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January 2017

Top Destinations | winter 2017


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5: Artesia, One of New Mexico’s Best Kept Secrets 6: Meow Wolf: Unique in the City Different 8: The Raton Visitor Center is Still Open! 8: Taos Pueblo 10: What Sets New Mexico Apart as a Winter Wonderland? 12: Deep History Uncovered at Coronado Site 14: High Road to Taos 15: Geronimo Trail 16: How ¡Ask a Mexican! Fell In Love With Albuquerque—And Why You Should, Too 18: A View From the Top in Northeastern New Mexico 19: Southeastern New Mexico: Cowboys, Smokey Bear and Aliens 20: ‘Accessible’ New Mexico Tech Golf Course Short Drive Away 22: Old and New Flourish in New Mexico’s Southwest Region 22: North-Central New Mexico: Home to Three Storied Destinations 23: Northwest New Mexico’s Charm is Native, Historic and Picturesque 25: A Sweet Spot in Albuquerque’s Old Town 26: New Mexico Wine 28: Route 66 Casino Now Offers Upscale RV Destination 29: Gladiators Indoor Football Schedule PUBLISHERS MATT GANTNER WILLIAM HALSEY

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The New Mexico Top Destinations Magazine is published once a year by Moon Dog Publishing. The Publisher does not take responsibility for the accuracy or legitimacy of the advertiser’s message or that of the guest writer/columnists or any aspect of the business operation or conduct of the advertisers in the magazine. Moon Dog Publishing reserves the right to edit all articles for accuracy and style. For more information and advertising rates, call (505) 350-8695 or (505) 259-7969. 4 | winter 2017


Artesia, One of New Mexico’s Best Kept Secrets

Artesia is considered by some to be New Mexico’s best-kept secret. It can serve as a hub for day-trip opportunities, providing easy access to White Sands and other nearby recreational areas. It also features a charming downtown district with local shops, unique community events and a performing arts center. You can experience Artesia’s history in a unique downtown walking tour featuring a series of bronze statues positioned along the downtown district. The walking tour starts at the beautifully preserved and maintained old train depot, which also serves as home to the Artesia Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. When you get to the “Foundation” statue – depicting a stack of classic books with children reading them – stop inside the impressive Artesia Public Library to see a massive 46-foot by 16-foot mural painted by renowned New Mexico artist Peter Hurd, known for his Southwestern landscapes and portraits. The mural, suspended from the library

Old Train Depot, photo courtesy of Artesia Chamber of Commerce.

ceiling, was rescued from a downtown building in Houston, Texas, that was slated for demolition. Artesia is also home to the Eddy County Shooting Range, where patrons can take a shot at sporting clays. Set up like a golf course with three different courses and challenges, the shooting range has hosted the New Mexico Shoot, registered clay shoots and many other “fun shoots.” There’s also an adjacent archery range. (continued on Page 7)

Annual Artesia Events Main Event Car Show & Cruise

Last Weekend in March

Smokin’ on the Pecos BBQ Championship Last Weekend in June

Fourth of July Eddy County Celebration Fair & Rodeo July 4th

Last Week in July


Red Dirt Black Gold Festival

Last Weekend in August

Clays Crusher Fun Shoot

Art in the Park

TBA - 2017 Third Weekend in October

Balloons & Tunes

First Weekend in November | winter 2017



Meow Wolf: Unique in the City Different

To describe Meow Wolf is a challenge. To experience it is unforgettable. Located in an old bowling alley just off Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe, this unique facility is unlike anything you have experienced. It piques and holds the interests of young and old alike. There are moments you feel like Alice through the looking glass, entering secret passageways into another dimension, walking into a hands-on Disneyland universe filtered through a psychedelic gauze.

admission wrist-band, explorers watch a brief unsettling video about the house “I found myself smiling from the rules, then enter through a door to the moment I walked in until we left,” House of Eternal Return. Just inside, said one Albuquerque grandmother under a dark sky, there is a mailbox who brought her 13, 12 and 8-year-old with missives to be either consumed or grandchildren. ignored. Ahead is a fullscale Victorian The website two-story house description: purported to be Renown ‘Game of Thrones’ author “Meow Wolf in Mendocino, and Santa Fe resident, George R.R. is an arts California. Martin purchased the old bowling production Walking onto the alley and financed structural company porch you can upgrades to the facility after being that creates peer through approached by Meow Wolf founding immersive, the windows to multimedia witness what’s member and CEO Vince Kadlubek experiences going on inside. seeking seed money to establish a that transport Through the permanent facility. audiences of front door is all ages into a foyer, large fantastic realms of storytelling. Our well-furnished living room, dining work is a combination of jungle gym, room, study and kitchen with a staircase haunted house, children’s museum, leading to a full second floor. It all looks and immersive art exhibit. This unique normal at first glance, but nothing is as fusion of art and entertainment gives it seems. audiences fictional worlds to explore.” There’s a mystery to be solved here Like the name Meow Wolf, even the involving the Selig family and a tragedy colorful towering sculptures in the that somehow splintered the space-time parking lot continuum opening portals to other offer no clue dimensions. about what First-time visitors will find magic in the is to come. details of the house unaware of Entering the the mystery. Immersing yourself in the main door, house itself is enough, initially. Solving the lobby the mystery beckons others back to the ticket-buying aptly named House of Eternal Return. experience is Determined sleuths, obviously regular not unlike a visitors catalyzed by questions, pour movie theater over letters in the mailbox, notebooks, but more VCR tapes and documents, piecing colorful. together the mystery which offers a Once you deeper level of engagement for those have an who want it. (continued on next page) 6 | winter 2017

Meow Wolf: Unique in the City Different (continued from previous page)

Portals to other worlds are everywhere, no spoilers here – just a clue, those first portals are hot and cold. Curiosity compels visitors through the Tall House Forest, Desert Trailer, a TV tunnel; you’ll walk into a cartoon kitchen, pass through a Lycra tunnel, enter the belly of the beast, feel all eyes on you, watch giant robotic hands, vibrating tables, and play the Laser Harp while navigating corridors with surprising twists and turns. You will sometimes have to crouch down, maybe even crawl a bit, and there are a few stairs to negotiate. For those that may experience stimulus overload, there is even a quiet, cool, dimly lighted meditation room that soothes the senses. Occupying nearly 30,000 square feet, Meow Wolf is not just a fun house. The facility also features a performance venue, well-equipped ‘makers space’ and an educational space for hands-on experimentation. Regular museum and art gallery patrons will note a lack of verbiage or explanation.

“This is an instruction free zone which can make some people uncomfortable,” said Administrator Megan Rongier. “It was intentional not to give anything away, provide a map or even tell people there’s a story and mystery to be solved. It’s an important part of the experience to be challenged and rewarded for your curiosity in a safe environment. There is no right or wrong way to experience it.” Whether you are looking for an escape from reality, an engaging experience for children of all ages, an outing for the whole family, or a fun date experience, Meow Wolf is a must-see exhibit. Exit the Rail Runner at the South Capitol Station and take the Santa Fe Trails #2 bus to Calle del Cielo; walk one block west to 1532 Rufina Circle. Hours of Operation:

Wednesday – Monday, 10am – 8pm & Friday – Saturday 10am – 10pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Tickets are $18 adults, $12 children (under 13), $16 seniors. New Mexico residents pay $15 adults, $10 children (under 13) $13 seniors. Annual passes for individuals and families are available. Tickets can be purchased online, gift certificates available onsite only.

Artesia, One of New Mexico’s Best Kept Secrets (continued from Page 5)

Artesia has a number of locally owned microbreweries, including Cottonwood Wine and Brewing with eight different brews and hard cider, and Wellhead Restaurant and Brew pub, which offers oilfield-themed microbrews. There’s also the Balzano Family Vineyard, home of Spirt of Seven Rivers wine. The vineyard’s tasting

room can accommodate groups large and small. Featuring a selection of pizzas, sandwiches, salads and homemade desserts which are served on weekends with a changing menu that features locally grown ingredients. Check out all Artesia has to offer at Artesia Chamber of Commerce,

Fourth of July in Artesia

Main Event Car Show & Cruise | winter 2017 7


The Raton Visitor Center is Still Open!

