Across New Mexico (part two)

In this sequel to Across New Mexico (part one) we continue to explore Santa Fe sites and finish off the state with a brief survey of Albuquerque.

Santa Fe

There are many beautiful churches in Santa Fe: Loretto Chapel,

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Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi,

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and Santuario De Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe are to name a few.

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To get a better idea of the surrounding landscapes, I set out for the Old Fort Marcy Park, which is basically a big hill in the middle of the city. Alas, the overlook proved rather mediocre, revealing, however, the fact that most of Santa Fe construction is in one way or another inspired by adobe architecture.

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It becomes even more apparent at a closer look. Apart from residential buildings, even hotels

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and railway stations seem to follow the trend.

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Later in the day, as mentioned in the earlier post, we returned to the Arts District, where, as you can see, even the casual street art is a worthy sight.

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Although we did not go into every shop in the Arts District, visiting the Nedra Matteucci Galleries was something akin to winning a jackpot. Firstly, the building boasts both a great exterior and interior appearance.

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Likewise, outstanding exhibits are abundant inside

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and out.

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Highly recommend the place even to those who are not into arts.

Next, we swung by the Rainbow Man Unique Store, whose collection was rather modest.

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Andrew Smith Gallery featured a more extensive, yet bizarre compilation: from sarcastic Indian-themed caricatures

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to Elliott Erwitt’s chronicle-like photography

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to painted refrigerators.

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By no means claiming to be scrupulous in our overview of the Canyon Road Arts District, we did nonetheless make a few more stops before leaving the area. One gallery’s display, for instance, revolved entirely around the automotive subject.

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One other showcased relatively conventional contemporary art with occasional Mexican-flavored inserts.

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Soon after the cultural promenade we were rushing down I-25 South towards La Cienega, for our last Santa Fe destination, though technically within the city limits, was a good 20 miles away from the downtown.

Arguably, the highlight of our trip, Bonanza Creek Ranch is a large farm whose main attraction is a sizable movie village, complete with a variety of realistic props and a wide range of utility buildings meant to replicate an old western town. The site is devoid of electrical lines and other elements of civilization, which adds to the authenticity of the set.

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If, for example, I were to assert that the following photograph was taken a century ago, who would think to disprove it?

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You cannot get a much better backdrop than this for a western.

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Although visually the place bears no echo of today, all buildings are electrified, which I am sure is a huge relief to film crews.

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We only gained access to a few buildings because, our guide assured us, film-making gear was stored in the rest.

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At one instant a gust of wind rose palls of dust in the middle of the street, and I thought that, tire tracks and lack of audience aside, only a rolling ball of tumbleweed could have enhanced this already perfect still of a western standoff.

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Jemez Springs

The highpoint of the trip was succeeded by a letdown. I admit that we might not have found the best overlooks of the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (on the account of time deficit), but the cursory acquaintance with the place did not make a very strong impression on us.

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On that minor (in musical sense) note we headed to Albuquerque.

Albuquerque

Our landing site in Albuquerque happened to be the Nob Hill Neighborhood, which, though a bit sketchy, is marked by lively wall art and cheerful crowds.

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Next we moved to the more architecturally sapid neighborhood of Plaza Vieja, whose hallmark is the building of the San Felipe de Neri Church.

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Across the street is a cozy shopping center, which, having dawdled a bit too long around the block, we noticed only when the sun was about to set.

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The next day the weather kept shifting from remotely promising to downright mournful. Pretty shifty weather, I say.

That, however, did not stop us from embarking on a mini-quest for the key locations from the popular Breaking Bad series. We started off with the house of Walter White.

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We were saddened to learn that Saul Goodman’s office is presently occupied by some shady bar.

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Of some consolation was that Walter’s carwash is still operational.

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We figured that none of the remaining TV drama sites were going to turn up much better given the weather conditions, so we proceeded to our only indoor location that day, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.

I found the museum big and informative, and, as an aspiring atomic weapons scholar, enjoyed gazing upon rare historical photos and documents (I know most are just copies, but still)—all not too far geographically from where a good deal of that history was made.

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A pleasant surprise was to find real-size replicas of the Little Boy and Fat Man (latter on the picture) devices on display.

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Various stages of constructing and utilizing a nuclear weapon and the challenges associated with that process, both technological and moral, are conveyed through museum’s numerous showpieces. Challenges of mining the radioactive materials

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and accepting the grim aftermath of the detonations.

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A section on Cold War has, unfortunately, regained much actuality in the recent times.

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Stationed outside one may find a few bomber planes, decommissioned but surely superseded by more advanced models.

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Acoma Pueblo

Having vacated Albuquerque, we had one last stop to make before vacating New Mexico altogether—the Native American settlement of Acoma Pueblo. The reader may remember the difficulties we ran into when attempting to enter Taos Pueblo, another Native American village. We did not fare much better this time.

Firstly, we were to wait for over an hour until the next tour (which are not exactly cheap). Then, we would be staying in close proximity to our guide at all times, moving at his pace and abiding by strict photography restrictions. And even before the tour began we were supposed to pay for any photographs taken outside the office building.

We had neither the time nor patience for that kind of arrangement, so made a few distant shots of the village and left.

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Yet we were hardly unnerved because it was far from the first encounter with exacting and unfriendly regulations at a location under Native-American governance. Besides, the scenery on both sides of the road in the vicinity of the settlement is possibly more impressive.

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The map:

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