Category Archives: New Mexico

Historic Buildings

I have friends that bemoan the demise and disappearance of lovely old buildings in their growing cities.   I even do this myself.  But there are also the shrinking cities, and their buildings are there to stay until they fall down of natural causes.   And because they were built in the face of a hopeful future, they were built to last.  Without any love or maintenance, these buildings have survived, putting to shame the plainness of modern architecture.

These buildings both have the same lovely window decorations, but on the building on the right they have at least slapped a coat of paint on things.  These windows are custom made and would cost a small fortune to re-create.

This building is currently undergoing renovation and the owners hope to open in a small way (7 luxury rooms) later this month.  Built in 1898 as a destination railroad hotel and run by Fred Harvey it was part of the soul of the town.   It closed in 1948, had some brief uses over the years, but has not really had any work done on it since then.  A lover of the railroad experience is pouring money into it fixing it up, and it could be part of a renaissance of the town.

This building across the street was originally used as a dormitory for the Harvey Girls who worked across the street.  It has been bought by an assistant district attorney, and is partially restored (well he at least had the top bit done).  It will be interesting to see if these ventures attract tourists (always a fickle lot).

This lovely building was built in 1885, and was a dry goods store starting in 1897.   It is untouched, unlike the building to the east, with it’s ugly tacked on frontage.  But wait, what’s that in the window?

One can see that this building was quite nice at one time, with cast iron pillars in front.   Who ever owns it now might be a bit of a hoarder as it is filled with all sorts of odds and ends.

Yes, that is a life-sized figure of a clown.   Why it is there and where it came from are a riddle with no answer.  But perhaps it will be something to draw in tourists, somehow.

Pterror on Parade

Operating on the theory that any photo can be improved by adding a pterodactyl, I had decided that this years’ photographs of the parade should include Pteri.   There is a certain sameness to every years’ parade, we can only guess at what year the pictures were taken by the changes in the hairstyles of the spectators (although it is easier to guess which photos are from the distant past, they are in black and white).

One can always tell when the parade is going to start (never on time), some sort of police vehicle leads the way with ear-splitting sirens blasting.

Shriners are a service organization (made up of mostly old guys) that are an essential part of any parade.   Besides marching around (or riding, often in tiny cars; as I mentioned they are mostly old guys) they do raise money for a children’s hospital.  On this day one of the old guys fell off the float (he was okay) and this delayed the parade for a bit.

To be a proper parade, there must be floats.   And a float must have lots of crepe paper, possibly tinsel or glitter, and people throwing candy to the crowd.  And I must say, there was a delicious variety of candy on offer (we gave the bits that we didn’t like to nearby children.)

Because this is a large gathering of people in a sparsely populated area, the politicians were out in force flogging their wares in the hope of securing our votes.  In this particular parade anyone who wants to can participate, but, politicians have to pay $100 to be in the parade.   This thrifty group has the placards of several additional candidates on the truck.   The main politician is making a big deal out of her maiden name, to show that she is the third generation of this political family to be running for office, (no, apparently we can’t ever get rid of political families).

And a parade is as good an excuse as any to ride one’s horse down the main street.   There really is no other reason, as there are no businesses in town.

Then it was on to the main business of the day.  Free food (courtesy of the cattleman’s association) and a chance to visit with old friends and former neighbors.

4 Views

Well I have taken the annual visit to M’s relatives in this tiny town during the 108th festival.   And because I go there on vacation, I always have a really good time, and take tons of pictures of the same views that I always take.   If I actually lived there I am sure that I would not enjoy it half as much (because it is so far from stores, libraries, swimming pools, doctors and other trappings of civilization).   But then again, maybe I would get used to it.  And I really never tire of the view.

I stopped right on the freeway (motorway) off-ramp and snapped this picture as soon as I got to town (the word ‘town’ is used rather loosely).

The local cemetery is up the road a piece.

And this is what one sees if one takes the road out to the canyon.

But this is my favorite view, with the permanently parked truck rusting away into oblivion.

Here’s a factoid about the place.  It’s just a wide spot in the road, but I love it so.

Pterodactyl about town

What is a young pterodactyl to do when exploring a new town?   Why go out and about and see the sights.

Enjoying the local cuisine in a popular restaurant.  Nom, nom.  It’s so delicious.

Or perhaps going for a bit of al fresco dining.   Watch out, those chilis are hot!

This antique curiosity was what the ancients once used to communicate with distant family and friends.  It’s abandoned now but it’s a great place to launch a surprise attack.

Enjoying a bit of the local color and blending right in.

All this running around is thirsty work, but there are a number of watering holes to cool off at.

There was just time for a quick photobomb before heading home, the city is full of such interesting places, he must visit again soon.

 

Training

I hate to drive long distances (over four hours away), so after I got to Santa Fe, there was the question of how to get back.   I could take a plane ($$$) to Denver, and then take the shuttle home.   Or I could take the train and see if I still liked it as a way to travel.   I hadn’t taken a train in America in years (at least 35), but I had taken trains in Europe, so I decided to give it a go.

The first issue:  the train doesn’t actually go to Santa Fe (because of the grade), so it was off to Lamy, NM.

The train creeps along a similar, but slightly different path than the interstate (motorway).   I wondered who had lived in these adobe ruins, and how long ago that was.

This ruin was the Casteneda Hotel, built by Fred Harvey to draw tourists to the southwest.  It hasn’t been in use for years, but someone with deep pockets is renovating the place in the hope of attracting rich tourists  (who like to ride the train) again.

