Ski Santa Fe…and Taos!

The snow has come to Santa Fe, and we are delighted!

Fresh Snow Beckons!

Ski Santa Fe opened on November 27th, a little later than the hoped-for, but with real snow, no one is complaining. As of today, 30% of the ski area is open, with a 20″ 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: $95 and Adult All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $30

Teen All Day: $75 and Teen All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $25

Child All Day: $65 and Child All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $20

Senior All Day: $75 and Senior All Day w/Peak Plus Card: $20

Active Duty Military All Day: $78

Half-Day: $75              Beginner Lift Only: $42

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 at 541 Cordova Road. And Ski Tech Santa Fe 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 18″. And if your ski vacation is planned for after the new year, think about timing your visit so that you can enjoy the Taos Winter Wine Festival!

Cuddle Up by a Kiva Fireplace

 

Soaring on Raven’s Ridge

A Gray Jay enjoying the view from Raven’s Ridge

The other weekend, I just had to get out for some exercise. Since my thoughts lately have been occupied planning some hikes up in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado next summer, I decided to head up to Ski Santa Fe and get a good workout on Raven’s Ridge. Raven’s Ridge is the spur of the Santa Fe Range that divides the Tesuque watershed from the headwaters of Nambe Creek. It is the northern boundary of the Aspen Basin, which we enjoy seeing from Santa Fe nearly every day.

I put on my layers, made a thermos of my favorite tea – Formosa Oolong No. 8 from Adagio Teas, grabbed a breakfast burrito from La Montanita Co-op, and headed up the mountain.

On a clear and sunny day, the ordinarily somber spruce forests above 10,000 feet in elevation glow with an inner light. Fragrant and refreshing, they always remind me of Christmas and the holidays.

Looking up into towering Englemann Spruce on the Winsor Trail

There simply isn’t anything nicer than walking through these snow forests on a calm and sunny late morning, taking in the pure air and radiant light.

Packed snow on the Winsor Trail above Ski Santa Fe

The section of the Winsor Trail from the parking area of Ski Santa Fe up to the saddle on Raven’s Ridge is always a bit of a test – sort of the dues you have to pay to gain entrance to the Nambe Creek watershed and the peaks beyond. You gain over 800 feet in less than a mile, and since the trailhead is already at 10,200 feet elevation, you generally have to make some stops to catch your breath. I was huffing and puffing like a steam locomotive on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.

Soon enough, the trail levels out, and you reach the saddle on the flank of Aspen Peak, which marks the boundary of the vast and beautiful Pecos Wilderness.

The sign at the entrance to the Pecos Wilderness along the Winsor Trail

It’s at this gateway that you leave the Winsor Trail and turn right to follow the fence line along an informal trail that follows Raven’s Ridge through the trees. The climb is a little gentler than the switchbacks of the Winsor Trail, but there are a few more places where you’ll have to pause for breath. And there are no views to speak of – until you reach 11,200 feet and the tie-off point of the fence.

The headwaters of Nambe Creek from Raven’s Ridge

Perched on ancient gneiss above the glacial canyon that holds Nambe Lake, you’ll feel like you’re soaring in a glorious Rocky Mountain High. To your right is Lake Peak, a mountain horn that carries Ski Santa Fe on its west flank and the headwaters of the Santa Fe River on its south.

Lake Peak

By the way, if you are in the mood for some real adventure, my friend Mar’ Himmerich of Celestial Guides (celestialguides@yahoo.com) will be happy to take you skiing up there.

To your left is the bold massif of Santa Fe Baldy, the highest peak near Santa Fe.

Santa Fe Baldy 12,622 feet high

Below you is a vertigo-inducing drop with more diagonals and verticals than a vintage Italian travel poster.

Winter light

It’s a perfect place to stop for a well-deserved break. And as often happens up here in the alpine realm, with a soft fluttering, a flash of grey, and maybe a gentle whistle, you might have guests for tea.

Care to share that Clif Bar with me?

This is the Grey Jay, or Whiskey-Jack, the notorious camp robber who will eat out of your hand (or snatch food from it while you’re not looking). A pair of these birds kept an eye on me the entire time I ate my snack.

After a blissful time taking in the view and enjoying the sun on my face, I grabbed my daypack and headed back down the trail.

