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Ponderosa- Some Place in New Mexico

The Ponderosa setting has been my home for a couple of months. I live in a small, somewhat run down house centrally located in this place. I can call Ponderosa a setting or a place but would not ever call it a town. The make-up of this setting is a mixture of houses, mobile homes, rundown shacks, and structures with some agricultural buildings spread out into what I would call “dog zones”. The population of the area is somewhere around 300, but I suspect the number of dogs overshadows the human occupancy. To me the setting has beautiful surroundings but is not especially “user-friendly” for those who are hiking enthusiast.

Home is where the van is parked

The one established business in the area is a winery. I have gone several times to taste wines and visit with the owner. Three friendly dogs greet and guide me to the tasting building when I venture there.  The owner is a friendly elderly lady with crisps and sometimes unexpected responses to her patrons.  

Ponderosa Valley Winery

In asking about hiking, several locals have directed me to the irrigation pond above the town. I did make my way around some ill-marked pathways but could not figure out any established trail adventures. I did meet some boulderers who shared, “We boulder on some of the rocks to the side of the trail.”

The irrigation pond

Thanks to the owner of the winery, I did find my way to the Goblin Rocks and this was a nice hike (I think I’ll share more on this hike in the future as it is some distance above Ponderosa and is entirely a separate phenomenon).

A neighbor visits

One bonus, or possibly a negative, is I can see the front yards and porches of three of my students from my front step. Several of them cornered me on my hikes along the highway. “Where are you going? The winery?” one asked. “Oh, I’m just getting out to stretch my legs,” I shared. It does make me feel a little like I am living in a fishbowl. Anyhow, I mostly keep to myself.

I am interested in the history, of course. Ponderosa had been the center for lumber processing in the early part of the 20th century (in fact, that’s how it got the name Ponderosa). What remains today is somewhat of an infrastructure revolving around the highway location and water access. One story I would like to pursue is the once existing local bar which Oppenheimer and Einstein were said to visit on occasion as a get-away from Los Alamos. The bar was owned by my landlord’s father and I am hopeful of composing an account of stories along with appropriate photos. I guess I’ll see if this comes together.

The area does have a lonesome beauty to it. Desert landscape, distant hills and mountains give it a contained and protective feeling. I will admit I have snuck through some fencing on occasion to explore. I like being away from the local dogs but limit my trekking as I’d like to avoid getting lost or dealing with an injury far from others.

A humble living room

It is a convenient 10 minute drive to work. It takes 45 minutes to and from the grocery store in Bernalillo. The social life isn’t much- an occasional visit with a neighbor. Do I get bored? Sure. I guess it may act as a motivator towards writing. Worth it? Maybe. Hot tourist destination? Hardly. If you seek solitude and like to navigate dog zones on your evening walk, Ponderosa may be calling your name.


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