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Discovering New Mexico - The Land Of Enchantment

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One of our objectives on our recent trip was to discover if New Mexico lives up to its name: "The Land Of Enchantment." Does the nickname fit? You betcha! Until you can go to decide for yourself, here are a few photos we captured in May, 2008.

on the Jemez Springs scenic route

Aptly named, Battleship Rock rises above the river like the prow of a ship in the beautiful Jemez Springs area.

When the rocks themselves are exquisite works of art, it's no wonder that so many artists are attracted to New Mexico to work and live. Just being here, I began to feel more artistic myself!


Hiking through tent rocks

Tent Rock formations ... these shapes are unique to this region of the USA. This park was truly magical.

What do you think? Did my photographer, also feel the effects of the New Mexico air and become more artistic? How about this shot capturing the gathering storm clouds? Especially amazing, I think, since we had only a few brief periods to take a picture as it rained for a lot of this hike .

New Mexico has many hot springs

We took advantage of several free hot springs locations along our route. This one came with a splendid view.

And the view in the background isn't bad either.

Cabazon Peak

We did it: climbed Cabazon Peak. (In the background)

This feat involved lots of scrambling and resembled actual rock-climbing. I'm a hiker, not a rock climber. That big smile on my face is because I made it down alive and because I know the hike is now in the bank . Although I recommend that every hiker with a sense of adventure should climb Cabazon at least once and I'm glad we did it, I don't feel any need to repeat this hike. Coming down was considerably harder than going up. I think of myself as a pretty fearless hiker, but on this one I knew I'd stepped out of my comfort zone by a couple of degrees.

In ancient footsteps

This easy hike was more to my liking.

Here, in the often overlooked Tsankawi section of Bandelier National Monument we hiked in the actual footsteps of the ancient Pueblo Indians who, nearly 800 years ago, wore this trail into the white rock of a mesa top. What a feeling of connection to the past to actually follow them step by step and look out over the same unchanged landscape that they would have seen. I considered it probably the most amazing new trail discovery of the trip.

We improvise

Okay, maybe our heads have been swelling a bit, having almost finished yet another amazing trip without exceeding our budget, but that's not what this photo is meant to demonstrate.

We were told by the park rangers we should wear hard-hats to protect us in case we hit our heads while hiking in a natural cave. Oops, I guess we forgot to bring those along on our trip. We improvised; stuffed toque hats with a t-shirt to form a protective padding and early-warning system if our heads were too close to the cave ceiling. They did the trick and, as you can well imagine, we got the added bonus of giving each other a good laugh.

Randy

Randy

I'm not the photographer in the relationship - usually it's Randy. But I'm feeling pretty proud of this shot. A hint for amateur photographers: For great portraits, whenever possible take your subject down to the soft natural light of a rock alcove somewhere in the Southwest.

Even The Cities Are Enchanting

We'd heard a lot about Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos , so visiting these cities was also high on our list of things to do. These communities truly do reflect the spirit of the Southwest. In every area, even the newer suburbs, we found traditional adobe-style architecture, and the old town plaza areas are simply amazing. We spent a day of exploration in each of these cities, wandering the old town plazas, visiting museums, churches, and countless amazing art galleries owned and operated by the local artists. Very cool!

Seeing the work of these amazing artists did, however, bring us back to reality a little concerning our own artistic abilities.

New Mexico Boondocking

Since we'd not spent a lot of time in New Mexico in our previous travels, we weren't sure what we'd encounter for camping. I'm happy to report that we did find New Mexico to be very "Boondocker Friendly." I've got tons of great information in that regard which will, of course, be included in my upcoming Frugal Shunpiker's Guide: "Boondocking In New Mexico." Watch for the announcement of its release here on this web site by fall of 2008.

Our rating of New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment? We were absolutely and totally "Enchanted."

Days On The Road At Time Of Writing: 152
Camping Costs To Date: $91.00


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