Four days in an enchanted land: a visit to New Mexico

Need to shake off the winter doldrums? A lightening quick trip to the state called The Land of Enchantment will provide a 180-degree shift in attitude to reawaken your senses. Here is a sampling of what you can do in mere four days:

  • Drive three routes to bygone eras.
    • The fabled Rt. 66, built in 1926 to connect Chicago to L.A., cuts right through Albuquerque. Drive it to see remnants of old motels and fast food diners, both post-war innovations catering to the new automobile travelers. Continue west out of town for about 10 miles as the old route goes from asphalt to rutted mud, and wax nostalgic about a time of boundless optimism when the American dream was only a car ride away.
    • The Turquoise Trail between Albuquerque and Santa Fe for a glimpse into the area’s mining fortunes: Golden, which became a ghost town in 1928 when the mineral that named it had been mined out; Madrid, a town that thrived when coal was needed for the two world wars and was saved from its ghostly fate by artists in the 70’s who bought the various buildings from the coal company descendants in a single day of massive real estate transactions; and Cerrillos, where turquoise was mined for 2,000 years, first by the Native Americans and last by Tiffany’s, which owned the largest turquoise mine in the area until the Depression.
    • The High Road to Taos. Drive through the mountains for spectacular scenery and a peek at tiny hamlets tucked into the undulating folds.
  • Visit three outstanding museums: Georgia O’Keeffe’s in Santa Fe to more fully appreciate this iconic American artist; the Martinez Hacienda in Taos to imagine how a prosperous trading family lived (one surprise trading item: churro wool socks. Picture an entire coterie of servants knitting away in the inner courtyard). And the Millicent Rogers Museum to see the finest in all New Mexican arts, from pottery to jewelry to rugs.
  • Relive the past at a Native American pueblo. Taos Pueblo, the oldest continuously inhabited community in the US, is a World Heritage site. Stunning in its simplicity, the pueblo exudes a sacred aura. 15 Tewa tribe households still call it home, choosing to live without electricity or running water in order to preserve an ancient heritage.
  • Eat chile. Also try blue corn tortillas (they are really blue), grilled buffalo and, if you dare, rattlesnake sausage.

Warning: The Land of Enchantment has cast a spell over many notables like O’Keeffe and Rogers as well as countless mortals who came to visit and never left. Let it be said that you were forewarned.

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