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Observations and suggestions from a local


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Lake Valley | Bridal Chamber Boom Town

Category: History

Prior to the 1800s there were no permanent settlements between El Paso and Socorro for a very good reason… Apache. They moved with the harvest and the herds, roaming an immense area encompassing southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and northern Mexico. During good years, when game was plentiful, they were trading partners with the pueblos and neighboring tribes. During periods of drought, when famine was the alternative, they were fierce adversaries, raiding and ransacking... Continue reading

Tags: history ghost town mining old west silver mines

Albuquerque Day Trips | What to do when the balloons land

Category: Places to Go

Balloon Fiesta and several inquiries about what to do after the balloons land inspired this post.

In Albuquerque, the hallmarks of autumn are golden cottonwoods lining the river and balloons filling the sky. The first Saturday of October is the first day of balloon fiesta. As a resident of Corrales, this means that there will be balloon traffic jams, with balloons landing next to the road, on the road, and motorists slowing to a crawl to snap photos with their cell pho... Continue reading

Tags: Balloon Fiesta Things to Do Places to Go Day Trips Road Trips Albuquerque

The Short Life & Legend of Billy the Kid

Category: History


Hollywood westerns tend to distill the old west into an assortment of good guys wearing white hats and bad guys wearing black hats, with settlers serving as the extras. The reality of the western territories was more nuanced. Some of the more unsavory characters vacillated between being lawmen and being outlaws. Some were outlaws while wearing a badge

Given the nu... Continue reading

Tags: old west legends people history Billy the Kid New Mexico Lincoln County War Pat Garrett Lincoln outlaws gunfighters Santa Fe Ring

White Oaks | The Liveliest Town in the New Mexico Territory

Category: History

The boom and bust of mining in the late 1800s gave rise to numerous tent cities and towns across New Mexico, including the community of White Oaks, a gold mining town located 12 miles northeast of Carrizozo, known as one of the liveliest towns in the New Mexico territory in the 1880s

Though the region is arid and dotted with lava rock, the abundance of game attracted humans long ago, with Piros Indians, and later Apache, hunting the region for... Continue reading

Tags: history ghost town mining old west billy the kid gold mines

Wolf Horse Outfitters

Category: Places to Go

During a recent sojourn in southern New Mexico I had the opportunity to go for a horseback ride near Silver City with Joe Saenz, the owner of WolfHorse Outfitters. Full disclosure: I am not an adept rider. I was warned by several prior to the adventure that my butt would need to time to recover. Ultimately it wasn’t my posterior that complained…it was a knee and a finger, both easily ignored

We didn’t go far, because there really was no need.... Continue reading

Tags: activities nature guide Gila horseback riding Apache

Mission Nuestra Señora de Perpetuo

Category: History

In May of 1598 Don Juan de Oñate, accompanied by two Franciscan priests arrived in what is now known as Socorro. They encountered a generous, hospitable tribe of Indians who provided them with a generous supply of corn, which they desperately needed to augment their dwindling provisions.


When Oñate ventured further north, the priests remained behind. Fray Alfonso Benavidez was so successful in his ministry that he became known as: "The Apostl... Continue reading

Tags: mission Spanish colonialism

Mission San Felipe de Neri

Category: History

There are very few remnants of Albuquerque’s Spanish colonial history left. Like many large metropolitan areas in the southwest, the city is laid out based on an organized grid of roads, giving it a recent, modern appearance. The remaining vestiges of adobe around Old Town, and predominance of earth tones, are a testament to the architectural traditions of the past.


Albuquerque was the third villa to be established in New Mexico. Albuquerque... Continue reading

Tags: Spanish mission colonialism

Mission Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Zuñi

Category: History

Though the Zuñi were the first to encounter the Spanish when the Coronado expedition arrived looking for gold, their land, and that of the Hopi, was located so far from the capital in Santa Fe that being assigned as a resident priest was perceived as punishment, or penance, rather than as an honor or higher calling. One priest assigned to Zuñi, Fray José, pointedly remarked, "If it had been chosen for a prison for those guilty of the gravest crimes there would have not been... Continue reading

Tags: mission colonialism Spanish

Mission Nuestra Señora de Purísima Concepción de Quarai

Category: History

Charles Lummis visited Las Humanas, known today as Gran Quivira, it the 1890s. His comments about the site capture the scope and majesty of the long abandoned missions, "An edifice in ruins, it is true, but so tall, so solemn, so dominant of that strange, lonely landscape, so out of place in that land of adobe box huts, as to be simply overpowering. On the Rhine, it would be superlative, in the wilderness... Continue reading

Tags: mission colonialism

Mission San Gregorio de Abó

Category: History

The people that settled Abo at the end of the 11th century were part of the Tompiro group, the same group that established pueblos at Quarai and Gran Quivera nearby. They were the mountain relatives of the Piro who lived further south. Located between the Manzano mountains and the plains to the east, Abo managed to extract sufficient subsistence, augmenting agricultural endeavors with foraging and trade. T... Continue reading

