New Mexico

To Santa Fe

Y'all, yesterday was twenty-in-one. My alarm woke me at 4am. Groggy and with no sense of time or place, I pulled myself to a seated position and then remembered my cab was coming in less than a half-hour. Love notes left for all my boys, snacks packed, last-minute things shoved into my suitcase, and to the airport I went. I slept most of the way to Dallas, grabbed a much-needed coffee, met up with Lili (of my writing group), boarded the plane to Santa Fe, talked/slept all the way there, deplaned, met Laura for the first time, grabbed our luggage from the sweetest, tiniest "baggage claim" west of Lake Charles and headed into town.

As we wandered Santa Fe's streets and main plaza, it felt completely new to me; I had zero memory of any bit of it at all. Our family trip all those years ago must really have been clouded by my post-encephalitis haze. It's a much smaller, dustier city than I expected; really not a city at all but a town of 69,000 or so. Everyone was so friendly, and an air of laid-back, culturally-rich, artistically-inclined uniqueness blew along on the tails of the gentle breeze all around.

There is zero humidity here, an incredible thing that makes the crisp fall air that much more invigorating. We had a New Mexican enchilada lunch, went to a fabulous coffee shop -Ohori's- and to the shop next door where I easily could have gone broke; it's the kind of place where you are convinced you need at least one of everything. Then to an olive oil and vinegar store where we tasted at least a dozen delicious samples, to a chocolatier and to the stunning Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. Chile ristras hung everywhere and their scent pervaded town, a tannic, woody, herbal smell that makes you want to grab a gallon of water and get busy eating.

A glance at our watches put a spring in our step, for we had to do all our grocery shopping for four days before heading out to the ranch. At the market, we each grabbed a cart, divided the list we'd crafted on the way and shot off like Top Chef contenders on a ticking clock. Short ribs, wine, flour, oil, fruit, bushels of greens, cheese, pasta. It was an outrageous load but with three foodies and a Subaru, what were we to do?


To the ranch

After packing the car to the gills, we headed east out of Santa Fe towards the town of Anton Chico, the closest village to our final destination: a 60,000-acre ranch somewhere just beyond Anton Chico's orbit. It was an easy trip and a lovely one. We passed the Glorieta mesa (roughly 30 miles long!) and the town of Glorieta (aka the Gettysburg of the west), Starvation Peak, and all manner of scrub, brush and other-worldly rock formations. Approaching a fairly non-descript road, we turned left, leaving pavement behind. For ten miles or so, we bumped and bucked our way deep into the heart of this old ranch. How one ever truly comes to know such a vast expanse of unmarked land boggles the mind and inspires awe.

It is believed that The Long Walk passed over this land, right in front of the home in which we're bunking. It's amazing to think about such horrors happening in such a beautiful, peaceful (now) place. Cattle, dogs, and the cutest kitten in the world (after Nutmeg of course) came to visit. This kitten wants to come home with me, and I am all over that except for the obvious. And Rosa, a lovely woman from Michoacán greeted us with a home-cooked meal of Mexican rice, carnitas chili and just-made corn tortillas. Food, wine, conversation, laughter, and then, sleepily, to bed.

I slept like a baby until the chihuahua, Mimi, woke me up.

Photos coming when I find a cell hot spot!