The trip to the Jemez Mountains, Valles Caldera, and Bandelier kept us out pretty late. We got back to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and crashed. We were up early the next morning and on the road again! It was going to be another full day of road tripping. This time, we would spend a lot less time in a car.
We hopped on the Rail Runner Express, a regional train that goes from Belen, NM to Santa Fe. The train more or less follows Interstate 25, and the gorgeous trip takes about an hour. We got off at the end of the line at the Santa Fe rail yard, an area that’s become an artsy-market neighborhood. We got coffee at a swanky coffee shop, checked out a couple of art fairs, and headed to the old town section.
I was born in Santa Fe. I hadn’t been here since I was a little boy. My most vivid memory of that long-ago trip was being at an outdoor art market. I bumped an old native lady’s rickety table and a handmade vase fell off. My mom yelled at me, paid for the vase, collected the shards, and we left. Mom later apologized for yelling. But the damage was done; thirty-five years later, I didn’t look at any pottery in Santa Fe!
I loved old town Santa Fe! The New Mexico natives have bemoaned the tourist trap the area seems to have become. As a returning native/tourist, I thought it was charming. Sure, there are a lot of high end shops and galleries that cater to the out-of-towner. But there’s history as well! There are some old, beautiful buildings. There’s the Palace of the Governors, which dates back to to the 1600s; The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis; the Loretto Chapel with its mysteriously constructed spiral stair case; and the San Miguel Mission Church, said to be the oldest church in America.
We strolled around the narrow, winding streets for a few hours, then caught the train and headed back. On the way back, we were treated to shows of dancing thunderstorms in the distance. Columns of rain moved gracefully over the mountains.
The rain would have a huge part in our next adventure!