Ski Santa Fe

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Santa Fe is most busy in the summer and fall, and rightly so. Attractive weather, beautiful vistas, Indian Market, the Folk Art Festival, Zozobra, and a myriad of other festivals and attractions make summer a fabulous time to visit. It is also an ideal time to hike in the gorgeous mountains around town. However, there is another half of the year that is just as treasured, and it keeps people coming to Santa Fe throughout the entire year. A visit to Ski Santa Fe is one more fantastic opportunity that Santa Fe has to offer.

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It is quite difficult to beat the beauty of the Mountains to the East of Santa Fe. Driving among the aspen trees while the leaves are changing colors is an incredible experience that everyone should see in their lifetime. However if you come to the same spot just a few months later, a whole new scene can be seen. Winter is a very transformative time in Santa Fe, and the drive up to the ski basin while it is snowing is pretty fantastic.

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Of course, the skiing/snowboarding is the destination after the beautiful drive (However, make sure to be cautious on the drive, as the roads are small and icy). Ski Santa fe offers a variety of slopes of every difficulty and length. There are four lifts that go to distinct areas of the mountain, and each of them have different things to offer. The closer you are to the bottom of the mountain, the easier the hill will be. As you approach the top, you will encounter more difficult runs with moguls and steep inclines. Each run is labeled green, blue, black, double black, or triple black depending on its difficulty, so you can know the difficulty of the slope before you go down. For the inexperienced, Ski Santa Fe offers skiing and snowboarding classes, so you can learn to become more adventurous on the mountain. Whether you are coming to Santa Fe for a short period of time or if you intend to keep coming back there are options for you as you can get one-time tickets or season passes. If you’re not interested in winter sports, the lifts are often open in the fall so you can still go to the top of the mountain and check out the view of all of Santa Fe.

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This mountain has always been the backdrop to Santa Fe, but it is a world all its own that anyone who is interested in having a visceral experience in nature can access with just a short drive. It is another activity that shows the true diversity that a trip to Santa Fe can offer you at any time of the year.

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By Two Casitas

Bandelier National Monument

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Another result of New Mexico’s hidden volcanic past, the Pajarito Plateau was formed 1.6 and 1.4 million years ago by two eruptions of the Valles Caldera. The plateau is home to New Mexico’s most famous national monument: Bandelier National Monument. If you are coming to Santa Fe and are hoping to take an unforgettable day trip, this place should be first on your list. Bandelier is one of the most naturally diverse and historically rich places to visit in New Mexico. Banelier’s elevation ranges from just above five thousand feet to just over ten thousand, resulting in a fantastic diversity of ecosystems that can be explored in a relatively small area. The volcanic geology of the plateau and proximity for the river created a perfect home for the Ancestral Pueblo People, and when you take your day trip in New Mexico, you will be able to walk amid their ruins. Bandelier’s eiversity lends itself to many different animal species as well. Mule deer, Abert’s squirrels, lizards, Tarantulas and a number of bird species are common sightings. It is extremely important to note that these animals call Bandelier home, and that many of them will retaliate if they feel threatened. Taking pictures is usually fine, but distance and discretion are advised when interacting with the wildlife.

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First, a little history: over ten-thousand years ago, many nomadic hunter-gatherer cultures inhabited New Mexico, and they would often follow migrating game throughout the state.  Paleoindians used the famous Clovis points (you can probably find one if you look hard enough) to hunt many large mammal species. The now extinct bison and mammoth species were the primary source of sustenance for these people. However, around three-thousand years ago, Ancestral Pueblo people began to build semi-permanent settlements due to the fact that they became so good at hunting, that many of these food sources were completely depleted. These first Archaic peoples were significantly less nomadic than the Paleoindians, however they did still gather and hunt in relation to the changing seasons and availability of vegetation and game. While pottery would not come along for quite some time, they became excellent basket weavers, and used their baskets to store the food they had collected. They continued to settle, and eventually began to carve their homes into the volcanic rock that the Plateau is comprised of. These settlements can still be visited today, which is a testament to the longevity of these simple structures.

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With the increase in permanent structures came farming. Corn, beans and squash were the primary crops for the Ancestral Pueblo People, though they still continued to feed off of naturally occurring vegetation. Deer, rabbits, and squirrels were still hunted, but turkeys were domesticated. Dogs were also domesticated to aid with hunting and to provide companionship. This lifestyle remained more or less the same until the mid-1500’s when the Ancestral Pueblo people moved closer to the Rio Grande due to its natural advantages for farming and sustenance. The plateau could not sustain the growing population, and an extreme drought was the final straw.

