Why I love New Mexico


by Pari

So I’ve been sitting here wondering why on earth I decided to chair Left Coast Crime Santa Fe. I mean, it’s a whole year out and already I’m getting daily emails and having to talk with the hotel, worry about content on the website, write the blog (yes, I try to post daily on the blog on the website now), think about the program and on and on and on.

I hope I don’t sound like I’m complaining. That’ll come later when people aren’t happy with their program assignments . . .

But the question still needs to be asked. Why did I agree to do this?

I love New Mexico.
I want to show off my home state.

Let do a little of that right now.
Last week, my kids were on Spring Break. We took a small road trip west. About an hour or so outside of Albuquerque, near Grants, we turned south and headed for the Ice Cave and Baldera Volcano. These tourist attractions are on private land. For moderate admission fees, we hiked ½ mile up a muddy, snowy trail that led to a collapsed volcano. From where we stood we could see well more than a dozen other volcanoes. 

Then we walked 400 yards in the other direction, down several uneven stairs, and gazed at the mouth of an ice cave.

Gorgeous hunh?



Less than an hour later, we visited El Morro National Monument. This rock formation can be seen for miles and harbors a pool that sustained many a traveler across the high western plains of NM. Those travelers left their marks – petroglyphs, inscriptions from people like Juan de Oñate in 1605, children who later died in transit . . . There’s also a pueblo ruin on top of the monument, but we couldn’t visit because of the snow and ice on the trail.

Then it was on to Window Rock, AZ – a short drive, maybe 50 minutes, to see the rock from which the seat of the Navajo Nation derives its English name. I’ve always been curious about this place but doubted it’d be very interesting. A hole in a rock. Big whoopie. We went because it was close, that’s all.

Boy was I surprised. A stunning formation and a meaningful park commemorating Navajo veterans.

After a happy night in Gallup and several visits to the hotel’s nice swimming pool, we headed home by way of Acoma Pueblo (known as the Sky City). Rather than go to the casino, we went to the cultural center and bought tickets to go to the old pueblo on the mesa. This is the longest continuously inhabited pueblo in the country.


Photos can be taken – and I took quite a few – but hesitate to post them because of all the restrictions the pueblo places on them. I’m posting this picture of the sky instead. I took it atop the mesa.

I think it demonstrates nicely another reason why I adore my home state: the sense of possibility here.
You find it in our mountains, mesas, wide open spaces.

Well, I’ve gone on long enough. I hope my pix do some justice to the state I love so much.


Tell me, what place speaks to your heart?



52 thoughts on “Why I love New Mexico

  1. billie

    Your photos make me want to go back to New Mexico – we love the entire state, and my husband would move there in a moment if I was wiling to uproot us all permanently!

    When I was younger, Paris pulled me, and I spent a good bit of time there and satisfied that by walking the city every day with my camera and blank book.

    For a few years I was drawn to Italy, and now it’s Wales and Scotland.

    The Great Smokies have been a regular destination for me the past 10 years. There’s something incredibly healing about the mountains for me, and the sound of mountain water rushing.

  2. Cornelia Read

    How beautiful, Pari, and thank you so much for chairing LCC. It’s been a long time since I’ve traveled to your magnificent state, and I’m really looking forward to it.

    Two places I’ve wanted to see since I was about four years old, but have never yet managed to visit: Pompeii and New Orleans.

  3. judy wirzberger

    I take the moon with me wherever I go. Whether it is the smile of the Cheshire Cat or Cinderella’s pumpkin it stirs my soul. I am so blessed to live here where the ocean stretches to the setting sun and Monterey Bay shows her blue dress between the sand dunes as I drive along the highway. The hills turn Irish green in the winter rains and golden Oklahoma in the dry summer. Alas, I still miss the flaming leaves of the Ozarks in the fall. But that woiuld make this place perfect and the human condition is always to want for something.

    Can’t wait to visit your state once again, Pari that doesn’t rhyme with Mary. Judy

  4. Louise Ure

    The whole desert Southwest speaks to me, Pari. Like you, I am smitten.

    And boy oh boy do I understand the time commitment of running a LCC. Hawaii almost killed me.

  5. Brett Battles

    Great pics and post, Pari. (Wow, say that three times fast.) What speaks to me? Anywhere and everywhere. As a travel-/exploroholic the lure of someplace new always calls to me, and the places I’ve visited before often phone to ask when I’m coming back.

  6. Zo├ź Sharp

    Great post and fabulous pix, Pari

    The ocean always calls to me, but I have a whole list of places I really want to see – and soon.

    These are the days that must happen to you.

  7. Fran

    Vigorously, deeply, completely, gut-wrenchingly homesick.

    Once New Mexico gets to you, it’s with you for life.

    Thank you, Pari!

  8. Alafair Burke

    Great pictures! We’re going to Santa Fe for the first time for a wedding this year. Now I’m really excited!

    I have different spots that tug on different corners of my heart, but the Oregon Coast and New York City are two places I think every person needs to see at some point in her life.

  9. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    What speaks to my heart? Well, my home state, of course — New Mexico! And I miss it more every day. The only thing that would make it perfect for me is if it sat on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Still…I miss horseback-riding near the Taos Pueblo with my family, I miss the red-or-green chile on anything and everything, I miss the kaleidoscope skies and thunderstorms.
    I’ve already registered for Left Coast and I’ve made my reservations for La Fonda.

  10. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I love New Mexico – it really is the Land of Enchantment. I think you’re incredibly lucky to live there, Pari. Not that you don’t deserve it!

    Cant wait for LCCSF.

