Randall Davey Audubon Center

Randall Davey Audubon Center

RANDALL DAVEY AUDUBON CENTER

Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary main sign

Sometimes you just need a quick getaway from town, a breath of fresh air, a place to stretch your legs without too many people around, and maybe a spot just to sit and be quiet for awhile. We have the perfect destination for you: The Randall Davey Audubon Center, just a couple of miles from the Inn on the Alameda, with good parking at either the Center itself, or just off Upper Canyon Road, at the Santa Fe River Canyon Nature Preserve. Both are free.

It’s a lovely place to have a short hike and there are a variety of paths in the Nature Preserve south of the Center, with interpretive signs here and there. The “serious” birders are also quick to post their sightings.

Randall Davey Hiker

A pleasant walk on a winter afternoon. That’s Picacho Peak above.

Randall-Davey-interpretive-sign

An interpretive sign near the classroom and nature store

Randall Davey bird sign

Catch of the day

A friend and I love to stop by the River Preserve to see what the beavers have been up to. Lately they’ve been rearranging their dams.  “Busy as a beaver” doesn’t begin to describe these creatures. It’s amazing what they can accomplish!

Randall Davey new bear pond

The latest engineering project on the Santa Fe River

Randall Davey chewed tree

An evening’s nosh

Randall Davey felled tree

And down, ready for stripping and hauling. That’s a big tree!

There are already plenty of birds to see, even though it’s still February, and more are no doubt on the way. The robins are back – that’s always encouraging – and we also spotted mallards on the beaver ponds, scrub jays, white-breasted nuthatches, pine siskins, juncos, two kinds of towhees, and a pair of red-tailed hawks circling overhead, keeping everyone in line. The usual menagerie of reptiles is absent since it’s still winter, so for those of you averse to slithery things, this is a great time for a walk.

Getting There:

From the Inn on the Alameda, turn east on Alameda Street (toward the mountains) and follow it along the tree-lined Santa Fe River until it makes a sharp right turn. At the stop sign at the intersection with Upper Canyon Road, turn left and enjoy a slow drive through a very picturesque section of Old Santa Fe until the road makes an abrupt left turn. Here you have a couple of choices: you can turn left here and then immediately right into the parking area for the Nature Conservancy’s Santa Fe River Preserve, or you can continue straight ahead, along a dirt road, about half a mile to the paved parking area at the Randall Davey Audubon Center itself. There’s a great nature store here, and it’s the meeting place for the Saturday morning bird walks. Check their website for the calendar of events.

Randall Davey's House

The old Randall Davey House seen from inside the Preserve

Book Your Next Stay at Inn on the Alameda

The Circle Trail

THE CIRCLE TRAIL The snow is slowly retreating from the mountains above Santa Fe, although winter never gives up without a fight in the Rocky Mountains. But the spring runoff is in full force, the authorities are letting water out of the reservoirs into...

read more
Jews of New Mexico

Jews of New Mexico

JEWS OF NEW MEXICO

Jewish history in New Mexico goes back, it has been argued, to the founding of the colony. There is evidence that some contemporary New Mexican Hispanics may be descended from “Crypto-Jews” or Marranos. These would have been Sephardic Jews during the 15th and 16th century who, under penalties of the inquisition, were forced to convert to Catholicism; yet still retained certain cultural markers of Jewish identity.

Temple Montefiore, Las Vegas, NM - First Jewish House of Worship in NM

Temple Montefiore, Las Vegas, NM –

First Jewish House of Worship in NM

Facing enormous consequences if caught, the “conversos” who chose to continue practicing Jewish rituals and identity found themselves forced to the edge of the Spanish Empire, or the New Mexican colonies of the Southwest.   Though the evidence is controversial, there have been both ethnographic and genetic pieces of evidence linking the latino culture of New Mexico with Jewish descent.  There are oral accounts of keeping practices like Kosher slaughter and celebration of the sabbath as well as DNA evidence.  One genetic study of 78 latino New Mexicans centering on Albuquerque found 30 displaying genetic markers associated with Jewish descent, markers found in only 1% of the general population.

