La Santisima Trinidad, Arroyo Seco, New Mexico

la santisima trinidad, arroyo seco, nm

Blanketed in the first snow of the season, La Santisima Trinidad radiates hope to the surrounding community of Arroyo Seco, New Mexico. Built in 1834, the historic church stands as a monument to the families who originally settled the area. That the Catholic faith thrived during a period when there were very few priests available to serve the faithful in the rural southwest, is hope to us in these uncertain political times here in the United States.

cupola, la santisima trinidad, nm

The ancient brotherhood of the penitentes is primarily responsible for nurturing the faith during this period, though their methods came under scrutiny by church authorities. Nevertheless, despite the severity of some of their practices, there continue to be many Catholics in the mountains and plains of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

graveyard, la santisima trinidad, nm          cemetary, la santisima trinidad, nm

On the day we visited La Santisima Trinidad, we found the church was locked. No one came forth to open it, so we explored. We enjoyed wandering the churchyard and examining the grave markers. They fill the area around the church. The building has obviously been lovingly restored. Learn more about that at the following link for inside pics. Several well-placed benches hint at a pleasant garden in warmer seasons.

graveyard benck, la santisima trinidad, nm

Click here to see some lovely pictures of the inside of La Santisima Trinidad:

Once the snow flies and cabin fever sets in, a day trip towards Taos, New Mexico is always fun. Just 80 miles from Santa Fe, the Arroyo Seco area is full of historic sites, alternative housing, and breathtaking scenery. The town of Arroyo Seco, just 7 miles from Taos, hosts a number of boutiques and several eating establishments. Plenty of activity to satisfy the casual tourist despite inclement weather.

la santisima trinidad nm sign          historic church, la santisima trinidad, nm

Call to verify Mass and Confessions at the historic church and its missions, listed here:



A Holy Year in Rome – The Ultimate Guide Book

A Holy Year in Rome

What better way to see Rome than with someone who’s loved living and working there for over 30 years? A Holy Year in Rome, by Joan Lewis makes me want to visit Rome again. Gypsies accosted us right inside the church last time I was there. In addition there were death defying encounters with traffic. Not to mention the endless wanderings thru tourist traps. Joan makes Rome come alive with fascinating people and colorful history. She also provides insider travel tips and advice.

A Holy Year in Rome, is subtitled The Complete Pilgrim’s Guide for the Jubilee of Mercy. It begins with a description of the book’s meaning of pilgrimage and shrines. Next comes a glossary of terms. Such Catholic ideas as jubilee, basilica, and cathedral can be difficult to understand. Furthermore, the author explains the concept of holy doors in simple language.

Ms. Lewis gives an interesting history of jubilee years from the first one in 1300, through the current one. She explains why Pope Francis called an extraordinary jubilee. She also points out the significance of the dates of opening and closing this jubilee.

A full chapter is taken up by a self-tour guide book to the 7 pilgrimage basilicas. It features the highlights of each, in an orderly fashion, from entering to exit.

Another chapter contains a history and detailed description of the catacombs and their frescoes, paintings and stuccoes.

One chapter offers a self-guided tour of the vatican city-state.

Yet another is devoted to a history and guide to the pope’s second home, Castlegandalfo.

The book concludes with 3 chapters of Rome-specific travel advice. Joan gives her readers insider tips on navigating and getting the most out of their Rome visit. She also recommends books and links for further reading.

I thank Sophia Institute for providing me with a review copy of A Holy Year in Rome. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.

A Holy Year in Rome, by Joan Lewis

(c) 2015 Published by Sophia Institute Press

248 pages

Available from

$19.95 paperback/$9.95 ebook


Ballard Locks, Washington

ballard locks
yacht and kayaks going through Ballard Locks, Seattle, WA

About an hour drive from where we were visiting in Tacoma, WA is Ballard Locks. The official name is Hiram M. Chittendom Locks, but I don’t think anybody knows that.

