dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Although it’s a mere couple hundred miles from us here in Colorado Springs, this “Land of Enchantment” truly is a unique and breathtaking country. Making our way south past the Spanish Peaks, we found ourselves traversing the old Santa Fe Trail up and over Raton Pass (Did you know that ‘Raton’ is Spanish for ‘mouse’?). What took them upwards of three days to summit in ox-drawn wagons brimming with beaver pelts, only required a paltry 15-minutes in our family sedan. Having brought along Holling’s book, as we ascended the top of the pass, we read of the treacherous journey trappers and tradesmen made in their quest for the Santa Fe trading post.
From the crest of the hill, the majestic grasslands of New Mexico lay spread out before us like a quilt. For fun, our children starting a game of who could count the most out of the hundreds of antelope dotting the roadside. One enthusiast counted 155! It was easy to see why human beings have been calling this place home for centuries, seeking out a living farming and herding these vast grasslands. In fact, this land is so cherished by her inhabitants that she’s simply called Querencia, which is Spanish for “the beloved place.” There is a true sense of place here, and even people who no longer farm for a living still feel an intimate connection with the landscape. Author Keith Basso describes sense of place as “the idea of home… of entire regions and local landscapes where groups have invested themselves, and to which they feel they belong.”
Santa Fe sits at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and is actually the oldest capital city in North America and the oldest European city west of the Mississippi. Known now for her art, culture, and museums, the city boasts a vibrant tourism scene where Native Americans line the plaza square selling their home made textiles. Our children were especially excited to visit the historic Palace of the Governors, originally constructed in the early 17th century as Spain's seat of government for the American Southwest. The adobe structure houses the state’s history museum and was landmarked an American Treasure in 1999. And just like a few hundred years ago, the structure looks out on the central Plaza which is still filled with artisans, tradesman, and jewelers selling their goods to tourists.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” —Marcel Proust