A Glimpse into the Enchanted Land of New Mexico

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There’s this guy I know who is a collosal dreamer. There’s really nothing wrong with associating yourself with people like that; unless perhaps you’re intent on surrounding yourself with only the more well-grounded, mundane types. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t recommend engaging this guy in anything more than casual conversation. I let my guard down just once around him and he had me nearly convinced he knew the whereabouts of some hidden treasure chest worth millions. Had I possessed anything less than the most superb rational mind, I would’ve packed my suitcase that very moment, grabbed my fedora and compass, and booked the very first flight to New Mexico.

Well, the last I spoke to this adventurous fellow, he had descrambled a bunch of secret passages in some old man’s book, purchased a flight to Albuquerque, and turned an entire wilderness area north of Santa Fe completely upside down. Unfortunately, the treasure had eluded him just like the thousands of others before. Suprisingly though, his failed expedition left him completely undaunted. He actually seemed assured that he was closer now to finding it than ever before. He told me he had simply strayed off course due to a matter of simple semantics and was planning to pick up the trail again in the coming months. I told him he should quit chasing waterfalls and come back down to level ground. He just sort of smirked at me and walked away. That’s how this guy is. He’s quite the character!

Anyway, not long after that peculiar encounter, I happened to visit the Land of Enchantment myself. Now don’t go spreading any rumors here. I wasn’t there trying to find any 11th century treasure chest full of precious gems and golden nuggets.  I was simply there to get some tasty New Mexican cuisine. I heard the green and red chili toppings were to die for. Since my wife, my son, and my friend were also feeling hungry, they came along for the ride. We had quite the adventure and before departing our 47th state, the beauty of New Mexico had us all a bit entranced.

Big John and team follow the old cattle trails to a mesa top with a view.

My son, Jonah, on a dusty trail west of Cimarron.

It was in a charred forest not too far from here where Smokey the Bear was rescued as a cub.

Big John and Mr. Ford taking in the crisp mountain air while admiring God’s handiwork.

Not only does New Mexico possess a diverse and magnificent landscape, the state has some of the most colorful history in in all of our country. From Spanish Conquistadors, Apache Indians, outlaw gangs, to rough-and-tumble mountaineers on the Old Santa Fe Trail, this place is teeming with its legends and lore.

A plaque adorns the wall of this old Santa Fe jail cell that allegedly housed Billy the Kidd.

Famous rustlers and outlaws such as the Dalton Gang, Butch Cassidy, and Billy the Kidd once called New Mexico their home.

The San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe, built in 1610, is the oldest surviving church in the United States.

Jonah, Big John, and the lovely Miss Rebecca all pose in front of this grand old church.

With centuries of worshipers, could you imagine the stories told if these walls could talk?

Reminds me of a famous book entitled “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.

I can easily count two of my blessings inside the confines of these church walls.

Just outside the doors of the oldest church in America rests the oldest house in the country as well. The De Vargas Street House began as the foundation of an ancient Indian pueblo built around 1200 A.D.

The De Vargas Street House is the oldest house in Santa Fe and America.

The original builders of this adobe style hearth probably had to wait just a little while before the invention of microwave popcorn came around.

Jonah seemed quite surprised when I informed him that the house was even older than me.

The Pueblo architecture found throughout Santa Fe and the rest of New Mexico offers some insight into the state’s earliest inhabitants.

La Fonda on the Plaza is just one of Santa Fe’s luxury hotels offering an authentic Southwestern experience.

Built in 1931, the Lensic Theater is still operational, adding to Santa Fe’s old-style charm.

This beautiful church, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, is another much celebrated landmark of Santa Fe.

One can’t help but admire the artistry in these beautifully crafted cathedral doors.

The Palace of the Governors has been a vital part of Santa Fe’s history since around 1610.

Since the time of its construction, the Palace of the Governors has flown three different flags: The Spanish, the Mexican, and finally the American.

The palace is now a great place to find local artisans peddling their wares through the Native American Vendor Program.

With over 240 amazing art galleries in town, visitors easily discover why Santa Fe is the art mecca of the Southwest.

New Mexico is the home of numerous Native American tribes, to include the Navaho, Tewa, Ute, Pueblo, Pecos, Apache, and many more.

