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.

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 particular style. It is not Mexican. It is not Mexican-American. And it is most definitely not Tex-Mex. It is true to the Southwestern Spirit of New Mexico’s rich cultural heritage: 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 green chile cheeseburgers, green chile cornbread, and even more creative dishes like green chile sundaes.

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 (stew of meat and green chile)
  • Navajo Tacos (a taco made with fry bread instead of a tortilla)
  • 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.

 

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…