Two Casitas Travel Blog

Protecting The Night Sky In Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a city that cares deeply about the natural beauty of the night sky. The Santa Fe Conservation Trust is an organization that is designed to protect the natural, environmental treasures of Santa Fe. The night sky is full of stunning stars, and it is essential that we keep light pollution down so that we can enjoy this natural wonder. One of the ways that we can protect the night sky is to use energy-efficient LED lights in a conscientious way.
Why Is the Night Sky So Important?
The Santa Fe Conservation Trust's mission of “protecting the traditional landscapes of our diverse cultures.” The nighttime landscape does not look traditional if it is covered in bright and obtrusive lights. The light from street lamps, cars, stadiums, parking lots, and buildings that operate all night is called Sky Glow, and it has been growing at a rate of about 6% per year.
Protecting the city of Santa Fe from expanding sky glow is an important factor in protecting the traditional landscape. Peter Lipscomb, a Santa Fe Astronomer, explains that the traditional night sky is one of the “oldest and most universal links to human history.” The night sky, along with the mountains, rivers, landscapes, and plants is all a part of nature worth protecting.
What Makes LED Lighting A Good Choice For Street Lights?
Many cities and towns across the globe have converted to LED lighting for street lights. This is because of their energy efficiency. At first, this was seen as a big problem, because LED street lights are very bright.
But the good news is that among the many benefits that LED lights have can be programmed to adjust color and brightness. Cities can also use shields around the top of the light to stop the glow from the light from traveling up into space.
City Ordinances Which Protect The Sky
In the city of Santa Fe, there are strict regulations in place which cap the amount of wattage than an outdoor light can display. The conservation trust addresses light pollution by suggesting ways that the community can save the beauty of the night sky.
Northern New Mexico is full of natural, breathtaking beauty. It is up to those who live and vacation here to protect it. As a community, we can work together to make sure that energy efficient, environmentally-friendly lighting is used in a smart way. LED lights can cut down on Sky Glow so that we can enjoy the traditional beauty of the landscapes which surround us.
Meow Wolf

Santa Fe is, and always has been, a hotbed for artistic expression. Everything from traditional Native American pottery to modern sculpture is fostered in our city's culture and history. We host the 2nd highest number of art galleries per capita of any city in the US (After New York), and the art industry is a major player in our local economy. Santa Fe's art always reflects our culture and the natural beauty of New Mexico, and its style is easily recognizable. However, a new phenomenon has completely taken over Santa Fe's art scene. And while it is unlike anything that has ever come out of Santa Fe, it is the kind of project that fully encapsulates a new youthful art culture that is unique to our town. It is called Meow Wolf, and it has been making serious waves throughout New Mexico and the whole nation.

Meow Wolf defines itself as an art collective, which means that they are not tied to their location on Rufina Circle on the former grounds of our local bowling alley. In fact, since the formed in 2008, they have created temporary installations at Albuquerque, Chicago, Boulder, New York, San Antonio, Santa Fe and more. However, in 2016 their permanent Santa Fe location has allowed them to make a name for themselves. It is called “The House of Eternal Return” and it has brought over a million patrons through its doors.

So what is Meow Wolf and The House Of Eternal Return? That question is certainly more difficult to answer than one might expect! Upon your arrival, you will be greeted by some gargantuan creatures in the parking lot that appear both alive and mechanical simultaneously. This immediately confirms the sense that you are about to embark on an unusual journey. After paying the price of admission ($17 for NM residents, and $20 for visitors), you are escorted to the entrance of the mysterious mansion that you will be exploring. I don't want to divulge too many details, but rest assured that while your adventure will begin in a relatively familiar setting, you will soon be transported into environments that you couldn't imagine in your wildest dreams. From the psychedelic, to the macabre, to the out-right fantastical, every room will excite your curiosity and inspire your imagination. You are offered a mysterious narrative that you can follow deliberately, or you can simply wander and get lost. When I visited, I spent about 3 hours exploring, and I am fairly certain that I didn't see everything.
Deep inside Meow Wolf is a fully developed music venue that is slowly becoming one of Santa Fe's favorite places to see live music. Sporting local acts along with touring musicians, Meow Wolf assures a completely unique concert experience with assured quality. In fact, it was recently added to the list of the top 10 music venues in the USA by Yelp.
At the end of the day, Meow Wolf is something that cannot be described in writing, or even represented well in pictures. It is something that you absolutely have to experience in person. Once you do, you will understand why it has become such an instant success, and why it has single-handedly energized young artists in Santa Fe who hope to blaize their own artistic trails into New Mexico's future.
FIRST Stay Like A Local Blog
Hello! This is the first entry in my new series of blog entries called “Stay Like A Local” where I will provide you with tips to immerse yourself in Santa Fe's local culture. This entry will focus on Santa Fe's music scene which is one of the most vibrant (and under appreciated) aspects of The City Different. A lot of people come to Santa Fe to experience our fantastic Santa Fe Opera House and Chamber Music Festival, however if you are interested in a wide array of music, don't miss out on the hundreds of local acts that call Santa Fe home.
If you are traveling to Santa Fe between June 23rd and August 28th, be sure to visit the Santa Fe Bandstand on The Plaza. Most all of Two Casitas, Santa Fe Vacation Homes are walking distance to the Plaza. (Those of you from Texas might say Square, do not say Square all the locals will know you are a tourist lol) The festival features 100 open-air performances by a wide variety of local and touring bands. This is one of my favorite activities in Santa Fe because both locals and tourists are able to freely mingle and enjoy free music while in close proximity to Santa Fe's cultural center. Details about The Santa Fe Bandstand and performance schedules can be found at
Santa Fe's restaurants and bars are another great way to experience local music. Here are some of my favorite venues:
I've been going to The Cowgirl for as long as I can remember. There isn't a single place in Santa Fe that typifies the local atmosphere more effectively and consistently than Santa Fe's very own Cowgirl Hall of Fame in the newly renovated and updated Rail yard district. I call this area the Sojo of Santa Fe. The food is affordable and tasty, the staff is friendly, and it is home to some of the best music in town! It is located in The Rail yard district, and is walking distance from many of our Vacation homes. There is a brunch every sunday morning, and live music almost every night. This is where I played my first show as a professional musician, and I have returned many times. It is a hub for Santa Fe's Alternative Country and Folk Music scene.‎
Second St. Brewery is another bar/restaurant that remains iconic to locals. They have two locations in town: one in The Rail yard, and the off of San Mateo St. Both are famous for their locally brewed beer and consistent quality music. Music is often quieter and more intimate at 2nd St. but the atmosphere is extremely vibrant.
El Farol has a fantastic dichotomy; it has all of the charm and personality of a dive bar, but with a fantastic and classy menu of tapas (Small Spanish dishes) and cocktails. It is located near the East end of Canyon Road, so it is very close to many of our casitas in that area as well. You will see plenty of fantastic music here, as it is another of Santa Fe's small music hubs. Expect to see a lot of blues and rock ‘n' roll here! El Farol is the oldest bar in Santa Fe. Here is a link to the restaurant bar and another fantastic link to learn about the rich history of El Farol.
El Farol - The Welcome Light in the Canyon
Evangelo's is Santa Fe's quintessential bar on The Plaza. Certainly the most authentic and at time wild venues in Santa Fe, expect a funky and old-time Santa Fe charm and plenty of drinks while you listen to its wide array of blues, soul, and rock ‘n' roll music.
Dual Brewing Company is a new bar in Santa Fe that has been picking up a lot of steam. They have a fantastic sound system, and is almost unique in the fact that there are no TVs in the bar! They brew their own beer, and play host to every kind of music that Santa Fe has to offer.
El Meson is a wonderful Spanish bar that is just North of The Plaza, and it is famous for its Jazz and Flamenco nights!
If you really want to blend in to Santa Fe, there is no better way to do it than by immersing yourself in our music scene. Locals are very passionate about music, and you will see plenty of styles that are not common in the rest of the country. Many of our local bands have a unique Santa Fe flavor, even though they run the gamut when it comes to genre. Almost every act that you see in Santa Fe will have a distinct character that will permeate the crowd and make you feel as if you've known them for years. This will make you feel right at home even though you are on vacation!
Of course, once you are finished gallivanting around town, you'll need a home to return to! Two Casitas has many properties that will provide you with unparalleled access to Santa Fe's local music scene. Best of all if you have one to many drinks you can walk home from most of these venues to one of Two Casitas Vacation Rentals. Check out to see which of our casitas would be the perfect home for your musical adventure!
Now lets get real local. You might just be one of the only locals here. Tiny's bar and lounge has been around since 1950. Tiny's of Santa Fe has made the Esquire list of best bars in America. It is s very near the heart of the City of Santa Fe--it's just not in the Plaza area where it started out decades ago. At Tiny's Restaurant and Lounge on Pen Road off Cerrillos, next to the Crossroads Mall, there is plenty of space to park your vehicle and dance till you drop. Tiny's offers many great reasons to come eat, drink, dance, and sing. The entertainment hosts some of Santa Fe's better bands and even Karaoke on Saturday nights which leads you to the dance floor, all without a cover. So bring your hunger your thirst to be quenched, your boots, paten-leather shoes, sneakers or loafers to dance.
Right on the Plaza every body knows of one of my favorite hotels. The only one to stay at if you feel like staying in a Santa Fe hotel instead of a vacation rental in my not so humble opinion. This is because of its authentic flavor and decor. Here the party begins in the La Fiesta Lounge off of the lobby where live acts bring down the house six nights a week. Enjoy some of the finest bands in Santa Fe, from cool blues to old-school soul music. Whether it's Texas two-step, rock ‘n' roll, jazz, or country that gets you moving, a good time is waiting for you in one of Santa Fe's favorite music venues.