Ski Santa Fe, seen through spruce and aspen along the Winsor Trail

Soon enough, I was back in my car and cruising down NM 475 back to Santa Fe for a rendezvous with Starbucks. It was a Good Day. Come out and see us this winter, and have a good day of your own!

Somebody loves you in Santa Fe!

The Randall Davey Audubon Center

The Randall Davey Audubon Center


The Randall Davey Audubon Center

The Randall Davey House at Santa Fe’s Audubon Center

If you are staying in downtown Santa Fe – perhaps with us here at Inn on the Alameda – and you need a quick taste of the natural world, there is no better choice than Santa Fe’s Audubon Center just at the end of Upper Canyon Road, in the spacious entrance to the canyon of the little Santa Fe River. It’s about a two mile drive from the Inn, along some of Old Santa Fe’s most picturesque streets, and while the very last section of the road is unpaved, there’s plenty of parking and a welcoming nature center waiting for you at the end of your short journey.
The Audubon Center’s ground is just beyond the Nature Conservancy’s Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, where there is even more parking available, as well as trailhead access to the network of paths in Santa Fe’s Dale Ball Trail system. The Dale Ball Trails give you a way to to explore the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above town – and get some great views – without really leaving town at all.

Beaver ponds in the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve

The Audubon Center supports a small network of trails, which are great for morning bird walks, and the Nature Conservancy maintains a trail loop in their preserve, with some strategically-placed interpretive signs along the way.

Sinuous beaver dam on the Santa Fe River

In the early days, a sawmill was built here in the mouth of the canyon – which subsequently became the Randall Davey House – and Santa Fe’s first dam was constructed to hold back a small reservoir. This soon proved insufficient for the growing town, and other small dams were built upstream, higher in the watershed, to impound the spring runoff. Most of the canyon was deforested for firewood.
With this movement of attention up-canyon, the area around the Randall Davey House began a slow recovery, which has been greatly assisted by the efforts of the Audubon and the Nature Conservancy. The most remarkable of these rejuvenations is the growing family of beavers that has moved back into the stream.
Although I enjoy spotting birds as much as the next person (not very reliably, I have to confess), the Canyon Preserve also offers other opportunities to explore natural history. There is a short stony trail along the north side of the canyon, just above the beaver ponds, that skirts a window into Santa Fe’s more distant past – a past in which Santa Fe might have looked a little more like Cabo San Lucas than the high desert resort it is today.
The north part of the trail is built on a scree of fractured gneiss that has slid into place along an old metal retaining wall built to keep debris out of the old reservoir below. These rocks are extremely old. They form part of the crystalline basement – the ancient continental crust – that was pushed up here during the birth of the Rocky Mountains some 70 million years ago or so. The gneiss itself is over 1.5 billion years old.

Fractured pink gneiss with green stains of saussurite

Although it was born in an environment so hot, deep, and pressured that the rock could flow like taffy, subsequent movement upward brought it into a cold, low-pressure environment (our environment) where the rock became brittle and easy to fracture.
A little further along the trail, just beyond a section of seriously brecciated (broken) gneiss, layered and blocky grey beds appear, separated by gentle slopes of a powdery soil littered with fragments of rock. The grey layers are beds of limestone, a rock that practically always points to a shallow marine conditions at its time of deposition, and the slopes in between hide easily-eroded beds of shale, formerly mud, which also must have settled out of a body of water. (Shale is not quite as helpful in distinguishing its environment as limestone –  it plugs up river channels on land, silts up lakes, softens the contours of the sea floor deep or shallow, regardless) And while sedimentary rocks like these are initially laid down in practically horizontal strata, these layers are strongly tilted in places:

Tilted beds of limestone in along the trail

Shattered gneiss juxtaposed against tilted sedimentary strata indicates faulting – a process in which rocks are offset along fractures in the Earth’s crust. These particular layers of limestone and shale aren’t very thick on Santa Fe’s side of the mountain, but if you were to hop over the mountains to the east, you’d find entire ridges worth of the stuff. On this side of the mountain only a few small slivers of the limestones and shales are preserved, and these are inset into the crystalline basement rocks along faults such as the one you’ve just walked across on the trail.
A closer look at the limestone beds gives a much stronger indication of their marine origin:

Marine fossils in Pennsylvanian limestone along trail

The rocks are full of fossils – brachiopods (the shells), crinoids (sea lilies), and byrozoans (looking like sea fans) – which strengthen the interpretation that these limestones were laid down in a shallow sea. Such creatures typically thrive in shallow, warm, sunlit waters. The fact that most of the fossils are abraded or broken up into fragments suspended in limy mud (geologists call this a “fossil hash”) also hints at waves and tidal currents dispersing the remains.

