Ron Schloemer was busy correcting college papers on a flight from
Cincinnati to Albuquerque, N.M. "The trouble with these kids is that
they don't read. That's why they can't write. All these flowery
His wife, Lyn, sat between Ron and me on the plane. Ignoring his
mumbling, she turned to me: "The first time we drove through New
Mexico, it was in '82. I said, 'If I ever have to live here, I'm
going to cut my throat,' Isn't that right, Ron, isn't that what I
"I mean, it was tacky. All those signs: 'See the bear,' 'Visit
the snake farm.' But that was 20 years ago. Things have changed."
Since that time, Ron's job as a pilot (he's now a college
professor) required that they live in Alabama, California (twice),
and Korea, among other places, and now Ohio. And, oh yes, they also
spent several years in New Mexico.
So where are they looking to retire? You guessed it.
"You're just going to love New Mexico," said Mrs. Schloemer as we
disembarked in Albuquerque.
My destination was Taos, about a two-hour drive from the airport,
a rather sleepy back-water of about 5,000 laid-back folks, many of
whom simply dropped in one day and never dropped out.
Jules Cahalane and her husband, Robert, moved here a number of
years ago. Coming up the highway, turning a corner, and coming face
to face with the mountains, she knew "this was the place." They
settled in and started a "bread and breakfast" (Robert does the
bread, Jules does the breakfast.) Their Inn on the Rio is one of the
dozens of B&Bs here.
"Ten minutes from my house I'm in Carson National Park," Mrs.
Cahalane says, "and I can hear coyotes howl. People come here for
Quick to praise Taos, Cahalane proudly notes what it doesn't
have. "We don't have mosquitoes," she boasts. But she neglects to
mention a couple of itty-bitty nuisances - such as scorpions and
If you're used to a town with buildings more than two stories
high and traffic lights that can be counted on more than one hand,
well, Taos isn't like that. The largest building around is the
ancient Taos Pueblo.
Since long before the arrival of Europeans in the mid-1500s, Taos
has been at the crossroads of trade. Silver, beads, animal skins,
and provisions were swapped with native and Plains Indians.
Trapper and military legend Kit Carson settled in Taos from 1828
until about 1840, and he dreamed of retiring here. His adobe house
was built as a wedding gift for his third bride, Maria Josefa
Jaramillo. Both are buried in nearby Kit Carson Cemetery in Kit
His house, now a modest museum-still in the works, stands on Kit
Carson Road. Most of Carson's personal possessions are scattered,
but a desk and trunk, thought to have belonged to him, are here,
among furniture of the period.
Taos has an almost mystical feeling - with its flat, arid, and
barren spaces, and with the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountain
ranges as a backdrop. …