Annie MacHale is a reader of the blog. She is, in her words, “…a weaver and a lover of all things handmade. I am fascinated by discovering what inspires people, what objects they create with that inspiration and how these things are bought, sold and traded. I am fortunate to explore these interests through my handwoven business as well as a position as retail buyer and manager of five stores in California’s State Parks.” After raising three kids in California, Annie and her husband are looking forward to retiring and making their home in New Mexico, “… where the explorations will continue.”
Annie had been communicating with me about an upcoming trip to New Mexico, telling me about a fabulous Jeep Tour she’d learned about and was taking. I was most interested and asked if she’d be willing to write a piece about it for the blog. She was. Here is what she wrote.
New Mexico Jeep Tours
By Annie MacHale
It all started with a picture, a beautiful picture of a New Mexico landscape that I came across on Flickr. After browsing more by this photographer, I became increasingly impressed, and wrote him a message just to tell him so. This started a friendly conversation which led to … a New Mexico backcountry jeep tour. The photographer, Roch Hart, is also the owner of New Mexico Jeep Tours in Albuquerque.
The business name falls short of describing the unique educational experience that you get when you ride with him or one of his three guides. In the shiny red jeep you can go places that not many others can; the tours all take place on private ranch lands. Each tour is exclusive; your jeep and guide will be your own, not shared with other customers. And, each tour is different.
There are so many sights to see and a vast network of trails in this expansive area so your guide will tailor your trip to suit you. What’s your pleasure? Spanish homestead sites from the 1700’s? Petroglyphs? Volcanic rock formations? Arroyos, mesa tops, streams, trees, flowers, animal bones, wild horses, pottery shards and ancient Pueblo ruins? A native New Mexican, Roch’s passion for the land and strong curiosity are evident. He spends time “scouting” on his own so that he can show his customers the best offerings.
My friend, Joanne, and I scheduled what is called the “Most Popular Tour”. If you like, he’ll pick you up anywhere in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area, but we chose to meet him near the tour’s starting place so that we could get out into the backcountry right away.
With a Carlos Nakai tape playing beautiful flute music, we headed out early in the morning. The weather was warm and sunny so he left the jeep’s cover on, but opened up the windshield for a better breeze, which had the effect of connecting us more intimately with our surroundings. As we rolled slowly along, he stopped to point out plants and discuss traditional/historical uses, told us bits of history of the land and the people who have used it. We stopped at many sites along the way to get out and get a closer look at ruins, artifacts, petroglyphs, and more. Each stop came with more information. Who built here? When? What do the images on the rocks mean?
As a California City Girl, one of the things that impressed me most was the huge expanse of space and the beauty of the terrain. When we spotted a small herd of wild horses, Roch knew just where to take us to get ahead of them and get a better look. They are getting used to seeing him he says, and no longer run. What a treat it was for us, to get a friendly visit with them!
A four hour tour was just like a little teaser! There is so much left to see! There are several sites that you can go to with New Mexico Jeep Tours and options for tours are increasing. Just recently they’ve added the “Archaeological Dig Tour” in which you can, with an archaeologist, help discover the artifacts hidden on this select site and unravel the stories of the people who were here centuries ago. Not for treasure-hunters, you are allowed to take photographs and memories only.
To read more about New Mexico Jeep tours visit their website at www.nmjeeptours.com.
To browse through Roch Hart’s captivating photographic images, have a look at his Flickr albums here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29864089@N06/
Here are more of photos from the tour: