Somewhere in Texas we saw a car with a New Mexico licence plate. Every state’s plate carries a slogan but New Mexico’s is especially intriguing – Land of Enchantment. Could it really live up to that introduction..? Well, one clue might be that we have taken so many photos in this state that we need to split them into two separate posts! Here are our first few days…
We drove into New Mexico on Friday 6th May – along highway 285 and straight into a place called Loving (a good start, you’d have to admit…). We stopped for lunch (but not the famous caves) at Carlsbad and then proceeded through the tough, dry, so un-Scottish landscape as far as Roswell. Roswell is famous for the was-there-wasn’t-there-a UFO crash in 1947 and as Mark is a keen sci-fi fan (and it was on our route anyway) we stopped there for the night. We visited the UFO museum in the town centre (it’s a bit like a kid’s school project… but cheap to get in), took lots of photos of all the amusing alien art around the town, ate again and went to bed to listen to Texans slamming doors in a La Quinta Inn on the edge of town. Ah well, they can’t all be quiet nights…
On Saturday the 7th we drove through more dry landscape north towards Santa Fe. We stopped for lunch at tiny Vaughn (more great photo opp.s – old motels etc.) and then drove until we saw mountains. The first set of New Mexico photos (the border till look-we’re-nearly in-Santa Fe) are here:
Then we got to Santa Fe… and what a lovely place… one of the prettiest cities we’ve seen possibly. All the buildings in the city have the distinctive New Mexican look (low and brown – keeping strictly to the look of buildings built with adobe bricks from years gone by) and so it means that even downtown car-parks (that’s ‘parking garages’ to you, North Americans) are attractive. To prove this we have included a couple of downtown car-park photos in the Santa Fe set and I bet you can hardly tell which they are. We got to the city early afternoon on a sunny day and so resisted the urge to hide in the hotel and got straight out and on with tourist business. We visited:
The Georgia O’Keeffe museum/gallery – we looked at paintings, watched the really interesting documentary films about O’Keeffe and her New Mexico houses and h enjoyed the kids book about the artist that young visitors are loaned for the duration of their visit. It is a really well-organised museum, I’d have to say. Great security guards – really helpful.
The plaza – which features lots of artists selling their arts and crafts (photo of one – ceramics artist Lynda Feman is included in the next slideshow), lots of people doing serious Saturday evening posing and just generally lots of very friendly folk out and about. Santa Fe reminded us of Asheville, North Carolina (and you might remember how much we liked Asheville… a lot).
The downtown ‘points of interest’ (well, at least their outsides… it was after 5pm when we got to most of them) – the St.Francis Cathedral, the Loretto Chapel, the San Miguel Mission (very old church…well, bits of it…), the “oldest house in the USA” (hmm… not so sure about that one… depends on your definition of house maybe… what about all the Native American places in the area that are significantly older...?).
Santa Fe is full of art and artists and galleries and museums and we probably could have spent a week wandering its pretty streets – eating and drinking, taking it easy and looking at the mountains – but we didn’t. Before we move on though… here are our Santa Fe photos:
Next! On Sunday 8th May we set off slightly north to the Bandelier National Monument. The drive there passed some great highway art, a casino or two, a place called Camel Rock with the most camel-looking rock we’ve ever seen (“which is the Camel Ro… oh, it's that one!”) and some gorgeous mountain views and windy roads. Once in the National Park we visited the museum about the Pueblo (Native American) people who lived in the area (and who still live in other parts of New Mexico) and then we went out into the beautiful Frijoles Canyon to see some of the homes they made in the rock here around 1100AD (‘cavates’ – fascinating, lots of them accessible to visitors by ladder), the ruins of the other homes and buildings they built nearby in later years (up to about 1400) and the nature trail. It was all really interesting (if very, very hot out there!). There were several other trails we could have tried (as well as the ‘Main Loop trail’ we completed) but really… it was sweltering and we had a few miles to go yet before bed. Highly recommended though, the Bandelier site, and our photos of the road north from Santa Fe and the place itself are here:
We’ll post photos of Taos and the rest of our time in Northern New Mexico soon. Today we leave New Mexico and head west.