Temple Beth Shalom, Santa Fe, NM

Temple Beth Shalom,

Santa Fe, NM

The history of Ashkenazic Jews in New Mexico is more recent and less controversial.  Like many pioneers, they welcomed the opportunities present with the opening of the Southwest and the United States’ control over the New Mexico territory.  Trade routes that were oriented to Mexico and were zealously guarded by Spanish policy became disrupted as New Mexico began to orient itself with the greater American market and economy.

Jewish heritage places high values on learning and education, and with a propensity for business, these immigrants were able to grow in prominence in the mercantile trade.

Some of the Jewish families who responded to these opportunities were the Bibo family, ten siblings who immigrated to New Mexico during the 1870s.  Three of them started mercantile businesses.  Jewish traditions of helping out family and relatives led to increased immigration as Jews prospered and sent for their families back east.  The Spiegelberg family, for instance, was a major influence in the territorial economy.  Wili Spiegelberg was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the Second National Bank of Santa Fe.  The Spiegelbergs provided work and welcome for many Jewish immigrants, employing several members of the Bibo family and welcoming their cousins, the Zeckendorfs, who opened several stores in Santa Fe and one in Albuquerque.

After the Civil War, however, business got tougher and the Zeckendorfs headed to Tucson and opened a store there. Eventually they migrated back to New York where they became successful real-estate developers. In the 1980s, Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf returned again to Santa Fe and became leading developers and patrons of the arts, instrumental in both the growth of the Santa Fe Opera and the creation of the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

The Jewish community remains a vibrant one in Santa Fe and one which visitors can explore. During your next stay at the Inn, be sure to take a trip to the Santa Fe Opera House and the Lensic Performing Arts Center – two Santa Fe landmarks that exist today thanks to the hard work and dedication of my friends, the Zeckendorfs.

Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, Dear Friends of Joe Schepps

Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, Friends of Joe Schepps

Inn on the Alameda, That Enchanting Small Hotel in Old Santa Fe, proudly presents all historical blog posts written by Joe & Michael Schepps. Read about the authors here.

During your next stay at the Inn, be sure to take a trip to the Santa Fe Opera House

or the Lensic Performing Arts Center – two Santa Fe landmarks that exist today thanks to the hard work and dedication of my friends, the Zeckendorfs.

The Circle Trail

THE CIRCLE TRAIL The snow is slowly retreating from the mountains above Santa Fe, although winter never gives up without a fight in the Rocky Mountains. But the spring runoff is in full force, the authorities are letting water out of the reservoirs into...

read more
How the West Was Fed: A Tale of Fred Harvey and His Girls

How the West Was Fed: A Tale of Fred Harvey and His Girls

How The West Was Fed:

A Tale Of Fred Harvey And His Girls

 

Will Rogers described Fred Harvey as the man that “kept the West in food…and wives.” Fred Harvey pioneered many of the innovative approaches to food service, hospitality, and of the Southwest style in both jewelry and architecture.

As a young freight broker, Fred was appalled at the lack of any coordinated approach, inconsistency of service and food quality available to rail passengers. Partnering with the country’s biggest railroad company, the AT & SF, Fred Harvey began first building restaurants and then hotels along the RR route from Chicago to Los Angeles, bringing at the time “ New York and London” quality food to the West. The greatest challenge was to serve excellent meals that could be enjoyed in 20 minutes or less – the allocated time for dining stops.

Fred Harvey

Fred Harvey’s commitment to excellence and a standard of quality and service set the tone for the changes the Railroad would bring to this new and growing part of our country. The opening of the Raton, NM pass to rail traffic in 1879, heralded the beginning of the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail, and this new mode of transportation, stretching all the way to the Pacific, required the creation of the first chain of restaurants, and then hotels. Standardization, so necessary then, later sadly grew into rampant American led, world-wide “white bread” commercialism. But then, understandably, everything had to be done the “Fred Harvey way,” which assured excellence and predictability to the diners heading west. This was how Fred Harvey fed the West.