See you on the dance floor!
Amazing Rescue Dogs

Amazing Rescue Dogs
When we think of 9/11's first responders, we rightly think of the brave men and women who lost their lives trying to rescue people as the towers fell or those affected for life by what happened that day. However, we should also remember the 300 search and rescue dogs worked 12 hour shifts trying to find survivors like Genelle Guzman-McMillan. Dogs are amazing animals whether they are our pets or working for the police, search and rescue, sniffer dogs at airports, or helping visually impaired individuals get about. The same is true for some wonderful canines in Santa Fe too.
Santa Fe's Earthquake Rescuers
In the early morning before sunrise in the Italian mountain town of Amatrice, the dogs began to bark. This was abnormal, but most people were asleep and did not notice. Only after one of the strongest quakes hit did they realize the dogs were trying to warn them. Santa Fe has it's own rescue dogs too. Local organization, Global Outreach Doctors sent 9 people and 3 search and rescue dogs to Nepal to help with their devastating earthquake in 2015.
Shelter Dogs Helping Kids Learn to Read
Meanwhile, over at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, dogs are being used to help young children learn to read. This is nothing new and is something happening across the world now with a greater understanding of how children and dogs get along. For those who find it hard to read aloud, reading to a person, even a non-judgmental one is scary. However, dogs never judge, they just sit and listen, want petting, or a cuddle. This means children in Santa Fe are gaining more confidence to read, make mistakes, and work on them without being judged. It's amazing.
Other Amazing Rescue Dogs from Around America
These are just some of the dogs in Santa Fe helping people. No doubt there's many more. Other special canines in America include Juno, an adopted dog, who looks after her young owner, Lucas, who has Sanfilippo syndrome. Or there is Glory who rescues lost dogs or Sergeant Stubby who having been rescued in Connecticut, went on to help rescue injured soldiers during World War 1.
Sadly not all dogs are happy enough to be out there rescuing people or helping vulnerable kids read. All too many are on the other side of the luck pool, subject to wrongful treatment and outright abuse. Some of these do end in happy stories though, while others just seem to be down on their luck. Let's pray for local dog Colter, rescued from a hiking trails, it now turns out the poor guy has cancer too.

Pet Friendly Fun!
We love dogs here at Two Casitas (Who doesn't, right?) When we started this business back in 1998, we didn't have dogs of our own, but always loved meeting our guest's dogs. When we got our first dog in 2000, she was thrilled when a new furry friend would pull up to one of the Two Casitas. This was back when Two Casitas only had "Two" Casitas and we lived at the same property in this compound and in the main part of the home at 511 Douglas Street which is now called Maraposa and Zia. We ended up with four little chihuahuas who helped get us through the best and worst of times, and yes, we brought them on some of our travels! Three of them recently passed away, and the other one lives with Wendy's mom, but we have recently adopted two new dogs named Miles and Fawn! We like to think of them as Two Casitas' unofficial mascots. But enough about our dogs, You're reading this because you want to know what you can do with your dog(s) in Santa Fe. Luckily, you've come to the right place, as Santa Fe is one of the most pet-friendly towns you can visit.

Almost one quarter of Two Casitas guests come with a furry companion and almost all of our vacation home rentals are dog-friendly. Although you will never know when you first arrive that another dog was visiting prior to you as you will not see a single dog hair in the house as we keep our homes sparking clean. Many of our vacation homes sport large backyards and or lovely patios. Most of the out door spaces are completely enclosed as well. When you stay in our homes your dog won't be cooped up in a small hotel room all day.This is one of the greatest advantages of renting a vacation rental over a standard hotel. Any many Santa Fe hotels are not pet friendly at all.
Santa Fe has some great parks where you and your dog can get some exercise. One of our personal favorites is St. Patrick Smith's park which is on the east side of the Plaza in-between E. Alameda St. and Canyon Rd. Lots of green grass and bags are furnished by the city of Santa Fe so you can help clean the park clean.This is a great place for you and your dogs to meet locals and other visitors. Although this park has a very strict on leash only law it is still considered one of the best dog park in town. You'll easily be able to find someone to talk to and exchange those never ending dog stories. If you're bringing your kids along, there is also a great playground and basketball court at the top of the park. The park is beautifully surrounded by many kinds of trees, and The Santa Fe River runs along its side. In fact the Santa Fe river walk is another lovely stroll to take with your furry friend. From Patrick Smith Park take a twenty minute walk along the grassy tree lined pathway to the Plaza. If your lucky our only river in town might actually be running.
One of my favorite things to do with our dogs in and around Santa Fe is to go hiking! You and your dog can take in the truly unique splendor of Santa Fe's hiking trails. Some of my favorite hiking spots are Santa Fe National Historic Trail, Trail Of Tears National Historic Park, Ski Santa Fe, Old Spanish National Historic Trail, and Borrego Trail.
When the weather is nice, many of Santa Fe's best restaurants have pet-friendly patios. Your dog will be so excited to get to go out to eat with you as you will be to sample Santa Fe's fantastic local cuisine! Here is a list of pet-friendly restaurants.
315 Restaurant -
Counter Culture -
La Casa Sena -
Downtown Subscription -
La Montanita Co-Op -
The Gate House -
Milagro 139 -
The Burrito Company -
Santa Fe Baking Company -
The Shed -\
When traveling with your dog, it's always smart to know where the nearest veterinarian clinic is. If you visit you can find the three locations of Santa Fe's emergency vet clinics just in case your dog needs treatment.
We always recommend if you are interesting in dog training services. They have a philosophy of creating a mutually beneficial relationship between the dog and owner as opposed to a submissive/dominant relationship. is one of our favorite boutique dog stores in Santa Fe. They have a lot of food and basic necessities as well as a lot of fun toys and clothing for all kinds of dogs that you will not find anywhere else! You can even get a real turquoise and silver collar and leach. South West clothing, doggie travel backpacks and strollers. Watch out this place is dangerous in you can empty your pocket book so easily while spoiling your best friend. We also have a Petco and Petsmart if you are looking for a more standard affair. is one of Santa Fe's excellent boarding services in town. They always make sure your dog is happy and comfortable. They also offer excellent training services!

Santa Fe's Five and Dime/Woolsworth
A town's general department store was often the only one-stop shopping destination for its residents, and because of that fact, its character helps define the character of the entire city. Santa Fe's Five and Dime (Previously Woolsworth's) is no exception. Located on the southwest corner of Santa Fe's Plaza, its central location provided it with heavy local traffic, and secured its place as a staple of Santa Fe's culture and mythology. Santa Fe boasts a unique version of “Americana.” From the stereotypical imagery of cowboys and Indians (and Spaniards), to the breathtaking vistas, landscapes, and sunsets that make Santa Fe so special, our town has contributed much to our country's historical image, and our Five and Dime is a critical piece to that cultural jigsaw.


Perhaps the thing that makes our Five and Dime most special and memorable is that, according to local legend, it was the birthplace of The Frito Pie. Teresa Hernandez worked at the Woolworth's lunch counter in the early 1960's, and she likely did what most great inventors/innovators do: combined two great things. A staple of Santa Fe's cuisine is its chile, and Woolworth's served it liberally. Certainly, Woolworth's also sold single-serve bags of Fritos, and Hernandez had the brilliant idea of simply combining the two products. Adding cheese and other toppings was a natural next step, and suddenly a truly unique product came into existence. Almost immediately, people were lining up to try the Frito Pie, and more than 50 years later, the lines have not died down. If you're going to have fast food in Santa Fe, this is the way to do it. Simple, down to earth, and uniquely Santa Fe!
Check out this recipe from
Woolworth's also has a personal connection to Two Casitas' owner, Wendy Kapp. As a child, her mother Phyllis Kapp (who is now a very successful local artist and owner of Waxlander Gallery on Canyon Rd.) was inspired by New Mexico's landscape and sweeping sunsets and took her husband and four kids on several trips through The Southwest. Her love of the landscape have inspired her for the twenty seven years that she has had her gallery on Canyon Road. In fact some of our vacation rentals are graced with her magnificent work. She and her family often stayed at the La Fonda hotel on The Plaza, and would take day trips throughout the state. These trips imprinted themselves into Wendy's identity as well, and she fell in love with Santa Fe for the rest of her life! One of her strongest memories was waking up and getting her first corn necklace at Woolworth's, and getting a Frito Pie! She tells me the story almost every time that we pass Five and Dime, and the affection for the shop is palpable. Wendy's mother who first turned Wendy on to the five and dime

While the store used to almost take up the entire block, it is now much smaller. It was purchased by Gerald Peters who bought much of Santa Fe's downtown property. In fact, he is the largest owner of real estate in downtown Santa Fe. This change was shocking for the locals who had been going for so many years, and who had sat on the bar-stools in the back of the store with friends and family to enjoy a home-made soda in days gone by. there was actually a protest held by the residents of Santa Fe, as they felt they were losing the Plaza as their meeting place to the growing tourist industry. The outcry didn't save the original Woolworth's completely, as much of it was converted into a shopping mall, however Mr. Peters was convinced enough to preserve a section of it complete with the lunch counter in the back. Wendy, your hostess and owner of Two Casitas, almost cried when she saw the final transition, however the spirit of the store is still preserved in the Five and Dime. The instant you walk in the front door, you will immediately feel whisked away to an earlier time. The store is littered with uniquely “Santa Fe” artifacts that range from bandanas, kokopeli warriors, musical instruments, Santa Fe licence plates, and of course, frito pies and corn necklaces that Wendy fell in love with as a child (though they are now five dollars instead of fifty cents!). While it is simply a small department store that sells keepsakes and snacks, it represents what is special about Santa Fe. It is a distinctive twist on classic Americana, and it has been fairly well preserved throughout time. It is a landmark of the beautiful simplicity and cultural potency of the past, and that is exactly why Santa Fe is visited by millions of people every year.

