Week 160 April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day! It is also spring with colorful daffodils, tulips, and other vibrant flowers blooming. Loren and I spent most of the week around the “Enchanted Circle” of northern New Mexico. We have seen numerous ravens and even heard the whoosh of their wings overhead several times. No wonder Raven is such an important figure in Native American culture. Another commonly seen bird here is the magpie, dressed in formal black and white, even sporting black tails. They somehow remind me of the Chinstrap penguins we saw in Antarctica, and, of Magpie the friendly cat at our AirBnB.
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One afternoon we hiked to the Rio Grande where Loren had a soak in Black Rock Hot Springs. We had planned to visit Manby – also known as Stagecoach – Hot Springs where I would have soaked too, but the day wore on more quickly than we anticipated and it was too cold in the shadows for me to consider it. On Easter Sunday I took a special yoga class at Aura Fitness, which was gaily set to Gospel music to celebrate the holiday.
Afterwards Loren and I attended Sunday service at Taos UU, where we felt right at home. We had lunch at Taos Pueblo near Red Willow Creek, where we ate “Indian Tacos” – meaning taco ingredients on Fry Bread. It was delicious! That evening we walked a half hour from our AirBnB to visit Shree Neem Karoli Baba Ashram, also named Hanuman Temple, built by the followers of Majarajji. While we enjoyed a vegetarian dish, the faithful were practicing Kirtan with chants, bells, gentle movement, and a lot of candles.
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On leaving Taos, we had a picnic lunch at scenic Rio Grande del Norte National Monument before deciding not to camp or hike here – it felt too wide open, with no trees for shade anywhere.
That was a significant spontaneous decision because near where we did camp for two nights we saw a mixed herd of Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep, several times! And, we were content as we camped under a canopy of trees.
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We then hiked in Columbine Canyon, between Questa and Red River, New Mexico. The trail criss-crossed and ran along Columbine Creek, which we understand is at its fullest ever. The trail also took us through mountain meadows, affording lovely views, and was perfect for lunch and meditation breaks.
While there I composed a poem, can you see the character of my writing on Loren’s hat?
     Bemusing Butterfly
     In grad school we were assigned to read
     “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”
     about some symptoms of brain injury.
     Today after a picnic we encountered
     A Butterfly Who Mistook a Hat for Nature,
     making us wonder at its unusual behavior.
     Surprising us by riding along quite a ways
     as we hiked the gentle sloped trail
     until we reached where two creeks join.
     Our bright butterfly friend then joined
     other butterflies flitting to Aspen saplings,
     at what I decided to call Butterfly Junction.
     Claire Adalyn Wright
The next day we hiked two miles up to Lake Cabresto before our check-in at Phoenix West Wing Earthship. Loren was quite interested to visit this community in Taos, for its peculiar Biotecture, an experimental architecture, sustainable, off grid. At the end of the day we drove nearby to take a photo from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, where we heard the unmistakable and delightful long descending trills of the Canyon Wren.
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Similar to Paolo Solieri’s Arcosante buildings and community in Arizona where Loren and I stayed overnight some years ago, Michael Reynolds’ Earthship housing is focused on reducing impact to the earth and increasing sustainability. For example he combines solar, thermal and wind energy, provides for independent food production within the dwelling, and, uses a four part water reclamation concept. We browsed books and watched DVD’s about his unique style, which can produce wildly imaginative and sometimes beautiful design. One of the documentaries we watched is Garbage Warrior, describing his effective use of discarded tires, bottles, cans, and plastics for building materials. We toured one home under development to learn more. As we know, some people’s trash is other people’s treasure, and he recycles waste into fortune. Incredible!
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We next crossed the state line into Colorado where we camped two nights at Great Sand Dunes National Park, which is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America. It is often windy in spring in the southwest, and this has been our experience for these past few weeks. With the over 13,000 foot snowcapped peaks nearby, it was more than a little chilly overnight, and at times the wind howled and rocked our van. Here we saw several deer, but none of the black bear that we were warned about.
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We hiked partway up the dunes, which was a little like hiking in soft snow, but decided to forego summiting the tallest, for the fierce pricking of grains of sand in our faces that the wind whirled up. It reminded me a little of the winds on top of Mt Washington in New Hampshire, and that relentless sand storm in the Sahara desert. Instead we returned to our camp for a 20 minute nap – that stretched into an hour, and awoke to an inviting afternoon outside before we hiked into the Sangre de Christo which translated means Blood of Christ, Wilderness. We enjoyed a most memorable time here!
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