New Mexico Vacation

Pari Noskin Taichert

It’s vacation time for many people in the U.S. this week. I’m going to take a little break too. Rather than contemplate heady concepts about marketing, writing, or the mystery community, I thought it’d be nice to show you some pictures from our three-day family vacation to Ruidoso, NM. Okay, there was a little work there; I had a book signing in that small mountain town, but the bulk of our time was spent exploring South Central NM.

I had difficult time getting all the photos to line up with my narrative captions in this entry. Please pardon any of the confusion. When I tried to move them, it didn’t work and I decided to get this post up before the entire day passed. If you can’t figure anything out, just post a comment and I’ll explain it.

Here goes . . .

P1010042 Acomilla rest stop is about 60 miles south of Albuquerque. It’s one of my favorites because of its spectacular setting. As you can see, it’s built on stilts. I assume that’s to keep some of the dust out when the wind sweeps this landscape.  P1010037

The photo to the right shows a bit of the view from the rest stop.


Heading into Carizozo, you come upon an unlikely landscape of black lava rock. Here, in the distance, you can see El Capitan, the volcano that erupted to produce this particular anamoly.

The picture to the right is at theP1010048_1 beginning of the Valley of Fires State Park. 

The following are two photos from Bonita Lake a few miles outside of Ruidoso. They show both the landscape and the fact that the lake is far below its normal level due to the drought. The picture on the right is exposed lake bed.P1010064 P1010062

Ah, here we get to the business of the trip. On the left are Becky and Myk Ewing of Books, Etc. This couple is an example of the best in booksellers. They live in a fairly conservative town and make a point of bringing as much variety to their bookstore as possible. Notice Myk’s tee-shirt.

P1010066  P1010067

P1010070 P1010074 So many of New Mexico’s
museums are located in improbable places. To the left is the "Cube," the interior of the NM Museum of Space History. We arrived too late to enter, but it didn’t matter. Outside there is a park with space and military objects.

It’s an astounding site. To the right is a anti-aricraft missile aimed right at the town of Alamogordo. I’ve also included one more picture of the location because it was so odd and gorgeous.P1010076

Southwest of Alamogordo is one of the most marvelous national parks in our country. White Sands is a place you mustn’t miss. In the summer, the park is open until 10 pm most evenings. On full moon nights, it stays open until midnight. People come to have dinner — as we did — and then play on the dunes until it gets too dark to see.  The sand here is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. It embraces you in fine warmth. My husband, who eschews most "spiritual" references said that he felt healed after spending time in the park. P1010078

P1010079_1 The little pod-like structures are small picnic shelters. It’s wonderful to be in this frozen tundra landscape and to feel such warmth. Of course, you can see 40-60 miles in any direction as well — but that’s common in NM.P1010080

Many people bring sleds to slide down the dunes. We brought old aluminum snow dishes–but they were too sticky for the gypsum sand. It didn’t matter one iota.

The last day of our trip, we drove from Ruidoso to Cloudcroft in the heart of the Sacramento Mountains. Much of this land is owned by the Mescalero Apache tribe. While many Native Americans ended up with horrid, waterless reservations when they dealt with the U.S. Government, the Mescaleros had the opposite experience. They own some of the most gorgeous and fertile acres in our state. The pictures below show a bit of the mountains and, distressingly, evidence of poaching.

P1010082 P1010088  While taking a short hike,
in the area to the left, we found two elk carcasses. Both had been left just off of the path — and both had been killed for their antlers which had been sawed off. It was sad to see these mighty animals so wasted. The hunters didn’t even bother to harvest the meat. I’d say this was the only low point of our trip.

P1010097  On the drive down the mountain from Cloudcroft, on the left side of the road, is the remnant of an old logging bridge. Can you imagine cross that thing — even when it was new?

Finally, I’m going to end this little travelogue with pictures from another one of my favorite places in the world. Three Rivers Petroglyphs Park is located between Tularosa and Carizozo. Nearly 20 years ago, I went there with some friends. At the time, these petroglyphs weren’t protected. I’m grateful they now are. The thing that shocked me then, and still does, is that visitors can walk among them — they can leave the path and climb over rocks to see as many as they want. Granted, they might find a rattlesnake or two — but that’s kind of cool, too.

P1010100 To the left is the path that now leads to the hundreds of petroglyphs.P1010118_1 The photo to the
right gives you a small idea of the splendor of the location of Three Rivers in the Tularosa Basin.

P1010108 On the left is a butterfly. I could have taken — and inserted many more pictures of Three Rivers, but just wanted to give you a small feel of the place. The last photo in this missive is, to me, one of the most precious.

