In Santa Fe, a casita is a common form of housing:

The American West

Adobe building peaks from behind the compound walls

Casita (noun): A small house or other building (especially in the US Southwest)


Origin: early 19th century: from Spanish, diminutive of casa ‘house.’


I am staying at a charming casita on a one acre compound. Casita is a diminutive of casa which means “house” in Spanish.

Santa Fe, NM

The morning dawn over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from the back porch of my little casita

Mornings I’m greeting by a soulfully blue adobe wall that surrounds the property. Above and to the east, I watch the sun rise as the day dawns over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The Casita is small but beautifully turned out: a bedroom and bath and a small but functional kitchen and sitting room. I set my computer on the rolling island in the kitchen, pull up a stool, and I’m in business.

Casita in Santa Fe

Within the casita compound, restful places to pause and be still abound. The interior compound wall is painted a beautiful blue.

A casita sounds luxurious and exotic but this type of living arrangement isn’t uncommon in Santa Fe and with the advent of AirBnB, it’s become a substantial income for many.

Staying here is not cheap; it is not a long term solution. But it is a fabulous way of landing in Santa Fe for now.

I’m just under 10 minutes from the plaza, just a few miles—there isn’t necessarily a lot of traffic here, but it can be painfully slow. Traffic, like much of NM, adheres to the manyana school of time.

A recent road trip to Reno, NV and back to pick up a few things underscored the vast distances of the west.

The American West

Road trip!


The American West

The road winds around Walker Lake, NV


The American West

Road Trip! Route 95 North in Nevada

See more pictures at Road Trip: The Old American West


The relative isolation of this Santa Fe becomes more evident with time. Mile after mile of southwestern landscape rushes by, mile after mile of desert and high desert with few towns in between.

map of American West

The distances between cities become vast in the American West

Isolation can be good and bad. In this day of instant communication and connection a bit of physical isolation feels good if you like your locale. And many people in Santa Fe love it here.

I am one of them.

The downside: travel anywhere means a bit of a drive or a flight. And it may be a bit more expensive and time consuming as well.

Time is a strange concept in this timeless place. There is no metropolis nearby to create a sense of shortage or urgency. Life simply unfolds at its own pace. If you pay no mind to the shrieking heads on television or the relentless pounding of advertisements (ie. unplug the box!), life is peaceful.

Santa Fe has a reputation of being snooty, arty and woo. And it is. But it’s also earthy, beautiful and soulful. Take your pick on your point of view and your experience.

Morning sunrises are just gorgeous.  There is little pollution in this city at 7,000 feet which traces its roots back over a thousand years before the Spanish “founded” the town in 1610. The air is clean and this time of year, cold in the early morning and late afternoon into evening. But mid day, even on a “cold” day, it is lovely. The warmth of the sun overcomes any vestiges of winter and it’s a pleasure to be outdoors.

Because in addition to art, culture and history, the outdoors in this area is world class.

Santa Fe, NM

The outdoors in and around Santa Fe, Northern New Mexico is world class

I’ve only begun my explorations. Some locales like Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument deserve a dawn arrival that may be better done in the spring. Ghost Ranch, just an hour north, is a bit easier to access now.

Ghost Ranch NM

Ghost Ranch, NM, The American West


Hiking at Ghost Ranch NM

Hiking the American West at Ghost Ranch, NM

Ghost Ranch, NM

Ghost Ranch offers some of the most stunning geography in The American West

Ojo Caliente (a world class spa) is nearby, if you can tear yourself away from the incredible geography. Taos in any season offers a spectacular trip into time.

Pueblo, Taos New Mexico

Pueblo, Taos New Mexico

And on any given day, I am happy to just walk the streets of this charming town, chat with people (everyone is incredibly friendly) and explore.

Santa Fe

Just off the Plaza, a covered walk in Santa Fe, decorated for Christmas

Traveling has rewired my “needs”. With less, life is so much simpler. Without ownership, I have no maintenance concerns. I need to pay my rent and feed myself.

And, of course, have a bit of fun.

Landing in Santa Fe I have found a vibrant film industry. Efforts to build the industry date back some years, and a good infrastructure has been developed that encourages and mentors young people interested in film and offers incentives that lean towards local hires. A win/win for everyone.

Especially CancerRoadTrip.

I will be basing the first CancerRoadTrip here in Santa Fe. There is a zen monastery in the hills overlooking town that offers a wonderful retreat for daily meetings. Staying near the Plaza offers endless museums, restaurants and shopping. Combined with our thought leaders from a variety of health oriented disciplines, a healing retreat in Santa Fe may be just what the doctor ordered. I mean, do you know anyone that has had to deal with cancer who couldn’t use a healing retreat?

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” – Hippocrates

In pausing for a bit in one locale, I know I feel a need to stop and heal. The constant travels of the past months have been tiring at times. This week, in addition to film meetings and writing, I am taking the time to meditate, to walk and to get my body moving.  In just a few days,  I already feel the difference. I am once again focused on organic, low glycemic, healthy eating, and the impact is noticeable.

Sadly, it took the illness of a new friend here in Santa Fe to make me slow down. She survived ovarian cancer a few years ago, but found herself run down and exhausted this past month. She’s now in the hospital.

I am worried. I worry about all my “cancer friends” because I know what they have lived through, and what they may be facing. I fear for them, as I fear for myself. I do not want to join these ranks again, just yet. I want to stay healthy for a bit longer; I want to enjoy my travels; I want to get CancerRoadTrip up and running for others in the cancer community.

So, as far as I may travel, I travel with myself and with the timeless truths of good health: good food, movement, meditation, and community. And here in Santa Fe I seem to be readily finding it all.

More on my travels to Santa Fe:

Santa Fe via Las Vegas, N.M.
Photo Mission: Cold
Photo Mission: Winter at Taos Pueblo
The Art, Culture and Beauty of Santa Fe, N.M.
Ojo Caliente, Wind Chimes and Waters
The Zen of Upaya
Warming Up To Restaurant Week in Santa Fe


See more pictures at Road Trip: The Old American West

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Santa Fe luxury rentals

Winter in a Santa Fe Casita


If you’re interested in learning more about photography (or food or film or any number of topics) check out Masterclass for on-line excellence:

What is #CancerRoadTrip and how did it come to be? Read this post to get the backstory! 

Follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and at Anti-Cancer Club.  Connect with me!  I may need a place or two to stay along the way!

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