Photo Of Ladder At Cliff Dwellings At Bandelier National Monument

President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to turn Bandelier into a national monument. As part of the Civilian Conservation Corps, many workers build roads into the monument, a visitor center, a lodge, and miles of trails that would aid in exploration of these ancient lands. These structures are all still in heavy usage. During World War II, the entire park was closed in order to house the people who worked on building the first atomic bomb.

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Visiting Bandelier truly allows you to walk through this history. You can go right into the caves that the Ancestral Pueblo people called home and see the artwork that they painted on the wall over a thousand years ago. You can walk in the same foot trails that they left after thousands of journeys along the same path. You can see the same wildlife that they depended on for so long, and it’s not a stretch of the imagination to truly understand their lifestyle. It was barren, yet beautiful, and it typifies ancient New Mexican culture like few other places can. My favorite thing about all of New Mexico is that it seems to be very much like a time machine. Depending on where you are, you can feel like you’re living like people did long ago, and Bandelier is perhaps the best example of this.

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By Two Casitas

Green Chile!

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As a local Santa Fean, green chile has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. To be perfectly honest, however, I cannot say that I have been eating it for any great length of time. I remember driving past the Albertsons and smelling the chile roasting every fall, and to this day, that aroma takes me right back to that life. I think I was always enchanted by that smell, however when it came to eating the stuff, I could not be convinced! Until I reached the age of fifteen or so, there was literally nothing that could convince me to eat anything remotely spicy, much less something that looked kind of green and slimy. Luckily for me, the temporary insanity known as “being a child” eventually wore off and I had my first green chile burger at The Santa Fe Baking Company. I can firmly say that I will never be able to enjoy a burger without green chile in quite the same way as I did before. The taste will always remind me of home, and it is just another small thing that makes New Mexico the special place that it is.

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Now for people not familiar with green chile, there might be a bit of confusion. I often find explanations of my addiction to this food met with “Oh yeah! I love Chili with beans and beef etc…” I have to stop and restart the conversation by explaining that this is an entirely different ball-game, and that food prepared with green chile is not only a unique tasting food, but it has come to be an important part of our identity as New Mexicans.

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We get our chile from the southwestern region of New Mexico, and the chile that is grown there is unlike any other crop in the country. There are several types of green chile that can be found in other places that are similar, but none can match the taste of that grown in Hatch, NM. Hidalgo, Luna, and Dona Ana counties are also large producers, but usually all chile that comes from this region is branded as “Hatch” green chile. Just to clarify, I am referring to the pepper as “Green Chile,” but at different levels of ripeness, it can become red chile which has a slightly different flavor. When visiting Santa Fe (at a Two Casitas vacation rental, of course), you will often be asked at various restaurants whether you you’d like “Red or Green.” This refers to the type of chile you’d like your dish to be prepared with. If you want both, say “Christmas.”

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Hatch’s chile has a unique and interesting history. It is, in fact, not a native crop to New Mexico, and it originates from a college laboratory in Colorado. In the early 20th Dr. Fabian Garcia was attempting to procure the ultimate chile pepper by combining the Colorado, Negro, and Pasilla. He was attempting to hybridize these species of pepper in order to create a milder, hardier, and more flavorful pepper than had ever existed. After this painstaking process was completed, farmers in southern New Mexico began requesting its seeds and began growing it using the Rio Grande river as irrigation. The resulting pepper is high in fiber, and vitamins A, B and C. It also has been shown to stimulate weight loss in a similar way to green tea.

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So now that you’re a bonafide Green Chile expert, you probably would like to know where to acquire some. I’ll give you some of my personal recommendations: Santa Fe Bite (formerly Bob Cate Bite) is famous for its green chile hamburgers, and for good reason. It’s said that their grill is finely tuned to make the perfect hamburger. The Shed has a more diverse menu that is full of foods that typify New Mexican cuisine. They are famous for having the spiciest chile in town! The Plaza Café has a fantastic smattering of New Mexican foods along with greek cuisine if you’re traveling with someone who doesn’t love the strictly local offerings. The Pantry is the ultimate place to get New Mexican breakfast and lunch. It remains somewhat of a local’s secret, and visiting it will guarantee you a plate-full of fabulous New Mexican comfort food.

By Two Casitas

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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