Green Chile!
As a local Santa Fean, green chile has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. To be perfectly honest, however, I cannot say that I have been eating it for any great length of time. I remember driving past the Albertsons and smelling the chile roasting every fall, and to this day, that aroma takes me right back to that life. I think I was always enchanted by that smell, however when it came to eating the stuff, I could not be convinced! Until I reached the age of fifteen or so, there was literally nothing that could convince me to eat anything remotely spicy, much less something that looked kind of green and slimy. Luckily for me, the temporary insanity known as “being a child” eventually wore off and I had my first green chile burger at The Santa Fe Baking Company. I can firmly say that I will never be able to enjoy a burger without green chile in quite the same way as I did before. The taste will always remind me of home, and it is just another small thing that makes New Mexico the special place that it is.

Now for people not familiar with green chile, there might be a bit of confusion. I often find explanations of my addiction to this food met with “Oh yeah! I love Chili with beans and beef etc…” I have to stop and restart the conversation by explaining that this is an entirely different ball-game, and that food prepared with green chile is not only a unique tasting food, but it has come to be an important part of our identity as New Mexicans.

We get our chile from the southwestern region of New Mexico, and the chile that is grown there is unlike any other crop in the country. There are several types of green chile that can be found in other places that are similar, but none can match the taste of that grown in Hatch, NM. Hidalgo, Luna, and Dona Ana counties are also large producers, but usually all chile that comes from this region is branded as “Hatch” green chile. Just to clarify, I am referring to the pepper as “Green Chile,” but at different levels of ripeness, it can become red chile which has a slightly different flavor. When visiting Santa Fe (at a Two Casitas vacation rental, of course), you will often be asked at various restaurants whether you you'd like “Red or Green.” This refers to the type of chile you'd like your dish to be prepared with. If you want both, say “Christmas.”

Hatch's chile has a unique and interesting history. It is, in fact, not a native crop to New Mexico, and it originates from a college laboratory in Colorado. In the early 20th Dr. Fabian Garcia was attempting to procure the ultimate chile pepper by combining the Colorado, Negro, and Pasilla. He was attempting to hybridize these species of pepper in order to create a milder, hardier, and more flavorful pepper than had ever existed. After this painstaking process was completed, farmers in southern New Mexico began requesting its seeds and began growing it using the Rio Grande river as irrigation. The resulting pepper is high in fiber, and vitamins A, B and C. It also has been shown to stimulate weight loss in a similar way to green tea.

So now that you're a bonafide Green Chile expert, you probably would like to know where to acquire some. I'll give you some of my personal recommendations: Santa Fe Bite (formerly Bob Cate Bite) is famous for its green chile hamburgers, and for good reason. It's said that their grill is finely tuned to make the perfect hamburger. The Shed has a more diverse menu that is full of foods that typify New Mexican cuisine. They are famous for having the spiciest chile in town! The Plaza Café has a fantastic smattering of New Mexican foods along with greek cuisine if you're traveling with someone who doesn't love the strictly local offerings. The Pantry is the ultimate place to get New Mexican breakfast and lunch. It remains somewhat of a local's secret, and visiting it will guarantee you a plate-full of fabulous New Mexican comfort food.

Bandelier National Monument

Another result of New Mexico's hidden volcanic past, the Pajarito Plateau was formed 1.6 and 1.4 million years ago by two eruptions of the Valles Caldera. The plateau is home to New Mexico's most famous national monument: Bandelier National Monument. If you are coming to Santa Fe and are hoping to take an unforgettable day trip, this place should be first on your list. Bandelier is one of the most naturally diverse and historically rich places to visit in New Mexico. Banelier's elevation ranges from just above five thousand feet to just over ten thousand, resulting in a fantastic diversity of ecosystems that can be explored in a relatively small area. The volcanic geology of the plateau and proximity for the river created a perfect home for the Ancestral Pueblo People, and when you take your day trip in New Mexico, you will be able to walk amid their ruins. Bandelier's eiversity lends itself to many different animal species as well. Mule deer, Abert's squirrels, lizards, Tarantulas and a number of bird species are common sightings. It is extremely important to note that these animals call Bandelier home, and that many of them will retaliate if they feel threatened. Taking pictures is usually fine, but distance and discretion are advised when interacting with the wildlife.

First, a little history: over ten-thousand years ago, many nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures inhabited New Mexico, and they would often follow migrating game throughout the state. Paleoindians used the famous Clovis points (you can probably find one if you look hard enough) to hunt many large mammal species. The now extinct bison and mammoth species were the primary source of sustenance for these people. However, around three-thousand years ago, Ancestral Pueblo people began to build semi-permanent settlements due to the fact that they became so good at hunting, that many of these food sources were completely depleted. These first Archaic peoples were significantly less nomadic than the Paleoindians, however they did still gather and hunt in relation to the changing seasons and availability of vegetation and game. While pottery would not come along for quite some time, they became excellent basket weavers, and used their baskets to store the food they had collected. They continued to settle, and eventually began to carve their homes into the volcanic rock that the Plateau is comprised of. These settlements can still be visited today, which is a testament to the longevity of these simple structures.

With the increase in permanent structures came farming. Corn, beans and squash were the primary crops for the Ancestral Pueblo People, though they still continued to feed off of naturally occurring vegetation. Deer, rabbits, and squirrels were still hunted, but turkeys were domesticated. Dogs were also domesticated to aid with hunting and to provide companionship. This lifestyle remained more or less the same until the mid-1500's when the Ancestral Pueblo people moved closer to the Rio Grande due to its natural advantages for farming and sustenance. The plateau could not sustain the growing population, and an extreme drought was the final straw.

President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to turn Bandelier into a national monument. As part of the Civilian Conservation Corps, many workers build roads into the monument, a visitor center, a lodge, and miles of trails that would aid in exploration of these ancient lands. These structures are all still in heavy usage. During World War II, the entire park was closed in order to house the people who worked on building the first atomic bomb.

Visiting Bandelier truly allows you to walk through this history. You can go right into the caves that the Ancestral Pueblo people called home and see the artwork that they painted on the wall over a thousand years ago. You can walk in the same foot trails that they left after thousands of journeys along the same path. You can see the same wildlife that they depended on for so long, and it's not a stretch of the imagination to truly understand their lifestyle. It was barren, yet beautiful, and it typifies ancient New Mexican culture like few other places can. My favorite thing about all of New Mexico is that it seems to be very much like a time machine. Depending on where you are, you can feel like you're living like people did long ago, and Bandelier is perhaps the best example of this.

Ski Santa Fe

Santa Fe is most busy in the summer and fall, and rightly so. Attractive weather, beautiful vistas, Indian Market, the Folk Art Festival, Zozobra, and a myriad of other festivals and attractions make summer a fabulous time to visit. It is also an ideal time to hike in the gorgeous mountains around town. However, there is another half of the year that is just as treasured, and it keeps people coming to Santa Fe throughout the entire year. A visit to Ski Santa Fe is one more fantastic opportunity that Santa Fe has to offer.

It is quite difficult to beat the beauty of the Mountains to the East of Santa Fe. Driving among the aspen trees while the leaves are changing colors is an incredible experience that everyone should see in their lifetime. However if you come to the same spot just a few months later, a whole new scene can be seen. Winter is a very transformative time in Santa Fe, and the drive up to the ski basin while it is snowing is pretty fantastic.

Of course, the skiing/snowboarding is the destination after the beautiful drive (However, make sure to be cautious on the drive, as the roads are small and icy). Ski Santa fe offers a variety of slopes of every difficulty and length. There are four lifts that go to distinct areas of the mountain, and each of them have different things to offer. The closer you are to the bottom of the mountain, the easier the hill will be. As you approach the top, you will encounter more difficult runs with moguls and steep inclines. Each run is labeled green, blue, black, double black, or triple black depending on its difficulty, so you can know the difficulty of the slope before you go down. For the inexperienced, Ski Santa Fe offers skiing and snowboarding classes, so you can learn to become more adventurous on the mountain. Whether you are coming to Santa Fe for a short period of time or if you intend to keep coming back there are options for you as you can get one-time tickets or season passes. If you're not interested in winter sports, the lifts are often open in the fall so you can still go to the top of the mountain and check out the view of all of Santa Fe.

