Welcome to the Explore! New Mexico blog

Explore! New Mexico searches the state for interesting stories to tell our listeners and readers - and now our blog followers! We are currently producing a series of multi-media podcasts for the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau about interesting events and places to visit. You can view them at our YouTube channel. Be sure to visit our website where you can get even more ideas about where to travel in the Land of Enchantment.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Centennial Saturday at Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park

We started our next podcast yesterday when I interviewed Jan Kirwan at the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. A most interesting park, Mesilla Valley Bosque is soon to celebrate its second anniversary ... taking time to learn how best to serve the public. There is, of course, the nature story. The park has trails along the river and farther back in a drier part of the flood plain. I hiked both and found tracks of things we commonly see ... lizards, stink bugs, and birds. But then I found tracks of raccoon and javalina. There are beaver living near the park. I didn’t see their tracks but found a tree they had gnawed through. And one of the park rangers has photographed a bobcat. This is a great place for birders to see many of the 213 species that have been identified in the park or migrating through. I was treated to the sight and sound of a high-flying flock of sandhill cranes.

Besides nature, Mesilla Valley Bosque is developing events that teach about and demonstrate our culture. Rangers are centering this “mission” in their Time Travelers program, a living history event developed and run by Dr. Jon Hunner of NMSU. His college students don period costumes and play roles to teach 5th to 12th grade students about local history. It’s not all talk. Participants get to learn how to make tortillas, adobe and how to do the laundry without a washing machine. They learn arts and crafts like beading and are led in Native American dances by members of the Tortugas pueblo.

Saturday, December 4, marks the parks second anniversary and you can take part in Centennial Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. The Time Travel date is 1912 as participants celebrate New Mexico’s 100th year as a state. Come on out and meet people from a century ago ... even President Teddy Roosevelt.

Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park can be reached by taking Highway 359, Calle del North, in Mesilla ... right across Highway 28 from The Bean. Drive about 2 miles to the Rio Grande and, as soon as you cross the bridge, turn left into the park’s drive. There is a $5 per car park fee.

Posted by Bud Russo

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spaceport America Runway Dedication

Remember the feeling you used to get when that thing you’ve longed-for is about to come true?

I had that feeling today. Cheryl Fallstead and I were invited to participate in the runway dedication at Spaceport America. Along with several hundred participants in this week’s symposium on commercial spaceflight, we boarded buses in Las Cruces for our trip to the Spaceport.

The 10,000 by 200 foot runway is complete, including striping and taxi signs. The terminal building, while not complete, is under roof and proceeding toward the day when we’ll all be back for the ribbon cutting.

We gathered at the dedication area. Swooping low over the runway came Galactic Girl, Sir Richard Branson’s jet, which did two fly-bys giving camera crews Hollywood-style views. Then it landed. Sir Richard deplaned, along with Governor Bill Richardson, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whiteside, Dr. Pat Hines, chair of the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, and Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin. It was showtime.

Each of the VIPs spoke about the value and future of the Spaceport. Then Sir Richard introduced us to his special guest and we watched White Knight 1 and its Spaceship 2 fly bow-ties over the runway, giving all of us breathtaking views of the mothership and the rocket that with 9 to 18 months will carry the first non-government, non-military ... ordinary, everyday ... passengers 65 miles above the earth into the realm of outer space.

Here’s a brief ... and apologetically shaky ... video I shot of the flyby. Cheryl got much better still pictures, which she’ll share with you later.

Posted by Bud Russo

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spanish Brass Kicks Off Mesilla Valley Music Arts Program

Sitting at my computer this evening trying to decide wether to finish work or listen to the Spanish Brass. I chose the latter and I’m glad I did. Five men: tuba, trombone, French horn, and two musicians who played trumpet, flugelhorn, and piccolo horn, played music dating to 18th century and a composition finished three years ago. Trumpeter Carlos Grau said the most recent piece was done by a friend. After playing Caballeros Andantes, a complex and difficult piece, he said the composer wasn’t a friend any more. [Just joking].

They did dance numbers from Spain, Brazil, Mexico: a waltz, samba, and other Spanish rhythms. After intermission they turned to jazz, playing Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder, Duke Ellington’s Caravan, and even a New Orleans rendition of Just A Closer Walk With Thee ... but at a much faster tempo than we usually hear at New Orleans funerals.

I happened to sit next to Allan Kaplan, principal trombone at the Las Cruces Symphony. He and I discussed the music ... actually he talked and I listened. He told me this quintette not only performs and rehearses together, they actually practice together ... running scales, practicing technique. In performance, it’s as if they are a single musical organism. Great communication between the players.

Light hearted and humorous, the earned the standing ovations from the SRO audience at the Sonoma Presbyterian Church. Crowd filled the assembly hall and most of the lobby.

Kudos to Barbara Toth, who recently founded Mesilla Valley Musical Arts to make sure Las Cruces continues to enjoy rich musical experiences. Check out the website: mvmusarts.org.

Posted by Bud Russo

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Up close and personal with Carlsbad Caverns bats

The last two weekends have been absolutely amazing, providing opportunities to see both areas of New Mexico that were new to me and seeing a previously visited place in an entirely new way. At the end of September, Bud and I joined fellow members of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance on a trip into Otero Mesa, the last great Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands in New Mexico. While there, we spent a day with Steve West, the alliance’s staff scientist. With Steve, we traveled to locations around the mesa and listed birds and plants we spotted. As an amateur birdwatcher, I was impressed with Steve’s extensive knowledge of birds. He helped those of us with less experience spot the important identifying marks for many species and soon even Bud could identify a Vesper Sparrow flying up from the grasslands along our path.

This adventure led to another the very next weekend. Steve told us about an on-going effort that stemmed from his college project 30 years ago: banding cave swallows at Carlsbad Caverns. My husband, Brian, and I were planning a trip to Carlsbad the very next weekend to see the bat flights, which occur in the evening during the summer as the thousands and even millions of bats leave for their evening feeding. It turns out that the bird banding happens in the late afternoon when the birds are returning to the caves and just before the bats depart. The highlight: seeing the bat flight from INSIDE the cave rather than from the usual tourist seating in the outdoor amphitheater. The deal was sealed: we planned our trip to Carlsbad.

We left Las Cruces, in the southern part of the state, at 8 a.m. and arrived at the caverns about noon. We ate a quick

picnic lunch, then bought our tickets for a trip do

wn into the caverns. My husband has been fascinated with these caves since childhood, watching movies such as “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” which was filmed there. This was our third trip, but he was just as excited to get und

erground as he was the first time!

