Sunday, July 25, 2010


At 5:00 a.m. on Monday, I left my comfy king bed behind and hit the road, hoping that this would be the day I would honestly manage to GET to Albuquerque to embark on my Great Adventure with Susan, a much-needed, much-planned trek to 8000 feet to Jemez Falls campground, where the deer, the elk, and the bears play.  

At the airport in Louisville, I questioned the Southwest ticket agent:  "What the heck happened on Saturday that kept me from getting into the cool mountains of New Mexico??"  He said, "A teacher's convention.  Fifty-six-hundred educators were all trying to get out of this city and go home."
Well, with that explained, I dropped my suitcase and confidently hiked to the security line.  Once there, of course, there was the shoe-removal, makeup-in-a-Baggie removal, computer removal, Kindle removal, and jacket removal, which I am very unorganized with, plus I sweat with all the exertion with the humidity what it is here.  It takes me about ten minutes to organize everything into the bins, four seconds to walk through the screener, and ten minutes to reorganize everything back onto my person.  

With my Buddy Pass in hand, I approached the gait and learned that I actually had a seat on that first flight out.  Giddy with excitement, I settled in between the two people who were forced by process of elimination to put up with me for the next 3-1/2 hours as we zipped at 460 miles per hour toward my first stop, Phoenix, where my cousin was going to meet me for breakfast in the airport.  
The flight seemed fairly short, no dramatic things happened, and within a mere few hours I was hugging Tracy and  we were polishing off pastries and coffee.  I am not sure when it actually crept into my brain that I was going to have to redo the security process.  It seems ridiculous to say it was worth it, because of course it was, but as I held up the line unloading my computer, removing shoes, removing liquids-in-a-Baggie, etc., etc., etc., I seriously doubt that anyone else in the line behind me would have considered anything worth what I was putting them through.  

It almost seemed ridiculous to have to get on another plane for the little forty-five-minute hop to Albuquerque, and it seemed even more ridiculous that the fight attendants had to take drink orders for 200 passengers and try to work in a full service in that period of time, but in no time flat, I was hugging Susan, next, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and after some hugging, jumping up and down, retrieving my suitcase, we were soon on our way, in her well-stocked Camping Truck.  It was almost impossible to squeeze in the little amount of stuff I brought with me because in one month, Susan had turned into a camping monster and had everything from a tent ("Vacation Lodge"), a HUGE tent she had never tried to put up before, to a portable picnic table, and I jumped behind the wheel and we left the city behind and were giddy with the lack of oxygen at 8000 feet.  
Soon, we found the visitor's center for the Jemez Reservation, and made a stop in there for our final "real" bathroom break for the next three days, and to find a map. 

This is the visitor's center and a kiva out back of the visitor's center:

Not sure what this was for, and didn't really ask.
Look at that beautiful sky and enjoy it because it was pretty much the last of the blue we saw on the trip.

 The drive up to our campground seemed to fly by.  I have not seen such beautiful scenery in a long time, and the winding road up the side of the mountain commanded pretty much all of my attention. 

One of the little villages we passed through had this gorgeous church sitting right on the road, and after a terrifying, death-defying moment when, regardless of the steep fall into a ravine on both sides of us, making a quick stop, checking the rearview mirror and seeing nobody behind me, and pulling into a little indentation on the road, doing a U-turn and returning to the church, I took this gorgeous picture:

How would you like to sit in church on Sunday morning and see this work of God?

On we drove, seeing more beauty than you could imagine.  If I had stopped for a picture at every place I wanted, we would still be driving to the campground.  

The next touristy stop we made was a place called Soda Falls.  People go there to swim under the falls on hot days, and it was tempting, but trying to hurdle the guardrail and roll down the rocky hill to get there just was not going to happen.  It became more appealing to just watch others enjoy their little dip.

All this beauty, even this skull-like cave dwelling cliff wall, was carved from volcanoes.

On we drove, higher into the Jemez Mountains, anticipating raising our Vacation Lodge mega-tent, starting a fire, and watching the stars pop out one by one on a clear, quiet, oxygen-deprived night, kicking back, popping open the Bud Lights with Lime, cooking a couple of hot dogs, crawling into sleeping bags and reading until falling asleep, no worries, no troubles. 

Susan said, "Mick, it's just around this curve!!"  And we giggled in anticipation, pulled in and got our first view...

Stop us?  Deter us?  Never! 

Stay tuned for what happened next!


Magpie said...

Oh, don't leave us hanging for long!!

Tracy said...

Somehow I have a feeling you guys had a lot of fun despite the closure. The landscape looks amazing.