Mountains and Monuments: Another Day in Santa Fe

Bandelier National Monument by Bianca Saldierna

On our last day in the rugged west, we went for an early morning hike at the Bandelier National Monument, where the Ancestral Pueblo people lived starting approximately 11,000 years ago.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

The Bandelier National Monument encompasses over 33,000 acres of protected land and over 70 miles of trail. We adventured on the most popular trail at the national monument, the Main Loop Trail, also known as the Frijoles Canyon Trail. As we wandered on the 1.2-mile trail, we had the opportunity to see archeological sites such as Big Kiva…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

…Tyuonyi, Talus House and the Alcove House. As we learned about Big Kiva, a communal meeting place used for religious, educational and decision-making purposes, we spotted three mule deer around the Tyuonyi ruins. To our surprise, one by one, the deer calmly approached the site, stopping a couple feet away from us to snack on some of the grass (although we want to believe that it was because we are some kind of wildlife whisperers).

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandolier Monument

As we continued with our tour, we learned that the Tyuonyi pueblo was one of the several large pueblos located within the Bandelier National Monument. The Tyuonyi once had over 400 rooms and it was home to approximately 100 people.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

We were able to better appreciate the scale of the remainings of the Tyuonyi structure after climbing a volcanic tuff cliff situated in front of it. Resting on the cliff were the Talus Houses which were reconstructed in 1920.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

We had the opportunity to enter the small cave dwellings called cavates via ladder.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

We learned that because the clay rock was crumbly, the people would burn the clay constantly to make it sturdier.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

Midway through our trail…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

…we adventured on the Alcove House which rests in the upper part of some large volcanic tuff cliffs.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument, Alcove House

To reach the former ceremonial cave, we climbed 140 feet up via four steep wooden ladders…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

…all despite Karla’s fear of heights.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

Luckily…

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…the narrow and partly paved paths were not crowded by visitors, which gave us some extra time to carefully explore…

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…and enjoy the views…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

of such a scenic and photogenic place.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Bandelier Monument

Shopping Downtown by Karla Rosales

After our hour-long hike at the Bandelier National Monument, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and enjoy our last few hours in Santa Fe. We spent part of our afternoon at the heart of downtown Santa Fe around the plaza market which was filled with various shops and art galleries.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Plaza

We began our walk through the portal at the Palace of the Governors which was filled with Native American Vendors. The Native American artists, from approximately 41 pueblos and tribes, make and exhibit jewelry, pottery and other works of art.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Plaza

The program that allows Native artists to showcase their art is called Portal Native American Artisans Program and it requires for the vendors to be members of New Mexico tribes and Pueblos and for all of their pieces sold to be genuine pieces. Some of us bought copper bracelets and even a copper guitar pick which were handmade and had unique cultural symbols and designs. Other ambassadors decided to walk around the plaza and enjoy a hot cup of coffee from a local shop.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Plaza

We wrapped up our quick shopping trip and hurried to meet with Mark Burns for lunch.

Lunch with Mark Burns by Christina Perez

Make Burns is a well-known photographer who grew up in Houston and who is known for the National Parks project that featured his photographs of all 59 National Parks. Currently, The LEAP Center and Mark Burns are collaborating to create a documentary on his profession and his successful career as a photographer. Interestingly, as he was working on the National Parks Project he spent some time in Santa Fe. Besides joining us for lunch, he also met us to work on the documentary and allow us to take a few photos of him. Because of being so familiar with the city, he recommended that we visit Tomasita’s Restaurant which serves Northern New Mexican cuisine.  Tomasita’s was first opened in 1974 and has been a local favorite since then. During lunch we enjoyed listening to experiences Mark Burn’s had during the last few months. He shared news about his project of the 100th-year anniversary of the Grand Canyon and his new website design.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Trains

Canyon Road Walk and Film with Mark Burns by Bianca Saldierna

Our conversations were carried on through our walk with Mark Burns around Canyon Road.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road

The half-mile long road located in Santa Fe’s Historical District houses more than one hundred galleries, boutiques and restaurants.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road

As previously mentioned, Mark Burns sporadically lived in Santa Fe while he completed his National Parks Project. He took us to his short-term house located in this picturesque road. We were able to briefly film and photograph Mark Burns in this location to include the material as part of our documentary.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road

To our surprise, the neighboring gallery displayed several pieces of one of the ambassadors’ favorite sculptor, Allan Houser Haouzous.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road, Allan Houser

We also had a chance to photograph Burns at the front of the home in which he stayed during his various trips to Santa Fe.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road, Mark Burns

After concluding our work with Mark Burns, we strode through the charming road…

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…peeked into a couple of galleries, took some photos, and visited a restaurant with a noteworthy side story.  The walls of El Farol’s (The Lighthouse) restaurant display five small murals brushed by Alfred Morang, an artist who made Santa Fe his home and whose house and former studio sit just off of Canyon Road.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road, Alfred Morang, El Farol

We had previously admired Morang’s artwork at the New Mexico Museum of Art…

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe NM, New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, Alfred Morang

…in fact, our knowledgeable museum tour guide directed us to his artwork at this unique restaurant. Our New Mexico visit ended in this historic and popular part of Santa Fe. Although we were nostalgic to leave such beautiful city, we headed back to our home state delighted to have learned about the city’s culture, people, art and history.

SHSU, LEAP Center, LEAP Ambassadors, Santa Fe, Canyon Road

Santa Fe: Mountains and Museums, Skiing and Sculpture

New Mexico’s beauty is unparalleled and unique to that of other states that we have traveled to previously. On our second day in New Mexico, we were still in awe of the adobe houses with their reddish-brown hue and their flat roofs, and we admired them all as we headed to our next destination.