If you have the knees, stamina and time, you should definitely travel into the caverns by foot through the natural entrance. This way you travel deeper and deeper into the caves, exploring the formations along the way. Without those three elements, the quick and easy way to the Big Room is on the elevator. You are transported to the cave floor in moments and walk into a unique destination.

We spent a few hours traversing the caverns, then, w

orried we would be late for our appointment with our banding expert, David Culp, we took the elevator back to the visitor center. At the appointed time, we met David and another volunteer who were waiting for us near the amphitheater. It turns out that despite the incredible opportunity the little bit of volunteer work affords, since they band swallows every weekend while these migratory birds are here, they are sometimes short-handed. It looked as though there would only be four of us, which is not enough to handle the work. Fortunately, a couple was waiting for the bat flight and was quickly recruited. Then, as we headed through the mouth of the cavern, a family that had driven from Albuquerque in order to see the caverns - they were from back East in Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta and had been told they just HAD to see the caverns, not knowing that they would not be allowed entrance after 3:30 p.m. - and were trying to get a peek through the entrance. They, too, were recruited with an offer they couldn’t refuse: not only could they at least come into the first section of the caverns, they would also see something very people others get to enjoy: the bat flight up close and personal.

Now 10 strong, we moved into position about eight switchbacks down into the cave. David explained our jobs and

assigned responsibilities. We had a long length of black netting attached to poles. It would be raised by two workers. Once a few birds were entrapped, the net would be lowered and others would carefully extricate the birds. Then David would measure their wing spans, tail length, weigh them, attach a band if it was the first time the bird had been captured, then set it free. It sounds easy enough, right?

The net went up and very quickly we had four birds caught, some holding quite still as though they knew that struggle would only make it worse. Others flapped about wondering what in the world had stopped them in their tracks, err, flight. David showed us how to carefully remove the birds from the net, encouraging them to let go of the net with their feet. Then a captured bird could be placed in a cotton bag while it waited to be banded. Sometimes birds were removed from the net q

uite easily. Other times it was difficult to determine which side of the net the bird had approached from - and therefore, which side of

the net to remove it. If we tried to remove birds from the wrong side, we only made them more entangled. Quickly, we became more proficient at our tasks and more confident in approaching the birds and calming them. In all, we captured almost 50 birds, with at least two-thirds being first timers who were banded. This allows the scientists to track the birds if they are again captured on the southern portion of their migration.

The highlight of the evening was quickly approaching. Brian was manning one of the poles while I worked to remove birds from the net. He told us he could see larger shapes flying about deeper in the cave and David confirmed that the bats were stirring. It was time to get the last birds out of the net and lower it for the evening.

As I struggled to remove a particularly entrenched swallow, I could hear a sound above and around me. I looked up to see hundreds of bats flying in wide swirls towards the cave entrance. It was hard to focus on the bird, which definitely deserved my full attention, when bats were flying so close. I was engrossed with their departure, but finally managed to extricate the patient swallow from the net, which was then immediately lowered fully to the ground.

Now I was able to focus all my attention on the spectacle around me. David showed us a ledge from which we would get the best view of the bat flight. From there, as the ba

ts flew higher and higher in a swirling pattern, they flew straight towards us before again moving higher. Bats by the thousands rose to the cave entrance, passing within inches of us. The sound of their wings was like water tumbling over rocks down a waterfall or, Brian said, like a burning fire.

I looked at Brian and the others to see if their faces expressed the same sense of excitement and wonder as I knew mine had. We all sat in silence, except for when we just had to whisper to someone nearby about the intensity of emotion the experience inspired. I knew that this was one of those exceptional moments in life that will never be forgotten. It reminded me of scuba diving in Hawaii with Manta Rays, when they, too, looped about just in front of and above me. Incredible!

David had warned us that as long as we didn’t make any sudden moves, the bats would be able to avoid crashing into us. Brian says a bat wing feathered against his

cheek, which gave him a brief moment of personal interaction with these amazing creatures.

The bats, commonly called Mexican Freetail Bats, but more properly Brazilian Freetail Bats, will soon leave New Mexico and head south for warmer winter weather. Then in the late spring, they’ll return to Carlsbad Caverns and spend the summer. I know that Brian and I will be there to greet them, looking to again have the opportunity to see a marvel of nature within a finger’s reach.

Sorry, no bat photos are allowed at the caverns, so you'll just have to use your imagination!

- Posted by Cheryl Fallstead

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Klipsch Museum Chronicles the Life of an Acoustic Genius

Even with my hearing deficiency, I can tell the sound coming from speakers the size of small chests of drawers is exceptional. The separation of the music from left to right is so distinct, it’s as if two different tracks were playing. And resonance from bass to treble bubbles forth in a rich palette of color.

The speakers are Klipschorn and the place where I’m listening to them is the Paul W. and Valerie S. Klipsch Museum in NMSU’s College of Engineering, specifically the Foreman engineering complex just south of the venerable Goddard Hall.

The museum was dedicated in 1997, when the Foreman building was completed, and, although the museum is more than a dozen years old, its treasures are virtually unknown by Las Cruceans.

Paul Klipsch undoubtedly deserves the recognition for the masterpiece speakers he created. He’s in the Audio Hall of Fame and the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame. NMSU’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering was named in his honor. Of greatest interest to me is the fact Klipsch is also an Aggie. He graduated in 1926 when the university was still New Mexico College of A&M. I received my degree in 1966.

And then there’s Joe Creed, who also earned his degrees from NMSU. He’s Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor Emeritus. Before he retired, Prof. Creed not only taught but, as dean, was responsible for alumni relations with the college. That’s how he met the Klipschs and got involved in the museum.

Following graduation, Klipsch worked as a geophysicist until the beginning of World War II. He enlisted in the Army at the rank of Major and was assigned to the Southwest Proving Grounds in Hope, Arkansas, where he specialized in ballistics, earning several patents for his work. When the war ended he remained in Hope. His lifelong love of music undoubtedly contributed to his interest in building speakers, which he began doing in a tin building behind a dry cleaner.

The business prospered, perhaps despite its founder. According to Prof. Creed, “Paul Klipsch was more interested in building the best and most beautiful speakers he could and not just making money.”