Many of these galleries offer not only the amazing opportunity to appreciate creative expression; they also allow visitors to witness real pieces of history and culture on display.

Eagle and Indian sculpture outside of Mountain Trails Gallery, Santa Fe, NM.

Chili Peppers are the flavor of the day when at the plaza in Santa Fe.

New Mexico’s big game species include deer, elk, bear, cougar, pronghorn antelope, Barbary sheep, bighorn sheep, and more.

The Palisades Sill is a popular natural landmark located on the Cimarron River canyon between Eagle Nest and Cimarron in the northern part of the state. It can be seen in the eastern part of Cimarron Canyon State Park.

One of the best places to eat in all of New Mexico can be found in Taos. Bella’s Mexican Grill provides a beautiful, comfortable  venue with a patio serving modern spins on traditional Mexican cuisine. The fish tacos & tortilla soup comes highly recommended! 

New Mexico is arguably the best state in the country to embark on a road trip through one of nature’s most diverse landscapes.

Constructed in 1793, the San Felipe de Neri Parish is the oldest church in Albuquerque.

I didn’t dare make any eye contact. These Abuquerque desperados were just itchin’ for a fight!

There’s always something festive happening in Old Town, Albuquerque!

Literally every place in New Mexico is like visiting a fountain of youth. These places won’t actually make you any younger, but many are so old that you will just naturally feel much younger by comparison. This restaurant, La Placita, has been serving up dishes since 1788. Yeah, they must be doing something right!

Did I mention that Albuquerque was named the low-rider capital of the world?

Where’s Waldo?

The Kimo Theater, another historic Albuquerque landmark, rests just a stone’s throw away from that historic Route 66.

After touring Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque, we decided to break from the hustle and bustle and get back into the wonders of God’s creation.

Rebecca and Jonah briefly halt for a snapshot before disappearing in the slot canyons of Kashu-Katuwe.

Kasha-Katuwe, meaning “white cliffs” is  a national park near Santa Fe famous for its tent-rock formations and slot canyons.

Over the span of time, weathering and erosion has created these magnificent canyons and tent rocks. The tent rocks themselves are cones formed of soft  pumice and tuff buried beneath harder caprocks. They vary in height from a few feet and upwards of ninety feet.

Jonah tries to find a bit of shade under the exposed trunk of this tree. Man, is it starting to get hot!

There she is! My one and only!

These layers of rock show evidence of weathering throughout the years.

What’s that pretty girl looking at? 

She must be up to something!

I think I’ll follow her!

She’s always one step ahead of me.

I tried stalking her from above but I’m almost certain she’s spotted me!

I love all of the cacti and other desert plant life. Just keep those rattlers away!

It’s becoming a tight squeeze through these canyon walls. Even Jonah is walking sideways!

Jonah is able to capture some fantastic photos to share on his Facebook page!

Squeezing through these cramped passages, I could only hope that all of these rocks had already fallen.

My wife and son lead the way as we hike through the canyon and up to the top.

…and that, folks, is why they are are called “tent-rocks”!

Sometimes my smartphone camera just doesn’t do the scenery any justice.

It’s almost hard to believe these formations weren’t man-made.

I wonder if anybody’s ever pulled out their swiss-army knife and set about carving themselves a home? I imagine, if there’s a Walmart nearby, that a guy could live fairly well in one of these pointy rocks. Although, I would recommend picking up a few other essentials like an air mattress, water, and lots of trail mix and beef jerky.

I don’t know why this cacti plant fascinated me so much. It just sort of looked like some alien lifeform. Yeah, I think the heat was getting to me.

This reminds me of the desert scene from Young Guns. (For all you too young to know anything, that was a hit movie in 1988 starring Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez).

With our very lovely guide leading the way, Jonah and I made it all the way to the top!

What can I say? She likes to live dangerously.

She was playing hard to get, but now she’s letting me get the gain on her.

Later on, I tried to get her to explore this cave with me. She didn’t really go for that idea.

As you can see, we had an amazing time in New Mexico. Thank you for visiting my page and I hope this site inspires you to pack those suitcases and make some of your own adventures.

Please feel free to explore other areas of Big John’s Adventures in Travel and show me a little love on social media. Come back soon.

Happy travels,

Big John

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