Snowbird destinations: New Mexico

D.H. Lawrence said it best: “I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I ever had. It certainly changed me forever….The moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning sunshine high over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend….In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the world gave way to the new.”

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“The Land of Enchantment” is scrawled across the New Mexico license plate. To someone who hasn’t visited New Mexico that may just seem like a phrase produced by Madison Avenue or a chamber of commerce.

But a visit to New Mexico will quickly enchant and thoroughly cast a spell over you, and you’ll wonder why it took so long to make that initial visit.

Renowned New Mexico artist Georgia O’Keeffe once said, “If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life.” Like millions of folks from all over the world, we came to know exactly what she meant. The people, the culture, the cuisine, the landscape, the climate—New Mexico just gets under your skin and takes hold. Whatever form it takes, the New Mexico mystique is a powerful force to reckon with.

The mystique of New Mexico’s American Indian tribes is extremely powerful. The Navajo, Apache, Ute, Hopi, and Pueblo cultures all call New Mexico home. Their unique languages, colorful dances, distinct arts and crafts, and cultural stories and traditions have been passed down through the generations and are intrinsic to the Land of Enchantment.

More and more snowbirds are discovering New Mexico. Wanting to escape the snow shovels and icy roads of the north, they are joining others who have found the perfect place for fun and relaxation in the sun.

El Morro’s Inscription rock in northwest New Mexico bears witness to over 700 years of history. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A diverse range of cultural influences, unique landscapes, an eclectic art community, distinctive cuisine, and spectacular sunsets combine to make New Mexico one of the most enchanting places to visit.

New Mexico is known for its colors: turquoise skies, earthy browns, orange mesas, purple sage.

New Mexico is rich in lakes, rivers, forests, canyons, and mesas that have supported Native Americans, Spanish, and Mexican cultures for hundreds of years.

Snowbirds are drawn to this part of the Sunbelt by relatively mild temperatures, sunny weather, friendly people, and available activities.

Cuisine of New Mexico

When contemplating a return to New Mexico my taste buds tingle in anticipation of chile nirvana—red chiles, green chiles, mild chiles, hot chiles, and everything in between.

New Mexican food is unlike any other. Chiles are the soul of New Mexican cooking, which blends Native American and Hispanic influences into a cuisine unto itself.

It would be a shame not to take advantage of the variety of flavors available in the state’s wide array of restaurants.

The first question you’ll likely hear from your waiter is “Red or green?” Both chile sauces are made from the same chile, but the red chile has been allowed to hang on the plant longer and become fully ripened.

Elephant Butte State Park is a favorite with Snowbirds and locals alike. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Green chile sauce has a sharper, “greener” flavor and is usually hotter than the red, which tastes deeper, somewhat sweeter, and earthier.

Actually, you don’t have to choose; you can have both. The code word, when you’re ordering, is “Christmas.”

One large green chile has as much vitamin C as an orange.

Capsaicin, which gives chile its heat, is used in creams for the relief of muscle and joint pain.

A chile ristra is a string of red chiles traditionally hung in the kitchen or by a door. Many shops, roadside stands, and the Farmers Market sell them.

To be continued tomorrow…

Worth Pondering…

I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I ever had. It certainly changed me forever…The moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning sunshine high over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend…In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the world gave way to the new.

—D.H. Lawrence

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