Experience Slow Travel New Mexico and Dig Deeper into the Land of Enchantment - LasCruces.com
A coming-of-age ceremony on Mescalero Apache tribal lands. Photo by Paul Ross.

Judie Fein and Paul Ross have never met a stranger and that’s quite evident in their new book, Slow Travel New Mexico, Unforgettable Personal Experiences in the Land of Enchantment. This pair of travel journalists is used to exploring and writing about the world, but the pandemic slowed them down.

Instead, they took a deep dive into the Land of Enchantment in which they reside. With their gregarious and curious natures, they found adventures most of us would have missed and asked questions we may not have pondered. The results are this enchanting travel guide.

My husband, Brian, and I were introduced to them by a mutual friend. Initially reluctant to meet up with strangers at the height of the pandemic, we eventually found ourselves mask-to-mask with Judie and Paul and were charmed by their genuine interest in . . . well, everything! They were exploring the Las Cruces area, and we gave them some ideas. Brian even took them hiking in the desert to see places where petrified wood could be found.

Kristen Worthington delivers a pecan-centric gourmet dinner in authenticfarm-to-table style. In this photo from the book "Slow Travel New Mexico," Kristen is driving a red tractor with a plate of food on the front.
Kristen Worthington delivers a pecan-centric gourmet dinner in authentic
farm-to-table style.

Judie kept me apprised about the progress of their research, which all sounded like a lot of fun to this fellow travel writer. They’d meet someone, like pecan grower Kirsten Worthington of Mesilla Park, whose husband, Shawn, is an electrical engineer and a chef. They talked about their pecan products, and the next thing you know, Judie and Paul were enjoying a gourmet five-course pecan-strong meal in the middle of an orchard and asking if Kristen would do the same for others. So, not only were they finding unique travel experiences, but they were also actually travel-experience incubators.

That’s not the only time they sparked business ideas for the people they met. The Trujillo family in Chimayo has been renowned for their weaving for generations. It took Judie to say, “Can I try weaving?” which led to, “Would you teach lessons for others?” Recently, I spotted a Facebook post by the Trujillos inviting people to sign up for their first round of weaving lessons for beginners to more advanced fiber artists.

Zuni fetish carver Jimmy Yawakia showed them how to carve their own fetishes and will teach you if you contact him. Thanks to Judie and Paul, many artists, chefs, and others now offer experiences that travelers would otherwise have missed.

Emily Trujillo puts a contemporary spin on Chimayo weaving at her famous family’s atelier and store. The photo from the book "Slow Travel New Mexico" shows her weaving at a loom.
Emily Trujillo puts a contemporary spin on Chimayo weaving at her
famous family’s atelier and store.

Las Cruces Book Talk for Slow Travel New Mexico

The book was released in March 2024 and now Judie and Paul are doing a bit of traveling to promote it. It’s a great opportunity to get a signed copy of the book and meet these enthusiastic travelers who will inspire your own slow travels in New Mexico and beyond. Paul says, “As part of our presentations, my alter-ego PJ Ross will be performing funny cowboy poetry related to the book. PJ has appeared at the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering and will be competing in the national in Elko, Nevada.” 

There will be presentations in Albuquerque (April 7 and May 11), Gallup (April 19), and Rio Rancho (July 27). A Las Cruces event had to be rescheduled and the date will be posted when information becomes available. More event information is available online here.

Slow Travel Defined

So, what is slow travel? Compared to my often-hurried research trips when I have a list of more places than can actually be visited in the amount of time I’ve allocated, Judie and Paul usually travel without any detailed plans and just start diving into experiences. They end up spending a lot of time on a few things, really getting to know the people and places they explore. And asking questions . . . a lot of questions. That’s how they learn things that others may not, by asking the questions they don’t.

Paul is an award-winning photographer, and the book is enhanced with more than 100 color photos of the places they’ve visited and people they’ve met. In addition, each section has photography tips that can make your travel photography much more meaningful.

Where to Visit While Slow Traveling

Zuni carver Jimmy Yawakia welcomes visitors to his home workshop where he’ll teach you how to make fetish figures. Photo by Paul Ross from the book "Slow Travel New Mexico."
Zuni carver Jimmy Yawakia welcomes visitors to his home workshop
where he’ll teach you how to make fetish figures.

This book belongs on every travel enthusiast’s bookshelf tagged with lots of bookmarks for places to explore, whether they’re right in your own backyard or in the far reaches of the state. Slow Travel New Mexico is organized by region, so it’s easy to select the area where you plan to travel and find ideas that are beyond the average travel guide. Or you could read the book and plan your travels around their suggestions.

They visit some of the usual “must see” spots, but their curious natures have found extraordinary experiences in even the most well-traveled places. In addition, Judie’s writing helps draw out readers’ curiosity and encourages them to start asking questions. Judie writes in the introduction, “Slow Travel New Mexico is not about off-the-beaten path. It’s about off-the-beaten mental path — learning to look, see, open up, and explore differently. It’s a guide to unforgettable experiences.”

In southwestern New Mexico, they explored popular destinations like the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market, Gila Cliff Dwellings, and Silver City, but also took time to take a walk through the dry riverbed of the Rio Grande, visit Tortugas Pueblo, and explore the La Mancha Wetlands. Everyone they meet suggests someplace else they need to explore . . . and they usually do!

Slow Travel New Mexico book cover

Whether you enjoy in-person traveling or armchair adventures, pick up a copy of Slow Travel New Mexico to guide you. Perhaps their joy of life and curiosity will spark your inner adventurer. It also makes a great gift for family and friends who you want to encourage to come visit or just to understand why you live in such a fascinating state as New Mexico.

Story by Cheryl Fallstead • Photos courtesy Paul Ross and UNM Press

Top image: A coming-of-age ceremony on Mescalero Apache tribal lands. Photo by Paul Ross.

Posted by LasCruces.com

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