New Mexico: Deserts, Mining Towns, and Expensive Art
// November 3rd, 2011 // America
I never gave New Mexico much thought before I visited it. For me, New Mexico conjures up ideas of southwest decor, deserts, and small towns… and I knew that fellow travel blogger Abby used to live there. Yes, that about sums it up. And all of those proved to be true. However, in just 48 hours, I also saw another side of New Mexico: the extreme income gap, the old mining towns that make perfect backdrops for old westerns, the art haven of Santa Fe, and the people who work at Los Alamos (re: Manhattan Project and atomic bomb).
Entering New Mexico:
First of all, the slogan for New Mexico is ‘The Land of Enchantment’. While I did think it had its pretty parts, I’m not sure that out of all 50 States, if you had asked “Which state is known as The Land of Enchantment?” that I would have EVER gotten that question correct. Or, if a friend asked me, “How was your visit to New Mexico?” can you imagine if I had said, “Oh it was so enchanting!” I save that word for Disney fairy tales. And maybe a romantic visit to Paris. Dear New Mexico, Please reconsider.
On our way to Santa Fe, we drove along the Turquoise Trail on Hwy 14. We took a windy drive up to Sandia Crest, a beautiful overlook, stopped at Tinkertown Museum, and drove through ghost towns and towns that were once part of the mining heyday.
One of the towns we decided to stop in was Cerrillos. When the town was thriving in the 1880s, miners extracted gold, silver, lead, zinc and turquoise in area mines. Now, it’s just a few dusty streets and home to about 200 people. The town has been the backdrop for several movies, including Young Guns. And you can see why.
While we did see a handful of nice adobe homes here like this one…
… we also saw these (one of which was for sale).
And then there was Santa Fe:
We couchsurfed in Santa Fe. And it was awesome. Our host lived in an adobe home right behind an art gallery on Canyon Road. This street is lined with art galleries, and it was really cool to stay right in the heart of it all. We arrived in the evening on Friday, which meant there were gallery openings, sidewalks full of people, and live (albeit a bit whimsical) music. We joined our host on the street and caught the end of the events.
The following morning, we set off to explore Santa Fe. There was a festival going on (although I think they have a festival almost every weekend!) and so we paused to watch the parade. After, we strolled through the park to peruse the vendors. We purchased some honeycomb, since our host is a beekeeper, and I had my first bite of that.
Next, we headed over to the Farmers Market. I fell in love with the roasted green chiles and all of the fantastic breads, gourmet cheeses, and fresh vegetables available.
We visited the oldest house in the USA…which blended in with all of the other adobe structures in town.
We stopped in some more of the art galleries and also in a Native American antique gallery which had things for sale like a $120,000 basket and $60,000 outfits. Everything was, of course, way out of our budget but the gentleman working in the gallery was more than happy to show us around and tell us fantastic tales about the furniture and artifacts.
Leaving Santa Fe:
We had to leave Santa Fe that day and by-pass Albuquerque if we wanted to stay on schedule. On our way out, we saw rainbows and sister wives (true story) to top off our drive through New Mexico.
And now, the just because photos: