New Mexico: Adventures Abound by Amanda

I spent my life thinking New Mexico was just flat desert, and boy was I so very wrong!! We had some great adventures throughout New Mexico: skiing, caving, hiking, and rock climbing. We toured an Earthship, drank at some really great breweries and had an incredible visit with Justin’s godparents, who live in Albequerque. It was a very exciting and eventful three weeks.

We entered New Mexico from Texas, through the oil fields in the southeast side of the state. We stopped for a few nights to tour Carlsbad Caverns, which is an incredible cave system unlike any we’ve been in. You can take an elevator down into the cave, but what fun would that be? We hiked the mile trail down into the lower caves and the walk down was spectacular, with cool rock formations, crevices to sneak through and the hope of seeing bats. Once you’re down into the lower caves, the place almost feels like a cathedral, with huge ceilings and stalagmites and stalagtites creating paths that feel like chambers or rooms. It took us about an hour do the mile hike into the lower caves and then another hour walking the paths through the caves. It was really cool to explore and the formations seemed otherworldly, like something out of Star Wars or The Dark Crystal. Photos do not do justice to the size and shape of these awesome formations. It was a great place to visit and I would recommend it to anyone. But once you’re done, save your legs and take the elevator back up to the top. The hike back up is like walking from the bottom of the Empire State to the observation deck… the equivalent of over 80 stories I beleive!

We spent a few days exploring Sante Fe before meeting up with Justin’s good friend Sean and his fifteen year old son Julian to do some skiing. They are avid snowboarders so we rented a small cabin outside Toas and spend a few days at Angel Fire Ski Resort. The kids and I had never skied before and I think Justin had skied just once before, so this was a very new, exciting and scary proposition for all of us. Justin and I took one day of ski lessons and the kids took two days of lessons. Our goal was to be able to ski as a family by day three. Justin and I were in a group lesson with five other people and our instructor, David, was awesome. Justin was a natural and learned very quickly. I had a rougher time of it and had a rough time that first morning. But something clicked at lunch and I had a great afternoon. I finally got the feel of it, because skiing is not a natural thing to do. You use muscles and move your body in ways you don’t normally do. On day two, Justin and I mastered the bunny hill and were able to try out some of the green courses at the resort. We often ran into the kids who were having their lessons on the bunny hill and they were so excited to tell us all the new things they were learning and they were so proud of themselves. It was so great to see them exhausted but happy at the end of the day and they couldn’t stop talking about doing the pizza and the french fry (really important ski terms!), about the kids they met and their instructors. The ski school was amazing and by day three our goal was met and all four of us could ski together. I am extremely proud of all of our efforts and we really enjoyed ourselves. I think skiing will become a new family pasttime!

So, can you guess who the best skier is in the family? Micah of course!! He is a natural. He likes speed but has great technique and when he falls, he just gets right back up again. No tears or nerves with this kid! Justin and Micah did a few of the bigger green runs on the last afternoon of skiing and Justin had a hard time keeping up with him!

It was so nice to have a week hanging with one of our greatest friends Sean and his son. Though we were all exhausted most nights after skiing, we had fun playing cards or Mexican Train dominoes, and do a lot of eating and laughing and catching up. We took a day off from skiing and all toured an Earthship together. Right outside of Taos is a small community of about seventy Earthships and they have one that is open to the public that you can tour. What is an Earthship you might ask? Well please go onto the website and look it up because I am not going to do the description justice but it’s a home that is made from old tires and garbage and it runs completely off the grid. The house is built into the earth to help with insulation and you can run them completely on solar power, grow food in the interior greenhouse and gather water from the cisterns located throughout the house. The construction concept is amazing and we spent about two hours touring the structure and asking questions of the staff and guides. We let our imaginations run wild about how it would feel to live in a completely sustainable home that required no need to be on any traditional city sewer or electrical grid. There is talk that maybe we will do their month long volunteer program where they teach you how to build an Earthship. Maybe someday.

After our skiing adventure, we went back down into central New Mexico to spend about a week in Albequerque, where Justin’s godparents, Ken and Bobbi live. They retired about six years ago and we haven’t seen them since they left the Chicagoland area so it was absolutely wonderful to get to spend so much time with them and have them show us around the city. We toured the Old Town, the Aquarium and Biopark, the Musuem of Natural History and learned how to make meth. Well maybe not that last part but you could see a lot of references to the show Breaking Bad around town. We also ventured out to see the Petroglyphs, Bandelier National Monument and the Valles Caldera. We ate very well too with Ken and Bobbi taking us to some of their favorites, which soon became our favorites….BJ’s Brewhouse, Cardenos (featured in Breaking Bad!) and Two Fools Tavern, with the best fish and chips I might have ever eaten. It was sad to say goodbye to Aunt Bobbi and Uncle Ken because we had such a lovely time with them but hopefully we’ll be heading back to the area as we really enjoyed New Mexico.

New Mexico surpassed all our expectations and we had an amazing time! Obviously the skiing was the most new and exciting experience and we’ll think fondly of the state going forward.

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