Greater Than a Tourist- New Mexico USA
50 Travel Tips from a Local
By Jeff Christensen
Are you excited about planning your next trip?
Do you want to try something new?
Would you like some guidance from a local?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this Greater
Than a Tourist book is for you.
Greater Than a Tourist- New Mexico, USA, by Jeff
Christensen offers the inside scoop on America’s 47th state. Most
travel books tell you how to travel like a tourist. Although there is
nothing wrong with that, as part of the Greater Than a Tourist
series, this book will give you travel tips from someone who has
lived at your next travel destination.
In these pages, you will discover advice that will help you
throughout your stay. This book will not tell you exact addresses
or store hours but instead will give you excitement and knowledge
from a local that you may not find in other smaller print travel
Travel like a local. Slow down, stay in one place, and get to
know the people and the culture. By the time you finish this book,
you will be eager and prepared to travel to your next destination.
1. INTRODUCING NEW MEXICO
Twenty years from now you will be
more disappointed by the things that
you didn’t do than by the ones you
did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail
away from the safe harbor. Catch the
trade winds in your sails. Explore.
– Mark Twain
Ship in a harbor is safe, but it’s
not what ships are built for.
– John A. Shedd
Once on a father-son road trip, my dad pointed out
two of northwestern New Mexico’s most recognizable
landmarks —Ship Rock and Hogback.
Ship Rock was visible from my hometown of
Farmington 30 miles away, and Hogback—a lesser-
known sandstone hill that looks like a sow lying on its
belly—straddled the highway near the home where my
paternal grandmother was raised. My eleven-year-old
self had seen both of them often. This time, however,
was different, since my dad said something that struck
me as odd. “Did you know that people come from all
over the world to see rock formations like these?” he
asked. Studying the geologic features with a new sense
of intrigue, I disbelievingly responded, “Why?” My
father owned a local moving and storage business that,
among other things, shipped pieces of Native American
art all over the country. I should have believed him, but
growing up I failed to appreciate the incredible culture
and beauty offered by the place I called home. It was
only after leaving for a time that my eyes began to
open. Attending graduate school in another country
helped me realize how much I missed the sun, the
sandstone, the juniper trees, the wide-open spaces, the
air, the art, the accents, the festivals, the traditions, the
people, and the food (oh, how I missed the food).
New Mexico is often referred to as a country within
a country, and with good reason. It’s a big state that
packs a mighty big punch. Geographically, jaw-
dropping landscapes abound at every turn, while
culturally, the state’s Native American, modern
American, Spanish and Mexican heritages
harmoniously meld together to create a beguiling blend
of sights and smells you simply won’t find anywhere
And so, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you
to my amazingly rich and varied home state—a place
I’ve always loved, but didn’t always know it. Welcome
to New Mexico!
2. NO, AMERICANS DON’T NEED A PASSPORT TO COME HERE
Even though New Mexico may seem like its own
country, it really is a US state (#47, to be exact). This
unique desert paradise joined the Union a full six weeks
before Arizona and 47 years before Alaska & Hawaii.
Yet sadly, poor New Mexico continues to suffer from
Americans’ geographic ignorance.
I remember when a friend tried to buy tickets to the
2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City over the
phone. As soon as he gave his New Mexico address to
the operator, she promptly informed him that tickets
were only available to US citizens. He insisted he was a
US citizen and that New Mexico was indeed part of the
country. She replied, “I understand you’re from a US
territory, sir, but these tickets are for citizens only.”
Apparently, this particular friend was one of the
lucky ones. At least the salesperson he spoke with knew
that New Mexico was somehow affiliated with the
United States, even if she mistakenly believed it was
only a territory. Other New Mexican friends of mine
were not so fortunate. When they tried to purchase
Olympic tickets by phone, they were referred to the
Over-the-phone ticketing agents aren’t the only
culprits. Bank tellers, cell phone providers, postal
clerks, and every-day people on the street have all made
similar gaffs. Once as children, my sisters and I were
riding an out-of-state hotel elevator from our guestroom
to the lobby. A friendly couple standing next to us
asked where we were from. When we proudly
responded, “New Mexico,” they seemed surprised then
complimented us on our excellent English. We could
Another acquaintance once tried to mail a package
home to New Mexico from another state and was
charged foreign postage. Back in the early days of cell
phones, some peoples’ coverage was dropped the
minute they crossed the New Mexico state line, only to
be told by their carrier, “I’m sorry, but we don’t offer
service in Mexico.” Then of course there’s the story of
a friend in Pennsylvania who received a wire transfer
from her New Mexican parents for her birthday. A
notice from her bank asked if she would like the money
deposited in dollars or pesos.
Unbelievably, these types of situations happen to
New Mexicans more often than you might think. The
stories are so numerous that New Mexico Magazine,
one of the state’s longest running publications, used to
print a monthly compilation of them.
If you take away only one thing from this book,
please know that we’re a state. Yes, a US state…and a
pretty awesome one at that. You won’t need a passport
to come here. You won’t need to change your money.
You won’t need to worry about roaming charges from
your cell phone provider. Chances are you’ll feel so at
home in New Mexico, you may never want to leave.
Read all 50 Tips in the book Greater Than a Tourist- New Mexico USA available at Amazon.
TOP REASONS TO BOOK THIS TRIP
Our Food: New Mexico is known for its flavorful
food and boasts its own signature cuisine. This tasty
blend of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican
cooking styles has been adapted and refined over 400
years. Simply put, there are smells, tastes, and menu
items in New Mexico you won’t find anywhere else.
Our History: Whether you’re seeking Native
American culture, Spanish colony history, a taste of the
Wild West, Route 66 memorabilia, or modern stories of
scientific discoveries and aliens, New Mexico’s history
offers something for everyone.
Our Landscapes: With pine tree-covered mountains
and juniper-covered hills, bubbling hot springs and
foreboding deserts, crystal-white gypsum sand dunes
and dusty-dry grasslands, intergalactic landscapes and
ancient volcanic cones, New Mexico has much to offer
when it comes to geographic diversity.
Our People: New Mexico is a state loaded with
ethnic variety. Twenty-three Native American tribes,
the country’s largest per-capita Hispanic population, a
number of Wild West cowboy clusters, and more artists
per capita than any other state all call New Mexico
home. New Mexicans are diverse, friendly, down-to-
earth, and welcoming.
Our Skies: New Mexico’s high altitude, thin air, dry
climate, and minimal artificial light pollution make for
some pretty amazing sunrises, sunsets, and star-gazing.
Our Solitude: Size-wise, New Mexico is the
country’s fifth largest state. Population-wise, it ranks
45 th . That means you’ll almost have the place to
yourself. Even our largest cities are comparatively
small and free of the hustle and bustle so typical of
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Christensen is an author, songwriter, language
and culture advisor, international presenter, online
tourism instructor, and intrepid world traveler. Born
and raised in Farmington, New Mexico, Jeff developed
an incurable case of wanderlust at an early age. His
travels have taken him to nearly 90 countries on six
continents, but his heart still belongs to his beloved
Jeff is a firm believer that travel opens eyes, hearts,
and minds. He looks forward to introducing you to his
all-time favorite state—New Mexico!