These fossils help in another way: they allow geologist to assign the rocks to a specific period in the distant past – in this case, the Pennsylvanian Period (320 -286 million years ago). Reconstructions of the positions of the drifting continents puts New Mexico practically at the Equator at that time. A foreshadowing of the Rocky Mountains – the Ancestral Rockies – were punching up through shallow seas then, responding to stresses set up by the convergence of the North and South American continents. In my mind’s eye, I can picture a calm ocean glittering under a hot equatorial sky, with arid islands of granite shimmering in the distance – like the Sea of Cortez off La Paz – right here, where Santa Fe sits today, 7000 feet above the ocean.

So next time you’re here in town, take a short drive up Alameda Street and Upper Canyon road, get out and stretch your legs, say hello to the nice people at The Nature Store, and have a walk, with eyes either tuned to the past or the present, in this wonderful natural treasure only minutes from the Plaza.

Ski Santa Fe…and Taos!

The snow has come to Santa Fe, and we are delighted! Ski Santa Fe opened on November 27th, a little later than the hoped-for, but with real snow, no one is complaining. As of today, 30% of the ski area is open, with a 20" base, and driving conditions up to the ski...

read more

Soaring on Raven’s Ridge

The other weekend, I just had to get out for some exercise. Since my thoughts lately have been occupied planning some hikes up in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado next summer, I decided to head up to Ski Santa Fe and get a good workout on Raven’s Ridge. Raven’s...

read more
Under The Volcano

Under The Volcano


Under the Volcano

Today I’m going to give a little overview of the geology of the Cerrillos Hills. Before I begin, however, I would like to direct the attention of those more serious inquirers and rockhounds to an article by a true expert on this area, Stephen Maynard: “The Geology of the Cerrillos Hills“. My intention is to highlight some of the bold features you might see on a walk in the new State Park on a sunny afternoon, with a few photographs to guide us along. If this piques your interest, don’t hesitate to build some context by having a look at Stephen’s excellent and easy to read summary.

“Grand Central” in the Cerrillos Hills

Everyone has seen pictures of volcanoes, but did you ever wonder what it might look like under the smoking mountain? A walk in the Cerrillos Hills will give you that opportunity, with a little guidance from the geologists. All that pent-up magma, liquid and mobile, seeking a new equilibrium in the Earth’s crust above those places where it has been born, exerts a tremendous amount of pressure as it wedges its way up through the rocks. In places it pauses and pools horizontally, splitting the crust and lifting it up, forming a sort of gigantically hot flat pancake in the crust. If the magma freezes there, the body of rock it leaves is called a sill. (Think flat, like a window sill).

If the pancake of magma continues to grow, eventually its roof will rupture in vertical cracks, and the hot batter will squirt up into the splits with great violence, propping them open. If the magma freezes here, the body of rock it leaves is called a dike. Exposed by erosion at the earth’s surface, these features often stand up like walls or dams, hence the name. Here’s a small dike you might walk by in the park:

A dike exposed by erosion in the Cerrillos Hills

While these splits and ruptures can cease at any time, if they do continue upward and breach the surface, the magma gets out. We call the “getting out” a volcanic eruption.

In our part of the American West, it so happens that a very thick body of shale – mud that has accumulated on the floor of an ocean or a lake, and subsequently compacted into rock – stood in the way of the ascending magma and led to some unusual effects.

Laccoliths are sills with bulging roofs, bowing up the rocks above, like a blister. In the Cerrillos area, these blisters actually stacked themselves one above the other, forming – in the fevered imagination of a geologist – something like a stony Christmas tree. The relative weakness of the thick shale encouraged this phenomenon. To put you out of your suspense, the magma did eventually reach the surface, forming a volcano, but persistent erosion dispersed the volcano and etched its way down into the stack of sills and dikes among which we can walk, today.

An outcropping along the railroad tracks that might help put things into perspective.