The train does feature this lovely observation car so that one can watch the scenery as it goes by.   No photos, but I did see wild turkeys, buffalo, deer, antelope and elk as we rolled along.

This is M’s uncle’s place, and I know that I have posted pictures from the house looking towards the tracks.  That’s Santa Clara mesa in the background.

And I know I have posted lots of pictures of the mound, too bad that it was an overcast day this time.   And you can see that it is dry as a bone there.

The beautiful high plains of New Mexico, with Capulin in the distance.  I never get tired of this view, although I am usually looking at it from the other direction as I come over Raton Pass.   Yes it was definitely a great idea to ride the train this time.

Fall

I don’t really have anything to say about these pictures, just that Fall sometimes has glorious days of sunshine and cool weather that makes one feel glad to be alive.

This butterfly was out enjoying the zinnas.

The morning glories are still in bloom, I must have gotten up early by mistake.

This is not a scene from my house (I am an indifferent gardener), I was at M’s cousin’s.   In Santa Fe.

What is more iconic of Fall than a bunch of pumpkins?    Just nature’s reminder to stock up for the long winter ahead.

Parade

What is a summer celebration without a parade?   (There are lots of parades in our downtown, which the local merchants hate).  Here at the 107th Annual, it was a fine day for the parade, and there was a good turnout of participants.   The parade always starts late because it is hard work herding all these cats people, politicians, beasts and machinery.  Anyone who wants to show up can be in the parade, but politicians have to pay $100 for the privilege.  😉  Heading up the parade as usual was the State Police and the local fire department (they are quite proud that they have a newish truck!).  They were followed by the color guard of old soldiers who had squeezed into the old uniforms.  Next:

The mariachis were the most colorful group in the parade.  I don’t know if they are local, or if they are the sort that turns up at events. The mariachis at Mass just wore plaid shirts, so I don’t think they are the same group.

It is the West, so there must be horses.  And a rodeo queen or two.

This is M’s uncle, riding on a 1950’s John Deere, and coming along on the tractors behind him are cousin-ish relatives on his other tractors in the collection.   (Don’t ask me what he uses the tractors for or why he has them).

This is the son of M’s actual cousin, driving Great-Uncle S’ 1928 truck.  As Uncle S never threw anything away (he did finally buy a new truck in the 1950’s) the truck even has the original manual.

Non-relatives, these are government employees from nearby Fort Union National Monument at the tail end of the parade.   In between were Shriners, school kids, parade marshalls, heavy equipment,  old cars, new cars, a dog, a parade queen, more relatives and miscellaneous marchers.  And a good time was had by all.

Updates

This is a picture of M’s uncle, probably taken by M’s grandma about 85 years ago.   The other being in the photo is Lady, who was a good and faithful dog.   Some of the folks in old photos are hard to identify, but we do remember our dogs.

I not only got juried into Fine Arts at the state fair, but I got first place, which was rather thrilling and unexpected.

I am happy to report that the old truck is still there, rusting away into eternity.   The sky was not as blue as usual because of smoke from far away wildfires.

Steeple Chasing Pt. 3

I’m sure it’s great fun to plan a grand church full of beautiful details, but what is one to do without the wood and slate to make a nice tall steeple?

How about a church made of plentiful adobe (mud brick).  This church lacks fancy details, but it is cool and dark inside, and it is still in use even though the modern church building that replaced it is nearby.

But it is not enough to have a beautiful building.   This adobe church in the village of Lamy (named after the famous archbishop of Santa Fe) lost it’s congregation and priest at some time in the past, when the use of the railroad declined.   It still has it’s lovely stained glass windows, just waiting for a special occasion to be put back in use.

This church was started in 1706, but it was modernized in 1793 (when the old church fell down) and the towers were added.  As it sits in the middle of a tourist spot, it has pretty much been left as it was .   It’s a quiet little oasis in the middle of a bustling area (and still has a priest).

The grandest cathedral in the state is this one.   The first adobe church was built on the site in 1610 and bits were added on over the years.  When the first bishop arrived he thought something a little fancier would do, so he commissioned this building.   They ran out of money for the steeples, but there is a place for them to go.

I had never actually been inside the church until recently.  I had read that there was a Star of David in the decorations of the church.  And oddly enough it is true.

 

Village

My friend GA lives in a village that was absorbed by the larger city centuries ago.   Because he loves the village, he is forever fighting the destructive encroachment of the city.   The forces of commerce continually seek to destroy the existing fabric of the village, and replace it with the shining bauble of the moment, while pretending that nothing has really changed.   To find the unchanging (or rather the slow changing), one need only look in a small village, like this one.

I know that I have taken pictures of this very truck for the past two years.  I doubt if the truck is in working order so there it sits, only the light changes.  It is quite near C’s house, built in about 1895 and a mobile home, which was put on the spot 10 years or so ago.

From the front porch one sees the vacant lot (vacant for at least 40 years) and M and N’s house on the right.  The large tree is in the yard where Grandma lived, next to a vacant lot (also vacant for at least 40 years), then a house with a crumbling prostitute’s  shack in the back (probably unused for a century or more) , and some family homes.

The view across to the mesa seems unchanged.

Until you consider the constantly changing effects of the light and sky.   Like Monet with his multiple renditions of the same scene, one could look at this view every day and find something new about it.

Of course one pays for the unchanging nature of this place with inertia.   There is no real estate jackpot to be made in selling the family home (unlike the tourist city that is further south), there are no jobs to be had, travelers do not stop here, there is no nearby market to shop for things (although one can still buy booze and crisps here).  But life goes on in a steady tempo, at least some families will always be here, I hope.