Thursday, April 9, 2020

Albuquerque and Santa Fe, last stops for this season

Albuquerque, New Mexico

We had decided, on the way to Albuquerque, that we would head for home as quickly as we could as soon as we spent a couple of days there.  Dan had a cousin (not by blood, but family in spite of no blood in common!) that he had not seen in probably 50 years!  We stayed in a commercial campground for the first 2 nights, then moved to Kirtland AFB for 2 nights.  We did get to meet Mary Esther and her husband, Sam, for dinner on Saturday night.  Great Mexican food and conversation.  

Albuquerque is another area with beautiful scenery, with mountains in the background.  Here are a couple of pictures from where our first campground, which was located on the Rio Grande (nope, not the one on the Mexican border!).

Dan and I are quite naturally separated from most people while we are traveling. We did some exploring of Santa Fe on Sunday, and had a lovely lunch at the La Fonda Hotel.  All restaurants and bars were closed here (and most places in the country) on Monday.  That will be our last sit down meal in a restaurant for a while!

Santa Fe – I had heard about this town, and was excited to see a little bit of it.  Santa Fe was the most unusual looking town that I have seen in the US!  Most buildings were flat roofed and adobe – even recently built housing areas.  The downtown plaza was mostly that style of construction too.  We went to the New Mexico Historical Museum and were lucky enough to join with a docent who focused on the railroads as being such an integral part of New Mexico’s history.  Before railroads, everything had to come in by horse/mule-drawn wagons, or horseback.  Of course, there were no tourists.  Once the tourists began to come, several tuberculosis sanatoriums were established here in the area of Santa Fe.  The weather here was very attractive because of the plentiful sunshine all year.  The TB patients were encouraged to be outside as much as possible.  Many of these people took up painting and other art forms.  Today, Santa Fe hosts a large contingent of artists of all types….again, because of the railroad!

We learned more about a man, Fred Harvey.  He arrived in this country from England on a boat, by himself, at age 15, with the equivalent of two pounds in his pocket.  He started by working in restaurants in New York, then New Orleans.  He learned a lot, saved his money, and then started a restaurant in St. Louis with a partner.  The restaurant did well until the Civil War.  His partner split with all the money to go and support the Confederacy.  Fred then got a job on the train.  During his travels by train, he was dismayed and disgusted by the food that was available to travelers.  Being smart, industrious, and confident, he managed to convince the owners of one railroad to let him start a restaurant to service rail customers.  He provided quality food with fresh ingredients, and the rest is history!  He went from restaurants to hotels, always insisting on the highest of standards for his customers.  He got whatever fresh ingredients that was available from surrounding ranches and farms.  Other items were shipped in via the train in refrigerated cars.

He hired a woman named Mary Coulter, an art teacher in Minnesota, to participate in the design of his restaurants and hotels and to decorate them.  The La Fonda Hotel was an example, and much of the hotel appears just as she designed it, complete with works of art.
One of the ways Mr. Harvey provided excellent service was through the “Harvey Girls”.  Most of the population in these western areas was men.  He hired young, single women from out east to serve the meals in his restaurants.  They lived in dormitory-type places, with a dorm ‘mother’, curfews, and rules.  They could not date or marry while being a Harvey girl.  They were required to wear clean, pressed uniforms at all times – for meals at the rail-side restaurants, a bell would ring to announce the imminent arrival of a train.  The girls and staff sprang into action, ready to provide a top notch meal during the 40 minutes or so that the train would be at the station.  After that train pulled out, the girls were required to change into a fresh uniform before the next train arrived. 

These ‘girls’ became, I’m sure, the matriarchs of many families in the west.  Everything we heard about Fred Harvey caused us to marvel at his influence in these parts.  I’m really surprised that neither Dan nor I had ever heard of him before traveling here in the Southwest.

I took LOTS of pictures in Santa Fe!  Such a cool town - from the little that we saw on one day, we knew that we could have spent a week there!  Everywhere we looked was something very artistic - door wells, windows...   

installation depicting some cutthroat trout

typical construction style

end of the Santa Fe trail - had a real effect on this history of Santa Fe

beautiful wood design

love the wood!

Rosie the Riveter statue in the museum

stunning hand painted windows in the hotel

fireplace with carved wall

lovely painting in the hotel

as someone who sews, these hand embroidered curtains are especially impressive!

another view of the hand painted windows

carved art by a doorway

I really love this piece

this is the bathroom stall door - art everywhere in the hotel!

art outside a downtown building

first native American made a saint, Kateri Takakwitha, 1656-1680

We were sitting there, on Saint Patrick’s Day, in a military campground during a very strange time in our country and the world.  The COVID19 virus is spreading rapidly, and all over the country and the world, we are trying to slow the spread by staying at home, by limiting our social contacts and our trips out to stores, doctors, etc.  We are over 2400 miles from home.  We left the next morning to get home as quickly as possible.  We expect to find no restaurants open, but we are well provisioned and should have no problem with enough food to eat.  We didn’t know if we would find campgrounds open, but we were fine with that, too.  As long as we have fuel for the truck and propane for the camper (heat and stove), there is really no need to pay a campground, even if they are open.  

We arrived home in 3 days, stopping one night in a roadside picnic area and the last night in a Walmart parking lot.

Now, we are home in Michigan - we are so truly fortunate.  We have a comfortable home, a yard to enjoy, plenty of food to eat, income not dependent on our working outside the home.  Our boat will remain in its winter storage until the marinas are able to open.  I miss being able to freely visit my grandchildren, but I do talk to them often and visit at a distance on their driveway!  I miss attending my church - our minister is sending out services, complete with scripture, sermon, and music from our music director and others.  I find myself sitting there listening with tears running down my face.  It is hard not knowing when things can start to open up again.  Our job, right now, is to stay home to keep this awful virus from being able to spread.  I pray every day for our health care workers (doctors, nurses, techs, facility support), and all the truck drivers and store workers who keep our essential supplies available to us.  I'm calling our blog complete for now - more when our travel bug can be nourished again!!

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