Tags: mission colonialism

San Miguel Mission

Category: History

The chapel of San Miguel in Santa Fe is an anomaly both in purpose and structure. Unlike other mission churches constructed at the time, San Miguel was built to provide ministry to the Indian servants who accompanied the Spanish as they colonized the region. San Miguel features a single tower rather than the typical flat frontal façade with twin towers seen elsewhere. However, the layout of the interior fo... Continue reading

Tags: mission colonialism

Mission Santo Domingo

Category: History
There have been four settlements near the current pueblo of Santo Domingo. The first, called Gipuy, was about 2 miles east of the pueblo’s current location. This was the second pueblo of that name to exist on the site. The first was destroyed by flooding of the Galisteo River prior to 1591. It was here that Oñate founded the monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. Gaspar Castaño de Sosa rechristened the village Santo Domingo when he stopped there in 1591.  

Continue reading

Tags: mission colonialism

Mission San Lorenzo de Picurís

Category: History

Picurís was once one of the largest Tiwa pueblos, part of the Tanoan language group, but today it is one of the smallest with about 1,801 inhabitants. In the past, they were frequently involved in affairs of state, vexing the Spanish and playing political instigator on more than one occasion.

The earliest contact with Europeans occurred in 1581, with the arrival of Gaspar Castaño d... Continue reading
Tags: mission colonialism

Searing Southwestern Heat

Category: Lifestyle

It’s hot in the in high desert at the moment. Very hot. I know that it is hot elsewhere. I read about a heat index of 165 in Iran. That’s worse. Sucks for them. However, it doesn’t make it any more comfortable at high noon in the high desert.

Having lived in Atlanta for years, I have had the opportunity to consider the nuances of dry heat versus humidity infused heat at great length. Most people are quick to point out the merits of dry heat, l... Continue reading

Tags: heat climate environment humor

The Marvelous Margarita | Summer Salvation

Category: Recipes

As summer temperatures soar in New Mexico, there is nothing like a margarita to welcome the weekend. From the classic sweet & sour/Cointreau version to those incorporating a variety of flavors, if there is a signature cocktail of the Southwest, the Margarita is a strong contender to hold that title.

The Margarita’s origin story is as shrouded in mystery as the creation myths of long lost civilizations, though with less magic and fewer God... Continue reading

Tags: beverage libation drinks cocktail

Communing with Cows

Category: Lifestyle

I have a longstanding affinity for cows. They like me. I like them. I grew up on a farm. As a child I would moo at the edge of a neighboring field until all of the cows gathered at the corner to watch me. Either I was good at impersonating a cow or cattle are seriously hurting for entertainment. Probably the latter. Spending afternoons summoning cows implies that I also lacked entertainment options. Little did I know at the time that my predilection for cows would continue... Continue reading

Tags: humor cows random
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Cuchillo | Gateway to the Mining District

Category: History

Though Cuchillo served as a waypoint for traffic to Winston and Chloride during the mining boom, the valley was first occupied by the Mimbres Indians. They moved on around 1200 AD. By the time the Spanish arrived in the 1500s the area was firmly controlled by the Apache.


Cuchillo’s namesake is Cuchillo Negro, or Black Knife, a Warm Springs Apache chief of the Tchihendeh (aka Baishan). Mangas C... Continue reading

Tags: ghost town apache

Chloride | Silver Boom Town

Category: History

Though the ghost towns and mining boom towns of Colorado and California are well known, New Mexico’s ghost towns are less frequently explored, though plentiful, with many communities still sparsely occupied, frozen in time in many ways. Due to the intense gold and silver in various mountain ranges throughout New Mexico, there are regions with several worthwhile stops in rapid succession, creating the ideal day trip for anyone with an appreciation for ghost towns.

Sierra County has a... Continue reading

Tags: ghost town mining apache

Desert Hobbits in the Southwestern Shire

Category: Lifestyle

Driving in New Mexico often involves long hours spent in a car on roads with minimal traffic. The environment is conducive to prolonged, random thoughts. One recent example was an internal debate between me, myself and I about whether, in general, New Mexicans are more like hobbits or dwarves. I’m not sure what provoked the “Lord of the Rings” analogy, but with little effort I came up with 10 similarities between hobbits and New Mexicans.

The... Continue reading

Tags: lists humor style

San Jeronimo Mission

Category: History

Taos is UNESCO World Heritage cultural site; distinct, unique and enduring. The pueblo, in its current, multi-story form, dates to the 14th century, which is about the time the Ancestral Puebloans abandoned their communities in Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon. However, the community, and many of the adobe structures, are at least 1000 years old, making Taos the oldest continuously occupied community in the United States. Acoma would have given Taos competition for that title,... Continue reading

Tags: mission colonialism


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Observations and suggestions from a local