Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Recognizing Taos Valley

I rarely go back to places I already visited (Arcachon was THE expection!) and not because I wouldn't love to ... no, it's because ... there are so many other places on my bucket list :-)

What never happened to me though, at least not until my recent trip to New Mexico, is to travel to a place and to feel like ... coming home.
I believe in reincarnation and I know about arriving in new places that feel familiar. Do you know what I mean? Like you already know the place even though you know you don't?
Well, this time though, the feeling was much stronger. Way stronger.
It happened on the road to Taos (coming from Santa Fe). The funny thing was that I wasn't even supposed to take this particular road into Taos. I had planned on taking the "old road" up to Taos, wanting to visit Chimayo and other small towns along that road. But then, at the last minute, I decided against it and stayed on the "new road". Intuition? I don't know but if I hadn't taken the new road, I would have missed the Taos Valley!

Suddenly it was there. In front of me. In all of its greatness and vastness. I had to stop, get out of the car, take a look, soak it up (I went back the next day just to make sure that the feeling really was what it was ... it was!).
Oh my.
It was ... I can't explain. Overwhelming. Dizzying. I felt like smiling and crying at the same time. I stood there for what felt like an eternity, couldn't get myself to leave. Just looking at the vastness and seeing the canyon in the distance? I don't know. It did something to me. Like deep down.
It wasn't until last week though that I realized what these feelings were about. It really felt like coming home. BEING HOME. And that per se is really strange because I never feel "really at home" somewhere. Not in the place I grew up in, or the place I live. "Home", for me, has never been a place. It's more something I feel in the inside of me. (Mmmh, now that I think of it, I will have to write a post about the topic of what "home" means or does not mean to me...)
Okay, were was I? Right. How Taos Valley felt like home. Surprisingly so. It was exhilarating.
Am I going crazy, you wonder? Well, I don't know and I honestly don't care. What I know is how I felt in that particular moment. And it was glorious!

The pictures taken don't give the place and my feelings of it enough credit. Ah, photos rarely capture a "feeling" and this place place was just ... too majestic to fit into one tiny little picture :-)

Did you spot the canyon in the distance? Well, on my way to Mesa Verde, two days later, I drove just over the bridge of that exact canyon. I hadn't realized that my onward way of this trip would take me there :-)

the bridge over the canyon

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Remembering Taos

It rained when I arrived in Taos. Well, not raining raining more a drizzling kind of rain :-) Me, who doesn't like rain, was quite happy about it because it was good not to feel like being in an oven the whole time (hahaha).
I stayed two nights and I had more than enough time to visit Taos and Taos Pueblo and wander around. Did you know that this Pueblo has been inhabited for over 1000 years (and still is inhabited by 150 people these days)? I didn't. My guide told me. I took one of the official guided tours within the pueblo and it was worth my time! Amazing place.

Taos Pueblo

no water no life! Read more about "Blue Lake" here:

Blue Lake seen from afar

My day in Taos was a lazy one. I visited everything I wanted to see and then spent the rest of my afternoon .... sitting on the patio of my Inn ... which served a wonderful afternoon tea (from 3-6 pm). I couldn't miss that! So there went my afternoon: reading, drinking some Southern Iced Tea (I LOOOOOVE Southern Iced Tea!!!) and eating wonderful cake and cookies.
It was good to sit there, to relax and to let my thoughts wander. I really needed down time during this trip. More than on other travels. It was intense and I needed time to digest all my impressions and feelings. That's new to me. I sometimes wonder, do I travel differently? Has my state of mind changed? Are my feelings more … I don't know … deep? Mmmh. Well, I'll find out on my next trip!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

July Wish

I did a lot of breathing this last June. Oh my. I did! And it helped.

In July though, or so it seems to me, taking deep breaths is not enough any longer. Stuff is happening and not all of it is good. And the not so good stuff doesn't go away! No, it sticks tenaciously... at least until you take a closer look.

That's what happened to me (I won't bore you with details) and I tried the whole looking away thing. Didn't work. At all.
Then, on a hunch (ah, what would I do without my hunches??) I decided to take a real close look at what was happening. I obviously didn't like what I saw but I looked anyway. I realized it wasn't about the situation I was fretting about but rather about a single person within the situation. I realized I needed to come clear.
My first impulse had been to tell the person straight away what I felt needed to be said. I kept silent though. And slept on it for a night. Only then did I open my mouth. Oh my, how smooth it went. The right words. The right way. And together with this person we found the perfect solution.
I feel better. Freed. And am glad that I took this closer look. Without it, I'd still be fretting about something that wasn't even at the heart of the problem.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Remembering White Sands National Monument ... Some Pictures

Landscape around the Monument

Remembering White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

I don't remember the first time I read about White Sands or saw pictures of the place. It may have been on Pinterest. Or some travel blogger writing about it. I don't know. What I know though is that this place has been on my travel bucket list for some time.

Then, while organizing my trip, I realized that the site wasn't just around the corner. At least, not around the corner of the other places I wanted to visit. For a second I considered not going there. One second. Not more. Then I decided the detour would be worth the additional miles I would have to drive. 4 hours south from Santa Fe, 6 hours north, the next day, to Taos. Had I decided against visiting White Sands, my drive from Santa Fe to Taos would have taken 2 hours (sigh).

