Some of you were asking about family pictures. Well, I haven't downloaded the newer stuff from my camera so here's some older pics from our trip to New Mexico:
Our first stop was in Santa Fe, which as many of you know is the second oldest city in the United States (behind St. Augustine, Florida). Spanish Conquistadors, along with Catholic priests, first began settling in the area in 1598. The city of Santa Fe was officially settled in 1607. For the Spanish, one of the official reasons for settling the "New World" was to convert the "savage" Indians of the American continent to their brand of Christianity. To accomplish this, Spanish Conquistadors resorted to a number of brutal practices, which "persuaded" a large percentage of Native Americans to convert to Christianity. One of the many tribes that chose to convert were the Tlaxcalan Indians of Mexico, who were descendants of the Aztecs. After their conversion to Christianity, the Spanish enslaved the Tlaxcalans and sent them north to Santa Fe, where they began the construction of a church in 1598. Here are a few pictures of that church:
Welcome sign at the front of the church. The San Miguel Church is the oldest surviving church in the United States.
A View of the church from across the street.
This picture was taken from the very back of the church and gives the best perspective on the church's overall size.
The tapestry in the center was done by the Tlaxcalan Indians in the early 1600s. The church decided to leave it as it was hanging on the wall.
This is the original mural that was restored in the 1980s. It sits behind the altar.
Some additional art done by the Tlaxcalan Indians.
Here is a cutout on the floor of the church that shows where the original Indian holy mount was once located. Archaeologists estimate that the holy mount was built in 1300.
Roughly one block from the San Miguel Church is another historical church called the Loretto Chapel. Built in 1878, the Loretto Chapel is home to what many have called, "The Miracle Staircase." Upon the church's completion, builders realized that they had not provided a means for the parishioners to access the chapel's second story choir loft, which was twenty-two feet above the chapel's main floor. Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters' prayers.
What is so amazing about this particular staircase is that it was completely made by hand and has absolutely NO supports holding it in place. There are no beams or rods of any kind to support the staircase. Don't believe me? See for yourself. Here are a few pictures of the Loretto Chapel:
Here are a couple of pictures of the chapel's altar. The attention to detail is incredible! I wish my pictures could do it justice.
Some additional art that adorns the side of the chapel.
A view of the Loretto Chapel from the very back. This perspective allows you to see the overall size of the building.
And as mentioned before, here is the "Miracle Staircase."
This is a view of the chapel from the altar. Though the picture came out a little dark, you can still see the staircase on the left leading up to the second floor. And yes, as you can tell from these pics, I am a sucker for old churches. Must be that darned history geek in me!
After spending most of our first day in Santa Fe, we made our way up the mountains of New Mexico to the "City That Never Was," Los Alamos, New Mexico. As many of you already know, Los Alamos was created as a secret military/scientific outpost during the height of WWII. Some of the world's best scientists gathered at Los Alamos to continue work on what President Franklin D. Roosevelt had dubbed, "The Manhattan Project." As a result of their efforts, the United States was able to develop the first atomic bombs, which were subsequently used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Here are some pictures from our visit to Los Alamos:
Here we are at the Bradbury Science Museum, which houses a number of artifacts from the Manhattan Project years. In addition, the museum explains some of what the Los Alamos National Lab is currently working on -- though most of it is top secret.
Here is a replica of "The Gadget," which was the first atomic bomb ever tested. Obviously the real "gadget" was much larger.
A bust of Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, who headed up the research at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project years.
A replica of "Fat Man," the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki.
A replica of "Little Boy," the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
A model of the underground device that was used for nuclear testing in the deserts of Nevada during most of the Cold War.
And here are some BORING family pictures:
The family on a hike in Los Alamos. Surprisingly, New Mexico has some beautiful terrain.