Thanks a lot for the NM tips! I did end up going to Ski SantaFe for a half day instead of Pajarito, as the lady in the Alpine Sports talked me out of doing that saying that I should be able to find enough powder in SantaFe and have a much easier time driving back. The snow was indeed great, although cold, wind,and rental boots took a good solid chunk out of the enjoyment. I was totally unprepared for it, as I didn't take any of my ski gear with me and I am a wimpy Californian now, so I already forgot that I own a face mask. Once I figured out where to go in the trees to escape the wind, things went much better and I had a good time on the K2 Apache Outlaws that I rented. I still was frozen by noon, when it was time to hit the road.
I did have a weird experience in Alpine sports renting the gear. When I told the rental guy that I needed 27.5 mondo size boots he insisted on asking for my street shoe size and made a hard effort to put me into the 28.5 boots that his wall chart suggested. After I insisted on getting the right size, he proceeded to tell me that I do not need a 174 length ski (I am 6ft, 180lb), and that I really needed something shorter. When I told him that my current ski is 185, he told me:"Those must be very old then". Needless to say I persisted with my choices (should have told him that my old pencil skis were 200cm ;-).
My impression of Alpine Sports were saved by the lady upstairs where I went to get glove liners (as I only had a pair of thin softshell gloves with me (I didn't expect to be able to ski when I packed, so I just took some of my hiking gear). She gave me detailed recommendation on the trails to go on the mountain and her recommendations were spot on.
So thanks again to the Bears for the recommendations. That half day would have been much worse without the community help.
P.S. Cafe Pasquale in Santa Fe serves some awesome food!