NM’s Enchanting Architecture Gets National Attention (Albuquerque Journal)


Acoma Pueblo, (Courtesy of Kevin Flemming)

USA Today readers across the country had a chance to feast their eyes on New Mexico’s most iconic spots this spring thanks to a novel collaboration between the nationally read newspaper and the American Institute of Architects.

A feature story in USA Today’s travel section on May 10 touted vivid images of 25 sites emblematic of the state’s diverse cultural history. The story can be seen by going to www.usatoday.com and clicking on the “Travel” tab then search for “25 must-see buildings in New Mexico.”


The earliest example on the list is Chaco Canyon Cultural Historic National Park in northwestern New Mexico, which was designated in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. New Mexico’s Native American culture also comes across in images of Taos Pueblo, Bandelier National Monument, the Gila Cliff Dwellings near Silver City and Acoma Pueblo.

Churches feature prominently among the top tourism sites. There are photos of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, the oft-photographed massive adobe buttresses of the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos, Santa Fe’s Loretto Chapel with its unusual spiral staircase and El Santuario de Chimayó, which draws thousands of pilgrims on foot each Holy Week.

In Albuquerque, the sites include the early 20th century BNSF Railyards, which symbolize the industrial age; the spaceship-like Bart Prince house near Nob Hill; and the 1932 John Gaw Meem-designed Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Los Ranchos.

The most recently built sites show off New Mexico’s affinities with the arts and the sciences: Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts near Ruidoso and the Santa Fe Opera House, both from 1997, and the Spaceport America Terminal Hangar Facility near Truth or Consequences, which was completed in 2014.


New Mexico Tourism Department spokeswoman Bailey Griffith said articles like this help raise awareness about what New Mexico has to offer travelers.

“Any time a story like this brings national attention to New Mexico, it’s a great thing. Architecture is a strong motivator for travel, with adobe being something uniquely New Mexican that sets us apart from our neighboring states,” Griffith said.

[Source: The Albuquerque Journal,NM’s enchanting architecture gets national attention” by Rosalie Rayburn on July 1, 2017.]

Marqués de Rubí Visits Santa Fe in 1766

Draftsman José de Urrutia 1767 map of Santa Fe

Draftsman José de Urrutia 1767 map of Santa Fe. (Source: santafenewmexican.com)

The New Mexican is republishing columns written by Marc Simmons who wrote a weekly history column for the periodical for more than 35 years. One that caught my attention was the following story in their historical section, “Trail Dust: Report gave glimpse of Santa Fe in 1766.” Simmons’ article tells the story of the Marqués de Rubí’s (a Spanish nobleman) tour of the then frontier of “New Spain.” Rubí was to inspect forts and determine how to improve Spain’s military strategy and defenses against Native American raiders.

Marqués de Rubí’s Santa Fe

Santa Fe was one of the locations that Rubí inspected and he was there for almost one month. Through his reports we can imagine some of what Santa Fe was like in 1766. (Yes, that’s ten years before the original American colonies declared their independence!)

About the capital of Santa Fe, he criticized its poor excuse for a presidio, claiming it was incapable of defending the town. A proper military installation, Lafora noted, might spare New Mexico from another disaster like the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Almost 20 years would pass, however, before a true walled fort could be constructed north of the Plaza.

When the imposing Rubí expedition rolled into Santa Fe, it must have caused quite a stir among the populace. After all, they had not seen a marqués since don Diego de Vargas had occupied the governorship early in the century. He had been granted the title by the king for his leadership in the reconquest.

Inspector Rubí remained in Santa Fe a full 27 days. It would be a surprise if he was not feted with a grand ball in the Casa Real (Palace of the Governors).

Much of his time was actually spent with then Gov. Tomás Vélez Cachupín, discussing defensive needs of the province. The governor seems to have filled His Lordship’s ear with complaints about the inadequate troops, supplies and money furnished by the royal government.

The total number of men assigned to the presidial garrison was 80, and all had families. Since no barracks or family quarters existed, they lived in private residences.

