Tularosa – An original settlement of the American Southwest

While the American Civil War raged in states like Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, General Ulysses Grant captured Fort Henry in Tennessee. Congress passes legislation outlawing slavery and President Abraham Lincoln signs the homestead act into law. The small southwestern village of Tularosa is about to be founded.

An idea born by the first settlers of Tularosa in “La Promesa Solemne”, a prayer lifted up to God in 1862 before the two-day battle of Round Mountain, and later fulfilled by the construction of the St Francis De Paula Church in 1869.

Since then, as an uninterrupted tradition, the St Francis De Paula Fiesta has been celebrated every year.

Although the present construction is not in its original shape, and is double the original size, it’s included in the National Register of Historic Places and is an essential part of our local history.

If you are planning to come, but wondering what to do in Tularosa, let me give you a few things you must do when you visit:

  1. The Tularosa Original Townsite District is part of the National Register of Historic Places. It was divided into 48 blocks in 1873. Many of the homes built during the 1800’s are still there today and the local Library offers a Walking Tour Guide with a map and information to help visitors interested in learning the amazing stories behind each building.
  2. The original Acequia System was built by the first settlers in 1862 to divert the Tularosa River into a terraced irrigation system for homesteads, animals, home vegetable gardens and orchards is still being used today, lining the 48 original townsite blocks.
  3. The Saint Francis De Paula Church was built in 1862 as a result of La Promesa Solemne after the Battle fo Round Mountain, and is one of five Franciscan Missions in the area. This is the modified original structure where the foundation is cut stone quarried near the Tularosa River.
  4. Historic Granado Street with amazing shops, and historic buildings is where most of the local events are held. You can pick up a Walking Tour Guide from one of the shops.
  5. If archaeology and ancient history is what you are looking for, check out Tularosa’s Jornada Research Institute. Their membership includes monthly tours to interesting archaeological sites and volunteer opportunities to sites their team is currently working on.
    If you are interested in learning more about Tularosa visit the Tularosa History Council’s website.
  6. Three Rivers Petroglyph Site is an amazing place with more than 21, 000 petroglyphs located just outside of the village, a 20 minute drive.

Eat, drink, and be merry…

  1. Tularosa Vineyards with Tasting Room and Tours, pioneers in growing some of the more unusual, but well acclimated grapes in New Mexico.
  2. Tularosa Pecan Company established in 1969 is located inside the Travel Center and has the best treats made from their locally grown pecan orchards. Treats you will not find anywhere else.
  3. Loredos Bakery with the best authentic and freshly-made everyday Pan De Dulce. Chiles rellenos and tamales are also their specialty and are the best in the area.
  4. Casa de Suenos with amazing food and ambiance.
  5. Coming soon; Feed the Basin, a lofty mission driven enterprise.
  6. Better than Starbucks coffee, is Tularosa’s Hugga Mug. And if you want a breakfast to go with it you will find it at Yum Yums (along with the only Navajo Tacos I’ve found in our area). Ice cream and cheeseburgers instead? Old fashioned Tulie Freeze is the place.

The Tularosa Basin

The Tularosa Basin is located primarily in Otero County. It covers about 6,500 sq. miles and is 35% larger than the state of Connecticut. It’s nestled between the beautiful Sacramento Mountains to the east, and the San Andres and Oscura Mountains to the west, where the views of the Basin are absolutely stunning.

The basin is geologically considered part of the Rio Grande Rift zone, which widens due to the slight clockwise rotation of the Colorado Plateautectonic plates.

When the Spanish arrived in the Tularosa Basin, they found springs and small streams coming from the Sacramento Mountains that fed a relatively lush grassland on the eastern side of the basin. While some sheep ranching and mining was tried by the Spanish, the area remained firmly under Apache control until the 1850s.

Under US military protection, the first permanent settlement was established in 1862, when about 50 Hispanic farmers from the Rio Grande Valley moved to what is now Tularosa.

How can you enjoy the most notable features of the basin?

