We drove away from White Sands National Monument, dirty, exhausted, and overwhelmed. We saw some of the most incredible sights of our lives but nothing sounded better than a hot shower and a full day without traveling. Luckily after a quick drive through Bosque Del Apache, we were headed straight to Oshà’s grandmother’s house in Albuquerque. Bosque Del Apache is really more of an early morning/late afternoon adventure. All the birds were hiding from the mid-day heat and the only exciting sight was a group of wild javelinas.
After a good shower and long night of rest we ventured out to the Railyards in abq to wander around the farmer’s market and ogle at the century old buildings all around the train station. Our true destination for the day being Las Vegas, NM, we hurried on through Santa Fe stopping only for a nostalgic New Mexican smothered burrito and quick bike ride through the art filled plaza. For those of you bummed about us missing Meow Wolf, it was half off day for locals(translation:crowds!); Not to mention we have family in the area, so it’s always there for us.
Las Vegas, NM is one of those frozen in time towns. Hitting its peak in the late 1890’s, not much has changed besides maybe a Walmart. We drove straight into the plaza past the old bank(now a school administration building, although “bank” is still clearly chiseled into the rock) and the historic Plaza Hotel, out towards the hot springs and Oshà’s mom. There is no question which house we are headed to. You can spot the yurt(Becky’s bedroom) from down the road and as we pull into the driveway we are greeted by two little boys, taco the goat, some chickens, and a two-legged, horse sized, grumpy old dog named Walt. Within 30 minutes we were lounging in hammocks with the BBQ roaring in the background. The next morning, Monday, AJ cooked up his famous blueberry pancakes before we headed out to the river to check the crawdad trap. Disappointed with the measly 3 tangled up in the wire contraption, we spent the day catching some ourselves. The secret is to spot a likely crawfish hole in the rocks and dangle a chunk of meat right in front until the predictable claw pops out and clasps on. Then, while the most dangerous part of the crawdad is occupied quickly grab it behind the arms and plop it in the bucket! between us we caught about 30. The reward for our efforts? delicious crawdad étouffée. We ended the night right with a soothing dip the hot springs. Hidden in the riverbed of the gallinas river and the shadow of the Montezuma castle these springs are a treasure to anyone who finds them. Once there were plans for a grand resort and hotel but the railroads died and the springs remain open to the public.
Tuesday we spent time meditating in the light sanctuary above Montezuma before heading into Gallinas canyon to visit Oshá’s childhood home, the Morada; Once lively with gardens and children, we couldn’t help but to feel the loneliness in this abandoned building. Here Rob and Becky, Oshá’s parents, had created a utopia in which they escaped the daily grind and government. Growing up in a place that nurtured dependence on each other and a great sense of the earth around us plays a huge part in the woman Oshá strives to be. This canyon will always hold a special place in our hearts.
We left the Morada behind in favor of evergreen valley just up the canyon. The rest of the family met us out there for a night of camping. Erik wasn’t feeling great at this point and armed with new foraging books, Oshá took it upon herself to hunt down some local herbs and plants that might soothe the scratching in his throat. A serious word of caution – double check any plant you use, then check again just to be sure. We had a great time learning all about wild geranium; while it can make a great gargle for sore throats, if it is actually consumed in large amounts it acts as an enema….. oops. Long story short, it did not cure his oncoming cold. This event was shortly followed by a burnt batch of apple crisp and a few sausages in the fire; it’s a good thing the valley was so beautiful.
Erik was eager to see a bit of historic Las Vegas so we spent Wednesday exploring the Plaza Hotel and driving through the town. Once separated by outlaws, the city is still divided by the river into East Las Vegas and West Las Vegas. There are signs of the booming railroad town everywhere and nearly half of the West side is historically preserved. Las Vegas also happens to be a bit of a movie town; it’s fun to watch “No country for old men” and recognize almost every set.
Thursday we celebrated Oshá’s brother Jaibo’s birthday with a final meal at El Fidel restaurant. Full of good food we hit the road again. We decided to drive by the old Ski resort in Sipapu, NM and found that during the summer they have a great disc golf course. About halfway up the course we heard a strange yelping and then we witnessed something truly unbelievable; just 10 feet from us a baby elk burst out of the woods struggling to keep a WOLF off its back! The wolf spotted us and scampered off allowing the spooked elk to escape. We stared at each-other for a very still moment before laughing in relief and surprise at the event. As long as we live I don’t think we will encounter such a sight again; this is what this road trip is all bout, submerging ourselves in the world around us, finding the moments worth living for, and appreciating the rest.