Not Really Here Or There
An easily overlooked stop on the Turquoise Trail road trip, Cerrillos is literally a living ghost town. At least six or seven people still live here and they even put up historical markers providing interesting information on the town's ancient buildings.
Most tourists will want to visit Madrid, which is just a few miles to the south. Madrid has fun things like restaurants, art galleries, and coffee shops and is welcoming to visitors so long as they spend money don't stray off the main road. Should one decide to venture off the road with pavement, the hills suddenly have eyes and you could easily be cursed by a stray dog, disappearing through a portal to the nether world, never to be seen or heard from again.
And then there's Cerrillos.
There's nothing for tourists to do here so the whole town has eyes. Everywhere you go, someone is watching, possibly living and possibly not, but they'll let you know if step out of line.
The ghosts of Cerrillos are surely unimpressed by flashy jewelry and pretentious enlightenment so, if that's your bag, just drive on to Santa Fe.
All images shot with a Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
The historic marker was on around on the back end of this house but I didn't go back there due to the extremely shady looking fellow who was crawling around on the train tracks. I wanted to know, but I didn't want to know that bad.
The last time I photographed this abandoned house in Golden, NM was about ten years ago. In fact, my profile picture for this blog (the one with the guitar) is from that trip and was shot right there on the front porch.
The house was abandoned then too but didn't look nearly as dangerous as it does now. As you can see, there are cinder blocks piled up on the bottom step and the entrance to the porch is blocked to deter looky-loos like myself from getting too close. The house looks like it could fall down at any moment.
Anyway, while photographing the house the first time, a man named Leroy suddenly materialized. I don't remember if he said that he owned the house but he did say that he was the (likely self proclaimed) Mayor of Golden. He bent my ear for a long time, going on about all kinds of wacky shit - but he never said "You're trespassing" or "get off my porch" so I waited him out and he did eventually leave so I could get my photos.
It didn't occur to me at the time but I guess it's possible that Leroy may have been an apparition and, of course, my apologies if I've offended anyone who knows Leroy, (now the former?) Mayor of Golden. He sure is chatty though, isn't he?
St. Francis de Assisi Church and Cemetery
This church was built in 1839 and has been through a few renovations. I have found photos on the internet showing the church in all white and with slightly different exterior styling. That being said, it is once again in dire need of some maintenance. I didn't photograph it, but there is a sizable hole opening up in the exterior adobe wall on the west side of the building.
Unfortunately for me, I arrived about 20 minutes before mass was to begin. So, while I'm trying to go exploring, the parking lot is filling with cars and a steady stream of people are walking through the yard to enter the church. It probably would've been better to show up on a weekday.
All images shot with a Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
Gothic Meets Southwest
The Loretto Chapel looks distinctly out of place as Santa Fe's only miniature Gothic cathedral. A curious study in the allocation of resources, The Loretto Chapel is very tall, very ornate, was very expensive to build (except the staircase, that was free) and seats a sparse 129 people.
Everyone comes here to see the "Miraculous Staircase" which is, in fact, miraculous but the rest of the chapel is pretty neat too. The staircase proves to be difficult to photograph due to the crowd of looky-loos gathered around it at all times. So, while they do that, I cruise around and see the other stuff.
Construction of the Chapel began in 1873 and was completed in 1878. The construction was wrought with various setbacks including, but not limited to, the premature death of the architect and at some point near the end of the project it began to dawn on people that there was no way to reach the choir loft.
The nuns were not hip to the idea of a fire station pole or a rock climbing wall so they set about looking for a solution. After praying for ten straight days a scraggly fellow showed up leading a donkey and carrying nothing but a t-square, saw, and hammer. He said he had come to build the staircase. It took him six months to complete and what he created was both awesome and terrifying.
A spiral staircase rising 20 feet with no nails, no center column, and no handrail, that makes two complete 360 degree turns and resembles strand of DNA. Did I mention no handrail? Obviously, the the staircase was far too scary to climb with no handrail so the braver nuns scooted to and from the choir loft on their hands and knees while others "miraculously" developed laryngitis and opted for janitorial duty.
The handrail was added later.
For more information about the history of the Loretto Chapel, visit their website here.
All of these photos are shot with my Motorola Moto X4 and edited with Snapseed.
The stained glass windows in the Loretto Chapel are incredible! They were purchased in 1876 from the DuBois Studio in Paris. Upon completion, the glass was sent from Paris to New Orleans by ship and then transported to St. Louis, MO by paddle boat. From there, the windows completed their journey via covered wagon on the Old Santa Trail to the chapel. With bubble wrap yet to be invented, I can't help but wonder how much glass may have been damaged in transit and I think the chapel is lucky to have received any windows at all. And now, 142 years later, they are still amazing!
Try as I might to get the obvious wide-angle photo of the chapel interior featuring the staircase, the number of looky-loos on this day were making it impossible. Gathered around it like pigeons waiting for french fries at the door of McDonald's, they were clearly unconcerned about ruining my shot.
After several impatient moments, I noticed that no one was standing behind the stairs by the confessional booth. Well eureka, lucky break for me!
I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.