Those of you who have known me for a long time may remember I used to go dark for a couple of months every summer while I went up to New Mexico. What with college, internships, and now jobs I haven't been able to go up there in a while, much less spend a whole summer there. But last week I managed to take a week off to have some fun. Description below, though I've linked the images instead of embedded them to save space.
When most people think of New Mexico, they think of deserts and heat. Well, that may be true of the southern part, but the north is in the Rocky's, so mountains, forests, and cool weather. That last part was really nice, going from the 100 degree Houston humidity to dry highs in the 70's.
Anyway, after moving my sister into her new apartment in Austin, the family headed out for the 13 hour drive from Waco to northern New Mexico. Listened to an audiobook most of the way, and I have to say that the Monster Hunter International series is a seriously good set of books. Great narrator, too. But, eventually, we got to our destination over here.
Monday the family went hiking in a little place in Southern Colorado called Platoro. It's an old mining community north of the Cumberland Pass (not to be confused with the Cumberland Gap over in Kentucky) that now has some lodges and closes down every winter. It's also at 10,000 feet and goes up from there. So, obviously, on our first day after coming up from basically sea level, we climbed this. I'll admit that the original plan was to just go a few miles. Instead, we ended up hiking four and a half miles of trail and about a thousand feet up to the peak and the little pond up there. So a nine mile round trip. Worth it, though, and got some cool pictures.
The next few days were mainly rest and recuperation. Went on some hikes, hunted for deer antlers, ate some of the (very good) local food. That sort of stuff. Then a few other relatives came in and we went to a little town in Colorado called Pagosa Springs.
If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend it. Beautiful country, rafting and tubing in the summer, near the Wolf Creek ski resort for the winter, good people. And then there are the hot springs it's named for. They're a bit pricey, but definitely worth it. Oh, and the Malt Shoppe (conveniently located next to the local Pot Shop) is pretty awesome. Didn't get to go this year, though. Good hiking, too, but unfortunately we didn't get to do much for a few reasons. We did end up stopping at a small waterfall with a short trail. Of course, it decided to rain (and hail) while we were hiking, but there was a convenient cave, right next to where it came down. After that it was a soak in the springs and then a trip back to New Mexico for dinner at a steak house called Cliff View with some really excellent food and a view of the Brazos Cliffs. I've also come to find out they were filming some Wolverine stuff right there the week before. Sorry to have missed it, but at least there weren't any crowds.
After the other family left, I went back to hiking some of the other areas. Here's the view from the fishing lodge I used to work at during the summers years ago. Then I climbed a nearby ridge and got another view of the same area. Behind the ridge ended up being a hidden plateau and the river feeding the lake. Bit of a drop, though.
There's also a lot of wildlife up there. Throughout the week I saw turkeys, deer, a grouse, more deer, and even a fox. The last I'd never seen up there before, and I'm pretty sure it was a mother trying to lead me away from her den. She'd run a ways, stop, and make the strangest yipping noise until I walked over, then repeat. It's hard to describe the sound, but let's just say I now know exactly what the fox says. Aside from those, I heard coyotes (very annoying at 3 am) and some family saw a mountain lion.
But all good things come to an end. So we drove to Albuquerque (HA spell check! I didn't need you for that one!) on Saturday night, had some really good Greek for dinner, and flew out on the 7 am to Love Field in Dallas. I'll say one thing about Southwest Airlines, they're a lot better than American. I've mostly flown the latter for the last few years, but SW was cheap, right on time, professional, and Love Field (their hub) has a Whataburger! Plus I got an exit row, which is awesome for tall people like me.
Then it was a 4 hour drive back to Houston with my insanely ticked off cat who's currently sulking in the other room. I guess he's just mad I put him through the drive and deprived him of the playmate he was staying with. But now I'm home and tomorrow's work. I'm a bit bummed that vacation's over, but I have fun memories and decent internet access again, so there's that.