In line with his instructions, the Marqués de Rubí held an inspection and review of the troop on the Santa Fe Plaza. Since large-scale public amusements of any kind were rare in those days, the citizenry must have turned out in force to view this spectacle.

Capt. Lafora, during the prolonged stay, was taking a census and also drawing up a map of “the layout of the capital,” as he put it. Once he’d completed a rough sketch, he turned it over to the draftsman Urrutia, who rendered it in final form.

The valuable Urrutia map, as it has always been known, shows main roads entering and leaving Santa Fe, acequias, scattered buildings, three churches, the Palace of the Governors and the Plaza. (“Trail Dust: Report gave glimpse of Santa Fe in 1766“)

Read the full article: “Trail Dust: Report gave glimpse of Santa Fe in 1766.”

Beware of Bears, New Mexico

Bear hitchhiking on Los Alamos garbage truck (Source: Evan Welsch via Albuquerque Journal)

Bear hitchhiking on Los Alamos garbage truck (Source: Evan Welsch via Albuquerque Journal)

Winter’s wrapped up and spring’s suddenly certain. Our New Mexico world is so, so alive. Streams are flowing, and birds are frenetically homemaking and singing all the while. Buds are bursting, lime green tendrils are sprouting, and the bears are back! Or they will be soon…

The Albuquerque Journal reminds us to anticipate plenty of wildlife including bruins.

New Mexico wildlife officials say bears are expected to be busy this spring after three years of good precipitation following what has been a long-running drought. (Source: Albuquerque Journal)

Right. Bears. Last year I missed the bear warning, but that didn’t stop the handsome bears from visiting.

Bears, Oh My!

“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” ~ L. Frank Baum (Source: Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz)

Last summer I received an email from one of our neighbors alerting us that bear activity had become increasingly high, so high in fact, that another neighbor had witnessed this fine fellow a little closer than desired.

Neighborhood Bear, 25 May 2016 (Source: Richard Andre)

Neighborhood Bear (Source: Richard Andre)

Apparently the bear appeared around 6:00 PM in the evening in late June. For approximately 45 minutes the bear explored the yard and ate the food from bird feeders. The homeowner banged furniture and shouted (in hopes of shortening the bear’s visit), but the bear was undeterred. Only when he blew an emergency whistle did the bear finally depart.

Neighborhood Bear (Source: Richard Andre)

Neighborhood Bear (Source: Richard Andre)

As an unabashed wildlife enthusiast, I was initially thrilled to hear that the bear was visiting our neighborhood. My more levelheaded bride reminded me that sufficient risks accompanied bear encounters in residential neighborhoods, that I’m contemplating a future post about the best bear-proof bird feeding practices. All pointers welcome!

Neighborhood Bear (Source: Richard Andre)

Neighborhood Bear (Source: Richard Andre)

Update: May Bear Visit

Over laughter and libations with neighbors last night I discovered that our neighborhood bear (or more likely—given the dramatic difference in size, girth, etc.—another neighborhood bear) has been spied just down the hill from our house. Can you see him (or at least his head and ears) in the trail cam photo below?

Neighborhood Bear Behind Bush (Source: Richard Andre)

Neighborhood Bear Behind Bush (Source: Richard Andre)

After several of us expressed interest, the Richard Andre (the same neighboring homeowner who documented last summer’s bear sightings above) emailed photos and the following missive.

“Please note that a day ago from 2-6 AM, a large black bear came into the neighborhood.” ~ Richard Andre (8 May 2017)

No passerby, this lingering bruin. A four hour visit from this mountain of fur and muscle.

Neighborhood Bear Walking (Source: Richard Andre)

Neighborhood Bear Walking (Source: Richard Andre)

This handsome fellow looks considerably better fed than last summer’s visitor. Apparently he didn’t spend too much time hibernating this winter and living off his stored fat. Or, if he did, he must have discovered some very filling garbage cans in the neighborhood since then!