This mountain has always been the backdrop to Santa Fe, but it is a world all its own that anyone who is interested in having a visceral experience in nature can access with just a short drive. It is another activity that shows the true diversity that a trip to Santa Fe can offer you at any time of the year.


Santa Fe has been our home for quite some time. Wendy has been here for over forty years, and, and I have lived here my whole life. Because of this, we have a tight bond with our home city. However, this doesn't stop us from enjoying the rest of the state. In fact, Santa Fe is a perfect home base to explore the rest of New Mexico's wonders. Particularly for repeat visitors, we love to encourage that you branch out from the city to see what else New Mexico has to offer. The first place that we love to recommend is Taos. Taos is an hour and a half North of Santa Fe, and can make for a great day trip, or to stay for a few nights. Its rich history is beautifully preserved because of its small size and remote location. Like Santa Fe, it provides an entirely unique experience that will give you the feeling that you have been transported to a different time and place that is totally separate from the rest of the the world.

The original Taos Pueblo is ranked among the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids, and The Grand Canyon as one of the world's most significant historical landmarks. It is the northernmost pueblo in New Mexico, and it has been inhabited for over one-thousand years. Though it is impossible to know for certain, it is very likely that the Taos Pueblo is the oldest consistently inhabited area in all of North America. Visiting the area makes this fact obvious, as no one would ever want to leave a place with such grand natural beauty!

As is the case with almost every settlement in the Southwest, Taos has been the site of many conflicts between various native cultures and Spanish conquistadors. Early Spanish settlers were welcomed, however due to conflicts over belief and resources, tensions began to rise. Several small revolts preceded the larger Pueblo Revolt in 1680, and even after the wider conflict had come to a close, many of Taos' native inhabitants continued to offer resistance to Spanish settlers. In the 1770's Comanches began to raid Taos, and they maintained a strong presence there until the end of that decade when the governor of New Mexico at the time forced them out.

After Taos was established as a territory of the United States, it became a popular destination for many artists. Around the turn of the century, painters became attracted to the lore of the Native American culture and made many attempts at documenting and preserving it. Many of these original artist's studios are preserved to this day, and they are a must-see for any art fan who is exploring Taos. There are also quite a few museums that showcase Taos' rich artistic history. Harwood Museum of Art, Taos Art Museum, Millicent Rogers Museum, also showcase much of the native artwork from Native Americans who have inhabited Taos. Taos also offers quite a few performing arts centers. The Taos Center for the Arts is a fantastic venue for all kinds of performances and is a truly unique setting for a concert. The Harwood Museum of Art also hosts many performances and lectures.

My personal favorite aspect of Taos is its natural beauty, and there is no shortage of activities that will allow you to take in this splendor. Rafting on the Rio Grande, hiking, llama trekking mountain biking, skiing, and fishing are among the abundant activities that you can partake in during a visit to Taos. This is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in one of the world's true natural treasures. Taos is natural New Mexico at its best, and there is simply no better way to lose yourself in the natural world.

Canyon Road

Most people who come to Santa Fe for the first time rightfully spend their time at the Santa Fe Plaza. However, Santa Fe has another major cultural attraction that adds a separate and unique element to Santa Fe's experience. Canyon Road is one of the most concentrated centers of art galleries in the country, and there are very few places in the world where you will find such an abundance of quality art, dining, history, and charm as you will encounter at Canyon Rd. It is located on the East side of town, in the foothills of the Sangre De Christo Mountains, which is arguable a work of scenic art regardless of human intervention. There is no part of town that could be more suited to housing an arts district. Walking down Canyon Road is a truly immersive experience where you will find bountiful and varied art, some of Santa Fe's finest restaurants, and a one-of-a-kind cultural experience that will add a deeper level of appreciation for anyone who visits our fine town.

Canyon Road features over one hundred galleries with content ranging from Native American art and antiquities, traditional and modern Hispanic art, regional contemporary art, international folk art and international contemporary art and more. It is truly amazing that this kind of variety is collected on this small stretch of road that only takes twenty minutes to walk down.

Canyon Road wasn't always Santa Fe's arts district. It began as a residential area where people built homes in Pueblo Revival style. They used authentic adobe construction methods, and rooms were added on and expanded upon as needed as opposed to building the entire structure simultaneously. Many of the galleries that exist here today are built inside of these same old homes. This authentic, rustic quality is what drew many artists to this already picturesque part of town as a source of inspiration. They began to live on Canyon Road, and eventually began selling their work from their homes. This grew organically into a collective of art galleries and studios that were owned and managed by artists. Much of that tradition survives to this day. Eventually, Canyon Road blossomed into the tourist mecca that it is todayIf you are in Santa Fe during Christmas Eve, we cannot recommend attending Canyon Road's farolito walk enough! This tradition began many years ago, and has become a staple of Santa Fe's holiday culture. Farolitos (Spanish for paper lantern) are small candles placed at the bottom of paper bags filled with sand, and they are put out in droves along the road and the buildings. They adorn the entire town with a warm glow that can only be found in Santa Fe! On Canyon Road, Christmas Carols are sung, bonfires are lit, and christmas decorations light up every home and gallery as far as the eye can see. It's a magnificent and celebratory spectacle that makes Christmas Eve feel more like a special event than just about anywhere else in the country! Anyone is welcome to join the festivities at no cost, and we hope that you take advantage of that wonderful opportunity.

On a personal note, Wendy's (Owner of Two Casitas) mother has owned and operated Waxlander gallery on Canyon Road for well over thirty years, and we always refer our guests to her gallery for their art shopping needs.

Check out the video she did for PBS:
We also strongly suggest that you check out this complete list of establishments on Canyon Road so that you can better plan out your trip! Whether you are buying art, jewelry, or simply eating out, make sure you know where you want to go!


  • Abbate Fine Art
  • Acosta Strong Fine Art
  • Adobe Gallery
  • Alexandra Stevens Fine Art
  • Art of Russia Gallery
  • Barbara Meikle Fine Art
  • Bellas Artes Gallery
  • Bill Hester Fine Art
  • Bill Hester Fine Art
  • Brad Smith Gallery
  • Canyon Road Contemporary Art
  • Carole LaRoche Gallery
  • Catenary Art Gallery
  • Chalk Farm Gallery
  • Charles Azbell Gallery
  • Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art
  • Dark Bird Studio
  • Elysee Fine Art & Jewelry
  • Ernesto Mayans Gallery
  • Fine Judaic Art by Sara M. Novenson
  • Frank Howell Gallery
  • Gallery 822
  • Gallery 901
  • Gaugy Gallery
  • Gebert Contemporary
  • GF Contemporary
  • Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art
  • Greenberg Fine Art
  • GVG Contemporary
  • Hunter Kirkland Gallery
  • InArt Santa Fe Gallery
  • Janine Contemporary
  • Karan Ruhlen Gallery
  • La Mesa of Santa Fe
  • Last Gallery on the Right
  • Manitou Galleries
  • Marigold Arts
  • Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery
  • Jewlers/Designers:
  • Dancing Ladies de Santa Fe
  • Desert Son of Santa Fe
  • Elysee Fine Art & Jewelry
  • Glenys & Felice
  • Jacqueline's Place
  • Jewel Mark
  • Karen Melfi Collection
  • Leslie Flynt
  • Nambe
  • Nathalie & Nathalie Home
  • Santa Kilim
  • Shangri-La at Project Tibet
  • Silver Sun
  • Tresa Vorenberg Goldsmiths
  • Restaurants:
  • Café des Artistes
  • Caffe Greco
  • Compound Restaurant
  • El Farol
  • Geronimo Restaurant
  • The Tea House
  • Mark White Fine Art
  • Matthews Gallery
  • McLarry Fine Art
  • McLarry Modern
  • Meyer East Gallery
  • Meyer Gallery
  • Michael Henington Fine Art Gallery
  • Michael Smith Gallery
  • Morning Star Gallery
  • Nambe
  • Nathalie & Nathalie Home
  • Nordwall Gallery and Studio
  • Nüart Gallery
  • Pachamama
  • Patricia Carlisle Fine Art
  • Pippin Contemporary
  • Reflection Gallery
  • Ronnie Layden Fine Art
  • Roybal - Fine Art SF
  • S. R. Brennen Gallery
  • Sage Creek Gallery
  • Scarlett's Antique Shop & Gallery
  • Selby Fleetwood Gallery
  • Studio Vaillancourt
  • Tansey Contemporary
  • Teresa Neptune Studio/Gallery
  • The Hollander Gallery
  • The Longworth Gallery
  • The William and Joseph Gallery
  • Tom Ross Gallery
  • Turner Carroll Gallery
  • Ventana Fine Art
  • Vivo Contemporary
  • Waxlander Gallery
  • Wiford Gallery
  • Winterowd Fine Art
  • Zaplin Lampert Gallery
Wine in Santa Fe

When we opened Two Casitas, the Vacation Rental industry was almost non-existent in Santa Fe. In order to truly set ourselves apart from the already established hotel industry. We realized that visitors to Santa Fe were looking for an authentic and non-generic travel experience. Santa Fe is special because of the unique feeling that arose from the preservation of its history, and that feeling can be immensely dulled by a standard hotel experience. We wanted our guests to feel like they were locals, and that they belonged in our city. Our selection of homes was essential to this goal, along with our choices of furnishings and decorations. We took a further step to welcome our guests by providing a free bottle of wine with every stay. While New Mexico isn't particularly famous for its wine, it is actually a fairly substantial industry, and represents an important part of local culture. It is extremely important to us that our guests feel welcome, so we consider this to be a unique staple of our business, and an important reason that our guests want to return to Two Casitas. Because our business philosophy is intertwined with the wine that we provide, we have partnered with New Mexico Wine Tours in an effort to showcase one of New Mexico's lesser-known, yet important cultural features. In this blog, we're also going to feature some recommendations for getting great wine in Santa Fe. No matter how much wine factors into your trip, know that your free bottle will always be there when you book with us.

