New Mexico Days

26 May

Another trip to New Mexico has been completed, and it is time to write about our adventures in the Land of Enchantment. For those who do not know, a few members of our faculty teach a field trip course in northern New Mexico. With Santa Fe as our base, we take students on daily excursions.

The days were packed with various activities and learning experiences, but I am not going to write about all of them. That would take a week’s worth of posts. Instead, this post will be about the thing I liked most about each day.

Friday – The morning was spent in a ghost town and at a national park. However, lunch at Horseman’s Haven was the highlight of the day. I saw the restaurant on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show and asked that it be added to the dining list. My burrito proved this choice to be a good one.image-30

Saturday – We went to a few places that are on the itinerary every year. Then, we went to a place that was new for the trip. I have been told that Taos is a great place to visit, but the trip organizer has a bad opinion of the place. Due to months of badgering on my part, he agreed to take us there. He got more grumpy with every mile closer we got.

Unfortunately, it was raining in Taos, and we did not see much. However, it was not raining when we crossed the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which is 565 feet above the river. It was cool to walk across it and take a peak at the bottom of the canyon.image-31

Sunday – This day brought the highlight of the trip. We had lunch at the home of Josephine, a lady who lives in the Santo Domingo Pueblo. It was a feast of Native American food prepared by her and the other women in her family. Everything was delicious, and the tamales topped it all.image-32

While we ate, Josephine talked about growing up in the pueblo and about the problems facing her people. She mourned the slow disappearance of her native language and lamented the effects of alcoholism on her community. Hopefully, the students were as touched by her hospitality and honesty as much as we teachers.

Monday – As a historian, I should pick a historic site as the highlight of this day, but we visited a site that I have seen many times. Instead, I am picking a hike up one of the volcanoes that helped create the northern New Mexico landscape.image-33

Three ancient volcanoes sit on the edge of Albuquerque and serve as sentinels over the city. I climbed one of them with a former colleague who retired and moved to Santa Fe. It was great to walk with him and rekindle our friendship.

Tuesday – Have you ever been to a town that died from its evil and was reborn through love? When I first went to Madrid and asked about its history, that was the story that I heard. We jokingly call Madrid a hippie colony, but it is an old ghost town that, in the 1970s, became inhabited by people who wanted to escape the rat race and live a simpler life.

I did not take any pictures of Madrid, but you have seen it if you have watched Wild Hogs. In fact, that movie became part of this year’s experience.

Madrid has become a destination for motorcyclists who have seen that film. As we stood in front of the building featured in one of the pivotal scenes, I explained to a student that the building was part of the movie set. An old biker overheard and got mad because he had ridden a long way to eat in a fake diner.

Unlike him, I am never disappointed in Madrid. I always wonder what it would be like to escape to an old town and live a life without worry. Of course, I would probably get tired of it after two days.

Wednesday – Chaco Canyon is an amazing place to visit. It is even worth the long journey to get there. The canyon was home to a people who disappeared, and archaeologists have been trying to figure them out ever since. The conclusions often change, and some are scoffed at with ridicule. The questions may be hard to answer, but the beauty of the canyon leaves no doubts.image-34

Thursday – This was another day of national parks and historic sites. However, they did not compare to our visit to Santa Fe Bite, home of the city’s best green chile cheeseburgers. The restaurant used to be in another location and go by a different name. The important thing has not changed.image-35

Friday – Our last day in New Mexico was spent at Ghost Ranch, where dinosaur remains have been found and artists have been inspired. We hiked the high mesa trail and looked over a landscape that can be found in the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe.image-36

Like I did on all of our hikes, I looked over the land and listened to the theme of Centennial, the 1970s miniseries about the American West. Everyone else thought I was insane, but the music inspires me. I knew that listening to it would add something to my experience and offer something to visualize when I hear that music in the future.

As always, we had a great trip filled with great experiences. These were just a few of them.

17 Responses to “New Mexico Days”

  1. Marilyn Armstrong May 26, 2015 at 03:03 #

    I think a volcano is a fantastic choice. Geograhy and geology make history often. We’ll going to Monument Valley in January. I can hardly wait.

    • Rick May 26, 2015 at 03:05 #

      I envy your trip to Monument Valley. It is an awesome place.

      • Marilyn Armstrong May 26, 2015 at 03:18 #

        Garry has wanted to go there since he was a kid. It will be fun and hopefully, magnificent 🙂

  2. Andrew Petcher May 26, 2015 at 04:53 #

    I am intrigued that you took no pictures at the ghost town. Was it prohibited?

    • Rick May 27, 2015 at 00:10 #

      I took some pictures, but I have written about it before. I thought I would try something new this time.

      • Andrew Petcher May 27, 2015 at 04:37 #

        A disappointing explanation – I thought you were going to say something sinister ha ha!

      • Rick May 27, 2015 at 13:17 #

        There has been some sinister stuff found in that town, but I only read about that online.

  3. Bantering Ram May 26, 2015 at 09:30 #

    Ah! Not the Real Madrid then. Sorry, couldn’t help the football (soccer) joke.

    And did you meet any ghost?

    • Rick May 26, 2015 at 13:20 #

      Not the Real Madrid. Heck, it’s not even pronounced the same.

  4. thehistorytourist May 26, 2015 at 10:02 #

    Love that several of your highlights are food-centric (my idea of heaven is a good tamale — so hard to find). It shows that your priorities are in the right place.

    • Rick May 26, 2015 at 13:22 #

      When the post was finished, I realized that food played a prominent role. We had to eat, right?

  5. Lunar Euphoria May 26, 2015 at 14:21 #

    I’ve never been to New Mexico as a destination – but I’ve driven through a few times. This post makes me want to go back and explore.

    We’re fans of Anthony Bourdain too. Though I’ve disheartened recently by the recurring hotdog theme on his series Layover. That burrito looks serious.

    • Rick May 27, 2015 at 00:09 #

      It was an awesome meal. You should make some time for New Mexico. It is a great place for a variety of fun.

  6. Vickyz May 26, 2015 at 23:29 #

    Glad you got to enjoy some things in Taos despite the rain. Hope you come back for a longer stay. Taos has much to offer including great hiking. It is a very special place. The Indians say that Taos accepts you, not the other way around. sounds like you traveled with someone who Taos did not accept…

    • Rick May 27, 2015 at 00:07 #

      Thanks for the comment. I’ll be back when the day is nicer and there is more time to explore.

  7. jcalberta June 1, 2015 at 22:39 #

    That burrito looks good ! You’re making me hungry.
    “Chaco Canyon” … would love to see that … a place of mystery and beauty.
    “Madrid”. America seems to be full of small colonies of folks that are trying to get away. Freedom. Nothing wrong with that.
    Centennial – epic mini-series full of actors that aren’t around anymore.

    • Rick June 1, 2015 at 22:43 #

      It was good and the green chile was hot. Chaco is a great place but it takes some driving to get there.

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