They grow a lot of chilies in New Mexico, which is a good thing because the 47th state is also the largest consumer of chilies in the country. They even have a “state question” to go with their state bird, motto, tree, etc: which do you prefer, red or green? There’s a lot of cool and interesting things about this state, but it’s amazing how many people have never been here.
I’m not actually sure why that is. I mean they have the largest balloon fiesta in the world, Santa Fe and Taos are renowned for their art and magnificent Indian jewelry. And everybody’s heard Judy Garland’s rousing version of “The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” in the Harvey Girls. But at the same time there are people who think it’s a foreign country. Sadly, there is evidence to back this up: the US Postal Service has been known to return letters addressed to New Mexico for more postage! Well, what do you expect from the government? (Don’t write me: that’s a rhetorical question).
Have you been to New Mexico? If not, then it is automatically on your Bucket List, and we fulfill an awful lot of Bucket List wishes here at Shebby Lee Tours. There are three World Heritage Sites in this state, which also fits neatly into our statement of purpose.
But most importantly, it has a trail! And not just any trail: El Camino Real del Tierra Adentro, the oldest and longest-used “highway” in North America. It was the original main road from Mexico, first used twenty-two years before the Mayflower blundered into Massachusetts Bay. It’s a National Scenic Byway. It’s original tracks can be seen in satellite photos. I mean, THIS is a trail!
A couple of years ago I was invited to tour El Camino Real with an eye toward developing a new program to southern New Mexico. I was pretty familiar with the northern part of the state but the southern part, not so much. So it didn’t take much persuasion to get me to come!
Of course I was drawn to the history, but I was also impressed with the hospitality of the people, the variety of things to do, the cultural heritage of three distinct cultures, (Mexican, Native American, and Anglo) plus ethnic food, and natural wonders. Did I mention the history??
I had a marvelous time, designed a great tour, put out the publicity but unfortunately, did not receive enough bookings to run the tour. I do have continuing interest however, among many travelers.
So now I’m on a mission.
We’ve scheduled this delightful seven-day program for April 16-22, 2015. If you’d like to travel El Camino Real with us this year, please let me know. We’re not running a charity here – we have to have participants to run a tour – but as those of you who have traveled with us in the past already know, we’re willing to bend a considerable amount to provide the destination wishes of our clients.
The trail runs from El Paso to Albuquerque, with three nights in Las Cruces, famous for its unique southwestern-themed Farmer’s Market. The program also includes the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Museum, Old Mesilla, White Sands National Monument, numerous Camino Real interpretive sites, including the outstanding Cultural Center and historic pueblos, Fort Selden, plus Santa Fe and Albuquerque sightseeing.
I did it. I wrote an entire blog on Camino Real without mentioning Don Juan de Onate, the man who blazed the trail in the first place. Now you HAVE to come along to learn all about him!
This month’s Trail Talk is sponsored by:
Shebby Lee is a historian, writer and tour operator specializing in the historic and cultural heritage of the Great American West. She is a frequent presenter at numerous history conferences and trade association meetings and is a regular contributor to ABA’s Insider online magazine. Her early training was in the theatre and she served a tour of duty as an entertainer with the USO. She is also an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy.