I have never been a salesperson, and I probably never will try to sell anything I come in contact with. However, there is one exception to that rule of mine. Ask me about my wonderful state, New Mexico, and I can always get on a “promote New Mexico” bandwagon.
My fascination with all things New Mexico began when I was just a kid and my parents dragged sweet brother Bill and I through our famed museum (there was only one such place back then) in Santa Fe. Neither of us were impressed by broken pieces of pottery or really rustic wooden carts back then, but both of us did, eventually, become enamored with our history and culture here. Fast forward to 1962 when Jim and I moved to our family ranch and dude ranch. We realized the guest ranch business had to be advertised if we were to make a living there, and one of our first contacts was with our New Mexico Tourism Department.
Gascon Ranch was listed in many different publications this big department produced through the next almost 30 years. We met many fun and interesting guests because of this. And our only paid advertising back then was in the classified section of “The Saturday Review Magazine.” It was a simple ad: “Southwestern Hospitality Midst Alpine Surroundings.” Yes, it worked very well for us. We closed the dude ranch down in 1989, and my contact with our tourism department pretty much ended. But I always had an artist friend or someone nearby who wanted to travel the back roads of Mora County to take pictures of our beautiful area, so I have always stayed in touch with this corner of our big state.
Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago when I was asked to meet with the Department of Tourism employees right here at Pendaries — to share my take on our local history and geography. I accepted that invitation, almost instantly, of course! Three of us spent an afternoon and morning with five young (my interpretation) people who are sincerely interested in tourism, New Mexico in general and now northern New Mexico, with an emphasis on small communities in both San Miguel and Mora counties. Now that is right up my alley, as they say. Neighbor Ted Maestas gave them a great history of our local and beautiful churches in this area. They learned a lot about the history of our Gascon Canyon and the development of Pendaries. Although they were from the Four Corners (more-or-less) of our state, none of them knew anything about this precise area.
Conferences like this are always a two-way street for me so I had to ask a lot of questions about our state tourism department. Oh, yes, it has been drastically cut by this administration, and this included “New Mexico Magazine,” of all things. The tourist dollars spent here take little water, yet produce many jobs. After spending several hours with these ambassadors, these marketers of a growing tourist business, I think the higher-ups have it all wrong. I’d recommend studying the novel approach Fred Harvey had on the development of tourism here more than 100 years ago, when New Mexico wasn’t even a state yet.
And, I know several of us in this area are now available, at the drop of a hat as they say, to talk about this area, this paradise we live in. I’ll put my “Welcome, visitor / tourist” hat back on anytime.
Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.