Transcript: New Mexico
Writer Ed Readicker-Henderson answered your travel questions February 1, 2005 at noon ET
Everybody does the same thing when they come to New Mexico: They head north from Albuquerque, toward Santa Fe and Taos. But I went to school in a small town on the edge of the Navajo reservation up there, and my wife, Lynn, also once lived in that end of the state. We're more fascinated with what lies to the south, where Billy the Kid ran wild and aliens crashed.
So let's discuss the south of the state, or if you like, the north. When you're traveling to New Mexico, it's all good.
Ed answered your questions about New Mexico on Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 12pm EST.
Ed Readicker-Henderson figured out how to live the retired lifestyle at a very young age: winter in the desert Southwest, summer in Alaska. Over the past 15 years, his travel articles have appeared magazines on five continents (Antarctica is still particularly frustrating him, as not many penguins seem to read); he's also the author of eleven books, with five more on the way. It was the fifth of these, on America's home-grown shrines, the sacred places of our common culture, that kicked off work on this New Mexico article. Where else can you find aliens, Smokey Bear, and a half million bats flying into the desert night?
Ed Readicker-Henderson: Hi, and welcome. Thanks for stopping in for this discussion about traveling in New Mexico, especially the much overlooked southern end of the state. I'll be here answering questions for the next hour, so if there's something you're dying to know, let me know, and let's see what we can come up with.
Kansas City, KS: My buddy and I were planning to take a trip to go camping in New Mexico. What types of things should we look out for while out in the wilderness?
Ed Readicker-Henderson: We're going to hit this point a couple times over the next hour--New Mexico has one of the most diverse landscapes of any state in the country. What you're going to encounter, as far as weather, conditions, alerts, is going to change with where you are. Go in the desert, you'll want to take snake precautions if you're hiking in summer; you'll also need to keep a close eye on your water supply, as dehydration is always a factor. Go into the mountains, though, and you'll be facing entirely different conditions; rather than snake precautions, you might want to take bear precautions (don't cook in the tent, try very hard not to smell like food, make some noise while you hike). Either way, there's so much wilderness in New Mexico that you have infinite choice. The main thing is go prepared for the climate, and keep a sharp eye out. Know how to navigate--yeah, GPS is fun, but my Boy Scout training insists on always having a topo map and a compass along for good measure--and always, always, always let somebody else know where you're going and when you expect to be back.
Moline, IL: I enjoyed your article as I am from Southern New Mexico. I think you missed out on some great stuff though. From Las Cruces you should have gotten off at the Hatch exit. That is where the best red and green chile comes from. From there travel towards Deming, which is 35 miles from Palomas, Mexico and Colubus, New Mexico. That was the site of the Pancho Villa raid. Further north through Silver City you would find the Gila Forest and taken the catwalk that is very impressive. Thanks for reviewing what I consider one of the most neglected part of that Wonderful State.
Ed Readicker-Henderson: This is a wonderful question/comment--thanks for posting it. To roughly paraphrase Mark Twain, "you can't have everything--where would you put it?" And that's what happened to Hatch; this is such an unknown part of the state to most people, I simply couldn't fit in everything I wanted to.
For those of you joining us, yes, go to Hatch. Lovely area, great history, great food.
And while we're here, a couple other things that I didn't get to include in the article, but are well worth looking out for: when you're in the neighborhood of Capitan, Ruidoso is famous for its horses, its arts, and its hiking. Nearby is the Three Rivers Petroglyph National Recreation Site, well worth the stop.
If you have time while you're heading up I-25 and are of a scientific bent, it's worth the sidetrip to head to the National Radio Astronomy VLA Telescope. If the people back in Roswell are right, and we're not alone, this is where we're going to be picking up the messages to prove it.
A couple other quick hits: all the farmers' stands around Alamagordo; the nut farms outside Las Cruces; the great mountain town of Silver City; and, if you turn right onto 380, instead of left, as we do in the article, you end up on the far side of the Trinity Site, which utterly fascinated me as being about as much middle of nowhere as it is humanly possible to be in the continental United States.