Thursday, June 16, 2011

Santa Fe Revisited

After a two year hiatus, we returned to Santa Fe in May for a four day weekend trip.   This time we stayed in a B&B, Hacienda Nicholas, which an old friend recommended.  The proprietress, Carolyn Lee, actually owns three/four properties--Hacienda Nicholas (+ casita), Madeleine Inn and Alexander's Inn, which are named after her three children.  We stayed in the casita, which is a few blocks away from the Madeleine and the Hacienda, themselves across a cul de sac from each other on a small street off Palace Avenue near Paseo de Peralta.  The casita was spacious, tastefully decorated in Southwesternalia and had the ever desirable king size bed. However, for us it was a bit awkward having to get from the bedroom upstairs in the middle of the night to the bathroom via metal spiral staircase.  I recommend the casita only for those with younger bladders.

Breakfast at Hacienda Nicholas was out of this world.  For example, they made a bluecorn pinon waffle that melted in your mouth.  The other breakfasts were chili based but not too spicy for me, who generally does not like spicy. Although I must say that I find I am more tolerant of chilis and other New Mexican spices in Santa fe than I am when I try to recreate the food at home.   Perhaps being in the high desert makes it taste better?

We did venture out of the B&B from time to time (even though the massages at Absolute Nirvana, located at the Madeleine, were lovely).  In our room, there was helpful binder with itineraries to explore the Santa Fe area.  Thanks to that, we took off for Bandelier Monument, about an hour from Santa Fe.  On the way to Bandelier, we stopped first at Los Alamos to visit the site of the development of the atomic bombs.

After visiting Hiroshima in December, it seemed fitting to come full circle to the place where work was done on the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The Manhattan Project was largely run out of Los Alamos although a significant amount of work on the gun-style fission bomb, Little Boy,  which was dropped on Hiroshima, was done in Tennessee.  The supply of uranium isotope (Uranium 235)  used in the first bomb was limited and so research at Los Alamos focussed on building a bomb based on fission of plutonium.  Robert J. Oppenheimer assembled a staff of preeminent scientists, including a friend's father, who traveled by train to Santa Fe and then were whisked away to this secret location near the mountains.

We wandered around the former site of the Los Alamos Ranch School, which provided offices and living space for many of the scientists, in addition to the now demolished quonset huts that filled the park across from the school site.  Fuller Lodge, with its main auditorium where Manhattan Project scientists met to discuss weighty issues, is now used for events.  A pianist was practicing for an event while we were there.  We opted not to visit the memorial for the place where Big Man (dropped on Nagasaki) was assembled, having steeped ourselves enough in WW2 history for one day.
Baker House

Fuller Lodge

Auditorium in Fuller Lodge

Instead we headed to Bandelier in search of a much older history, that of the ancient pueblo people and their dwellings. We walked on the main loop trail, visiting the big Kiva, Tyuonyi and a few cliff dwellings and cave rooms (aka cavetes).  Unfortunately, the altitude and dry air made it too hard for me to keep climbing to make it to the Long House.  Perhaps on my next trip.

Big Kiva

Tyuonyi pueblo remmants-  closeup

Bandelier cliff dwellings

Tyuonyi pueblo remmants- overview

Cave rooms
Next up-- our day trip to Taos, including the Taos Pueblo and the Rio Grande Gorge

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