Mr. Andre’s report inspired simultaneous awe (for the majestic wildlife with which we share our neighborhood) and wariness (for the implicit risk in frequent visits from a laaarge hungry bear looking for handouts.) We discovered that the bear likely helped himself (or herself?) to a buffet dinner courtesy of another neighbor’s trash bin followed by dessert and digestifs of bird food and hummingbird nectar in the Andre’s yard. And it struck one and all as quite likely that our bear sightings are unlikely to end soon…


Acoma Pueblo: North America’s Oldest Continuously Inhabited Settlement

Acoma Pueblo: North America's Oldest Continuously Inhabited Settlement (Source: Daily Mail)

Acoma Pueblo: North America’s Oldest Continuously Inhabited Settlement (Source: Daily Mail)

Acoma Pueblo in Valencia County has been occupied by the Acoma people for over 800 years, since 1150AD – though today it only has 50 full-time residents. (Source: Daily Mail)

Haa’ku: A Place Prepared

The video below, Haa’ku: A Place Prepared, features Acoma tribal elder Ernest Vallo and Brian Vallo, Director of the Acoma Cultural Center, sharing a glimpse into the heritage of their peaceful, spiritual culture.

Learn More About Acoma Pueblo

You can learn more about the Acoma by visiting the official Pueblo of Acoma website and the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum website.

Acoma Pueblo: Map (Source: Daily Mail)

Acoma Pueblo: Map (Source: Daily Mail)

Mike Lopez Roofing

Sandias and Hummingbird Roof (March 2016)

Sandias and Hummingbird Roof (March 2016)

I’ve spent the last four days meeting with a parade of inspectors, contractors, and a landscaper and an engineer in order the perform due diligence for on an amazing Eastside property that just might become the new home of Adobe Oasis. That’s right, we’re upsizing!

Mike Lopez Roofing was on the short list of highly recommended roofers, so I wasn’t surprised at all with Sean Lopez’s smart observations during our site visit, nor was I surprised to receive his estimates well ahead of all of the other roofers with whom I met. We had dealt with Sean Lopez previously since he was the one who had installed the roof on Adobe Oasis’s first property, and the company’s professionalism (and great roofs!) are well known.

Mike Lopez Roofing logo

A Family Roofing Business

“Since 1975 Mike Lopez Roofing has been a family owned and operated roofing and insulation company serving the Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, and surrounding areas of Northern New Mexico. We provide quality roofing and insulation services for both residential, and commercial clients.” (Mike Lopez Roofing, www.mikelopezroofing.com)

Take a look at all the roofing services Mike Lopez Roofing offers to see if they’re the right fit for you. Also consider the green options that this company makes available!

Go Green with Mike Lopez Roofing

Mike Lopez Roofing offers a polyurethane spray foam that is a long-lasting green insulation alternative to fiberglass and other insulation materials. See all the applications and advantages.

“There is no better insulating material that can fully seal your home, save on costly utility bills and protect your family’s health than spray foam insulation which provides clean, green, and long-lasting insulation with exceptional value.” (Mike Lopez Roofing, www.mikelopezroofing.com)

To learn more visit their website www.mikelopezroofing.com. Contact them at (505) 982-8262. You can follow them on Facebook.

Mike Lopez Roofing is located at 3000 Agua Fria Street, Santa Fe, NM 87507. Find it on the map below:

Arroyo Hondo Panorama

Arroyo Hondo Panorama, February 21, 2016

Arroyo Hondo Panorama, February 21, 2016

Like a prairie dog popping up out of a hole in New Mexico’s high desert, I stood for a few minutes on a mound of earth near my friends home in Arroyo Hondo, surveying the late winter afternoon, the distant Sandia Mountains, the open space interrupted only by occasional chamisa and pinon,…

A photograph can’t quite take you there, but it just might tempt you to discover Northern New Mexico for yourself. Or to come back if it’s been a while since your last visit. There’s beauty and power and magic in these wide open places!


Violet Crown Santa Fe

Violet Crown Santa Fe: Santa Fe spin-off of Austin-based cinema

Violet Crown Santa Fe (Source: Santa Fe Reporter)

I’m pleased to report on our thoroughly enjoyable evening at Violet Crown Santa Fe (Santa Fe Railyard, 1606 Alcaldesa Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501, 505-216-5678, santafe.violetcrowncinemas.com) last night. Here’s the skinny.