New Mexico Wine Tours appreciates New Mexico's scenery, and knows that any tour of our state would be foolish to not take advantage of its beauty. That is why there is an emphasis on scenery when exploring New Mexico's wine industry. Though New Mexico isn't widely known as a wine producing state, it is actually the oldest wine producing state in the country. The tours are extremely flexible and often contain visitors and locals alike. They are offered 7 days a week, and to any custom-sized party. Go solo, bring a friend, a group of friends, or your family whenever you please! In order to give their customers a more expansive experience, they also offer a half day of rafting or a cooking class followed by the standard wine tour. Whether you are celebrating a birthday, bachelorette/bachelor party, reunion, anniversary, first date, retirement or girl's/guy's day out, they really do offer something for everyone. They also will coordinate transportation to all your favorite events, festivals, night out on the town & airport transportation. Packages start at $99, so you won't have to break the bank to go on one of these awesome adventures! MAKE SURE to check them out at

For true wine enthusiasts, we also want to mention a few of Santa Fe's best wine spots. Even though they are our competition, we cannot recommend the wine list at the Four Seasons highly enough! This luxury resort offers some of the most high-end wine offerings that Santa Fe can provide. Check them out at

Another fantastic wine list is to be found at Restaurant 315 Located within walking distance to The Plaza, and to most of our casitas, this restaurant has been home to Chef Louis Moskow's wonderful cooking and one of Santa Fe's most famous wine lists for years. This place is a must visit for those coming to Santa Fe for a fine dining experience

Some of you may be wondering if I am going to mention Santa Fe's famous Wine and Chile festival, but that is a topic all its own, and will definitely be covered in next week's blog! Until then, we hope this got you excited for your trip, and we'll see you in Santa Fe!

Wine and Chile Festival

When Wendy started Two Casitas, she was simply renting her guest house to travelers in order to supplement her income. Our home had two small guest houses, and the property provided a perfect opportunity for doing just that. Eventually, the opportunity to manage more homes meant that Wendy was able to turn Two Casitas into a full-scale business, and she began the process of becoming an expert at filling the new homes. Wendy knew that she loved Santa Fe, but she also had to learn what attracted all sorts of people to visit. She found that, while Santa Fe has a wide variety of cultural, historical and wildlife activities that bring people to our city, there is one common thread that makes Santa Fe an exciting destination for almost anyone: Food! Santa Fe's unique cuisine remains difficult to replicate, and it embodies so much of what is special about our town. History, culture, agriculture and economics created the unique blend of flavors that can only be found in The Land Of Enchantment. Because of this, it is no surprise that many events and festivals in Santa Fe revolve around our local food in an attempt to attract even more attention to Santa Fe's culinary prowess. One of the most notable examples of this is our annual Wine and Chile Festival, which celebrated it's 25th anniversary in 2015. This year, it will occur from September 21st to September 25th. Make sure to book your dates with Two Casitas soon, as we get filled up for this time of year very quickly!

The Wine and Chile Fiesta is an absolute must for anyone interested in food, and it is widely regarded by even the most discerning foodies. During the festival, local restaurants provide you with the absolute best that they have to offer, you can taste the best wines from over ninety wineries around the country, enticing cooking demonstrations and educational seminars are abundant. Santa Fe's restaurants also participate by hosting wine dinners during the festival that are sure to be a hit with people who love pairing wine with different foods. The festival culminates at the Santa Fe Opera where those ninety wineries and seventy-five of Santa Fe's best restaurants convene to host one of the highest qualities and most varied sampling of foods that you will ever experience. This level of immersion in food and wine can seem overwhelming, but we can guarantee that you will be hard pressed to experience a higher concentration of quality food and drink. It will almost convince you to move to Santa Fe!

Santa Fe's passion for its own culture may come off as a little bit self-indulgent at times, however if you visit this festival, you will understand why people love to live here. Long after you learn everything you can about Santa Fe's history, culture and wildlife, our town's food will keep you enticed and entertained for as long as you live here. I've been eating this food for my whole life, and not a single day goes by where I don't crave green chile or a specialty New Mexico dish. That is why I find this festival, and others that Santa Fe has to offer, a crucial activity for anyone who wants to experience what our town truly has to offer. There is a reason that our rooms book so far in advance for this festival, and we hope you'll be among our guests this year! Come experience the best that Santa Fe has to offer!

Making a Case for Vacation Rentals

Santa Fe is a wholly unique place for people to visit. There is a reason that we mention that fact in every blog. Anyone who has been here can and will testify to the fact that visiting Santa Fe feels like a trip to another time and place. The tri-cultural background, distinct culinary palate, historical significance, beautiful vistas, wilderness and ruins to explore provide Santa Fe with a level of depth, universality, and immersion that no other place in the country can truly offer. This is something we are insistently passionate about here at Two Casitas, and in fact, it is the reason that we started the business in the first place. We wanted to provide visitors to our town with the most authentic and immersive experience, because we know that doing so would encourage and spread the love of Santa Fe with everyone who stayed in our homes. before I discuss the reasons that I believe that vacation rentals are the ultimate way to stay in Santa Fe, I am going to run through all of the alternative options that Santa Fe has to offer, and try to provide some quick pros and cons.

Hotels are the old standby, and they have their obvious advantages. Places like La Fonda, Inn at the Alameda, and The Eldorado Hotel have been in Santa Fe for years, and have amassed a strong reputation, and a considerable influence over our city's tourism industry. Santa Fe is filled with both high and low-end hotels, and for the most part, you generally get what you pay for as far as amenities and luxury are concerned. No matter which price range you go with, you will always get consistency, and that is the best things that hotels have to offer. Unfortunately, while hotels offer a certain level of security and will guarantee to meet your expectations, even the nicest suites can often feel sterile and uninspired. Some people prefer that feeling, but if you want to get the full Santa Fe experience, it is easy to feel detached.
Bed and Breakfasts:

Bed and Breakfasts are somewhat of a middle-ground between a hotel and a vacation rental. They often exist in smaller compounds, and have the huge bonus of providing meals to their guests. Places like Inn of the Turquoise Bear, Four Kachinas, and El Farolito have been filling a niche market in Santa Fe for some time, and they do provide a level of pampering and intimacy that is harder to get in hotels. While they generally feel homier than a hotel, they still can feel like a contained environment. Because you pay for it, you will also feel obligated to take advantage of the food services provided in-house, which may limit your exploration into the full diversity of our local cuisine. However, I can attest to the fact that the food that they serve is usually excellent and convenient.
Vacation Rentals:

Because you are reading this on a vacation rental blog, you are probably detecting a certain bias towards vacation rentals, and that is absolutely true! We started this business because we believe that Santa Fe tourism is best experienced when staying at a vacation rental. When you stay with Two Casitas, specifically, our goal is to make you feel 100% at home. Our homes are regular houses in regular Santa Fe neighborhoods, so you can truly feel like a local. Santa Fe's unique layout means that we can offer this feeling along with proximity to The Plaza, The Railyard, and Canyon Road. All of our homes also feature a fully equipped kitchen, so you have the option to make home-cooked meals. We can also hire you a private chef that will cook in your home, and give you an intimate and personalized Santa Fe culinary experience. We feature free laundry in most of our homes as well. We ensure that staying in Santa Fe with Two Casitas will leave you wanting nothing. Many of our homes are authentic old adobes, and will make you feel like you're living in another time and place. Our homes are professionally cleaned, and we keep the highests standards of maintenance and quality furnishings.
At the end of the day, coming to Santa Fe will always be a wonderful experience. However, experienced travelers know that lodging makes a big difference in your overall comfort and immersion, and Two Casitas provides the best lodgings that Santa Fe has to offer.