Whatever. I didn't care. I wanted to see for myself and ... I was right. It was way (and I mean wwwwaaayyyy) worth the detour. What an incredible place. You arrive from Alamogordo (where I spent the night), the San Andres Mountain in front of you, the "normal" New Mexico landscape all around you. And then suddenly ... dunes. Like really white dunes.

It was hot like hell but the skies were dark (it rained during the night and the next day!). Therefore, the whole experience was even more dramatic.

Like No Place On Earth says the official website ... I don't know about that ... What I know is that I spent an amazing afternoon driving around, absorbing the beauty of the site, taking pictures, absorbing more beauty. I was lucky BTW (thank you, Travel Gods!). What I didn't know was that the monument could close its doors due to missile testing. Yes. Missile testing. The Holloman Air Force Base is located nearby and from time to time they fly their missiles over the park and that's when they have to close down the whole thing for the public. Luckily, the afternoon of my visit wasn't one of the test days! If you ever decide to go ... check out their website before planning your trip. These tests are usually organized well in advance and the dates are published on the internet.

This is my favorite picture (my actual screen saver) (more of them in a separate post) (I swear, no photoshop!)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Let's Talk About Money

I've always had a strange relation to money.
Sometimes I had jobs where I made quite some money and my bank account looked accordingly.
Other times, how much I earned wasn't so important and my bank account? Well, you can guess.
I have known times where I didn't have to worry about money at all.
Other times, I didn't know how to get to my next pay-day.
Money was simply something I had ... or I hadn't.
But I have to point out that, luckily, I have never been really poor. I always had a roof over my head. I always had enough to eat. I never had any debts. I am grateful for that.
It was just ... ups and downs.

Money is like the ocean: it alternates between low and high tide. I admit to getting anxious from time to time but on the other hand, I knew I had nothing to worry about. The next tide would come!
It certainly helps that I am a pretty adaptable person. When I had enough money, I spent it. When my bank account wasn't looking so bright, I lived with little money.

July 2018 is a month with little money. I knew I'd have one of those before flying to Denver. I knew that my US trip was gonna be rather expensive. I nevertheless decided on going on this trip because I also knew that, looking back at 2018 in a couple of years, I wouldn't think of July and my lack of money. No. I would think back to my trip to France and my US trip.
That's what money is for.
So, I am back to strict spending rules, no credit cards, no debit cards. Just cash (USD 100/week).
Keeps me humble.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Remembering Albuquerque and Santa Fe

When I think back to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, I mainly think of the houses … the Adobe houses, to be exact. The color of the bricks are exactly the color of the earth and therefore, it felt to me as if the houses were part of the earth. Am I being weird? Well, maybe. But I also thought that the light in New Mexico was different than in other places… hahaha So, maybe I am weird :-)
The houses were wonderful!

 Honestly though, I loved the skies and their clouds even more :-)

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Remembering Denver ... Some Pictures

Denver Art Museum

This view from the Denver Art Museum, made me feel like being in a Giorgio de Chirico painting :-)

Remembering Denver, Co (USA)

I chose to start my trip in Denver for the simple reason that we now have a direct flight there. I don't like to start off my US trips with a connecting flight because immigration is always an unknown problem. Sometimes it goes smoothly, sometimes it takes some time (depending also if there was just another flight coming in or not). Therefore, whenever I can chose a direct flight … direct flight it is!

Denver was the perfect place to begin my trip. It's a nice city. Not particularly beautiful or totally breathtaking. It just had the right energy for me. Easy going and manageable. Downtown was cute (with quite a few restaurants where I could sit outside and do people-watching!) but not huge. It was easily accessible from the airport, then once I reached Union Station, I took the Free Mall Ride to my hotel. The Free Mall Ride is a bus that goes up and down 16th Street. It stops at each corner from where you can reach all the hotels in downtown on foot. Pretty cool, don't you think?

What else did I spend my time with during my stay?
Besides walking the streets (well, not too much walking, to be honest, it was wayyyy too hot), I visited museums.
What a nice surprise to find so many amazing museums (I could have visited quite a few more but my time was limited).
I went to the Denver Art Museum (part of it was closed due to renovations, unfortunately!) and the History Colorado Center. The latter was totally worth a visit. It gave me an overview of Colorado's recent and past history. I loved it!

Then, obviously, I had to indulge in my favorite kind of museum. It's a must on every US trip: visiting old houses (in Denver it was the Byers-Evans House and the Molly Brown House.) My love for these old houses and their history isn't due to the fact that I get to see extraordinary stuff (like furniture) or so. No. My experience is that usually in these kind of places, I'll find the most amazing tour guides. I swear. They get to me every time. Usually, they are volunteers and, believe me, it's amazing how much these people now about the history of the place and their city in general. I always have the best of chats and leave the place knowing so much more about my chosen destination. 
These volunteers have such a wide knowledge of their hometown. For a foreigner like me, who likes to get to know as much as possible of the places I am visiting, it's the best opportunity!

If you ever visit the US of A, please add such a place to your itinerary. Totally worth your time and money :-)