I had been hearing about Chaco Canyon from fellow travelers for quite a while, so I started off in that direction from Santa Fe once my parents took off. I thought I'd pass through Abiquiu, New Mexico, to sample the scenery of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings and Ansel Adams' photography and take a dip in the Ojo Caliente hot springs while I was passing through. Just past Abiquiu lies Ghost Ranch, where O'Keeffe and others stayed and worked. I arrived mid-day and without any concrete plans, so I headed off on a quick walk behind the ranch to attempt better photos of the picturesque cliffs. The views quickly got better, and the investigatory walk turned into a full hike as I followed the box canyon trail and found myself lured by lush creekside vegetation set against the dramatic and colorful cliffs. "Just a few more minutes", I continued to tell myself until I reached the end of the box canyon and was pretty parched from not bringing water along, but I managed narrowly to escape without dying of thirst and captured some of the grandeur along the way.
After over a month in Colorado, it was time to journey southward to meet my parents in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They arrived about a week before me, and we were to rendezvous in Albuquerque then move north again to Santa Fe, where we would base our operations for another week and make day trips to the surrounding area.
During this time, we visited Tsankawi, site of Ancestral Pueblo ruins and traces of foot paths worn into the soft sandstone. It's amazing to be able to walk in the same footsteps of a civilization of a thousand years ago.
We continued on to Los Alamos and the Valles Caldera, definitely the largest alpine meadow I've ever seen. That afternoon I took a soak in the San Antonio hot springs, made up of a few small pools a short hike away from a forest road west of the caldera.
We took in a couple of the opera performances, where my camping rig provided an excellent platform for the customary tailgating in the parking lot before the show.
As my parents were staying in hotels and mysteriously did not share my confidence in my ability to find campsites close at hand, they arranged for extra space for me in their accomodations in town, providing a short break from life in the woods, where showers are not quite so convenient as the turn of a knob and clean linens do not come in endless supply. The highlight of the accommodations was the Inn of the Turquoise Bear, former home and party venue of Witter Bynner and contemporary purveyor of comfortable nights and delicious breakfasts.
We sampled the local New Mexican cuisine in abundance, refining my palette for both red and green sauce, and adding a new contender for top breakfast burrito in America to my list (The Pantry...it's pretty amazing). My favorite of the local New Mexican cuisine was La Choza for excellent enchiladas, great margaritas, and the best example by far of posole, a dish previously mundane to my palette.
Today marks exactly one year since I first departed the east coast to begin this adventure. It's been a wild and amazing trip so far. Here's a smattering of photos from some of the wonderful places I've been.
From my secluded valley campsite near Oak Creek, Colorado, I followed a forest road to its end, then hiked up toward the cliffs I could see from the campsite. While I started off too late to make the cliffs (the trail, a former road, goes first to the opposite side of the mountain), I got some great sunset views and saw pikas for the first time. They are some seriously adorable creatures.
I embarked on my current adventure with the dream of finding remote places, surrounded by trees and mountains and filled with fresh air, and being able to set up camp for a week or two at a time. If I couldn't get enough mountains and trees in the city, I'd bring my office to the woods, where every short break could be filled with natural scenery and hiking could be as accessible as walking out my front door. Temptation got in the way of fulfilling the work side of the dream, however, and the majority of my time thus far has been spent exploring new places, meeting new people, and lavishly enjoying near complete freedom from obligations.
A growing desire to post more photos (all the photos!) on the blog and the opportunity of having a week to kill and a valley to myself led me finally to exercise the programming-in-the-woods area of my skill set. The software delivering the blog you are reading now was lovingly hand crafted in the mountains of Colorado.