What to do In Carrizozo, NM? You won’t find these on TripAdvisor…

Easy and Fun, with kids or without, romantic or not, these are four things you must do when you visit Carrizozo, NM.

Valley of Fires

This attraction (is actually on TripAdvisor…) and is awesome for everyone.

Kids, adults, grandparents and wheelchair-accessible, THIS IS IT!

What you won’t find on TripAdvisor:

  1. The Burro Challenge. Not on TripAdvisor (though I wonder why not?!) this was such a fun thing to do. We did walk around town a bit, but did not notice how far we traveled or for how long. One cannot visit Carrizozo without doing this, as this is the area of donkeys (“burro” means donkey) and the art is fun and beautiful. And if you are in Carrizozo, you must be into nature and art…and if you are not, you are missing out.

2.  MoMaZoZo’s Gallery. 12th Historic Street in Carrizozo is awesome. Stop at all the spots, including the Malkerson Gallery!

3. Chamber of Commerce. The El Paso and Northeastern Railroad built a depot on Carrizozo Flats, and the town was born.

This is a video we took on our last visit:

Wood’s Inspiring Nature

The previous owner of Casa del Rio (the home our family lives in today), told me a few of her stories about being a kid in New Mexico. One of those stories was going for walks with her Dad, and picking up palitos (sticks) and piedras (rocks) to bring back home. She had a couple of them in the house to hold doors open, which she left behind.

A google search showed me this is not an unusual practice, and it is strange to see that for so many of us, wood; with it’s shades, shapes, and textures, provokes such fascination. We bend it, shape it, carve it, roast it,  burn it, weave it, glue it, chip it…

And we chainsaw it…

Up on the mountain towns of the southwest, chainsaw carving is becoming a strong tradition. A bit because of the inspiring nature of wood; and a bit because chainsaw carving matches so well with the ruggedness, and wildness of the Spirit of the Southwest.

My friends at Bears R Us in Ruidoso posted this video, showing their process. After you watch the video, head over to their Instagram Gallery and see their work!

 

“My name is Bob Nichols… there’s no other place I’d ever live.”

When Bob Nichols said this to me, he had a spark in his eye.
I think you can see it in the video, albeit a bit hidden by the hat he’s wearing.

I see this spark whenever I talk to locals about the Spirit of the Southwest.
When I ask how would they define it, at first they look away, as if trying to look inside themselves to give me a thoughtful answer. And once they start sharing, bit by bit, there’s an energy that starts coming through their words.
I see that spark here and there while they say certain words or describe certain feelings.

There’s also this particular way in which New Mexicans carry themselves, and I can’t help but stare.
When I first saw Bob Nichols, he was browsing through some of the things at this local shop. He was quiet, minding his own business. I could see that, although he was aware of his surroundings, he (it seemed to me) only made the absolute, necessary moves.

The word “dignity” is what immediately comes to mind.

I think I understand a bit more of what those old Hollywood movies about the wild west were trying to capture. And it’s difficult to put into words just what the Spirit of the Southwest really is, or looks like, or feels like.

You just gotta visit…

Maybe I should go back and rewatch some of those…

This is Bob Nichols Ranch, when you visit, tell him I said hi.

 

The little things at the public library…

My mother used to say; “It’s the little things”, when talking to me about cleaning my messy room, talking while eating, or complaining about life. She meant to teach me that small details matter because they are the things that fill our days, and can make the number of days in our lives pleasant, or not. She is a wise woman, just like her own mother, and her lessons have stuck vividly in my mind.

The power of wise, strong women within a family, and in a community is one of those mystical ancient traditions that never fails to stop me right in my tracks, and take notice. My grandmother was one of them, and I kind of have this fifth sense for noticing them.

A few weeks ago I visited my local library, and while chatting with my librarian I saw a side of her I hadn’t seen before; then I realized … she’s one of “them”. Hanging out at “her” library is like hanging out at a friend’s house. They don’t just read there, they commune. There are happy kids there, not just doing homework or connecting to the internet, but enjoying each other.

Sometimes the feeling I get from just walking inside the library is that, at any minute, some friendly face is going to walk up to me with a tray of cookies and milk and ask for me to sit down and just chat. It could be, as the kids who volunteer and spend time at the library are so warm, friendly, and happy. They are Tularosa’s kids.

And the librarian? She doesn’t talk a lot. She’s also warm, and happy. She loves the kids, her job, the library, the future. I think she deeply understands that the job she’s doing is of great consequence. Her demeanor, the way she talks to the kids, the attention to detail in the choices she makes for the library…there is fire in there.

Why do I tell you this? Because I think this is also the fruit of the Spirit of the Southwest. Inner strength, ancient wisdom, deep care, and the occupation of the people who live here to work on what really matters in life.

You gotta visit…