What is The Spirit of the American Southwest?
It is a body of rich Traditions: Native American spirituality, Spanish culture, Mexican resilience, and the wild, rugged and free character of the American cowboy.
History has blurred ethnicity lines, and although several features of these strong traditions can be identified in the elements of the Southwestern culture, they are, simultaneously, one in substance and nature – The Spirit of the American Southwest.
Native American Spirituality is without a doubt the chief influence and foundational creative force in the Spirit of the Southwest. Being able to experience the Southwest means being in direct contact with its essential elements, and these Petroglyphs speak of that holy communion between man and nature.
The Spirit won’t admit your problems and worries. It won’t allow distractions or lack of commitment. It requires your full focus and undivided attention. It needs a clear mind in order to make a connection with your soul.
The petroglyphs at Three Rivers testify to the connection that can be made.
Take a 360 look at this 360 degree Virtual Tour.
New Mexican cuisine has its own unique style. It is not Mexican. It is not Mexican-American. And it’s definitely not Tex-Mex. It’s true to the Southwestern Spirit of New Mexico’s rich cultural heritage. It is a blend of American Cowboy, Native American, Spanish Colonial, and post-Columbian Mexican.
The Chiricahua, Comanche, Mescalero, and Navajo influence on New Mexican food is expressed through the use of piñones, corn, chile, beans, and squash.
The use of wheat, rice, and lamb were introduced to the Southwestern Cuisine by the Spaniards. Arroz con leche, atole, bizcochitos, calabacitas, and flan are some of the Spanish dishes that have come to enrich New Mexican traditions.
Another example of cultural influence in New Mexican cooking is the Puebloan Horno; a mud adobe-built outdoor oven. Originally introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors, it was quickly adopted and carried to all Spanish-occupied lands. The Puebloan Horno was used by Native Americans and early settlers of North America, and became an authentic tradition in the Southwest.
The most iconic characteristic of true New Mexican Cuisine is the use of Hatch Chile, which is not the same as the serrano chile used in Mexican Cuisine.
Within our local food landscape you will find:
- Green chile cheeseburgers
- Green chile chicken Alfredo
- Green chile cornbread
- Green Chile Stew
- Green Chile and chicken stuffed avocado
- and even more creative dishes like green chile sundaes and smoothies.
So, what should you be looking for when you are in search of a true, authentic experience of the southwest?
- Bizcochitos – The Official New Mexican Cookie
- Carne adovada – slow-cooked cubes of pork marinated in red chile sauce, oregano, and garlic
- Green chile stew
- Navajo Tacos – made with fry bread instead of a tortillas
- Sopapillas – fried pastry dough typically used as an edible scoop for salsas and sauces
- Albondigas (meatball soup)
- Chiles Rellenos – whole green chiles stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg batter and fried
- Enchiladas – corn tortillas filled with chicken, meat or cheese, rolled or stacked and covered with chile sauce and cheese
- Flan – caramel custard
- Tamales – meat rolled in cornmeal dough and wrapped in corn husks
- Indian fry bread – a traditional thick flatbread of deep-fried dough
So, you have done your research and realized that Ruidoso, New Mexico is the-place-to-go this winter.
You are planning to visit Ski Apache, take awesome pictures at Sierra Blanca Peak (weather and health permitting), shop for souvenirs at Tanner Tradition and have lunch at Rachel’s; one of the best restaurants in Ruidoso.
Awesome, but… where are you staying?
Noisy Water Lodge is an option. These are pet-friendly rental cabins, surrounded by the amazing Lincoln National Forest and overlooking the world-famous Rio Ruidoso. Only 2 miles from downtown (and 20 miles from Sky Apache), these cabins are accessible to all Ruidoso attractions and activities.
They do not have a Google Virtual Tour, but here is a Street View image where you are able to view them from the street:
Their ratings are phenomenal and their reviews are stellar:
If the cabin experience is not for you, a vacation rental will probably interest you. Two Ruidoso Redheads have some amazing vacation options in different locations.
How does a vacation townhome rental sound to you? … I know!!!
Sorry, no Google Virtual Tours. But you can check out their photos, rating and reviews here!
If you are traveling with kids, don’t forget about the best local attractions to enjoy:
Tularosa is a small village north of White Sands National Monument. It is an oasis and the center of operations for travelers visiting the area.
The Village Historical Museum is the repository of the village’s history.
In the Historic Commercial Granado Street, you will not only find beautiful buildings that have been part of the community for a long time, but art galleries and amazing shops where local artists display and sell the fruit of their varied skills.
Saint Francis De Paula Historic Church, right on the main street, should be on your must-visit-list. This is a beautiful church of great historical importance to the area, with beautiful architectural details inside and out.
The Acequia System in Tularosa remains in its original state, and is one of the most attractive features of the village. It also is what ultimately turned this piece of land into an oasis for local farmers and wildlife alike.
The Original Townsite District is comprised of the original 49 blocks with which Tularosa was established. Historic houses architectured with local techniques particular to the area fill these 49 blocks and the acequia system lines its streets.
