Renee's Route: New Mexico

 


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     Hot air balloons ove rNew Mexico

    The earliest archeological evidence of human habitation in New Mexico (NM) dates from 25,000 B.C. At that time the Sandia people migrated into the region developing crop cultivation, architectural techniques, weaving and pottery making through the centuries and between 1200-1500 A.D. the Pueblo Indians founded villages, along water routes in the area. First contact with Europeans occurred in 1536 when Cabeza de Vaca and Estevanico, a black enslaved explorer, reached southern N.M. Juan de Onate established the first Spanish capital in 1598 in the Royal Province of New Mexico. Gov. Pedro de Peralta established a third capital in 1609, after the others failed, in Santa Fe. www.newmexico.org

    Mexico claimed independence from Spain in 1821 and in 1846 NM, which also encompassed Arizona and portions of southern Colorado, Nevada and Utah, was annexed to the US. NM, as it exists today, was granted statehood in 1912. 

    New Mexico is a cultural and historic gem with opportunities for adventure travel and active tourism for all ages and boasts large numbers of sacred places that one may, respectfully, visit. Native Americans considered sites sacred based on tradition, ceremonial use and spirituality and once recognized as sacred they remain so for perpetuity. These sites are often identified by their location near prominent geographic features.

                                                                 

    Making the most of a trip to NM may appear daunting. Visitors can plan their own route, wander with a purpose or take designated touring routes. Route 66 National Scenic Byway runs approximately 236-miles west to east across the state on what is basically I-40.  The Trail of the Ancients NM Scenic Byway, in the northwest, features prehistoric sites. El Camino Real, The Royal Road, was created in 1540 and is the oldest and longest historical trail in this hemisphere. It facilitated trade 1600-miles from Mexico City, Mexico to Santa Fe, NM and today parallels I-25 and State Road 14,The Turquoise Trail, linked Santa Fe and Albuquerque. 

    In 1706 the Bosque Grande de San Francisco Xavier would become the village of Albuquerque. It was a small trading area that boomed after the California discovery of gold. The Confederates occupied the city during the Civil War for 2-months. wwww.visitalbuquerque.org

    Albuquerque is home to the International Balloon Fiesta, the world's largest hot air balloon rally. More than 600 balloons are launched over a 9-day fiesta period. The event has taken place on a 78-acre field since 1972. Balloons weigh approx. 400-lbs and their direction, speed and distance is determined by the wind. This is an unparalleled experience and it is never too early to plan your visit. www.balloonfiesta.com 

    The Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum is adjacent to the launch site. The museum walks you through the history and science of ballooning with the use of dioramas, photographs, hands on activities, artifacts, photo ops and a 4-D movie. Exhibits begin with the first flight and continue through16 galleries. www.balloonmuseum.com

    Golden Crown Panderia is an exceptional restaurant and bakery that specializes in New Mexican cuisine influenced by Native American cooking. Heritage grains are used to create the NM pizza that was created here and their featured state cookie, the biscochito. All food is made of local ingredients and there are more than 40 beers on tap. You can order a portrait made of bread and their famous bread turkey with a stuffed cavity. www.goldencrown.biz

    The Turquoise Trail is the most scenic route between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The trail is 62-miles of small towns, historic sites, hiking options and panoramic views. Just prior to entering the trail at Tijeras, at I-40 exit 170 on Route 66, driving eastbound you will enter a short stretch of road known as The Musical Highway. If you travel at exactly 45 mph rumble strips 2.4-inches apart play "America the Beautiful". span> wwwww.thesingingroad.com

     

    Tinkertown Museum is one of the 10 best small museums in the country. Ross Ward carved miniatures for 40-years. The carvings represent slices of American life and many are animated. Tours are self-guided. span> wwwww.tinkertown.com

    Madrid is an old mining town that is filled with quaint and unique shops. Once a ghost town, it is now a trendy arts destination and the set of several movies including Wild Hogs. The Madrid Old Coal Town Museum relates the town's mining and movie history. The Mine Shaft Tavern, a historic landmark, serves great food in a comfortable atmosphere and doubles as The Red Pony in the Longmire series. span> www.visitmadridnm.com

    As early as 900 AD there is evidence of native turquoise mining in Cerrillos and it continued to thrive until the early 20th-century. The town is still considered the turquoise capital and this is the place to purchase souvenirs. While there you can visit the mining museum, petting zoo and roam the town and see excellent examples of authentic adobe structures. Some Young Guns scenes were set in Cerrillos . www.cerrillosnewmexico.com 

    The Spanish built a market square, now Old Town Plaza, where the Santa Fe Trail culminated. The 1610 adobe Palace of the Governors is part of the Museum of New Mexico. It is the nation's oldest continuously occupied public building. Highlights include period rooms and the state's first printing press. www.palaceofthegovernors.org

    Monticello is fast becoming famous for Aceto Balsamico of Monticello, a certified organic, award-winning vinegar created from well water, grapes, weather and wood. No herbicides or pesticides are used and it is aged in casks made in Modena, Italy using 7 types of rare woods.  

