Category: Santa Fe, NM

The High Road To Taos

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Our Airstream neighbors in Santa Fe gave us some good recommendations, one being to take the high road to Taos. It is a very pretty drive, and there are several Spanish chapels worth seeing. We also wanted to visit the Nambe Trading Post in Nambe Pueblo, NM along the way. Carla had recommended going there, and we had bought a small painting from Jennifer Smith at the Indian Market.

I almost made a turn toward one of the churches, but was afraid I would get stuck on a small road since we were pulling the trailer. Then we missed a sign to turn to the trading post. It was quite a while before we could turn around beside a popular rug store. Turning into the small trading store parking lot was a bit scary, and I wondered if I would get back out. A 1960’s Airstream was parked by the store. The trading post is part museum, part store and part diner. 

It’s a family enterprise. Cathy Smith is in the Cowboy Hall of Fame, Emmy award winner, and other awards. She is a talented artist who is known for her authentic costume design for Dances With Wolves, Son of The Morning Star, Jedediah Smith, Into the West, Comanche Moon, Geronimo and more. Cathy’s mother is Lakota Sioux. At a young age Cathy became obsessed at studying Lakota ways, customs and dress.

“Cathy has spent her lifetime participating in the ceremonies and cultural life-ways of relatives on the Cheyenne River Reservation and refining her skills in the sacred art of porcupine quillwork

“Maintaining these traditional arts is imperative as they are a part of our American heritage in danger of being lost. Not only are they beautiful and useable, but when made with integrity, they are imbued with power & spiritual meaning.” From

Daughter, Jennifer Jesse Smith, makes beautiful jewelry and sculptures, but has also does well with paintings and has helped her mom making costumes. “Inspired by indigenous metal-smithing techniques from around the world, Jennifer combines her love of sculpture, silver-smithing and the elegance and edginess of rock-and-roll fashion with the best stones and finest metals to create original, balanced, wearable art that invoke a sacred connection and collaboration with the wearer. Jennifer Jesse Smith designs pieces of power, passion and beauty for those with enough mojo to wear them.” 

The building is not big, but it is amazing what is in it. We started with a tour of the museum with all the costumes made for so many movies and TV shows. A room is filled with used shirts, dresses, hats and boots that are for sale. Some list what movie they were used in, or who wore them. I should have bought an outfit, but it was too much to take in at one time.

I learned about Ledger Art. I am sometimes confused by the pictographs and petroglyphs. They are often so simple, I think some are done by children. On the other end of the spectrum, we have seen incredible talents in basketweaving, rugs, pottery and jewelry. I didn’t know that many displayed their art on their teepees, clothes and buffalo and deer hides. Most of the world didn’t see this side until the introduction of accounting ledgers by traders in the 1860’s. It enjoyed a revival in the 1960’s and 70’s. 

The other incredible art form is what can be done with porcupine quills. This one was naturally dyed porcupine quills, brain tanned buckskin, tin cone and horsehair.

Santa Fe Historic District

August 23, 2022

65 deg at 6:00, high 78

We have been passing the Pantry Restaurant every day, and there are always people sitting on benches outside, waiting to get in, so we went in for breakfast. Martha ordered an omelette, while I ordered sausage and eggs and blue corn cakes with a hint of cinnamon. The coffee was very good, the service excellent and the food very good. 

We returned to the Farmer’s Market for a quieter Wednesday edition. Sadly, the chicken pot pie people weren’t there, but there were plenty of fruits and vegetables. 

World’s best corn salesman with a joke for every customer

Now that the Indian Arts Festival was gone, we wanted to explore old town Santa Fe. A sign noted the end of the historic Santa Fe Trail. Another marked the end of the old Spanish Trail. As we have learned, the Indians have been using these routes for centuries.

From United States National Park Service-Map, Robert McGinnis-illustration,

“Between 1821 and 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was primarily a commercial highway connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The route was pioneered by Missouri trader William Becknell, who left Franklin, Missouri in September 1821. Others before him had been arrested by Spanish soldiers once they neared Santa Fe, and most had been hauled south toward Mexico City to serve lengthy prison sentences. Becknell, however, was pleasantly surprised to find that Mexico had overthrown the Spanish yoke, and the new Mexican government – unlike their predecessors – welcomed outside trade. Not surprisingly, others got into the trade soon after Becknell returned, and by 1825 goods from Missouri were not only being traded in Santa Fe, but to other points farther south as well. Some traders used the so-called Mountain Route, which offered more dependable water but required an arduous trip over Raton Pass. Most, however, used the Cimarron Route, which was shorter and faster but required knowledge of where the route’s scarce water supplies were located.

