A Day in Santa Fe

view of mountains from old santa fe inn
The view from my hotel

You can see why I decided to spend a day in Santa Fe. However, I was beginning to worry this trip was becoming a litany of unlucky coincidences when the woman at the front desk told me that the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum was going to be closed today in preparation for a new exhibition opening tomorrow.

So after a number of laptop+telephone errands this morning, I got out of the hotel to explore. The architecture might be my favorite thing about Santa Fe. Everything looks like this:

example of architecture in santa fe
Santa Fe adobe architecture

Granted not all the buildings are so massively stacked (I believe that was a hotel and spa), but everything is the same general color and shape. Here’s another view, of what I think are actual houses.

example of architecture in santa fe
Santa Fe adobe houses

I started the day by visiting museums, one for fine arts and one more historical, called the Palace of the Governors. The history part was interesting, but what really captured my imagination was the exhibit on printing presses and local boutique printers in the area. Apparently Santa Fe has quite a tradition of printing, but I got so wrapped up in my own thoughts and fantasies about printing that I absorbed only a fraction of the very detailed exhibit. Luckily there’s a website, and I’m hoping I can dig up a book on printing at some point in the future.

Had a quick lunch at The Burrito Company, then I did some walking around the central plaza, surrounded by shops and stalls with people selling art and jewelry. Though I like the geography and the architecture of this place, I have not developed an appreciation for the art. Turquoise jewelry and thin pots painted with geometric designs just isn’t what I wanted to browse or take away.

I decided to stop by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum just in case and discovered it was open. In fact they told me they had planned to be closed but everything was ready so they decided to open the exhibit—a juxtaposition of O’Keeffe’s flower paintings and Andy Warhol’s flower prints—a day early! My luck had returned. Sadly no photography was allowed, but I found an image of one of my favorite paintings of hers online.

georgia o'keeffe's calla lily turned away painting
Calla Lily Turned Away

After some more hiking around the city, I came back to my hotel room to search for a restaurant. Several sources pointed me to Cafe Pasqual’s, so I headed there around 8pm (it was only 2-3 blocks away) hoping they might have a bar where I could sit. They didn’t have a bar, but they did have a large communal table at the center of the smallish restaurant with seating for 11. To my left was a party of four, to my right a party of three, and across the way two independent individuals like myself. One seat remained empty.

We were all served at our own pace (I was the last to be seated), and we began conversing freely as proximity broke down any social barriers. Granted being in the middle of a cross country expedition provides ample conversation fodder, but we also discussed linguistics, Zion National Park, and it was even recommended that I try Lagunitas IPA when I make it to Santa Rosa. This, incidentally, is the very same beer Robin in Carrboro had made a special request for during my last trip to the Bay Area.

Dinner was good! So good I didn’t even deign to take a photo. I started with bote de camarones (chipotle shrimp with guacamole) after I saw it appear to my right. Then I had an unimaginably thick and perfectly cooked pork loin chop as an entree. Why? Because the menu said there was going to be bacon and country gravy somewhere on my plate. The bacon showed up in the sauteed red chard with pine nuts, and the country gravy, well, let’s just say I forgot all the details when my eyes set their sights on that pork chop. I had no clue what was in that little ramekin, but it was very good.

next leg: Santa Fe to Four Corners to the Grand Canyon to Williams