Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

A trip to the Land of Enchantment

Posted June 24, 2010

How many of you have been to New Mexico? Please share your stories. New Mexico_23 Tour the 'Land of Enchantment'

The bad news comes first. I gained five pounds on our New Mexico vacation last week. The good news is I enjoyed every dining moment and I’m back at the gym this week working off the weight gain from a wonderful desert vacation.

Cindy and I flew to Albuquerque and rented a car and drove an hour north to Santa Fe. We spent a couple of days with our dear friends David and Jeannene Wiseman.

They got us started on some of the finest Southwest cuisine we’ve ever had. Then we enjoyed more salsa sensations at area restaurants. I think this is the best eating vacation I’ve ever had! The scenery was also very nice. Santa Fe is a classy city that reminds me a little of Sedona in neighboring Arizona. It’s an artsy, historical and beautifully manicured town. It was great pleasure hearing David preach at First Presbyterian Church where he serves as Transitional Minister.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. She was a brilliant artist who was inspired by the red and rocky scenery surrounding Ghost Ranch an hour north of Santa Fe.

We spent two days at Ghost Ranch hiking the Box Canyon and Chimney Rock trails. Ghost Ranch was formerly a dude ranch and is now a Presbyterian Church retreat center. I ran into a former Raleigh resident who remembered me from television on WRAL. While we were not allowed to see Georgia O’Keeffe’s former home at Ghost Ranch we were allowed to tour her hacienda at nearby Abiquiu. Wow! What a view!

Later we took the Scenic High Road to Taos weaving our way through ancient little villages teeming with artists and crafts people. In Taos we stayed at The Little Tree B&B. It’s believed to be the only completely adobe bed and breakfast inn in America. Our hosts, Gordon and Maggie Johnston delighted us with humor, historical stories and scrumptious breakfasts. The gardens at The Little Tree are mind boggling. How could the desert hold so much beauty? Our room was perfectly decorated and totally comfortable. It was well worth the price we paid for two nights.

Gordon and Maggie steered us to a rugged hike in the Wild Rivers Recreation Area. We plunged 800 feet down into the canyon where the Rio Grande River and Red River meet in a swirling confluence. Later we drove The Enchanted Circle. It’s a 90-mile scenic route in the high country north of Taos including Bobcat pass at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet.

We also toured the historic Taos Pueblo, which was originally built around 1350. Cindy and I made new friends among the artists here and even purchased an alabaster buffalo to take home as a souvenir.

Our favorite restaurant meal was the chile relleno platter at Doc Martin’s in Taos. What a wonderful explosion of flavor! Other favorite eating spots included Michael’s Kitchen for lunch in Taos, La Fonda for lunch in Santa Fe and The Famous Plaza Café also in Santa Fe. We also discovered a terrific restaurant called El Paragua in Espanola.

We loved the red and green chile sauces or Christmas sauces if you ordered both. We were amused by the little black and white bird called the magpie. We were cheered by the decorative string of red chili peppers called ristas. We savored the cool evenings and the hot days weren’t so bad because of very low humidity. Our skin and hair did get a little dry. We really didn’t need air conditioning. The only place we had it was in Albuquerque on our final night before the trip home.

What are your stories from this Land of Enchantment?


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  • plibby Jun 30, 2010

    Great Video; enjoyed the pictures and the music; thank u for sharing with us. pl

  • bleslie Jun 27, 2010

    Love your comments and your passion for New Mexico! I've had a dozen emails from folks wanting to know more about the music I used for the slideshow. The song is called Moses Owl. I wrote it in honor of a Cherokee leader I met as a child.

  • FE Jun 27, 2010

    I was with the military in the Albuquerque area some time ago. Loved the place - and the arid climate - and could literally see tumbleweeds rolling down the streets. (My guess is urban sprawl has removed much of that, as well as the frequent jack-rabbit encounters?).

    For folks who have never been to that part of the US, the western states are HUGE, with much to see. I made many trips further west on I-40, and quite frankly spent more time in the Canyonlands areas of Utah and Arizona. The Colorado mountains always appealed to me....but at least "our" mini-mountains have trees!

    This should in no way detract from the NM experience you had. Everyone should partake of an opportunity to visit that part of the US. And I can certainly identify with the appeal of all that wonderful food!!


  • missk Jun 27, 2010

    When I saw your pictures before reading your blog entry I thought I recognized Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch. When I was in college I spent the month of January during my senior year at Ghost Ranch. The college I attended had a term in between Fall & Spring semester called Interim, and Ghost Ranch had classes for college students during this time as well. I took a pottery class and loved it, not only did we learn modern pottery techniques, but also those of the Native Americans. We also enjoyed trips to Santa Fe and Chaco Canyon, I think I may have taken that Box Canyon hike too. It's a beautiful place!

  • creecht Jun 27, 2010

    I visited Alamogordo many years ago. Some of the natives call NM "The Land of Entrapment"!

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Jun 27, 2010

    Hatch green chile, Dixons apple orchard in fall, Chaco Canyon, blue skies, dinners at Los Cuates, or The Shed in Santa Fe, Balloon Fiesta, wide open spaces, hiking, the sense of space and freedom, the smell of a 40lb sack of green chile roasting in the fall, and pinon fireplaces in the winter, the views from anywhere, small towns, the comfortable mix of cultures, scorchingly hot foods, hot days and cool nights with no humidity, the lack of mosquitoes .

    All things I miss about NM.

  • kannr Jun 25, 2010

    oops...make you want to go back. Sorry, just thinking about home makes my fingers have a mind of their own.

    Even the bigger cities have a small town feel where the people will say hello and wave at you as you pass by. Yes, we have cacti in our yards and not many trees, the the vast openness is wonderful!

  • kannr Jun 25, 2010 must have been stationed at Cannon AFB. Not many know about my birth place and home town...Clovis. The plains region is just as beautiful and the sunsets are amazing! The Balloon Fiesta the first two weeks in October in ABQ is something everyone should see.

    Thank you Bill for showcasing the Land of Enchantment. I have been here (via Ft. Bragg) for 4 years this summer. I love North Carolina, don't get me wrong, but I can't wait until my husband retires so I can go home. The southern part of NM is beautiful as well. You can fly into El Paso at night and see the star that graces the mountain range and then within a short drive (45 min) you're in Las Cruces and so many other small towns that have such rich history.

    And, you can't beat the food! You get Tex-Mex out here, but if you hit the "hole in the walls" in NM, you will get traditional Mexican cuisine and it'll make you can to go back.

  • weasleyes Jun 25, 2010

    Anyone visiting Durango, Colorado should be sure to take the Durango-Silverton narrow gage railroad trip. I had a friend who ran a shop in Silverton, which she said is accessible on by the rr or horse! They have the 2 hrs when the train is stopped to make their living. It is the old-style, coal-fired train, and the trip takes most of a day, but it is worth it!

  • weasleyes Jun 25, 2010

    Lizzie87: Moab, Utah is a great place, and on the way to the northern side of the Grand Canyon. The streets are very wide because they used to run herds of cattle there. PS: Agree also with the comments about Las Vegas (NM), Canyon de Chelly area, and Roswell. It IS a land of enchantment!




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