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Space Travel / Space Tourism / Virgin / Virgin Galactic / Spaceships / Travel News / Travel Tech / MHV / Ansari X Prize / Science Travel / Richard Branson / Rocket Science / New Mexico Travel / Spaceport America / → All Tags
[Update: This feature was written and published prior to the tragic events of 31 October, 2014, when SpaceShipTwo suffered an "anomaly" and was lost, with one fatality.]
How about Paris for the weekend, or a two-week trip around Southeast Asia? Forget itthat's so 2014, so terrestrial. Should Virgin Galactic have their way, 2015 will be the year you book a vacation of suborbital space travel, or perhaps a supersonic 45-minute flight from California to London.
This month SpaceShipTwo completed her 54th test flight, improving the odds that next year will indeed be the one to finally kick off space tourism. In fact, Virgin Galactic has already begun the big move from Mojave, CA to Las Cruces, NM, the latter being home to Spaceport America and, hopefully soon, flights to space full of paying passengers (6, to be specific, plus 2 pilots).
Seeing as the US treats spaceship technology with something of the same intense secrecy as defense technology, much of what Virgin Galactic's been up to out in their hangar in the California desert is hush-hush top secret. The 10th Anniversary of their Ansari X Prize win however opened up a small window for us to peek behind those massive doors. Here's what we can tell (and show!) you:
To recreate images from the book Lone Survivor, based on the 2005 Military Operation known as Operation Red Wings, the movie's producers traveled across New Mexico, to find some of the state's most remote locations.
Among them were the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, just north of Santa Fe. The movie's crew and actors, including Mark Wahlberg, took chairlifts and walked miles into the wooded mountains to recreate the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan.
Although Willa Cather is mostly associated with the state of Nebraska, New Mexico can also claim a connection to this great American writer. The Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, located in downtown Santa Fe near the plaza, serves as the backdrop for Cather's 1927 novel Death Comes for the Archbishop.
Though many of the events in the book are fictional, it's inspired by the true story of the French priest who came to the newly-named state of New Mexico to found an archdiocese. Jean-Baptiste Lamy was the real French priest on whom the story is based, and his legacy is still evident in the Land of Enchantment; there's even a town named Lamy after him.
Booze Travel / Drinking Travel / Santa Fe Travel / New Mexico Travel / Souvenirs / What Everyone's Buying / → All Tags
Welcome to "What Everyone's Buying," a new series on souvenirs, wherein we investigate what tourist trinkets are the hottest selling in hotspots around the world.
There's no shortage of awesome local foods in New Mexico, from blue corn tacos to posole. Just don't forget to wash down all that spicy nosh with products from two incredible local liquor brands. Santa Fe Spirits was launched by a British expat who found his way to the Land of Enchantment and never left. His company makes five liquors from local ingredients. You can check out their distillery just outside of town, but you can also sample the booze at their tasting room on Read Street in downtown Santa Fe.
Although the American West was largely built around railroad lines, few people travel the region by train any more. However, New Mexico’s Rail Runner train is hoping to change that. The train, which runs between the state’s two biggest cities, was intended for tourists but is now popular with commuters who live in one city and work in the other.
Biscochitos, the small star- or fleur-de-lis-shaped cookies that are more than delicious; they're a staple of Christmas in New Mexico. Unfortunately they’re also not terribly vegetarian-friendly since the cinnamon and anise-sprinkled goodies are made with a healthy dose of lard.
What’s a vegetarian or kosher-keeper to do? Luckily, there’s one Santa Fe bakery that substitutes butter for lard in their recipe.
It's crazy to think that Spaceport America, the middle-of-nowhere New Mexico base for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, has already been open for just over two years. We may not yet have regular flights to space, but while that day grows nearer the public is very welcome to come have a look around.