Because his wife, Valerie, was so much a part of his life and the business, I’d be remiss if I did not include this story. Mrs. Klipsch was born in Austria and immigrated to the United States prior to the war. Since Hope was their home, I had to venture an obvious question: Did they know the Clintons? Prof. Creed told me, Valerie Klipsch was an accomplished pianist and taught piano in Hope. “She was, in fact, Bill Clinton’s piano teacher,” he says, “but she recommended he take up saxophone because his hands were too large for piano.”

Klipsch continued to refine and build even better speakers. His Klipschorn speakers are considered the best sound producing instruments of their time. Built for installation in a corner, the speakers use the walls as part of the bass horn to reach the high fidelity they achieve, proving it was possible to reproduce the sound of a live orchestra in a home. Their name, however, was not chosen by their designer.

In an 1999 interview, Klipsch said he made a sales call to a prospect in New York and was surprised to learn the man already know about his speakers. “We’ve heard about your corner horn,” the prospect said. “We call it the Klipschorn.”

n time, the Klipschs decided to retire and sold the business to Fred Klipsch, Paul’s brother. The business exists today, based in Indianapolis. The plant in Hope is also still there and the unique Klipschorn speakers are still being built there, albeit as special order items.

Paul and Valerie Klipsch had always had high regard for NMSU. They endowed a scholarship fund that supports about 45 students annually. They also had a small museum in Hope and decided to donate it to the university.

Enter Joe Creed. “Taking care of alumni was just part of my job,” he says. “That’s when I met Paul and Valerie and got involved with the museum. I was lucky to be here when they came to make their donation.”

He flew to Hope to accept the artifacts and memorabilia, rented a truck, and drove back to Las Cruces with the treasures.

That meeting led to a lifelong friendship, which continues to this day. While Klipsch died in 2004 at age 98, Mrs. Klipsch still lives in Hope. “I’ve been happy to be associated with the Klipschs,” Prof. Creed says, “because they are such gracious people.” He talks with Mrs. Klipsch frequently and often travels there to examine the newest items she’s found, since she’s constantly on the lookout for her husband’s earliest speakers.

When the Foreman building was completed, it had two spacious foyers. Prof. Creed convinced the university to make minor adjustments to the design of one of the foyers and turn it into space for the museum. There visitors can examine the various styles of speakers that came from the Klipsch factory, including the large, corner Klipschorn with its matched fronts in fine wood. Several of the speaker sets are wired to CD players so visitors can insert their music and listen to it. There are technical exhibits including a cutaway of the Klipschorn, an exhibit of the awards and honors Klipsch earned, photos chronicling his life, and a cabinet of his papers. Prof. Creed also rescued the office of the acoustic genius and has reassembled it as if Paul Klipsch has just stepped out for lunch.

The museum is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. or you can call 646-2913 for an appointment. Prof. Creed is more than willing to share the stories embraced by the museum to anyone who is interested.

We all listen to music, but until your favorite composition resounds from a Klipschorn speaker, you haven’t really heard it. It’s worth the time to hear the difference and learn about the man who made it possible.

Posted by Bud Russo

An Encounter With Otero Mesa: Learning What Makes It Unique

I’m standing on a hillock in the middle of Otero Mesa, the last remaining Chihuahuan Desert short-grass prairie left on public lands in the U.S. I find it hard to comprehend how vast this grassland is. Knowing it’s 1.2 million acres just doesn’t do it. I turn in a slow circle and look out over the plateau. From where I am to the horizon in every direction there is the undulating grassland. Sixty-some miles to the north are the Sacramento Mountains. To the west are the Hueco Mountains and to the east are the Cornudas Mountains, which block my view of the Guadalupe Mountains farther east. The plateau within this triangle of mountains constitutes Otero Mesa.

The human footprint here is still relatively light. Ranchers lease much of the BLM-managed lands for cattle. Other than that, the land seems empty. It is anything but. Life, comprised of more than 1,000 plant and animal species, abounds everywhere I look.

Ever since joining the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance (NMWA) I had heard about Otero Mesa and I had wanted to experience it. On a weekend in late September, Cheryl Fallstead and I joined Nathan Newcomer, NMWA associate director, and about a dozen people at a campsite in the shadow of Alamo Mountain, the highest peak in the Cornudas.

Saturday most of the campers elected to hike the a steep trail to the summit of Alamo Mountain, some 1400 feet above the plain. They were promised a grand view of the entire mesa and were not disappointed.

Cheryl and I joined Steve West, NMWA staff scientist, to conduct wildlife surveys at several stock ponds out on the plateau. Otero Mesa is high on the Department of the Interior’s list of possible new national monuments and knowing the variety and extent of plant and animal life contributes to our understanding of the land and why it should be protected.

Instead of the grand view, we got up close and personal. We sited and identified more than forty of the 250 species of birds that call Otero Mesa home or which migrate through the area. I’m not a birder so this was an education, learning to tell the difference between a bunting and a warbler; a Vesper’s sparrow from a Brewer’s sparrow. I was more impressed with the raptors we sighted: the osprey, northern harrier, red-tailed, Swainson’s, and Cooper’s hawks. We saw waterfowl – red and green-winged teal, an American coot, and American avocet – and one magnificent hummingbird. That’s not an exaggeration. That’s its name: Magnificent.

We listed plants not yet identified in other areas on the mesa. I learned how to tell the difference between a croton and a winter fat plant and about the all-thorn or crucifixion-thorn tree. The trees we were looking at grow exceedingly slow and may have been more than a century old.

What was most obvious was the change in plant assemblages. In some areas there was an abundance of gramma grasses studded with yucca, indicative of healthy grassland. Other areas were carpeted with yellow snakeweed, mesquite, and prickly pear – signs of poor range management over the century or more cattle have been grazed here. How to give the land respite and let it recover are issues now being debated.

As evening arrived, we helped set up mist nets to trap birds, which West was banding. Each one he caught, he measured and weighed. He was excited to find and band an orange-crowned warbler and a cordilleran flycatcher.

There were other exciting moments during the day. We spotted several pronghorn, some single males and others with their harems. Pronghorns we were told are not antelopes but last surviving species of nine Pleistocene animals, which thrived as long as two million years ago. That may account for their strangely shaped horns and head that’s out of proportion to their bodies.

As the sun settled over the Hueco Mountains, we were treated to a delightful coyote howl. I expect the coyotes were simply letting each other know they were in close proximity, maybe on the edge of each other’s territory but, to me, they sounded more like an a cappella choir in four-part harmony.

