I saw New Mexico for the first time in March of 1970 as I headed south through Raton Pass. It was love at first sight.
I was on spring break from Ohio University. I had never been as far west as Indiana before. I had been staying in Boulder, which I found to be just another suburb that happened to have mountains. It wasn’t the West of my movie-inspired imagination. Out of boredom and by chance, I started to drive south to see what else the West had to offer.
I had never seen such skies, light, colors or vastness as I saw that day crossing into New Mexico. I knew the plains to my left ended somewhere near the Ozarks, but that day I believed they were infinite.
I drove along the Cimarron River, through quiet canyons, then into Ranchos de Taos. Some hippies put me up at a commune overnight. I’d never seen adobe houses before. I didn’t know buildings could be bright pink or that window frames and doors could be turquoise. I thought to myself, I’m home. I moved to Albuquerque that August, and except for a painful 18 months in Connecticut for work, I’ve never left.