Arroyo Seco, New Mexico via Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

arroyo seco, new mexico

From our spot in southern Colorado, we cut across US Highway 64 to enjoy a scenic drive past Earthship Biotecture communities. Spectacular is the only way to describe the view from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Our destination for the day, Arroyo Seco, New Mexico.

rio grande gorge bridge

We didn’t stop to photograph the Earthship homes but they are private residences anyway, so that might have been rude. We did stop to take pictures on the bridge, however.

rio grande gorge steel bridge

Awarded “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the Long Span category in 1966, it was dubbed the “bridge to nowhere” during construction because there were no funds to finish the road on the other side. The Rio Grande river runs from southern Colorado to Mexico. About 10 miles outside of Taos, it flows through a 50 mile long, 800-foot deep canyon created by earthquakes millions of years ago. From the top, it is hard to imagine that the gorge is home to a rich and diverse ecosystem. Petroglyphs are evidence of early human habitation. There are also supposed to be hidden hot springs and ruins. Consequently, I will need to return in warmer weather to investigate.

la santisima church arroyo seco nm

The town of Arroyo Seco, New Mexico was originally settled on a Spanish land grant, in 1745. The historic church, La Santisima Trinidad, occupies a prominent place in the town. Arroyo Seco currently caters to tourists and retirees. Only 7 miles from Taos, it is a convenient stop for skiers and hikers. Get home cooked burritos and burgers at tiny convenience stores and food stands along the main drag. Boutique shops feature local artisans and upscale gifts.

arroyo seco, new mexico mercantile     asnm mercantile pottery      asnm mercantile antiques

Arroyo Seco Mercantile

carries everything from antiques to handcrafted soaps to toys. Seems like the shelves are bursting with color.

asnm mercantile candles     arroyo seco nm mercantile storefront

A tiny garden

next to the Mercantile offers a picnic table, benches, and waterfalls, in addition to a reconstructed log cabin dating to the 1860’s. Our visit fell during the Christmas season, and the garden was decked out with a nativity scene and Christmas bells.

arroyo seco, new mexico mercantile garden nativity

Francesca’s Clothing Boutique

carries reasonably priced and southwestern flavored apparel.

asnm francescas clothing boutique     francescas clothing boutique

We didn’t browse half the shops but there is certainly something for everybody in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico. Handwoven rugs, pottery, fine art, and jewelry are just a few that we missed. For more info, you can visit the Arroyo Seco website.

 

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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:

http://altbuildblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/inside-la-santisima-trinidad-church-in.html

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: http://www.visitseco.com/arroyo_seco_catholic_church.php

 

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Big Church Little Church

I have to admit, I am partial to little churches and missions. My “home” congregation consists of about 60 families. I like the intimacy, the colorful characters, even the feuding. To me, it is so much more like a family. Yes, we have our differences, we frequently do not get along, but we pull together in times of crisis and need. It is our Catholic life.

In a big church, I feel lost. There seem to be so many people and so much to do. I lose focus. I get complacent. There are too many choices. The children are sent out during Mass, not taught to sit quietly, participate fully and honor the Sacrament. The music is modernized to entertain and attract an audience. Just my take on things.

Inside tiny Stella Maris, Lamar, TX

I walk in to a big, modern Catholic church and I can’t find the holy water. I want to bless myself with it when I walk in and when I walk out. It is a sacramental reminder of my devotion. Now, there is usually one large font, instead of the small ones at each door. I feel funny walking up to that big baptismal pond to use the holy water, then find my way out.

St. Anne’s, Deming, NM


I still want to genuflect when I enter the pew where I am going to sit. I am here for Mass and I want to honor my Host. I want to put the kneeler down and spend some quiet time in prayer and thanksgiving before and after Mass.  Most often, now, the Blessed Sacrament is not even kept in the main part of the church, but in an attached adoration chapel. I guess that’s okay for big churches.

View from Lake Lodge rec room, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming

On this pilgrimage of slow travel, I have attended Mass in churches in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Texas. It is always an adventure, come Saturday, to find out where we will be attending Mass on Sunday. The Holy Eucharist is always nourishing and enriching. Small churches just ensnare my heart. St. Anne’s in Ash Fork and St. Francis in Seligman, Arizona, where I had the honor of leading the music for 15 years. The rec room of the Lake Lodge in Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, where we attended when we were there for my daughter’s wedding. St. Anne’s in Deming, NM, where we worshiped after a long night of trying to find a campsite in the dark. Stella Maris, outside of Goose Island SP, Texas, where we shivered on top of an AC vent, until someone realized it was cold outside and in and turned it off. The pastor there had recently been healed of stage 4 cancer and spoke confidently about God’s merciful love and healing. 

This week of our full-time rving life, this awesome road trip, we will be celebrating Ash Wednesday in a big church in Texas and we will be grateful to have found another spiritual home on the road.

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The Miraculous Staircase of Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe, New Mexico

 Amid our walking tour of downtown Santa Fe, we detoured to take in Loretto Chapel. The last time we were here, I foolishly left my camera in the car. This time, I made sure I had it.
 
Loretto Chapel is famous for its circular stairway which is believed by many to have been constructed by St. Joseph, himself. Regardless of the validity of the claim, there is no disputing that the stairway is a marvel, not only for its time, but even now.
 
According to legend, the architect and builder of the chapel both overlooked the access to the choir loft until the chapel was nearly complete. None of the options to correct this were acceptable to the nuns who had commissioned the chapel, so they began a novena to St. Joseph, asking for a solution to this problem.
 
On the final day of the novena, a mysterious stranger appeared out of the desert and built the beautiful staircase, then disappeared without even collecting his pay.
 
 
The 1998 movie, “The Staircase”, starring Barbara Hershey and William L. Peterson offers an entertaining version of this legend and is available through the chapel gift shop, as well as other retailers.

 

 
The Miraculous Staircase, now over 130 years old, has been closed off for many years. The wear and tear of so many tourists ascending and descending its steps would surely destroy it if it wasn’t.
 
Fanciful windmills grace the gardens of the chapel, while the sandstone and volcanic rock of its construction allow the beautiful stained glass windows to stand out. The interior of the chapel is simple and serene. Although the Blessed Sacrament is no longer housed here, it retains an atmosphere of holiness. Voices are hushed and photographers are almost stealthy.
Sitting still in the quiet of the chapel, I relax and breathe in the prayers of those holy women who, less than 50 years ago, still knelt here, received the sacraments and instructed the daughters of Santa Fe in the joy of the Catholic faith. I wonder what it would have been like to be privileged to climb that staircase and sing in the choir. I believe, whoever he was, the hand of God worked through the hands of the man who built the Staircase.
 
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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.

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