Golf in Santa Fe

The reason that Two Casitas puts out this Santa Fe travel blog is to help our guests in creating their own Santa Fe trip planner. So far, we have concentrated on things that are essentially Santa Fe themed activities. There are so many features of our town that are completely unique, and it is often easy for us to forget to talk about the fact that Santa Fe has a lot of more traditional travel activities to offer as well. However, even these more conventional activities tend to include a bit of Santa Fe flair. Golfing in Santa Fe is a perfect example of this. Golfing is an activity that people enjoy all around the country, and isn't one that is commonly associated with desert environments, however Santa fe offers a surprising abundance of courses. Because of the fact that golfing is an outdoor activity in Santa Fe, you can enjoy it while taking in the beautiful scenery that our state has to offer. In this blog, we're going to provide you with some basic information about all of Santa Fe's courses and what sets them apart.
Quail Run:
Quail Run is a private golf-course, so if you are just visiting, this might not be the place for you. However, you can get access to this course if you are interested in renting a condo in the community. Many people have part-time homes in Quail Run, and the golf course is a big reason for their choice. The course is PGA-rated, has nine holes and is a par 32. The course offers something interesting for every skill level, as the courses have a tight and challenging layout combined with some par 3 holes. There is also usually a relaxed pace at Quail Run, so you don't have to worry about feeling pressured to move quickly.
Towa Golf Club at Buffalo Thunder:
Buffalo Thunder is one of Santa Fe's newest casinos and resorts, and its golf course is already attracting a lot of attention for being one of the most entertaining places to play golf in town. It was designed by twenty-time PGA titlist Hale Irwin and William Phillips who has designed many courses across the country. One of the resort's most noted features is that it offers a driving range that is angled in such a way that the sun will never be in your eyes no matter the time of day. Access to this range is included in access to the regular courses.
The course uses a variety of native grasses and is situated in a very geographically diverse area that provides this course with spectacular scenery that is quintessentially New Mexico. The course includes holes with dramatic elevation changes and stunning scenery in all directions.
There is also a great clubhouse with a private dining room and and sports shop. It can be rented for any private event, and will ensure that you can have everything you need for a long day of golfing!
Marty Sanchez Links Municipal Golf Course:
Marty Sanchez Links Municipal Golf Course has been around since 1998 and is generally the go-to public course in Santa Fe. It is fairly close to town, open all year, and sports 18 holes, a 35-station driving range, practice greens, a par 3 course, and practice greens. While it may not have the same quality of surroundings as Buffalo Thunder, it sports great views of the mountains that surround Santa Fe. All in all, Marty Sanchez provides excellent bang for your buck, and you may be surprised at its quality despite its lack of exclusivity.
The Club at Las Campanas:
The Club at Las Campanas is another mostly exclusive course, so if you are interested in playing there, you have to own a home in Las Campanas or know someone who can bring you in as a guest. There are two 18-hole courses available that are both designed by Jack Nicklaus. They are highly rated by Golf Digest and are often praised for their creative layout and integration of the natural beauty of the New Mexico countryside. Las Campanas also has a 19-acre practice facility that offers fantastic instructors and practice space.

Santa Fe Architecture

I feel like we say this on almost every blog. Travel to Santa Fe often feels like you're being transported to a completely different world. Perhaps the same world at a different time. A lot of that effect is due to Santa Fe's unique architectural style. Buildings in Santa Fe don't look like buildings anywhere else. This feature is clearly important to the City Of Santa Fe, as they have passed legislation to ensure that our town's unique style is not diminished with the passage of time. Sometimes the buildings look like they have grown right out of the ground, and in fact, the designs that inspire all modern Santa Fe buildings were originally constructed from all-natural materials. This maintains Santa Fe's connection to its environment, and helps us feel that we are still living in the natural world despite the fact that we are in the middle of a cultural epicenter. From the adobe buildings' soft curves that echo the area's mountains, to the deep history that is embodies by spanish and native american styles, our town lets its identity flourish to a degree that is seldom found in American cities.

It all started with what is called the “Pueblo Style.” These designs are inspired by the original dwellings built by Native Americans that were discovered by conquistadors in the 16th century. Those structures were comprised of mud, earth, and straw, and were usually fairly large. Wooden vigas supported multiple floors. They were usually large designs that were comprised of several housing areas surrounding a communal plaza. Spanish colonists improved the process by creating adobe brick molds in order to build more stable and consistent structures. This cheap and efficient building style provided excellent weather protection. Through the centuries, building techniques have modernized, but the aesthetic of this simple tradition has been deliberately preserved, and has contributed to Santa Fe's architectural style significantly.

When the Santa Fe Trail was opened in 1821, a new group of American settlers began to settle down in Santa Fe. The area's style was already firmly established, and this influx of new influences was the first change that had come about in hundreds of years. The trade routes brought new building materials, and new aesthetics that were never considered before. Exemplified by wood columns painted white, front porches, pitched roofs, brick copings and double hung windows with divided sashes, this architectural style, known as Greek Revival, became popular across the country in the mid-1800s.

Santa Fe's connection to the larger world via railroad in the late 1800's brought more new ideas faster than ever. Brick, glass, and metal accompanied new builders with European and Eastern American aesthetics. They exerted their influence in the world of commerce, and many of Santa Fe's new business buildings were built in the style that they brought with them.
As with any new movement, there is often a counter-movement. The influx of tourism that came with the railroads were fascinated by Santa Fe's original style. The look of the original adobe buildings was largely stimulated with stucco, and the best of both worlds was often achieved. History and practicality were combined to create a timeless look that carries Santa Fe's architecture to this day.

Tent Rocks

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument represents a lot of what I love about the Southwestern United States. Each state (area) has its own geological signature, and some of the most unique, surreal and fascinating geological formations are scattered throughout. It gives you a visual appreciation of the fact that the Earth is constantly changing all around you. I think it's important to realise the long-term nature of the existence of The Earth, and that everything that exists here is the result of hundreds of millions of years of continuous change with no plans to stop any time soon. Tent Rocks (and these other monuments) exist because of the unrelenting power of our planet and they will not always exist for the exact same reason. When you take your Santa Fe day trip and decide to visit this national monument, you are witnessing an important moment in time that never was before, and never will be again. It is unique, and you are very lucky to be able to see it while it is in such a beautiful state. The effects of man and nature have created a living sculpture across the landscape, and it truly is a sight to behold.

I think that's enough philosophical banter. Understanding the nuts and bolts of how this amazing place came to be is equally fascinating. It goes back to the surprising fact that New Mexico is a highly volcanic state. These aren't the kind of volcanoes that you might be picturing when you hear the word. Most volcanoes, such as the “classic” Mt. St. Helens, are the result of friction beneath continental subduction zones. In other words, when the ocean floor moves beneath a landmass, it gets hot enough to melt rock. This molten magma rises to the surface and bursts through in the form of a volcano. Obviously the Southwestern United States are nowhere near the ocean, so this process cannot happen. New Mexico's volcanoes are of an entirely different nature. They form as a result of what are called “hot spots.” For reasons that are not entirely understood, magma from the mantle will rise to the surface. An easy way to picture this is by picturing the rising wax in a lava lamp. The magma in these hot spots is very thick, and can therefore build up quite a lot of pressure (I've included a diagram below). When the bubble bursts, the explosions are beyond the scale of any normal volcano. They can send debris for miles around and cause true devastation. Luckily for us, they take an incredibly long amount of time to build up. These eruptions usually only occur in million year cycles. However, when they do occur, they can drastically change the landscape. Tent Rocks is a result of one of these eruptions several million years ago. A flow of ash, lava, and volcanic rocks (known as a pyroclastic flow) covered the area with a layer of soft and porous volcanic rock. After that, a harder rock layer was formed on top. Eventually, wind, rain and other erosive forces were able to work their way into the softer rock below and began to wear it away. the hard rock above remained intact for longer, and therefore created the bizarre structures that we see today. Unfortunately, this is continuous process, and the hard caps are beginning to wear away as well. This means that the tent rocks will continue to erode until they are gone.

Tent Rocks is also well known for its history with the people of the Cochiti Pueblo. Its proximity to the Bandelier National Monument means that it shares a similar history. Evidence points to a human occupation lasting approximately 4,000 years. One of the most interesting things about visiting Tent Rocks are the trails that have been left by the people that once lived there. Their footprints carved deep trenches in the ground from walking along the same path over the centuries. It's a humbling feeling to walk in their footprints. One of the main resources that those people drew on were the pinkish flowers produced by the evergreen manzanita shrub. They were believed to have a variety of medicinal purposes.

Tent Rocks was established as a national monument in 2001 by President Clinton, and continuous efforts are made to preserve and study all aspects of its history.

The Lensic

The Lensic is one of Santa Fe's oldest theatres, and has long been the centerpiece of downtown's performance art scene. An extremely versatile venue, The Lensic has been host to films, theatre, all genres of music, lectures, burlesque shows, ballet, and just about any other form of expression that a theatre can house. Like nearly every building in Santa Fe, The Lensic has a long and colorful history with plenty of ups and downs. It has survived through it all, and it continues to thrive and contribute to Santa Fe's cultural history and heritage.

The Lensic's origins are rooted in an accident. Nathan Salmon was a traveling salesman who immigrated to New York who made a modest living by selling various goods out of a wagon. He would travel throughout The Southwest selling a variety of products. He was passing through Santa Fe on his way to Durango, Colorado when a snowstorm impeded his travel. He had only a quarter to his name and had no way to survive the hostile winter. He pawned his watch and asked his friend in New York to wire him some money. He was able to get his business back up and running, and began to do quite well in Santa Fe. He eventually decided to abandon the wagon (which he was often ridiculed for doing business out of), and bought a dried goods store on San Francisco St. Rumour has it that he was able to complete the down payment with the winnings from a pool game.
As his business expanded, Salmon began to develop a passion for buying valuable plots of land and converting them into theatres. He was clever enough to anticipate the need for entertainment during the devastation of the great depression. His son-in-law E. John Greer assisted him in building the new Lensic Theatre (an acronym derived from the initials of his grandchildren). It's doors opened in 1931. It was extremely luxurious and well-equipped for the time and it quickly became one of the finest and most attended theatres and dance halls in The Southwest.
By the time the 1950's rolled around, Santa Fe began growing in size, and the need for more entertainment grew with it. Drive-In movie theatres, other performing arts spaces, multiplex theatres and the rise of home-entertainment began to eat away at The Lensic's place as the central hub for entertainment in The Southwest. It managed to survive the decades with several renovations, and was managed by United Artists throughout the 1990's as a first-run movie theatre. However, it struggled to remain profitable and was shut down by the end of that decade.