Sunday was a day of exploring human history rather than natural history. Newcomer led our group up to the first bench on Alamo Mountain to see some of the hundreds of petroglyphs. Many of the rock-art creations are thought to have been made by the Mescalero Apache whose territory was near the area in the mid-1800s. Designs of horned characters and zigzagging lines may represent Apache deities of wind, rain, thunder, and lightning. Drawings of horses suggest many of the petroglyphs date from the 1600s, although other artifacts and potsherds indicate native people have inhabited the area for thousands of years.

As you might expect, there was a wide range of artistry. Some rock artists could do no more than make stick figures; others had the competence to do remarkable images of fish, owls, bear paws, and what looked like a rainbow. He also pointed out a broad bowl in which archeologists have found pit houses and other evidence of human occupation. Newcomer said he expects scientists will find pottery, tools, charcoal from old campfires, and perhaps even human remains. We looked into the bowl from its edge and turned away. No one wanted to disturb an area that could enlighten us about those occupying the land long before us.

Our last stop was the remaining stone walls of the Butterfield Stage station, one of 140 stations along the trail from St. Louis to San Francisco. Perhaps impressed by the Native American rock art, a number of Anglos – maybe travelers, maybe cowboys – etched there names and the dates of their passing.

If our ride onto Otero Mesa was like venturing into a brave new world, our ride home was like leaving an old friend, one we’re sure to revisit time and again, certain each visit will reveal new wonders.

Posted by Bud Russo

Friday, August 13, 2010

Color Las Cruces Plein Air Festival Gets Underway Sep 3

Time to mark your calendar. Doña Ana Arts Council will kick off its first Color Las Cruces Plein Air Competition and Festival with an exhibit of work by the Plein Air Painters of El Paso. The exhibit will run the month of September and works will be on display at Rio Grande Theatre, El Paso Electric office on Water Street, and Carolene de Mesilla Galleries on the Downtown Mall next to the theatre. The exhibit kicks off at 5 p.m. on Sept 3 as part of the Downtown Art Ramble. The Festival is Sept 11 and 12 and features two Plein Air competitions, workshop, VIP artists' reception, and citywide gallery hop. In my untutored opinion, Plein Air is as close we can come to classical Impressionism without cloning Monet! The painting here is called Hollyhocks & Fountains and its by Candy Mayer.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wilderness -- Are Your For or Against?

The 1964 Wilderness Act defines wilderness as land having no human footprint. Well, actually that’s the only thing wilderness can have. But there is no tire track, no helicopter skid mark, no evidence of machinery at all.

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act is completing its journey through the U.S. Senate and it seems likely to pass there as well as in the House. And yet, the legislation has remained controversial since its inception a few years ago.

At first glance, the Doña Ana lands to be set aside as wilderness don’t seem to quality. People have been living on and manipulating these lands for about 12,000 years -- ever since the first hunter-gatherers migrated into the area. Today much of the land is criss-crossed with dirt tracks. Some are actually graded county roads. Some are used by ranchers and others are abandoned mine roads. So what’s the point of wilderness designation for these lands?

Las Cruces is the second largest city in the state. When I first came here in 1961 as an NMSU student there were about 25,000 residents. Today that number is pushing toward 90,000 and beyond. We’ll know the exact number when the 2010 Census is complete.

People need homes, schools, businesses, and entertainment. Those structures need to be connected by roads, water and sewer systems, power lines, etc. All of that requires land. What once was rural ranching country is changing. How rapidly is a matter of conjecture. Spaceport America could bring substantial high-tech industry to Las Cruces. In fact, city leaders are hoping that’s the case. As the area becomes more urbanized, the old ways of living fade into the shadows. Most of us like a good steak, but we’re mostly detached from where our beef comes from -- other than the butcher at the grocery store. It may not be too many years before ranching in this area is simply economically unfeasible and the ranch land will be sold to developers.

Without some vision of land use, without protection, the more spectacular portions of land that define who we are could be lost. I’ve seen it happen in other places, most notably around Civil War battle sites back East where suburban subdivisions back up to the cramped portions of land that was once hallowed for the American blood spilt there.

Wilderness is the highest level of protection we can offer these lands, even though they may not be purely wild lands. They are, however, the most scenic and the most accessible to our community. And they need the protection to assure they will be there generations from now when we are nothing but our great grandchildren’s distant memories.

What’s your opinion? Should we support the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act? Why or why not?

Posted by Bud Russo

Pardon Billy The Kid?

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported July 29, Gov. Bill Richardson is initiating an inquiry into the alleged pardon of Billy the Kid by then Gov. Lew Wallace. If the facts merit it, the Governor is said to have decided, he would pardon the legendary outlaw.

The life of Billy the Kid is wrought with legends and myths, making it difficult now ... after more than 125 years ... to sift fact from fiction. The facts are these: Billy was tried in Mesilla, convicted and sentenced to hang for the murder of Sheriff William Brady in Lincoln. He escaped and was a fugitive for some months. He was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett, who had been tracking him all those months. Billy did indeed write Gov. Wallace asking for his intervention. The letters are on display at the New Mexico Museum of History in Santa Fe and the museum in the L.G. Murphy store in Lincoln.

The questions are these: Was Billy the lone shooter of Brady or, as some historians believe, was he only one of several of Alexander McSween’s Regulators to have shot the sheriff? Were the Regulators a vigilante committee bent on revenge over the murder of John Tunstall, Murphy’s rival, or duly sworn deputies of the law? Some believe Brady has at least nine bullet holes in him delivered by at least six guns. So, was Billy the killer or just the scapegoat? Was Billy looking for his girlfriend in Fort Sumner and was he armed with a six-gun and not a turkey leg the night Pat Garrett shot the fugitive? Did Garrett fire in self-defense or did he simply execute Billy? Convicted murderers at the time could be captured dead or alive and returned for execution of sentence.

The ultimate question, of course, is what purpose does it serve to pardon a man who’s been dead 129 years? Will it separate legend from fact? Will it benefit descendants of Billy the Kid ... assuming he sired any? Will it “settle the score”once for all?

Register your vote: Should the governor pardon Billy the Kid? Yes? Or No?

Oh, by the way, Pat Garrett’s death on February 29, 1908 ... a Leap Year ... is cloaked in as much mystery as his shooting of Billy. But that’s another story!