At the end of 2016, the State of New Mexico had to close several Visitor Information Centers around the State and we were one of them. However, 5 days after the State run Visitor Center here in Raton was closed, we had an outpouring of community support. Because of this community, volunteer effort, we were able to reopen our doors. We continue to provide visitors the information they need for our great state of New Mexico. Let time slow as you explore Raton, a town rich with history and filled with opportunity! Raton enjoys a prime location along the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor and equidistant to three international airports. Blessed by sublime beauty in all directions our town was born of opportunity, hard-times and passion. Coal mining and horse racing have played important roles in our history and ranching continues to be a major economic driver. The spirit of independence and entrepreneurship in long-timer and new-comer alike has and continues to support the arts, theater and education - New Mexico’s first public high school was founded here in 1884. We are on the Santa Fe Trail. Pick up a downtown Historical Walking Tour brochure, available at Raton Chamber of Commerce, the New Mexico Visitor Information Center, Raton Museum, and many shops along the trail. Park your car in our MainStreet & Arts & Cultural District and enjoy a leisurely walk as part of your adventure. Bill Fegan at the Shuler Theater will give you a tour

and share some of his amazing stories from his lifetime in the entertainment industry. The Shuler is home to a rich variety of stage productions. You’ll see a wide array of historical buildings that include The Santa Fe Railroad Depot, which once served 60 trains a day, currently serving over 30,000 passengers annually. Old Pass Gallery, with its rotating art exhibits and fine gift shop is sure to be a favorite. Across the street are several shops you won’t want to miss as well as a thrift shop just up the street! Explore the shops along Second, Cook & Park Streets before you resume your tour of Raton. Downtown’s Ripley Park is a two-acre oasis created in the early 1900s on railroad-donated land, a great place to lay a picnic blanket and plan your next stops. Visit the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library, a superb example of early 20th Century neo-classical architecture. They provide internet access so you can say hi to your family while you’re here. Enjoy! Take some time to enjoy a meal at one of our many fine restaurants. Heck, after a full day exploring Raton you’ll be ready to put your feet up and stay in one of our friendly hotels. We thank you! And please, don’t forget to tell us about your experience. Visit our Facebook page, RatonChamberofCommerce, to share your pictures and stories. Keep in touch and come back soon!

Taos Pueblo

T aos Pueblo is not exactly at the end of the High Road to Taos, but in many ways it is the

beginning. The Pueblo, home to the Red Willow People, is the longest continually occupied site in the United States. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place where for a minimum of a thousand years, people have built their homes, raised crops, and celebrated life. Tours of the Pueblo are available daily 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., although the Pueblo closes for about 10 weeks during late winter and early 8 | winter 2017

spring. Call (505) 758-1028 for information. The Pueblo’s website – – also contains a New Mexico True video tour which provides an overview of a visit. Visitors at Taos and all other pueblos should remember the dances are not entertainment

(continued on Page 15)

Sugarite Canyon State Park

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Regional Aquatic Center

NRA Whittington Center

Raton, NM

Historic Shuler Theater | winter 2017 9

What Sets New Mexico Apart as a Winter Wonderland?


New Mexico offers world-class downhill skiing and gentle terrain for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or winter camping – all with breathtaking views and perfect weather. Here’s a glimpse of some of the winter attractions. For more information about attractions near your destination, download the free Cultural Atlas of New Mexico app: http://atlas. Rio Chama Valley: Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing or Snowmobiling Situated in the southern Rockies at 7,860 elevation, the beautiful Chama Valley is in Northern New Mexico near the Colorado border. Bright sunny days with a lack of humidity make for idyllic cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling on the gentle mesa terrain along the 10,000 foot-high Cumbres Pass. Equipment is available for rent at reasonable prices. Marked and maintained trails crisscross the accessible public lands. Dining options in the Rio Chama Valley include pastry and goody shops, reasonably priced cafés, and full-service, locally owned restaurants famous for Northern New Mexico cuisine. Lodging in the valley ranges from exclusive resorts offering gourmet cuisine and sporting activities to riverside motels with rustic cabins, historic bed and breakfasts, cabins and lodges tucked away in the woods, or yurt camping. Chama Valley Chamber of Commerce (800) 477-0149 or (575) 756-2306. Directions: Eight miles south of the Colorado border at the junction of New Mexico Highway 84/64 and Highway 17.

Red River and Rio Chama Valley: Winter Camping Campers eager for a winter camping experience will find five yurts for rental along the cross-country paths in Rio Chama, in the beautiful Cumbres Pass and La Manga Pass areas path of the Cumbres Toltec Scenic Railroad. Yurts are circular tents made of felt or skins on a collapsible framework. They’re typically used by nomads in Mongolia, Siberia and Turkey. Yurts So Good (, 575-756-2294) offers Spruce Hole yurt, great for beginners with a 2.5-mile hike in, 20-foot diameter, sleeps six, no need for sleeping bags but bring your own sheets, equipped with a telescope and a star-gazing chair in the dome of the yurt. Southwest Nordic Center rents four 16-foot diameter yurts north of Chama (and one out of Taos). You’ll need to bring sleeping bags and food, everything else is provided. Like Spruce Hole, these yurts are equipped with a wood stove, cut wood, kitchen cook stove, kitchen utensils, with drinking water provided by melting snow. With a three-mile hike in, Southwest Nordic Centers Neff Mountain yurt is also good for beginners. Southwest Nordic Center, 575, 758-4761. Southwest Nordic Center. Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski & Snowshoe Area in Red River also offers yurt camping, with 33 kilometers of groomed ski trails, 18k of snowshoe trails and 5k of “dog-friendly” trails. Views from the area of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area, New Mexico’s highest point, and the numerous peaks in the Carson National Forest are spectacular. Enchanted Forest has several rental yurts that are primitive but comfortable with a wood stove (and firewood), insulation, dining table, kitchen area and futon sofa “bunks.”

10 | winter 2017

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New Mexico as a Winter Wonderland (continued from previous page)

A supply of games and books is also provided. The yurt is accessed only by cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Enchanted Forest will loan you a “pulk” sled for carrying your gear. A warm 20-degree sleeping bag is a must, and be prepared to get up in the middle of the night and stoke the fire. The yurt sleeps five comfortably; six if someone takes the floor. Rates range from $75 to $125 per night. Info: 575-754-6112 Located: 3 miles east of Red River off Highway Red River Ski Area Base 8750 ft., Summit 10,350 ft., Vertical Drop 1600 ft. 58 runs: beginner 32%, intermediate, 38%, advanced 30% Billed as the “Ski Town of the Southwest,” in the Southern Rockies, just north of Taos, Red River looks like a set from a movie Western. The easily accessible ski area is situated in the middle of the town and features mostly beginner and intermediate terrain, while still offering good days for advanced skiers or boarders. Two main chairlifts run from the center of town to the Summit Camp, the Emerald Quad Chairlift rises above the Summit Camp with double the uphill capacity and speed. The Red River Ski Area Ski and Snowboard school is one of the finest for all ages and ability. More than 30 affordable lodges are within walking distance of the lifts and Main Street with many excellent ski-stay deals for families. Every Saturday night at sundown, the Red River Ski Area hosts a torchlight parade and fireworks. Stroll from live musical performances to your lodging without straining your leg muscles. Info: 575-754-2223. From Red River: head southwest on Jacks and Sixes Tr. Toward E. Main St., turn right onto W. Main St., turn left onto Pioneer Rd. Sandia Peak Ski Area Base 8677 ft., Summit 10,377 ft., Vertical Drop 1,700, 39 runs: beginner 31%, intermediate 46%, advanced 23% New Mexico’s oldest ski area, Sandia Peak, a scenic 45-minute drive outside the Albuquerque Metro area, offers a certified snow sport school, a complete rental shop, skiers’ café, the Sandia Peak Sports Shop, and a stunning panoramic view of the Estancia Valley.

