De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.


The Land of Enchantment -- The Land

The first thing one notices about New Mexico is the landscape. If you don't like shades of brown, you probably won't like the place. Many people can't seem past the brown to see the real beauty of the place. The first time I was there, I was on my way to Basic Training and only saw it for a few minutes. The second time was when I actually moved there in February, 1982. The drive to Canon AFB was short enough that I didn't really have time to take much in. The next day, however, on the drive into Albuquerque, I actually had to pull over and stop, just to look. I can still remember coming down Tijeras Canyon to what was then the Central Avenue exit. Very impressive.

Since then, I've had opportunity to travel over all of the state except for the southwestern part around Lordsburg and Silver City and such. The drive from Santa Fe up to Las Vegas (a.k.a. "Lost Vegas") is magnificent, as is the drive up to Alamosa, Colorado.

I've been down thru Vaughn and Roswell and Artesia to Alamogordo and White Sands a couple of times. The first was in in 1984 when I went with a group down to Carlsbad Caverns. I had heard about the Caverns and this was my chance to see them up close and personal. Quite a trip. The walk down into the Caverns isn't too strenuous, but I wasn't looking forward to the hike back up. Luckily, they have elevators to ride back up to the top. After that, we made a brief stop for lunch at White Sands.

The second time was in 1993, when Kathrin and Beate came to visit. We got down to White Sands in time to have a picnic lunch. On the way in, we noticed a sign on the side of the road, saying that visitors were not allowed to remove any of the sand. Only the government could come up with something that idiotic. There are whole counties back East that aren't even as big as White Sands National Monument, and the Monument is only a small part of the desert. (Kathrin and Beate both put some sand in ziploc bags to take back home.)

The drive up old NM 4 (now US 540) goes over the Continental Divide out near Cuba. For some reason, the trip west isn't as bad as the trip east. Go figure.

Los Alamos, despite being hideously expensive, is also a gorgeous place. I've been there twice; one time included a tour of the National Lab.

From Albuquerque, one can travel 45 minutes or so and be in a completely different kind of place. There are some things that I've missed over the years, like hiking La Luz trail and visiting the Sandia Man caves, but I've been camping in the Sandias and Manzanos several times. At one point, in 1993 or 1994, I looked at some properties down between Socorro and Magdalena. Too bad that never worked out. I also drove out US60 to Phoenix several times. The first time down thru Arizona's Salt River Canyon was a real white-knuckle drive.

There were a lot of things I never got to see or do in New Mexico. For some reason, I was never able to go up to Santa Fe for the burning of Zozobra (Old Man Gloom). That always seemed to fall on my Reserve weekends. But I did go to the State Fair more than enough times, as well as the Balloon Fiesta. The Balloon Fiesta stopped being fun when Kodak bought 'em out. After that, it stopped being just a bunch of people getting together to fly their balloons and started being about money.

There's something about New Mexico that just gets into a person's blood. Even after moving away, it's hard for me to tear myself away when I go back for a visit. I guess you can take the man out of New Mexico, but you can't take New Mexico out of the man.



At 16:35, Blogger T. F. Stern said...

That is beautiful country. I flew into Albuquerque and picked up a rental unit so I could drive up to Pagosa and meet up with my family on vacation one year. They had two full weeks while I could only be there for an extended weekend. I took the route via Cuba and then East and around the lake before heading up to Pagosa. It was about a 4 hour drive and worth every minute.


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