Santa Fe seems almost entirely built of adobe, accented by wooden beams, red ristras and turquoise stones, and set against an impossibly blue sky (like Crater Lake Blue, New Mexico Sky Blue also deserves its own paint color). We skipped a few days of school (we seem to be doing a lot of this), first to visit friends in their elegantly decorated New Mexican home (thanks, Dan and Chris), and then to explore the capitol city’s churches, museums and galleries.
St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral is a beautiful old church with a statue of St. Francis, animals by his side, on one side of the entrance and a statue of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first “Indian of North America” to be named a saint, on the other.
The New Mexico Museum of Art had Shakespeare’s First Folio, the first published collection of his plays, on display so that was our next stop. The kids could only manage a half hour of the Bard, but we spent several hours at the museum’s guitar exhibit, which included dozens of popular guitar designs plus an empty display case for the “air guitar”. We strummed a little, designed our own guitars on paper and eventually ended up drawing portraits of each other. There is too much to see in Santa Fe, but we did our best, visiting the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, the Georgia O’Keeffe museum, St. John’s College, and Collected Works, the local bookstore and coffeehouse.
G and I even took a daytrip up to Ojo Caliente, 50 miles north, to soak in the natural mineral spas (six in all: lithia, iron, soda, arsenic, the combination “big pool”, and the mud pool, where you “mud up”, dry off, and rinse). The air was cold so we plunged into the pools, relaxed on the decks to dry off and eat some snacks, and then plunged back again.
So there was all that Santa Fe area fancy cultural and spa stuff. And then there was the yurt, and the llamas, and the alien-themed roller skating! On the western edge of Santa Fe, down a curvy two-lane road that dips down to the river and then climbs back up, there is a brown sign that announces the entrance to historic Agua Fria, New Mexico, pop. 2,000. About a mile from this point is a bumpy dirt road, and then further down to the left a bumpier dirtier road that leads to the home of Bill and Robbyn Spencer, a friendly, eccentric and perfect pair to host our yurt/llama/skating experience. The Spencers manage the yurt, their dozen llamas and also the community roller rink, Rockin Rollers, which we visited on Friday night to try some skating, play some arcade games and eat Bill’s homemade pizza (and Ring Pops, the kids had to have Ring Pops). The roller rink has a fun alien theme so there are posters of UFOs and little green men everywhere you look. It’s a small, family place filled with kids and parents all there to roll around (skates, scooters and even a mom pushing a stroller in the mix) and enjoy slushies and pizza (and Ring Pops).
We loved the rink but even moreso loved the yurt and its llamas. Every time we opened the door, they were there to greet us with their strange alert llama looks, sometimes dashing over to get closer to us and sometimes standing back, but always equally interested in watching us. It’s an odd feeling to watch something that is watching you. We decided that a llama would probably always win a staring contest.
Lleaving the llamas behind but now well-prepared for more UFO discussions, we head to Roswell for a whopping two weeks. Unless abducted, we will catch up on emails, school lessons, and enjoy more quality time together.