The El Rey Inn and Santa Fe, NM

By Charlene S. Mixa

Exploring the Historic Santa Fe Area

Plenty of beautiful flowers at the El Rey Inn

Plenty of beautiful flowers at the El Rey Inn

Charm, comfort, and a return to a different time welcomes you at the El Rey Inn in Santa Fe, NM. Off the infamous Route 66 the Inn’s history is over 70 years old. Starting with only 12 rooms in 1936 it expanded in the 1950’s and later to 86 rooms and suites on 5 acres just outside of Santa Fe.

Planning our trip to Santa Fe we wanted affordable accommodations with the criteria of complimentary breakfast, close to town and internet access. The El Rey Inn is a winner! On check-in we are impressed by both the warmth of the facility and staff plus its amazing history. First our room was double the size of the traditional motel room with a king bed, sofa, chairs, and decorated with Southwestern style furniture and antiques. The Inn’s beautiful floral baskets hang along the covered walkways and alcoves around the property. Despite being right off the highway the Inn takes us away from hustle and bustle of nearby traffic, to a warm inviting environment. The five acres has loads of flowers, fountains, pool, tables and secluded areas to relax.

The accommodations are very comfortable and we find ourselves taking many pictures around the Inn. Our first morning, we walk to the main building for our complimentary breakfast. Friendly, warm, charming describes both the breakfast area and patio, in addition to the breakfast choices. The staff stops by with freshly baked muffins and quickly clears any dishes. During breakfast looking at information on the El Ray Inn, we learn that the owners, Terrell White and his wife Hanneke pride themselves with a dedicated staff. The Inn has been recognized many times for the longevity of their staff.

Exploring Santa Fe we happen on to a few attractions out of the mainstream that are extra special to us. For our wedding anniversary, we celebrate with an excellent dinner at Vanessie’s in the downtown area. After dinner we stop in the piano bar to find fantastic live entertainment! Doug Montgomery is phenomenal both in his extensive music capabilities on the piano plus his ability to draw the crowd into the music. He is amazing with his repertoire of music for all ages. Doug also spotlights members of the audience who join him in a performance. Fun, laughter, singing along, and enjoying beautiful music all blends together at Vanessie’s.

Golf is on our list of things to do in the area. Thanks to a gentleman we met while having drinks in Santa Fe, we learn about Vanessie’s and a Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Course. Located 45 minutes south of Santa Fe, Paa-Ko Ridge is in the mountainous terrain of the New Mexican high desert. It is ranked one of the most beautiful, challenging and award-winning courses in the U.S. Situated on the east side of the Sandia Mountains, the course is stimulating, the views breathtaking and the experience unforgettable. Breathtaking! A perfect description from both the views and the challenge of catching your breath at the over 6,000 foot altitude for us Florida golfers. The golf was exceptional and a highlight of our Santa Fe trip.

The El Santuario de Chimayo

The El Santuario de Chimayo

Checking out the tourist information, we read about the high and low roads to Taos, NM. We opt to take the “high road” to Taos and return via the “low road”. The route takes us through some of the most interesting landscape in history. Several stopping points along the way provide scenery and history, however, the one that stands out is El Santuario de Chimayo known as the Lourdes of America. Known for centuries for its healing power, people seeking cures and worshipers continue to descend on this small church. As we walk from the parking lot there are cross structures built of stone and hundreds of crutches along the fence. Entering the courtyard of this small church, there is an aurora and awe about it. Reading information about El Santuario we learn that El Santuario (The Shrine) was built around 1815.

Inspiring Stone Cross at El Santuario de Chimayo

Inspiring Stone Cross at El Santuario de Chimayo

The story passed along from one generation to another is: During Holy Week on the night of Good Friday, Don Bernardo Abeyta, who was a member in good standing of the Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jes6s el Nazareno (Penitentes) was performing the customary penances of the Society around the hills of El Potrero. Suddenly he saw a light springing from one of the slopes of the hills near the Santa Cruz River. Don Bernardo went to the spot and noticed that the shining light was coming from the ground. He started to dig with his bare hands, and there he found a Crucifix. He left it there and called the neighbors to come and venerate the precious finding. A group of men was sent to notify the priest, Fr. Sebastian Alvarez at Santa Cruz. Upon hearing the extraordinary news, the priest and people set out for Chimayo. When they arrived at the place where the Crucifix was, Fr. Sebastian picked it up and carried it in a joyful procession back to the church. Once in the church, the Crucifix was placed in the niche of the main altar. The next morning, the Crucifix was gone, only to be found in its original location. A second procession was organized and the Crucifix was returned to Santa Cruz, but once again it disappeare. The same thing happened a third time. By then, everyone understood that El Sefior de Esquipulas wanted to remain in Chimayo, and so a small chapel was built. (from website: We buy the “healing dirt” to bring back to special friends and family before heading on to Taos for an afternoon of visiting the local shops, lunch and return to Santa Fe via the “Low Road”. The drive is easier going back and we stop for the spectacular view of the Colorado Gorge and Visitor Center. Note: The visit to El Santuario de Chimayo is extra special as on our return home, it is featured on Bert Wolf’s Travels.

For information:

El Rey Inn 1862 Cerrillos Rd Santa Fe, NM 87505 (505) 982-1931

19 El Santuario de Chimayo PO Box 235 Chimayo, NM 87522 505.351.4889

National Scenic Byways Online Vanessie’s 434 W. San Francisco Street Santa Fe, NM (505) 982-9966

Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Course 1 Club House Dr Sandia Park, NM 87047-8531 Toll Free: (866) 898-5987 F: (505) 286-5598


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About Charlene Mixa

Seeing new places, learning about cultures and seeing the sights has always been my dream. Growing up I was blessed with parents that enjoyed traveling and thought nothing of taking a family of seven on excursions. My career in Human Resources and later as a consultant for an international Human Resource firm offered some travel, but I knew as my husband and I approached retirement, my goal was to do more traveling and broader trips. The nine years since retirement has been filled with fantastic adventures from short local one day trips to several week excursions. Living in Florida, it is especially enjoyable to be away in the summer to cooler climates. Multi-week driving trips across the good ol' USA, settling in for a month in the mountains to explore the local area, or a combination of both fill much of our summer season. Our travels are predominantly self-orchestrated, bringing the fun and challenge of getting everything to click. It's all about doing and sharing! Experiencing a travel adventure is exciting. Reliving a special travel moment with a friend or family is exhilarating. I feel my heart race and pulse quicken, as I sharing that special moment. Thank you for joining in my travel adventures and allowing me to hear your stories.