Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New Mexico Part 3: Beautifully Broken

This is a view of the Quebradas from a distance.  The Quebradas are just outside of Socorro, NM.  Socorro marks the beginning of the Chihuahuan desert.  You're not so much in a mixed climate anymore. You're in the desert.

The first time I was out to the Quebradas I was kind of down.  I didn't entirely feel like leaving the house, but my hand was forced, and I am glad it was.  This place blows me away. Every.time.

A rough translation of Quebradas is "broken."

Broken is how I came to the desert this time.  I guess broken is how I came to it before too, the first time.
You don't think of the desert as a place to heal.  People don't think of New Mexico as beautiful all the time. You hear desert and you think things like: Punishing, lonely, brown, dead, dangerous. Stifling.

What it really is though? Vast. Surreal. Painted. Wild. A wanderable timeline. The earth twists open and you can see how it formed. You can see where rivers used to run, where water sculpted the sides of mesas and mountains like they were putty instead of an immovable object.

And yes, it is dangerous.  You have to think about your body, and listen to it. To me that's part of it though. I always knew right away when I wasn't drinking enough water. My  head would hurt, lungs would burn or my voice would fade. The sun would suddenly seem more oppressive than it had all day.  The thing is, you have to be aware of the basic functions you normally take for granted. You start to realize just how much your body needs water, and what it's like when you don't have what you need.

Lewis took me to Bursum Springs, an area of the Quebradas I'd never been to.  A spring feeds this small little oasis.  There was a big flat rock shaded by cottonwoods, and the wind is cut by the surrounding ridges. I'd only seen the windswept, sunsoaked side of the Quebradas, so this section took me by surprise.

It'd be really easy to pass it by, too. I'm fairly certain that one of the times I was out here we must have driven past this area, and I didn't even know it was there.  We sat out on the rock, I dipped  my hand in the water and was surprised at how cool it was. We climbed the ridges on the right hand side to see what was over the top of the ridge.  I want to go back and camp out here.

This was our first hike in the Quebradas after lunch, and it was an ambling, slow-paced one.  Plenty of time to hang out and explore, and I was glad for it.

This is honestly an amazingly beautiful place.  The area we were in was called the Jornada Del Muerto. The Journey of Death.  So...yes, untamed and dangerous, but...amazingly beautiful. 

It just seems like every corner we came around was somewhere else to get out and explore, and we were out there for quite a few hours doing just that.

When you really start to explore it, it's not so brown and desolate.  It's severe, and jagged, but the sun fades and breaks and paints things.  The sky is a stunning blue, and the sun touches ridges and seems to set them ablaze, while other things are shrouded in shadows.

Things do grow here. But they earn it. They adapt and hold on to whatever soil they can find, and whatever water.  They're all so unique, surreal even.  As small as the feather dahlia blooms are, the bright purple stands out over quite a distance.

We were there just as things were starting to bloom.  I just don't think people know how alive the desert really is.

I love the way you can see all the exposed layers here, and the way this massive rock just...folded.

Maybe I'll stop talking and let the desert speak.

There's just something about this place that speaks to me. Maybe it's because it took so long for me to find it. Maybe it's because I didn't want to go in the first place, and as soon as I got there I didn't want to leave.  Maybe it's because it's broken, and exposed. Maybe it's that every time you think you've seen it all there's something else.  Because you can walk through time here.  Because white turns into red, yellow, green and purple in the blink of an eye.   Because down a dusty hill there's an oasis.  Because when you climb one ridge you may just find yourself standing in a red sandstone cathedral with the sun framed perfectly in the center, and wonder how you ever found a place like this.  That was a discovery I  made with someone I loved one of the times I was out here.

Because broken calls to broken.

You need to be there to find out just how much you need an oasis, and what it's like to come upon one.

Because sometimes you need to know that even if you ARE broken, there are amazing things inside of you.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fake Post!

In which I link you to the first Flickr set from NM.
Which has photos I won't post in my trip journals and some I just..haven't posted yet.

So there.



Saturday, May 18, 2013

New Mexico Chronicles Part Deux: What You Can Do Before Lunch

Hello again. :) Welcome to more tales of my recent trip to New Mexico, my favorite state, and my adopted home.  

Usually when I get back I'm super eager to share and I get everything together right away.  I kept wondering why I was putting off the trip journalling.  I think maybe it's just that this trip was a healing trip for me, and the whole time I was very selfish about it.  When I type that I want to erase it and make it sound less harsh, but then I remember...it's ok to be selfish sometimes.  This was one of the times I needed to be.  Luckily, there were some amazing people around me who made that possible. 