Botanical Gardens, Ballard Locks, WA
Carl S. English, Jr., Botanical Gardens, Ballard Locks

Ballard Locks is more than just a shipping channel. On the shore are beautiful gardens, with rare trees and plants. Parks to sit and watch the activity on the locks, have a picnic, or roll down the gentle slopes, as a number of children (and adults) were doing. There is also a walking path through the gardens and a museum. We had a personal tour guide: Tim, a ranger, took us around and pointed out features of the gardens and locks.  He pointed out ginko trees, dawn redwoods and sequoias in the gardens.

ballard locks, seattle, wa
waiting for the locks to open

He showed us the difference between the stronger, original cement and gravel construction of the buildings and the newer cement benches, which were already cracked and crumbling. He explained how the locks functioned as we watched them in action.

fish ladders, ballard locks, seattle, wa
fish ladders, salmon “climb” from puget sound into fresh water to spawn

He showed us the fish ladders where the salmon migrate from their ocean home, back to fresh waters to spawn. Cables, much like clotheslines, are strung across the locks to protect the spawning salmon and smolts from seagulls and other predatory birds.

going with the flow
sign explaining smolt slides, which enable young salmon to return to the ocean

We watched as kayakers paddled through the locks from fresh water into Puget Sound and yachts motored from Puget Sound through the locks.

stainless steel sculpture
Salmon Waves, by Paul Sorey, Stainless Steel sculpture, Ballard Locks

Even sculptures are displayed at the locks.

Across the dam, there is an underwater viewing area, where you can watch the locks and fish ladders, if you’re lucky you’ll see some fish. Of course, it helps if you’re there during spawning season.


Summer In A Small Town

We interrupt the Oregon epic, to fast forward to our latest adventure. Pioneer Days in Manassa, Colorado. Summer is an event in Colorado. While other areas of the west experience mild temperatures year round, maybe just a hint of winter now and then, Colorado has a more Midwestern experience of early freezes and late thaws. With most of the state above 4500 feet, the non-winter months can be filled with 4-season days of 80 degree sunshine followed by wind and rain, then hail and then sunshine again. July frequently brings hail and lots of rain and snow bring lots of mosquitos. So Coloradans tend to make the most of summer while it’s here.
Small towns host carnivals, parades and founders day celebrations. There are lots of outdoor concerts and rodeos. Outdoor activities abound.
We try to make it out to some of these events. Sometimes it’s difficult because it would be too much stress on the abuelo. Once in awhile we can get someone to come in and stay with him for a few hours so we can get out and do something different. Recently we were able to make it for a day of the Manassah Pioneer Days. The 2 mile parade route through town was already completely lined with spectators when we got there. Horses and floats were lining up at the start. We strolled main street greeting friends, relatives and neighbors. Young boys wheeled coolers of ice cold sodas up and down the street, kind of a mobile “lemonade” stand. We stopped at the park and found a good place to sit, stand and enjoy the parade.
Manassa’s origins are primarily Mormon, though there are many Native Americans and Hispanics in the area. Several of the entries in the parade were traditionally dressed Mormons pulling hand carts and driving horse-drawn wagons. I marveled at the creativity and skill displayed in many of the floats. Really, this is a small town in the middle of nowhere (aka, San Luis Valley) nearly 100 miles and a mountain range away from Denver or any other big city, yet the floats could have easily been in a much larger, more competitive parade.     
Minions, of course, are dominating the world this summer.
My favorite was the dragon ship.
We also enjoyed Olaf and, of course,
the lovely Pioneer Princess and her court.
Naturally, in this farming and ranching community, there were plenty of horses prancing through town. My only disappointment was the lack of music and the arts. There was no marching band, no drill team, not even a drum corps. Ah well, I guess that is a testament to the sad state of where our school dollars go. Even at our home base in Arizona, there is no high school band, no drill team, no drama department or glee club.
What small town parade would be complete without candy thrown from many of the entrants? We are used to seeing it come from the police and fire trucks, but in Manassa it was mostly the local businesses and politicians who contributed to the local dental practice. I was pleased to see at least half a dozen businesses tossing icy water bottles to grateful spectators. This was new to me, and a welcome change, though we did have our own water.
After the parade, we wandered through the midway. Being on the road frequently, we have played leap frog down the highways with several carnival companies. Like rvers, they experience challenges along the road, but by traveling in numbers, they seem to handle them well. I was happy to see them set up and bringing some fun to an otherwise sleepy little community. Though we did not partake of the rides or the fair food on this particular day, we did buy the boy a snow cone and it was nice to know that these small companies are bringing joy to small communities across the U.S.

Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico

One of our favorite day trips from our current location in Southern Colorado, is historic downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. While we haven’t yet partaken of the Opera, we have enjoyed ogling the classic southwestern adobe architecture. 


Browsing upscale boutiques, then crossing the street to explore quirky shops filled with folkart and local handcrafts.

Loretto Chapel needs its own post, there are just too many pictures and details to include here.


A stroll past the park reveals a stone turtle and a checkerboard, ready to play.

The Deck at 221 looked interesting, with sculpted horses, rearing with pride. Maybe next trip we’ll sit up there under the umbrellas, sipping iced tea or espresso and watching the action below.