Tularosa – An original settlement of the American Southwest

While the American Civil War raged in states like Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, General Ulysses Grant captured Fort Henry in Tennessee. Congress passes legislation outlawing slavery and President Abraham Lincoln signs the homestead act into law. The small southwestern village of Tularosa is about to be founded.

An idea born by the first settlers of Tularosa in “La Promesa Solemne”, a prayer lifted up to God in 1862 before the two-day battle of Round Mountain, and later fulfilled by the construction of the St Francis De Paula Church in 1869.

Since then, as an uninterrupted tradition, the St Francis De Paula Fiesta has been celebrated every year.

Although the present construction is not in its original shape, and is double the original size, it’s included in the National Register of Historic Places and is an essential part of our local history.

If you are planning to come, but wondering what to do in Tularosa, let me give you a few things you must do when you visit:

  1. The Tularosa Original Townsite District is part of the National Register of Historic Places. It was divided into 48 blocks in 1873. Many of the homes built during the 1800’s are still there today and the local Library offers a Walking Tour Guide with a map and information to help visitors interested in learning the amazing stories behind each building.
  2. The original Acequia System was built by the first settlers in 1862 to divert the Tularosa River into a terraced irrigation system for homesteads, animals, home vegetable gardens and orchards is still being used today, lining the 48 original townsite blocks.
  3. The Saint Francis De Paula Church was built in 1862 as a result of La Promesa Solemne after the Battle fo Round Mountain, and is one of five Franciscan Missions in the area. This is the modified original structure where the foundation is cut stone quarried near the Tularosa River.
  4. Historic Granado Street with amazing shops, and historic buildings is where most of the local events are held. You can pick up a Walking Tour Guide from one of the shops.
  5. Tularosa Vineyards with Tasting Room and Tours, pioneers in growing some of the more unusual, but well acclimated grapes in New Mexico.
  6. Tularosa Pecan Company established in 1969 is located inside the Travel Center and has the best treats made from their locally grown pecan orchards. Treats you will not find anywhere else.
  7. Loredos Bakery with the best authentic and freshly-made everyday Pan De Dulce. Chiles rellenos and tamales are also their specialty and are the best in the area.
  8. Casa de Suenos with amazing food and ambiance.

Tour New Mexico; Observe Listen, Engage, and Learn.

Tour New Mexico; Observe, Listen, Engage, and Learn. An Awesome Way to Travel.

If you’re a visual learner, you’d be able to understand how important our senses are to learning.

Listening to experts, engaging in conversations, asking questions, and seeking further information helps stimulate our thinking process, challenges our preconceived notions and beliefs, and helps our minds grow.

For these and other reasons, Tours are an awesome way to experience New Mexico.

NOTE: Some of these tours are by appointment. If you are unable to find any specific info on the linked websites, give them a call. I’ve done my homework and all these tours are available as of March 2019.

Here is a list of Tours in our area you won’t be able to find anywhere else!

Click on any one of these if you’re interested in learning about the beautiful Land of Enchantment.

Authentic Southwestern Cuisine; New Mexico Style

New Mexican cuisine has its own unique style. It is not Mexican. It is not Mexican-American. And it’s definitely not Tex-Mex. It’s true to the Southwestern Spirit of New Mexico’s rich cultural heritage. It is a blend of American Cowboy, Native American, Spanish Colonial, and post-Columbian Mexican.

The Chiricahua, Comanche, Mescalero, and Navajo influence on New Mexican food is expressed through the use of piñones, corn, chile, beans, and squash.

The use of wheat, rice, and lamb were introduced to the Southwestern Cuisine by the Spaniards. Arroz con leche, atole, bizcochitos, calabacitas, and flan are some of the Spanish dishes that have come to enrich New Mexican traditions.

Another example of cultural influence in New Mexican cooking is the Puebloan Horno; a mud adobe-built outdoor oven. Originally introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors, it was quickly adopted and carried to all Spanish-occupied lands. The Puebloan Horno was used by Native Americans and early settlers of North America, and became an authentic tradition in the Southwest.

The most iconic characteristic of true New Mexican Cuisine is the use of Hatch Chile, which is not the same as the serrano chile used in Mexican Cuisine.  

Within our local food landscape you will find:

So, what should you be looking for when you are in search of a true, authentic experience of the southwest?