Situated high above Albuquerque, Sandia Peak Ski Area boasts, perhaps, the nation’s easiest ski resort access from a major city via a 60-person aerial tram that rises more than 4,000 vertical feet in less than 20 minutes. New tram cars were unveiled on Sandia Tramway’s 50th anniversary last May. Don’t plan on dinner at High Finance restaurant atop the Tram this year because it is closed for demolition. Construction on a new facility will begin in Spring 2017 with an anticipated opening in Spring 2018. New Mexico’s largest city provides many options for off-slope hours. Historic Old Town Albuquerque has a wide variety of shops (see Candy Lady pg. 25), restaurants, cultural and historic attractions and frequent special events. Just east of Old Town are three museums, the Albuquerque Museum of History, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and Explora! plus the BioPark, Botanic Gardens and Rio Grande Zoo. Ski Area: 505-242-9052, Snow Report: 505-857-8977. From Albuquerque, I-40 East to Cedar Crest Exit 175, North on NM Hwy 14 to the Crest Scenic Byway 536 then 6 miles. To get to the Tram: From I-40 Exit 167, Tramway Blvd. North approximately 9 miles to turn to Sandia Peak Tramway. From I-25: Exit 234 Tramway Blvd. Follow Tramway Road, East to the Sandia Peak Tramway. Taos Ski Valley Base 9206 ft., Summit 12,481ft., Vertical Drop 3273 ft. 110 runs: beginner 24%, intermediate 25%, advanced 25%, expert 26% Ski Area 866-968-7386, Snow Phone 866-968-7386 x2202. From Taos: North on US 64/Paseo Del Pueblo Norte to stoplight intersection of US 64/NM 522/ NM 150. Turn right onto NM 150 (continued Page 11 18) | winter on 2017


Deep History Uncovered at Coronado Site

BERNALILLO – The phrase “living history” typically conjures images of men and women dressed in period-accurate clothing depicting Civil War battles or the 1800s rendezvous of mountain men. However, at the Coronado Historic Site, a very short drive west of downtown Bernalillo on N.M. 550, one gets the sense that elements of New Mexico’s society are living historic lives, experiencing modern life on the soil cultivated by ancestors hundreds if not thousands of years earlier. If you want to explore the state’s “deep history,” here’s a short trip that will drive you into the past and help you understand the present. A FORTUNATE ACCIDENT The name Coronado implies that history came to this mesa beside the Rio Grande in 1540, when 31-year-old Francisco Vasquez de Coronado ventured north from Mexico to this region already occupied by Los Indios de los Pueblos – the ancestors of today’s Pueblo Indians. Also known by the Tiwa name Kuaua, the historic site is now believed to have been occupied for 2,000 years, and why not? The place has a drop-dead gorgeous view of the Rio Grande with the Sandia Mountains as a backdrop. In the late 1930s, archaeologists were searching Kuaua for evidence that it had been Coronado’s winter camp, and the state also needed a location to celebrate the Coronado Cuarto Centennial, the 400th anniversary of Coronado’s expedition. Kuaua was chosen. As today’s rangers tell visitors, however, it was a “fortunate accident.” Coronado actually camped farther south, but one of the great archeological finds of a state rich in ancient dwellings and other artifacts of human presence was made here at Kuaua, a word for evergreen. At its pinnacle Kuaua was a thriving village of 1,200 rooms stacked into three stories. The villagers raised corn, beans and squash, hunted everything from ducks to bison, and served as a trade route connecting the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains, and Mexico to northern people. Buried in a square kiva at Kuawa was the treasure that Coronado never found in New Mexico – 17 murals recording the pueblo view of life, a life dependent upon on the sometimes stingy rain clouds which kept crops and villagers alive in 1540 as well as today. 12 | winter 2017

Sandia Lakes south of Bernalillo has a pavilion available for weddings and graduations.

LONG LIFE, GOOD HEALTH Through great effort and funding from the Depression-Era Works Progress Administration the murals were preserved and some are now on display at the Coronado Historic Site. Photos are not allowed, and the site charges a $5 entrance fee. One can, however, visit the Painted Kiva at this site where the murals were found and subsequently recreated by Zia Pueblo artist Velino Shije Herrera in 1938. Thousands of New Mexico school children visit Coronado/Kuaua every year to learn New Mexico history, says docent Sheryl Russell. “It’s important that visitors understand that this is not a “ruin” she says. “The spirits of the people who lived here are still here; it’s alive.” Coronado Historic Site is open to the public Wednesday to Monday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (505) 867-5351 for information. There is a casino shuttle from the Sandoval County/U.S. 550 New Mexico Rail Runner Express Station to Santa Ana Casino, adjacent to Kuaua. The shuttle does not stop at the historic site, but the historic pueblo sits just a half mile north of U.S. 550. THE BEER BOOM After drinking in the living history at Coronado, a friendly place for lunch is Kaktus Brewing Company’s nano-brewery at 471 S. Hill Rd. Dana Kohler, the owner, lives on site raising chickens and bees, collecting solar energy, and brewing craft beers and kombucha – a lightly fermented probiotic health drink. “Sustainability is definitely a family lifestyle,” Kohler says. Several types of organic foods are served at Kaktus, including sausages made with meats like wild boar, beef, duck and elk with jalapeno and cheddar. There are eight beers on tap, and the day we visited those included: Skotch Ale, (continued on Page 30)

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High Road to Taos

TAOS – The High Road to Taos isn’t really a tourist highway. There isn’t a lot of neon glitz, fast food places, or, typically, traffic congestion. What you do find is art, artists and craftspeople practicing everything from modern art based on classical themes to families engaged in traditional skills of their mountain outposts – weaving, farming, running livestock. Family has deep roots here, and along the rope of roads and highways that link Chimayo to Taos you will see that maintaining this road in honor of deceased family members is a cherished activity. You also will see that this is a Trail of Crosses, testimonials to communities of deep faith. CHIMAYO The High Road begins where N.M. 503 leaves U.S. 285 at Pojoaque. The speeding traffic is immediately gone and the signs make drivers aware that horse traffic is common on this road. The tribal casinos of 285 are left behind, replaced by coyote fences, adobe homes, galleries and gardens. Galleries are common all along the High Road, and those wishing to visit as many artists as possible should consider visiting during the High Roads Studio Tour in September ( The trail passes through Nambe Pueblo, recognized on the list of Historic Places and known to exist since the 14th Century. Spanish influence began here in about 1598, and a Catholic church was built in 1729. Our route takes a left onto N.M. 98, which winds into the village of Chimayo. This village is famous for its Good Friday pilgrimages to El Santuario de Chimayo. Thousands of faithful Catholic pilgrims walk the road, carrying prayers and crosses to the National Historic Landmark. The faithful are praying for a miracle – relief from aches and pains, cures of debilitating diseases – for either themselves or family members. Many of the crosses they carry are tied to the chain-link fencing that surrounds the property. Signage makes it clear the ground you are on is sacred, and visitors are expected to be respectful. A reported 300,000 Catholics visit every year, many taking small containers of blessed soil from the Santuario for use at home; rubbed on weakened joints or simply kept nearby for the comfort 14 | winter 2017

provided to those who believe. From time to time sceptics test the qualities of the soil, but the believers learned in Matthew 10 22 that it is their faith that makes them whole. Slightly more than a mile down the road sits Ortega’s Travelers entering the Weaving Shop Village of Truchas are welcomed by this large and Galeria cross on N.M. 76. Photo Ortega (www. by Martin Frentzel. ortegasweaving. com). This family has been weaving in the vicinity since the early 1700s. Gabriel Ortega was first to pass his knowledge down to his son, Manuel Pablo, and today the ninth generation of weavers is creating rugs, blankets, vests and coats. “In addition to our family,” says Alan Ortega, “twenty people weave for us in their homes.” Alan is one of four brothers – the seventh Ortega generation – currently involved in running the business. The looms being used are 35, 45 or 60 years old, and the shop has been in the same location since 1900 when Nicacio Ortega – Gabriel’s great-grandson – set up shop in an old general store. Next door is the Galeria Ortega which sells carvings, books, pottery and other New Mexico products like blue corn flour and red chile powder. This is a good place to stop if you don’t have the time to visit other villages like Cordova, famous for wood carvers who produce saints and angels. DEEPEST FAITH Most of the villages along the High Road are in mountain valleys, but high atop a ridge jutting out from some of the highest peaks in New Mexico, sits Truchas, a colony officially started in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with a royal land grant from Spain in 1754. In addition to farming and herding, these families were expected to help stop marauding, nomadic Apaches and Comanches that enjoyed raiding the Spanish villages. Harry Cordova, 70, says his family has been in the Truchas area since 1598. “My grandfather’s family was from Cordova, and my grandmother’s family was from here.” His shop sits close to the Catholic church and contains a host of memories and a few (continued on Page 19)

