Around when my birth is celebrated, J and I departed for Santa Fe. Our direct flight was on a small regional jet: 13 rows only and overhead bins large enough for a sub sandwich. We sat in the last row, across the aisle and in arms length from the only lavatory on the plane. The overhead vents pumped in warm, suffocating air which blended nicely with the smells nearby.
We touched down at ABQ fifteen minutes before midnight and were greeted by my sister and her new boyfriend that for the rest of the trip we would jokingly call Bread. My parents arrived the following day.
Santa Fe is around an hour from Albuquerque by car on the highway, fifteen minutes by rocket sled, or two days by the traditional farting horse. Unlike its larger, ugly neighbor this capital city has maintained a unique charm. As I mentioned in this post:
Santa Fe is a small city, and it feels that way. But more importantly, it’s almost like being in another country. Due to tradition and building codes, most of the buildings are in the adobe pueblo style. Even gas stations and fast food restaurants have inherited the “faux-dobe” look. When done cheaply, it comes off like a southwestern theme park. But in most cases, new buildings rest comfortably next to those over 400 years old. Some streets look like they have been there since the beginning of time. The large hispanic and native-descended population add to the uniqueness of the high, dry town in the desert hills.
Adding to the charm was a light covering of snow that had fallen a few days prior.
Unlike other trips, I didn’t have writing a blog post in mind on this trip. Relaxing with family was my priority, followed by chile sauce consumption and playing with Lego blocks.
On Saturday, we drove to Chimayo, a cluster of plazas 25 miles north of Santa Fe near Santa Cruz. The area centers around a rustic Catholic church renouned for its healing powers. Thousands of people pilgrimage to the site every year to pray for loved ones and take back blessed dirt that is housed in a hole in one of the small rooms near the altar.
The road to Chimayo.
Stopping to pay respect to the ashes of a family friend scattered nearby.
A building near the cathedral.
A ghost cat’s tracks.
A cute little church on the way out of town.
Since we were already close, we drove to Taos to enjoy the view of the Rio Grande gorge and to get coffee with magical hippy stones.
On Sunday we went for a walk on our traditional loop around the beaver-infested Twomile Reservoir. The snow had driven the moist, hairy beavers into their dams, so no tail for me.
That evening, we joined the masses for a walk through the neighborhoods around Canyon Road. The place was decked out with luminarias, paper bag lanterns filled with sand and candle. People also had small, fragrant fires burning on the sidewalk to warm hands and sing carols around.
Soon into the walk, J and I were separated from our companions and a snow flurry dumped fresh flakes. The street was filled with magic and people were ecstatic.
The snow stopped when we reconnected with our posse at a gallery up the road. One room had puppies. Another had hot apple cider. Buying a cup of cider helped out a dog-based foundation. Buying a cup of puppies wasn’t an option.
That night as we drifted to sleep, static sparks flickered on our wool blanket. Memories of past Christmases swirled in my head, and I went into darkness feeling warm, safe, and contented.
I now pronounce you mother and wife.
Bear in the scrub.
A wood pile.
Christmas lights done right.
Excellent couch lighting.
Chocolate: the transfigured poop of Christ.
The right side of the tracks.
My custom lego truck made from a dumptruck set. Mine could open fully for easy access to the interior. I’m looking forward to when I can modify it with parts from the chopper I ordered off Amazon.
A rushed family photo.
The travel gods, or perhaps Hermes, were kind to us on our return. As we arrived at ABQ, I was notified that our connecting AA flight in LA was cancelled. We had been rebooked on a flight the next morning.
Talking to the friendly man behind the United counter, we were able to get on a direct flight to San Francisco instead. We were the last two seats, no extra charge.
Our flight landed four hours earlier than we had planned. And our lead-foot taxi driver got us home before we would have even landed in LA.
I’m almost willing to give United a chance again. But I think our good fortune was due to the kind man behind the counter rather than his bloated, inept employer.
Back in San Francisco and away from family, it feels colder and quiet. But I will adjust. And in the few days I have before work starts again, I’ll have time to reflect on 2012 and daydream about the exciting things to happen next year.