Sunday, July 17, 2011

new mexico

Continuing my posts about my recent vacation out of the desert, this one is going to be about my time spent in New Mexico. I left my parents' house on Thursday morning and arrived in Santa Fe in late afternoon.

New Mexico

While my drive to Colorado was a 14 hour, one shot trip, my return to Tucson was much more leisurely because of my stop in Santa Fe. My good friend Jenny was staying in Santa Fe for the month of June, and I was meeting her there so that we could drive back to Tucson together.

On Friday, Jenny showed me all around Santa Fe. We walked all over the little downtown area, stopping in her favorite shops and checking out handmade jewelry and assorted knickknacks from the local vendors. I bought a guitar pick with symbols meaning "courage and change" etched in.

We stopped in a dress boutique where the ladies working there had us try on TONS of dresses and model for them. They were cute, but unfortunately for the dress shop ladies, I was having a fat day and did not feel especially pretty in any of them, especially since they all cost between $60 and $80. Notice the face I'm making; not the face of a woman who feels confident in the garments she's!

On Saturday we drove up to Taos. That was a fun day. We took "the high road" which was recommended to us by a local for beautiful scenery. And it was beautiful. We first drove to a little town called Chimayo.

The Santuario de Chimayo is the town's main attraction, and the reason we chose to go. The site is the destination of a contemporary pilgrimage. People come to the sanctuary to rub the dirt on their injuries and wounds and are miraculously healed. When we entered the sanctuary, there was a wheelchair and several crutches left as a testimony to the healing power of the Chimayo soil. Jenny and I rubbed some on our heads. As I walked out of the sanctuary, I took time to see some of the other memorabilia left behind. Not all proclaimed miracles. They was a whole wall dedicated to pictures of fallen men and women in the service. That was sad. On the opposite wall was a shelf lined with tiny shoes. People brought the shoes of their babies and toddlers that were taken from them far too early and placed them on this wall. I was so overwhelmed. I sat outside of the sanctuary on a bench and cried. I was not mourning, and I was not even contemplating anything that would normally make me cry. I was just overwhelmed.

Chimayo is also famous for its chile, but seeing as how we had this moving spiritual experience in the sanctuary, we decided we did not want to break the spell by checking out the chile stands, wherever they were.

We drove the rest of the way to Taos after our short stop in Chimayo. Our drive there (and back) had some notably funny stories. Jenny and I are both sound minded women who do not frequently lose their way, but I cannot remember the last time I made so many wrong turns, missed turns, and everything in between in my life. At one point, the directions we had said "turn left at such-and-such a road." We turned up that road and we confronted with several signs that read "DO NOT ENTER, FORREST FIRE." So after about three of those ominous signs we drove back down the road, assuming we had missed a turn. We stopped at the local general store of whatever town we were in and went in to ask for directions. Inside, their were five guys drinking beer and looking like nobody had come into the store all day. We asked how to get to Taos, and the conversation went something like this:

Townie #1: Oh so-and-so here can take you. He's a good chauffeur.

Noel: Oh that sounds like fun but we have a good truck for the two of us. Do you know which road we turn on?

Townie #2: It's that road back that way. What are you girls up to today?

Jenny: We just came from Chimayo. It's that road that goes into the forrest?

Townie #3: You get some of that good dirt?

Noel: We did! We rubbed it in our hair.

Townie #3: You gotta mix it with some tequila and it will have you seeing crazy things!

Jenny: Haha that sounds like not a good idea.

Noel: So it's the road like 20 yards that way (gesturing over shoulder)? Thanks. You guys have a good day!

(Exit Noel and Jenny)

Townie #4: Hey nice legs!!!!

Noel: Right back atcha.....

As if my curt manner and our refusal of tequila and a chauffeur had not already tipped them off.... oh townies.... ;)

And so we got back on the road. We drove into the forrest where there were signs clearly posted to leave, and somehow we came out on the other side in Taos. In Taos, we stopped by several little stores and art galleries before visiting what we later learned was the oldest living Native American village in the country. It was so beautiful, and also so strange that in the same place that people come to marvel at American history, there are about 150 people still living in that little piece of history.

That's me showing off my nice legs in front of a house in the pueblo.

When we left Taos, we had plans to go to a hot springs spa and resort called Ojo Caliente. Jenny had heard that they had seven different pools, all different temperatures with different healing properties, and there was even a mud bath! So we began our trek to Ojo Caliente. The directions took us down a winding road that paralleled a river, and we dreamily looked on while we talked about our excitement over reaching the spa. And so begins our next bizarre transportation tale.

The road got even windier. We crossed a bridge and suddenly the road got incredibly bumpy, too. And steep. And did I mention that not only did my Explorer have Jenny and me in it, but we were also carrying random pieces of furniture and other belongings of mine that I was transporting from my parents' house to my own?

And the Explorer has a manual transmission.

So we were slowly climbing this bumpy road, my cargo in the back rattling noisily all the way up. We crept up in first gear the majority of the time (if anyone comments on this lecturing me on when and how to change gears, we will no longer be friends). All I kept thinking was "I do not want to drive down this thing."

We finally emerged at the top and although the signage was poor and confusing and possibly manufactured for the sole purpose of making me go insane with doubt over which direction we were going, we arrived at Ojo Caliente Spa and Resort in the late afternoon. Hooray Team!

The spa was great. We sampled each pool. We baked ourselves in mud and sat in the mud pool. The iron pool was my favorite. I dug my feet into the pebbles on the bottom and could feel bubbles coming up. It was a perfectly relaxing end to a great day!

We headed back in the direction of Santa Fe just before the sun started to go down. And our story would not be complete without another travelling mishap. Thankfully we did not have to take that treacherous road back, because there was a more straight shot to US Hwy 285. I guess there's no way to make this sound clever or funny or glamorous: we went in the clear opposite direction of Santa Fe on 285 for the better part of an hour.

So when we finally arrived back in Santa Fe, we made dinner, packed our bags to return home, and watched a mini-Glee marathon (a nightly routine since my arrival on Thursday) and went to sleep for our final night in Santa Fe.

Jenny had been living in Santa Fe for a month, so it was the final page to a longer chapter in her life than in mine. It may have been bittersweet, but we were both too tired to really take it in. Jenny had said her goodbyes to her friends on Thursday, so there was no grandiose farewell to New Mexico. We woke up early, grabbed some coffee to go, and headed down I-25 for an eight-hour road trip on Sunday.

Other than one outrageously priced gas station, there is not much to say about our trip home. The ten days or so that I was away from Tucson were good. It was a great vacation, a great time to vacation, and in the company of great friends along the way.

I know this was a particularly long entry in Pheidippides, but I hope you enjoyed it. Next entry will be about running again... I promise.

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