    The farm offers rental casitas for overnight guests. The setting is idyllic and conducive to quiet exploration of the surrounding area and historic structures in the tiny village. www.organicbalsamic.com

    The adobe La Fonda Hotel is situated on the plaza and is renowned for its service, accommodations and artworks. Each headboard is hand painted in a nod to regional folk art. It has always been the place to stay and such luminaries as John Kennedy have stayed there. www.lafondasantafe.com 

    Southwestern cuisine is the oldest indigenous cuisine in the country and features beans, rice, corn, tomatoes and red or green chili. Cafe Pasquals, named after the saint of Mexican kitchens. The cuisine is organic, locally sourced and focuses on regional dishes. www.pasquals.com 

    Meow Wolf began in Santa Fe and has quickly become a phenomenon. This interactive art journey takes you inside a 70-room Victorian house where a crime has been committed. As you wander from room to room you can open drawers, watch videos, climb into bed and generally gather clues. This is out of the box entertainment.Meow Wolf began in Santa Fe and has quickly become a phenomenon. This interactive art journey takes you inside a 70-room Victorian house where a crime has been committed. As you wander from room to room you can open drawers, watch videos, climb into bed and generally gather clues. This is out of the box entertainment. www.meowwolf.com

     

    Few outlaws are as iconic as Billy the Kid and even fewer are so enveloped in mystery and myth. It is believed that William Henry McCarty was born in 1859 in New York City and at some point the family moved to Indiana and then Kansas. After his mother's tuberculosis diagnosis his mother and stepfather moved to a drier climate, Denver and then Santa Fe. His mother died in 1874 and Billy began a rootless life. Contrary to belief people liked him and he loved to sing, dance, target shoot, gamble and read. He was approximately 5'9", was very slim and killed his first man for bullying him.Few outlaws are as iconic as Billy the Kid and even fewer are so enveloped in mystery and myth. It is believed that William Henry McCarty was born in 1859 in New York City and at some point the family moved to Indiana and then Kansas. After his mother's tuberculosis diagnosis his mother and stepfather moved to a drier climate, Denver and then Santa Fe. His mother died in 1874 and Billy began a rootless life. Contrary to belief people liked him and he loved to sing, dance, target shoot, gamble and read. He was approximately 5'9", was very slim and killed his first man for bullying him.

     

    He joined a group of criminals, The Boys, but broke with them in 1877 to work for John Tunstall, who was feuding with the Dolan Outfit. Tunstall was killed in 1878 and Billy joined "The Regulators," who were deputized to arrest the murderers. In November of 1880 Billy was accused and arrested by his former friend, Pat Garrett, for murder. Sentenced to hang on May 13, 1881, he escaped from jail and was again tracked by Garrett and killed on July 14, 1881. www.historynet.com/billy-the-kid

     

    The 84-mile Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway routes you through parts of the region where The Kid rode. Many of the towns remain much as they were then and the passing landscapes are awesome. www.billybyway.com

    La Cienega de San Vicente was a Hispanic village when silver was discovered in the 1870s. Anglos quickly moved in and renamed it Camp Gorman and then Silver City. The Palace Hotel in downtown Silver City is a historic gem. It has been featured in numerous publications including National Geographic. www.silvercitypalacehotel.com

    Billy's mother Catherine and William Antrim wed in Santa Fe but moved to Silver City in 1873. The following year Catherine died and Antrim abandoned Billy and his brother. In 1875 Billy committed his first crime, stealing laundry, was arrested and escaped. Catherine is buried in Memory Lane Cemetery. www.townofsilvercity.org

     

    The tiny town of Pinos Altos, "Tall Pines," is only a few miles away and was visited by both Billy and Geronimo. The 1860 Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House is an authentic 19th-century site. The restaurant and haunted Opera House are filled with antiques, artworks and artifacts. Proprietor and Executive Chef Thomas Bock creates an extraordinary dining experience.                                            www.buckhornsaloonandoperahouse.com

    White Sands National Monument, a gypsum dune field in 275-sq.miles of desert, is located on the road to Roswell, another city The Kid was known to visit. The town began to grow in 1871 when a gambler, Van Smith, named the town to honor his father Roswell. It became important because it was near the Chisholm Trail and the fact that it sits on aquifers.