E xperience horseback riding and scenic beauty in the breathtaking, untouched Gila

National Forest! Ride through open meadows, tall ponderosa forests, to high mountain overlooks and down into deep canyons with sheer cliffs and crystal clear spring fed streams. From atop your well-trained horse, spot abundant wildlife including elk, mule deer, and javelina. Learn about the homeland of the Chiricahua Apaches and the birthplace of Geronimo. Explore 1,000 year old cliff dwellings and pit houses dating back to the Mimbres people who were here between 200-1150 AD! Search for pottery shards and view pictographs still remaining from these ancient people. Our main focus is on trail riding: seeing the beautiful scenery from horseback, and making this a special vacation for you. Other

Taos Pueblo (continued from Page 8)

but religious ceremonies. Photography and recording of dances is strictly prohibited, please keep all devices put away.

Geronimo Trail activities that our guests enjoy are exploring 1,000 year old archeological sites right near the ranch, campfires at night (sometimes with s’mores and sing-a-longs!), fantastic stargazing, unguided hiking, photography, swimming in the creek, or just reading a good book on one of our bench swings. Escape your busy day to day life and enjoy warm hospitality, delicious food and peace and quiet at our small ranch! Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch 1 Wall Lake Rd. Winston, NM 87943 575-772-5157 Email:

Although it is the long history of Taos that has drawn many people here for the last millennium, the Pueblo also offers guests the modern Taos Mountain Casino, meals and gaming available. It is advertised as the biggest small casino in Northern New Mexico, and it is smoke free. Visit for more details. The casino is at 700 Veterans Highway in Taos. The Pueblo is at 120 Veterans Highway.

Taos Pueblo’s Living Community Has Much to be Admired Taos Pueblo welcomes visitors from all over the world. It’s considered the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States by archaeologists who say ancestors of the Taos Indians lived in the valley long before Columbus discovered America and even hundreds of years before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. And the people of Taos Pueblo are happy to share their storied history with tourists. It’s “An Afternoon in Taos something the Pueblo has been sharing openly since the 1920s. Pueblo.” Photography “Take a tour of the pueblo, if possible,” says Ilona Spruce, tourism by John Rodman. director for Taos Pueblo. “Some of our guides are college students who were born and raised here and come back to share their perspective of the pueblo. There’s something very special about this because they are truly proud of where they came from and who we are as a people.” “Adobe Gold” photo Parts of this Northern New Mexico pueblo remain much like they were when the first courtesy of Taos Spanish explorers arrived in New Mexico in 1540. Those explorers were looking for the Pueblo. fabled Cities of Gold and believed Taos was one of them. Architecture is a big draw of the Pueblo. The structures are made entirely of adobe — earth mixed with water and straw, made into sun-dried bricks. Roofs of each of the five stories are supported by large timbers (vigas) hauled down from the mountain forests. Smaller pieces of wood, pine or aspen latillas, are placed on top of the vigas. The roof is then covered with packed dirt. The outside surfaces of the pueblo are continuously maintained by plastering with thick layers of mud. Interior walls are carefully coated with thin washes of white earth to keep them clean and bright. The pueblo is actually many individual homes, built side-by-side and in layers, with common walls but no connecting doorways. In earlier days there were no doors or windows, and entry was gained only from the top. “The Jewel of Taos Pueblo.” Photo Today, about 150 people live at the pueblo full time, and another 1,500 or so other courtesy of Cameron families own more modern homes to the north or south of the oldest two structures. Martinez Jr. “When people visit for the first time, I like to remind them to be mindful that our pueblo is a living community,” Spruce says. “Even though we openly welcome our visitors, we also need to let them know that these are people’s homes and some of the most beautiful and architecturally unique spaces.” Taos Pueblo is a World Heritage Site as well. The pueblo is open to visitors daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except during tribal ritual days that require closing the Pueblo. Late winter to early spring, the pueblo closes for about 10 weeks. Visit for more information and to view events open to the public.

(575) 758-1028

Taos Pueblo Tourism, 120 Veterans Hwy. Taos, NM 87571 | winter 2017



How ¡Ask a Mexican! Fell In Love With Albuquerque—And Why You Should, Too

By Gustavo Arellano She was from Charleston, maybe Jacksonville . . . Kansas City? I can’t remember. But wherever the lady was from, her question echoed in my mind: Why was I, a resident of Orange County, urging a bunch of out-of-towners such as her to do business in Albuquerque?

make you a believer. Just like me. I first came to Albuquerque in the spring of 2007, during one of the most tumultuous times of my professional career. OC Weekly had just imploded, three-quarters of the staff quitting within a month. My first book, ¡Ask a Mexican!, was about to get released. I had just turned 27 and was getting job offers for mucho dinero, but the Great Weekly Schism had worn me down enough to consider walking away from it all and returning to my first paid job: being a janitor. And then I landed in ABQ.

ABQ from the University of New Mexico Golf Course Photo courtesy of Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.

I was in the hot seat, surrounded by about 30 people, all meeting planners from across the country being fêted by the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce and the city’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. We were inside the Torreón, a 45-foot circular tower on the campus of the National Hispanic Cultural Center that features a stunning 4,000-squarefoot fresco depicting the history of the Americas and beyond. The visitors had just been blessed in the New Mexico sacrament of roasted green chiles, seen the center’s gorgeous permanent exhibit of Southwestern art, and had more activities planned for the day that would show them the glories of the Duke City. So, why the hell was an OC boy so enthusiastic about ABQ? And why would city officials invite me, of all the people they possibly could invite, to drum up some business for the bestkept secret of the Southwest? I brought up that point as I stood in the center of the Torreón, whose acoustics made whispers into booms and transformed my already-loud voice into something approaching Ned Beatty’s bombastic TV executive in Network. I had no notes, no powerpoint; it was all corazón. And my pitch to the travelers was simple: I was once like them. I never gave any thought to Albuquerque outside of what television shows and the media told me to think. And then I came, I saw, and I fell in love—and they should do the same and spread the gospel far and wide. There’s a new hashtag being used around town: #whyabq. Why? Because this is the best city you’ve never visited—and it’s waiting to 16 | winter 2017

Growing up, I only knew two things about the city: Bugs Bunny’s constant shoutouts after getting lost, and The Simpsons episode in which Homer discovers that the Springfield Isotopes were planning to move to Albuquerque. That latter gag proved so influential that the city’s real-life minorleague team actually changed its name to the Isotopes, making The Simpsons fan in me marvel, but the reporter part cringe. Was Albuquerque that much of a hick town it needed to drum up fake attention like that? Quite the opposite. If anything, the Isotopes controversy was an insight into a people that take criticism and stereotypes with a laugh and a shrug of their shoulders—forgive America, for they know not what they do. And the first hint that the city was far cooler than people made it out to be came gracias to my ¡Ask a Mexican! column. A year before my inaugural encuentro, the Albuquerque Alibi became the first newspaper to syndicate my Mexi-flavored rants. The alt-weekly got inundated with threats of boycotts, angry phone calls and enough mad letters that then-editor Steven Robert Allen suggested we do a cover story in which he’d ask me to explain the column, in an effort to calm them down. It worked. Suddenly, the opposite happened: The paper started receiving fan mail. Burqueños thanked me for standing up to racists and for giving a voice to people like them. Many of them assumed I lived in Albuquerque; when I admitted I’m in Orange County, nearly all suggested I go learn what the city was really about. I finally visited at the invite of the New Mexico Library Association, which staged the 2007 Mountain Plains Library Association conference. The seminars were at the Albuquerque Convention Center, a large-yetcomfy gathering place that proved perfect for hosting a bunch of nerds. By a scheduling (continued on Page 24)