Violet Crown Santa Fe’s 11 auditoriums feature state of the art technology, wall-to-wall screens, and large and luxurious cinema chairs. (Source: Violet Crown Cinema, Santa Fe )

Too skinny! Aside from the excellent location, the food (and refreshments) are what sets this cinema apart. Here are a few of my reactions after an enjoyable first visit.

Food+Film Fusion in Santa Fe Railyard

Violet Crown Santa Fe is located adjacent to Santa Fe Farmers Market in Santa Fe’s Railyard District, ideal walking distance from Adobe Oasis. (If you’d rather drive, you can park for free (4-hour max) in The Railyard parking garage. Just bring your parking ticket to the cinema and request validation.) It was cold, so we drove. But next next we’ll walk to burn off the calories…

No, not a jumbo bucket of popcorn with ersatz butter. Local food. Tasty local food.

I started with the brussel sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are… flash-fried for crispy outer leaves and lightly lacquered in a sweet-tart apple-cider gastrique, but ours needed some par-cooking — their tough, overly firm centers made for onerous chewing. (Source: Laurel Gladden, Santa Fe New Mexican)

Mine were tasty (I added bacon which complemented the garlic, red onion, and apple cider gastric perfectly) but likewise undercooked. Almost impossible to skewer with my fork, especially in the dark. I’ll order them again next time, but I’ll request that they pre-steam or parboil mine.

I also ordered the chicken flautas which were crispy and even tastier than I had anticipated. I kept wondering if cheese had been added despite being absent from the ingredients listed on the menu:

All natural chipotle chicken rolled in New Mexico blue corn tortillas, quick fried until crisp, with guacamole and jicama salad. (Source: Violet Crown Cinema, Santa Fe )

They were delicious, but the texture and richness of the chipotle chicken suggested cheese. I’ve been dairy free for several years, so perhaps it was just my mind playing games. Next time I’ll ask before I order. And if there’s no cheese I’ll order again. And again. They were that good. Perfect movie noshes!

I washed everything down with Santa Sidra dry cider which they offer on draft in addition to dozens of other local brews. This is luxury enough, a vast selection of microbrewer beer to lubricate your next film. Win-win.

Reservations, Seating & Timing

We discovered dining tables that folded out (à la airplane dining) and generously proportioned drink holders.

No more waiting in line unless you relish pre-film banter against a backdrop of popcorn and french fry aroma. Violet Crown Santa Fe seats are all reserved (Bonus: no scrambling in the dark for good seats!) online (in advance) or at the cinema. We purchased our tickets online and it was quick, easy, and user friendly. You even get to pick your own seats. By reserving and paying online we were able to skip the ticket line and head straight to the food ordering counter.

Since it can take a little time to prepare your meal, Violet Crown Santa Fe recommends arriving about 45 minutes before screening in order to ensure that your drinks and meal are ready for you to bring in to the theater. We bumped into friends while waiting and enjoyed a drink together. We refueled just as our meals were delivered and headed in to see The Big Short. We located our comfortable chairs and happily discovered dining tables that folded out (à la airplane dining) and generously proportioned drink holders that easily accommodated our pints.

Innovation & Reinvention

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so you’ve realized that movie theaters are struggling to adapt to new consumer habits. The convenience and accessibility of on-demand digital entertainment has cut into once standard go-to-the-movies habit of many Americans. Despite the superior viewing experience of a large screen with great sound, I frequently find myself one of only a handful of viewers in an immense theater. Violet Crown Santa Fe responds to this social shift by combining comfort, fresh films, local food, and lots of libations.

Railyard’s new Violet Crown ups the ante for films in SF

Railyard’s new Violet Crown ups the ante for films in SF (Source: Albuquerque Journal)

“We’re trying to marry the two things” – food and film – “in the most pleasant viewing experience we can imagine,” said Bill Banowsky. “We want to give people a reason to get off their couches and come down to our cinema,” he said. “That’s the biggest challenge for theaters anymore… You really have to change the experience so that people really have a reason to go out to a movie.” (Source: Albuquerque Journal)

In short, Violet Crown Santa Fe is reimagining the cinema experience.