When I came to this site nearly 20 years ago, I found this face and stopped dead in my walk. Most of you don’t know that my mom collected Asian art and I got my undergrad degree in Asian Studies. One particular interest of mine was Tibetan art.  This face looked so Tibetan to me, I never forgot it. It also convinces me that many of the "primitive" cultures of the U.S. came from Asia. What do you think?P1010115_1

Well, thank you for indulging me. I hope all of you have a safe 4th of July — if you celebrate it — and if you don’t.

This trip through a small part of New Mexico gives you an idea of how large my homestate is. I hope it also gives you an inkling of why I adore my home so very much.


16 thoughts on “New Mexico Vacation

  1. Pari

    Iden,Thank you for stopping by today. I was certain no one would because it’s just such a becalmed time of year.

    I’m now a total convert to digital photography, though my skill is still quite limited — and I don’t have photoshop or any good editing software. However, I hope my photos do give a small idea of the splendor of NM.

    I’m totally in love with my homestate.

    BTW: I’ll be back to my contemplative self next week.

  2. David Wiley

    Pari, Loved your tour of NM. As a recent transplant from AZ, I too love this place. Murderati looks to be a great marketing tool. I’m a newbie to writing full time and need all the ideas I can get. Best, David

  3. JT Ellison

    Pari, the pictures are fabulous! I hope the journey was restful at the very least.Phoenix and ThrillerFest was a lot of fun, and you were sorely missed.

  4. Pari

    Hey, David. Thank you. I went looking for a website, but didn’t find one for you. What’s your book? You write full time? Wow. I write, like, maybe, 1/18th time due to life getting in the way . . .

    J.T. Tell me all about Thrillerfest. I wanted to be there. I bet it was one helluva party!

  5. Iden Ford

    As a photographer, we learn to use photoshop less and less, just take a good photo, crop it a bit, and not worry too much about exposure. It’s harder to do when you do not have great lighting, but in these photos you took, the lighting was excellent. I’ll chat more with you when I see you at all the cons. Enjoy and post more photos, all photgraphic ideas are worth pursuing, don’t be afraid to shoot the unusual, just go for it.

  6. J. Carson black

    Pari, I think of New Mexico as my sister state. I’ve spent a lot of time in Ruidoso (set a book at the All American Futurity and had my best booksigning ever at the racetrack), and I’ve stayed at the Lodge in Cloudcroft several times. I remember the first time I saw that railroad trestle when we drove up there in January and there was snow on the mountains. New Mexico has always been an “other” world for me. So beautiful, and all those rockets!


  7. Pari

    Hey, Jake,When I went to Arizona for my BELEN book signings, I drove from Phoenix to Sedona and then down to Tucson. The diversity of the state and its incredible beauty almost matched NM (I’m grinning here).

    We had planned to stop in Cloudcroft, but one of my children got horribly carsick . . . so, we just hurried down the mountain as quickly as we could.

    I want to go back to that area — and White Sands — again.


  8. Pari

    Iden,I look forward to learning more about photography from you. I suspect our in-person conversations will range over many interesting subjects.

  9. mary

    Hey, Pari – great photos. I’m nuts about petroglyphs. That rock guy does look Tibetan. Woo-woo time traveler? 🙂 The digital cameras sure make book-related stuff easier, though I’m still trying to get the hang of taking pictures.

  10. Pari

    Hiya, Mary,The petroglyphs at Three Rivers are absolutely astounding AND the fact that you can just wander off of the path and look at all of them, well, it blows me away. If ever you make it to NM, I’d encourage you to visit this site. It’s well worth the drive.

    Re: digital cameras — I’m still getting the hang of them, too. But, they’re such wonderful tools for recording the moment quickly.

  11. Elaine

    Fantastic photos, Pari! But…but…how do you folks out there in New Mexico (and Arizona!) handle the heat??? I’m still trying to recover!

    We missed you at ThrillerFest! Mark your calendar for next year,okay?

  12. Pari

    Oh, Elaine, Honey,It’s a dry heat. Heh heh heh.

    Actually, you learn to bring water with you all the time, to wear sun-protective clothing, and to go to air-conditioned places (or swimming pools) in the middle of the day.

  13. John Orman


    Loved your travelogue of Southern New Mexico. The Three Rivers petroglyph photos were interesting–no doubt you were researching your next book, “The Petroglyph Code”, about how a time-traveling Sasha Solomon solves the prehistoric murder of a Native American by decrypting the symbols embedded in the face scratched onto a rock by the dying victim. That butterfly image will make a nice tie-in with the efforts made by Sasha-in-the-past to avoid creating a “Butterfly Effect” that will not only prevent the ancient murder but will wipe out Sasha’s very existence in the present!If all that research was not the rationale for your trip, you can still run with my “Petroglyph Code” idea, unless I decide to write it up under my subtle pseudonym of Dana Brown!Good Luck on your continued travels/research/writing. Still looking forward to “The Socorro Blast”! I thought about your explosive new book while I watched the fireworks show in Socorro on the Fourth of July!

    John Orman


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