Fred Harvey Lunchroom, Santa Fe Hotel, Canadia, Texas

Fred Harvey Lunchroom, Santa Fe Hotel, Canadia, TX

Scene from The Harvey Girls

Scene from “The Harvey Girls” Film

And how to keep the restaurant service consistent? Fred Harvey created a service army of honest, skilled, educated and attractive women – quickly dubbed “The Harvey Girls,” and from the 1880s until the end of the 1940s, the Harvey Girls totaled 20,000 young ladies spread out along the Western railroad stops. Here were the brides-to-be for the ranchers, merchants and entrepreneurs that grew this country.

The Harvey Girls Film Poster

And to assure a definitive style and architectural excellence, Fred Harvey brilliantly employed the great architect Mary Coulter to design his beautiful hotels…from Las Vegas, NM to Santa Fe, to Albuquerque and on past the Grand Canyon. Mary Coulter is credited with creating what would become the world recognized “Santa Fe Style.”

And finally, from simple counter sales in Gallup, NM, Fred Harvey brought together the Indian jewelers with their one-of-a-kind handicrafts, potters and weavers – orchestrating and coordinating their efforts into a look that became, like everything else Fred Harvey, a distinctive style that would lead the way for the future successful refinement and commercialization of Southwestern arts and crafts that we know so well today.

So, within a score of years, what began as an idea brought on by Fred Harvey’s distaste of bland and inconsistent railroad fare, turned into the first chain of restaurants, hotels and gift shops in the West. Today, “Fredheads” keep his legacy alive, honoring a man whose vision literally changed the West for the better in everything he touched.

Presently, the New Mexico History Museum has a “must see” show on display commemorating the great visionary and his Harvey Girls. And if you wish to delve more into this historical time, watch The Harvey Girls, a 1946 musical film starring Judy Garland about the opening of a “Harvey House” at a remote whistle stop to provide good food and company to railway travelers.

Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls

Discover the tradition of delicious fare & high service standards that Fred Harvey began

The Agoyo Lounge and the accommodations of the Inn on the Alameda embody Fred Harvey’s tradition of service.

The Circle Trail

THE CIRCLE TRAIL The snow is slowly retreating from the mountains above Santa Fe, although winter never gives up without a fight in the Rocky Mountains. But the spring runoff is in full force, the authorities are letting water out of the reservoirs into...

read more
Santa Fe, Frozen in Time

Santa Fe, Frozen in Time

Santa Fe, Frozen in Time

 

I arrived in Santa Fe early on May 23, 1971. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I drove in from Las Vegas, NM, where I had toured Highlands University for a NM State teacher’s credential. At the time, I knew that I wanted to reside in New Mexico. Through years of college friendships and familial bonds in western New Mexico, I had developed close ties to the state. I was 23.

 

Day 1: Santa Fe Plaza, 1971

While passing the College of Santa Fe, I stopped, went in, and discovered that they had a teacher’s credential program. I told them my educational background and they accepted me into their summer program right on the spot. Just like that. No security checks, no contacting my university. The old days.

The same day, I opened my checking account on the historic Santa Fe plaza at First National Bank. No Homeland Security, background check, or tax ID number needed – just money and a signature. Nearly 44 years later, I still have the same checking account number.

santa-fe-obelisk-fall
At the time, the plaza was open to traffic on all sides. There were shoe and clothing stores, pharmacies, a barbershop, and a flower shop. I don’t recall a single gallery. Gas stations were situated catty-corner to the plaza on two sides, and the central obelisk still spoke of “savage natives.” This was before the word, “savage” was chiseled off.

There were only 3 or 4 realtors at the time, and I found a place on Cerro Gordo through the Richard Mares Agency. We put down our deposit and our last month’s rent, and moved in later that same afternoon. No credit checks on Credit Karma, no references to call. Just me, my wife, and our new home.

santa-fe-obelisk-plaque
Even with its modern changes, the history of Santa Fe remains captivating etched in stone.

