The rest of the road to Santa Fe rolls through classic New Mexico landscape, ruddy hills dotted with pinion and juniper trees under a vast indigo sky, as depicted in the stunning scenery of the movie Silverado. When you finally come upon I-25, take the entrance ramp toward Las Vegas (that’s New Mexico, not Nevada). Otherwise you’ll end up on Cerrillos Road, which is the stop-and-slow way into town. Instead, stay on the freeway a few exits farther north, and then get off at Old Pecos Trail. It winds past Museum Hill, the site of a massive covered-wagon sculpture depicting a strenuous climb on the Old Santa Fe Trail. (A portion of Rt. 66 tracked over it before a disgruntled outgoing governor created a shorter, more direct route to Albuquerque.) Here we gathered with members of another Corvette club, fittingly named “Old Santa Fe Trail Corvettes.”
Maybe our editor called ahead (or warned them about me), because they were very hospitable and accommodating for group shots. Actually, credit should go to William Hon, a former fighter-jet pilot and retired transportation administrator for the city, who now is part-owner of the Primo cigar shop (it’s actually more like a plush man-cave). He pulled a few strings to round up his local Corvette buddies on short notice, showed us around town in his C5 and “Jake”-themed Stingray. He also hooked us up with a couple of Corvettes owned by local police departments. (Stay tuned for upcoming features on those.)
Both the Santa Fe and Albuquerque clubs enjoy socializing a lot, heading up to Hyde Park on the way to the Santa Fe Ski Basin, along with numerous other trips in the area. So visiting Corvette owners might want to touch bases with these clubs to see what’s cooking during their visit.
Be advised that summer is the high season in Santa Fe for both the Spanish and Indian marketplaces, with row upon row of vendors hawking handcrafted curios, turquoise jewelry, and Indian artifacts. Santa Fe, cited as the oldest capital in America, is now one of the top art markets in the country. If you’re into that sort of thing, don’t worry about trying to fit your collectibles into the limited storage areas of your Corvette, as most visitors just ship everything home. But you’ll need to plan well ahead for lodging to beat the crowds. The La Fonda and Loretto are two popular hotels located near the center of town.
The “shoulders” of the summer season are quieter, cooler times to take in the startling sights of this “City Different,” as it’s been dubbed. There’s an incredible array of galleries, museums, shops, and restaurants to relish. Try any of the local green-chili dishes, as they have a special tang. If you go out drinking, don’t forget that you’re at 7,200 feet, and it’s easy to get lightheaded. (Maybe that’s where the “Land of Enchantment” state motto originated.)
The pueblo architecture in the area is so unusual, that some novice visitors think they’re in a different country. Indeed, the local inhabitants have a reputation for being a bit “strange”—and they’re proud of that image. This counter-culture getaway has a free- spirited sense of “anything goes,” where you can shed a Puritanical conscience—yet not in a vulgar Vegas sort of way. It’s a place to relax the reins on your creative impulses and make your own personal “dream catcher.”
Fittingly, there are no straight roads in Santa Fe, so find a place to park and stroll around downtown, or wander down historic Canyon Road. It’s a few blocks southeast of the Plaza Park and chockfull of art and sculpture. Get lost in the maze of narrow streets, and you’ll be entranced by the tastes and textures, and go away feeling you’ve not only visited a faraway land, but also a forgotten time. vette
Writer’s note: This piece is dedicated to my father, Truman Temple, a long-time resident of Santa Fe, who taught me the value of a good turn of phrase.
|New Mexico Corvette Association www.nmcorvette.org|
|Old Santa Fe Trail Corvettes www.oldsantafetrailcorvettes.com|