Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sat, March 22, 2014: Southwest Adventure Time!

I think anyone who has read this blog to any extent has figured out that Southwest Adventure Time is some of my favorite adventure time for spring break!

Brennan and I headed out to Utah and Arizona, so I could show him some of my favorite places in the country.  He drove most of the way, which was heavenly, so I was left to notice awesome stuff like this along the way:
I wish that everyone could see what the world looks like as you transition from Colorado to Utah along I-70.  The road goes steadily down, out of the mountains, and flows into this beautiful, desolate desert surrounded by cliffs.  There are ranches and lots of rocks and rabbitbrush, and not much else.
 San Rafael's Reef, along I-70, one of my favorite stopping points. :)

Another favorite for me, this random tree on the side of a rest stop along the highway.  As you look over the cliff, there's this big canyon of deep red-brown rocks that stretches out in both directions.  I love how completely weird the land is out here, compared to Connecticut!
We spent the night in St. George, Utah, another favorite place for me.  It had been wintery and cold in Colorado, but when we arrived at the motel about 11 hours later, we had this:
Gotta love spring in St. George. :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Looking Back: Sun, Feb. 9, 2014: Goodbye to the Horses

We traveled back out the way that we came, hoping to see Curious George again on our way out.

And we did, munching away on February-dry desert grass like the happiest guy in the world.
It was so nice traveling with Brennan, partly because of his company and partly because it was awesome not to have to drive everywhere myself!  I was able to lounge back in the passenger seat and watch the world go by.

This is travel in Colorado: the big sky, and the big prairie, and the big mountains, all endlessly flowing out in all directions from you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Looking Back: Sat, Feb. 8, 2014: Into the Sky

I wanted to share White Sands with Brennan (one of my favorite places in New Mexico, see here and here!).  We spent the night in Alamagordo the night before, and while that was previously a terrifying experience for me, I slept soundly and peacefully.

He's not much of a morning person, but we were out of the motel room in plenty of time to see the sunrise at the park.
When we pulled up to the gate, there was a military vehicle blocking off the entrance.  We asked what was going on, and were told that White Sands was closed for the day for some military reason.  I was so disappointed.  We pulled off the side of the road to watch the sunrise glow wash over the mountains.


It was, of course, breathtaking exactly the way it was, even though it wasn't what I had expected when we woke up that morning.  And I think that's part of the adventure: appreciating experiences as they are rather than how I think they should be.
We headed up Route 70 toward Las Cruces, and all of a sudden the world turned from pale orange-pink to a brilliant, rich gold that warmed my soul.
We headed up to the Very Large Array, another place that I feel in love with after just one visit.

The telescopes were arranged in a different configuration than the last time I visited.  During my first visit, they were clustered closely together.  This setup allows the astronomers to get a wide, far view of the universe.  When we visited in February, the telescopes were farther apart, which zooms them in to a more specific area of the sky.
After VLA, Brennan took a nap while I drove to Pie Town, a place I had read about and piqued my curiosity.  It was a tiny, tiiiiny little town.  Brennan slept through the visit, and I didn't stop for any pie since I had already cut gluten out of my diet at this point, but it was really cool to see this famous little town tucked away in the hills of the high desert.

We headed back down and explored a bit around Magdalena.

It's still so weird to me to see dry creek beds out here!
We found this sign that I didn't remember noticing during my last trip.  My sister's name happens to be Kelly, and this time it caught my eye.  We did a little research and figured out how to get to this ghost town.
After having observed many different old ruins across the southwest, it's so interesting that both modern and ancient ruins have a similar feeling about them.  They make me feel hushed, and awed, and almost reverent with the realization of the lives that were spent in that place, the spirits of people acting out the good and bad, and learning and growing, crying and laughing, all in that place.  And then all of their experiences being diminished to shells of buildings tucked away in mountains that used to shelter those souls, surrounded by low mountains that slowly, timelessly, roll along.

The "main road" up to Kelly was a narrow dirt and rock path that inclined past the shells of homes that dotted the hills.


The mine itself was amazing to see, and I think this is one of the coolest places I have ever visited.




