Mad, Magic New Mexico

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it ~ Roald Dahl

My memory of New Mexico is a long series of moments tinged with magic. The Rio Grande sparkling in the afternoon sun as Flemming and I drove alongside, through the gorge it carved. That lightness of being escaping the city and heading south over the broad flatness of the state with those incredible clouds for a canopy. The exhilaration of standing in an antenna dish in the Very Large Array looking across the plain to the mountains holding storms at bay. Running down the spaceway at Spaceport America and how incredible seeing something as earthly as a tarantula on its threshold felt. Being scored by the cleansing sun in White Sands. Hanging out in the quiet of Alamogordo watching the light change over the mountain outside of town, with the Ravemobile – a Dodge Avenger with a  wicked stereo – reassuringly close by. Chasing the ghost of Billy through old Lincoln.

And always, the pounding drive of the music in time to it all. 

Gratuitous open road photo, somewhere south of Albuquerque

New Mexico invaded my senses from the first meal of green chile chicken soup I had with Brian in Cecilia’s Cafe, to the last sip of fine tequila the night before I left. They call it the Land of Enchantment; that, for me, had a lot to do with suddenly seeing stuff from my younger daydreams play out in front of my eyes. New Mexico, home of Billy the Kid, the world’s first atom bomb, the world’s first commercial spaceport, this great stuff called chile, horses, rodeos, the open road, the wild West, the Rio Grande, canyons, mountains, the reality of science and history in living motion, and along with it all, a multitude of colours and contrasts. There was almost too much to take in, even just on the surface.

Vaughn diner

So much happened in the ten days of September that I was in there, and such great people to finally meet after years of talking over the internet. New Mexico is home to the most awesome Brian Miller and family, and it so happened that Dan Milnor and Flemming Bo Jensen were hanging around too. A confluence, if you will.

There was heaps to see, stop for, endless miles of unbelievably flat plain to try and fall off, big roads leading into infinity, and of course, the VLA and a bonafide Spaceport suggestively hinting at the future.

Virgin Galactic Hangar Spaceport America

I struggled to shoot at all on some days, confounded by the alien dilemma of wanting to take a picture to solidify the memory, and equally not wanting to take said picture because the operation would diminish each precious second. I will admit that on the majority of occasions, I chose to forgo the picture. Perhaps this is what happens when one is overwhelmed by the immensity of the here and now.

There is something about this state that evokes weightlessness, boundlessness and an utter, beautiful freedom I’ve never felt before. A madness for which there is no cure.

Real magic lives in New Mexico.


Nightwalking in the town of Truth or Consequences
The Very Large Array
American view

A million thanks to: Brian Miller and family for putting me up and sharing your lives and stories, and  Flemming for an epic road trip. Magia!

The Ravemobile


  1. Ed says:

    The tilt in the second photo really conveys the energy, vigor, and restlessness you seem to have had while there. A whirlwind. The detail and interestingly unique views you show us of typical NM (I assume, Brian?) landmarks certainly speak to your voice and your time there. Who are you, the female Ernst Haas (see 4th from bottom “Albuquerque”)?

    1. charlene says:

      I felt very free in NM. There’s something really raw about the place, that I can’t put my finger on. I live in a huge, wild and largely empty state myself (Western Australia is a third the landmass of continental Australia, so dwarfs NM in terms of size) but it never existed in my head the way America’s wild west has – too many cowboy stories I think! – so finally being there made me go somewhat loco. Loved it. Ernst Haas… ha! I wish!

  2. Mad and Magic blog post. I do not really have the words. Thanks so much. Magia my friend. To be continued.

    (TorC hehehehehhee, it is impossible now to even see that town name without breaking into a massive laughing fit hehehee!)

    1. charlene says:

      That shot with the racing check curtains, the decidedly un-race car and gratuitous alien is probably my soberest shot of T or C. Everything else defies sanity (chooks anyone?). Hehehe. What a mad place!

  3. Erin says:

    I can feel the emotion packed into this post, Charlene. Beautiful.

    1. charlene says:

      Thanks Erin :)

  4. Brian Miller says:

    Madness: It’s in the green chile. Especially green chile stew; it concentrates the effect. ;)

    1. charlene says:

      That was very crafty of you then, and I thank you for it ;) Breakfast burritos appear to have their own power too

      1. Brian Miller says:

        Craftiness: it’s in the red chile.

      2. charlene says:

        You might be right, Brian. You should pay Truth or Consequences a visit to mix it up a bit ;)

    2. Awesome. I am pretty sure there’s also some madness in the water in TorC!

      1. charlene says:

        Oh boy, that place, I’m sure it was in the air, water, soil etc. oh and bathrobe fabric. Hahahaha

      2. …and the yodeling!

        (throwing rocks at chooks also ranks in there somewhere!)

      3. charlene says:

        Haha. Hahahaha. Oh yeah! Hahahahahaha.

  5. Eric says:

    Hi Charlene. I just discovered your site this afternoon and have been enjoying your photography and writing. I especially liked this post about New Mexico. I went to Socorro, NM a few years ago for some training. I was there about a week and have wanted to go back ever since and will hopefully get there next summer and we’ll get to see some of the places you saw and wrote about.

    1. Charlene says:

      Thanks for dropping by and having a look around the site Eric. Road tripping through New Mexico remains one of the most magical experiences I’ve had so far and it’s something I would recommend to anyone. We’re going back again later this year :)

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