Slow Travel New Mexico Invites Fascinating Explorations - SantaFe.com
Kathy Trujillo teaches Judie Fein how to weave. Photo by Paul Ross.

Santa Fe-based travel journalists Judie Fein and Paul Ross love exploring and learning, something they did a lot of for their new book, Slow Travel New Mexico, Unforgettable Personal Experiences in the Land of Enchantment. When the pandemic curbed their international travels, they instead focused on their home state.

With their gregarious and curious natures, they found adventures most of us would have missed and asked questions we may not have pondered. Readers can benefit from their deep dives into locations all around the state and be inspired to get out and explore. Every experience they discuss in the book is available to readers, often thanks to Judie and Paul asking if it could be tried by others.

Slow Travel Defined

Jimmy Yawakia holds raw stone and the first rough of a new sculptural piece. Photo by Paul Ross for "Slow Travel New Mexico."
Jimmy Yawakia holds raw stone and the first rough of a new sculptural piece. Photo by Paul Ross for “Slow Travel New Mexico.”

Judie and Paul decided during the pandemic to focus on New Mexico travels, but instead of racing from place to place to cover as many topics as they could, they embraced slow travel.

They usually travel without any detailed plans and let the adventures unfold. While they did cover many fascinating places in their book, they spent a lot of time doing it. For example, to learn about Southern New Mexico, they visited twice for a total of three and a half months.

The key to learning more about places you visit? Ask questions . . . a lot of questions. That’s how Judie and Paul find out things that others may not, by asking the questions they don’t. In addition, they often turn their visits into experiences by asking if they can take part in an activity rather than simply observing.

“It may surprise you to learn that I do no advanced preparation for a trip,” Judie confided. “I want to be Marco Polo or Ibn Battuta. I just show up and let a place reveal itself rather than arriving with preconceptions. In our talks and in the book, I tell you exactly how you can make discoveries anywhere you go and every time you leave your house. Even if you have been someplace many times, you can arrive with new eyes and perhaps uncover things no one has noticed before. Slow travel is magic, and you are the magician.”

Slow Travel Experiences

Kirsten Worthington delivering a plate of food in an unusual way: atop a red tractor. Photo by Paul Ross for "Slow Travel New Mexico."
Kirsten Worthington delivering a plate of food in an unusual way: atop a red tractor. Photo by Paul Ross for “Slow Travel New Mexico.”

The well-known Trujillo family in Chimayo has been renowned for their weaving for generations. When they visited, Judie asked, “Can I try weaving?” which led to, “Would you teach lessons for others?” The Trujillos are now inviting people to take weaving classes at their studio.

Zuni fetish carver Jimmy Yawakia told them about the importance of these small figures. Then he showed them how to create their own. Now he is teaching anyone who is interested in a lesson.

While they were in Southern New Mexico, they met pecan grower Kirsten Worthington at the Las Cruces Farmers & Crafts Market. They talked about pecans and before you know it, Judie and Paul were enjoying a delicious five-course pecan-centric meal in an orchard and asking if Kristen would cater meals for others.

So, not only were they finding unique travel experiences, but they were also actually travel-experience incubators.

Meet the Slow Travel New Mexico Authors

Kathy Trujillo weaving on a 100-year-old loom in Chimayo, New Mexico. Photo by Paul Ross.
Kathy Trujillo weaving on a 100-year-old loom in Chimayo, New Mexico. Photo by Paul Ross.

The book was released in March 2024 and now Judie and Paul are doing what authors must do next: traveling and promoting their book. Fortunately, because they love meeting new people, for them it will be a pleasure. 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.

During each presentation, Judie will talk about embracing slow travel in your life and they’ll introduce some of the locals who are featured in the book. There will be presentations in Albuquerque (April 7 and May 11), Gallup (April 19), Silver City (April 23), Las Cruces (April 27), and Rio Rancho (July 27). Find details about upcoming presentations on this webpage.

In addition, 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.”

Paul is an award-winning photographer, and the book is enhanced with more than 100 color photos of their travels. In addition, Paul provides photography tips throughout the book that can make your travel photography more memorable.

Where to Visit While Slow Traveling

Santa Cruz Lake appears like a mirage in the desert. Photo by Paul Ross for "Slow Travel New Mexico."
Santa Cruz Lake appears like a mirage in the desert. Photo by Paul Ross for “Slow Travel New Mexico.”

You can use the book for inspiration to explore a different part of the state or stay right in your own area and discover things about it you never knew. For example, there are seven stories about people and places in Santa Fe and eight more in the North Central section. Learn about everything from well-known locales like the Santa Fe Opera and Ghost Ranch to a lake near Chimayo that is so beautiful Judie’s just a bit reluctant to share it with readers . . . but she does! While some of the places they discuss are often visited, Slow Travel New Mexico introduces a very different way of going — with a slow travel mindset.

Slow Travel New Mexico cover.

Their curious natures have found extraordinary experiences in even the most well-traveled places. In addition, Judie encourages readers to engage their own curiosity and 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.”

Slow Travel New Mexico 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. This book also makes a great gift for family and friends who have never been to New Mexico but could be drawn here after reading it.

Judie sums it up best by saying, “It’s not a guidebook to places, it’s a guidebook to experiences that are very personal. Yours will be different from everybody else’s.”

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

Top image: Author Judie Fien getting a weaving lesson from Kathy Trujillo during their Slow Travel New Mexico research. Photo by Paul Ross.

This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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