Enchantment and economy in your own back yard

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Guest Columnist

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.” That’s what Dorothy said in the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz,” when she returned home after her adventures in more exotic lands.
It’s good advice for us as summer vacation season begins.
This year, rather than traveling outside New Mexico, consider discovering new treasures in our own home state. Do you like taking several short excursions? This fits the bill. Are you looking forward to a longer road trip? New Mexico’s expanse gives you ample opportunities.
Here’s a sampling of special events happening during the summer:
In June, visit Albuquerque for the Festival Flamenco International de Alburquerque. (No, it’s not a typo. Find out why there’s an extra “r” in the city’s name.) This is the 29th year the National Institute of Flamenco has sponsored this week-long event. It begins the evening of June 11 with a showcase of flamenco artists and schools from around the world, followed by a concert by Mayte Martín, a renowned musician from Barcelona. This free event will be at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. For a fee, you can attend other performances and workshops June 12-18.
Another June option is Fort Union Days in northeastern New Mexico. This free, two-day event features guest speakers, living history encampments, cannon and musket firing demonstrations, and guided tours. Treat Dad to a Father’s Day excursion on June 18 and/or June 19.
If you’re looking for something to do in July, visit Roswell for the annual UFO Festival, which will be held June 30 through July 3 this year. Start the month off by entering or watching the Alien Costume Contest that Saturday. While you’re in Roswell, discover the city’s other claim to space fame, the work Robert Goddard did there in the 1930s to develop liquid-fuel rockets. That technology made manned spaceflight possible. The Roswell Museum and Art Gallery has extensive exhibits about his work.
Maybe northern New Mexico beckons you in July. Head to Los Alamos for their ScienceFest. Historical tours will be available on Thursday and Friday, July 14 and 15, with a live, Celtic music concert Friday evening. Saturday is Festival Day, with live music, entertainment, and more than sixty exhibitors with interactive, hand-on activities showcasing science, technology, engineering, and math from across New Mexico.
For an August adventure, explore one or more of our state’s national parks and national monuments. Many of New Mexico’s National Park Service resources are free to visit all year, but the ones that normally charge admission fees will be free August 25-28 in celebration of the NPS’s 100th anniversary. Special events will be offered at some, including Bandelier National Monument, Carlsbad Caverns, and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
Spontaneity has its advantages, too. Special tourism trails suggest destinations and activities that don’t depend on specific dates, and New Mexico has some intriguing ones. Try one of these: Adobe Trail, Ale Trail, Bed and Breakfast Trail, Breakfast Burrito Byway, Chocolate Trail, Fiber Arts Trail, Film Trail, Ghost Town Trail, Gold Mine Trail, Green Chili Cheeseburger Trail, Space Trail, Turquoise Trail, and Wine Trail. Visit several places on your favorite trail, or pick one destination from each trail and have a variety of adventures.
These are only a few examples of the array of events and special places that can enchant you and your family this summer. Traveling in state is a budget-friendly way to enrich your understanding and appreciation of your own “back yard.” When you pay for gas, lodging, souvenirs, and admissions here in New Mexico, it boosts our economy and benefits us all.