Enchanted Surprises in New Mexico

If there is one way we can summarize our past week in New Mexico, it would have to be that it was full of surprises.  From the time we arrived in Santa Fe to the day we slid out of the state on US-60, the Land of Enchantment did its best to do just that.

We set up camp in Santa Fe at an old KOA that is now called Rancheros de Santa Fe Campground.  It was an unremarkable place, other than the fact that the camp scene from Every Which Way But Loose was filmed there.  That, and our first enchanted surprise…

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What the heck!  Just to let y’all know, this is the first snow that has fallen on the exploRVistas entourage since early in 2015.  We did see previously fallen snow in Oregon, but the temperatures were much warmer.  So rather than hunker down…

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…we chose to embrace it by heading above 10,000 feet to Ski Santa Fe.  🙂

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Here’s Diana after an exhilarating run down the Double Black Diamond slope.

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It was a tremendous place to spend a morning, indeed.

We found the city of Sante Fe to be charming.  The town’s pueblo architecture envelops visitors with a sense of warmth.

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Our NARM membership from the Foosaner Art Museum in Florida gained us free admission into the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

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If there is anything that speaks to southwestern art, it is this talented artist’s work.

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Images of New Mexico are the first thing that come to our minds when hearing her name.  With that being said, our next enchanted surprise came during this visit.  We had no idea that a vast portion of her career had been spent in none other than…

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…New York City!  She loved it there, as do we.

Santa Fe also has a couple of well known churches.

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One is the Cathedral of St Francis.  We were surprised to find out that this was once the seat of an archdiocese that covered the entire southwest, all the way up to (and including) Denver.

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And this is the famous miraculous staircase in the Loretto Chapel.  Our surprise here was not the staircase, but where the Sisters of Loretto came from.  You see, there was only one other place we had ever seen this name:  Loretto, Kentucky…home of Makers Mark bourbon.  Indeed, that is the area these pioneer women came from!

We also did a couple of hikes while we were based in Santa Fe.

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Our first was in Petroglyphs National Monument near Albuquerque.   We ventured into Rinconada Canyon to see what it had to offer.

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No this isn’t graffiti, in a modern sense of the word. The carvings into the rocks were left by early native people and also by Spanish sheep herders in the area.  The images were a ways off the roped-off trail, and I unfortunately had failed to charge my new camera’s battery the night before.  This trail and my iPhone did not work well together.  Thankfully, we had arranged our hikes in the order we did, as our next day was outstanding!  When Ingrid from Live Laugh RV heard we were in the area, she recommended we visit one of her favorite places, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

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With a fully charged battery at our disposal, we gave the new camera a workout!

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What an amazing place.  We loved the combination of desert and tall Ponderosa pine trees.

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The ‘tent’ rocks that give the monument its name look like they are from another planet.

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Nothing better than squeezing through a slot canyon!

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The desert environment was full of life.

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The view from the top was simply breathtaking.  Thank you Ingrid!!!

Next up, we moved south to San Antonio, New Mexico.  Our focus there was to visit Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.  We first became aware of this place while reading Life Unscripted, as Peter and his wife Peg volunteered here.  Our driving force to visit here was when fellow blogger, the late Lynne Braden, left a legacy gift to the refuge after her terminal cancer diagnosis. This was the first place she volunteered after her retirement and she fell in love with it.

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This is her photo that became the cover art for the latest Festival of the Cranes.  To our surprise, we were fortunate to be able to purchase the last remaining copy of the festival poster.  We will indeed treasure this.  Lynne was a sweet person who never lost her million dollar smile, despite the cancer she was forced to face.  She chose to view it as a gift.  Peruse through her blog, Winnie Views, by following the link.

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Touring the refuge, it was easy to see why Peter, Peg, and Lynne loved this place.

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What a variety of wildlife!

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Some just seemed to pose for the camera…

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…while others were more interested in fishing.

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Some were just out for an evening stroll.

The biggest surprise in this little blip of a town was a small parcel of land on the southern edge of the village.

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Pretty unremarkable, right?  Well, what you are looking at is the birth of one of the world’s largest hotel chains to which I owe a fair amount of my career.  That building to the right was the old post office.  Across the street from it was a little mercantile/rooming house, run by a person named…

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…Conrad Hilton.  It all began here.  And wile the building may be gone,…

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…the long wooden bar he worked behind at his dad’s place can be found just up the road at the Owl Bar, where it was moved to many years ago.  It amazes us at the history that can be uncovered in the small towns of this world.  🙂

Last up was a place we had wanted to see for a long time.

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The Very Large Array Radio Telescope.  These dishes span out in a “Y” pattern, 13 miles in each direction.

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Twenty-seven dishes work in unison to gather radio waves from distant galaxies to form images that aren’t visible to us though our eyes.  The dishes can be moved along railroad tracks to form different images.  The science behind this is WAY over our heads, but the massive nature of the project is amazing to look at.  While we were there, the dishes all moved in unison several times, eventually pointing straight up.  While we knew this facility was here, it was quite a surprise to crest the mountain pass west of Magdalena and see these antennas spread out before us.

