Sights, sounds and random thoughts from the Land of Enchantment


Artwork to make you smile in one of many galleries off the Santa Fe President's Plaza.

Much of the architecture in the state is Spanish style — adobe-look. In Santa Fe, it’s the law, and it may be in other places, too. Two days spent in New Mexico’s wonderful capital city would not be excessive. Be sure to visit the La Fonda Hotel, and if you are a one percenter, take a room. If you are a 99 percenter, just look the place over and enjoy a fabulous pastry in the French pastry shop before you return to your economy motel room.

Chihuahua dogs everywhere — walking with their owners, being carried by their owners, riding in their owners’ vehicle. We have raised very large dogs for years and never paid much attention to small dogs. But we saw one little guy in a pickup truck that we would have adopted on the spot. He was a “deer head” as opposed to an “apple head,” and he was a dark, chocolate brown in color.

  • If you go to White Sands National Monument, and you absolutely must, you can slide down the big sand dunes on a sled. You can buy a sled at the monument visitor center’s gift shop for about $15, and sell it back for $5, unless you want to take it home and slide down snowbanks (which look exactly like white sand dunes!)
  • The sand at White Sands is very soft, almost powderlike and is actually gypsum that has been ground to powder by wind and water. It is against federal law to remove the sand from the monument. “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”
    Our footprints at White Sands

    The print of our boots in the dunes at White Sands National Monument will blow away with the sand.

  • Altitudes range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet. If want to do any hiking, you probably should quit smoking.
  • Lodging is reasonable in the off-season; — I’m not sure when that starts, although we must have come in on the last part of it. Chain motels and hotels are in the $40 to $80 range.
  • Two eateries stand out. The Owl Bar and Café in San Antonio (between Socorro and the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge) boasts “the world’s greatest green chile cheeseburger,” while an establishment on the other side of the street features “the seventh best green chile cheeseburger in the world.” We stopped at the Owl and Suzanne and her daughter, Johanna, ordered the famous burgers while I got something else. They thought they were great. I thought they were okay — at best. There appears to be great competition among the restaurants in New Mexico as to which makes the best green chile cheeseburgers.
    New Mexico State Sandwich

    Owl Cafe's Green Chile Cheeseburger

  • New Mexico’s official state question is “Red or green,” meaning, do you prefer red or green chile sauce on your plate?
  • Clarification. There might be some confusion between the words chile and chili. A chile is a pepper (jalapeno, habanero, ancho, chipotle, etc.), and when it is used as an ingredient, you could end up with chili, like in the many chili competitions we have hereabouts.
  • We visited in early February, which can be too cool. March gets better. I have been in that part of the country several times, and can advise that the summer months are very hot. The sun in the southern part of the state can bust your head. October is great.
  • Restoration of wildlife habitat along the Rio Grande River has created numerous refuges along the I-25 corridor. We spent a couple days visiting the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio watching sandhill cranes and snow geese. We were able to add the New Mexico state bird, the roadrunner, to our bird checklist while there, but missed the herd of javelinas spotted by visitors earlier in the day.