Posted by Bud Russo

Monday, July 19, 2010

Explore! New Mexico Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

We want to thank our friends and supporters who attended our ribbon cutting ceremony today. As new members of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, Explore! New Mexico had the opportunity to celebrate our business with friends. Thanks to the Conquistadores for doing a great job with the ceremony!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taos Daytrip: Kit Carson, Blumenschein & Bent

On our last day of travel, we headed along the High Road to Taos. Once there, we visited the Kit Carson Home and Museum as well as Carson's grave, stopped by the Gov. Bent house and gift shop, and toured the Blumenschein house and museum. In between we popped into any number of interesting galleries -- for which Taos is known.

Highway 68 runs from Espanola to Taos. That's how we came home. On our way there, we took thefamous High Road through Nambe, Truchas, and Penasco. The road wound and turned, often taking us back the way we came before heading northeast again. We rambled through juniper/pinon dotted hills with pine forest climbing higher up the mountains. Mt. Wheeler, the highest peak in NM, towered over us. It's a strikingly beautiful drive and, as we climbed higher into the pine forests, enjoyed grassy meadows dotted with wildflowers. At one point we hit the shoulder. We had just stopped to photograph a lovely church that two artists were painting and had barely started driving again when there to our right was a log flume. That's right! Two 20-foot-long logs had been hollowed out to move water to where we had no idea, but the technology was straight out of the 18th Century.

Cheryl had a particular interest in the Kit Carson house. Her great-grandmother lived across the street from the Carsons in Taosand the two families were friendly. Kit Carson's home eventually included 12 rooms in a few separate buildings. We toured four rooms of his home, which comprise the museum. Some rooms in another building are unstable and unsafe, soare not included in the museum. Another set of rooms across a courtyard are part of a gallery and gift shop. The museum is owned and operated by the Masons, as Carson was a member and they wanted to preserve his legacy. It was an interesting look into the character and life of the American hero. We went next to see the graves of Carson and his third wife, Josefa Jamarillo.

I had an interest the the Gov. Charles Bent house. In 1847, after Gen. Kearny left Santa Fe for California, many of the Indians and Mexicans in Taos -- those who resented the American take-over -- rose in revolt. They stormed the Bent house and murdered the governor. While he held them off, his wife and daughter, and Mrs. Carson pushed a hole in a back wall and escaped. Mrs. Bent is buried in the same cemetery as the Carsons. Charles Bent's grave is not there.

Ernest Blumenschein, an artist from back East, was enroute from Denver to Mexico
when his wagon broke. He rode on horseback into Taos to get repairs and fell in love with the town. He is one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists, the foundation of today's art
s community. His house consists of nine rooms. They
were built at various times from 1797 to 1924. He and his wife purchased three rooms in 1919 and as other buildings came on the market, they acquired them and expanded their residence between 1924 and 1931. Blumenschein, his wife, Mary, and daughter, Helen, all were artists and much of their art is on display, along with some of their furnishings. The house is interesting to explore and the art compelling. However,
we felt the $8 entrance fee was a bit steep.

Tired from walking and the heat, we headed south, stopping at the St. Francis of Asis church in Rancho de Taos -- a popular subject of painters and photographers -- and then dropped from the high plateau into the Rio Grande gorge.

I had read about an adobe home in Rinconada having two Mississippi riverboat capstans decorating it and wondered if the house is still there. The story dated to 1928. While we didn't find the house, we did meet Mark Saxe, who runs a stone carving school and gallery. He said perhaps the 90-year-old man across the highway might know, but advised not visiting his property unannounced. We decided to wait and see if Mark could contact his neighbor and inform us of the whereabouts of the capstans.

We returned to Santa Fe exhausted from our week of travel. We've had an exciting journey, and will have many more stories to tell -- after we've had a few days rest. And of course, we can't wait to return to do more exploring!

Posted by Bud Russo

Monday, July 12, 2010

Visiting the Ancient Ones at Bandelier Nat'l Monument

I first visited Bandelier National Monument -- home of an ancient pueblo people -- in 1963. Not much has changed in 47 years. And why would it! The "ruins" are 800 years old. Kendrick Frazier, in his book on Chaco, said "ruins" was "our curiously inadequate work for the tangible remains of culture."

There is both a circular pueblo -- once 400 rooms in two to three stories -- and a series of long houses with both rooms carved into the tuff -- ash from an even more ancient volcano -- and stone rooms built in front of the cliff. As many as 500 people lived in Frijoles Canyon -- site of the pueblo near Los Alamos -- and not all areas were occupied at the same time. The canyon had people living there for perhaps two centuries.

We hiked the trail past the ruins -- climbing a hundred feet above the pueblo to the cliff dwellings. After 3/4 mile, we transitioned to the Alcove House trail another 1/2 mile farther into the canyon. The last 140 feet of this journey was straight up through a series of four ladders and narrow foot paths and stairs. There's only a kiva in the alcove and a great view of the canyon. The houses of the people who lived there are long gone.

The trail took us through Ponderosa pine with its heady scent, past yellow cone flowers, red penstemon, and purple beebaum, and over babbling Frijoles creek.

One highlight of the hike -- if not THE highlight -- was the three-foot-long diamondback rattlesnake we spotted creeping through the underbrush -- minding its own business.
Not only were we immersed in the history of the puebloans but also embraced by the natural beauty of the canyon.

Posted by Bud Russo

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Enjoying Northern NM: History, Art, Farmers Market

Today Bud and I visited four places, continuing our trend of filling our days with activity. Since we decided to return to the Folk Art Market on Sunday rather than today to face slightly smaller crowds, today we first stopped by the Santa Fe Farmers Market before heading north on I-25 to see Fort Union, Las Vegas and Pecos National Monument.

The Santa Fe Farmers Market reminds me of markets in California, but with a Southwestern flair. It is located at the Railyard, which is a thriving, upscale repurposed area. It has a large outdoor market supplemented by another indoor space. Shoppers can find a cornocopia of fresh produce, goat cheese, locally raised meats, flowers, freshly baked breads, garden plants, local honey, beeswax candles, and herbs. You can even leave with an official farmers market T-shirt, tote or apron. Musicians were livening the atmosphere and tucked into a corner of the indoor area, the local NPR station was broadcasting live. I bought some fresh goat feta cheese and Bud left with a pastry in hand, then we hit the road.

Bud is fascinated by old frontier forts and as Fort Union was the largest of the forts in New Mexico, we had to drive out to explore it. Once we arrived, I agreed that it was a fascinating place to visit. The skeletal ruins of the once-bustling fort now stand like silent sentinels over the grassy plains. As we walked the grounds, thunder rumbled in the distance, reminescent of the boom of cannon or the sharp cracks of rifle fire. But there is no longer a reason to fight here. The Comanche are gone and the Santa Fe Trail is reduced to ruts in the grass.

