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New Mexico

Land of Enchantment Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


The Land of Enchantment

New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


New Mexico is a little bit wild west, a little bit new age and a whole lot friendly. Our mission to New Mexico was to explore a land balanced between old and new where ancient pueblos and the space age pay homage to past and future. New Mexico may be the only place where you can hitch your horse to a rail and hitch a ride into orbit. Habitation of New Mexico dates back to the Clovis People some 13,000 years in the past. In the intervening years, New Mexico has seen the evolution of many cultures, each leaving its mark on the region. When Americans speak of aliens, they mean people from other countries. In New Mexico they include people from other planets.

Our exploration team for this mission included our friends Rick and Sylvia Aiello.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


After assembling our team in Albuquerque we drove north to Santa Fe a city that blends new and old in a seamless whole. Architecture honours the past in form and the present in function. New signs grace old buildings usually in good taste.

Contrasting the fine art jewelry made by local artisans associated with The Golden Eye, several life size burro sculptures pay homage to the diminutive equines that helped to open the southwest.

New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


At every turn in central Santa Fe, contrasts of style and heritage meet the eye. From the organic feel of adobe walls to highly coloured ceramic tile, Native American and Spanish influences merge together underlining the timeless vitality of the city. New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Like any city with a past that stretches back to antiquity, Santa Fe has nooks and crannies, side streets and alleys that can hide delightful eateries, alfresco dining and watering holes where the likes of Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams may have frequented during her time in the city. Santa Fe has become well known as a center for arts that reflect the multicultural character of the city. The city has been - and continues to be - home to a long list of visual and performing artists, writers and sculptors. Owing to the sheer number of artists and artisans, it has been designated as a UNESCO Creative City.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Canyon Road boasts the highest concentration of art galleries in the city. This has helped this part of the city become a major destination for international collectors, tourists and locals. The galleries of Canyon Road showcase a wide array of contemporary, Southwestern, indigenous American, and experimental art.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


On Canyon Road everything seems to be a work of art, from flower boxes and old benches to the buildings that serve as home to the many galleries that line the roadway.

New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


Most buildings in Santa Fe are constructed from adobe, a mixture of sand, clay and water strengthened with fibrous materials like sticks, straw or animal hair. It has been said that adobe buildings have an organic texture, drawing their rich colour from the soil used to plaster the walls and echoing mesa features in the New Mexico landscape.

New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Part of our journey involved Janice and Sylvia doing some research at Santa Fe Community College. The college is situated south of the city core and combines traditional adobe architecture with state-of-the-art technology.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


Leaving Santa Fe behind, we headed south, crossing old Route 66 at Cline’s Corners where we ate lunch at the diner and avoided buying tourist knick-knacks. Our destination for that night was Roswell - home of the aliens, where tin foil hats are fashionable. We were not alone in donning the aluminum head covers, one of our party noticed that wearing this head gear “made the voices stop.” Roswell is the hotbed of alien conspiracy and intrigue. Many visitors to the town come to seek information on the “cover-ups” or to watch the people who come to seek the information. Were aliens recovered from a crashed starship? Is there a conspiracy to cover it up? The government says no, and that’s good enough for me.

New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


Leaving Roswell and the tin foil hats behind, we headed south to Carlsbad to see the sights underground in the famous Carlsbad Caverns in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. The National Monument was set aside in 1923 to preserve the caverns many features. We made our way down into the cavern where the temperature hovers around 12 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The cold, damp caverns stood in stark contrast to the 40+ degree weather above. Walking through the caverns from room to room, we saw natural sculptures formed by trickling water over the millennia. While there are variations in colour throughout the caverns, much of the vivid spectacle comes from filters on artificial lights. Growths from the roof downward formed through this process are known as stalactites. Growths from the floor upward through this process are known as stalagmites. The natural opening to the caves formed sometime within the last million years allowing air to circulate which helped to dry the caverns.

New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


Some 230 meters below the surface, in the Big Room, colossal features rise from the floor towards the ceiling. On the side passages, delicate tube-like formations, some pencil thin, give the feeling of old cathedrals. Although the caverns draw large numbers of visitors, we never felt crowed or rushed. Like us, most of our fellow spelunkers were awed by a spectacle that took countless ages to create.

