Sunday, June 14, 2009

Road Trip Round Up

Eleven states and 8,000 plus miles later, we are finally home from our two week road trip. We got home last night around 7:00 and it felt good to be warm again!! Our trip was fantastic and I am not sure why I have never done this before. There was so much to see in the 14 days that we were gone.

My last post was about visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and spending the night in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We left Cheyenne fairly early (for us) and
drove to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Driving through Colorado and seeing the Rockies with snow still on them was beautiful. I had wanted to go to Leadville where my grandparents met and were married, but we didn't have the time. When I go to Leadville, I want to be able to spend a few days there, so that will be left to another time.

About six years ago, Kerri, Cameron and I went to a wedding in Texas and stayed in Santa Fe for a day and saw a lot of that beautiful town. I wanted to visit the
Loretto Chapel again so we spent a little time there before heading back to Gilbert.

When I was growing up in Douglas, I attended Loretto School for first through eight grades. We had Dominican Sisters from Adrian, Michigan as our teachers. At that time, we had a nun for a teacher each year that I was at Loretto. I remember my mom and Aunt Teresa talking about when they attended Loretto and the nuns that they had were the Loretto nuns who were from the same order as the ones from Santa Fe. I remember meeting a couple of these nuns when I was very young. They had wonderful memories of them.

The Loretto Chapel is one of those experiences that for me is very hard to explain. For me, going into the chapel brings an emotional and/or spiritual feeling. I felt this way when I visited Knock in Ireland. If you haven't ever visited this chapel, I would absolutely recommend it no matter what your faith or beliefs are.

I am going to paraphrase the back of a bookmark that I bough
t at the chapel that tells what it is about.

The Our Lady of Light Chapel (Loretto Chapel) fashioned after Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, was constructed in the 1870's to serve Loretto Academy which was operated by the Sisters of Loretto.

Believed to be the first gothic structure west of the M
ississippi, the Chapel had a design flaw: a conventional stairway to the choir loft could not be installed without adversely impacting the dimininutive Chapel's seating capacity as well as aesthetics.

Seeking divine guidance the Sisters made a Novena to their patron saint, St. Joseph the Carpenter. As legend has it, upon the ninth and final day of the Novena a mysterious carpenter arrived to design and construct a circular stairway to the choir loft. The tools upon his donkey were just a saw, a T-square, a hammer and tubs in which to soak the wood.

His "miraculous stairway" contains thirty three steps in two full 360 degree turns. This stairway has no center support nor is it held from it's sides--it's full weight rests on the its final tread.

Upon completion of the stairway, the carpenter disappeared without seeking payment. No records have been found for the purchase of the materials which the stairway was built. Many sisters believed the craftsman to have been the embodiment of St. Joseph the Carpenter.

Originallly built without a railing, its use was a daily reinforcement of faith by both sisters and students. In the 1880's the banister was added.

Engineers and architects marvel at the stairway; there is no known duplication of its design.

It is absolutely amazing to see this and what a fitting conclusion to this incredible trip!

8 remarks:

Dottie said...

OMG, the story of the staircase gives me goosebumps!! The chapel is amazing!!! What an awesome connection to your Mom and Aunt Teresa!!

The Toenjes Family said...

Hey Sheila~ I just read about your amazing trip. I am so glad that you were able to spend that time with your family! It sounds like you all made some wonderful memories. I also just found out that I will be seeing you soon at Tami's class....can't wait!
Sonja Toenjes

velvet brick said...

Sheila, I have goosebumps reading about this stairway! This is truly an amazing story! To think that all of the support rests on the final step... wow..such an architectural feat! I had never heard of this chapel before. I would like to see it in person some day... it seems as if one leaves there a bit different than when they entered in.

I am so happy that you were able to take such a wonderful trip and see so many beautiful things along the way as well as Sonja's wedding. I'm very impressed that 5 people left on the trip and 5 people RETURNED!! That's a testimony to your family! : )) Welcome home!

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what happened to my comment ... sometimes my computer here doesn't work as well as I expect (like to read my mind for instance. Welcome home ~ we also LOVE that chapel and go every time we visit Santa Fe. I can't believe all those miles ~ wowsiers!!!
Love & hugs,

eyeofthehurricane said...

I have enjoyed the trip... thanks for sharing it with us.
Your writing gives the reader such a sense of "being there."

I also wanted to let you know that I appreciate the encouragement you give to me to continue to "Just Write." Enjoy the rest of your summer! Janice : )

Judy said...


Mom and I just read your last post. We loved it and the music had us both crying! My new goal is to go to Santa Fe and see the staircase in person. I wish mom could go while she is still able bodied. Maybe we could go during our October break.

We are sure glad that you are home. We really missed you guys! I was getting worried that Lucy was getting too skinny!

Cheela said...

Let's plan it for October!

Anonymous said...

Welcome Home, Sheila....Tomas and I just missed you guys in Santa Fe. We were there just a couple of days after you all. After being in the car with Tom all the way from Phoenix, I headed straight for the Loretto Chapel upon our arrival to Santa Fe!! It is such a tranquil and beautiful place to just slow down the world and give thanks to our Lord for all his blessings. I so hope Judy can take Teresa there. We attended Greg's youngest daughter, Andrea's wedding in Denver. You are right, Colorado is beautiful!
What a fantastic trip you all have had. Great memories!!
Love, Tom and Sandra