But you can stand at the edge of the trail, where thousands of hopeful 49ers once traveled on their way to California in search of gold. You can squint your eyes and imagine the wagons laden with only the most essential household goods and supplies, arriving with great relief at the safety of Fort Union. You can also imagine the soldiers and their families living out on these plains, far from any bustling city life, wondering what might happen next. One highlight may have been a trader's wagon train passing through on its way to Santa Fe, laden with merchandise from the East. The Santa Fe Trail was first a traders route, then used by the 49ers, and finally primarily a military route. All that is left to help your imagination are the remains of adobe walls, brick fireplaces and a few wagons. But it does still remain, providing a glimpse into the past of northern New Mexico.

From there, we made a brief stop in Las Vegas - the original Las Vegas as they like to say there, which this year is celebrating 175 years since its founding. We focused on the plaza, having read that it is the largest and nicest plaza in New Mexico. It is more like a central park, with green grass and tall trees with a gazebo in the center. While we were there, boys were skateboarding in it. The plaza is surrounded by a variety of galleries, shops and the cornerstone, the Plaza Hotel. We wandered about and greatly enjoyed the lovely shop the adjoins the hotel, which was hosting a Second Saturday wine tasting while we were there. Then we went into the lobby, which is certainly characteristic of the Victorian era from which the hotel dates. We even took a peek into some guest rooms, finding them comfortable and somewhat like a guest room at your grandmother's house where she keeps some of her nice antiques. One of the rooms we saw even had a mini-fridge and a microwave.

The town is working hard to revitalize this area. I found it charming and was fascinated by the historic plaques mounted on the walls of many of the buildings that indicated its original purpose and when it was built. One we saw had a link to some dark dealings: two members of the James Gang, Robert Ford and Dick Liddell, opened a saloon here after Liddell was pardoned for shooting Jesse James in the back.

From there, we headed to Pecos National Monument as Bud wanted me to see the ruins of the Pecos Pueblo. I wanted to climb down into the reproduction of a kiva. I had seen many beautiful pictures other photographers had taken from inside the kiva and had to try my hand at it. We wandered the trail, visiting only the areas with excavated ruins as we arrived close to the time that the park would be closing. The ruins of a church is the largest building on the grounds and it was the second and smaller of the churches built in this spot, the first having been destroyed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. The second church was completed in the next century.

All the locations we visited today gave us the opportunity to learn more about the people, places, history and culture of New Mexico, from the early Pueblo Indians and the Spaniards who came to convert them to the American army who was much later charged with keeping peace on the prairie. We saw how people, past and present, strive to build a sense of community, whether it be with art on a historic plaza or with fresh produce near an old railyard.

Posted by Cheryl Fallstead

Explore! New Mexico

Santa Fe International Folk Art Market 2010

Each July for eight years, the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market has attracted both artists and art buyers from the world around. I visited the first time in 2009 and returned in 2010, eager to not only meet new artists, but to find those with whom I had forged a connection the previous year. Bud and I attended the Friday night pre-market party, which allowed us the luxury of working our way through the boothes without the crowds that will be present Saturday and Sunday. I found both my friends from Kyrgyzstan, Erkebu Djumagulova and her daughter, and from Niger, Elhadji Koumama - a texile artist and a silversmith respectively. I had interviewed both of them last year and chatted with them both again this year, taking new photographs to remember them by.

We moved through the canopied areas, eager to visit as many boothes as we could before the party ended at 9 p.m. And of course, even though my goal was to get photos and stories, I couldn't help but find items I'd like to purchase.

I ran into another acquaintance who works with artists in Mexico helping them sell their work in the United States. This weekend he was assisting Oaxacan artist Jacobo Angeles Ojeda and his son. They create carved wooden animals that are unlike any I have seen. Their booth displayed not only their art, but that of others from the village. The price difference was commensurate with the difference in quality. Just before we arrived, they had sold a lion for $4400. A striking owl was sold as we were there. He had otters, cats, horned lizards, and an amazing stingray.

Bud visited with the artist's son, Ricardo Angeles, who demonstrated one of the important differences with their animals. They create all their own paints from natural sources. He showed Bud how he mixes indigo with lemon juice and honey to create a bright blue paint and how a tree bark mixed with juice and honey makes their red paint. The difference in their paints, along with their attention to detail and realistic depictions of the animals brings their work to an entirely new level from what we've come to expect.

While I would love to have purchased one of the otters for over $300 (and which represents about a month of labor), I ended up leaving with a small fish that a family member had made. A momento, but not the same as one of his exquisite and intricately painted sculptures. Perhaps when we return Sunday afternoon one will still be there and I'll let temptation win.

Another booth represented a women's cooperative from India, the SEWA Trade Faciliation Center. They told us a few amazing stories - one about misadventures in travel and another about their cooperative itself, which represents 1.3 million women. One of the artists, Jamuben, was traveling from India to Santa Fe alone and somehow ended up on the wrong plane and the wrong state. After a harrowing ordeal, compounded by her inability to speak English, she ended up in Santa Fe in time for the market. Her friends told us that after a good cry, Jamuben was able to bounce back and she seemed to be in good spirits. When I was looking at a small fabric purse and admiring the embroidery, Jamuben gestured to the embroidery and herself so I would know that it was her work. So, of course, I had to buy it. And at $12, it was quite a bargain!

It's nice to know when you're buying at the market that 90 percent of your purchase price goes home with the artists. On average, each artist earns $15,000 that helps supports a family, a village, a cooperative. According to the organization which runs the market, this year artists cooperatives in 44 boothes will represent 30,000 members and impact some 300,000 lives. First time artists can apply for funds to help pay for them to attend the market. The entire project is an amazing effort to allow artists from countries as big as China and as small as Rwanda to earn a living at their craft. It also allows us to visit the world without leaving Santa Fe as 51 nations are represented this year.

The market is held on Museum Hill near the Museum of International Folk Art. Wear your comfortable walking shoes and be prepared for crowds. But in addition, be ready to make friends with people from the world around and support them by buying their art. Learn more at www.folkartmarket.org.