ABQ | winter 2017


A View From the Top in Northeastern New Mexico Elevation in

New Mexico automatically spells vistas. That is certainly what you will get in the northeastern region of the state. The large quadrant has varied terrain ranging from plains to the highest mountains in the state. A good place for a visitor to start is the Pecos River and the village of Pecos. There you will see one of the most extensive ruins complexes in the state and have easy access to trout fishing in the mountain streams flowing into its river. Drive around the mountains on Interstate 25 to the east-northeast of Santa Fe, and you’ll be in storied Las Vegas, once one of the busiest and most raucous towns in the state. Las Vegas is where cattle were brought from throughout New Mexico to be shipped to market. The town provided rest and relaxation

for cavalrymen stationed at nearby Fort Union. It was also the first mercantile town in New Mexico, a convenient stop on the Old Santa Fe Trail, which began in Independence, Mo. Teddy Roosevelt came to Las Vegas to recruit the Rough Riders he led up Puerto Rico’s San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. These histories and many more can be found in the local museums. Today the vibrant little city is home to New Mexico Highlands University, which began as a teachers’ college and has grown into a multi-disciplinary university. Las Vegas also is the site of an annual fiesta, two lakes and a historic preservation society that has helped to save the Victorian-era architecture of the town. North of Vegas are Fort Union and Cimarron, a fascinating village where Buffalo Soldiers and train robbers once mixed it up at the St. James Hotel. Some of the most gorgeous mountain scenery in the country can be found at Vermejo Park Ranch in Cimarron, where Ted Turner and his employees are providing Western hospitality to enthralled visitors.

New Mexico as a Winter Wonderland (continued from Page 11)

through town of Arroyo Seco, continue NM 150 to the ski area parking lots. Ski Apache Base 9600 ft., Summit 11,500, Vertical Drop 1900 ft. 55 runs: beginner 18%, intermediate 55%, advanced 27% Rising more than 12,000 feet above sea level in south central New Mexico Sierra Blanca Peak, home to Ski Apache, provides stunning views of the desert more than 7,000 feet below, including White Sands National Monument. Ski Apache: 575-464-3600, 800-545-9011. Owned by the Mescalero Apache Tribe, Ski Apache is located 18 miles northwest of Ruidoso and is easily accessed by car from Albuquerque (3 hours) or El Paso (2.5 hours) (*See ‘Best Kept Secret pg. 5). Explore Angel Fire Resort Base 8600 ft., Summit 10,677 ft., Vertical Drop 2077 ft. 79 runs: beginner 21%, intermediate 56%, advanced 23% Host to the Shovel Racing World Championships and home of the Big Ol’ Texas Weekend, Angel Fire Resort accommodates skiers and riders of all ages and abilities. The mountain 18 | winter 2017

features an abundance of trails with terrain that spans over 560 acres and excellent tree skiing. The base village sits at 8,600 ft. and is host to multiple restaurants, ski rentals and ski schools. Phone: 800-633-7463. From Albuquerque: I-25N to HWY599 towards HWY285 through Espanola. Merge onto HWY68 in Espanola, then take NM 585 and turn right onto HWY64. After the pass, turn right onto HWY434 as you enter Angel Fire. Sipapu Ski Resort Base 8200 ft., Summit 9254 ft., Vertical Drop 1055 ft. 42 runs: beginner 20%, intermediate 40%, advanced 30% expert 10% Family-owned and operated since 1952, Sipapu seems designed to please the family budget, from lodging to terrain. With an average snowfall of 190 inches, and a snowmaking system that covers 70 percent of Sipapu’s 200 acres, the terrain offers plenty of diversity. Phone: 575-587-2240. There are many paths to Sipapu, consult website for directions.

Southeastern New Mexico: Cowboys, Smokey Bear and Aliens In the territorial days and into statehood,

ranching occupied the bulk of Southeastern New Mexico. Then came the railroads. Since the late 1920s, this region has been an oil patch, so visitors will see drilling rigs and pump jacks while driving the highways en route to adventures that can include everything from skiing to spelunking. The terrain in this quadrant ranges from the flat expanses of the staked plains on the Texas border to the Sacramento Mountains where the villages of Cloudcroft and Ruidoso are nestled. Ruidoso in the winter offers refreshing mountain air and some decent skiing at Ski Apache. Inn of the Mountain Gods is a hot spot for gambling as well as other recreation, such as golf or relaxation at the spa. Additional gambling venues include Ruidoso Downs and the Billy the Kid Casino. Those seeking a Western adventure need look no further than Hobbs, home to the Western Heritage Museum and where cowboys, ranches and a race track are on center stage.

To the west, Carlsbad has the world-famous caverns, with a newly refurbished elevator for better access to the caves. North of Hobbs, you land in Portales, county seat of Roosevelt County and the home of Eastern New Mexico University. Turn west at Artesia and travel through the mountains down to Alamogordo, Holloman Air Force Base and the fabled White Sands National Monument. Alamogordo is also where you’ll find pistachios. To the north is Carrizozo, and east of ‘Zozo are the older reaches of Lincoln County: Capitan, the birthplace (and grave) of the original Smokey Bear; and Lincoln, the tiny village where Billy the Kid notoriously shot his way out of jail. Finally, you can’t leave the Southeastern quadrant without mentioning Roswell. If you are curious about UFOs or aliens, this is the spot aliens allegedly visited in 1947. Venture out for a short drive to nearby Bottomless Lakes State Park, where no UFOs have been reported.

High Road to Taos (continued from Page 14)

physical reminders of the past. His mother’s loom still sits there – she started weaving when she was 13 – with a picture of Jesus Christ on the left side and John and Jackie Kennedy riding through Texas on the right. Her handiwork – a blanket with a steer on it – is hanging on the wall; the brand it bears belonged to Harry’s father. This deep traditional lifestyle is what brought artists Barbara McCauley and her husband, Alvaro Cardona-Hine, to Truchas in 1987. After living in Los Angeles and St. Paul, Minn., and traveling the world, they wanted to settle in New Mexico. “I wanted to change my life, totally,” she says. “I like what’s here, it’s real.” Alvaro originally was from Costa Rica and Barbara was from Connecticut. They met in Los Angeles at a poetry workshop and spent their lives producing art in many media. Alvaro was a poet, a composer and a painter, Barbara a writer and mother before she resumed painting. He and Barbara traveled extensively, and their art may be viewed online at www.cardonahinegallery. com/. Raised Catholic, Barbara finds Truchas filled with faithful people. The Brotherhood of Penitentes still practices here, and one

Holy Week she participated in El Encuentro, the Mother of Jesus saying farewell to her son. “I have never seen faith like that ever,” she says. “It was beautiful, very human.”

Completed in 1780, the San Jose de Gracia de Las Trampas mission is recognized as an excellent example of Spanish Colonial Mission architecture. It is in Las Trampas, on the High Road to Taos. Photo by Martin Frentzel.

On this Trail of Crosses, of course, churches abound. From Nambe Pueblo to Los Ranchos de Taos – technically not on the High Road but one of the most photographed churches in the country – you don’t have to travel far to see faith contained in ancient adobe structures. In Las Trampas, San Jose de Gracia stands sentinel against the sky as it has since 1776. In Ranchos de Taos, 4 miles southwest of Taos itself, San Francisco de Asis Mission Church was built between 1772 and 1816. It may not be on the official route, but a few minutes spent there looking at the giant buttresses, steeples and statuary of St. Francis and you will admire the dedication and faith the churches represent. | winter 2017


SOCORRO – Rocks and hard places have always played a role in Socorro County. The face of Mary Magdalene has been observed in the Magdalena Mountains. The town of Socorro itself was once the center of one of the nation’s greatest mining districts, and today the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology continues this awe-inspiring tradition of finding inspiration in rocks and minerals.

Smoky Quartz crystals from the Sacramento Mountains are on display at the Mineral Museum at New Mexico Tech.

