New Mexico: Like Mexico, but newer.

I saw that on a t-shirt recently and it struck me hilarious.

Bury me in New Mexico. Not like, in the desert on a dark stormy night or anything. But this place–what little I saw of it–I want to live and die there. It was so. Freaking. Cool.

And that’s a phrase I repeated over and over–AND OVER–to my smiling Caleb as we drove up, down, over, under and around on winding mountain roads…I’m sure he got tired of me saying it, even though I know he was thinking the very same thing. I loved New Mexico. I’ll gush about it for the next 75 years of my life. It was everything I thought it would be, except way better.

For those of you who I haven’t already told and were still interested, here’s the rundown, as short and sweet as I can possibly put it: We fled town Thursday morning, stopping only to drop Mia off at school/fill up on gas/get ourselves some cheapuccinos from the gas station/along with some Dr. Peppers/Cherry Cokes/bottled waters/drive-thru McDonalds for sausage biscuits/Walmart for a quick oil change/Walmart again for disposable cameras/and the Shell station for a bathroom break.

And then it was me, Caleb, and the open road.

The very, very open road.

There’s very little between Oklahoma City and Santa Fe, except maybe Amarillo, but there’s not a lot to say about that place. Unless the stench of bovine death appeals to you–in that case, you’ve gone to the right place. And in that case, you’re one sick freak.

We got into Santa Fe that evening, had dinner (downtown?) at this neat, neat, neat restaurant called “La Choza”, where I got right down to business and ordered something smothered in green chile. After dinner, we headed out to our hotel in Los Alamos, where we were staying for the night. We chuggled bottled water and popped our tylenol like every good mountain tourist should, went to bed promptly at 8:30 p.m., and slept soundly–ever-so-soundly–through the night. That’s some amazing phenomenon right there.

At 5:30 a.m., Caleb and I woke up like fresh little daisies. We packed up, enjoyed a complimentary continental breakfast, checked out, and took off to Bandelier National Monument (cliff dwellings) to do some hiking and sight-seeing. Afterwards, we headed up the highway to Taos, driving along the Rio Grande the whole way, and stopping where ever and whenever we pleased, just because we could. It…was awesome.

We rolled into Taos and did some art gallerying before dinner. We called it a night around 8:00, and woke up again the next morning at the crack of dawn.

After eating our free hotel waffles and drinking our free hotel coffee, we wasted no time in driving up to Taos Ski Valley, a beautiful, beautiful place all up in the guts of Carson National Forest. We tried to find a good hiking trail that we could get to, but most of the shorter trails had access points only reachable by 4-wheel drive vehicles. So, since we had only our little red Alero to navigate mountain roads with, we were stuck with only a few choices: a bunch of stupid-looking trails, and the Wheeler Peak trail–a 15-mile difficult course that takes you to the top of Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico at 13, 000 ft. +. I wasn’t really feeling it, but my husband was high on life and all jacked-up on fully-caffeinated hotel coffee. Caleb said, “Give me that mountain!” And so up we went.

Best hike of my life.

Of course, we didn’t make it to the top. No, we walked for almost 3 hours and only made it about a quarter of the way up (according to another helpful hiker). But we did go from 8000 something feet in elevation up to almost 12000 feet, and that’s something to be proud of. The woods were beautiful, the mountains were beautiful. We called it a hike at the Red River overlook; coming back down the mountain took less than half the time it took to climb up.

That night, after another dinner at La Choza in Santa Fe, we checked into Buffalo Thunder Golf and Spa Resort–where the biggest party ever just so happened to be taking place. I don’t know if that’s a weekly occurence or not; I don’t care. All I know is that this particular hotel was chock-full of loud, obnoxious, drunken lunatics. Even though the room was friggin’ sweet–it really was–I got about 3 hours’ worth of horrible sleep. Not cool for someone who had just been spoiled with 2 nights of glorious uninterrupted slumber. The next morning, I blared the morning news. I slammed doors that I didn’t even need to open. We showered, packed our things, and headed out. The christian in me turned the tv down before leaving the room. The devil in me shouted all the way down the hallway to the elevator.

We ate (love that Hampton continental breakfast) and drove off into the sunrise, back to Oklahoma and our kiddos.

Truthfully, I would have been vacationally satisfied at the end of the first night–9 hours of solid alone time with my husband, beautiful scenery, a delicious dinner. We were long overdue for a little RMM (Routine Marriage Maintenance). The trip was just darn good for our souls. I’m so glad we went. I’m so grateful that my sister and her husband were willing and able to fly up and watch the kids. I’m so relieved that my kids did so well while we were gone.

I really, really, loved New Mexico. There really is something inspiring about the light and the mountains and the desert–I can so understand the fascination from an artist’s standpoint. I get it now. I’d love to have more time over there; more time to paint, to take pictures, or to just sit and look. I’m ready to tackle the next 1/4 of the Wheeler Peak trail. I’m already hypothetically planning out our next trip over–the one where the kids will be with us. Driving over? Easy. Waiting until at least summer until we can go again? So, so hard.

P.S.–Will put up pictures as soon as I get my disposable cameras developed…and as soon as I figure out how to put pictures up with wordpress.

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About Toni

Mom. Wife. Artist. I take care of the kids and pretend to clean sometimes. I can cook spagetti and I have never been arrested. View all posts by Toni

One response to “New Mexico: Like Mexico, but newer.

  • Katy

    Not gonna lie–all that sleep has me really, really jealous. I’d like a vacation with sleep.

    Um. . . yeah. . . the desert sounds nice too. Seriously, when did I become this lame?

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