Saturday, October 23, 2010
The Southwest and Four Corners
Please don’t put out a missing persons report, we’re still alive and accounted for! We’ve been on the most circuitous route through New Mexico, Texas, back to New Mexico, up to Colorado, over to Utah, back to Colorado and back again to New Mexico. If you’ve been trying to plot us on a map you might get a little dizzy. Let’s just say we’ve put some good mileage on this bus. The bus, by the way, is holding up remarkably well for the type of living we’ve been putting her through; zigzagging up and down mountains that should questionably be driven in a car let alone our behemoth bus. But she is scheduled for a little maintenance and tune up in a few weeks. We’ve opted for a place in Oklahoma this time (hoping and prayin to avoid the Alabama Vortex).
If you’ve never been to the Four Corners you should really check out what this part of the country has to offer. Again I have been astonished, awe-struck and bewildered that such beauty exists within the borders of our own country. I have to admit my own short sightedness: I believed that the Grand Canyon was this amazing thing in the Southwest and that was about all there was here, save for a few cactuses and tumble weeds. Wrongo The entire range of mountains, canyons and rivers in this area is spectacular. While I feel we have seen a lot, the truth is we have only scratched the surface of the high desert. Here’s a quick recap:
Roswell, New Mexico: place of the ever controversial crash of a UFO. Remember how Torben had us out searching for Bigfoot, well; it’s along those same lines….or so I thought. I can’t even begin to condense the amount of information on the alleged UFO crash that has been accumulated, so I won’t even try. But I will say this: A LOT of high ranking military and government officials have independently sworn to have witnessed or been privy to information relating to the confiscating of the crash material and transportation of evidence. You all know I am the skeptic’s skeptic. It takes an unbelievable amount of evidence to convince me of anything. But here’s the real question I pose to all of you: If life exists on this planet is it not possible that in the scheme of the whole UNIVERSE that life may also exist elsewhere? Even I can’t prove it false. Do your own research, make your own opinions. All I’m saying is…anything is possible. Oh, and the Governor of New Mexico just attended the opening of a new space station in southern New Mexico-the first U.S. station planned to send civilians into outer space…(for the small fee of $200,000.00 you too can fly to the stars!). Coincidental?We also hiked a mile into the earth in southern New Mexico. Carlsbad Caverns is arguably the BIGGEST and most impressive cave system we have seen yet (and I’m pretty sure we’ve seen a most of them). It was absolutely incredible. If you want to see the inside of a cave but have a fear about being enclosed in a small space, worry not my friends, you can fit about three football fields in there. Oh, and they have an elevator (which we learned about after our hike down). And, it had wheelchair friendly paths :) Texas was a preplanned destination for Torben to attend a conference so we hauled ass to San Antonio for a week. The company was delightful; Torben’s speech went well and as it turns out San Antonio has a pretty cool river walk district. Oh yea, and there is also this little thing called the Alamo. I hope most of you have a better history background than yours truly. (Who’s surprised that I couldn’t for the life of me recall what happened at the Alamo?) Well, they died. That’s about the gist of it. Frontiersmen fought for land, and lost, but they did so valiantly so the landmark is a tribute to their honor. (See, I am a pretty good student, just don’t ask me to remember it five years from now.) In a rather classic noMadson moment we decided to take the dogs to a state park that was five miles away and we are totally, I mean totally, reliant upon my GPS. Sometimes I think there is someone on the other end of that thing laughing their ass off at what a joke it is to send us driving through ranches, rivers, and locked gates. Against all odds, we made it, although I think Torben’s favorite part was driving through the river. He felt a little like Indiana Jones.
We also stumbled into a National Forest that was completely deserted of people. High in the desert mountains in the driest of dry conditions we found this waterfall and swam with joy in its basin. I got a little carried away and shed my bathing suit for a chance to swim au naturale. I love skinny dipping, it is an awesomely freeing feeling, and I indulged in this outdoor oasis. Torben let me have a little fun then got a little paranoid and convinced me to re-clothe. The next thing I knew the caretaker of the park walked around the corner with his camera, tripod and the biggest zoom lens I have ever seen. Great. If you see any nude pictures of my sailing around the internet do me a favor; photoshop the cellulite out of my thighs.We had to make a beeline south because Denver was expecting snow!
There was an awesome river that flowed through a small town and the city made a park around it. People tube leisurely down the river until they get spat out through these Tube Shoots that are more like white water rafting than floating. Oh, excuse me, in Texas its toobing, not tubing. Texas is a proud state...of everything, especially Texas, but that's neither here nor there. Back to toobing-of course we did not have a tube, but the water was just too inviting to ignore, so I threw on old clothes I had stuffed in the back of the car and jumped right in. We had a blast...until I got the (not so) bright idea to go through the tube shoot. Why I thought that swimming through a narrow bolder laiden canal seemed like a good idea I'll never know. Why my husband laughed and let me is a whole nother. But I have a history of making ridiculous decisions forgoing my safety in favor of fun. Duh. I should just walk around with a helmet, it would probably reduce my insurance premium. That water was so fast and so strong that it pulled me under, flipped me over and smacked my head on a few rocks. Underwater things sound loud, but I swear that thud was heard around the world. As if that wasn't punishment enough for my stupidity the swirling waters held me under and dragged me down stream as I fought for a breath. I couldn't tell which way was up or where I was headed...and I only have myself to blame. Adventure is fun my friends, but sometimes is pays to think twice before jumping in, trust me.
