JOE’S BLOG: THE COLORS OF FALL IN NORTHERN NEW MEXICO

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Naturally, when most people think of fall colors, they think of the east coast. Coming up from the Appalachian, through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, through New England and up to the State of Maine, everywhere fall foliage is bursting into color. Reds, yellows, and oranges are a glorious sign of the impending arrival of winter, and warmly welcome the flocks of tourists heading north and east, as numerous as birds migrating south.

 

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Northern New Mexico is always a place to experience colors in the Fall; a burning-red chili ristra alone is worth the trip. These appear all over New Mexico about this time of year when the famous Hatch, NM green chili harvest occurs. We may not have as many pumpkins as a New England town square, but our native squashes turn just as beautiful. Like the chilis and pumpkins changing their summer clothes, in the case of trees and their leaves, it is the arrival of cooler days and longer nights, which slow and then cease the photosynthesis process, trapping sugars in the leaves – a timeless process, which results in the robust reds. As the green chlorophyll dies, the trees’ leaves begin to try and salvage other nutrients and the carotenoids, masked by the green chlorophyll during the summer, and create the glory of autumnal hues.

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Each October and early November, there is almost always plenty of time to see these wonderful fall colors in and around Santa Fe. Valley cottonwoods turn golden and orange, aspens turn yellow, the Chinese Pistache becomes a ravaging deep red, and Gamble Oaks are cloaked in a soft blend of warm, burnt color. Purple Mountain Ash, ornamental crab apples and fruit trees join the chorus, while vista-wide Chamisa sprout plumes of blossoms whose bright golden yellow is unrivalled even by the mighty maples, hickories, oaks and beeches of the East Coast. One of he most amazing of all the sights is to see the quaking aspens covering the entire Sangre de Cristo mountain range just above town, while they are turning into a rippling carpet of shimmering yellows, highlighted by green pines and firs bursting above the sea of aspen gold. Hiking or mountain biking at this time of year on the many gentle – or if you prefer arduous – trails in the glorious Sangre de Cristos is just unbelievable.

 

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An autumn stay at the Inn on the Alameda allows one an opportunity to revel in our artistic landscaping planned to capture the beauty of fall foliage concentrated on our beautiful 2 acres perfectly situated along the cottonwood lined Santa Fe River. With November just around the corner, meet at the Agoyo Lounge for dinner in front of the glowing fireplace and savor one of our specialty cocktails – maybe a hot-toddie on the patio or a warm apple cider. Whatever your taste, the Inn on the Alameda will always accommodate and satisfy your desires in an inimitable setting.

Ski Santa Fe…and Taos!

The snow has come to Santa Fe, and we are delighted! More snow is predicted for the holiday, and we may even have that fabled White Christmas.

Fresh Snow Beckons!

Ski Santa Fe opened on December 15, a little later than the hoped-for Thanksgiving opening, but with real snow, no one is complaining. As of today, 31% of the ski area is open, with a 39″ base, and driving conditions up to the ski area are fine.  Currently, the price of lift tickets has been lowered, but of course, that can and probably will change, as more terrain is available to ski.

Adult All Day: $50 and Adult All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $30                             Teen All Day: $45 and Teen All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $25

Child All Day: $40 and Child All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $20                           Senior All Day: $40 and Senior All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $20

Active Duty Military All Day: $40                                                                   Half-Day: $40              Beginner Lift Only: $34

And there’s a webcam too,  if you want to see the mountain first!

In terms of rental equipment, you can stop on Hyde Park Road on the way to the ski basin and check out Cottam’s. In town, Alpine Sports is conveniently located on Sandoval and Water Street, same location for years. Santa Fe Mountain Sports is in a new spot in the Baca Street portion of the Santa Fe Railyard. And Ski Tech is an easy in and out on St. Francis Drive, just north of Cerrillos Road.

Snow Makes a Sunset Dramatic!

Skiers with a yen for more dramatic conditions can head to Taos Ski Valley, about 2 hours north of Santa Fe, and rentals are available right there. Taos is open to the top of the mountain, with a base of 24″. If you are already in New Mexico, you can even demo new equipment on Demo Days, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 19 and 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the base of lift #1. And if your ski vacation is planned for the new year, think about timing your visit so that you can enjoy the Taos Winter Wine Festival!

Cuddle Up by a Kiva Fireplace

Just be sure to be back at the Inn in time for our complimentary wine hour. After a day on the slopes, you will have earned it!

A Santa Fe Christmas!

We’re thinking holidays, how about you? Planning to travel to New Mexico in December? We are happy to offer some suggestions to make your Santa Fe holiday travel bright!

Here at the Inn on the Alameda, we welcome the arrival of the winter holiday season by lighting the Chanukah candles on Saturday, December 8 after sunset.

Happy Chanukah!

On Sunday, December 9, beginning at 3:00pm, Chabad Santa Fe invites everyone to attend a free Chanukah event on the Santa Fe Plaza, with a Community Menorah Lighting followed by a concert, featuring Jono Manson. And the Inn is also delighted to welcome any of our guests to light the candles in our Lobby on any of the eight nights of Chanukah.

Also on December 9, the annual holiday tradition of Las Posadas, a re-eanctment of the Holy Family’s search for shelter, takes place beginning at 5:30pm on the Plaza. This procession begins at the Palace pf the Governors and processes around the Plaza, and all are welcome to join. The devil makes an appearance to taunt the crowd, and booing ensues until an angel appears with a light sending blessings on those assembled. The walk concludes back at the Palace of the Governors, where biscochitos and hot cider are on tap.

