Or come in guns blazing just like ole’ John Wayne
Well, now’s your chance to save the girl
Better take it ‘fore it’s gone
Yeah, you better get your boots on
I love the suburbs. But there’s a huge part of me that yearns to live up in the mountains, with views as far as the eye can see; living off grid, catching and reserving rain water, planting, growing and harvesting my own meals, and rewarding myself with the starriest skies every night.
Binge watching Godless hasn’t helped. If you like strong female characters, wide open spaces, westerns, and rich subplots with complicated relationships at their core, then you need to give Godless a go.
But don’t just take my word for it-the Netflix original 7-episode series just nagged 12, yes, 12 Emmy nominations. The series is unique because the Western genre is usually dominated by males but in Godless, it’s the grit, wit and sheer inner-strength of (most) of the women of La Belle, New Mexico that really make this series a stunner.
Michelle Dockery-yes, Lady Mary of Downton Abbey- portrays the independent, land-owning widow on the outskirts of town who ultimately takes in the series “bad-boy-outlaw-turned-hero-” Roy Goode while he’s on the run for betraying his gang of thugs, led by Frank Griffin (played by Jeff Daniels). I was completely skeptical of watching one of my favorite British leading ladies wield a shotgun, but it honestly works and Michelle Dockery does an incredible job turning her back on being typecast.
It’s a chase to the end, and what an ending it is. One of the best shootouts I’ve seen in a Western film, and I like Westerns. We even named our son after a Lonesome Dove character!
The writing is rich, the introductory score is exceptional, and the characters are all well-developed and (mostly) female, so it’s easy to get hooked early on.
The best part for me though was the scenery. Godless was filmed in studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the outdoor shots are in and around Santa Fe as well.
If you’ve never been to Santa Fe, add it to your list and go. It’s a great stop-through to Colorado or Taos. We went on our way to Durango, Colorado for a ski-stay at Purgatory Ski Resort and Spa and a ride on the Polar Express (more on that soon!).
Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, is a vibrant city steeped in tradition, culture and art. Skip the pricey boutiques and support local by buying your jewelry (and yes, there are plenty of turquoise choices too!) at the Palace of the Governors.
You’ll get to explore the adobe museum-built in the early 17th century-and shop detailed, handmade jewelry made by locals who have set up shop selling their wares in the long covered corridor outside the museum.
I bought a well-made copper and turquoise cuff and matching earrings that I love wearing!
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is walking distance and worth checking out as well. The Romanesque Revival style is beautiful and stands in stark contrast to the adobe structures of Santa Fe that surround the church. Mass happens here so plan your visit accordingly. Whatever your views on church, the impressively large trees overlooking the Stations of the Cross Prayer Garden next to the Cathedral, the incredible rose window in front that was imported from France and intricately decorated interior lend themselves to an enjoyable place to reflect.
While you’re in town, I recommend staying at the Buffalo Thunder Resort. We loved our room with it’s Adobe architecture true to the area and the two balcony doors the kids had fun running loops around! There are two pools, a golf course, an on-site casino if that’s your thing and plenty of space to wander around and stretch out.
And if nature is your thing, then you have got to check out Echo Canyon.
It was a short, easy hike for the kiddos and a great way to get out of the car and stretch our legs before checking into the hotel. When you get to the end of the trail, you yell your head off and enjoy the fun echoes that bounce back to you, plus the canyon itself provides a breathtaking backdrop for family photos.
And according to legend, the red stain running down the rock is actually blood from Wild West murders that took place at the top of the canyon:
“According to legend the curved stone cliff wall now known as Echo Amphitheater was the site where a group of Navajo executed a family of settlers. As the story goes, the victims were brought to the top of the cliff and killed, their blood running down the cliff wall and permanently staining it. Possibly in response to this legend another story says that years later a number of Navajo were in turn murdered in the same spot, once again staining the cliff wall with their draining blood. Now the natural echoing caused by the site’s geography is often ascribed to the voices of the unquiet dead” -AtlasObscura.com
Our family loves the underground hum you feel in New Mexico, like every rock you touch is alive with a story. I loved Godless because it brought back memories of our trip to Santa Fe and Taos and satisfied my affection for Western because it is an expertly executed take on a tried and true genre. Make a big pot of your favorite chili, binge watch Godless on Netflix and plan your next road trip through New Mexico territory. The history and architecture will transport you to the Wild West, starry skies and, even if only for a weekend, you can pretend you’re a pioneer from ages past. Here’s to hoping there’s a second season!