The pale grey stuff on the left, with the skirts of loose talus, is the shale. (It has a name, the Mancos Shale, about which more in another piece) The craggy orangy-grey cliffs, forming the little peak on the right, is a partially exposed sill of frozen magma. Keep in mind, from this perspective, the magma didn’t so much push up through the shale as out toward you. And it froze in place far underground. The little layer of orange stuff capping the grey shale on the left is a modern blanket of loose rock eroded from the sills and dikes and spread out as a thick rocky soil.

The magma frozen into the sills and dikes in the Cerrillos Hills has a very distinctive texture. Here’s an example:

Andesite porphyry

You can see a thick speckling of white crystals and clots of black crystals suspended in a greenish-gray mass of stone. An igneous rock with this sort of texture – visible crystals floating in a fine grained groundmass – is called a porphyry. To a geologist’s eye, this texture indicates at least two episodes of cooling. And the stony appearance of the groundmass is a clue that the final episode of cooling was fairly rapid and occurred under low confining pressures, a characteristic of volcanic activity.

By the way, that dark mineral you see is rich in iron, so as these rocks weather at the surface, they acquire a patina of rust. That’s why the rocky outcroppings in the hills are more orange than grey.

As if all this blistering wasn’t enough, in a second episode of igneous activity, a big slug of magma of somewhat different composition forced its way through the pile of laccoliths to feed another generation of volcanism. Some of this magma froze into a large, roughly cylindrical plug – called a stock – right in the middle of our stack of sills, and when erosion hacked its way into this mass, it left the stock standing in relief. It’s big. We call it Grand Central, now, and you can see a picture of it at the beginning of this entry.

This second episode of intrusion was sufficiently forceful to dome up and distort the entire package of shale, sills, and dikes. And this mass of melted crust had an additional cargo of elements humans find either useful or attractive – like gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc. Now we’re talking!

An intrusion of this magnitude takes a long time to crystallize and cool off, and as it does so, all kinds of secondary effects can occur. The heat of the magma sets groundwater into motion. Much of this water is superheated and aggressively corrosive. The crystallizing magma itself rejects volatile elements like hydrogen (i.e. more water) chlorine, and sulfur. It also rejects elements that don’t fit into the atomic framework of the bulk of the minerals that are crystallizing: the heavier metals that we love to use in wedding rings and bullets and car batteries and telephones. This hot brew of chemicals seeks its way toward the surface as best it can, staining everything it touches and leaving behind crusty residues of exotic minerals rich in those valuable metals.

In the Cerrillos Hills a system of fractures oriented in a northeasterly direction guided these potent juices to create bleached and iron stained zones of rock the old miners called veins or lodes. Erosion gradually unearthed some of them (with weathering effects adding lovely new complexities, one of which is called turquoise) and miners both ancient and modern began poking around for the riches:

Prospect pit in the Cerrillos Hills

The ancient ones (and not a few modern rockhounds) sought turquoise, which was used for adornment and was traded far and wide. They also used some of the lead minerals to make pottery glazes. The pragmatic Spanish had no use for turquoise, but lead was always useful for bullets, copper for utensils, and silver for money. The turn-of-the-last-century Anglo miners loved that silver too, but also had industrial markets for lead, zinc, and copper. (There’s not much gold in the Cerrillos Hills, but in the rugged mountains you can see just to the south, the Ortiz Mountains, there was – and is – plenty of gold) Turquoise experienced a new vogue in jewelry and small mines were developed to find it. (You always wondered why the box from Tiffany’s had that particular color, didn’t you?)

As usual, the richer and easier to find deposits were exploited to the point of exhaustion. There’s still a faint halo of copper minerals in the rocks, exploitable by modern mining techniques – but it would require the removal of the Cerrillos Hills themselves to get it (not to mention an ocean of unavailable water) and this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. But for now, we can admire the efforts of the early miners, preserved in the park, and we can enjoy a unique natural museum of subterranean activity – under the volcano – laid out for anyone who takes the time to look.

Ski Santa Fe…and Taos!

The snow has come to Santa Fe, and we are delighted! Ski Santa Fe opened on November 27th, a little later than the hoped-for, but with real snow, no one is complaining. As of today, 30% of the ski area is open, with a 20" base, and driving conditions up to the ski...

read more

Soaring on Raven’s Ridge

The other weekend, I just had to get out for some exercise. Since my thoughts lately have been occupied planning some hikes up in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado next summer, I decided to head up to Ski Santa Fe and get a good workout on Raven’s Ridge. Raven’s...

read more
The Lensic – Santa Fe’s Grande Dame

The Lensic – Santa Fe’s Grande Dame

The Lensic – Santa Fe’s Grande Dame

On June 24, 1931, alongside the beginning of the Great Depression, The Lensic motion picture “palace” opened in our fair city of just 11,000 souls.