  1. Tularosa Basin Museum of History
    1. This is the very first stop for anyone curious to know more and understand the history of the land, the people, and their lives in the Basin.
  2. Tularosa Creek flows westward into the Tularosa Basin just north of the village of Tularosa.
  3. Carrizozo Malpais lava flow
    1. Get to know this ancient lava flow. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find yourself amazed at the variety of life (both flora and fauna) that inhabit and thrive in this seemingly inhospitable environment.
  4. Three Rivers Petroglyph Site
    1. Get to know the thoughts, ideas, and messages ancient Native Americans carved on these volcanic rocks.
  5. White Sands National Monument
    1. Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand engulf 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dune field. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dune field, along with the plants and animals that live there.
  6. Original Acequia system in the Village of Tularosa.
    1. The Acequia System in Tularosa remains in its original state and is one of the most attractive features of the village. It’s also what ultimately turned this piece of land into an oasis for local farmers and wildlife alike.
    2. The Original Townsite District is comprised of the original 48 blocks with which Tularosa was established. The
      architecture of historic houses stays true to local techniques particular to the area within these 48 blocks with the acequia system lining its streets.
  7. Toy Train Depot
    1. Acquaint yourself with the history of local railroads, and how they shaped the early local communities.
  8. La Luz Pottery Factory
    1. The Pottery Factory is of national significance, important to Rhode Island as well as New Mexico. And it is of particular significance to all the Friends of Bill Wilson because of its association with the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.
  9. Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
    1. Oliver Lee Memorial State Park consists of two separate parcels of land. Both parcels are historically significant. The Dog Canyon tract was used by Apache warriors as a defensive position and a base of operations during their numerous battles and wars with Euro-American explorers and settlers. Oliver Lee’s homestead near the mouth of Dog Canyon was built in 1893. Lee was an influential and controversial citizen of New Mexico’s settlement.
  10. Disappearance of Albert J Fountain and his son Henry.
    1. Albert Jennings Fountain was a Civil War veteran, New Mexico legislator and prominent lawyer. Colonel Fountain and his young son were presumed murdered near this spot while traveling between Lincoln and Las Cruces on February 1, 1896. Their bodies have never been found. Oliver Lee and James Gilliland were tried for their murder in 1898. Both were acquitted. 
  11. Holloman Air Force Base
    1. Planned for the British Overseas Training program which they did not pursue, construction for the USAAF base 6 mi west of Alamogordo, New Mexico, began on 6 February 1942. After the nearby Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range was established by Executive Order No. 9029, the neighboring military installation became the Alamogordo Field Training Station (27 May) and the Alamogordo Army Air Base (operated by the 359th Base Headquarters beginning 10 June 1942).
  12. White Sands Missile Range Museum
    1. At the White Sands Missile Range museum you can trace the origin of America’s missile and space activity, find out how the atomic age began and learn about the accomplishments of scientists like Dr. Wernher von Braun and Dr. Clyde Tombaugh at White Sands. Displays also include the prehistoric cultures and the rip-roaring Old West found in southern New Mexico.
    2. Outside the museum is a missile park displaying a variety of missiles and rockets tested at White Sands. These include everything from the WAC Corporal and Loon (U.S. version of the V-1) to a Pershing II and Patriot. More than 50 items are on display.
  13. Trinity nuclear test Site.On July 16, 1945, one week after the establishment of White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), the world’s first atomic bomb was detonated in the north-central portion of the missile range, approximately 60 miles north of White Sands National Monument.

A Daytrip with History, Culture, and Art.

Wondering what to do in Alamogordo, NM?

Alamogordo is a great place for a day trip. There are a variety of things to see, places to eat, and a variety of activities for everyone.

When my children were a bit younger, we used to go to the Alameda Park Zoo and have a picnic there, on the grass. Afterwards we would head over to the Founder’s Park and just look around. My youngest one (then 2) would enjoy walking around, “hiding”, and exploring. It was definitely a treat for her!

Founders Park is located at the Junction of White Sands Boulevard and 10th Street. Right across 10th street is the Alamogordo Museum of History and right across White Sands Boulevard sits the Alameda Park Zoo.