Santa Feans are very attached to their town's history and the failure of The Lensic was not easily accepted. In an interesting twist of fate, Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, who were also from New York, moved to Santa Fe and decided that downtown Santa Fe still needed The Lensic as a performance space. They were able to raise nine-million dollars to re-open, re-purpose and renovate it. It was also designated a historic landmark by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The renovations were painstakingly envisioned from original blueprints, and many of the components used are exact replicas of original parts of the theatre using period-correct materials. The hall's functionality as a performance space was vastly improved with the advent of additional performance space, an orchestra pit, a crystal chandelier from New York's Roxy Theatre, and updated sound-projection equipment. A system was installed throughout the theatre that could actively and dynamically control the theatre's acoustic properties. Because of this, The Lensic is ideal for nearly any kind of performance. Having seen many performances there myself, I can attest to the fact that that the sound is perfect almost every time I've attended.

The Lensic is a classic “Santa Fe” story. It began in the beginning of the century as a shining cultural beacon that struggled to keep up with America's, and therefore Santa Fe's, growing needs and modernization. However because it is such a strong archetype of Southwestern culture, it has been preserved and revered throughout the decades as another example of exactly what makes “The City Different” so different. It is a fine example of how the magic of the past has been updated and modernized to enhance and serve the culture while still preserving the building's original intentions.
Santa Fe Opera

The Santa Fe Opera has been around for the same amount of time as Wendy Kapp, owner of Two Casitas! Since 1957, The Opera house has been providing tens of thousands of audience members a year with an absolutely unique opera experience. Beyond the consistently excellent content that The Opera House offers, its construction and location perfectly showcases New Mexico's natural beauty along with its historical architecture. People from all over the planet consistently flock to Santa Fe, and take the short drive North in order to experience this timeless art form in one of its most acclaimed settings. It has consistently helped to fuel New Mexico's tourism industry by motivating fans of art of all kinds to experience Opera in a setting that they never have before.

Of course, the setting of The Opera is only part of the experience. It serves to enhance the experience of the art form itself. The Opera House has dedicated itself to the innovation and enhancement of the operatic arts while still preserving many of its traditions. They combine new, old, classic and obscure performances under a single roof in order to appeal to as many fans as possible. Anyone can enjoy an opera in any language because each seat has a screen with subtitles that are meticulously synced to each performance. This is a consistent and exciting challenge for all of the staff and performers, as they have to keep up with the wide variety of demands that all of the productions make of them. Because of this, people who work at The Opera House have an incredibly vast knowledge of all forms of opera. Over 140 separate operas have been performed an average of ten times each, and there have been forty American premieres, among them Lulu, The Cunning Little Vixen, Capriccio, and Daphne. Recent premieres include the world premiere of Madame Mao, commissioned from Bright Sheng, in 2003, the premiere of the revised version of Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar, in 2005, the American premiere of Thomas Ades's The Tempest, in 2006, and the American premiere of Tan Dun's Tea: A Mirror of Soul in 2007. The 2008 season included the American premiere of Adriana Mater by Kaija Saariaho, whose L'amour de loinreceived its American premiere here in 2002. In 2009, the world premiere of The Letter by Paul Moravec was performed here.

The unique setting and reputation of The Santa Fe Opera has not only drawn audiences, but many world class staff workers and performers. People in nearly every department come from countries all over the world, so they help to bring a truly international and worldly flavor to the pieces performed there. They are able to bring a deeper understanding to foreign-language pieces due to their intimate understanding of those cultures. Local Santa Fe singers such as Susan Graham, Patricia Racette, Joyce DiDonato, William Burden, Kristine Jepson, Michelle DeYoung, and Charles Castronovo have also started their international careers in Santa Fe, which is further proof of its place in the worldwide opera scene.

The Opera House has been dedicated to developing artists since its foundation. New Mexico was chosen as a location by John Crosby from New York in order to provide ample time, space, and training for singers who were transitioning from the academic world into professional circles. This has provided an opportunity for over 1,500 singers and almost all of them have moved on to become either professional singers, teachers at universities, or private opera coaches. The program was quickly extended to include training systems for technicians, set-designers, and any profession that is useful in the opera production community.

Since the turn of the millenium, Richard Gaddes took over direction of The Opera House after leaving a similar position at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He has contributed to The Opera House's rich and diverse culture by providing a venue for many local productions during the off-season. He also has broadened the audience by live-streaming to parks in Albuquerque and Downtown Santa Fe. The Pueblo Opera Program also has reached out to Native American communities and introduced the art form to another facet of New Mexico's local culture. The Santa Fe Opera House's commitment to providing its art to as many people as possible has widened the popularity of Opera in The Southwest and has ensured that it will stay around for quite some time.

Santa Fe Farmer's Market

It seems like a theme with these blogs has been the preservation of the past. One of the most attractive aspects of Santa Fe for both locals and tourists is the fact that being in Santa Fe feels like being in another time and place. There are, of course, many modernizations. However, many of the best aspects of the past (aesthetic and functional) seem to be stuck in time. Santa Fe's Farmer's Market is no exception. World population has boomed in the 21st century, and the world's agriculture industry has had to grow with it. We have had to invent new growing techniques, genetic modification, chemical pesticides, super plant foods and fertilizers, and a myriad of seemingly unnatural processes in order to keep up with America's high demand for lots of food. This shift in the agriculture industry has had major effects on the ethics of the food industry. Local farms have been completely undermined because they don't have the ability to provide food in the quantities that larger corporate farms are able to accomplish. They also don't have access to many of the more modern farming techniques that corporate farms use to create larger and more consistent products. Because of this, many local farmers have been completely driven out of many of the larger supermarkets, and therefore out of business. Some folks might simply say that that is the nature of capitalism, and food is getting to people in larger and cheaper quantities than before, so we really shouldn't have anything to complain about. However, many of the same techniques that have made corporate farming possible could be seen as very unethical; not only to the animals that are mistreated, but to the people that consume their products. We are ingesting a large number of exotic chemicals that have unknown repercussions on our health. Genetic modification also may affect us in ways that we have yet to understand. From an economic point of view, any time a corporation is able to take over a market, local businesses get lost and many people's jobs (and life's work) disappears completely. The result is not only a stagnant local economy, but the standardization that comes with corporate involvement removes that particular industry of any uniqueness and charm that it once had.

This may simply be the wave of the future, and cannot be avoided. Perhaps we shouldn't even try. However, places like Santa Fe's Farmer's Market seem to convince me otherwise. It has been around since the early 1960's, and has continued as a sort of beacon of hope and working example for sustaining a local farming industry. In 2001, the Farmer's Market generated over 1.5 million dollars in revenue, and has continued to sustain itself since. However, it has struggled throughout its life to maintain a location, and to maintain financial stability. It began very simply. Just a handful of local farmers began to sell their products out of the back of their trucks in the early 60's in hopes to get their products to their customers without having to deal with the markets as a middle-man. After approximately ten years, the League of Women Voters and the County Extension Office decided to formally organize the practice and give them a place to consistently do business. The parking lot of St. Anne's church on the corner Hickox st. and Alicia st. was designated the first official location of The Farmer's Market. It called St. Anne's parking lot home for only five years, and it had to be moved to the Alto St. Recreation Center by 1976. This became a more permanent home for The Market and it remained there for ten years.

By the mid-eighties, one of Downtown's unique and most interesting shopping centers opened. The Sambusco Center remains a staple of downtown life, and is the seed from which The Railyard District grew. The Center gave The Farmer's Market a new home, and because of this partnership, they were able to grow together. By the mid-90's The Railyard district was purchased by the city for further development, and it was designated as The Farmer's Market's officially sanctioned home. During this decade and the next, The Market had to change positions in The Railyard several times, however its attendance continued to grow. The market appeals to both traditionalists and liberal progressive thinkers, so it is a perfect match for Santa Fe's unique culture. After all of these years, The Market was finally given a permanent indoor structure in The Railyard, and we hope that it continues to thrive there.

