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Off to New Mexico!

If you’re an (ir)regular reader of this steaming pile of a site, you may have noticed I haven’t been updating for a while. Well, sorry, your good fortune is quickly coming to an end and things are returning to some semblance of normal.

The reason for my radio silence is that over the past 6 months or so, Jeri and I sold our place in SoCal and relocated to the wilds of New Mexico. “Relocated” as in selling one house, buying another and managing the move without a host of “people”. For a variety of reasons, it turned out to be far more of a pain in the butt than we had imagined in our wildest dreams, and so was the stress.

Ummm…Why the hell New Mexico??

A lot of reasons, but really a combination of push and pull. The town we lived in for many years, Irvine, is a wonderful place on many levels. So wonderful that it’s being loved to death by all the new development. Anyone with kids wants to get them in to that damn school system. Since we’d been traveling rather extensively the past few years, we really hadn’t noticed the marked changes around us. But since we decided to slow it down, we started looking around and said “Wow!”

Of course that problem is not unique to Irvine, but is true for much of SoCal. Readers of this site know that I’m all about adventuring, but it’s just getting harder and harder to do because of the regional traffic increase. For example, should I want to head out to Joshua Tree National Park (can’t imagine why), I’d have to get up just after 5 AM and be sure and get on the road well before 6:00 if I wanted to avoid getting stuck in traffic! That’s earlier than I’d get up when I went to work, and I hated that. All the development in the loftily named “Inland Empire” has created a barrier of traffic I’d have to fight to get through if I wanted to go anywhere fun. As a result, many things just weren’t worth it any more. And what’s the point in living that sort of life?

Too many people and too many cars are just beating the shit out of Southern California.

But why New Mexico? Aren’t there so many other more reasonable places to relocate? Who has ever heard of anyone retiring to New Mexico? Ummm…Exactly.

My first experiences with New Mexico were while attending scientific conferences in Albuquerque in the late 1990s. Turned out to be an interesting place. And relatives in Santa Fe caused Jeri and I to visit numerous times. This culminated in our renting an apartment in Albuquerque around 2012 where we spent much of a year to see if we liked it. We did, but weren’t ready to make a move at that time.

It was during this period as semi-residents, that we really “got” New Mexico. There are some many subtleties to this state that don’t present themselves to someone just vacationing. You actually have to be here, quietly observing, to see all the neat stuff going on and the nature of the people.

Now I could literally go on for pages about the attractive points of this state, but here’s a brief outline:

The food is beyond amazing! Things like carne adovada, green chile cheeseburgers (!!) green chile stew and sopapillas. There is a vast difference between Mexican food and New Mexican. If you like Mexican (and we do), you’ll love New Mexican cuisine. And it’s next to impossible to get real New Mexican cooking outside the state. A corollary to this is that chile is a REALLY big deal, and you do get addicted to it.

So much of this state is more than it appears. For example when we stayed in the apartment for a year, I was surprised to find not only bike shops all over the place, but there was a large system of bike trails, both on and off road. And all these people were out riding or running. Turns out Albuquerque has a vast park system with more park land per capita than Irvine or even Portland. Hell, this place even has a zoo, an aquarium and a damn good botanic park. And the annual Balloon Fiesta is an amazing full-on Rose Parade-level event.

In terms of access to doing fun shit, it’s just overwhelming. We can leave for anywhere just about any time of the day and there’s no traffic problem. And anyone reading my older archaeology posts while we were here last can sample a taste of what’s out there: Thousand year old Anasazi ruins and bits of equally ancient pottery everywhere. Not to mention the places I won’t write about.

And we really like the vibe the state has to offer. It’s very understated. It’s a great mix of both liberal and conservative viewpoints and lacking the political polarization that’s developed in many other places. Everybody just seems to get along (and they truly are damn nice people). Maybe some of it is having a part time legislature that only meets once a year in January. Cool.

As I said, people here are so much more polite and relaxed versus what we were used to in SoCal. About the only thing that really annoys them are Texans, who have “discovered” New Mexico, toss money around madly and engage in generally boorish behavior. Oh, and there was a time in New Mexico’s distant past where they were actually under the jurisdiction of Texas and never got over it.

Seriously, if you could pick up the states of Arizona and New Mexico, and flip locations, it would make all parties involved so much happier. New Mexico has much more in common with California and would enjoy the distance from all those Texans. And Arizona, perennially a Texas wannabe, could have its wet dreams come true. If I’ve said anything to offend either Texans or Arizonans….well…that was my point.

Of course if Jeri and I want to head out for fun, we really don’t have to drive. We can walk out of our front door, and a quarter mile down the street we’re on dirt trails leading into the Sandia Mountains, which are just amazing. The trail system in just the Sandias alone, and there are many other mountain ranges around here, are the equal or exceed anything found in SoCal. And with VERY few people on them. Jeri usually gets in over an hour hike every day, with any combination of trails.

As I write this I can lean back in my chair and look out my computer room window at a stunning view of the Sandias. Maybe later Jeri and I will head to the deck on the other side of the house and watch the sun set near Mount Taylor, almost 65 miles away, after which we’ll see the city lights start twinkling on in the valley about a thousand feet below us. Not a bad life.

So….adventures ahead! (But first, we need to go out to eat….)

The view out the computer room of the Sandia Mountains. That crest at well over 10,000′ is about 4,000′ above us, with trails reaching from our place all the way to the top, and everywhere in between. We can get as stupid as we want!