Like every other industry reeling from the effects of globalization and a dizzying pace of technological innovation, cinema is in the midst of reinvention. Jacques Paisner, executive director and co-founder of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival… said Violet Crown’s opening is a harbinger of the city’s willingness to evolve accordingly. (Source: Santa Fe New Mexican)

Smaller, more intimate viewing rooms combined with good food and drink seems like the perfect way to reinvent movie theaters. I’m thrilled with this newest Railyard addition, and my bride and I are already plotting our next visit. See you at Violet Crown Santa Fe!

Blake + Bacon = New Taos Ski Valley

Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley (Source: The New York Times)

Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley (Source: The New York Times)

I’d like to pass along a Technicolor Taos tease as featured yesterday in the The New York Times. Christopher Solomon’s “Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley” is a stunning, well developed look at the current evolution of New Mexico’s prize cache for expert skiers. Solomon invites the reader on a virtual tour of some of the new (or, more accurately, now-more-accessible) adrenaline inducing terrain, and he seamlessly braids in the mountain’s unique history and culture.

The story of Taos’s founding, and the story of its visionary, Ernie Blake, are one of the most colorful strands in the fabric of America’s ski history: how a deft-skiing Swiss immigrant tried to join the 10th Mountain Division in World War II but was denied because of suspicions he was a spy; how the Army instead changed his surname from the Jewish “Bloch” to “Blake” and enlisted him as a translator, during which he interrogated some of the biggest names in the Third Reich; and how, after war’s end, he went looking for a place to start a ski resort. People said his choice, near the end of a lonesome valley in the shadow of 13,161-foot Wheeler Peak, the state’s roof, was too steep, too remote and too challenging. But Blake pursued his vision. With the help of a young wife and a mule named Lightning he hacked Taos Ski Valley into existence. (Source: Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley – The New York Times)

Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley (Source: The New York Times)

Mix of New and Old Enlivens Taos Ski Valley (Source: The New York Times)

Georgia of Santa Fe: Fine Dining à la O’Keeffe

Georgia in Santa Fe

Last night we enjoyed our second memorable evening at Georgia (georgiasantafe.com) in a week. Our first dinner – in the bar with friends – was delicious, but not only in terms of victuals and potables. Our server was the highlight of our outing. I’m sorry to have forgotten her name, but her smile, laughter and eagerness to ensure a perfect experience stick with me. The Manhattan was exceptional, calamari smoky and fresh, wine oh-so-fine, and braised short ribs out of this world.

Indeed our first experience was so enjoyable that we returned before the experience could fade in our memories.

Imagine a slightly nutty, balsamic and caper-spiked indulgence… A half portion would well have sufficed, but I devoured them all.

For round two we ate in the dining room with my visiting parents. The elegant minimalism (impeccably edited, not spartan design) of the bar is perfected in the dining room. Georgia O’Keeffe presides in black and white over a dining room she might well have concocted herself if she were still with us. I started with crispy Brussels sprouts. Sound mundane? Hardly! Imagine a slightly nutty, balsamic and caper-spiked indulgence… A half portion would well have sufficed, but I devoured them all. A Flintstone-worthy lamb shank served over spinach was tasty if 4x too large. But once again, I ate everything, new year’s resolutions be damned.

My review would remain incomplete without a nod to Grant, our enthusiastic and thoroughly charming server. A handsome twist on Jim Carrey (with a jigger of Max Headroom), his wine recommendation was the welcome mat for a delightful one man show that kept us laughing and joyful. Thanks, Georgia and Grant, for a perfect night.

Fine Dining à la O’Keeffe

Is Georgia really fine dining à la O’Keeffe? I’d like to think so. On the one hand, the decor offers a modern echo of the stark, simple, minimalist but handsome aesthetic that Georgia O’Keeffe favored in her New Mexico homes. As for the artist’s dining preferences, cookbooks suggest a similarly restrained palate. I have prepared some of the meals she apparently favored after a day’s work in Abiquiu or at Ghost Ranch, and while sometimes hardy, they are created with few ingredients and no fuss. Chef Brett Sparman’s dishes are superior to the quotidian fair that often passes for home cooking nowadays, but they are carefully edited and ingredient-forward. They are precise, not precious, and they are consistently delicious. I suspect that the restaurant’s namesake would have approved.

