Valles Caldera

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The Valles Caldera is one of New Mexico’s most beautiful landmarks. Located about two and a half hours Northwest of Santa Fe (just east of Los Alamos), its quiet and peaceful vistas exude an overwhelming sense of tranquility and natural splendor. It is nestled into the Santa Fe National Forest, and because it is a national preserve, it remains largely untouched by the structures of man. It is certainly possible to visit The Caldera to simply appreciate its aesthetic beauty, however if you dig deeper, it is possible to achieve a deeper appreciation of the temporary nature of this beauty. You can also realize that without The Caldera, New Mexico as we know it would be completely different. Because of all of these reasons, it is one of my absolute favorite places to visit in the state. Its aesthetic qualities are only matched by its deep history and fascinating geological implications.

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First things first: what is a caldera? The answer may surprise those who don’t already know! Calderas often appear to be lush and peaceful valleys, but in fact, they are the craters of the largest super-volcanoes on The Earth. Most of the planet’s volcanoes are located in the infamous “ring of fire” that circumscribes The Pacific Ocean. These volcanoes are caused by oceanic continental plates subducting underneath the lighter continents that make up the world’s landmasses. This friction heats up the rock until it melts and is forced to rise to the surface. Calderas, or super volcanoes, have a different and much more mysterious origin. They form when “hot spots” form in The Earth’s mantle bleed through to the surface. No one is absolutely certain as to why these hot spots exist or how they form, however we do know that they are incredibly massive, and that they contain slow moving and viscous magma that has the capacity for incredible levels of pressure, and therefore incredibly explosive properties. Luckily for us, these volcanoes explode extremely rarely. The last large erruption occured approximately 1.15 million years ago, and a smaller one occured about 50,000 years ago.

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As you may have gathered, a geological feature of this magnitude is capable of shaping and dominating a landscape. Valles Caldera’s eruptions are responsible for the Sangre De Cristo mountains, and the hot spot underneath is the source of many of New Mexico’s famous hot springs. Obsidian arrowheads found throughout the area are made of a volcanic glass that can only be formed with the extreme pressure and heat caused by a volcanic eruption. Porous rocks can be found everywhere you go in New Mexico and all of them are the result of the Caldera. Boulders the size of cars were flung from The Caldera as far as Kansas, so its effect on the landscape cannot be understated. All of this may seem rather terrifying and intimidating, but I promise that it is still worth it to visit The Valles Caldera! Immersing yourself within an area of such fantastic geological power is an important and humbling experience, and it can provided you with a wonderful appreciation of New Mexico’s natural splendor.

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The Caldera is also well-recognized as a place of more short-term historical importance. It was a famous hunting ground for the Navajo tribe, and the obsidian arrowheads that they famously used have been collected and traded by almost every other group that has come through the area since. Unfortunately, when New Mexico officially became American property, The Caldera served as a battlefield in The Indian Wars and many incoming Americans began to log the forest and raise livestock in the Calderas fertile ground. The Caldera was famously owned by The Baca family throughout the late 19th Century and and early 20th. They were given the plot of land by the U.S. Government, and its ownership exchanged hands several times until the turn of the millenium. In the year 2000, Bill Clinton signed a bill that officially designated the area a natural preserve. Because of this effort, the Caldera cannot be privately owned, and its natural state is generally maintained by the U.S. government. It is also open for public access so anybody can come and appreciate it. Luckily, human traffic is kept to a minimum, so if you chose to visit The Caldera, you can fully immerse yourself in its beauty without having to worry about other people getting in the way. If you come to New Mexico, and are interested in a profoundly educational experience that is not often advertised, The Caldera is the place to go!