Built by Nathan Salmon and John E. Greer, and named for Mr. Greer’s six grandchildren, the Lensic was an anagram of the first letter of each grandchild’s name. Built in the Spanish Baroque style, the Lensic’s distinct architecture has defined Santa Fe as much as John Gaw Meem’s Pueblo Revival style. She was the social center of town with her own ballroom and a stage for vaudeville acts, with a 6 musician orchestra pit.

Historic Lensic Exterior-EDIT

By the 1990’s, the wear and tear of passing decades made her look worn down. Because of Bill Zeckendorf’s vision that Santa Fe could and would support a downtown performing arts center, his wife Nancy and other civic minded Santa Feans began the arduous task of raising $9,000,000 necessary for its expansion and historic preservation. Without the foresight and shared vision of Alexis Girard and her family, the Lensic Board would have never been able to eventually own the theater, a critical requirement for philanthropic support.

B24
View from Stage

Throughout the years, this “wonder theater of the Southwest” hosted performers as diverse as Chet Grass and his Frontier Knights Orchestra to vaudeville shows with skimpily clad dancing girls like Maria Y Sable. When the Lensic premiered Santa Fe Trail in 1940, Roy Rogers Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan and Olivia de Haviland all were in attendance. In 1934, Claudette Colbert appeared at the premier of Cleopatra, a young Judy Garland performed here, Rudy Valle crooned, and for the 1982 film festival, Lillian Gish, Ray Bolger, Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers smiled, blew kisses and danced across the stage.

_68X0074

With this sort of history, most of our citizens felt the Lensic had to be one of the finest performing arts centers in America. The Lensic Performing Arts Center opened on April 22, 2001 featuring violinist Pinchas Zuckerman, Marc Neikrug, David Grusin and Eddie Daniels among many others, including a hundred National Dance Institute students performing on stage.

Future Voices of New Mexico Awards 2016

The Lensic was off and running, creating in the past 20 years countless diverse community oriented programs including dance, voice, musical, theatrical performances and lecture series.

_MG_5237b

Santa Fe is a city whose citizens pine with love for all the performing arts, and the Lensic is one of the major pillars supporting our City Different’s unique position in our land. The foresight of Nathan Salmon and E. John Greer, along with the drive and determination of the Zeckendorfs and Alexis Greer Girard, plus countless donors, big and small, including the State of NM and the City of Santa Fe, gave us this bountiful gift.  Any trip to Santa Fe should include a visit to the Lensic for a performance or two. Before your visit to the Inn on the Alameda, check out Lensic.org for a list of the coming attractions and get your tickets early. The Lensic is truly a gem in the crown of the Performing Arts in New Mexico, and is fortunately located right here in Santa Fe.

Ski Santa Fe…and Taos!

The snow has come to Santa Fe, and we are delighted! Ski Santa Fe opened on November 27th, a little later than the hoped-for, but with real snow, no one is complaining. As of today, 30% of the ski area is open, with a 20" base, and driving conditions up to the ski...

read more

Soaring on Raven’s Ridge

The other weekend, I just had to get out for some exercise. Since my thoughts lately have been occupied planning some hikes up in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado next summer, I decided to head up to Ski Santa Fe and get a good workout on Raven’s Ridge. Raven’s...

read more
The Galisteo Studio Tour

The Galisteo Studio Tour

The Galisteo Studio Tour

The spirt of Georgia O’Keeffe in Galisteo, New Mexico

One of the great joys of the autumn season in Northern New Mexico is the annual round of village studio tours.

Artists open their homes and studios to wandering aficionados of the arts in many of the picturesque small towns around Santa Fe over the weekend, beginning in late summer, with the first hint of fall in the high country, and ending in mid-November, when winter is starting to show on the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Over the years these events have become remarkably well organized, with flyers and websites, welcoming stations with friendly folks passing out maps (surrounded by the inevitable bake sale), large and colorful signs guiding you along the obscure calles, and groups selling traditional meals and snacks  somewhere in a village gathering spot.

