13 April 2009

New Mexico-First Conversations

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." – Goethe

New Mexico was a place so foreign to my existence when I first started to read about it. Red Rock, Mountains and high desert. My first visit was in May 2000 with Backroads. My trip brought me to a place I had dreamed of for many years and I was thrilled to be there. The minute I walked out of the airport in Albuquerque I sensed something magical.

Once I went north to Santa Fe, I not only saw the beauty of the area but also witnessed the fury of the Cerro Grande Fire which damaged sections of Los Alamos, Bandolier and the Puye Cliff Dwellings.


Almost 50,000 acres were damaged and the Puye Cliff Dwellings remained closed until 2008. I hope to get there on my next trip.


A sample itinerary is pretty much the same as it was when I traveled with Backroads.


With one minor difference, because of the fire, the guides had to re-arrange the scheduled hike based upon where the fire was and the level of smoke in the area. So that meant the level 4 hike at the Rio Grande was one of the first hikes we took. Did I mention that Santa Fe is at 7,000 feet altitude and I am from the east coast where there is lots of attitude but no altitude?

The hike started out easy enough –a couple of miles over flat terrain, beautiful azure skies without a cloud or a hint of forest fire, then the switchbacks to the riverbank of the Rio Grande stood before us.

A thousand feet down and my favorite part, a thousand feet back up. Talk about a good workout. I made it. That is the best thing about hiking, my body is spent but somehow it still says “Wow.”

The smell of smoke was constant. While in Santa Fe, I remember sitting in the plaza and looking up at the mountains, the smoke plume enormous and flames running through acres. It was then and when we visited Taos Pueblo that I felt an overwhelming sadness. The guides did an amazing job of keeping us safe and found ways to keep us entertained. Still, I was desolate, because after all, this was a place I had dreamed of for 20 years and couldn’t ignore or explain this emotion.

It took hiking throughout the southwest for the next three years to understand. The sadness I felt was about the land, the past inhabitants and their connection to the earth. New Mexico has 19 pueblos, distinct cultures that have survived in varying degrees, invasions, wars and disparate cultural influences.

By walking through miles of countryside, I listened and found a place that to this day feels like home.


Sally's World said...

thats a great quote....this sounds like an amazing place to visit, i yearn to travel more, i think i need to put ths on my list!

Ruth said...

I was not drawn to that part of the country most of my life, until my friend built a house near Sedona, and the rocks changing color through the days and seasons were an inspiration to me. I've got to get out there and spend some time.

I agree with Sally, that's a great quote. (And the e.e. cummings one too.)

San said...

There's a quiet power in the land here. Thanks for posting about New Mexico.

C.M. Jackson said...


That quote has served me in so many ways--inspiration, congrats and when I need a 'kick in the #$%' --Everything is possible if you just move forward. New Mexico is a magical place and part of my heart. So different from your land but yet having been to Cornwall it is amazing how similar the feeling is if you listen and hear--it is a very small world after all.


C.M. Jackson said...


Sedona is an amazing place filled with energy--there are sections of the red rock that are believed to be vortexes for energy. I have hiked there many times and always felt good. Boynton Canyon where Enchantment Resort is now is an area that was Indian territory. If you like Sedona you will love Santa Fe. It is one of the largest art markets in the country with 20 amazing restaurants and yet, still holding on to the past, though it gets harder each year.

The other difference from Arizona, four seasons--given what I have seen from your writings, the seasons are important and an inspiration.

Like the Met, MOMA--you should plan a trip to Santa Fe as you will be inspired.


C.M. Jackson said...


I like that "a quiet power' --so right and so lucky are you to be living in its midst. I will stop by your gallery the next visit. We are thinking that this year we might be there 'round christmas to witness some of the magic and festivals. In any case, when we step foot in Santa Fe, Mr Jackson and I will stop by.

Until then keep the magic alive-

Best C


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