The Spaceport, located in the Chihuahuan Desert 150 miles south of Albuquerque, actually offers public tours aimed at "giving guests an up close look at the spaceflight facilities before operations begin." The tours have grown so popular that the tour operators, Follow The Sun Inc., have changed the pick-up point to a more central location (The Holiday Inn, with free breakfast!) in the hot springs town of Truth or Consequences.
Dessert Travel / Michigan Travel / Pennsylvania Travel / Indiana Travel / New Mexico Travel / → All Tags
A slice of Michigan ABC pie
Happy National Pie Day! Yes, this is a real thing and yes, it totally warrants a cheer of "America, f*ck yeah!" Pie is awesome, having a day just to celebrate it is awesome, so go get you some awesome pie.
Or let pie come to you...
Michigan kinda feels sad for everyone who doesn't live in their state, a state where bakeries average 30 fresh pie varieties daily. So, just for today, Michigan will ship out Grand Traverse pies every hour to people who share their pie love on Twitter. Here's how it works:
· Follow both @PureMichigan & @GTPie on Twitter.
· Between 10am & 5pm EST on January 23 (today!), tweet your favorite type of pie at them.
· Include the hashtag #puremichiganpie when you do
· Wait for pie* (*if you're one of the hourly winners)
Speaking of state allegiances, here's Five States Known for Specialty Pies:
State Fairs / Events / New Mexico Travel / Kansas Travel / Massachusetts Travel / Food Travel / → All Tags
In some ways state fair season is starting to wind down after a successful summer, but at the same time September isn’t too shabby when it comes to celebrating a little fried food with a side of agriculture. In fact, it might be a little more enjoyable to take in the amusement park atmosphere with a little bit of a chill in the air, so here’s our picks for three states doing the fair thing next month:
Kansas State Fair
Smack dab in the middle of the country, in a way the Kansas State Fair might just be one of the most centrally located option for those looking for some corn dogs and carnies. This year’s events run between September 7 and September 16 in Hutchinson, Kansas, and admission will set you back $6 if your order in advance. Of course there’s extra investment needed for some of the midway attractions and rides, as well as if you want to listen to bands like Boston, Oak Ride Boys, and 38 Special.
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted in: the road in New Mexico.
This week's Travel Cat is from Ted Brady, who is currently biking around the USA, Canada and Mexico with his cat, Pikachu. They camp, they stay with families who open their homes, and they're doing it all to raise awareness and donations for animal shelters. Follow their journey (though they're already over 1,000 miles in) at their website and on instagram, by following "thetravelingkitty." There's way more cat-in-the-wild shots where this one came from!
Route 66: a thing so glorious that everyone wants a piece of it. Which means that for every amazing piece of memorabilia, stretch of Route 66 or piece of carry on luggage (don’t ask), there is a piece of tat or dirt track that’s beyond terrible. The only exception: food. You can pretty much guarantee that every diner trumpeting its Route 66 connections will be fun to eat in and great for photos, but purveying disgusting food.
Or so we thought till we found ourselves with time to spare in the Nob Hill part of Albuquerque, and asked to be pointed in the direction of somewhere to eat. And were recommended the Route 66 Malt Shop, at 3800 Central Avenue (ie Route 66).
At first glance, it looked like all the others. Bright colors and neon outside, retro stuff and juke box inside. Burgers and milkshakes on the menu. So far, so borrring. Slow service, toowe sat without anyone approaching us for a while (because we were alone?), so since we were in a hurry, we went up to the counter. A superfriendly man, who looked like he was in a rockband 20 years ago, asked us what we wanted.
We asked for something New Mexican. “Do you like blue cheese?” he said. “Because if you do, you need the Bleu Cheese Green Chile Burger.
He was right; it was the best burger we’d had for ages and easily the best burger of 2011. Blue cheese and green chile doesn’t sound like it should work, but omg it does. As for the meat: perfectly seasoned and magnificently juicy. Even the bun was delicious. We told the rockstar so, and he sat down at our table to tell us why.