Another Santa Fe Adventure

We’re off to another Film Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Day 1

Lincoln, Nebraska, to Pueblo, Colorado

We are headed back to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the second time this year. (For the previous trip, see the post here.) Come on along! 

For this adventure, we are headed back to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to attend a week of film viewing at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (SFiFF for short). Since we’ll be traveling almost 800 miles (around 13 hours with stops for gas, etc.) by car, we decide to break up our travel time to be over a couple of days.    

The first day is spent heading west along Interstate 80 on a beautiful fall day with clear skies and NO SNOW! To make the time go smoother and mentally engaging, we listen to a book by Bill Bryson entitled “The Road to Little Dribbling”. If you are unfamiliar with Bill Bryson’s writing but enjoy laughing, I would recommend this or any of his books.  As a travel writer, his injection of wit into his descriptions of the people, places and experiences of living in England (as an American expatriate) will make any 14-hour journey seem like 13…as he would probably say in his own self-deprecating way. But honestly, it did make the trip seem shorter and definitely less boring than staring at the road for that long. If you’re not familiar with audiobooks, then you should try them out sometime. In the home or in the car, it makes reading…or listening to someone read to you…more engaging and efficient!  

As a plug for our locally owned and operated independent bookstore (Francie and Finch), we subscribe through them to a service called Libro.fm.  We buy the book through Francie and Finch’s website and then through a mobile device app (Libro.fm) we can listen to the book at our own pace.  As an alternative, you may also “rent” the books through your local library if they have that service available. 

Now, back to the adventure…   

Our first night is spent in Pueblo, Colorado, which a little over 2/3’s of the way to Santa Fe from Lincoln, NE. Pueblo is probably a nice city to spend more time in but we only could be there overnight and since it was a Sunday night, we didn’t find a lot to do other than eat a quick dinner and take a short stroll along the river walk—yes, there’s a river walk!  With a full moon and relatively warm temps we enjoyed a quiet end to a fairly long first day of driving and “reading”. 

Day 1 Photos

Day 2

Abiquiu, New Mexico

Energized from a good night’s sleep and a mediocre breakfast buffet at an otherwise fairly decent motel (Wingate by Wyndham Pueblo), we grab some Starbucks coffee and a cinnamon roll and take off on a slight detour from our trip to Santa Fe.  Our first destination—the Georgia O’Keeffe visitor’s center in Abiquiu, NM.  

Abiquiu is roughly 50 miles northwest-ish from Santa Fe but is essentially on the way. Our plan was to just have a quick lunch at the visitor’s center before heading to Santa Fe and our Airbnb casita. To our pleasant surprise–this happens occasionally on road trips—just north of Tao, NM, we come across a bridge spanning over a big “crack” in the earth. This “crack” (aka the ‘Rio Grande del Norte National Monument’) reminded us of our visit to the Grand Canyon and indeed, the river that runs at the bottom of the canyon is called the Rio Grande. The area was designated as a national monument in 2013 by President Obama and is characterized by vast plateaus of sage and volcanic remnants. Although we didn’t actually see any, reportedly the area is home to long horned sheep, cougars, bob cats and black bears.  Wikipedia has a good description of the history and geologic makeup of this area. The visitor center is across the bridge on highway 64. It’s a good place to pick up some souvenirs, too!    

The drive from the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument to Abiquiu will take you through some very beautiful and serene parts of New Mexico. Good roads but little in the way of amenities so make sure you’ve filled your tank before leaving Taos. Driving through open range land on narrow blacktop roads isn’t quite as harsh as the early settlers had it but it does give one a sense of how vulnerable we are as “strangers in a strange land”.   

On the journey to the Georgia O’keeffe visitor center we are reminded of her paintings that she painted while living in the area.  Driving through the same landscape that provided O’Keeffe the inspirational source for much of her desert paintings, we see the cliffs, tree lined rivers, distant volcanic peaks and wide expanses of sage brush that with the bright sun create the dramatic contrasts of desert colors that appear in abstraction within her works. 

Now, if you plan a trip to Abiquiu to see O’Keeffe’s home and studio, you should make reservations weeks if not months in advance to avoid disappointment. We did not make reservations ahead of time but luckily were able to book two seats on the bus (that goes out to her studio) for the following day due some extremely good luck. I wouldn’t suggest taking that risk for YOUR visit but we took a chance and were lucky to find an opening. 

So, having successfully booked our visit for tomorrow, we have a bite to eat (FINALLY!) at the visitor center’s café which was a nice finish to a pretty full day in the desert.  Try the trout tacos!!  

Having successfully navigated through the desert, we finally arrive and settle into our small but comfortable casita (aka apartment) and get our bearings for planning our movie going activities which start after one more free day of sightseeing.   

Day 2 Photos

Day 3

Our pre-festival activities continue with a tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s home and studio in Abiquiu. Traveling the 50 miles back to Abiquiu takes us through beautiful valleys flanked by tree lined hills and views of mountains which provide inspiration to O’Keefe.  While gazing at the layers of colors enhanced by stark shade and shadow, it is easy to see how abstraction in her painting evolved. (Make sure you pull over to the side of the road on one of the many wide shoulders it you get too hypnotized, though!)

O’Keeffe’s home and studio as it exists today has been restored to a condition that matches the time when O’Keeffe lived in the house. The home was in a state of disrepair when O’Keeffe bought it from its previous owners but took on the tasks of restoring and in some cases totally reconstructing the structure with aestheticism to original construction detailing. Still, today it serves as a laboratory for study of authentic adobe construction and irrigation gardening. O’Keefe was an avid gardener and grew most of what she ate at Abiquiu.  Her home still contains the kitchen gadgets and dried ingredients that she used daily.  She even made her own yogurt! 

One surprise (which probably shouldn’t have been given O’Keeffe’s dedication to modernism) of our tour was the use of modern design details on the portions of the house that were reconstructed.  The blend of traditional and modern detailing provides a balance of design between modern beauty and daily comfort that O’Keeffe was looking for in her life. 

We finish the day going back to what is becoming one of our go to restaurants in Santa Fe. Restaurant Martin. I’ve reviewed the restaurant in a previous post but I’m happy to say, we still love the food, atmosphere and staff. 

Day 3 Photos

...Closing Thoughts

Our first couple of days were spent taking care of an unfinished goal from our last trip to Santa Fe–to visit Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch. Seeing the home and studio of an artist who has become one of my favorite modern painters was thoroughly interesting and maybe inspiring (only as a person who enjoys looking at art and hasn’t yet figured out how to create it!)

So over the next couple of installments of this chapter, we will be watching, discussing and writing about another form of artistic expression–the movies created by independent film makers from around the world. I hope you enjoy the adventure!

Greg    

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