You can spend 15 to 20 minutes here and enjoy it after a visit to the Zoo and the museum.

If you are coming from The White Sands National Monument and are looking for something to eat, you will definitely be able to find it within walking distance from here.

Have you tried New Mexico’s famous Green Chile Burgers? Blake’s Lotta Burger is just 4 blocks from here on White Sands Boulevard and 14th Street.

If you are in the mood for doing a little shopping afterwards head over to Main Street (right behind Founders Park).

Take a Virtual Tour of Founders Park, you gotta visit!

Tour New Mexico; Observe Listen, Engage, and Learn.

Tour New Mexico; Observe, Listen, Engage, and Learn. An Awesome Way to Travel.

If you’re a visual learner, you’d be able to understand how important our senses are to learning.

Listening to experts, engaging in conversations, asking questions, and seeking further information helps stimulate our thinking process, challenges our preconceived notions and beliefs, and helps our minds grow.

For these and other reasons, Tours are an awesome way to experience New Mexico.

NOTE: Some of these tours are by appointment. If you are unable to find any specific info on the linked websites, give them a call. I’ve done my homework and all these tours are available as of March 2019.

Here is a list of Tours in our area you won’t be able to find anywhere else!

Click on any one of these if you’re interested in learning about the beautiful Land of Enchantment.

Become more Creative and Productive: Take a Day Trip

Periodically unplugging from the stressors associated with our daily routines like office work, house chores, and family duties helps us not only boost our immune system, but we can also become more productive and creative.

Those feelings of physical and emotional exhaustion, lack of concentration and inability to focus, mild forgetfulness, are the tell-tale signs of work-related burnout. And according to psychologists, taking shorter vacations could be even more beneficial for you, because ultimately they are good for our mental health: “Vacations are coping mechanisms that help us adapt to the everyday stresses of our lives.”

But there is a way to maximize these benefits: and one of those strategies is The Planning Process.

But what is it about the planning process that can be intrinsically beneficial to your health?

  1. It builds anticipation and that is good in and of itself. Just like Fridays make you happy because they mean it’s the end of the work week.
  2. It gives you time to ease into “vacation-mode”, another excellent strategy to maximize the benefits of taking time off from work.
  3. Plan for experiences, they help you connect with yourself and others, get you out of your comfort zone, and help you think outside-the-box.
  4. Sharing is caring…for yourself. Sharing your vacation experiences with friends and family has almost the same health benefits as the vacation itself.

I am currently working on a couple of Travel Guides to help you in this planning process. I will keep you posted!


Petroglyphs; Sun, Wind, and Inner Peace.

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.

Authentic Southwestern Cuisine; New Mexico Style

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:

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

Where to stay in Ruidoso, NM? A Guide from a Local Explorer

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:

What to do in Tularosa, NM?

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.

At the Tularosa Travel Center you will be able to find local pecans and pecan goodies grown by the Tularosa Pecan Company; a family owned operation established in 1969.

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:

What to do In Carrizozo, NM? You won’t find these on TripAdvisor…

Easy and Fun, with kids or without, romantic or not, these are four things you must do when you visit Carrizozo, NM.

Valley of Fires

This attraction (is actually on TripAdvisor…) and is awesome for everyone.

Kids, adults, grandparents and wheelchair-accessible, THIS IS IT!

What you won’t find on TripAdvisor:

  1. The Burro Challenge. Not on TripAdvisor (though I wonder why not?!) this was such a fun thing to do. We did walk around town a bit, but did not notice how far we traveled or for how long. One cannot visit Carrizozo without doing this, as this is the area of donkeys (“burro” means donkey) and the art is fun and beautiful. And if you are in Carrizozo, you must be into nature and art…and if you are not, you are missing out.

2.  MoMaZoZo’s Gallery. 12th Historic Street in Carrizozo is awesome. Stop at all the spots, including the Malkerson Gallery!

3. Chamber of Commerce. The El Paso and Northeastern Railroad built a depot on Carrizozo Flats, and the town was born.

This is a video we took on our last visit: