I was in my fifth year of college the first time I went to New Mexico. I drove from Buffalo to Chicago, flew to Albuquerque, spent a week hiking and camping, flew back to Chicago, drove to West Palm Beach for spring break, and drove back to Buffalo. I can’t really explain the itinerary. It must have made sense to my twenty something self.
In any case, that was also the first time I was enchanted by New Mexico. We started in Santa Fe. It was a warm and sunny spring day. Three of us stood on a street corner without talking or crossing the street. We just stood there for seconds or minutes. There were so many colors to see, people to watch, and energy to feel.
We went from there to a hot spring in the Gila National Forest where two of us walked back to the car ahead of the others. We reached through a crack in the window to unlock the door and set off our car alarm. It echoed through the canyon at sunset and continued until the rest of our group hiked the several miles out of the canyon to unlock it with the keys.
We drank soda and used a pay phone at a convenience store in Truth or Consequences. We called my parents and they asked if we heard about the woman that escaped a kidnapper in the same town that day. We didn’t see anything unusual and we didn’t watch the news.
We crossed into Texas and hiked Guadalupe Peak at sunrise. We didn’t wear sunscreen and our sunburns were remarkable. I was concerned about snakes but we didn’t see any. Later that night, we woke up that night to a family of skunks scavenging our campsite. We narrowly escaped disaster.
We happened upon The Trinity Site on a day it was open for tours. I learned more than I wanted to know and left with more questions than answers.
Fast forward a few years to me living in Summit County, Colorado and CD working at Vail Resorts. We enjoyed several mud season weekends at La Posada (https://www.laposadadesantafe.com) and indulged in all the resort had to offer. We drank wine and shared appetizers with other guests while local artists gave guided tours of their work. My favorite painting ending up being The Tunnel of Trees from Northern Michigan. My favorite resort feature was its proximity to restaurants, art galleries, hiking, and my all time favorite consignment store.
Since New Mexico consistently treated us well, we tossed Taos out as an option for our annual friends ski trip. The opportunity to check out the Earthships (https://www.earthshipglobal.com/visit-us) tipped the scale and we headed to Taos.
We stayed at the Burch Street Casitas. They offered a great downtown location, were locally owned, clean, and spacious. I would stay there again for sure.
We took advantage of being able to walk to town by immersing in the local food scene. Our meals looked like this: Green chili beer, green chili bread, fried green chiles, green chili smothered burritos, pork green chili, vegetarian green chili, fresh lime margaritas, wine tequila margaritas, more green chili beer …
The drive to the ski area was easy and relatively brief. The skiing was good – I think – or at least the hiking and skiing was nice. The wagon shuttle service from the parking lot to the base area was a bonus.
The next day was cloudy and we were lazy. We looked to the Earthships for inspiration.
Earthships are built with natural and repurposed materials. You really need to go there to understand the architecture and commitment to sustainability. The tour left a bit to be desired but the purpose of the community was obvious. I felt equally inspired and conflicted.
The next day, on the way out of town, a friend wanted to buy some green chiles. CD asked the gas station attendant. An unusually long amount of time passed and he returned confused and empty handed. He had asked about buying green chilies and was offered a hook up of the family stash. In the end, he was pretty sure he was not longer buying green chilies and he walked away from the deal. We left empty handed, conflicted about living in an Earthship, and still loving New Mexico.