Day 2: A Different Santa Fe

The next morning I was driving on St. Michael’s Drive, which was a still a two-lane street surround by mostly vacant land, when I heard my name on the radio! The since-departed Santa Fe Welcome Wagon was welcoming my wife and me to Santa Fe. They even mentioned some factoids about our lives that I had shared with the realtor.

Late that evening, my grandfather died in Dallas. Since we didn’t have cell phones, and it took a while to get a phone line, my father’s secretary began trying to locate us. The second realtor she called was Richard Mares, and he informed her of our whereabouts. As a courtesy, he also called the Santa Fe Police Department on our behalf. Soon after an officer pulled up to our house and respectfully informed me of my grandfather’s passing. He also told me where the nearest pay phone could be found, so I could call home.

When I think back on Santa Fe, it’s hard to imagine that there were more pawnshops and trading posts than galleries. I vividly remember Bob Ward’s “oldest trading post” on San Francisco, and The Pink Adobe and The Bull Ring were the only two “fancy” restaurants downtown. Can you imagine?
santa-fe-original-trading-post
Those were the times, not really that far-gone, that welcomed me here and successfully beckoned me to stay.

Let us be your Santa Fe Welcome Wagon

We hope we can captivate you the same way Santa Fe captivated me all those years ago.
Get Your Kicks – On Route 66

Get Your Kicks – On Route 66

Route 66 actually came through Santa Fe at one time, quite a while back. That was before WW2 when most highways led right into town squares connecting towns across the nation. Now this iconic US Highway runs “2,000 miles all the way” and follows a much straighter shot from Chicago to L.A. with stops along the way to St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Gallup (“New Mexico”) Flagstaff (“Arizona”) Winona (“Don’t forget Winona!”) Kingsman, (“Arizona”), Barstow and San Bernadino. These are the bare bone lyrical highlights of the equally iconic “Route 66” written by Bobby Troup in 1946, just one year after the end of WW2. The year before America launched the most phenomenal boom in her economy, quickly producing jobs, home and automobile ownership, disposable income, natty clothes and “gas money.” This song has to be a part of American history if Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones can all record it.

Deep down in the American psyche, an inherent American mantra of “go West young man” emerged from the dusty times of the 19th century into post-war America. So when legendary Bobby Troup wrote this song in 1946, there were still open spaces, an open road, a sense of freedom from society, and the possible future of some day pulling out of a gas station in your 1960 Corvette with a buddy roaring west out of Gallup, New Mexico. It makes me shiver even still, especially when I get behind the wheel of my Smartcar and head off to Whole Foods!

Songwriter Troup hit the nail on the head in 1946. But more amazingly, his lyrics envisioned the future of our country, our love affair with the automobile and the open road. And he penned this song before television’s 1960 show “Route 66”. It is impossible for me with the inherent limits of a blog to do justice to the imagery and history of this highway; better just try googling up Route 66, where you can see restored gas stations, motels, cafes, souvenir stores, side-road attractions, new and old. I cannot list the hundreds of incredibly interesting historical, architectural, culinary, hospitality, educational and pure visual experiences still awaiting you today on Route 66, established 1926!

Road trips. When I was growing up in the very early 1950’s, some of my most vivid memories are of my family’s road trips in a Woody all over the country. I swear it was a Woody and have pictures to prove it… but we were not surfers in Dallas… it was just the first “station wagon” made, and my Dad knew they were cool, with or without surfboards sticking out the back. As we traveled though each state, and most were along Route 66, we would buy a glue-on souvenir of that state, and glue them right on the rear windows. They were so colorful, probably full of lead, and you could see through them from the inside. You often saw folks driving by with their back two side-windows covered in these multicolored mementos, eyeing your collection with keen interest.

vintage-woody

So, today if you ever plan to motor west, swing up from Route 66 to Santa Fe, our home, and visit one of the most unique and beautiful towns in the US, established 1607, your first stop has to be the Inn on the Alameda. It is a beautiful oasis of comfort where once the old west stopped at the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail. Even if you are still traveling west on that day and just passing through, stop and have a toast to America’s “Mother Road” at our fabulous Agoyo Lounge. Open for dinner and cocktails 5p.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.