So it should surprise no one that one of the rockiest golf courses in the country is found here. Each June golfers are carted to the top of M Mountain in four-wheeldrive vehicles to play through 3 miles of rocks, cactus and rattlesnakes during the Elfego Baca Shootout, a tournament honoring a famed lawman of Socorro County who survived an overnight gunfight with 80 lawless cowboys in 1884. Of course, Socorro also has an alternative course, the gently rolling New Mexico Retiree Michael McGuire putts on the 18th hole at the Tech Golf New Mexico Tech Golf Course. Course that plays 6,834 yards from the Blue Tees and 5,718 from the Green tees. This grassy oasis in the boulder-and-pebble strewn desert is a place where groups gather regularly to play golf and enjoy their friends. 20 | winter 2017

SHOOT YOUR AGE “The course attracts folks from Belen, Los Lunas, Truth or Consequences, Mountainair and Albuquerque,” says course Pro Sabino Grijalva, a 1996 graduate of Roswell High School. He also played for New Mexico Military Institute and Western New Mexico.

Photography by Martin Frentzel


‘Accessible’ New Mexico Tech Golf Course Short Drive Away

Fred Robinson, 82, regularly plays the New Mexico Tech golf course and shoots his age or better.

“We have quite a few players from out of town, although throughout the week it’s mostly locals,” he says. Ramon Lopez, Robert Alonzo, Jim Preussne and Fred Robinson are among the Socorro regulars playing the Tech course every Tuesday and Thursday. Robinson is the elder statesman in the group at 82, but he regularly shoots his age or better. Michael McGuire plays alone, but he’s only lived in Socorro for four years. “I retired here and my wife and I absolutely love it. It’s a small town, there are four seasons, and it’s close to the VA hospital and an airport.” Albuquerque offers those last two attractions, and it’s only 77.5 miles from Socorro if you check the distance online. “This place is the best kept secret in New Mexico,” McGuire says, “so don’t tell anyone.” Too late. Golf Digest previously rated the Tech course as one of the 10 best public courses in New Mexico, and one of the top 500 in the country. You may not agree with those ratings, but Grijalva stands by his course. “We are lucky to have a course like we have,” says the guy who grew up playing the Spring River Golf Course in Roswell, the same course where one-time LPGA star and Roswell Goddard graduate (continued on next page)

‘Accessible’ New Mexico Tech Golf Course Short Drive Away (continued from previous page)

Nancy Lopez played as an amateur. “She was long gone before I started playing there,” Grijalva says, “but the people in Roswell are still talking about her.” Of course they are talking about her. Lopez is a World Golf Hall of Famer who won LPGA championships in 1978, 1985 and 1989. Grijalva gives the maintenance crew at New Mexico Tech kudos for keeping the course in shape. “It’s always well-manicured,” he says. “It is always consistent, and it’s accessible. It’s not too far from Albuquerque.” MINERAL MUSEUM

Scolecite from Nasik, India, is among the minerals displayed at the Mineral Museum at New Mexico Tech.

If one arrives in Socorro before tee times, the Mineral Museum at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources ( is an excellent place to wait. Spectacular minerals from around the world are on display, and the crystals are incredible. The Bureau, part of the school, has displayed mining artifacts with the minerals so visitors get an introduction to what it takes to dig out these crystals, geodes and other treasures. The museum is a great starting place for learning about New Mexico Tech. In 2014, USA Today gave Tech a rating of the second-best college value in the United States. Among the research projects associated with the institute are Magdalena Ridge Observatory, where the heavens are studied from Mary Magdalene’s Socorro County mountains. Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research studies lightning and shares South Baldy Mountain with Magdalena Ridge. And if you are willing to drive two hours from Albuquerque and past the town of Magadalena itself you can see the Very

Large Array, part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. These powerful telescopes monitor radio waves from space in cooperation with the National Science Foundation. The administrative operations for the VLA are centered on the Tech campus in the Pete V. Domenici Array Operations Center. In addition, the Energetic Materials Research Testing Center at Tech does Terrorism Response Training as well as testing of explosives. Boom! The village of Socorro itself offers plenty of restaurants and cantinas as well as a historic district surrounding its Plaza. Craft beers are available at Soccoro Springs, which features beer from Marble Brewing of Albuquerque and Eddyline from Buena Vista, Colo. If you want a burger, just south of Socorro in the tiny village of San Antonio are dueling restaurants – the Buckhorn Tavern and the Owl Bar. Both specialize in green chile cheeseburgers, and Buckhorn third-generation owner Bobby Olguin had a Green Chile Cheeseburger Duel with TV celebrity chef Bobby Flay. That led to Sunset Magazine including the Buckhorn as one of the top 20 Road Trip Stops. South of San Antonio is the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, the winter home to tens of thousands of Snow Geese, Sandhill Cranes, ducks and other migratory species of wildlife. People flock from around the world to see these birds, mule deer and other species of New Mexico’s rich wildlife heritage. Whether you are looking for birds or birdies, Socorro County has something to offer.

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of Socorro offers many opportunities to photograph Snow Geese and other wildlife. | winter 2017


Old and New Flourish in New Mexico’s Southwest Region The state’s

historical landmarks dating back hundreds of years are plentiful in the southwest quadrant of New Mexico, but mixed in with the old is a new frontier that is waiting to be explored. Plans are underway for commercial space travel at the fledgling Spaceport America near Alamogordo, with its two-mile long runway, the Spaceport Operations Center, and the Virgin Galactic “Gateway to Space” Hangar Facility. This quadrant’s largest city is Las Cruces, a former railroad town and agricultural hub

that’s now a science and tech center thanks to New Mexico State University. The quaint village of Old Mesilla, once a social gathering place because of its distinct central plaza, sits at the southwest corner of Las Cruces. To see one of the state’s most unique and thriving industries, pay a visit to the village of Hatch, best known for producing New Mexico’s famous green chile. Other places to see in this quadrant are Silver City, an old mining town; the Gila Wilderness and its Trail of the Mountain Spirits National Byway; Fort Bayard and the boot heel towns of Deming, Lordsburg and Columbus; the City of Rocks State Park just east of Deming; and the ghost town of Shakespeare near Lordsburg, where re-enactments of frontier life take place.

North-Central New Mexico: Home to Three Storied Destinations The large quadrant of the north-central and

northeastern parts of New Mexico has, not surprisingly, an enormously varied terrain, ranging from the staked plains of the east to the highest mountains in the state to the Rio Grande valley. The north-central/northeast quadrant is home to three of New Mexico’s most storied municipalities: Santa Fe, Taos and Las Vegas. Santa Fe, of course, is known worldwide for its arts scene and its exotic (to many visitors) architecture. What is less well-known is that it is the oldest state capital city in the U.S. From the first European arrivals—Spanish colonists in the early 17th century—Santa Fe has always been the capital of New Mexico, which was called Nuevo Mejico on the first maps. It has remained the capital through Spanish colonial times, through the Mexican Republics and into U.S. territory and then statehood. Santa Fe also is the county seat of Santa Fe County, and as the state capital is the locale of many federal agencies. It’s no wonder that “government” in all its forms is a major employer. Right behind it is tourism. Besides the many fine museums in the capital, you’ll find more than 200 restaurants ranging from streetside carts to white-tablecloth dining establishments and at least three neighborhoods full of art galleries. North of Santa Fe are the river valleys and ranges of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where one of the oldest continuously inhabited housing entities—Taos Pueblo—sits just outside the arts-and-recreation village of 22 | winter 2017

Taos. Taos is where many of the state’s early arts pioneers—especially the famed Georgia O’Keeffe—started their New Mexico sojourns. The ancient village of Abiquiu to the southwest of Taos is where O’Keeffe lived and painted for many years. Go around the mountains on I-25 to the eastnortheast of Santa Fe and you’ll be in Las Vegas, once the busiest, most raucous towns in the state. Situated on the east side of the mountains at the point where they join the plains, Las Vegas is where cattle were brought to be shipped to market. Las Vegas provided R&R for cavalrymen stationed at nearby Fort Union. Las Vegas was the first mercantile town in New Mexico, a convenient stop on the Old Santa Fe Trail that began in Independence, Mo. Las Vegas is where Teddy Roosevelt came to recruit the Rough Riders he led up Puerto Rico’s San Juan Hill in the SpanishAmerican War. These histories and many more can be found in the museums and events of Las Vegas.

