Day 3: October 1, 2015--Williams Junction, AZ, to Santa Fe, NM

Don't miss today's Gallery!

Eight hours on the train (arriving in Albuquerque before noon), a pleasant stopover there that included the Old Town Plaza and meeting a new/old friend, and a commuter train to our very comfortable digs in Santa Fe. Another great day.

The Train

We were up and out of Arizona's Oldest Hotel well before dawn even thought about cracking, returning by shuttle van to board our train at 3:50 AM. We slept--mostly--as we rolled through the dark, stopping at Flagstaff and Winslow, Arizona (where I saw no one standing on the corner, though the sun was nearly up by then). Well before Gallup we were in broad daylight, and Lila had her first view of what she called in a Facebook post "hours and hours of red rocks." I think they're majestic.

Some of the "hours and hours of red rocks. (Photo by Lila)

Reaching Albuquerque a skosh before noon, we stashed our bags in a locker and chanced leaving the station to ride a local bus a couple of miles west on Central Avenue (part of "Historic Route 66") to meet a friend on Albuquerque's...

Historic Old Town Plaza

(Photo by Lila)
Old Town is said to date from 1706; whether the current Plaza is that old cannot be proven. See today's Gallery for a few atmospheric shots.

I mostly sat around (with other old guys) while Lila (and their wives) mostly shopped around. The shopping isn't quite up to the standard set by Santa Fe, but there are some advantages to that: it's less crowded, a hair more naive, and--I suspect, though I have no evidence--the prices are probably cheaper.

I had contacted a Facebook Friend the day before, and was planning to meet him around 1 PM for lunch, so I was soon texting the rendezvous with him, and we met up on a corner of the Plaza.

Chris Hill

Chris Hill is--as far as I can figure--only the second "pure" FB Friend I've met in person--that is, one I had previously had no other connection to. (Interestingly, I met Chris and the first personal meet-up in the same FB group, and both of them have since left that group. Huh.) As he lives 30 miles or so out of town, his was the first of several Heroic Efforts made by friends and family to catch up with us on this trip.

The group Chris and I met in is for people interested (or not) in--for lack of a better term--"things of the Spirit," and Chris has bestowed on me an honor I would have to say will happen only once in my lifetime.

I have long used a self-made logo for my various web endeavors. It's a version of a simple mandala, or quartered circle, like this: Earth. In the same system in which you'll find Venus (Venus), Mars (Mars), and the rest of our neighbors, this signifies Earth. Furthermore, the psychologist Jung says it's something like the shape of the soul.

These two ideas--the planet we live on and the "shape" of our interior--make this a profoundly significant symbol. For me, it's nearly religious, and it represents an idea that I call "neo-perennialism." There's way too much to say about this, but let it suffice here to say that the concept blurs the lines between science and spirituality, society and religion.

Well, Chris read some of my online writings about that idea, and liked it. So he had his own version of my version of the earth mandala, as well as the term I coined, tattooed on his arm. That doesn't happen every day!

La Placita Dining Rooms

The place we ate in is one of my all-time world favorites. It's housed in Casa de Armijo*, alleged to be as old as the Plaza itself. This is doubtful, but it's readily admitted that the building where the restaurant is located was rebuilt from near-ruin around 1930. It has a staircase known to have been brought from Spain and installed in 1872 (to accommodate the 30-foot train on the wedding dress of a cherished daughter), so there's that. The restaurant dates to 1931, and a cottonwood tree peeking through the roof of one of the rooms attests to its age. (See the Gallery.)

(*Some sources seem to say that the restaurant is in the not-quite-as-old Ambrosio Armijo House, but a sign on the restaurant claims it is the Casa de Armijo.)

Sopapillas. These look a little
overdone to me. (Wikipedia)
The food is typical New Mexican fare, complete with the heavenly concoction called a sopapilla (supposedly an Anglicization of "sofa pillow"--which they resemble--but actually a diminutive of the Spanish word sopaipa--a kind of fritter--from the word sopa indicating food soaked in milk). Whatever. I call them "delicious." They're not unlike the beignets in New Orleans, where we ended our trip. They're puffed, fried dough eaten with powdered sugar, honey, or any other such diabetic's nightmare.

As we hung around, we made a couple of trips to the restroom. Imagine Lila's excitement when she ran across an article [dead link, October 2021] later on which read (in part):
As with other buildings in Old Town, the restaurant is said to be haunted. According to witnesses, the place is haunted by at least four spirits. Much of the paranormal activity takes place in the women's restroom and in the upstairs area of the restaurant.

The apparition most prominent in the women's bathroom is that of a young girl who appears in the mirrors. Originally, the restroom was once part of a little girl's bedroom. It is said that an owner's little girl died in this room during the late 1880s.

Other paranormal phenomena include employees who hear their names whispered into their ears (when they turn around, there is no one there), cold spots in various parts of the restaurant, and strange mist that has even been captured by photographs.
Unfortunately (?) we had no such experiences. But we sure enjoyed meeting Chris in person! See him--and the restaurant--in the Gallery for today.

Running the Rails to Santa Fe

The ancient New Mexican capital of Santa Fe has long held a special place in my heart. I first experienced around Christmas 1990, and it has been a place of solace and sustenance for my soul ever since. I was even fortunate enough to live there for a few months when I worked for the Urichs (about whom more when we reach New York).

Since moving to Japan in 1997, I haven't driven much. (There were those two years back in L.A. in 2002-2004, but in 2006 [I think it was], while living in China, I actually let my California Driver's License lapse.) So how does a pedestrian show his beloved wife the Mecca of his soul?

The State Bird--and a train!

Rail Runner to the rescue! Playing off the word "Road Runner" (the State Bird of New Mexico), this commuter train connects Albuquerque, the state's largest city, with Santa Fe, its capital. Frequent weekday departures (this was a Thursday) meant we could get back to the Alvarado Transportation Center any time before 8:30 p.m. or so and head for Santa Fe.

Which we did (way earlier than that--before sundown, in fact). The train rolls 65 miles through the gentle hills between the two cities, making ten stops that include several Indian villages, or pueblos (a target for another trip).

"The Station of Irony"

We arrived as the sun was setting at the Santa Fe Station, which I call "The Station of Irony"--because the main line of the Santa Fe Railway (more accurately, the "Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe") never actually reached its namesake. The terrain was too difficult for an east-to-west approach, so the station where we detrained was the end of a branch line from Lamy, 20 or so winding miles to the south (and the name of which we'll discuss tomorrow). Most of the right-of-way we traveled, by the way, once belonged to the Burlington Northern, another name familiar from my childhood hobby as a model railroader.

Incidentally, astute readers will catch a couple of 1940s song references in today's post, testimony to the huge westward migration after the Second World War. One refers to a "car" song, the other a "train" song. Anyone care to guess?

And so we walked the third of a mile or so down South Guadalupe and left on Cerrillos Road to our comfy, friendly, and convenient--if not stylish--Motel 6. Don't knock it! It was cheap and well-situated. There are two philosophies: be near your transportation, or be near your destination. In this case, proximity to transpo won out, because we would be having another early departure after tomorrow's full-day (and then some!) tour of Downtown Santa Fe. Anyway, it was just a short (a tad under a mile) bus ride to the Plaza.

Don't miss today's Gallery!

No comments:

Post a Comment

We'd love to hear what you think! Please be aware that all comments will be moderated.