    The Roswell Museum and Art Center is a gem that features paintings, prints and drawings and The Aston Collection of the American West and a replica of Robert Goddard's workshop. The complex also includes the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium. www.roswellnm.org

       

    On July 3, 1947 a farmer reported a debris field 300' wide and ¾-mile long strewn across his field. The Air Force was summoned and declared it a weather balloon crash. Word quickly went around that the crash was really an alien spacecraft piloted by three aliens.

       

    In 1991 the International UFO Museum and Research Center was founded. The center contains materials and special collections to facilitate UFO research. The museum focuses on the 1947 incident with photographs, documents, dioramas and art. The gift shop is impressive.                                     www.roswellufomuseum.com

         

    Fort Stanton Historic Site is one of the most intact and best-preserved 19th-century forts. The 240-acre fort was constructed in 1855 and Lt. "Black Jack' Pershing and the Buffalo Soldiers were garrisoned there. Buffalo soldiers were among the forces sent to Lincoln County to maintain order during the Johnson County Wars in which Billy participated. www.fortstanton.org 

    Mesilla was the site of Billy's trial in which he was sentenced to death. This historic city's plaza is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Once the largest town between San Diego and San Antonio it has hosted its share of luminaries. www.mesillanm.gov

    La Posta Restaurant & Cantina is listed on the NRHP and features the largest menu of margaritas in the Southwest. The cuisine is traditional made from recipes handed down. www.laposta-de-mesilla.com

    Lincoln Historic Site is the state's most visited site. Lincoln is a town arrested in time and it is as if you were there on April 21, 1881 when Billy arrived to be jailed on the second level of the courthouse. He escaped on the 28th, killing two guards. www.nmhistoricsites.org/lincoln

     

    Tours can be self-guided or ranger-led and include 17 sites, most architecturally Territorial-style adobe. Highlights of the tour include the Old County Courthouse from which he escaped, the Tunstall Store, the Torreon, the Wortley Hotel and the Anderson-Freeman Visitor Center. The Visitor Center offers an orientation video and an annex filled with outstanding western artworks. 

    The Wortley Hotel, once owned by Pat Garrett, is rebuilt and accommodates modern guests in antique splendor with an included breakfast. A stay there is a very special experience. www.wortleyhotel.com

    Billy the Kid was killed in Fort Sumner on July 14, 1881. The Billy the Kid Museum houses an outstanding collection of memorabilia and artifacts related to his life. Highlights of the exhibits include The Kid's rifle, a lock of his hair and 60,000 additional items.                                            www.billythekidmuseumfortsumner.com

       

    Billy, along with two friends, is buried in the Old Fort Sumner Cemetery. A cage surrounds it because the tombstone has been stolen several times. www.fortsumnerchamber.com

    The luxury Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa is located on Santa Ana Pueblo beside the Rio Grande in the shadow of the Sandia Mountains. The Tamayame people own approximately 79,000-acres and the resort is comprised of 500-acres. The hotel is filled with outstanding crafts and artworks. Activities include horseback riding on ancient trails. www.tamaya.regency.hyatt.com 

    The resort's 400-acre Twin Warriors Golf Club winds around twenty cultural sites and the Golf Shop features accessories by Native American artisans. Tamaya Mist Spa & Salon offers a full menu of indigenous treatments and the very special Spirit Path Native Herbal Wrap. Six dining venues feature New Mexico, tri-cultural, cuisine crafted from a blend of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo foods using the signature dishes and ingredients including red and green chili, chorizo, piñon nuts, tamales, tortillas and enchiladas.

    www.newmexico.org 

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    Public Disclosure-- Please Read
    I recently learned of a FTC law requiring web sites to let their readers know if any of the stories are "sponsored" or compensated.  American Roads and Global Highways' feature writers are professional travel writers. As such we are frequently invited on press trips, also called fam trips. Most of the articles here are results of these trips. On these trips most of our lodging, dining, admissions fees and often plane fare are covered by the city or firm hosting the trip. It is an opportunity to visit places we might not otherwise be able to visit and bring you a great story. However, no one tells us what to write about those places. All opinions are 100% those of the author of that feature column.  

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