Folk Art Festival

It seems like a theme with these writings has been the preservation of the past. One of the most attractive aspects of Santa Fe for both locals and tourists is the fact that being in Santa Fe feels like being in another time and place. There are, of course, many modernizations. However, many of the best aspects of the past (aesthetic and functional) seem to be stuck in time. Santa Fe's Farmer's Market is no exception. World population has boomed in the 21st century, and the world's agriculture industry has had to grow with it. We have had to invent new growing techniques, genetic modification, chemical pesticides, super plant foods and fertilizers, and a myriad of seemingly unnatural processes in order to keep up with America's high demand for lots of food. This shift in the agriculture industry has had major effects on the ethics of the food industry. Local farms have been completely undermined because they don't have the ability to provide food in the quantities that larger corporate farms are able to accomplish. They also don't have access to many of the more modern farming techniques that corporate farms use to create larger and more consistent products. Because of this, many local farmers have been completely driven out of many of the larger supermarkets, and therefore out of business. Some folks might simply say that that is the nature of capitalism, and food is getting to people in larger and cheaper quantities than before, so we really shouldn't have anything to complain about. However, many of the same techniques that have made corporate farming possible could be seen as very unethical; not only to the animals that are mistreated, but to the people that consume their products. We are ingesting a large number of exotic chemicals that have unknown repercussions on our health. Genetic modification also may affect us in ways that we have yet to understand. From an economic point of view, any time a corporation is able to take over a market, local businesses get lost and many people's jobs (and life's work) disappears completely. The result is not only a stagnant local economy, but the standardization that comes with corporate involvement removes that particular industry of any uniqueness and charm that it once had.

This may simply be the wave of the future, and cannot be avoided. Perhaps we shouldn't even try. However, places like Santa Fe's Farmer's Market seem to convince me otherwise. It has been around since the early 1960's, and has continued as a sort of beacon of hope and working example for sustaining a local farming industry. In 2001, the Farmer's Market generated over 1.5 million dollars in revenue, and has continued to sustain itself since. However, it has struggled throughout its life to maintain a location, and to maintain financial stability. It began very simply. Just a handful of local farmers began to sell their products out of the back of their trucks in the early 60's in hopes to get their products to their customers without having to deal with the markets as a middle-man. After approximately ten years, the League of Women Voters and the County Extension Office decided to formally organize the practice and give them a place to consistently do business. The parking lot of St. Anne's church on the corner Hickox st. and Alicia st. was designated the first official location of The Farmer's Market. It called St. Anne's parking lot home for only five years, and it had to be moved to the Alto St. Recreation Center by 1976. This became a more permanent home for The Market and it remained there for ten years.

By the mid-eighties, one of Downtown's unique and most interesting shopping centers opened. The Sambusco Center remains a staple of downtown life, and is the seed from which The Railyard District grew. The Center gave The Farmer's Market a new home, and because of this partnership, they were able to grow together. By the mid-90's The Railyard district was purchased by the city for further development, and it was designated as The Farmer's Market's officially sanctioned home. During this decade and the next, The Market had to change positions in The Railyard several times, however its attendance continued to grow. The market appeals to both traditionalists and liberal progressive thinkers, so it is a perfect match for Santa Fe's unique culture. After all of these years, The Market was finally given a permanent indoor structure in The Railyard, and we hope that it continues to thrive there.

The Santa Fe Plaza

The foundation of The Plaza can be traced back to the early 1600's. The Plaza's location was derived from the intersection of El Camino Real (the Spanish Royal Road from Mexico City), the Santa Fe Trail, and the Old Pecos Trail. In fact, it was originally founded by Pedro De Peralta as a military base and location for the central government of Nuevo Mexico (Originally consisting of New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, California, and Utah). The famous Palace Of The Governors construction began in 1610 (possibly 1618), and since then remained the central building of government for hundreds of years regardless of who the government belonged to at the time. The Pueblo Revolt, Spanish Reconquest, Mexican War Of Independence, and American possession all caused drastic changes in New Mexico's government, however The Plaza remained relatively intact, and The Palace Of The Governors function preserved.

The Palace of the Governors was also the setting to an important part in literary history. Lew Wallace was serving as governor of the territory of New Mexico in the late 1870's, and played a major part in the Lincoln County War. He had quite an intense meeting with Billy The Kid in spring 1879, and returned to The Palace during a particularly intense and severe thunderstorm. Inspired by the chaos around him, and working by the dim light of a shaded lamp in his study, he wrote the final crucifixion scenes that conclude his novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

In 1909, the Palace of the Governors lost its place as a building of government, and was converted into the Museum of New Mexico. By 2009, the New Mexico History museum was opened down the street, where more complete exhibits of New Mexican history can be seen. Because of its obvious historic significance, The Palace of the Governors was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
While The Palace Of The Governors is the historical centerpiece of The Plaza, the literal centerpiece is a powerful reminder of that history. The obelisk is meant to commemorate the struggles and collaboration between the three primary cultures in New Mexico. Spanish, Mexican, and Indian interests still conflict today, but generally, peace has finally been established in our state, and the obelisk is representative of that accomplishment.

The Plaza is also home to buildings of significant religious history. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (St. Francis Cathedral for short), towers over The Plaza and is a fantastic representation of Romanesque Revival cathedral architecture. Its height and construction differs wildly from the humble adobe structures that comprise much of The Plaza. It is the third church that has existed on those grounds. The others were destroyed in various conflicts.
Nearby, The Chapel of San Miguel is considered to be the oldest church in the United States. It was originally constructed around the same time as The Palace of the Governors, though it was destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt. It was rebuilt in 1710 when The Spanish re-occupied New Mexico. Though the church has undergone several additions, the original adobe walls are still mostly preserved, and mass is still held there every Sunday.
The Plaza also plays host to the La Fonda Hotel, which was opened by Fred Harvey in 1925. This one of Santa Fe's oldest hotels, and provides many tourists with a place to stay right in the center of town. Of course, the vacation rental business is steadily growing, and Two Casitas offers a fantastic casita right across the street from La Fonda.

The Plaza is no longer the station of New Mexico's government, however it remains Santa Fe's largest cultural center and tourist attraction. In addition to the museums, a multitude of shops, galleries, restaurants, entertainment venues and street performers adorn The Plaza's grounds. A great variety of local festivals are held on The Plaza yearly, and during the summer, live music is played every night on the Santa Fe Bandstand. Everyone who visits Santa Fe is interested in visiting The Plaza because it is the centerpiece of New Mexican culture. This unique area has endured hundreds of years of progress, and while some of its specific functions have changed, The Plaza still represents everything that makes New Mexico special as an important part of American history. A short visit can give you a distinct impression of the town's atmosphere, but the depth of history and culture that lives there will keep you coming back.

New Mexico Plant Life – Part 1
I recently made the drive from New Mexico to California and back. In the past, I have been through most of the Southwest by car. Each state that I pass through is unique in some way or another, and I am often stunned by the diversity that nature provides us in this country. And while everywhere has something special to offer, I am always blown away when I cross the New Mexico border, and specifically enter the Santa Fe area. There is something truly breathtaking about the natural surroundings that leaves absolutely no doubt as to where you are. This is true from the largest to the smallest scales. The first thing you notice are the stunning mountainous vistas, but upon closer inspection, it is easy to see that everything down to the plant and animal life contributes to New Mexico and Santa Fe's one-of-a-kind look. In this blog, I'm going to specifically look at the plant life in New Mexico, and give a few fun and interesting details about what I believe are some of the most important species in determining this gorgeous natural aesthetic.

Piñon Pine Trees are prevalent in New Mexico's natural world, however they are also a significant source of lumber for a lot of our wooden structures. Its seeds fall inside of its signature cones, and are roasted and sold as delicious nuts that can be eaten alone or integrated into many of New Mexico's signature dishes. These seeds have been a staple of Native American cuisine for centuries. These trees live a long time and can survive in almost any climate or condition. Because of this, it is one of New Mexico's most enduring and useful plants.

Also significant is the Ponderosa Pine tree, which is a taller evergreen tree seen in the higher mountains of New Mexico. These are often the first plants that people think of when they think of New Mexico's greenery.
The Fremont Cottonwood is named for its discoverer, Gen. John Charles Fremont, an explorer soldier, and politician. However, it is the Rio Grande Cottonwood that is more prevalent in Santa Fe. It is often seen running along Acequia Madre and The Santa Fe River, as it thrives when near active waterways. It is a fast-growing shade tree that doesn't have a particularly long life-span, however it gives the East Side of Santa Fe an absolutely wonderful touch of deciduous plant life in an area that is known for its conifers. It has broad flat leaves and a trunk diameter of two to five feet. During certain seasons, it also covers the city in the cotton-like seeds that are its namesake. This can be beautiful to some, but can cause annoying allergies in others.

The Chamisa Bush, or Rubber Rabbitbrush adds the important shade of bright yellow to New Mexico's natural color palette. is a 2′ to 8′ perennial shrub that grows very commonly in the wilderness and the inner cities in New Mexico. It blooms in the fall and It produces pungent-smelling, golden-yellow flowers. This beautiful flower can be a curse to many visitors, as its pollen can cause irritating cold-like symptoms in unsuspecting folks who simply want to admire its bright yellow color.

My absolute favorite plant in New Mexico is our Aspen Grove. Often called Golden, Trembling, or Quaking Aspen, this tree is the most widely distributed native tree in North America. The Quaking nature of the leaves is startled in even the lightest winds and produces an absolutely gorgeous shimmering gold effect across the mountains that is further highlighted in our beautiful sunsets.. It is common in the higher mountains of the western two-thirds of New Mexico. Aspens thrive in areas where other trees that have either burned down or killed by an insect plague. They spread readily from suckers and root sprouts; and, in fact, a grove of aspens in Utah is the largest known living organism on Earth, covering thousands of acres. Aspen stands are preferred cover for deer and elk and contribute feed to these animals and also to squirrels, rabbits, beaver, and other mammals.