I apologize for the delay (yet again). I am with family in lovely California, and needed time to catch up before sitting down to write again. And so, I present to you, New Mexico.
We first drove into New Mexico after a fun day in Amarillo painting the Cadillacs (see here) and the first gut impression was, “Whoa.” The plateaus and mesas were everywhere on the side of our otherwise flat road, and the farms stretched for hundred of miles in between.
My partner and I didn’t have a plan to stop before our ultimate destination in Santa Fe, but we weren’t in a hurry so we kept an eye out for fun roadside attractions. The first we found was something called Conchas Dam, and it was off of our beaten path. We got onto the exit, assuming it would be sort of right there… an assumption that should not have been made. This dam was actually many miles down, and it took us about 20 minutes going down a remote road with no cell service to find another sign for it, our only roadside company being the cows and their horsy handlers.
Another turn or two later, passing by a one-plane airport and abandoned fireworks seller, and we found the massive state park (go check it out!) and recreational center that the dam sat upon. The dam was actually situated on a beautiful lake of the same name, filled with fishermen and water sports lovers. Out in the middle of desert-like conditions. Yup, pretty cool.
We walked down the the water over a rope that kind of looked optional, looked out, cracked open some geodes, and went on our way.
The roads in Santa Fe were probably the most precarious that we’ve encountered, and there was much cringing at the multitude of “Falling Rock” signs that we passed. However, the scenery is beautiful, in a stark and rocky sort of way. We didn’t see much civilization after the park until we got into the Santa Fe border.
Mike and I were pretty confused when entering Santa Fe. We were meeting up with an old family friend of mine, and she had us meet her at a cafe in what she claimed was “close to the city center.” Walking around a bit, neither Mike nor I could see the city. Where were the tall glass buildings, rushing cars, and loud noises? When Rachel met up with us and asked if we explored the city, we both asked her where the city was.
“Right here, of course. You must have walked right through the plaza,” she said, amused. Apparently, Santa Fe ordinance only allows adobe buildings, and none of them over four or so stories. It made for an entirely different aesthetic, one that is both pleasing and unnerving, given that Santa Fe is the state capital.
The next few days were one of food and fun drives. Rachel had us over for a lovely Easter dinner that made being home a little less painful (she’s a killer cook, just check out Rachel’s Bakery on Fire Island if you don’t believe me!), and then spent the next couple of days showing us some of the wonders of New Mexico.
After taking in Santa Fe, our next stop in the land of enchantment was Los Alamos, a place that has always piqued the curiosity of my engineer companion. For those that don’t know, this is the city that the government commandeered in the middle of the desert to do nuclear testing, and where the two nuclear bombs were created that we sent to Japan. As such, the city has a secretive and kind of dark past.
The museum situated in it details everything that happened, peppered with quotes from men and women who lived in the pop-up town. For those interested in alternative history, it is very interesting and an iconic visit.
Our next stop was of course to see the Rio Grande in all of its glory. Probably one of my favorite stops so far due, and one of the most fun. We went into Taos after a harrowing ride on cliffside roads (I love not driving on these occasions,) we came upon the Rio Grande Bridge with a bang.
The heavy winds that day, along with the call centers strategically placed along the bridge that immediately connect to the Suicide Hotline, made the walking experience a little more gut-wrenching. However, I would not recommend NOT walking the bridge. Too beautiful and austere to pass up.
A quick stop at the Taos Mesa Brewing Company (mediocre beer, but awesome ambiance and fun hangout spot) and our New Mexico experience was officially complete. My only regret: missing out on Roswell, because who doesn’t need a hefty does of aliens and suspension of reality in their diet?
Another special thanks to Rachel for making it happen, and on stay tuned for the next installment of Mike and Sam’s Great Adventure: Colorado!