The weekend of the open house at the College of Santa Fe just happened to be the busiest weekend of the year for the area. The world famous Santa Fe International Folk Art Market was taking place on Museum Hill close to downtown, the SOFA (Sculptural Objects and Functional Art) Expo was being held in the convention center, the opera season had just started, a chamber music festival was underway and of course it was the height of summer tourist season. The owner of our motel said there wasn't an empty room in the whole town.
We considered taking a bus the three miles into the center of town, but the motel owner suggested parking in the Whole Foods parking lot and then walking through an interesting new development around the old train station on our way to the historic Santa Fe Plaza. Knowing the 7,000 foot elevation meant our pale sun deprived skin would burn easily, we covered ourselves with sun screen and set out to roam the streets of Santa Fe with thousands of our closets friends.
The Railyard proved to be an interesting district. While walking there we stumbled onto Double Take, our favorite retail establishment of the whole trip. The block long shop is filled with vintage clothing, cowboy boots, jewelry, and even furniture. As Rebecca looked over the jewelry, the staff was eagerly checking out the Bakelite cherry necklace she was wearing. The shelves in one room were lined with every size and description of lightly used cowboy boots; racks were filled with vintage chaps, vests, fringed jackets, Western skirts, and Mexican ceremonial clothing; cowboy hats hung on the walls; and gaudy belt buckles filled the glass cases. I had to resist an embroidered black skirt with smocking at the back and lace at the hem. After all, if I bought the skirt, I would also need a shirt, boots, and belt to go with it. We left the shop empty handed and happy with our discovery.
After the Railyard we crossed the Santa Fe River and turned into the narrow tourist filled streets of downtown Santa Fe where we discovered there was too much to see. Shop after shop filled with jewelry, clothing, rugs, and art of all descriptions. With no real plan in mind, we investigated hidden courtyards, peaked into the St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral, checked the price on a stunning turquoise leather jacket ($800), and finally made our way to the Plaza and the Palace of the Governors where native people line the sidewalk selling their wares. How could anyone choose one from a thousand necklaces, earrings, or pendants?
The sensory overload produced hunger so we found a quiet courtyard next to the St. Francis Hotel for a pleasant lunch. One more shop lured us in with a striking black dress, piped in red and designed for a toothpick figure. Footsore and exhausted we made out way back to the car.
In spite of the heavy weekend traffic, I wasn't going to leave Santa Fe without at least driving through the Canyon Road gallery district. Old adobe houses turned into galleries where artists display an abundance of painting, drawing, sculpture, glass, fiber, and ceramics line the narrow street. There was too much to see.
A few wrong turns through hillside neighborhoods and it was soon time to take the Interstate back to Albuquerque where we were scheduled for an early flight the next day. Satisfied with our stay we said adios to Santa Fe.