In 1992, my wife, Marsha, and I saw a Georgia O’Keeffe retrospective in New York City, and were totally taken by the fantastical colors and forms. We assumed that she had embellished what we thought of as the bland, lifeless landscape of the Southwest desert. In O’Keeffe’s own words, “What is my experience … if not color?” So we decided to go to New Mexico to see the places that inspired her inventiveness, and quickly realized that we needed to keep coming back to get the full picture. Two years later, at the Taos Art Festival, we saw another artist’s work of a sierra that featured an impossible combination of abstractly shaped purples, oranges, maroons, and reds. The next morning before daybreak, Marsha and I drove to the Río Grande Gorge Bridge, outside of Taos. As the sun rose, we saw that very same multicolor medley wash over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. What is our experience if it is not color? A-ha!
Jim Meehan
Wethersfield, CT

My wife and I first came to Ruidoso on our honeymoon in August of 1961. We fell in love with the mild climate, beautiful scenery, landscapes, rivers, lakes, and pine trees. We moved 18 times during our career, but we always came back to Ruidoso, settling permanently in this little slice of heaven 14 years ago. Every day, we enjoy the view of Sierra Blanca Peak from our deck. We also enjoy the Flying J Wrangler cowboy shows, Spencer Theater, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Cowboy Symposium, Ellis Store Country Inn cuisine, and Lincoln County’s Billy the Kid history. What more could we ask for?
Earl and Jean Gremillion

My “A-ha!” moment arrived when my husband and I took a vacation at the Gila River House, outside Silver City. Our drive west from I-25 on N.M. 152 took us over the Continental Divide, with deep canyons falling away to our right and a peregrine falcon flying below us.

At the house, hummingbirds landed by the feeders and a mule near the fence begged for apples. We relaxed, went birding, and visited the Gila Wilderness.

At night, I would stand outside and gaze upward, enthralled by the clear skies and the sight of the Milky Way. The last night of our stay, we witnessed cattle bawling in search of their kin in the pasture adjacent to us. We found out about irrigation systems as water suddenly flowed in a channel next to the property. In the wee hours of the night, we were awakened by howling; we decided it was coyotes, apparently attracted by lost calves. We enjoyed our calf-and-coyote chorus as much as we enjoyed the abundant wildlife. We left definitely hooked on New Mexico.

The next year, I bought a lot near Datil, where I hope to retire one day. I am constantly amazed by the wide-open spaces, clear azure-and-cobalt skies, laid-back, friendly people, unique and colorful geologic formations, and the lack of humidity. Hopefully, Pennsylvania will soon become my former home.
Jane Smith-Decker
Millersburg, PA

In 1998, my son and I drove from the East to visit friends in Tucson. As we crossed from Texas into New Mexico, the beauty of the huge, dark sky overwhelmed me. We spent our first night in New Mexico at a Tucumcari motel across the road from a grazing horse. It was an enchanting night, with a light wind blowing.

As we approached Albuquerque on I-40, I spotted the Petroglyph National Monument in the distance. It looked like a scene from a million years ago, and left me with such a strong impression that I still feel it today. I said to my son, “I could live here.” He felt the same way. We only spent a total of three nights coming and going across New Mexico, but I knew this was where I belonged. The next 10 years, while working in the rat race of New York City, I focused on the goal of moving to Albuquerque. After being here for nearly six years, I don’t care if I ever see the East again.
Carol Williams

I was born and raised in Michigan. In 1973, I accompanied a friend on a vacation to New Mexico. We arrived in Albuquerque, and the fun began: a trip to Jemez Pueblo, where we played basketball with the Pueblo kids; a relaxing soak in the Spence Hot Springs, under both starry sky and snowfall; and horseback riding at a stable on Tramway Boulevard.

I immediately fell in love with the state and brought my then-fiancée here. We visited Old Town, and camped out in Madrid and near Taos. We decided to try to save every dollar we made for the next year, and moved here in early June 1975. I towed a small U-Haul with my van, and she followed me in her Pinto. We were without a place to live or jobs.

Obviously, everything worked out. Our two children were born and raised here, and are proud of their parents’ adopted state. Thirty-six years later, I’ve been everywhere there is to go in New Mexico and have never regretted leaving the “Great Rain State.” There’s no place I’d rather live. Favorite places to visit? Kelly, Lincoln, Chama … and Isotopes Park.
Gary Herron