August 2, 2015

New Mexico – Glenn Nilson’s Land of Enchantment



I remember the first morning I woke up in our new home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, about forty miles north of El Paso, Texas and the Mexican border with Ciudad Juarez on the other side of the Rio Grande. I had come from Connecticut, and I was seeing to the installation of our pool and a few other things to get our house ready for move-in. My immediate impression was how delightful and inviting the sunshine pouring into the bedroom felt. It was a first, and lasting, impression of life in New Mexico. Outside, the fabulous Organ Mountains loomed above the desert mesa, blue sky opened to the heavens, and the morning sun painted cacti and greasewood in soft pastels. What a wonderful way to start the day!

Down from the mesa lay the busy and growing city of Las Cruces, and over the Rio Grande sat La  Mesilla, a collection of adobe structures around a public square with an ancient church at one end. The stores in Mesilla had discovered the value of selling to tourists. One of them touted Billy the Kid’s presence in the early days of the old west. Las Cruces is not far from Lincoln, where Billy the Kid escaped from jail, and Silver City, where Billy grew up.


New Mexico is a great place to explore old cow towns, ancient Puebloan ruins and abandoned mines. One of the most memorable ancient ruin for me was El Morro. This ancient way-point boasts a deep spring that has drawn desert travelers to its waters for ages. El Morro is a great sandstone bluff rising above the desert floor. Visitors can walk up a trail to the top and view the ruins of Ancestral Puebloans. The most fascinating feature of the walk are the inscriptions, ancient graffiti—petroglyphs left by Native Americans and messages inscribed in the soft stone by early Spanish Conquistadors and later American travelers heading westward. I remember camping at El Morro in a primitive campground, with only twelve campsites. As the sun went down, the soft evening air drifting across the desert seemed offer a tangible connection to El Morro’s romantic past.

Another, and much deeper, spring lies north in Santa Rosa, called Blue Hole. This desert wonder is reportedly connected to an underground labyrinth of caves, inaccessible to the scuba divers who come to enjoy Blue Hole’s depth of more than eighty feet. Santa Rosa is near Tucumcari, the setting for my first novel, Murder on Route Sixty Six.

When I wrote my book, Lesley accused me of choosing the setting to give me another excuse to travel back to New Mexico. I can’t say she was entirely wrong about that. When the book came out, I rode my motorcycle out from New York to do a book tour along old Route Sixty Six. Of course, I had to sneak off the route for a visit with the buddies I rode with when we lived in Las Cruces. I remember a ride where we climbed a twisting road through the Gila National Forest, and another, riding along the Rio Grande on our way to breakfast at a favorite restaurant in Hatch. Hatch is known for some of the best chili in the world, and the thought of breakfasts of sausages and juevos rancheros smothered in green chili and topped with fried eggs still makes my mouth water. 

New Mexico is called The Land of Enchantment, and for good reason. It’s rugged beauty and (sometimes) lonely vistas are steeped in a romantic and colorful past. Sunsets are spectacular, and mornings are fresh and inviting. There’s lots to explore, and much to enjoy, but be careful—you could end up discovering the joy of ice cream with green chili syrup and toasted pecans, and find yourself looking at houses for sale.

Glenn Nilson, Author Of Murder On Route 66, www.glennnilson.com, Mainly Murder Press, LLC, and a native of California. Glenn grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills doing farm chores, hiking, even panning for gold.  After earning his doctorate, he moved east to teach sociology.  Upon retirement, the West drew him back, this time to New Mexico, the setting for his first novel, Murder on Route 66. Currently Glenn divides his time between living in rural Florida and up-state New York, refurbishing an 1870’s era creek-side cottage and writing.  When he’s not writing, Glenn loves the outdoors, especially camping and riding his motorcycle. He also enjoys cooking. He loves working with sourdough, and has even taken his starter with him on cross-country trips.

Glenn offers people a chance to win a copy of his novel, Murder on Route 66.  Comment here for your chance and leave a contact link so we can find you!
(All Material Provided by Author)

13 comments:

Ken Weene said...

We just got back from a delightful weekend in Albuquerque. New Mexico certainly has beautiful scenery and friendly people. I recommend Silver City for those who don't know it. There is great jewelry, especially made by Zuni, in Gallup. Don't just limit yourself to Santa Fe and Taos because they are known.

Lesley Diehl said...

I guess I'd better weigh in on this one since I'm Glenn's wife. I remember waking up in New Mexico also and thinking, "Boy, is it hot here!" Hot it is, but it's a beautiful land, startling in its colors and a wonderful place to set a book. Glenn's book captures the enchantment of the land. And his next one does the same. And, yes, I'm biased!

Marion Cornett said...

Glenn, it sounds like you've led an interesting life and lifestyle and I'd love reading your book. My facebook page is www.facebook.com/marioncornettauthor. Good luck on your sales!

Brian Nilson said...

Makes me want to see the west again!

traveler said...

I was entranced with your post about New Mexico since this locale is unique, intriguing, and above all completely different from any other place in the U.S. Sunshine and bright blue skies and the gorgeous sunsets and magnificent Sandias all are components which contribute to its extraordinary specialness. I enjoy life here since the climate is delightful, the people down to earth and the horizons stretch on forever. I do miss the ocean so we go to the beach once a year. Upstate New York is lovely, The Adirondacks, Lake George, Saratoga Springs and the apple orchards of the Cortland area are beautiful. Living here has brought me a great deal of pleasure and contentment. Route 66 is fascinating. I would love to read your novel since it sounds meaningful and enthralling.

petite said...

Your interest in NM and Route 66 captivated me entirely. The Mother Road is historic and a phenomenon as no doubt your book is as well. I am glad that you explored this part of the country and lived here for a time too. The history abounds as well as the unusual topography. I watched Manhattan with great interest and will continue too when it returns. What a special post to wake up to and appreciate since NM is a spectacular place. Authentic, real, without artifice and yes, perhaps, unsophisticated but true.

jrlindermuth said...

If opportunity presented to live in the West, New Mexico would top my list of choices. The book sounds interesting. I've read and enjoyed some of Lesley's books. Oh, these TBR lists; there's no end to them.

Glenn Nilson said...

Love to hear others have such good memories of New Mexico too. Thank you for visiting the blog and for your encouragement for my writing.

Heidiwriter said...

I'm headed for Las Vegas NM next weekend for the Cowboy Reunion Roundup! Looking forward to being in your state. I've been to Albuquerque a couple of times and Sante Fe once. Your book looks like one I'd love to read! heidi at heidimthomas dot com

Mary Deal said...

Once I was in New Mexico, had entered from the north. I got as far as Taos and spent a couple days there before having to head back up north. I had the best chili rellenos in my life in New Mexico. That has always left me with a feeling I wanted to go back. I still feel that way after all these years. Nice descriptions you have of your state. Nicer still, that you found the sunshine. Your book looks exciting too.

Christine DeSmet said...

Your book sounds great! I recall doing the gondola ride up to Sandia Peak. What a thrill. And the temperature was so cool and lovely up there. And don't forget there's some really good golfing in New Mexico for those who love doing that.

Glenn Nilson said...

It's been fun reading of other memorable experiences in New Mexico --they bring back more memories for me. Reflections on food enjoyed in NM are making my mouth water. It's been great to share.

Fiona McGier said...

Another state I've never been to, but now that you've made it sound so great, I'll have to camp in someday. Never traveled along Rte. 66 either. But if we ever get to retire, I'll add New Mexico to my list of must-visit places.
I've also set my books in places I've actually been to. Makes it more authentic. I'd love to visit by proxy, reading your book.
fiona(dot)mcgier(at)gmail(dot)com