made wares (silver, jewelry, leather goods and other crafts).
The Loretto Chapel, the first Gothic building west of the Mississippi,was patterned after Sainte Chapelle in Paris and built at the request Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1873 and 1878. It is best known for its choir loft and “miraculous: staircase, so named due to its two complete spirals without center or side supports.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is another dramatic example of the early Spanish and Catholic influence on the area and the town.
Adjacent to the Cathedral is a small park with a beautiful statue.
While there are obvious building and exterior color codes,
Local markets teem with brightly colored wares.
The Plaza is a center of activity, particularly on warm, sunny days and people-watching is among our favorite pastimes.
It is also a stop on
and the terminus of the famous
Nearby is Canyon Road, an area populated with art and other galleries. Of particular fascination were the sculptures.
There is also gorgeous fall foliage
Beautiful hanging flower baskets
And a stark memorial to those who gave their last full measure of devotion that we are able to enjoy the freedom to visit a place like Santa Fe.