Georgia Q&A

Have I piqued your interest? Here is some helpful information to help transform that interest into a reservation.

Q: Where is Georgia located?
A: Georgia is located at 225 Johnson Street in Santa Fe next door to the iconic Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

Q: When is Georgia open?
A: Georgia serves dinner seven days a week beginning at 5:30pm. Georgia celebrates daily happy hour in the tavern between 4:00 and 6:00pm.

Q: Does Georgia offer outdoor service?
A: Georgia serves dinner on the patio in the summer and fall.

Q: Do I need a reservation?
A: While Georgia welcomes walk-ins, I would encourage you to make a reservation – especially during summer and holidays – to ensure that you can be accommodated according to your preferences. To make a reservation you can call 505-989-GEORGIA (4367) or book online through OpenTable.

Q: Does George permit pets on the patio?
A: Georgia welcomes leashed, well-mannered pets for patio dining during the summer and fall.

Q: Does Georgia have a website where I can find more information?
A: You can learn more about Georgia (and view more photographs) at georgiasantafe.com.

Any more questions? Add them in the comments and we’ll try to answer them or pass them along to Chef Sparman and his team.

Georgia Reviews

Dining at Georgia is memorable in all the right ways. But don’t just take my word for it.

Georgia reflects professional management from start to finish. For example,… drive right up to the entrance and a valet will park your car for you. No hassle involved and a gracious way to solve… [the Santa Fe parking] problem.

Georgia’s patio is one of Santa Fe’s nicest and the interior space is elegantly simple, in keeping with the artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s inspiration. (Albuquerque Journal News, August 29, 2014)

Top billing goes to the gluten-free spiced crusted tuna—a perfectly seared pair of tuna medallions topped with a Turkish anchovy, shaved radish, sprouts and a red piquillo pepper relish and with hidden caper surprises ($14). Chef Brett Sparman’s version of ubiquitous and mighty kale salad uses cranberries and hazelnuts plus a tangy, light and salty dressing ($11). I could have eaten a larger portion of either one for the main course. (Santa Fe Reporter, July 29, 2014)

There is a real absence in Santa Fe of the type of restaurant we wanted to create, that we think other cities have,” Lloyd [Abrams, co-owner] explains. “And that’s an in-town country club. A place that’s elegant and sophisticated, but where people can eat every week.” The idea is that when people come to Georgia, the staff and owners know not only their name, but also where they like to sit and what they like to eat. Service is upscale but personable, and the dishes are simple and approachable, so people will want to come in often. (Local Flavor, June 30, 2014)

Tired of the restaurant scene in Santa Fe, business partners Lloyd Abrams and Terry Sweeney designed and built Georgia — once home of the O’Keeffe Café — to inject life back into the local dining sector.

“This place is pretty unique and offers a level service that’s different from what people typically find in Santa Fe,” [chef Brett] Sparman said. “We really want to create a personal experience [for diners] … and help liven up the restaurant scene.” (The Santa Fe New Mexican: Taste, June 3, 2014)

Welcome to New Mexico

Welcome to New Mexico (Source: Geo Davis)

Welcome to New Mexico (Source: Geo Davis)

At least twice a year (and some years even more often) we drive cross-country from the Adirondacks to Santa Fe and back again. We tend to poke along, stopping to explore our wide, wonderful, and sometimes slightly weird country. We visit family and friends along the way. And we chauffeur our Labrador retriever—who is unfit to fly (according to his overly protective dog-momma, my bride)—in comfort door-to-door, acquainting him with canine acquaintances new and old all along the way.

It’s an enjoyable journey. We listen talk and listen to music and audio books. We eat. We discover. We hike and sometimes I bike. It’s a thoroughly memorable adventure each and every time. But there are certain recurring highlights like the moment we first enter New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. Butterflies in the stomach. The good kind. And a quickening of the heartbeat as we talk excitedly about everything we plan to do as soon as we arrive in Santa Fe…