The above picture shows my first night accomodations in New Mexico.  We went to Water Canyon after our pizza dinner with Kija and set up a tent.  At the time I was a bit overtired and thought "soft bed or cold ground? soft bed or cold ground?" but in the end, I'm really glad it was cold ground.  I don't think there's ever a nicer way to wake up then *smelling* the morning, or feeling the sun start to warm the tent and hearing the sounds of night fade into the sounds of daytime.  

Also? I may not be a morning person, but when THIS is what you see when you first wake up, you have to be in a bit of a better mood than you were before.  The other thing that was nice about being here the first night was that this is a VERY familiar place for me. We went camping here with a few different groups of people, and drove up here even more.  It's just a few minutes out from Socorro.  It was nice to get out of the tent, breathe in the piney air, and feel just a little bit of ownership of the place. 

There were groves of freshly budded cottonwoods and we played around inside Water Canyon for a little bit after breakfast. 

One thing I love about travelling with Lewis is that he's an exploring type.  Always willing to check out what's behind that tree or in that culvert.  Always willing to make interesting trilling noises echo through the whole thing.  Makes life more fun.

This was my home. I used to have dreams that perfectly recalled the shapes of all these mountains, and what it looked like in the canyons.  For a long time after I moved back I would dream of driving back into Socorro, and driving out to Magdalena, and camping up in the canyon.  It was really good to have that back, even for a little bit. 

Next on the list of "Old Haunts" was Box Canyon.  I think this one's my favorite to roll around in for a few reasons:  Back when I had a Jeep, we took it offroading out here, as well as Bill's Jeep quite a few times.  It's a long trail, Box Canyon's nice and dramatic, and there's random cows and horses roaming.  There's an old mine to explore, and it's really, really not the suburbs.  Which I think was probably the first thing I loved. Being 40 miles out, no cell phone service. It's scary if you're not smart about it, but it's incredibly freeing too.

We were usually on the trail through, and not up on the sides of the Box, so this was time to get acquainted with the area in a different way. 

Lewis, the fearless tour guide. Being majestic.

This here is a picture of 10 in the morning on a Friday. This is also the moment I felt the rush. I wasn't in a cubicle, I wasn't in IL at all. I forgot about the things that had made me run here, and just thought about here. Endless horizons, crazy blue skies, sun on your shoulder here. Great heights here. 

Lewis and I crawled into some caves on one side of the Box that I'd never been in before. My lungs burned from "first day at altitude" problems, but I didn't care so much. 

In this picture, we use Lewis to show scale.  Hi Lewis, thanks for the point of reference!


Out on that horizon? Well...that's where we were headed next, after lunch.

By the way, be on the lookout, because I'm setting up Flickr sets for these entries from here on out. There's absolutely no way on Earth to fit all the gorgeous into a blog post without writing an epic. :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tarantella23 and the Great NM Adventure! Part 1 of...6? Yeah, cuz I can!

Aloha.  Which is not what you say when you go to New Mexico, but I didn't ask you, and you didn't ask me.

Herein lies the chronicles of my recent escape to the desert!  It's just like the Harry Potter series! Feelings! Plants with feelings! Many stories! 6 Parts! Except...maybe...not exactly like it.  Cuz aren't there technically 7 parts to Harry Potter? I lose count.

Anywho. You knew I went, and I have been editing photos and preparing to post, but...being fabulous at getting immediately busy and then catching plane ick a week later than expected.  But here I am.  This was an insanely long intro that says nothing at all. I'm really, really bad at intros.  Hey look a plane!

As bad as the flight home from CO was the last time I flew, I was looking forward to flying again.  No accounting for the weather, y'know?  I left Milwaukee at "Oh-God-Whyyyy"-o-clock.  Which in real time is a 3:30 wake up call, a 4:10 shuttle, and generally hating everything, including ducks (which for the record I do not hate, just happened to have set my phone's alarm for a duck sound. I love ducks. Ducks are nice.)

On the first flight, I was luckily able to sleep.  I had my music on and the only time I woke up aside from towards the end there when I took that picture was when the music stopped.  Right before I got to Albuquerque I got nervous, but mostly just due to hoping the trip went right and having had plane trouble on the way out. The captain cheerfully announced that there was something wrong with the main engine that powers the plane but we'd call maintenance and be off shortly.  It was too early to share his cheerful confidence, especially when main engines were involved.  But hey, I'm here posting right? He was right.

