Friday, March 04, 2011

Land of Enchantment, and some good friends

Having recently returned from a trip to Santa Fe and the surrounding area, I realized it has been about two weeks since I posted anything, so I thought it would be apropos to share some details about the trip. First of all, thanks to Arman for putting us up for the week.  Arman has been mentioned in this blog as a featured artist, and also in this month's newsletter as Artist of the Month.  This past week, two  sculptures that he entered in a nationwide competition sponsored by the VA (Veterans Affairs), took 1st Place at the regional level, and will now move on to the nationals in Arkansas. Good luck!  It was great to see Bob & Carolyn in Albuquerque, and spend some time at their home in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.  Hope we don't have to wait another 12 years to see them again. 

Pictured above is the incredible spiral staircase at the Sisters of Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe.  As the chapel was being built in 1876, the local carpenters neglected to erect stairs up to the choir loft, and due to the confines of the chapel's construction, adding a staircase was thought to be impossible.  About that time, a wandering carpenter happened into town, and undertook the task of designing and building the spiral staircase out of wood, not steel, since the nearest forge was hundreds of miles away.  The task defied the laws of architecture, and he also had to contend with the town's corrupt businessmen who wanted to ensure that the staircase was never completed.  A TV movie was made of this story in 1998, starring William Petersen and Barbara Hershey, the DVD of which is naturally for sale in the Gift Shop.  And also naturally, we walked out with a few of said DVDs, one for us, and a also as gifts. In the movie, it's stated the wood used was long-leaf pine, after a failed attempt with oak, but to add to the mystery of the staircase, the literature in the Gift Shop states that when a sample was submitted for testing, it could not be determined what kind of wood it was.  The results came back stating it was not a type of wood they'd ever seen before.  (Twilight Zone theme music here!)  Not a single nail was used in the construction, nor was a center pole used to stabilize the staircase during construction. Pretty amazing!

We also spent some time in Taos, and took in the hot springs at Ojo Caliente. After a week in cool, dry, clear-skied New Mexico, we returned to cold, damp, cloudy, rainy, snowy Oregon. But hey, summer is just four months away!  If we're lucky.

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