On our next adventure I opted for spectator-only status, I remained dry and on solid ground. Please let it be on the record that I, Sarah Lynn Madson, got out of bed at 5:00 am. (I have a reputation for indulging in sleep, often too much, and short of a natural disaster I’m not getting up for anything.) I figured the Annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque was one of those “once in a lifetime, not to be missed” ordeals. I was right. In an effort to avoid paying for parking (thank you frugal husband) we parked and walked 4 miles (both ways!) to the festival. Truthfully, I would have walked twice that to see what we saw. I loved experiencing the childlike glee light up the faces of thousands as 500, yes that’s 5-0-0 brightly colored and various shaped balloons took flight into the sunrise. Ladies and Gentlemen…Mass Ascension is an event NOT to be missed.
Did you know that 2,000 years ago people lived on the side of cliffs in the desert? Hard to believe, but true. It took us over an hour to drive up the mountain to reach these remote historical monuments. How in God’s name people walked up this mountain range and hauled their building supplies up there is completely beyond my belief.
Had I lived there, I probably would have been one of the poor villagers that disappeared never to be heard from again after falling off the thousand foot cliff. No doubt not an easy life. The remains of these villages are right out of National Geographic.
Moab, Utah is a rockin good time for the out-door enthusiast. We went there because we both love the name. Moab, it’s just cool to say, right?
We hiked through the red rock canyon lands, across streams, through gorges and under natural rock arches and fell in love with Utah. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. I can’t wait for a return trip.
One of the things I love most about my husband is his spontaneity. We were headed west in Utah and he made a u-turn on the highway so that I could catch up with my Mom, visiting with my sister in Denver. Bless his precious heart; he drove across the Rocky Mountains and over the Continental Divide again just to bring me to my mom! He is saintly, or would be if the curse words stopped flying out of his mouth at every turn. I got to hug my mom. We talked, a laughed, and roasted marshmallows. Perhaps the biggest surprise: Kelly and Troy are going to be married in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico next week. But due to some sketchy Mexican laws they had to have a legal ceremony in the US first. Guess who just happened to show up and spoil this secret? You guessed it: the Merry Madsons! Torben was the best man at a wedding he feared he wouldn’t be able to attend (driving the bus through Mexico is not high on our list of must do’s). It was a special day and despite being delayed due to a 5k race blocking off downtown, locked doors to the courthouse and a tardy judge…my sister was a blushing bride... and I had the perfect excuse to indulge in cupcakes and champagne!
We have met up with some incredible people, old friends and new on this trip and beyond all of the sights we have seen, it has been those shared moments that have really made the trip. Thank you to Aunt Deanna and Uncle Tom for their love and support and one knock-out game of shuffleboard that left me questionably sore the next day.
Also, to soothe our Gator football season separation we have watched some of the games with Gator clubs across the country. The clubs are great (the games not so much). Thank you to the Florida Alum in San Antonio and Denver who extended such a welcome courtesy. My favorite part: my two new best friends, twins Claire & Elizabeth (who happen to be black belts!). The girls refreshed my memory of why I loved my childhood; silly pranks, glow in the dark nail polish, and happy singing hand clapping games…everybody should let out their inner eight year old again.
Thanks Silberman family! And for icing on the cake I got to catch up with a friend in Denver I have known since I was five (thanks Court!). Good company is like a feather that tickles my soul.
We drove OVER the Rio Grande gorge (yikes!) and saw sooooo many tarantulas. I cannot even begin to tell you how creeped out I was…but my husband made it all go away by taking me to Ojo Caliente, a natural hot springs spa in the desert mountains. We soaked in outdoor pools of bubbling water rich with the earth’s natural minerals, while being surrounded with red rock cliffs. It was very memorable. They also had a mud pool, where we slathered ourselves with mud and laid out to dry. Which I am sure would be a great luxury in the nice warm sunshine- but with an overcast sky and a chilly 50 degrees, waiting for the mud to dry was like standing wet in front of the refrigerator. But definitely worth it, my skin is glowing.
Taos, New Mexico is a skiers dream in the winter. Fall isn’t so bad either. We drove out to the National Forest and decided to take an unpaved road (of course). The pay off for bumping up and down on the hole-y-est road was this peaceful seclusion in the fall foliage. After snapping these pictures I laid out a blanket and took a nap while Torben ventured off to explore.We’re now posted in Santa Fe, which is a town that totally surprised me. I guess I expected the desert to be, well, deserted. Santa Fe is a unique town bustling with brightly colored art and activity, very trendy, quirky and lively. If you want to explore a new city that is rich in Native American and Spanish culture and offers something for everyone this is a getaway destination.
Well folks, that's all she wrote...for now. I'm off to Mexico for the "real" wedding and some tequila damage to my liver. Hugs and kisses to all!