Arriving in Albuquerque was nice for tons of reasons, but one thing that strikes me every time I'm there is that as airports go, it's the most chill one I've been to.  Nothing's a big hassle, there's actually some interesting museum-like display cases with turquoise and pottery and stuff, and it's pretty quick to get through security and get your luggage and stuff. But mostly, I saw the Sandias break through the clouds, and I knew soon I'd be on the ground back where I wanted to be. That feeling...it gave sleepy me watery eyes. You know, cuz dust.

Kija picked me up from the airport, and she had already (because she's smart, this is our place, and because of the awesome quotient) planned on a stop here.  This place...is a gem. A hidden gem.  Very hidden, very overlooked. It's this tiny, TINY hole-in-the-wall place in a strip mall in Albuquerque.  One lady (yes, the Burrito Lady) and possibly one other person are all that work there at one time.  There's 3 tables and barely room for the third.  It's in between a pet store with tacky metal lizards on the roof and a Circle K. It's the best ever. Her chile will melt your face. And for like, 3 bucks.  She remembers her regulars- even the expats like me.  And she can cook like nobody's business. You have to wait for a while, but it is WORTH the wait. As Alton Brown always says...your patience will be rewarded. 

Here's what I'm telling you. Find her.  "If you like it hot" is her tagline...and she doesn't pull punches.  Which is awesome, because there were no punches I wanted pulled. I wanted to dive back into the deliciousness that is green chile.  Especially green chile breakfast burritos. *sigh* If home could have a taste...and I guess it can...this would be that.

Kija and I had agreed to do a day of shopping together.  See, the wonderful thing about Kija and I is we can be girls. It's no fault of anyone else, but I had far more male friends than female friends when I lived in New Mexico, so she was always the one to go do things like paint nails and shop and talk about boys with. Pillow fights, blah blah blah. Whatever "being a girl" means that day. This day it meant looking around in Nob Hill at quirky stores, like the one that sells this box set, jewelry stores, and expensive home decor stores.

Oh yes. And we may have been nearby to a Breaking Bad filming location in Albuquerque, and I may or may not have fangirled out and taken some pictures of it.  Because man! It's THE CAR WASH.  THE car wash. That one.  And I love love love that show.

Please pay no attention to my actual toes.  This is to show you the pretty sandals I bought while out with Kija, not to show you that I clearly hadn't painted my toenails in forever.  I can justify this purchase because 1)pretty 2) my ballet flats had split in half at security in Milwaukee. Insole was now sometimes outsole. 3) I'm on vacation, duh.

This is Bella. :)  She's the new girl.  By virtue of having been born not that long ago.  I hereby issue this apology to Bella.  Sorry kiddo, that I used you as an excuse to go sit on a couch.  See...around the time I found those sandals, the wakeup call had started to take its toll.  I asked Kija, Bella's mommy, if she was tired and had to go down for a nap. Y'know, cuz....babies.  But Bella is a super laid back child and was strolling along just fine, and probably could have for a few hours more. Luckily, she let me use her as an excuse and we were off to Kija's.

This is Kija's.  Lovely place way out in Albuquerque. :)  We got the tour and I gotta say, Kija, you've got a great place. With quite the backyard view. 

It was hazy so it's kinda hard to tell, but let me tell you, my dear friends...it was pretty excellent. The Sandias are right.there, and you can look over the roofs of all the houses and watch whole neighborhoods. 

I do things fairly backwards, but there's a reason.  This is Kija. And Bella, of course!  I'm really glad I got to see Kija again on this trip.  It's always good to have a gal pal, no matter how many good guy friends you have...it's just not the same without a girlfriend to talk to, laugh with, cry with...eat green chile with.  Kija, you are a wonderful lady with a lovely daughter.  I'm really grateful you're my friend. It's awesome to meet up after at least a whole year and feel like nothing's changed at all.  I wish we lived closer, and you really *really* gotta come out to Chicago!!

We had a nice pepperoni and green chile pizza dinner with Kija, Bella, David, and the ever illustrious Lewis, who had arrived from San Marcial to pick me up and take me on what would be a great many days of excellent adventures.  It was great just talking and catching up.  We left shortly after dinner to make the trip down to Socorro.  I was mostly incoherent at this point, so I don't think there's really any pictures or stories. I remember we got gas in Los Lunas and it felt like we'd be on the road for a really, really long time. :)

Still, it was nice. I got some one on one time with a great friend all that day, and Lewis was the same much.  We decided we'd camp that night in Water Canyon, something that's familiar and fun to me, and we stopped off at Smith's to get some breakfast supplies.  We put up the tent, (and I assisted, because tadaaa! Even when half dead! Though I dunno how *much* I assisted) and had a nice conversation before I fell dead, dead asleep.

Even with the overtiredness...the trip started in a pretty excellent way. And it was only the beginning.