Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
Prev / The Americas / The United States of America / West Next

Santa Fe is just a great place. I'm at a loss how to summarize. It is home to countless local artists -- many of whom trace their ancestry back hundreds of years to before America was even a dream. There are row upon row of fantastic restaurants, with every dish containing some distinct variation upon hot peppers (hearing "would you like green or red peppers" is more common than "you want fries with that?"). It is even home to world's finest tea houses (as far as I know).

Step outside the city and you find a lush landscape full of endless trails and quiet valleys, despite being located in the center of a desert. It has waterfalls, hot springs, rivers, lakes, forests, grassy glades -- it has it all. But most importantly, it has space. Lots of it. Santa Fe and all its wonders are but a pinprick upon a huge landscape that I couldn't possibly explore in my short visit, or likely in a lifetime.

Elks are big in the southwest, both figuratively and literally. This statue can be found near the Plaza in Santa Fe -- it's apparently a 3d abstraction of a native American cave painting. It was so spooky I had to get a picture.
No trip to Santa Fe would be complete without a picture of St. Francis Cathedral. Sadly, my schedule did not afford me the opportunity to go inside.
Immediately upon entering Santa Fe I asked an extraordinarily cute and friendly (and young) girl for recommendations on what to do and where to eat. At the top of her list for good eats was the The Oasis. After a brutally cold night in my car (which left my toes numb for an hour after waking), I was ready to take up her suggestion.

The Oasis is a completely organic (but not vegeterian) restaurant with a huge menu: breakfast, lunch, and dinner served all-day-long. Upon entering you pick which room in which you'd like to sit, as described below. The food was fantastic, though I completely blew my budget for the day (damn my finite bank account!).
In the heart of a 13 million year old volcano crater is now a peaceful meadow. As noted on a nearby sign:

"The American people recently purchased approximately 88,900 acres of spectacular Baca Ranch. This ancient volcano is now the "Valles Caldera Natural Preserve" a unit of the National Forest Service.

...

The price paid for the Baca Ranch was $101,000,000 including the portion purchased by the Pueblo of Santa Clara. The Land & Water Conservation Fund (L&WCF) was used to purchase the Preserve. Monies deposited in the L&WCF come from offshore drilling royalties and other user fees."


Wow. That's a lot of cash. After driving through it all day, I can say that it's wonderful. But for a hundred million dollars...
These ice-encrusted falls were tucked away a half-mile back in the Jemez National Forest. It was the first hike I've taken with my backpack, and I'm happy to report that all went well.

I'm not happy to report, however, that a family of boneheads decided that a fun way to spend the afternoon was throwing large rocks at the delicate ice formations.
After wandering around the waterfall, I decided to make a longer (2 mile) hike back to the Jemez Warm Springs. I walked and walked, through brush and slush, continaully aware of the sinking sun. I realized I had no idea how long 2 miles was, and didn't know exactly where the springs were (I was informed by other trekkers that they're not marked and not easy to find). I started to doubt whether I had walked far enough or too far, and was concerned about being trapped in the middle of nowhere when the sun sets (for a more tragic ending, please refer to Craig's Yosemite story). Anyway, after saying "If I don't see it around this bend..." for several bends, I decided to turn back. However, I did manage to snap this picture from a rocky outcropping high above the valley below.
"The first missionary assigned to the Jemez region was Fray Alonzo de Lugo, who accompanied Onate in the original Spanish settlement of New Mexico in 1598. It is not known whether Fr. Lugo or his immediate successor began the actual missionary work at Giusewa, but two attempts at Christianizing the Jemez Indians (1601 and 1621-23) met with failure, probably through lack of adequate personnel.

"The church of San Jose de los Jemez was founded by Fray Geronimo Zarate Salmeron in the winter of 1621-22. The church as seen today is constructed of sandstone with the exception of a few sections of adobe brick in and beneath the walls. The adobe suggests that an earlier church may have been constructed, or at least started, possibly by Fr. Lugo.

"The ruins of the once-imposing complex are testimony to the religious zeal of the 17th Century Franciscans who were responsible for the construction of most of the mission churches in the American Southwest. While living at San Jose de los... [more]
In addition to The Oasis, the cute Santa Fean highly recommended Longevity Cafe. I have to say, it's very nearly the best cup of tea I've ever experienced. I may even beat out my all-time-favorite, Fritz (in San Francisco), but I'll have to think about it more.

Longevity Cafe is a place that just gets it. They've got a huge tea selection, a fantastic menu of herbal infusions, a strong menu of asian foods, and friendly and helpful staff behind the counter. They've got the right music (trancy, mellow world beats), the right lighting, comfortable chairs, plenty of couch space, happy plants, gurgling fountains, beautiful artwork with a consistent theme... I'm not a metaphysical guy by any stretch of the imagination, but this place just radiates positive energy from all corners. It's obvious that a lot of love and hard work went into making this understandbly the first place for a cup of tea Santa Feans recommend.

Oh, and to top it all off, they have 802.11 access and lend out... [more]
In an attempt to make up for missing the Jemez Hot Springs on Saturday, I decided to head for the hills bright and early Sunday morning. Waking to my alarm at 6:30am, I climbed into the front seat and made the quick trip up to the spot. I arrived around 7am and trekked the rough trail up to the spring.

The trail, if it can be called that, starts out with a scramble down a dusty decline to a large log spanning a small, icy stream. Across the log the trail winds through the pine needles, over rocks, and around the bases of tall trees. Some of the trail is covered with hard ice and crunchy snow, while other parts are submerged under steaming spring water. The last leg is involves crawling over and between the large rocks that guard the spring itself.

Nestled between large boulders, the spring is about the size (and temperature) of two hot-tubs set side by side, with another pool set in front of the main spot several feet below. It's uniformly about three feet deep, with plent... [more]

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