Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

A trip to the Land of Enchantment

Posted June 24, 2010 12:23 p.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2010 3:18 p.m. EDT

How many of you have been to New Mexico? Please share your stories.

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?