  • Bizcochitos – The Official New Mexican Cookie
  • Carne adovada – slow-cooked cubes of pork marinated in red chile sauce, oregano, and garlic
  • Green chile stew
  • Navajo Tacos – made with fry bread instead of a tortillas
  • Sopapillas – fried pastry dough typically used as an edible scoop for salsas and sauces
  • Albondigas (meatball soup)
  • Chiles Rellenos – whole green chiles stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg batter and fried
  • Enchiladas – corn tortillas filled with chicken, meat or cheese, rolled or stacked and covered with chile sauce and cheese
  • Flan – caramel custard
  • Tamales – meat rolled in cornmeal dough and wrapped in corn husks
  • Indian fry bread – a traditional thick flatbread of deep-fried dough

What to do in Tularosa, NM?

Tularosa is a small village north of White Sands National Monument. It is an oasis and the center of operations for travelers visiting the area.

The Village Historical Museum is the repository of the village’s history.

In the Historic Commercial Granado Street, you will not only find beautiful buildings that have been part of the community for a long time, but art galleries and amazing shops where local artists display and sell the fruit of their varied skills.

Saint Francis De Paula Historic Church, right on the main street, should be on your must-visit-list. This is a beautiful church of great historical importance to the area, with beautiful architectural details inside and out.

The Acequia System in Tularosa remains in its original state, and is one of the most attractive features of the village. It also is what ultimately turned this piece of land into an oasis for local farmers and wildlife alike.

The Original Townsite District is comprised of the original 49 blocks with which Tularosa was established. Historic houses architectured with local techniques particular to the area fill these 49 blocks and the acequia system lines its streets.

At the Tularosa Travel Center you will be able to find local pecans and pecan goodies grown by the Tularosa Pecan Company; a family owned operation established in 1969.

Before California wines were, New Mexico wines were. And if you wish to learn about and taste the local history of wine going back to the Spanish settlers, you need to visit the Tularosa Vineyards.

Shopping for rocks and fossils? Tesoros de la Tierra has the most unique and interesting souvenirs you will find for miles and miles…and miles…and miles. And even if you are not going to shop, give them a visit and enjoy. This place is like a beautiful museum and the owners are knowledgeable and happy to share stories and facts.

In the mood for a beer? The local bar is a place where many bikers (on their way to Ruidoso) stop by.

The Three Rivers Petroglyph site is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Tularosa, and a must visit when you come. I took a few pictures on my last visit and created a video for YouTube:

#NMeats Culture, History, and Tradition; Bizcochitos.

So, you are visiting The Land of Enchantment and are looking for the culture, the tradition, the history…and also happen to have a sweet tooth?

Then a must try for you is bizcochitos; a treat where culture, history, tradition (and sugar) collide.

Bizcochitos became New Mexico’s official State Cookie in 1989, in an effort to help preserve this cultural tradition. The Spanish roots of this traditional cookie were, for centuries, influenced by all the local cultures  until it became a traditional New Mexican delight served at weddings, baptisms, and during the Christmas season.

“Bizcochito” is Spanish for “pastry”, and is flavored with cinnamon and anise. They are traditionally shaped like stars or crescent moons, and are paired with hot chocolate. Don’t worry if anise is just not what you are into, most bakeries avoid it for that reason.

If you are in the area, you can find traditional bizcochitos at Alamogordo‘s Amigo’s Bakery, Tularosa‘s Loredo’s Bakery, and Ruidoso‘s Cornerstone Bakery.

As with all foods, there is a slight difference between made from scratch, and store bought. If you enjoy baking, there are many different recipes for bizcochitos online.

Bizcochito recipes are family heirlooms handed down from generation to generation, and ingredients may vary. Lard, bourbon, Brandy, anise, orange juice, vanilla, red wine, etc.

NOTE: My personal preference is having milk hot-chocolate, instead of water chocolate. The richness and creaminess make for a great palate experience.

 

How to Find Fossils in New Mexico…

This is a question I had to ask! Leonard Witter came out of his Fossil Works lab at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

I was watching him through the glass, working on a fossil with a couple of sharp tools, and  a magnifying glass. He was focused, but noticed me staring. I smiled. He also smiled and then came out to see me.

He explained a bit about what he was doing, then I asked a couple of short questions and interrupted his answers by asking the one I really, really wanted to know.

Natural History Museums are a family favorite wherever we go. And the last time we visited Albuquerque, we just had to stop by.

Dad and the kids were almost done looking at the exhibition right next to Fossil Works, and before they came back, I really had to ask how could our family find fossils in the area where we live. I recorded his answer because I thought you would also like to know.

“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.