The beautiful Gothic structure built in the 1870s did not, however, have a staircase to the choir loft, as a traditional staircase would adversely impact the aesthetics of the chapel and use room that was needed for seating. Not knowing how to remedy the situation, the sisters prayed a novena to St. Joseph. On the ninth day a mysterious carpenter arrived with no tools but a saw, a t-square, and tubs in which to soak the wood. When he had finished, he had constructed a spiral staircase of thirty-three steps which makes two full 360 degree turns. It has no support from the wall nor in the center. The full weight rests on the final tread. Upon its completion, the carpenter disappeared without payment. No record exists for the purchase of wood used in the stairs. No one has been able to reproduce the stairs. Tradition has it that the mysterious carpenter was St. Joseph. It was a beautiful and holy place, even though it is no longer owned by the Diocese, it retains is Catholic aesthetic and Mass is occasionally celebrated there still.
From there we went to the San Miguel Mission, the oldest Catholic Structure in the country. It was built by native people under the direction of Franciscan Friars out of adobe bricks. With none of the refinement of the Loretto Chapel, it is nevertheless a holy place. Mass is still celebrated in the mission weekly, though Our Eucharistic Lord is not reserved due to the flow of tourists.
From there, we explored some art galleries, grabbed a cup of coffee, and then met Melanie, a friend from long ago, at state museum where she works. We visited an exhibit on cowboys and then went to lunch with her. More exceptional Mexican food. We spent a long time catching up. It's been years since I have seen her. She was the folklorist for the State of South Dakota when we new her last. She has been many things since then, but she remains largely the same as when I first knew her.
After all that, I wanted a nap, and since I'm driving I got one. After my slumber Mom and I went to the bug museum. It is rare to find a person as truly passionate about anything as the proprietor was about his bugs. I found it all quite charming, my mother found him slightly obnoxious. I learned more about bugs in forty-five minutes that I had ever known before. I took a picture with Ollie and his enormous beetles. I enjoyed every moment of it.
Tomorrow we will probably be heading to Bandolero. I'm not entirely sure what it is, but it is outside and historical. More from there tomorrow.