Posted by Cheryl Fallstead

Explore! New Mexico

Friday, July 9, 2010

Spanish Colonial Village: El Rancho de Las Golondrinas

We headed out to El Rancho de Las Golondrinas Thursday not really knowing what to expect. Now I've been to Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, where they've relocated a group of New England colonial houses to give you a sense of time and place. I've been to Mystic Seaport to experience whaling in the 1800s. One of my favorite East Coast places is Colonial Williamsburg and its sister living museums at Jamestown Settlement and a working Colonial farm at Yorktown. All of these span the early 1700s to the formation of the United States in 1787.

Las Golondrinas ... actually the ranch of the swallows ... is a living museum telling about Spanish colonial history. I came to think of it as the Williamsburg of the West.

We ventured into the first grouping of buildings. About 80 per cent of these have been standing since they were built in 1710. Others were added in the early 1800s after the fear of attack by Commanches passed. Over time the houses fell into other uses; e.g. a residence was used as a hay barn. In 1946, relatives of the family that had purchased the property decided to restore it as a Spanish colonial village. To the existing buildings, they added scores of others: a mill, schoolhouse, farm houses and working buildings. Each was found in northern New Mexico, and moved to Las Golondrinas. It is one place in New Mexico where you can observe and study life as it was in the 18th Century.

Docents, all of whom are volunteers, dress in period costumes and each told us a part of the story as we entered one building after another. I was really impressed with how knowledgeable they were. They've obviously studied hard. They were as excited to tell their stories as we were to listen. And they accommodated the "typical tourist" too. As our time ran short and we approached closing time, we found one man locking up houses. Cheryl said ... in jest ... tell us your story in 30 seconds. He stopped making his rounds, took us into a farmer's cottege and spent about 20 minutes telling us about how life was in the village where we were. That was certainly going beyond the call of duty.

While we were there on a weekday, the ranch hosts festivals over many weekends -- a spring and fall festival, wine festival, and Viva Mexico, a cooperative festival with the Mexican consulate. In fact, Viva Mexico is July 17 and 18.

This is a great place to immerse youself in colonial history -- and an even greater place for the kids to experience history. Check their web site: http://www.golondrinas.org/.

Posted by Bud Russo

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chimayo Weaver's Tale

Chimayo may be best known today for it Sanctuario, but settlers in the early 1700s raised sheep, spun woolen yarn and wove fabrics. The village since has been known for its fiber artists.

We stopped at Trujillo's Weaving Shop and met Carlos who told us he is the 7th generation of weavers in his family. His son who has just begun working in the shop is the 8th.

We watched family members work on three looms. One woman operated the pedals alternating warp threads like a dancer. One old loom, Carlos told us, was his grandfather's and is now a century old.

While other weavers may use a blend of cotton and wool, the Trujillos use only wool for both warp and weft. They use commercially spun and dyed yarn but, Carlos said, the family used to do these tasks too when it kept sheep -- but it's too time consuming today.

It's somehow comforting to know the ancient skills are still very much alive and still bringing us wonderful woven works of art.

Posted by Bud Russo

Visit To San Ildefonso Pueblo

We're at San Ildefonso Pueblo at 9:30 in the morning. It's early and still. No one'sa about. Before we left, we learned many of the women had been rehearsing late the evening before for a ceremonial dance and probably had slept in.

When we think "pueblo," many of us picture Taos with its three and four stories of adobe buildings accessed by ladders. Here there are groupings of modest adobe houses, many of which have wooden sheds with metal roofs. Around the plaza are larger adobe homes -- connected like townhouses. Instead of ladders to the second story, there's a broad staircase. In the plaza there's a large ceremonial kiva. It too has a stairway leading to the roof. Entry into the kiva is by ladder from the roof.

The pueblo sits on a rise of land less than a mile from the Rio Grande. Photos from 1889 show no trees, so the thick bosque of cottonwoods along the river is only a century old -- pretty old for any of us -- and the trees are lofty and wide. Cheryl thought she heard the river babbling but it was only the wind in the dancing leaves of the cottonwood.

The pueblo's church is a replica of the original built in 1620 and destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt 40 years later. The ruin was demolished by a 1910 earthquake. The present church was completed in 1968.

We stopped by the government building where there's a museum featuring the black-on- pottery Maria Martinez made famous. We alswo visited several of the artists in their pottery shops. I was particularly lured toward Adelphia Martinez's shop both by the "Open" sign and the fragrance of bacon her daughter was cooking for the grandkids. Almost everyone we met was gracious and welcoming. But they must sometimes chaff at being the focus of tourists who may not realize this is their home and not some exhibit in a museum.

We met a couple from Japan making a three-week tour of the Southwest. After telling us where they'd been and where they're going, Cheryl mused they'd been more places she has.

Perhaps the highlight of the tour was our visit to the Cottonwood Trading Post, which was a gallery showing pottery, jewelry, paintings, and fiber art of Puebloans, though concentrating on those from San Ildefonso. The artwork is exquisite and I wanted one of each for my home. Too bad for my it's far beyond my budget.

We thought we'd spend maybe an hour but lingered and absorbed the culture of San Ildefonso for three hours.

Posted by Bud Russo

Day 1: North of Santa Fe, Chimayo and Abiquiu

Today Bud and I headed north of Santa Fe with the goal of visiting two pueblos, as well as Chimayo, and Abiquiu. We were a bit overly ambitious and we only made it to one pueblo, but in the Abiquiu area, we visited more than we had originally thought. Bud is going to blog about our visit to San Ildefonso in the morning, so I'll share about some of the other things we did today. After we left the pueblo, we decided that we wouldn't have time to also visit Nambe Pueblo, where our main goal was to see the waterfall. Instead we drove by that exit and headed to El Sanctuario de Chimayo, which was undergoing a variety of construction projects.

The story goes that in 1810, Don Bernardo Abeyta was worshipping during Holy Week and saw a light coming from the hills near the Santa Cruz River. He followed it to the source and saw that the light was coming from the ground. He dug a hole and found a crucifix, they say. He left it there and went for other men to come and confirm what he had found. The crucifix was three times taken to the church at nearby Santa Cruz. Three times it disappeared and was discovered back at Chimayo. Taking this as a sign that the crucifix should remain where it was found, a chapel was built there, which now displays the crucifix above the altar. However, this chapel has a reputation for much more - it has been called the "Lourdes of America" as many people claim to have been cured after visiting the chapel. They say the cures began after the crucifix was found. Now, a hole in the floor of a side-room of the chapel is supposed to be where the crucifix was originally found and it is filled with "holy dirt." Believers can take away the dirt - either in bags or containers they bring or in containers available at the gift shop - and use it to inspire cures for themselves or others. One woman told us that she had heard of someone being cured of her arthritis and even a broken camera working after it was sprinkled with the dirt.