By Two Casitas

Santa Fe’s Five and Dime/Woolworth’s

​A​ town’s general department store was often the only one-stop shopping destination for ​its residents, and because of that fact, its character helps define the character of the entire city. Santa Fe’s Five and Dime (Previously Woolsworth’s) is no exception. Located on the southwest corner of Santa Fe’s Plaza, its central location provided it with heavy local traffic, and secured its place as a staple of Santa Fe’s culture and mythology. Santa Fe boasts a unique version of “Americana.” From the stereotypical imagery of cowboys and Indians (and Spaniards), to the breathtaking vistas, landscapes, and sunsets that make Santa Fe so special, our town has contributed much to our country’s historical image, and our Five and Dime is a critical piece to that cultural jigsaw.

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THE FRITO PIE

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Perhaps the thing that makes our Five and Dime most special and memorable is that, according to local legend, it was the birthplace of The Frito Pie. Teresa Hernandez worked at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in the early 1960’s, and she likely did what most great inventors/innovators do: combined two great things. A staple of Santa Fe’s cuisine is its chile, and Woolworth’s served it liberally. Certainly, Woolworth’s also sold single-serve bags of Fritos, and Hernandez had the brilliant idea of simply combining the two products. Adding cheese and other toppings was a natural next step, and suddenly a truly unique product came into existence. Almost immediately, people were lining up to try the Frito Pie, and more than 50 years later, the lines have not died down. If you’re going to have fast food in Santa Fe, this is the way to do it. Simple, down to earth, and uniquely Santa Fe!

 

Check out this recipe from Roadfood.com: http://www.roadfood.com/Recipes/19/fritos-pie

 

Woolworth’s also has a personal connection to Two Casitas’ owner, Wendy Kapp. As a child, her mother Phyllis Kapp ​(who is now a very successful local artist and owner of Waxlander Gallery on Canyon Rd.) was inspired by New Mexico’s landscape and sweeping sunsets​ and took ​her husband and four kids on several trips through The Southwest.  Her love of the landscape have inspired her for the twenty seven years that she has had her gallery on Canyon Road. ​In fact some of our vacation rentals are graced with her magnificent work.​ She and her family often stayed at the La Fonda hotel on The Plaza, and would take day trips throughout the state. These trips imprinted themselves into Wendy’s identity as well, and she fell in love with Santa Fe for the rest of her life! One of her strongest memories was waking up and getting her first corn necklace at Woolworth’s, and getting a Frito Pie! She tells me the story almost every time that we pass Five and Dime, and the affection for the shop is palpable. Wendy’s mother who  first turned Wendy on to the five and dime

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While the store used to almost take up the entire block, it is now​ much​ smaller. It ​was purchased by Gerald Peters who bought much of Santa Fe’s downtown property. In fact, he is the largest owner of real estate in downtown Santa Fe. This change was shocking for the locals who had been going for so many years, and who had sat on the bar-stools in the back of the store with friends and family to enjoy a home-made soda in days gone by. there was actually a protest held by the residents of Santa Fe, as they felt they were losing the Plaza as their meeting place to the growing tourist industry. The outcry didn’t save the original Woolworth’s completely, as much of it was converted into a shopping mall, however Mr. Peters was convinced enough to preserve a section of it complete with the lunch counter in the back. ​Wendy, your hostess and owner of  Two Casitas, almost cried when she saw the final transition, however the spirit of the store is still preserved in the Five and Dime. The instant you walk in the front door, you will immediately feel whisked away to an earlier time. The store is littered with uniquely “Santa Fe” artifacts that range from bandanas, kokopeli warriors, musical instruments, Santa Fe licence plates, and of course, frito pies and corn necklaces that Wendy fell in love with as a child (though they are now five dollars instead of fifty cents!). While it is simply a small department store that sells keepsakes and snacks, it represents what is special about Santa Fe. It is a distinctive twist on classic Americana, and it has been fairly well preserved throughout time. It is a landmark of the beautiful simplicity and cultural potency of the past, and that is exactly why Santa Fe is visited by millions of people every year.