Warming Up after Las Posadas

Thanks to the many wonderful museum gift shops and unique boutiques, Santa Fe has great options for picking up a  holiday gift that cannot be duplicated. Each museum shop’s selection is curated around the individual museum’s mission, so you can find Native American treasures, Spanish heritage gifts, and folk art oddities. The Plaza area is a mecca for cowboy boots, souvenir potholders, velvet skirts, and of course, jewelry.  And don’t worry, guys, there’s a cigar shop if you need to escape !

Case Trading Post at the Wheelwright Museum

Holiday music will be resounding through the City Different, known for its commitment to the musical performance. The Lensic has a roster of lyrical events to pick and choose from. Aaron Neville brings his sweet voice to Santa Fe with a Christmas concert on Monday, December 10 at 7:30pm. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus celebrates its birthday in music on Sunday, December 16 at 4:00pm. On Monday, December 17, the Santa Fe Concert Band, led by the inestimable Greg Heltman, offers its annual free concert at 7:00pm; this is your chance to carol! On December 24, at 5:00pm, the Santa Fe Concert Association welcomes an 11-year-old virtuoso pianist and composer, Emily Bear, to perform a Christmas Eve concert, also at the Lensic.  And the musical year ends on New Year’s Eve with a performance by the Harlem String Quartet at 5:00pm.

Of course, the Lensic is not our only venue! Santa Fe Pro Musica will be ensconced in the Loretto Chapel for two performances nightly at 6:00pm and 8:00pm from Thursday, December 20 through Monday, December 24, presenting their annual Baroque Christmas Concert. On Saturday, December 29 at 6:00pm and Sunday, December 30 at 3:00pm, Pro Musica offers a Mozart Holiday Concert at the St. Francis Auditorium.

Our Beautiful Cathedral is Perfect for Carols

On December 14, 18, 20, 21 & 22, at 8:00pm, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale presents a concert of Carols and Lullabies in the perfect location for such music, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. And on Sunday, December 15, the Chorale welcomes any and all to The Big Sing, a performance guaranteed to be the largest choir singing in New Mexico, taking place at 3:00pm at Cristo Rey Church. Not to be outdone, the 12-voice Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble performs A Winter Festival of Song on Saturday, December 14 at 7:00pm at the Loretto Chapel and Sunday, December 15 at 3:00pm at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel.

If you are staying in Santa Fe over the winter holidays, it’s a very good idea to have dinner reservations, and our concierge-trained staff is happy to recommend and reserve for you. We are here to answer all of your holiday questions, whether you are staying with us or not…just ask!

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALL OF US AT THE INN!

First Snow

Looking from Aspen Vista toward Santa Fe

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and over this past weekend the Southern Rockies made their annual abrupt bump down from autumn to winter. Temperatures plunged, and Santa Fe awoke to a dusting of snow on Sunday morning. And as if I had never seen snow before, I had to drive up the mountain to have a look. I made it up to Aspen Vista, the viewing area and trailhead for the popular walk – or snowshoe, or cross-country ski – up to Tesuque Ridge, where I parked and got out, only to discover it was FAR too cold to enjoy much of anything outside the car.

But it sure was beautiful in a wintery way. About 5 inches of snow had fallen and gusts of wind shook clouds of glittering ice crystals from the spruce trees. The overnight storm was still breaking up over the mountains so shadow alternated with sunlight as I watched. The change in conditions from only a few weeks ago was striking. This weekend:

And just a few weeks earlier:

This bodes well for skiing this winter. It’s time to start checking the Ski Santa Fe website for condition updates. And it looks like I need to dust off the snowshoes out in the garage!

An invitation for winter recreation

Following the Light

Aspen and light

As the days shorten and the temperature drops here in the Southern Rockies, fall color begins to move downward into the mid-elevation canyons below the crest of the mountains, spilling down like trickles of bright paint toward the old Spanish villages and dreaming Pueblos that dot the broad and luminous valley of the Rio Grande. The great burst of yellow among the high forests of aspen and spruce fades as quickly as it flared, but further below, color seems to concentrate and richen in the smaller groves and stream-side meadows, set off by the deep greens, rich olives, and waxy blues of the mixed-conifer forest.

Ponderosa. “Of all western pines this one seems to the beholder most full of light”

The aspen will follow you half-way down the mountain, clinging to the cooler drainages, and forming a golden canopy of light far over your head as their turn comes to shine:

Aspen high above the Bear Wallow Trail

But now a new palette of color emerges. The scrubby Gambel Oak sheds its dour summer aspect and dons the most surprising wardrobe of warm copper, persimmon, and Indian red:

A tangle of Gambel Oak

Wild currants throw off all restraint:

This dogwood relative goes deep into the red end of the spectrum,

while the Cliffbush simply can’t make up its mind:

Strawberries display a bipolar nature you would never suspect them of

while their proud and thorny relative, the wild rose, takes on a tasteful, conservative dress:

The lovely Rocky Mountain Maple glows in a pure chartreuse yellow:

Other shrubs experiment experiment with warmer combinations of color, flaunting the fashionable yellows:

All of these photographs were taken along the Bear Wallow Trail, about halfway up the road to Ski Santa Fe, just beyond Hyde Memorial State Park, about 8 miles from the Santa Fe Plaza. The Borrego-Bear Wallow loop is a hike we frequently recommend to guests here at the Inn, and while it is a beautiful walk any time of the year, it is simply exceptional right now.

Get outside and follow the light.