For years, I said that New Mexico was my least favorite state. While living in Lubbock, I drove on I-40 across the entire state from Tucumcari to Gallup more times that I can count on our way to Oregon, Utah, or Arizona. That drive jaded my opinion of the state. I would joke that whoever named it "The Land of Enchantment" had it dead wrong. I knew there must be pretty parts somewhere, but they certainly weren't on I-40, or other parts I visited, like Clovis, Roswell, Las Cruces, or Carlsbad (minus the caverns).
When we found out we were moving here for fellowship, I had to laugh to myself (I should add, that while living in Wisconsin, Illinois became my least favorite state). I thought to myself, "Well, it serves me right for always disliking it so much." But Paul was excited for the fellowship, and I thought that for a year, we could make an adventure out of it, packing the year with as much of New Mexico as we could.
We've really done a lot this year. We've tried to do something New Mexican, outdoorsy or artsy or fun, every Saturday that Paul hasn't been on call or the kids haven't had activities.
As a family, we have:
- ridden the tram to the top of Sandia Peak and hiked around
- visited 3 of the trails for Petroglyphs National Monument
- visited the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History
- visited Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
- hiked to Travertine Falls
- visited Meow Wolf in Santa Fe
- visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- sledded on the sand at White Sands National Monument
- toured the Very Large Array
- eaten pie in Pie Town
- visited family in Utah and Arizona (not New Mexican, but fun)
Without Paul, we have:
- hiked the mountains near Santa Fe to see the fall colors
- hiked the backside of Sandia Peak
- hiked along Route 66
- gone to Balloon Fiesta
- gone to the Albuquerque Bio Park (zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens)
- gone to Explora Science Museum
- visited Casa San Ysidro
- seen the Chinese Lantern Festival
- gone to Lantern Fest
Still on our to-do list, to be crammed into the next 2 1/2 months now that the weather is nice:
- Bandelier National Monument
- Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos
- Tent Rocks
- drive through the Gilman Tunnels
- play on the Wibit in Santa Rosa
- visit Old Town Albuquerque and the Turquoise Museum
- ride in a hot air balloon
- drive the musical section of Route 66
- ride the train from Durango, CO to Silverton, CO
- visit Mesa Verde National Park
We have less than 3 months til we leave New Mexico and lots still to do (especially since soccer currently controls our Saturday schedule, and we have two races coming up). We literally have something planned every weekend until we leave.
In the process of doing and seeing as much of New Mexico as possible, I've come to love it. I've seen its beauty. I loved its dry, sandy trails. I see the beauty in the rocks and the shallow Rio Grande that I cross daily. I love seeing the Sandia Mountains across the valley every morning. I love the perpetually sunny skies. I love the pink sand and the adobe houses. I love riding my bike down by the river and running on the mesa. I love the obsession over green and red chili. I love the mountains of northern New Mexico and the desert of the south. I love how it is sunny almost every single day. I love how the city has an active vibe, with runners and bikers filling the trails. More than anything, I love the people who have made this place so magical.
As corny as the phrase "bloom where you are planted" is, it really is true. We've lived in a handful of places that I wasn't very excited about initially, but leaving each of them has been hard. You have the ability to make the place you live magical, by loving it for what it is and exploring it and all its beauty.
I never thought that after just a year here, it would be hard to leave. Different than leaving Texas or Wisconsin, it will be difficult in its own way, for different reasons. Our #yearinabq will live in my memory as our year of adventure.
Our view of the mountains from our balcony, during Balloon Fiesta Mass Ascension
The aspen trees near Santa Fe
Grooming science nerds
Going up the tram
The Rio Grande valley below
At the top of Sandia Peak, we hiked a few miles to reach this stone shelter
Hiking through the petroglyphs
Clouds covering the Sandias
Balloon Fiesta with cousins
Along the trail to Tranvertine Falls
No rain for 4 months made the falls very whimpy
Descending into Carlsbad Caverns
Inside the caves
Sledding at White Sands
Dunes as far as you can see
Lift off at Bosque del Apache
The Very Large Array in the New Mexican desert
Exploring Meow Wolf