Just like my mind while travelling, this recording jumps from sight to insight, from notion to categorization. It is stream of experience, summarized.
A sprawling place, with stones instead of grass in many of the front yards, and larger than you’d think. Every structure is earth-toned stucco, or conversely, covered in colors not naturally found on earth. The town is surrounded by desert, even where it bumps up against the mountains. Cacti and jackrabbits the size of small dogs are ubiquitous at 6000 feet, but another 3k above, in the cloud enveloped ridge to the east, it’s almost cold enough to snow in June. Colorful tanagers make the scene.
No matter where you are in town, there is a dog barking, nearby or in the distance.
Old town is touristy, yet arty. There is an understandable obsession with Dia de Muertos art, dream catchers, hot air balloons (of course), cowboys, and ice cream. Pottery of all sorts.
All the food comes with the option of adding green or red chillies to it. Probably even the ice cream.
Shops close early.
People appear to be fitness buffs, with the trails filled with mountain bikers and runners. They are friendly and quick to engage in conversation with a stranger. Local trails are not crowded, but moments alone are measured in minutes, not hours.
People I’ve met (so easy here for an extrovert like me):
Ben and Lizzie and their little bulldog mix, out hiking. Great advice about the trails in the Sandias.
Positive Terrance, the tram guide. Total ski dude stereotype, alright. Says “yeah, cool” a lot. Engaged everyone and found out their stories, pointed out interesting features, and all in a 15 minute ride, (though I knew I liked him from the first moment he spoke to us).
Margaret, with dog, at Petroglyphs. Pup was chasing jackrabbits.
Kate, on the trail (2 dogs). Talked about deer, our dogs, and that my hands were freezing cold (I just came down from the top of the mountain).
Johnny, who owns an art gallery. His art is homoerotic and/or spiritual.
Guy at Taco Cabana, all the clerks from the hotel to the rattlesnake museum. Families from Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Germany. The NPS guides and Welcome Center Staff. People on the hiking paths. Circle K attendants.
Jenna, the person at the table next to mine, who is a NM native, but lives in Dallas now. We spoke a half hour beyond finishing dinner.
Too many names I missed after introductions.
Everything requires a drive, and distance is relative here. Across town, 20 minutes, wilderness is right on the edge of civilization. Lizards, squirrels, rabbits, and crows (ravens?) – everywhere. Big blue birds resting in the scrub. A vulture resting on a dilapidated brick structure. Hike 30 minutes in and 500 feet up, and the plants all change. Flowering cacti of all shapes, agave, blue and gold flowers, harsh grasses and woody thickets, and the scent of pine covering you for brief stretches. The soil goes from rusted iron red to grey sand to black volcanic ash to snow white. A mountain’s side can no sooner decide what color it should be than whether it should be smooth, pocked, scree covered, or jagged like a hunting knife.
Large black beetles do a handstand when you approach. Turns out, they are stink bugs getting ready to do their stink bug thing.
Canyons, valleys, arroyos, gultches, depending on where and how large.
Dry as a bone, they tell me, but remarkably green in places. It barely rains, though I arrived on the first day of rain in a month. The Federal lands are closed to deep hiking at this time.
Next: Santa Fe and the wilder parts beyond.