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November 12, 1998

Driving Across the USA#3 (unedited version)

"Miraculous Cracks"

I decided to spend the day in Santa Fe since they were predicting snow along my route in Arizona (unfortunately they still are).

In the morning I went to the Auto Body Express, a very upscale t-shirt shop. I didn't see Fred Imus around. I did buy some of his hot sauce and chips though.

Next I went to the Cathedral which was nice but not as ornate as I would have expected for the southwest. They had a modern version of the Stations of the Cross done in southwestern style which was kind of interesting.

I then walked to the plaza where a small (I would say pathetic) service in honor of Veterans was going on. It seems like no one really cares anymore. Maybe it has been too long since we've had a war where people have really felt threatened. Interestingly I found myself talking about my military experience in the evening, which must have been a layover from witnessing this experience in the morning.

Next I went to the Georgia O'Keefe Art Museum. This was the highlight of the day. They had a short film about her, with her speaking. She was 99 when she died and was married for 30 years to a photographer both facts about her life that I did not know.

I would be remiss if I did not mention how many lesbians (or woman with short hair walking close together) there were present. I also would be remiss if I didn't mention how Georgia seemed to paint a vagina into every mountainside, flower, or skull. It's kind of neat when you think about it, finding life in all things (which is one of the things she said in the short film).

Next I visited numerous shops selling trinkets. I didn't buy any.

Finally I visited two chapels. One St. Miguel (St. Michael) is the oldest in North America. It was pretty but nothing really struck me inside of it.

The other was a chapel for the sisters of Loretto. This one is owned by a hotel which bought the property from the sisters in the late 60's. It houses the "miraculous staircase". I was familiar with the story of how the nuns had this chapel built only to discover that they had forgotten to build a staircase to the choir loft. Because of the design no one could figure out how to do it.

The sisters prayed a novena (prayer for nine days) to St. Joseph. On the ninth day an old man showed up on a donkey and inquired about the staircase and then built a winding staircase with now visible means of support. When the nuns went to pay him, he disappeared. When they went to the local lumber yard they found that he had not bought the lumber there (remember Santa Fe is in the desert). The obvious conclusion is that St. Joseph built the staircase (it is built with wooden pegs rather than nails although I swear I saw nails in the wood).

Now my cynical view. Why did the nuns sell this property and close down the convent with such a miraculous item? Secondly I noticed cracks in the wood at the base which seems at odds with the miraculous nature of the worksmanship.

But it's a nice story and perhaps the cracks are due to the lack of gratitude of the nuns. Who knows?

I'm off to Arizona where I probably will stay tonight.

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