Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An Unconventional Vacation Destination Turns Enchanting

New Mexico is known as the “land of enchantment.” But it is a rather unconventional Spring Break vacation destination for a family with a seven year old child. On the other hand, our son is unconventional.

Many of the most popular vacation spots don’t work so well for us precisely because they are so popular. Crowds and autism often do not mix well. We have learned to avoid places where Kai would have to wait long for a turn on a ride, or places that may overwhelm him.

Disney World was a wonderful exception in that they make accommodations for kids with autism. But, we did Disney last year and wanted to do something different this year.

My wife had never been to New Mexico, and I wanted her to see another part of our beautiful, vast country.

We found that this is a great time of year to travel to New Mexico. Since it is not a popular choice for Spring Break, we got a bargain rate on our hotel. Billed in the guidebooks as a place to stay when you really want to splurge, we got a rate that was cheaper than what we paid at a nondescript Red Roof Inn in a small town in Ohio last November. Though, to get the special rate, we did have to book ahead without the possibility of canceling or changing our reservation.

Coming from the Midwest, where temperatures are still commonly in the 30s or 40s during the day, the mid-60s afternoon temperatures we had in New Mexico was wonderful, as was the abundant sunshine. Personally, I’m not a fan of hot and humid weather, so I found the conditions we had on this trip to be near perfect.

Perhaps the best benefit of the traveling to New Mexico this time of year is that there were no crowds anywhere we went. We never had to wait long for tables at restaurants, which is always important for us. And, we were able to see all the sights easily. I could not imagine Kai having the patience to wait long for a turn to climb up the ladders to the cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Monument, or to climb down into the kiva at Jemez State Monument. Going now, that was never an issue.

If you like southwestern cuisine, there are great choices for dining out. I had enchiladas at three restaurants, all prepared differently, and all delicious. We also had burgers with green chiles, huevos rancheros, and other regional favorites. And for a child with autism, there is no better restaurant to go to than one that brings chips and salsa to the table right away.

I know, you are thinking that is all well and good, but is there really anything to do there with your kids? Well, I think that depends on what you are looking for. Disney World it is not.

But if you want to introduce your kids to a beautiful area of the country, and give them a taste of our continent’s history, then there is plenty to do.

There are the gorgeous landscapes in the mountains, mesas, and gorges. There are the archeological sites at places like Bandelier National Monument. You can visit the Native American community of Taos Pueblo. Or go to quaint villages along the High Road to Taos or the Turquoise Trail. Our son may not have been as excited as he was seeing the 3D movies at Disney World, but he enjoyed the trip quite a bit. And hopefully, this experience adds to his growth as a person who has seen more than just the world of his everyday life.

We actually ended up wishing we had a longer stay as we did not see everything we wanted to. We ran out of time and never made it up the Sandia Tramway, the world’s longest passenger tramway. We only got a small taste of Santa Fe. We wished that we had visited the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

A return visit to New Mexico may be in our future. It could become our retirement destination now that New Mexico has risen to the top of the list of places my wife wants live. Or maybe, we will all move there when our son becomes a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Now that would really be enchanting.

To read about our trip from the beginning, go to the first post.

Photos of our trip can be found on our Facebook page.

1 comment:

  1. Know exactly what you mean about avoiding busy places and queues.. And chips straight to the table, fab! Looks like a lovely place - and you're right, it's good to give them an all-round view of the world! Wish it was a bit cheaper and quicker for us to fly to the US!


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