Before California wines were, New Mexico wines were. And if you wish to learn about and taste the local history of wine going back to the Spanish settlers, you need to visit the Tularosa Vineyards.
Shopping for rocks and fossils? Tesoros de la Tierra has the most unique and interesting souvenirs you will find for miles and miles…and miles…and miles. And even if you are not going to shop, give them a visit and enjoy. This place is like a beautiful museum and the owners are knowledgeable and happy to share stories and facts.
In the mood for a beer? The local bar is a place where many bikers (on their way to Ruidoso) stop by.
The Three Rivers Petroglyph site is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Tularosa, and a must visit when you come. I took a few pictures on my last visit and created a video for YouTube:
So, you are visiting The Land of Enchantment and are looking for the culture, the tradition, the history…and also happen to have a sweet tooth?
Then a must try for you is bizcochitos; a treat where culture, history, tradition (and sugar) collide.
Bizcochitos became New Mexico’s official State Cookie in 1989, in an effort to help preserve this cultural tradition. The Spanish roots of this traditional cookie were, for centuries, influenced by all the local cultures until it became a traditional New Mexican delight served at weddings, baptisms, and during the Christmas season.
“Bizcochito” is Spanish for “pastry”, and is flavored with cinnamon and anise. They are traditionally shaped like stars or crescent moons, and are paired with hot chocolate. Don’t worry if anise is just not what you are into, most bakeries avoid it for that reason.
As with all foods, there is a slight difference between made from scratch, and store bought. If you enjoy baking, there are many different recipes for bizcochitos online.
Bizcochito recipes are family heirlooms handed down from generation to generation, and ingredients may vary. Lard, bourbon, Brandy, anise, orange juice, vanilla, red wine, etc.
NOTE: My personal preference is having milk hot-chocolate, instead of water chocolate. The richness and creaminess make for a great palate experience.
This park is right next to our local zoo; The Alameda Park Zoo, which was founded on 1898, and is one of the OLDEST zoos in the country.
This is a picture of the Alameda Park published on 1908:
Alamogordo’s Farmer’s Market, with vendors from the Otero County as well as Lincoln County; offers fresh, seasonal, and local produce at the northern side of the park. They are Open from June through October, every Saturday.
We like to come to this park when the kids need a big, spacious place to run around. We might play with a ball, run races, do cartwheels, or just picnic on the grass. There is a covered playground, a shelter with picnic tables, and a bench if you just want to sit and read.
Community events and birthday parties are held here, and the shelter can be secured with a fee. I think I have seen people doing a Yoga class, and definitely other interest groups doing different activities.
Take a Virtual Tour and see for yourself why you gotta visit:
Carrizozo, New Mexico is about an hour away from Alamogordo and at about 40 mins from Ruidoso. But if you are in Albuquerque you will take a bit over 2 hrs.
I love the drive. The plains early in the morning or late during the evening are just gorgeous.
I think of the wild, wild, west during these drives…The Spirit of The Southwest is definitely for me!
The Valley of Fires Recreation Area has several campsites (some with hook-ups!), and provides access to the Carrizozo Malpais; a petrified lava flow on the west side of the town.
We enjoy bringing our picnic most of the time, but this beautiful, small, southwestern town has several eateries as well. There are picnic tables, and a big shelter with a fabulous view. This is one of my favorite places to picnic with the fam.
We camped here once before and the experience was exhilarating. The darkness, the sounds of the wild, and a feeling of being so close to nature; it could bite me. Glow sticks, finger flash lights and dinner by the fire made for great family time. This was my first time making biscuits in a Dutch oven covered with embers. I felt like a real camper!
It does get quite windy, and during the summer months the sun can be very harsh. We have found that visiting during the Fall is the best time. But don’t skip a visit to the town of Carrizozo!
You will want to visit the Carrizozo Heritage Museum and go back in time to see how life used to be in Carrizozo and the area.
Now, there is a challenge Carrizozo has for visitors interested in a fun activity right after dinner: The Burro Challenge. 21 Painted Burros have been placed around town, and you might be able to locate them all if you keep your eyes open. Share your selfies on Instagram with #PaintedBurros and #Carrizozo
We are already planning our next visit (It’s fall!) and will definitely be sharing more on the Spirit of The Southwest we found in Carrizozo, NM.
The outdoors, natural wonders, and history! Take the virtual tour of Valley of Fires Recreational Area:
The sound of a long noisy river canopied by strong, tall pines. Fish are here and there, hiding under numerous rocks that lie like big stepping stones across the river.
A steep hill begging to be climbed borders the western side of the river, and on the border opposite to it is a play ground with a picnic area. A bit further, across the busy street; a pizza place is waiting to feed hungry urban explorers.
Having young children doesn’t necessarily mean one cannot commune with the wild Spirit of the Southwest. Ruidoso’s Two River Park (yes, two rivers actually run through it) provides a means for families to experience the wildness of southwestern nature, and the comforts necessary to make the outing effortless and invigorating.
Take the Virtual Tour and see what a beautiful setting.