Let's start this post by explaining that since, I would say college, I have been traveling with the fervor of a nutritionist's child discovering candy for the first time. My parents, for reasons of their own, never really did the family vacation bit. (Which I always found a little odd considering they both came from a generation of road trips, campers and national parks.) However, as an adult now, I will totally go out of my way to see some place new. Nick and I once traveled space available via the air force and actually opted for a flight that was both longer and landed in a different state because we could score a 4 hour layover in Iceland. That's right. I said "score a 4 hour layover." Cause my thought was, why opt not to go to Iceland when we could go, even for four hours on a military base that was being shut down. That layover is easily one of the most memorable and impressing travel experiences to this day. But that is a whole post worth for another day. My point is, with travel, as with life, it is so important to be open and conscious of the opportunities that fall before you. To know that, even though it may be hard, it may be unexpected, and it may seem a little odd, it is an opportunity that could pass you up so you best buck up, put on the big girl pants and hit it head on.
This past weekend I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico with a good friend of mine from college. Her name is Nicole. The reason we went there really boils down to nothing more than we had never been to the southwest. (Although, I must give serious props to my mom for recommending it.) It was amazing. And as with so many of the trips I go on I find that, against the background of a new place, I grow a little as a person and become a little more grounded in who I am and who I want to become. And because I really can't think of an eloquent way to link these anecdotes together here are a few highlights in list form:
1. I heart Georgia O'Keefe. Lady was original and amazing. If you want to know a little more go here. AND, according to the docent at the museum, she never felt totally at home in South Carolina either, nice to know I am not the only one.
2. Chocolate is like mother's milk to my friend, Nicole. Leave it to her to find the Chocolate walking tour in Santa Fe. First night day we are in Santa Fe we are all crazy jet lagged and ate dinner super early so I thought we should go find some chocolate for an evening snack. There is only one place left open after 6. It is called Kakawa Chocolate. Being as we have been in town for about 4 hours and have no idea where anything is I called the shop and reach one of the owners. His name is Peter. He explains to me that he has never given on foot directions and it is a little confusing to find on foot. I won't toy with anyone's intelligence by going through a play by play of 20 minutes of wandering, but I will tell you that I made several phone calls to Peter, he actually called me AND texted my phone, and at one point he was telling us to head down and alley and across a parking lot at which point I started to wonder if he was hunting us down to shank us in some dark corner of historic Santa Fe. But I am trying to have more faith in people, cause generally people are guilty til proven innocent in my book, and I don't like giving up. So on we trudged. Cold, tired, jet lagged. Finally, we found the place. What a gem! The chocolate was worth every wrong turn. Peter graciously gave us cups of chocolate on the house and a fantastic suggestion for lunch the next day.
3. Sunday we visited a couple national parks. The first of which had several old Native American cliff dwellings. So gorgeous. Went through a guided hike with a park ranger then continued the hike on our own. Now the ranger had explained there was a spot called the "alcove house" that was very pretty but up a series of ladders so if your are out of shape or have issues with heights, probably not the thing for you. Now my friend has a paralyzing fear of heights so she was like "I'm out" right away. And I thought man, that sounds like a lot of work and I'd have to do it by myself. Maybe not for me. But as we got closer there were little informational signs with artist renderings of the spot and you could see the ladders and the hike up. All I could think was man, I am going to be so pissed if I pass this up cause I was a little nervous. So on I went. Lone wolf. First ladder of like 20 pegs. A few feet rounding the cliff face in steep stairs cut into the rock and 8 inch wide "trail." Second ladder of about 30 pegs, another wind around the cliff face. Third ladder, about 45 pegs. Another small trail and finally the last ladder about 10 pegs. While the view and the native site above was beautiful and impressive in it's own right, it was made more special by the effort required to get there. With each ladder peg you are sort of forced to think about the age of the cliff, and what it must have been like to live there, and how damn athletic these people must have been. I will totally admit to being winded at the end of the climb and despite having no pre-existing qualms with heights I almost freaked on the way down the biggest ladder. My hands were shaking and I have very slight bruises on my shins from clinging to that ladder for dear life.
Overall, a wonderful little getaway. Very much needed, in fact. Originally, I sort of felt like a crazy person throwing together this vacation so shortly after moving but as we have unpacked and Nick has started going to work I was having trouble grounding myself. A new city that wasn't really all that new, no real plans, no idea where I am going to be tomorrow much less next month, really easy to loose your sense of self amidst so much uncertainty and traveling has always made me more comfortable in my own skin. This time, like all the others, was no different.