The village of Galisteo hosts one of my favorite tours. This old town, about half an hour’s drive southeast of Santa Fe, always picks a mid-October weekend to host, basking in autumn light and the golden glow of the cottonwoods along Galisteo Creek.

Crossing little Galisteo Creek on the village bridge

As always, the local Catholic Church is a good place to stop and plot your afternoon.

The church in Galisteo

The gnarled old roots of old New Mexico poke up from the earth here, as they do in every village:

A crumbling adobe, returning to the land

If you really want to see how an artist works, and find out what inspires him or her, a visit to the studio will go far to satisfy your curiosity.

Catherine Ferguson’s sign hanging outside her house and studio

A yard full of art

Everyone seems to be happy to talk to you, and to show you the tools of their trade. You’ll probably be offered a snack from the kitchen and the privilege of wandering around the house and yard – and if you see a work you can’t live without, you’ll very likely be able to purchase it on the spot.

Well over half the fun of making a studio tour is peeking into people’s normally private homes and gardens, seeing how they arrange their creative lives, and enjoying the rich intermingling of art, landscape, and livelihood that might well cause a twinge of envy as well as admiration.

An illuminated wall

A questionable invitation

Behind adobe walls. Paintings were hung all along this box of light.

So if you’re planning a visit out our way next year around this time – and what could be more delightful than the Southern Rockies in September and October? – take a moment to look into the local studio tours and make some time for a day trip. I think you’ll discover then, for yourself, why the arts and New Mexico are so firmly joined.

Looking toward Galisteo from the house of the chocolate artist

Ski Santa Fe…and Taos!

The snow has come to Santa Fe, and we are delighted! Ski Santa Fe opened on November 27th, a little later than the hoped-for, but with real snow, no one is complaining. As of today, 30% of the ski area is open, with a 20" base, and driving conditions up to the ski...

read more

Soaring on Raven’s Ridge

The other weekend, I just had to get out for some exercise. Since my thoughts lately have been occupied planning some hikes up in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado next summer, I decided to head up to Ski Santa Fe and get a good workout on Raven’s Ridge. Raven’s...

read more

The spirt of Georgia O’Keeffe in Galisteo, New Mexico

One of the great joys of the autumn season in Northern New Mexico is the annual round of village studio tours. Artists open their homes and studios to wandering aficionados of the arts in many of the picturesque small towns around Santa Fe over the weekend, beginning in late summer, with the first hint of fall in the high country, and ending in mid-November, when winter is starting to show on the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Over the years these events have become remarkably well organized, with flyers and websites, welcoming stations with friendly folks passing out maps (surrounded by the inevitable bake sale), large and colorful signs guiding you along the obscure calles, and groups selling traditional meals and snacks  somewhere in a village gathering spot.

The village of Galisteo hosts one of my favorite tours. This old town, about half an hour’s drive southeast of Santa Fe, always picks a mid-October weekend to host, basking in autumn light and the golden glow of the cottonwoods along Galisteo Creek.

Crossing little Galisteo Creek on the village bridge

As always, the local Catholic Church is a good place to stop and plot your afternoon.

The church in Galisteo

The gnarled old roots of old New Mexico poke up from the earth here, as they do in every village:

A crumbling adobe, returning to the land

If you really want to see how an artist works, and find out what inspires him or her, a visit to the studio will go far to satisfy your curiosity.

Catherine Ferguson’s sign hanging outside her house and studio

Everyone seems to be happy to talk to you, and to show you the tools of their trade. You’ll probably be offered a snack from the kitchen and the privilege of wandering around the house and yard – and if you see a work you can’t live without, you’ll very likely be able to purchase it on the spot.

A yard full of art

Well over half the fun of making a studio tour is peeking into people’s normally private homes and gardens, seeing how they arrange their creative lives, and enjoying the rich intermingling of art, landscape, and livelihood that might well cause a twinge of envy as well as admiration.

An illuminated wall

Behind adobe walls. Paintings were hung all along this box of light.

A questionable invitation

So if you’re planning a visit out our way next year around this time – and what could be more delightful than the Southern Rockies in September and October? – take a moment to look into the local studio tours and make some time for a day trip. I think you’ll discover then, for yourself, why the arts and New Mexico are so firmly joined.

Looking toward Galisteo from the house of the chocolate artist

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