Northwest New Mexico’s Charm is Native, Historic and Picturesque The glory and beauty of Northwest

New Mexico can be seen in its events, celebrations, historic sites and Native American culture. This part of the state is home to Gallup, the self-proclaimed Native American jewelry capital of the world. If you doubt that, simply step into Earl’s Restaurant on Main Street, and while you await your food from a menu that spans New Mexican cuisine to good ol’ meatloaf, you will be visited by local Native American artists showcasing their jewelry and artwork. Gallup is also where you will find the 34thannual Red Rock Balloon rally in December and the 95th-annual Gallup Intertribal Indian Ceremonial in August. Near Gallup is Zuni Pueblo, an enterprising place with the only Native American Main Street Program in the country. Gallup and Zuni form the center of Native American trading in the state. In Farmington, another major city in this quadrant, locals can find plenty of moderately priced lodging close to historic areas such as Bandelier National Monument, the Aztec

Ruins National Monument and Chaco Canyon National Historic Park. Nearby are the Salmon Ruins and Bloomfield, one of the prettiest small towns in New Mexico. Chaco Canyon is a U.N. World Heritage Site that has a nine-mile loop featuring five ruins. Canyon de Chelly National Monument has ancient ruins of cliff dwellings. To the south, El Morro and Inscription Rock contain more than 2,000 historic petroglyphs and inscriptions carved by Spanish explorers. Another national historic site is the venerable Hubbell Trading Post that still sells new and old Native American arts and crafts, and conducts two heavily attended auctions each year. Just across the Arizona border is Window Rock, the ceremonial center of the earth for the Navajo people and the capital of the sprawling Navajo Nation.

At the heart of New Mexico beats the pulse of a vibrant city | winter 2017


How ¡Ask a Mexican! Fell In Love With Albuquerque —And Why You Should, Too (continued from Page 16)

quirk, I’d be able to stay three nights in Albuquerque in return for attending the main dinner (the keynote speaker ABQ whiskey, rum, vodka, and gin at Left Turn at Albuquerque was Michael distillery. Photo by Dear Wallis, a fabulous Handmade Life. writer of the West who unfortunately spoke longer than he should have) and doing a workshop on how to get more Latinos into libraries. The rest of the time, I was on my own. I stopped by the Alibi’s offices, a quirky building off Central Avenue, the city’s former stretch of Route 66. But my Virgil into Albuquerque’s beauty was Dan Mayfield, a reporter whom I initially met in Los Angeles during a reporters’ seminar. He’s quintessential ABQ: family dating back centuries, more kraut-mick than anything, but proud of his raza roots. Dan is everything I’m not—a smooth talker, a looker and a chingón—but we hit it off in LA and painted the town Christmas (ask New Mexicans what that means). He took me to bars; introduced me to fans; and treated me to my first Frito pie, my first smothered burrito and my first Blake’s Lotaburger. And when he thought I was homesick, Dan and his friends took me to the Frontier Restaurant, a legendary 24-hour diner with a room filled with John Wayne memorabilia. Um, thanks? The city immediately electrified me. There were a lot of great touristy things to do— museums, concert venues, shopping, hikes— yet it was the gente that charmed me the most. The old-timers were rightfully proud of Albuquerque’s history and hosting prowess, but the young folks knew they were on the cusp of something great and ready to let America know about it. I’ve been back every year since, and ABQ gets even better all the time. For my Taco USA book, we had a sold-out crowd at the historic El Pinto restaurant celebrating its release with enchiladas and a set by New Mexican music legend Al Hurricane, the coolest person alive who wears an eyepatch. I’ve hung in the historic Barelas barrio, in streetwise South Valley, in trendy Nob Hill. With Pueblo Indians, Hispanos, Mexicans, gabachos, natives and transplants. Gotten borracho at biker bars, dined at James Beard-nominated restaurants and heard thrilling rhymes by the city’s 24 | winter 2017

inaugural poet laureate, Hakim Bellamy. A craft-beer-and-spirits renaissance is blooming, along with a food scene that knows America is watching (here in Southern California, roasting Hatch chiles has become a hipster thing in the past decade, while that’s August and September in New Mexico). About the only thing I haven’t done is ride a hot-air balloon—because who needs to go up in the sky when you’re already floating on air? And while that might’ve been the worst sentence of my career, I stand by it: Every time I’m in Albuquerque, my batteries charge like a Tesla. And it’ll do the same to you. However you get to Albuquerque, it’s going to wow you. Fly in, and you’ll arrive in a little facility so charming (and with minimal wait lines) with its turquoise-and-adobe color scheme that it’s no mere airport; it’s called the Sunport, a callback to the Zia sun symbol. But to truly arrive, you gotta drive. Leave at 4 in the morning from OC, take the 91 to the 15 to Interstate 40, and drive. Journey through the remnants of the Mother Road, through the ponderosa pine forests of Arizona and the stunning cliffs that greet you as you cross into New Mexico. Through Gallup and Grants, trading posts and trucker stops. It’s only about a 12-hour trek, and you’ll get into Albuquerque in the late afternoon, as the sun turns purple and the city takes on a gold hue. You descend into the city, with the Sandia Mountains looming on the horizon and dramatic clouds creating alternating dramatic shadows and blinding rays over everything. If there’s a more stunning city landscape in the Southwest, you must’ve seen it on Minecraft. Charles Fletcher Lummis famously called New Mexico the Land of Poco Tiempo, setting a template that has repeated itself ever since: the outsider-turned-acolyte who tries to define the state while drowning out actual native voices. I’m now guilty of that, and I don’t care. Because the Albuquerque I know and love is the Albuquerque that’s lived by some of the proudest yet most humble city boosters I’ve ever met. There’s Joseph Baca, a former wine critic who can trace his ancestry back to the 1600s and who once wrote a cover story called “Ask a New Mexican,” for which I asked Baca questions about New Mexico’s slice of the mestizo enchilada. Mayfield, of course, who once took me to the Albuquerque Press Club’s members-only clubhouse (oh, (continued on Page 28)


A Sweet Spot in Albuquerque’s Old Town

A lot has changed in the nearly four decades since Debbie Ball opened a new candy store in Albuquerque. Her name may not initially ring a bell, but when you say ‘The Candy Lady,’ people in New Mexico know exactly who you are talking about. And, likely, their mouth may water at the mere mention of the name. Since the early 1980s, Ball has been selling a variety of sweet home-made confections in Albuquerque’s historic Old Town. Opened in September 1980, The Candy Lady struggled that first year as America elected and inaugurated a new president. Things turned around quickly in the second year when The Candy Lady added a little spice to her inventory and began offering X-rated treats. America was different then, not as far removed from its Puritan roots, as it has evolved in the new millennium. People could still be shocked in the 1980s. The addition of the X-rated candy and cake-decoration options created quite the stir among the local gentry who were already inflamed over a proposal to allow a liquor license at La Placita Restaurant on Old Town Plaza. Suddenly, and for months on end, The Candy Lady was everywhere – on the radio, TV, newspapers, and always, at the center of the controversy. All the publicity boosted sales beyond Debbie’s expectations. And while racy confections drew a lot of publicity, it’s the candy that has kept people coming for 36 years. About three years ago the shop moved to the northeast corner of Old Town, on San Felipe Street just south of Mountain Road. As you push open the door, the aroma of deliciousness greets you. Once inside, a plethora of tempting treats greets you behind the glass display. If you take the time to count, you’ll find 20 different kinds of fudge, including amaretto, chocolate red chile, white red chile, chocolate green chile, peanut butter, rocky road, lemon dream, orange dream, and a special ouzo fudge (kept in the back).

