Snow, Glorious Snow!

Snow, Glorious Snow!

SNOW, GLORIOUS SNOW!

New snow along the East Fork Jemez River Trail

The Pacific storms that have been soaking Southern California have been doing us a bit of good here in Northern New Mexico, and this past week was the perfect opportunity to strike out for the high country and see what nature has put in the storehouses. Our choice this time was one of my favorite walks up in the Jemez Mountains, a trail along a little steep-walled canyon so beautiful that a friend of mine calls it “Beaver Valley” after some half-remembered Disney fantasia from childhood. It’s an idyllic hike in the summer, with a cheerful creek winding along the flat floor of a narrow canyon crowded with spruce and dotted with wild rose and iris. I’d never seen it in the depths of winter, and now was the time.

The real name of the trail is the East Fork Jemez River, and our point of departure was the Las Conchas Trailhead, just off Highway 4 not far after you leave the Valle Grande in the Valles Caldera National Preserve. It’s about 57 miles from Santa Fe.

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Snow squall over the Valle Grande in the Jemez Mountains

The drive up was beautiful. The last snow squalls from the departing storm were still blowing through the mountains and the forest, flocked with fresh white, was almost hypnotic. Of course we pulled over at the Valle Grande overlook to have a look at the snow:

It is impossible to capture the scale of this mountain park, but you can get a measure of the expanse by noting the height of those full-grown trees at the foot of the mountains. (At other times of the year, you can pull up with the other visitors and listen to people arguing about if those little specks way out there are really a herd of elk.)

The Valle Grande is just a small part of the great volcanic caldera that blocks out the center of the Jemez Mountains. It has held a number of crater lakes in the recent geologic past, which account for its forest-free floor. The fires below are banked for the time being, however, and now, in winter, the Valle becomes a dazzling bowl of snow. It truly is a sight to behold.

The Las Conchas Trailhead opens off Highway 4 at a place where the East Fork of the Jemez River enters a box canyon that it has cut through the tortured rocks of the South Mountain rhyolite. This rhyolite is a thick flow of silica-rich lava erupted around 550,000 years ago, during the waning stages of volcanic activity in the Jemez. The flow blocked drainage inside the caldera for a while, but the lava was overtopped by water and a narrow canyon was soon carved through the resistant rock. A subsequent episode of backfilling gave the canyon a flat floor, which accounts for its unique attractiveness, and makes a summertime walk delightful.

Usually when you pull up to the trailhead you have a suspicion that you have stumbled into an REI commercial. Cattle Call Wall (pictured to the right) is usually thick with rock climbers, and there are always many more just inside the canyon, shouting happily to each other and jingling their carabiners.

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Snow-covered bridge over the Jemez River

There were no climbers on Saturday. The summertime crowds of hikers were missing, and the gurgling creek was muted by ice and buried under about two-and-a-half feet of new snow. A few hardy snowshoers had broken a path – bless them – and my friend and I wound our way into the hushed winter paradise within.

Let me just mention that crossing these very narrow bridges on an unstable icing of over two feet of new snow is somewhat . . . challenging. There’s not a lot of margin for error, and it’s really really hard to put one foot in front of the other when you are wearing snowshoes. Always be sure to bring someone along to help pull you out of the creek, but don’t let such minor obstacles stop you from enjoying the glorious snows of our New Mexico winter.

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.

Discover the the Nation's Newest National Preserve

by exploring the Valles Caldera!

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Santa Fe’s Film Heritage

Santa Fe’s Film Heritage

For nearly two decades, the five-day Santa Fe Film Festival has celebrated the best in cinematic arts, both locally and globally.  

 The 17th annual event is a must-do for film buffs, art enthusiasts, and anyone who appreciates a unique cultural experience. The program features more than 80 films, panels, juried awards, workshops, and parties to celebrate Santa Fe’s rich heritage in film.  

 Festival attendees can mingle with filmmakers from all over the world and enjoy screenings of some highly artistic and intriguing films that have been delicately curated by festival organizers.  

 The 2017 Santa Fe Film Festival is December 6-10, and features narrative and documentary films, shorts of all kinds, and tributes to world-renowned film artists and industry professionals. There is also a special spotlight on New Mexican filmmakers and film crews.  

 Don’t miss Santa Fe’s leading exhibition and educational gateway into all things cinematic in New Mexico. Come visit and watch!

Midday Munching

Midday Munching

Spending a morning strolling downtown Santa Fe and exploring galleries and shops can really work up an appetite. For the perfect midday nosh, stop by Palacio Café.  

From enchilada plates to tacos, smothered burritos, and burgers, Palacio Café makes choosing what’s for lunch pretty tough. No matter what you decide, you won’t be disappointed. And, the big portions will leave you so stuffed, you’ll have to head back to the hotel for a quick nap.  

On the lighter side, there’s a large sandwich menu with many panini and cold sandwich options, including the popular piled-high Palacio Club. Or, you can choose a bowl of pozole or one of the featured salads. Plus, there are plenty of vegetarian options.   

If you get there before 11 a.m., you can savor one of the café’s breakfast items. Think: breakfast burritos, tacos, omelets, and more.  

The cozy Palacio Café is also a great stop for an afternoon espresso or fresh-squeezed lemonade break. Grab a sidewalk table for great people watching and take in the neighborhood.  

