In the early 1970s, I had a brother-in-law who was obsessed with New Mexico, Taos in particular. He took annual vacations there, went camping in the area, and was loyal to the Taos Inn, the legendary hotel with the lobby and bar that have functioned as the town’s living room since 1936. He and my sister even wore squash blossom necklaces and decorated their home with Navajo rugs. There’s nothing all that unusual about any of this except that they lived in a suburb of Washington, DC, where beach vacations and Colonial/preppy style were the norm.
When I first passed through Taos late in that decade, it was, as I recall, further removed from the mainstream than the town we know now. To a college kid who’d never been out west before, it seemed ancient and exotic. The hook was set.
A decade later, I came out to Taos on a ski trip with a group of friends for the same reason many people do: In addition to the promise of primo skiing at a low-key resort with lots of character, we could visit the Pueblo, take photos of the area’s distinctive architecture and landscape, and, naturally, have drinks by the fire at the Taos Inn. Good times.
I can’t say I’ve caught the Taos bug as badly as my brother-in-law did, but I find, as managing editor Candace Walsh did while reporting “Digging in to Taos”, that the town keeps growing on me. I go up from Santa Fe every chance I get. In fact, just about as soon as I finish writing this letter, I’m heading up there again, for a few days jammed with sightseeing (revisiting the Pueblo, checking out the Earthships), rafting on the Río Grande, and taking in some of the museums and galleries Kate Nelson reports on in “Artscapes”. The early-20th-century Taos art colony she describes—whose influence informs the Taos ethos to this day—endures as a great testimonial to the allure the place exerts on discerning, creative, free-spirited types. I doubt that there are many towns that size (pop. 15,000) in the country that can compete with the Taos package of art, culture, lore, and adventure.
If I had a few extra free days, on the way home I’d reverse the trail mapped out in “Road Trip” and stop in two more only-in-NM small towns, Red River and Cimarrón, then spend a half-day in one of the secluded waterfalls described in “Waterfall Hunter”.
Not to come off smug or anything (not much!), but it’s stuff like this that makes me feel a little sorry for the editors of other state magazines. New Mexico gives us such great material to work with. Loyal readers may recall that last year we published a lot of articles with the theme “A-ha! NM Found,” which was recently awarded the 2015 gold medal for Best Series of Articles by the Western Publishing Association. We’re proud of the magazine, and proud of the state it represents.