Allan Houser Sculpture Garden by Beatriz Martinez

The Houser Gallery was about an hour south of our hotel, and we left early to make it to our appointed time.  Houser was an incredibly well known native-American sculptor, with pieces featured at the Winter Olympics in Utah and the New Mexico capitol.  We were cheerfully greeted by our tour guide and Allan Houser expert, Sina Brush, who began the tour by telling us Houser’s life story.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

Allan Houser’s family belonged to the Apache tribe, and his grandfather was first cousin to the famous Apache leader, Geronimo. Houser began his education by attending the Indian School for Art with classes taught by Dorothy Dunn. However, during that time period Native Americans were severely discriminated against and the children were only taught what whites viewed as appropriate for Native American artists to learn. Houser thought that this was too constricting and began to explore different artistic styles on his own.

One of our favorite stories dealt with his first sculpture. After World War II he applied for a commission in the Haskell Institute in Kansas.  Knowing absolutely nothing about sculpting stone, he somehow convinced the jury that he was well-practiced in doing so. Shockingly, he did not disappoint! After that success, he became incredibly well-known in the art scene. Three of his main artistic themes seen throughout his 1,000 sculptures he completed during his lifetime are women and children, dancing figures, and action or movement involving animals. He worked with different materials, including Carrara marble; the same marble preferred by Michelangelo.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

His artwork was truly impressive to us, especially because we were invited to touch the pieces!

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

Meandering among the sculptures of animals and representations of members of many different Native American tribes, we were able to truly get a feel for what Allan Haozous Houser wanted to convey to us.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

The emotions that  many of the pieces symbolize may sometimes be abstract, but they showed through nonetheless.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

Whether it be the sculpture named “Prayer” commissioned as a memorial for a young boy or “Sacred Rain Arrow” that depicted an Apache rain ceremony, through work of Houser we were able to discern the different Native American cultures and history that each piece is meant to represent.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

It was such an honor to pay a visit to the Allan Houser Sculpture and catch a glimpse of the 80 sculptures scattered throughout the 50-acre plot of land.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

With a great deal of sadness, we said goodbye to Houser’s works and moved on to our next destination.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Allan Houser

Ski Santa Fe by Beatriz Martinez

We had a drastic change of scenery as we headed away from the Houser Sculpture Garden and into the Santa Fe National Forest. With a base elevation of 10,350 ft. mountain, the ski resort was definitely a new kind of challenge for the Leap Ambassadors. Three of the five Leapsters had never been skiing before, and those who had were still incredibly excited to explore the Santa Fe Mountains.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe

Getting geared up was probably the most time-consuming part as well as having to learn how to ski.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

Thankfully, we discovered that the Professor Yawn’s excellent teaching skills extend beyond the sphere of Political Science and also into the realm of skiing.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

Thanks to his guidance, Victoria, Bianca, and myself were able to start off easily at the bunny slopes. Victoria caught the hang of it surprisingly fast…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

and left to try the bigger slopes while Professor Yawn worked more with the other beginners.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

I can be at times considered the clumsiest among the Leapsters, but today I shocked everyone and was soon also zipping through the trees.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

Meanwhile, Bianca and Christina took it slow, practicing in the Bunny Slope. Karla truly won the Bravery Award because she faced her fear of heights by going on two different ski lifts.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

Everyone enjoyed the fun in the snow…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe

…and soon it was time for us to trek back to the car and head over to the New Mexico museum that we had been looking forward to since we first arrived.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum by Christina Perez

After our half day of skiing we headed back into Santa Fe to visit the museum dedicated to one of the most famous women in art.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15th, 1887 in a small town in Wisconsin. Her first pieces of art were simple sketches of her family. She eventually decided that she would trade her small town for a big city, and she moved in 1905 to attend the art institute of Chicago. Her art was first exhibited in New York in 1916 by famous art dealer and photographer Alfred Steglitz, and that’s where it all began. She is now known as one of the most boldly innovative artists of the twentieth century.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Her style, whether it is with flowers, landscapes, and bones, is what set her apart from other artists.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

The LEAP Ambassadors have learned quite a bit about art but Georgia O’Keeffe is usually the first artist whose work they can organize when they begin visiting art museums.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

As we walked through the museum we came across a timeline of events from her life. It was interesting to follow it throughout her life and see what was happening during her lifetime in regards pop culture, art, and politics, while also connecting her to other Museums we have visited.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

It allowed us to compare her life to the lives of other great artists such as Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollock. As we walked through the exhibit Professor Yawn mentioned that he enjoyed her art piece called “A Street” which was painted in 1926.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Christina on the other hand liked “Clouds 5” and the study of the painting next to it. It was a painting of clouds seen from an airplane window, but it showed that Georgia O’Keeffe had been inspired by all of the traveling that she did in the 1960’s. As we headed for the gift shop to find a few trinkets, we stopped to snap a couple of photos of our favorite art…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

…then we posed for a photo outside…

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

…and then we headed to dinner!

Jambo Café by Christina Perez

For dinner we were able to add another type of food to our trip cuisine! We visited an award winning restaurant in town named Jambo Café. It has been named the best international cuisine by Santa Fe reporters for the past five years, and the owner is Ahmed Obo who first mastered the African cooking style and then decided to open his own restaurant in Santa Fe in 2009. We decided to order multiple appetizers and entrees and share amongst ourselves so that it would be a bit easier for everyone to try new things. We ordered Kenyan style beef kebobs, and combination plates that included goat stew, curry chicken, and Moroccan lamb stew all atop a bed of rice.

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe, Jambo Cafe

During dinner, we discussed all the different types of food we were able to sample thus far on our trip. Included were French, Mediterranean, Mexican, and of course African cuisines. It was difficult for many of us to decide our favorites, but Jambo Café was definitely high on all of our lists!

SHSU, LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP Center, Santa Fe