We had a wonderful visit to New Mexico this time around.  The land of Enchantment revealed a bevy of surprises and a trove of memories we won’t soon forget.

Next up: Arizona!  Until then, safe and happy travels to all!



31 thoughts on “Enchanted Surprises in New Mexico”

    1. The really amazing part of those stairs was the fact they didn’t have a railing at first. The nuns were so afraid of them, the scooted up and down on their behinds. 🙂

      Loving the new camera! Thanks to you and Ingrid for the recommendation!


  1. Nice photos! It’s been in the upper 90’s in AZ, so the snow was refreshing! We will be near Phoenix until 4/23, then on to Camp Verde (south of Sedona) for a week. If you will be in the area, let us know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice photos! It’s been in the upper 90’s the last few days in AZ, so the snow looks refreshing! We will be north of Phoenix until 4/23, then on to Camp Verde for a week (south of Sedona). If you will be in the area, let us know.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fabulous tour and a lot of diverse experiences. With all that snow you could have been in our Canadian Rockies! Amazing landscapes. At first glance I did think the rock had been given a graffiti treatment. Glad to hear it was ‘historical’.
    The Hilton empire came from humble beginnings. I would not have guessed that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. New Mexico is a fairly undiscovered state with so many hidden gems. If you enjoy history, you would love Bandelier National Monument. The cliff dwellings there are amazing. Something to add to your list!
    I’m so glad you’re enjoying the new camera. I’m not sure we’ll be in SD at the same time, but if you’ll be in Sedona, we can always meet you guys for lunch. It’s just a little over an hours drive from Phoenix. I’ve also been wanting to check out “Page Springs Cellars” in Cornville. AZ is another fun state with so much diversity to offer and never enough time to take it all in.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fabulous! Loved the picture of the stairs. You really had s great visit. We enjoyed our time there as well. Glad you went to Tent Rocks. What a special place. Good thing Ingrid mentioned it to us too or we may have missed it. Skiing? You guys are brave!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great stories and images, as usual. The O’Keefe mountainscape is the same print we have hanging on our living room wall. And, we bought it at the museum. Also, on a trip to Sante Fe with my friend Marian we hiked those sandstone trails.

    I’ve never been to the wildlife refuge, but it reminded me of the bird sanctuaries in the Rio Grand Valley.

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  7. New Mexico is one of my favorite states, and Santa Fe was on our short list of places we considered for a base. You really saw a great variety of wonderful places!! That staircase is gorgeous. How cool to watch the array in action!

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  8. Seems New Mexico treated you well, except for the snow. Would love to see the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. I really haven’t explored much of NM so thanks for adding to my list. See you in Utah.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this information. We plan to visit New Mexico as soon as Jon’s sciatica calms down. We’re so looking forward to getting back on the road. By the way, what camera did you settle on?

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  10. We too were enchanted by NM, and lots of less traveled places and hidden gem such as the origin of Mr Hilton! what a find. We too enjoyed the places that you have visited. And I wished I caught up with you for I would also have suggested Bisti Wilderness, an out of this world place.

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  11. I loved New Mexico but Amos didn’t like it too much. No grass to poop in and lots of thorny things. I plan on going back and exploring more of the state.

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  12. We were just talking about New Mexico and how we need to return to visit a few more places. We did miss the Loretto Chapel and stairway because of crowds. We did complete the Tent Rock hike, though! What a neat hike! They had been on my list for awhile. Thanks for sharing the history of Conrad Hliton and the first hotel!

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    1. We remembered that you guys went there, Tracy. Pretty darned cool place.

      I’ll bet you are right about Lynne. That last poster getting hauled out of the office by one of the workers (they weren’t planning on selling it) was a pretty good indication she was. 😊


  13. Gloves in New Mexico in Late April. I’m making note of that. I have been wanting to go to the Gathering of All Nations in Albuquerque for years and it is around the 24th of April. Hmmmmm I’m not so much for cold at night or otherwise or snow.

    The O’Keefe museum is definitely on my list ever since I read a biography of her by Roxanna Robinson and it was fantastic. I’ve been to Petroglyph’s National Monument but never to Tent Rocks but you’ve just put it on my list. Thanks to you and Ingrid. Beautiful pictures. Love slot canyons.

    Bosque del Apache is another spot on my list. I have several blogger friends who love that place and have volunteered there. I’ve seen many pictures and can’t wait to visit in person. Really enjoyed this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sherry! The heavy snow was at 10,000 feet, so no real worries down lower. We often wear gloves when hiking to grab rocks when scrambling. It was plenty comfortable at Tent Rocks. That was an Ingrid recommendation for us. If you go to the O’Keefe museum, be sure to eat at Santarepa next door. It is delicious!


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