Category Archives: Living New Mexico

New Mexico Ink

I don’t have a Zia tattoo. Nonetheless, I wear New Mexico.

Like many, my teen years were rife with moments I can only cringe at today. Some of my most memorable, brattiest reveries include pouting until I had a pair of Pony sneakers like my idols KoRn. Most notably, however, for months, I sighed and rolled my eyes and scowled because my mother would not allow me to get a tongue piercing.

One day, she offered a compromise:

“Get a tattoo.”

I am not sure why this was a better alternative to her, but I was quick to jump on it.

One Friday night my junior year of high school, she, my sister and I went to the closest shop: Mijo’s New Image, the only one in the northeast heights of Albuquerque at the time. I picked up the nearest magazine and started flipping through the pages. I had never met nor cared to learn about the artist. And I picked this.

New Mexico Dolphin Tattoo
First tattoo in New Mexico

I cannot find it in me to get removed or covered up. It is my genesis.

15 years later, I lose count when I try to tally my current collection.

I have bangers from Friday the 13th block parties that I cherish more for their memories with my friends than their images. I have a piece I got on a sort-of whim amidst the chaos and excitement that was attending my first convention. I am currently undergoing laser removal treatment. I have used the physical pain of getting tattooed as a meditative process to let go of coincidental emotional torment (heartbreak, to be precise). I have about 25 hours of work on my upper right arm. I have a cover-up. I have endured an infection. I have a conglomerate of my mother’s favorite things and therefore what most would accept as the one with the most “meaning.”

I think she assumed I would stop at my first—the one she offered.

“Why can’t you just wear a nice necklace instead?” “You had such beautiful skin.” And the clincher: “Where did my daughter go?”

Notwithstanding my mother’s convictions, my tattoos are my way of claiming my body and proclaiming my sovereignty and my identity. As much as I can be allowed into the tattoo culture despite having absolutely no artistic skill whatsoever, I devour every facet of it.

Nonetheless, all of my ink has one thing in common: all of it was acquired in New Mexico.

I am not a rebel. I am not a member of a subculture. I am not intentionally making a statement against feminine beauty ideals. I am not damaged. Like these pieces reflect….

Knee Tattoos New Mexico - roses and books
My stories.

I am merely a storyteller. One who lives in a wonderful time where I can wear and expose my stories.

While I understand art and one’s body are both extremely subjective realms, I hope to share my experiences here not entirely as a reviewer, but mainly as someone whose stories—those set in this wonderful state—hopefully inspire others to find the best way of telling theirs.

I look forward to sharing my journeys into the diverse, amazing world that is the New Mexico tattoo culture.

Happy inking!

Hiking Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks

Located about 50 miles north of Albuquerque, this place is one of my favorite locations in the entire state. I’ve done the hike several times and the level of amazement and wonder at the beauty to be found there has not yet waned. The Slot Canyon Trail at the Kasha-Katuwe* Tent Rocks National Monument is an opportunity to marvel at what the passage of time can do to a landscape.

*Kasha-Katuwe means “white rocks” in Keresan, a pueblo language. The national monument is located near the Cochiti Pueblo.

The name “Tent Rocks” comes from the cone-shaped rock  formations (also called hoodoos) created from a volcanic explosion over 6-7 million years ago. The monument includes several areas for hiking and sightseeing, including the Veteran’s Memorial Scenic Overlook, Shelter Cave, the Cave Loop, and the Slot Canyon Trail.

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The view from the bottom!

The trail is a three-mile loop that is easily done in about two and a half to three hours. It is a beginner-level hike, which is great for someone like me who isn’t a hiker but enjoys the great outdoors. Both the Cave Loop and Slot Canyon Trail begin at the same place, just off the parking lot. The Cave Loop trail circles the base of the tent rocks and is a mile loop, dotted with juniper trees and posted information about the geology and history of the area. At the half mile point of the loop, the Slot Canyon Trail breaks off to the right.

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Hmm, wonder why they call it Slot Canyon?

As the trail winds through the canyon, a large tree with gnarled roots big enough to hide behind acts as your portal to a sacred place. Once past the tree, the canyon walls rise up and the trail gets narrow. The modern world and all its trouble and worries disappear within this place as you wind past boulders and rocks and view trees and bushes that literally grow and survive off the sides of the canyon. The weight of time and the past pull you from your worries and cares as you begin to understand the temporariness of your place in the universe.

The first part of the Slot Canyon Trail is a gradual easy increase in elevation. Around the mid-point, the trail gets steep. You have to scramble over boulders and rocks as the path continues to rise. Railroad ties placed within the side of the mesa assist in the ascent, but it is still a steep journey. For someone afraid of heights (like me) there is always a big fear of just how temporary my place in the universe might actually become, but at Tent Rocks I always push past that, which is a sign of how wonderful this place is.

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One of the many hoodoos to be found on the trail.

When you reach the top you’ll experience some truly beautiful views, as it seems you see the entire northern part of the state from here. After taking some time to rest and experience the beauty of the area, you’ll go back down the way you came, but you’ll be changed. And if you’re not changed, you’re not doing it right.

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The view of the loop from the top of the mesa. Little Trickster shown for scale. 🙂

Tips for Your Visit

  • There is a $5 fee to get into the area. Check out their site to ensure they are open the day you visit.
  • Try to get there as early as possible (the monument opens at 7 a.m. in the spring and summer and 8 a.m. in the fall and winter). The Slot Canyon Trail is narrow in certain spots, and at the midpoint of the loop it you have to climb over some rocks and boulders as the elevation increases. If you go earlier, you don’t have to wait for other hikers, and you’ll save yourself the embarrassment of being overheard by anyone as you wail about the heights and curse openly at Little Trickster for talking you into this trip (but maybe that’s just me).
  • Bring your own drinking water, as there isn’t any running water at monument. Also, if hiking in the spring or summer, be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen, as there is pretty much no shade.
  • Be sure to bring proper footwear. While the hike is easy, it’s not flip-flop easy.
  • Dogs are not allowed on the trail.
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Yeah, we thought it too. I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy.

Visit the official site for Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks.

EatingNewMexico Cookbook Now Available!

The first Eating New Mexico cookbook is available for sale at blurb.com!!

This cookbook includes new and handed-down recipes for family favorites including biscochitos, green chile cheddar apple pie, pinon applesauce ice cream, and much more.

http://www.blurb.com/ebooks/510149-eating-new-mexico

(This is an e-book, compatible with kindle, ipad, etc.)

I’m in the process of getting it listed on Apple iBooks as well, and will post an update when I get that done.