    I have a bunch of heart places. Berkeley, of course, San Francisco, London, Ireland in general, Venice boardwalk, Lake Powell. Death Valley.

    Could go on and on.

  11. JT Ellison

    Colorado. A certain Florida beach. Italy. And now that I’ve been back in my old stomping grounds, I’m realizing all I want to do is get back to Nashville.

  12. Erin R.

    I’m a New England transplant….but I do love New Mexico. My first memory of this state is being out in the desert after a thunderstorm swept through – the smell of rain-washed sagebrush and cedar and a watercolor vermilion and orange hued sunset.
    I’ve been hooked by the desert southwest for 26 years now, but I still miss the ocean. My ancestors settled in Maine & New Hampshire back in the 1600’s and I really think there’s something to whole idea of "blood memory" because I still think of New England as home and always will.
    Ireland is place I continue to revisit…
    And the Olympic Peninsula – which has it all: mountains, coastline, beaches, rainforest….

  13. pari noskin taichert

    I’ve never been to Montana but understand it has a similar magic to NM. Would love to visit. And Ireland is a dream for me, too. I want to do a walking trip, an extended pub crawl kind of thing in England and Ireland.

    You’re welcome anytime.
    And although Paris is wonderful, I adore the Mediterranean — especially around Antibes. It’s magical there.

    Glad to be of assistance, JD. <g>.

  14. pari noskin taichert

    I’m delighted you’re coming. My advice: rent a car with a couple of friends and go exploring. It’s worth it!
    And you should at least be able to get to N.O. I mean, really . ..

    Oh, man, what beautiful poetry this morning. I really enjoyed reading your post. Unlike you, however, I found that I couldn’t carry home with me. I have to be in NM to be truly happy; it’s a molecular thing.

    I know how you feel about the desert; we’re two peas in a pod when it comes to that. Of course, I think you were more sane just to take a piece of LCC — albeit a huge chunk — rather than the whole shebang.

    So, Brett,
    Where’s the next place on your list?

    Thank you. Any praise as far as the photos is a real honor coming from you.
    If you’re on Facebook, I’ve got a whole gallery there and you can see them in larger form (I screwed up here alas).

  15. pari noskin taichert

    I’ll be glad to make you homesick anytime <g>. Really. I’m glad LCC is giving you an excuse to come back for a visit.

    You’ll love SF. I hope you’ll take some time to get out of the city though and do a little exploring. It’s well worth it.
    And I agree on both points about the OR coast and NYC.

    I know you miss it! And I know what you mean about the ocean too. That’s one reason I loved Antibes so much — both the dryness and stunning blue skies you find in NM, but with a sea right there as well.
    I’m glad you’re coming to LCC. It’ll be good to have you home again.

  16. pari noskin taichert

    Alexandra, I hope you got to see some of its beauty when you passed through.
    Of the other places you mentioned, is there one that you MUST see again?

    I have to say that when I visited you in TN, you seemed incredibly at home there. It’s sometimes difficult for me to remember that you were born in my neck of the woods. And I like DC a lot more to visit than to live.

    NM would welcome you again.

  17. pari noskin taichert

    Like you, I actually do believe in blood memory. For me, the mountains and dryness, the incredible vistas and sense of foreverness here are the things I can’t find anywhere else. Not quite like in NM.

    I know so many people who love the ocean. I respect it, admire it, but don’t need it to be happy. I need a 7000+ ft. mountain, its wild vastness (which others find in an ocean view), to feel complete.

    The Olympic peninsula is spectacular, but there’d be too much green and water for me to be able to live there for any length of time.

  18. Rob Gregory Browne

    Great post, Pari. A couple of tips re: LCC.

    1. If you book a function at a bookstore for a wine and cheese get together, make sure said bookstore is big enough to fit all who attend and nobody will have to be turned away.

    2. If you’re going to serve lunches to people attending an event, make sure that lunch arrives when the participants are arriving and not after most of them have left.

    Isn’t planning stuff FUN??

  19. Fran

    Andi Marquette titled the first in her mystery series "Land of Entrapment" and each book so far has been its own little love letter to New Mexico. Between your Sasha books, Pari, and Andi’s K. C. Fonter/Chris Gutierrez series, I get to come home in little snippits.

    So looking forward to LCC! Both Lillian and I are!

  20. pari noskin taichert

    Thanks for the advice. So far, we don’t have plans for the bookstore route. And no plans for lunch since we’ll be giving two bfasts and the banquet included in the registration. After all, I hope people will take advantage of the hotel’s superb location to visit the Plaza at least — maybe some of the museums right in the area such as the Palace of the Governors and the NM History Museum both of which are within easy walking distance.

  21. Sandy

    Carlsbad, California, for the ocean and the moon on the ocean and the sun setting on the ocean’s horizon…
    Bryce Canyon
    For a number of years, I took educational tours of the Southwest with the Southwest Institute and Jerry and Shirley Williams. They introduced me to so many breathtaking landscapes.
    But I shall never forget driving alone in the car and taking a certain left turn and seeing "a-way-out-ther" Acoma for the first time. That feeling is a keeper.

  22. Paula R.

    Hey Pari, I love your pics…my fave is the one of the sky. NM is on my list of places to see. I want to learn more about the pueblos and see the rock formation too. The history must be amazing. Thanks for sharing your hometown wiht us.

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  23. pari noskin taichert

    My pleasure, truly.

    Come to LCC 2011 and rent a car and go exploring. Late March is a beautiful time of year here. Oh, who am I kidding? Every day is a beautiful time of year here . . .

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