We hope you book your next stay with us soon!

Stop and have a toast to America’s “Mother Road” at our fabulous Agoyo Lounge. Open for dinner and cocktails 5p.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.

My First Opera

My First Opera

It was in the early 1980’s when I first attended the Santa Fe Opera, one of the most beautiful and most unique opera houses in the world. It is, perhaps, a side effect of coming of age during the 1960s that I can no longer remember exactly which opera I first saw, but the setting itself has always made an impression on me.

John Crosby, a musical genius from Manhattan (recently biographized by Santa Fe writer Craig Smith in A Vision of Voices: John Crosby and the Santa Fe Opera), had a dream of an outdoor summer opera company that would take advantage of the countless performers, musicians, conductors, and technicians who were annually idle when the Metropolitan Opera in New York City closed for the summer. He found the San Juan Ranch outside of Santa Fe and with his family was able to purchase what would become the location. He found the perfect acoustical setting and the rest is history.

 

santa-fe-opera-interior

What I remember most from my first opera was the setting.

The house is designed so the brilliantly dying light of the setting sun comes straight through the open but covered stage, a stunning backdrop for any opera.

Photo credit wikimedia commons

To the East, each evening, the image of the reddening Sangre de Cristo mountains attests to the appropriateness of their name. The otherworldly red of the foothills struck the Spanish settlers as evidence of the divine, the blood of Christ made manifest. It is these features that shelter the bowl of the opera house providing an appropriately awe-inspiring landscape upon which the fine arts of mankind can play themselves out. But I digress.

Book your room for any Opera showing now ~ receive a Split of Champagne & 2 slices of Opera cake to enjoy!

Since that first production, I try to see at least one opera per season, always the one recommended by Nancy Zeckendorf, my close friend and co-founding director of the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Nancy’s influence on me cannot be described. It was she who brought me onto the board of the opera in 1986, first to run the business fund drive, later as treasurer and chairman of the facilities committee.

Even still, I cannot remember my first opera’s name! It was a board-known fact that I never developed the deep understanding and knowledge of opera. Nevertheless, it was just as board-known that my enthusiasm and drive more than made up for my other shortcomings.

Besides, I was surrounded by people who knew everything about opera. My speech and drama background from college drove my interests more to the physical plant side of the performing arts, and therein lay the key to my interest in helping create Santa Fe’s finest and most versatile venue: the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Along with Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, Patricia McFate, and Alexis Girard, the dream came true, a dream that is much more fitting to my strengths as a builder and developer (like Bill).

The Lensic offers such a variety of programming. To name a few: the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, the Lannan and Santa Fe Institute lecture series, the New Mexico Jazz Festival, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Met Live, and Performance Santa Fe. All valuable cultural institutions, all as worthwhile as the opera, and all of which I’ve attended.

As for opera, I have seen dozens since that first one now forgotten, and I’ve always been impressed and had a wonderful evening. And what it’s taught me is how communal and convivial an outing it is—before, during, and after. Operagoers—regulars and first-timers—typically turn a night at the opera into a nightlong experience, with drinks or dinner beforehand (the opening night tailgate at the Santa Fe Opera is legendary), food and libations at intermission (though moderately), or dinner and/or drinks afterward.

Which is why I heartily recommend our own Agoyo Lounge as the perfect complement—to the opera or any of the many other cultural events going on throughout Santa Fe. Come in for an early dinner (starting at 5:30–please call for reservations) or an aperitif beforehand, or if it’s a shorter performance, come by for a late dinner or digestif.

Whatever your taste in the arts, the tastes at the Agoyo are unsurpassed and you will always be pleased, just as I have at the many operas I have attended. I just wish I could remember that first one. No matter. What I do remember vividly is the first time I watched lightning and giant black rainstorms rolling into town past the SFO stage, which now, like the entire audience, is fortunately covered from the elements.

Book your room for any Opera showing now ~ receive a Split of Champagne & 2 slices of Opera cake to enjoy!

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