New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


With the Carlsbad Caverns behind us, we made our way to Alamogordo, in south central New Mexico. This desert community lying in the Tularosa Basin, and is the closest town to the White Sands National Monument and the Trinity site where the first atomic bombs were detonated. Humans have lived in this region for over 11,000 years, making it one of the oldest settled areas in North America. After spending the night in Alamogordo, we ventured out to the White Sands. With vivid blue skies above and stark white “sands” below, we trekked out to climb the dunes. Being used to blistering hot sand on many beaches, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the “sand” was cool to the touch. The sand is, in reality, gypsum a type of mineral that resists heating in the desert sun. So much the better for us as we doffed our shoes and even better for the many ground dwelling creatures that call the White Sands their home.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Hardy visitors climb the dunes barefoot, sinking nearly to their knees. In the selenite crystalline form of gypsum. Once on top of a dune, the walking is considerably easier on the hard packed surface. Even hardier plants eek out an existence in the white expanse where rain that does fall drains away quickly.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


Heading north, following the Camino Royale the historical road that led from Mexico City to Santa Fe following a long valley between the , we spotted an orchard and vineyard where pistachios and grapes combined to make some very interesting wine. Needless to say, we spent enough time at the Eagle Ranch to taste every conceivable flavor of pistachio and sample all of the wines produced by the ranch’s vintner. Loading up on a supply of nuts and sufficient wine to see us back to Santa Fe, we headed north, to the east of Truth or Consequences, the closest town to Spaceport America, a new facility that will - if the developers have their way - open space flight to tourists with deep pocketbooks.

New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Travelling north from Santa Fe to Taos, we stopped for a visit to El Santuario de Chimayo. The santuario was quiet on this June day in contrast to Easter week each year when some 30,000 people make a pilgrimage to the old church. A traditional pilgrimage involve walking to the site - some pilgrims walk from as far away as Albuquerque, about 150 km to the south. Exploring the santuario, we discovered crosses projected on the floor from stain glass windows along the sun wall. Of such things memories are made.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Many visitors come to the church to gather a small amount of the "holy dirt", often in hopes of a miraculous cure for themselves or someone who could not make the trip. In the past it was common for pilgrims to eat the dirt. Now seekers of cures usually rub themselves with the dirt, carry it in small amulets or place it in a special location in their home. The Church replaces the dirt in the pocito from the nearby hillsides, more than once a day during the peak season, amounting to a staggering 25 to 30 tons a year.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


El Santuario de Chimayo is known to many as the "Lourdes" of America, where miracles are thought to happen. According to legend, Sometime around 1810, a Chimayo friar was performing penances when he saw something shining on the hillside. Clearing away the earth, he found a crucifix the miraculous crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas. In time, a priest brought the crucifix to Santa Cruz, three times it disappeared and three times it was found back in its hole, obviously El Senor de Esquipulas wanted to stay in Chimayo. A small chapel was built on the site and the miraculous healings began.

New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Like a lot of shrines around the world, the santuario is a little bit tourist attraction. The gift shop is replete with containers of various sizes - from small amulets to pill boxes and larger - all for visitors to gather the holy clay. We never did find out what was behind the heavy carved doors that protected the room within.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


Arriving in Taos, we were immediately impressed by the Pueblo and it’s many adobe buildings, many ancient in origin. The residential complexes - looking like houses built in, on, beside, below and above each other, date back 1,000 to 1,300 years ago. If they have that ‘lived in’ look, it’s because they have been lived in continuously - for over a millennium. Two of these residential complexes face each other from opposite sides of a small creek giving a sense of symmetry to the Pueblo de Taos.

New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


In 1930, Ansel Adams and and Mary Hunter Austin published Taos Pueblo - the book that launched Adams’ signature photographic style. As it was then the pueblo’s architecture continues to draw the eye, and the lens. At every turn there is opportunity - to see and to capture a moment. Hanging bundles of chilies adorn adobe walls throughout New Mexico but look particularly at home in the pueblo.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


In pre-contact times, Taos Pueblo was a central point of trade for the indigenous people along the Rio Grande and their neighbors to the northeast. In the fall of each year, Taos Pueblo hosted a trade fair after the agricultural harvest. The agricultural lifestyle - developed in New Mexico in ancient times - gave the Taos people time to create pottery and to decorate their dwellings. Today, some styles are ritual and well established, other styles are more whimsical, combining old and new ideas and things found and made.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


The homes in the residential structures usually consist of two rooms, one for living and sleeping, the other for cooking, eating, and storage. All of the homes are self-contained with no passageways between the houses. While some modernity has filtered in - residents made little use of furniture in the past, but now have tables, chairs, and beds - but electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing are prohibited .

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


New Mexico - Land of Enchantment


Looking at the seemingly random collection of dwellings in the pueblo one begins to appreciate the Taos people’s philosophy “we are in one nest,” which has held the Taos people together over the millennia. “One nest” seems to work today to bind all the people of New Mexico together as one community. A land of many cultures and many people from different life journeys, traditional to modern truly The Land of Enchantment.

Images copyright John Nicklin and Janice Nicklin - Text Copyright John Nicklin - All rights reserved.


Land of Enchantment New Mexico - Land of Enchantment Copyright 2013

New Mexico  

A journey through New Mexico - the Land of Enchantment