The Turquoise Trail

Farewell Texas for now, hello New Mexico! Located along the Rio Grande in middle of southwestern New Mexico, our first detour was the town named Truth or Consequences. The history of this oddly named town is fascinating.Truth of Consequences was originally named Hot Springs because of the dozens of geothermal spring-fed spas. March of 1950 changed all that when the radio host of the show Truth or Consequences offered free publicity to any town to take the show’s name. The citizens of Hot Springs, NM, in an effort to attract even more tourists, accepted the challenge, voted, and the town renamed itself (this really happened). Today, the town is quirky with a few cafes and souvenir shops and there are still plenty of spas. T or C, as it is known locally, uses its unique name to promote its spas with the expression “it is the truth that we have the health-giving waters here. The consequences are that people get results.” We chose to skip the hot spring soak and continued north, following the river.

We joined the Turquoise Trail, a scenic byway that twists and dips through old mining towns, parks and ranches between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. There are snow-capped mountains in the distance and open desert scrub between the small villages. There are many stops on the designated trail. We stopped in Madrid. In New Mexico, the location is pronounced MAD-rid. This was once a booming coal company town. The mine closed in the 1950s and the town closed with the mine. For many years it was truly a ghost town. Today it is filled with artist galleries, restaurants, a mining museum and shops. It is also home to the CrawDaddy Blues Festival every May. We had a nice lunch at the Mine Shaft Tavern where we learned that the hatch chili pepper is NM’s favorite pepper. The peppers come both red and green. The question is always: which would you like, red or green? The answer…Christmas (both). Coal was not the only thing that was mined in the area. The Turquoise Trail gets it’s name from Cerrillos turquoise. The location of Cerrillos, (the little hills) is just north of Madrid. The area turquoise mining predates the gold rush and the search for coal. As early as the year 900, Native Americans found deposits of turquoise in the hills as well as lead ores. The lead is used to glaze and decorate traditional Rio Grande pottery. The color of the turquoise depends on the amount of iron or copper in the stones. Some of the turquoise will be more brown/blue others more blue/green. There are many local artisans who mine their own stones and then create beautiful jewelry to sell in local shops. Decisions decisions…

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