From 1821 until 1846, the Santa Fe Trail was a two-way international commercial highway used by both Mexican and American traders. Then, in 1846, the Mexican-American War began, and a few months later, America’s Army of the West followed the Santa Fe Trail westward to successfully invade Mexico. After the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the more settled parts of the United States to the new southwest territories. Commercial freighting along the trail boomed to unheard-of levels, including considerable military freight hauling to supply the southwestern forts. The trail was also used by stagecoach lines, thousands of gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, missionaries, wealthy New Mexican families and emigrants.

In 1866, just a year after the Civil War ended, an unprecedented period of railroad expansion began in the new state of Kansas. Within two years, rails had been laid all the way across central Kansas, and by 1873, two different rail lines reached from eastern Kansas all the way into Colorado. Because the Santa Fe Trail hauled primarily commercial goods, this railroad expansion meant that the trading caravans needed to traverse increasingly short distances. During the early 1870s, three different railroads vied to build rails over Raton Pass in order to serve the New Mexico market. The winner of that competition, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, reached the top of Raton Pass in late 1878. Additional track mileage further shortened the effective distance of the Santa Fe. Then, in February 1880, the railroad reached Santa Fe, and the trail faded into history.” From

“Originally a Spanish town with a presidio surrounded by large defensive walls that enclosed residences, barracks, chapel, prison and the Governor’s palace. It was at the end of El Camino Real, the Spanish Royal Road from Mexico City.” (

The old town is very pretty, in pueblo style with a Spanish square and beautiful Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi. It is still a center of trade, art and cultures. I loved walking through some of the art stores, where there are incredible works. Paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry and baskets of the highest quality are displayed. In shop after shop, I was amazed, and I probably didn’t see  20% of them.

We had a nice lunch at The Burrito Company, sitting outside, across from the New Mexico History Museum. After lunch we went into the museum. With less than an hour on our parking ticket, we moved through, concentrating on the Indian art and discovery, passing up the wars and Santa Fe Trail. It expanded our already high opinion of Indian art from the festival. The work today has the advantage of modern techniques, but to see what they made in the 1200’s is amazing. 

I don’t know why, but walking around like this is very tiring. I tried to compare it to a hike. I know we haven’t walked as far as our hikes, and it certainly is on level ground. Maybe it is all the visual intake that makes you tired, but we had enough by 3:00. We left a lot unseen, but we also took a lot in.

Dale Ball Trail

Monday, August 22, 2022 

We took this 4.4 mile out and back hike that goes beside an old irrigation duct and the old reservoir. It was a very nice hike with great views at the top of Santa Fe. After being in so many small towns, it surprising to see Santa Fe covering the whole valley. 

Santa Fe Indian Market

August 2021, 2022

60 deg at 6:00, high of 72, rained most of the day

We came to Santa Fe because Martha’s friend, Carla, had talked so much about it. She and Marshall have been coming to the market for 25 years. They have participated in the organization and judging, and know many of the artists who come. But first, we went to the Farmer’s Market, A little rain didn’t seem to slow the regulars. It’s funny how people stand in line for a particular stand, when others seem to be selling the same thing. Martha loves a farmer’s market!

Dancing in The Rain

We met Carla and Marshall for lunch at The SantaCafe. Also joining were Carley, their granddaughter and Bob, an art enthusiast and avid fisherman. Bob talked about fishing several streams, but one stuck with me in Valle Caldera.

After lunch, we toured the booths. There are hundreds of them, where Indian artisans from all over come to display their work. They can submit work to be judged in one many categories, the winners getting a lot of notoriety. Collectors also come from all over the world, seeking out the best. Then there are thousands, like us, who have come to look and see what it is all about. this year was the 100th anniversary

It’s a bit overwhelming, so it was interesting to follow Carla and Marshall and listen to their comments. They know so many of these artisans and are greeted with smiles. We came back again the next day. It was a pretty day, which made it more pleasant to walk around. People were lined up for favorites of corn and fried bread. 

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