Alibi V.26 No.38 • Sept 21-27, 2017 

Author Interview

Staycations

Writer’s work provides a roadmap to New Mexico

Writer and New Mexico native Ashley Biggers knows her stuff. She's a seasoned travel journalist with the bylines to prove it—she's even the author of the New Mexico True Adventure Guide and 100 Things to Do in Albuquerque Before You Die. Her latest offering, Eco-Travel New Mexico, offers up all the advice responsible travelers need to plan a trip they feel good about. Weekly Alibi took the chance to hear some insights from this New Mexican adventurer.

What is the importance of having, or choosing, "eco-travel" vacations, excursions and adventures?

With the growing pressures of climate change, I think it's incumbent upon each of us to be stewards of the Earth. We may already be doing that at home, and we can extend that to our travels. Choosing to travel this way also means creating affinities with natural lands, learning more about heritage cultures, and minimizing our impact while doing so. Beyond that stewardship, it just so happens that eco-travel is the way that many people want to travel. Eco-travel offers authentic connections to place. … It's a way of traveling that adds to, not detracts from, local communities.

What is your definition of eco-travel?

As outlined by The International Eco-Tourism Society, eco-travel is responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people. There are several general tenets, which include minimizing impact, building environmental and cultural awareness and respect, providing direct financial benefits for conservation, and providing financial benefits and empowerment for local people.

Where is your favorite spot in New Mexico?

I'm a New Mexi-nerd and I love this state deeply, so this is a tough question! One of my favorite weekend getaways is to Silver City. I love the colorful downtown, overflowing with art galleries and coffee shops. Plus, it has a great culinary scene, particularly for a town of its size. Of course, I like to stay in the Bear Mountain Lodge, a green hotel, and hike in the Gila National Forest and its wilderness areas.

Do you have any standout memories of researching/writing this book?

Many of them! One of the most memorable experiences I had was watching the sun rise on summer solstice at Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Seeing the shaft of light glide over the kiva wall at Casa Rinconada and hover over the nicho was truly a remarkable experience.

Best place to catch a sunset in New Mexico, in your opinion?

One of my favorite places to catch a sunset is from the Volcanoes Day Use Area at the Petroglyph National Monument. From one of the volcanic cones, you can see the sunlight shade the Sandias in their signature watermelon hue and see the sun set over the full expanse of the desert to the west.

Your favorite hike?

I've never met a hike I didn't like. That being said, there are a couple hikes that stand out as favorites—in part because of the company I had when I did them. One of the most enjoyable hikes I've taken was to Serpent Lake, in the Pecos. A group of friends and I trekked through high-mountain country to the alpine lake and lunched on the shore, taking in the glistening turquoise waters. We had other companions, too: Rocky Mountain sheep gamboled around on the rocky cliff faces above the lake. Another memorable hike was with my then boyfriend now husband into the Rio Grande Gorge. I'm usually walking along the rim, crossing the Rio Grande Bridge, or rafting the Rio Grande. Having the chance to walk into the gorge's 800-foot-depths and experience the sky, cliffs, trees and water at a slow pace was a truly memorable experience.

Favorite restaurant featured in this book?

One of my favorite restaurants featured in the book also happens to be one in Albuquerque. Farm & Table serves delicious dishes featuring many ingredients sourced from just outside its walls. The Montoya family purchased the nine acres on which the restaurant and farm sit a decade ago to protect the lands from development and preserve the North Valley's agricultural legacy. Now, the Sol Harvest farm feeds those at the restaurant, as well as shoppers at farmers markets.

You favorite neighborhood in Albuquerque and why?

I find the Sawmill District one of the most exciting neighborhoods at the moment. The ongoing work of the Sawmill Community Land Trust to create a sense of community and affordable housing, and the recent additions of Hotel Chaco and Spur Line Supply Co. are turning it in to a new destination neighborhood.

Where's the next place you'd like to travel to?

Spain, Portugal, and Morocco are on my short list. (I'd love to see Alburquerque, Spain.) I'd also like to visit every continent and still need to check off South America, Africa and Antarctica.

Catch Biggers at Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande NW) for a reading and discussion of Eco-Travel New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 3pm.