Whether you believe in the story of the crucifix or the miraculous cures, it is a charming location visited by up to 300,000 people a year, especially during Holy Week. Another room off the main chapel is filled with a rack of crutches - apparently no longer needed by their owners - and pictures of people or momentos, some it seems who may have been cured and others in remembrance of those who have died. The displays of baby shoes on one side of the room and of photos of members of the armed services were especially touching. Outside, everywhere you can find crosses tucked into the chain-link fence or on trees. After tucking some holy dirt into a purchased container, we fed the local horse an apple and headed to Abiquiu. On the way we stopped at a weaving shop, where the Trujillo family has been creating this form of art for eight generations - but that's another story!

On the way to Abiquiu, we had to pull over numerous times to snap photos of the amazing scenery. Red rocks thrust themselves towards the sky. We had to stop to see the Chama River as it flowed near the highway. It was easy to see why artists like Georgia O'Keeffe have been so enchanted by this landscape. We saw Georgia's Pedernal that she adored from her home at Ghost Ranch. We saw dark clouds building in the sky and preparing to bring life to the landscape. It was hard to keep the car moving when it would have been easy to pull over and just watch the land and sky change with the light.

It was a busy day and tomorrow's plans have already changed. We had optimistically planned to drive to Crownpoint for the rug auction. But realizing that it would be about a 400-mile round trip, coming back late at night, has made us decide to do something more local. But Saturday will certainly be the International Folk Art Market!
Posted by Cheryl Fallstead
Explore! New Mexico

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Beautiful, Stormy New Mexico Skies

On our way north today, the sky treated us to one of New Mexico's finest attributes. We watched the clouds form tall columns and spread into whispy anvils at altitude. We first noticed them over the San Mateo Mountains near Socorro and then east over the Manzano Mountains. Cloud formations were quite beautiful all the way to Santa Fe. Best of all was the light. Dark clouds formed backdrops to mountains bathed in soft light. The juniper dotted hills seemed to glow with a life of their own. There were showers all around us but far enough away that we didn't get to drive through one. I've traveled across this country, across Europe, and Oceania. I have marveled at the natural beauty everywhere I've been, but I can truthfully say I have never seen skies like I see here in my adopted home.

So much for the poetry. Weather forcast tomorrow, heavy rain and flooding.

Posted by Bud Russo
Explore! New Mexico

We've arrived in Santa Fe!

We've arrived in Santa Fe and are settled into our condo. Tomorrow we'll begin exploring in earnest, by heading out to see several pueblos near Espanola, the chapel at Chimayo, and Abiquiu. Bud wants to go to Rinconada because he read that an adobe house there - 80 years ago - was adorned with two capstans from Mississippi river boats. If we find them, we'll take a picture and then tell you how Mississippi river boats ended up in northern New Mexico!

At Nambe Pueblo, we hope to see a cascading waterfall. At San Ildefonso, the home of famed potter Maria Martinez, we'll tour the pueblo and see the museum that displays the pottery of Martinez and others. Ohkay Owingeh was the home of Popay, who led the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, and today they have a herd of buffalo at the bison park. But truly, what we want to get a feel for is the uniqueness of each pueblo, the people and the artisans who call them home. We'll be able to tell you more after we've spent time at each tomorrow.

Abiquiu promises a museum of anthropology as well as a museum of paleontology and the Ghost Ranch Piedra Lumbre Education and Visitor Center. South of Abiquiu is the Pashouinge Ruins with vistas of the Chama River Valley.

So, a full day is planned for tomorrow! We'll keep you posted each day on our travels, so keep checking back.

Posted by Cheryl Fallstead
Explore! New Mexico

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Explore! New Mexico to explore northern New Mexico this week

Explore! New Mexico hits the dusty road this week with a trip that will take us to Santa Fe from our base in Las Cruces, with all kinds of diversions planned from the capitol city. We timed our visit to coincide with the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, which I enjoyed greatly last year. Fortunately, the night before is the Crownpoint Rug Auction, so we’ll head west on Friday, then back to Santa Fe for the folk art market on Saturday. We’ll see what a Navajo rug auction is like - and see if I can afford to big on one!

We’ll be visiting pueblos such as Taos, Acoma and a number of others north of Santa Fe. We’ll investigate Chimayo and Rinconada, Puye, Bandeleir National Monument, Abiquiu and Los Alamos.

When we go to Taos, we’ll have to take the High Road to explore the beauty of the vistas. Last time I drove to Taos, I paralleled a summer thunderstorm that arrived the same time I did, drenching the village, but skipping the pueblo which was holding a dance that day. In Taos, we’ll visit my great-grandparents’ friend’s home: The Kit Carson Home and Museum. There are some interesting family tales about Kit Carson!

In Santa Fe, we’ll roam Canyon Road to look at sculptures, visit the New Mexico History Museum, and eat plenty of good food. Perhaps we’ll explore the Round House as well.

So, keep an eye on our blog. We’ll be posting photos and stories while we’re on the road so you can enjoy our trip along with us!

Posted by Cheryl Fallstead, Explore! New Mexico

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Inscriptions may date to 1580s

I’ve sought out petroglyphs in a number of places around New Mexico, and I’m always fascinated by these images, chipped in rock so many centuries ago. But I recently came across an Albuquerque Journal story by Oliver Uyttebrouck you may have missed.

It seems Albuquerque historian Mike Smith has found inscriptions depicting Christian crosses and letters etched in stone north of the Sandia Mountains. He thinks they may possibly have been made by Spanish visiting New Mexico in the 1580s.

We all seem to have the need to make our mark so someone knows of our passing. Apparently this was as true in the Sixteenth Century as it is today.

Rick Hendricks, state historian, plans to examine the inscriptions. If they turn out to be authentic, they would be the oldest Spanish inscriptions in New Mexico, predating those of Juan Oñate made at El Morro in 1605.

One of the inscriptions, in a flamboyant style, spells “Santa Maria,” perhaps made by Juan de Santa Maria, one of three friars who accompanied Francisco Sanchez, a soldier known as El Chamuscado, and Fray Augustin Rodriguez, in their expedition of 1581-82.

Just like Coronado, they too failed to find the fabled seven golden cities of Cibola ... but then perhaps they were never at Taos Pueblo fifteen minutes before sunset.

Posted by Bud Russo

Explore! New Mexico