By Two Casitas
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We love dogs here at Two Casitas (Who doesn’t, right?) When we started this business back in 1998, we didn’t have dogs of our own, but always loved meeting our guest’s dogs. When we got our first dog in 2000, she was thrilled when a new furry friend would pull up to one of the Two Casitas. This  was back when Two Casitas only had “Two” Casitas and we lived at the same property in this compound and in the  main part of the home at 511 Douglas Street which is now called Maraposa and Zia. We ended up with four little chihuahuas who helped get us through the best and worst of times, and yes, we brought them on some of our travels! Three of them recently passed away, and the other one lives with Wendy’s mom, but we have recently adopted two new dogs named Miles and Fawn! We like to think of them as Two Casitas’ unofficial mascots. But enough about our dogs, You’re reading this because you want to know what you can do with your dog(s) in Santa Fe. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place, as Santa Fe is one of the most pet-friendly towns you can visit.

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By Two Casitas

Stay Like A Local – Volume 1 – Santa Fe Music Scene

Hello! This is the first entry in my new series of blog entries called “Stay Like A Local” where I will provide you with tips to immerse yourself in Santa Fe’s local culture. This entry will focus on Santa Fe’s music scene which is one of the most vibrant (and under appreciated) aspects of The City Different. A lot of people come to Santa Fe to experience our fantastic Santa Fe Opera House and Chamber Music Festival, however if you are interested in a wide array of music, don’t miss out on the hundreds of local acts that call Santa Fe home.

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By Two Casitas

New Blog Posts Coming Soon!

Hello! This is Will Risbourg. I am Wendy Kapp’s (Owner of Two Casitas) son, and I am going to be keeping y’all posted about fun and interesting tidbits about Santa Fe! We’re sorry that the blog has been stagnant lately, but since I am now on board with the company, we finally have someone to keep it updated. I look forward to having conversations with everyone about their trips to Santa Fe!

By Two Casitas

Santa Fe, Springtime and the Mariposa at Two Casitas

Springtime in Santa Fe.  Forsythias blooming on side streets, sunshine on Canyon Road patio bars in the early afternoon, high school kids playing hacky sack on the plaza, Georgia O’Keefe poppies in front yards, hiking at Bandelier National Monument . . .It’s an amazing time to be in the Capitol city, and I was fortunate enough to spend the first weekend of spring at Wendy Kapp’s Mariposa, one of Two Casita’s two bedroom homes.

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Santa Fe Breakfast Battle (with myself)

One of the absolute best things about going to Santa Fe is the eating.  I agree that it’s not the only thing worthwhile about visiting – there’s the Opera and the Lensic and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and the Plaza and the Railyard and the hiking and the skiing and Ten Thousand Waves and music at El Farol on a Saturday night. . . There are a lot of good reasons to visit Santa Fe. But the food. . .just thinking about the amazing food we eat when we’re there makes my mouth water.

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La Casa Sena – Historic AND Delicious Santa Fe

For me, Santa Fe’s vibrant history has always been one of the best reasons to visit.  It’s no secret that you don’t have to spend an afternoon in a Santa Fe museum (although those are amazing) to get a glimpse of how life was in the city hundreds of years ago.  One of the best examples of Santa Fe’s rich history is La Casa Sena.

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Santa Fe, Canyon Road and Two Casitas

I’ve been going to Canyon Road since my childhood, when my Aunt Margaret led me there on a wintry Christmas Eve to view the farolitos and visit with one of her Santa Fe neighbors.  I love it still – the galleries, the sculpture, the narrow street, the restaurants and patios.  I love the general feel of Santa Fe history mixed with the excitement of creativity.

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The Civil War, Santa Fe and Las Golondrinas

When you think of the Civil War, you probably think of Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Shiloh, and Atlanta. . .Southern locales where the fighting was heavy and rivalries between neighbors and families were heated and angry.  People don’t usually think of New Mexico as being associated with the Civil War.

But we had battles here, two of them fought in 1862 near Santa Fe at Glorietta and in Apache Canyon.  This year marks the 150th anniversary of New Mexico’s Civil War battles, and this weekend you can get a glimpse of what those battles were like at El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, where living history actors and Civil War buffs will reenact both battles.

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