“I had a customer from Greece who tasted our amaretto fudge and suggested it would be good with ouzo,” Debbie explains. “We tried it out and he was right. We have ouzo truffles, too!” Ball says chocolate walnut and Debbie Ball Owner of the Candy Lady orange dream are the most popular of the fudge flavors (but, don’t miss out on the chocolate mint). Specialty cakes for all occasions are available by order, and that includes ‘adult cakes.’ You can also pick up a bag of New Mexico’s traditional holiday cookie, homemade biscochitos. There are a variety of delicious nut brittles, including pistachio, pecan, pinon, cashew and peanut. Well worth the trip for any licorice lover is the ‘Licorice Wall,’ which is straight ahead of you when you walk in. Against the wall are 60 varieties of hand-made licorice, stored in row-after-row of glass containers. There’s also a vast selection of ‘blackies’, soft and chewy homemade anise candy made with caramel. Nobody is left out at The Candy Lady. Diabetics and those watching their sugar intake will not suffer deprivation. There are nearly 30 varieties of sugar-free candy, including peanut truffles, coconut royale cream, black raspberry sherbet, nut clusters and more. Fans of the Albuquerque-based hit TV series “Breaking Bad” will experience actual glee at the selection of T-Shirts, aprons, shot glasses, license plates and postcards depicting the series. They can even buy a 100 gram bag of ‘Blue Sky’ rock candy for $10 and take a picture in (continued on Page 30) | winter 2017


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Route 66 Casino Now Offers Upscale RV Destination

New Mexico visitors now have an all-new, multi-million dollar travel destination to discover, the Route 66 RV Resort! Located 15 minutes west of Albuquerque, on Historic Route 66, this upscale RV vacation spot embodies the American tradition and spirit of the Mother Road with its unique architectural design. This premier RV destination offers guests a selection of 100 full-service sites with 100/50/30/20 AMP connections. All site locations have stunning views of the Southwest landscape and include the comforts of a picnic table and fire ring. State of the art facilities including a Clubhouse with fireplace, large-screen television, billiards table and games, full kitchen, workout room, shower and laundry facilities. A resort-style pool with unique rock wall feature will persuade travelers to reflect on journeys past and present. New Mexico provides the perfect backdrop for groups seeking a reunion or rally that is out-of-the ordinary. With space to accommodate groups from ten to 500, your family or friends can enjoy Albuquerque’s most popular vacation destinations within a few minutes’ drive. Spend the evening recapping the day’s adventure over a campfire meal at the

RV Resort’s outdoor rally barn. Equipped with multiple gas grills, sinks, counters, and picnic tables, the rally barn will be the gathering point for the duration of the trip. Within walking distance to the Route 66 RV Resort is the Vegas-style casino, Route 66 Casino Hotel. Themed with Route 66 memorabilia, the casino offers over 1,300 slot and video poker machines, 26 table games, a 500-seat bingo hall and a dedicated poker room with 10 tables. Travelers will have a choice of awardwinning restaurants, such as the award winning Buffet 66. Named #1 buffet by Yahoo! Travel, Buffet 66 offers guests over 200 menu selections with specialty nights on the weekends. Sizzling steaks can be found at the Thunder Road Steakhouse and Cantina. Located two minutes from the RV Resort is the Pit Stop, home of the World-Famous Laguna Burger! Winner of Best Green Chili Cheeseburger at the New Mexico State Fair and voted best burger by Albuquerque the Magazine, this is one meal that you need to experience during your travels to the Land of Enchantment.

How ¡Ask a Mexican! Fell In Love With Albuquerque —And Why You Should, Too (continued from Page 24)

the cynical, chain-smoked humblebrags that happen there). Russell Contreras, a transplant from Houston who went native and now sends out some of the AP’s strongest regional dispatches. Through the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, I met COO Synthia Jaramillo and graphic designer Jen Montaño, two wisecracking chicas who nevertheless are all

business about repping their town. They’re the ones who started the #whyabq hashtag as a way to grab back their narrative from others— and the last time I was in town, they asked me why I do ABQ. “Because ABQ,” I replied. Good, but too easy. Fine, try this: Albuquerque at its best is informed by the past and is using that to (continued on next page)


How ¡Ask a Mexican! Fell In Love With Albuquerque —And Why You Should, Too (continued from previous page)

blaze into the future. You’re not just in a town established before the American Revolution; you’re in an area where multiculturalism isn’t a fad or a future, but has been reality for generations. The ABQ ethos is the Southwest at its best—welcoming, fun, fabulous, historic and sabroso—and a model for the rest of the estados unidos to try. Lummis was right: There is too little time when you’re here, so you have to return again and again. I’m not sure if I drummed up any business for the Hispano Chamber of Commerce and the city’s Convention & Visitor’s Bureau with my Torreón speech. I didn’t talk to the visitors afterward, since I had to rush off to give a speech at a local high school about tacos. But if those people were smart, they booked their conventions immediately; if not, have fun in Wichita or whatever podunk town you thought was cooler. But people are discovering Albuquerque. On my last trip, I saw construction happening— roads getting widened, restaurants getting built, hotels getting expanded. I’ve had friends drop in for the first time and rave about it after. My wife fell so in love with Albuquerque that she and her business partner (who has New Mexican roots) decided

to open a store stocking the foods of the region: green chile powder, craft beers, tortillas, even bizcochito mix. It’s already attracting a stream of New Mexico expats, but also Californians curious to see what this ABQ is about. We stopped for a few days earlier this month and will return in August, when the weather isn’t too bad and the alluring smoke of roasted green chiles are starting again. Come then. Or arrive in the winter, and see snow as you’ve never seen it. Or visit during the International Balloon Fiesta, when adults turn into kids again and head to the northern edge of town to gaze upward. Or swing by during NCAA basketball season, when the University of New Mexico Lobos slay opponents in the Pit in front of another raucous crowd. But come. Albuquerque, mi amor: I’ll see you soon. And I’m going to spend the rest of my days bringing as many people as possible to fall under your charm. Originally published in the OC Weekly Story provided by the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce



Deep History Uncovered at Coronado Site (continued from Page 12)

Smokey Sadie (a dark lager), Red Stockings, a Peppermint Stout, Helles Lager (a classic Germanstyle beer), a Black IPA, Oxford IPA, and ESB (English Style Beer). The best sellers, Kohler says, are the Helles Lager and the Oxford IPA. Kaktus Brewing in Bernalillo “Our location gets has eight craft beers on a lot of retirees,” tap. he says. “Some of them are familiar with craft beers, but many are not. I am very pleased that we are introducing craft beer to people who have never enjoyed it before.” The brewery is open 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It is about a 10-minute walk from the Sandoval County/U.S. 550 New Mexico Rail Runner Express Station. Visit www.kaktusbrewery. com for more information. A PAGE TURNER Lara Harrison’s father was a lifelong reader and when he passed away he left her with 18,000 hard-copy books. Having grown up reading, the only thing Harrison could think of doing with her inheritance was start a bookstore. Of course, she had to add some material to what Charles Ramsey left behind. “He only had men’s books,” she says, “no romance and no health.” Today, “Under Charlie’s Covers” in Bernalillo has approximately 40,000 books.

“We are one of the only used book stores that has both non-fiction and fiction, hardbacks and paperbacks.” Fortunately for Harrison nearby Placitas has many retired educated residents who enjoy reading. “When I first opened here, those people from Placitas kept me going. I think there are six book clubs up there,” she says.

Lara Harrison, owner of “Under Charlie’s Covers” has 40,000 used books available.

In addition to Placitas, her customers come from across the country and Canada, many stopping by on their way to or from winter residences in Arizona. It’s also hard to predict what they will want to read, she says. “Sometimes I buy a book that I think is pretty esoteric, and I think it will never sell; but it will be the first thing out the door the next day,” Harrison says. Under Charlie’s Covers is at 160 S. Camino del Pueblo in Bernalillo, just south of the intersection with N.M. 550. It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the bookstore from the Sandoval County, U.S. 550 Rail Runner Station. The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The number is (505) 404-2097 or visit

A Sweet Spot (continued from Page 25)

an apron in front of a sign for Los Pollos Hermanos. Ball says the Breaking Bad merchandise now accounts for almost 30 percent of the store’s daily sales. “Breaking Bad actually brought us more business than the X-rated candy did years ago,” she adds. Today, The Candy Lady is internationally known and has enjoyed extensive media coverage globally. It’s actually on the 30 | winter 2017

Albuquerque “Breaking Bad” Tour. Stop by for a visit, or purchase online at candylady. com. The Candy Lady is located at 424 San Felipe St. NW, Old Town Albuquerque, 505-243-6239,, open 10AM-6PM, seven days a week.



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32 | winter 2017

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