Santa Fe misses you! Call us today to book your stay!

Chocolate Heaven Is a Place on Earth

Chocolate Heaven Is a Place on Earth

Chocoholics will find a little slice of heaven right in the heart of Santa Fe, with a truly unique chocolate experience at Kakawa.

Kakawa Chocolate House specializes in historic and authentic drinking chocolate elixirs based on recipes from ancient Mesoamerica, medieval Europe, and colonial America. Served in small hand-painted blue and white Mexican mugs, the flavorful chocolate is barely sweetened, fragrant, and spiced to meet a wide variety of tastes.

Along with the rich chocolate elixirs, Kakawa makes many one-of-a-kind chocolate creations, all made in small batches. Truffles, agave caramels, chili-flavored chocolates, mendiants, chocolate bars, and homemade ice cream are just some of the delicious creations made by Kakawa’s artisans.

Kick up your chocolate habit with the Chile D’arbols, whole roasted New Mexico Arbol chilis dipped in agave caramel and covered with house-blended dark chocolate. Or sip on one of Kakawa’s enticing elixirs. It’s a chocolate oasis in the city, with a bit of culinary history for you to experience.

Getting hungry? Start planning your trip to Santa Fe.

Christmas Eve in Santa Fe

Christmas Eve in Santa Fe

The holiday season here in Santa Fe is one of our favorite times of the year. Lights, music, and a host of annual activities make this a magical place to visit during the Christmas season. But if we could choose just one night to be here in Santa Fe, it would be Christmas Eve.

 

On Christmas Eve, Canyon Road (home to many of the city’s art galleries) is closed to traffic, and the city gathers there to celebrate. The street is alight with thousands of fairy lights, and luminarias (also known as farolitos) which are sand filled paper bags with candles in them that line the sidewalks and the tops of buildings and walls. Historically, this tradition started as small bonfires that were made with crisscrossed piñon branches built in squares about three-feet high and are said to light the way for the Christ child. These beautifully, lit walkways have been a part of Santa Fe tradition since the 19th century.  

 

Starting at dusk, people wander up and down Canyon road, enjoying the sights, and warming themselves up by visiting the many galleries and shops that stay open to offer hot chocolate and cookies. There are even wandering groups of carolers, helping spread the holiday cheer. It’s a time for everyone in Santa Fe to come out and celebrate together.

 

After visiting Canyon Road, many people head over to midnight mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis de Assisi. The doors usually open at 10:30pm, with Lessons and Carols starting at 11pm. By the time the mass starts at midnight, there is not an empty seat. It’s a wonderful blending of Catholic & Santa Fe traditions and not to be missed. If you’re looking for an earlier mass, San Miguel Mission – the oldest church in the United States – offers mass at 7 pm.   

 

Christmas in Santa Fe offers so many different ways to celebrate the holidays. Our location means that you are walking distance to all the holiday festivities, from luminarias and concerts, to midnight mass. Check our availability so you can be close to all the wonderful holiday festivities!  

How Time Slips Away in Santa Fe

The Inn on the Alameda stands poised to begin its 30th year of business in Santa Fe. During that time I have gone from my latter 30’s to my latter 60’s, and my son Michael has grown from 2 to 31. What fortunate blessings have been bestowed upon us and our property. What began as a 36 room limited service property has now doubled in size, abandoned its little portable lobby bar, enclosed the outdoor patio and risen in national stature and recognition. The Agoyo Lounge is now where that patio was, and a new and improved bar will be installed this coming early spring.

Agoyo is a Tewa Pueblo word for star or under the stars which was used by an early Pueblo employee for the patio’s nickname before it was enclosed. Then the night skies were darker since Santa Fe was much smaller and the stars more brilliant than even today, which is hard to imagine. We enclosed the patio because we had completely underestimated the seating capacity at breakfast on inclement rainy or snowing days, when few guests wished to enjoy the town until the early chill had gone. Cramming 72 guests in the small lobby was an impossibility and we always relied on the outdoor patio. Our front Sun Room was leased to the Galisteo News, a very cool espresso/coffee/ croissant precursor to Starbucks, so unlike now, it was unavailable for guests’ breakfast.

Agoyo LoungeThose were very exciting days for many reasons, but the best being was being named by USA today in 1986, our first year, as one of the top 10 romantic destinations in the country. With the brilliant guidance of Alice Marshall, our New York City based publicist, we began garnishing top 100, 200 and 500 hotels awards and acclaim from Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure. Along side our staff and location Alice stands as the 3rd leg of the stool for our amazing climb to even international recognition. Our breakfast room proudly displays the most astounding and notable covers of these two magazines.

As our 3rd decade ends, it is hard not to feel nostalgic looking back at all the wonderful people that have shaped the Inn. Kathy Lynch, our night auditor, has been here since we opened, and many of our people have stayed for more than 20 years. This has allowed a familiarity, warmth and even friendships to grow during this time. As we regularly see in write-ups of guests’ experiences that it is “like coming home”. So at this holiday season, a time of family gatherings, we welcome all of our guests to enjoy a hot drink in the Agoyo Lounge, bundle up, and stand under the brilliant night skies and thank the powers that be for all there is that is still good in the world.

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