Heading out, I kept pausing, not wanting to leave these bare crumbling foundations.  Souls built these structures with their own hands, people were born and died there, people fought and made up there.  I tried to imagine how the homes were arranged, where the furniture stood, peeking out the window of a cozy attic bedroom at the mountain views that stood before them the same as they appeared to me.
 The sunset that evening was so gentle, and the weather was gentle, and my heart was happy.


Present Day: Tues, Mar. 24, 2015: Getting The Ball Rolling...

I'm not even sure how to get the ball rolling again, but I think the best way is probably to just start. :)

Previously, I was posting slowly.  Lately, I hadn't been posting at all.  But after a 7-month absence from documenting my adventures, I realize how much I enjoyed sharing them.

I've been having different adventures lately, and not traveling as much.  Back in October, I was accepted as an apprentice to a wonderful herbalist here in Colorado, and have been filling my brain with as much of her knowledge as it's able to hold.  The learning has been an intense and emotional journey, and I love experiencing the ways that plants are able to support my body, mind, and soul.

Brennan and I also decided to buy a home together, and we closed on our place at the beginning of December 2014.  The home buying process was intense and stressful for both of us, but it feels nice to be settled somewhere and know that I don't have to move for a while.

So that's a bit about what's been going on.  And now it's time to roll up my sleeves and delve into this awesome collection of adventures that are still waiting to be shared from over a year ago.  Here we go!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fri, Feb. 7, 2014: Into the Earth

I've been to Carlsbad Caverns twice before (once on purpose and once after I was traumatized in Alamogordo!)  Typically dark, confined spaces freak me out, but for some reason Carlsbad Caverns feel comforting and safe to me.

There was still some incongruous ice clinging to the rocks as we drove into the park, passing cacti and scrubby pines under the warm spring sun.

We chose to enter through the natural entrance, which delighted me!  During both of my previous visits, I was alone and didn't feel comfortable taking the solo hike from the natural entrance.  This time, we made the trek together, and it filled me with awe to enter this massive cave system through its empty black eye.



For a good part of our journey inward and downward, the cave was weakly illuminated by the retreating sunlight.  We could look up into the echoing cavern and see where we entered, and how far we had already descended.

I was filled with the same overwhelming feelings of wonder and awe, and the same security and comfort that drew me back a second time during my previous visit.  I have a tendency to walk and speak loudly, but my entire being was hushed to a whisper in this place.



The floors of the caves seemed much more damp than during my previous visit, and I wondered if they received more snow this winter.  There were some beautiful pools of water so still that they reflected the lights and shapes of the cave like a perfect mirror.  Their stillness halted me, their complete absence of movement unexpectedly stunning.

These rock formations were called "lily pads", and they "floated" above another shockingly still cave pond.

I just couldn't get enough of this water...

Our world, it's so full of sound and movement and change, and sometimes I feel like a dazed child standing in the middle of a busy highway of cars.  The noise and speed doesn't make sense to me, and my brain sometimes has a hard time catching up to the frantic life swirling and rushing around me.  More importantly, I don't often feel motivated to even try to keep up.  Sometimes I feel like I live in a slower, quieter time stream, where I can somehow shield myself from the craziness and flurry around me.  That's why the pools of water arrested me I think, and why I was so enchanted by them: they were completely and utterly still.  In a life so full of noise and movement, it's amazing to experience something that is so utterly devoid of noise and movement, and I wonder if that's a big part of why I love this cave so much.  It's a luxurious indulgence to experience a place that is the opposite of the world above.

Brennan was adventurous enough to take the southern route with me to White Sands, so we got to visit El Capitain in Texas...
...and Salt Flats, Texas:
When I drove this route 4 years earlier, the salt flats were just a wide, flat, pale expanse of desert.  This time, due to what I am guessing was heavy rain or snowfall before our arrival, the flats were a massive shallow lake reaching out to the toes of the mountains.
We made it to El Paso, TX in time to watch the sun set over the mountains:
My heart felt full from the opportunity to revisit these places that I love so much, and I couldn't wait to see White Sands the next day.  We arrived in Alamogordo in the dark and set our alarms so we could catch the sunrise.