Week 299 December 21, 2019

This week has been a week highlighted with driving. Loren and I began it with a three nights’ stay at an AirBnB in Hot Springs National Park, in Arkansas. It gave us a full down-day after the two previous drive days from Washington DC to Tennessee then on to arrive in Hot Springs, Arkansas. While there we took two hikes in the park,

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and, spent time at one of the spas. The historic bath houses have been restored from yesteryear. Our AirBnB host recommended one in particular along Bathhouse Row where we soaked in the naturally hot mineral waters. It was interesting to learn here how, historically, combining a soak with “trail walking” was what the doctors ordered back in the day. For us, it was a good respite, one we would recommend.

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It was fun to find the town gaily decorated for the holidays. On our last evening, we attended the local Pocket Community Theater‘s irreverent comedy of “Radio TBS” (for Trailer Park Broadcasting Scandals), where our AirBnB host ran sound for the show.


The next day we marveled at how huge the state of Texas is to navigate. We stopped partway to stay overnight along the interstate, at Big Spring, Texas. I was surprised to discover a similarly named city – Big Springs, Texas, also exists. That one is further off the route we were taking. The one notable experience here was the sound I heard through our motel room doorway near dusk. It sounded familiar and seemed like the unique calls of Sand Hill Cranes. I stepped outside and confirmed several flocks of them were indeed flying overhead. In the morning, Loren enjoyed his first-ever Texan shaped waffle in the included breakfast.

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The next day, after driving by miles and miles of open land dotted with small settlements and cotton fields, we found simply going the city of El Paso, Texas, to be a long haul. At one point when we stopped for gas, I received a text from our mobile services provider, offering information for Mexico. I had to take a screenshot of it to convince myself that we actually might have unknowingly crossed the border, though our credit card company did not block that particular charge for gas. 


Finally, we arrived in New Mexico to stay two nights in Truth or Consequences. They too were brightly decorated for the holidays.


There’s an interesting story about how this town changed its name from Hot Springs, New Mexico. In part it was to distinguish itself from other Hot Springs in the states of Arkansas, California and Montana, when an opportunity came in the form of a contest offered by an historic radio show of the same name — which by the way turned into a television show from Loren’s and my youth. If you are interested in the full story, you can read more about it here:


What was more important to Loren however was to take in another couple of soaks. Truth or Consequences offers a spa on the banks of the Rio Grande River that we visited twice. Once we soaked in their several common pools during the day, the other time we indulged in a private hot bath in the evening, in a room named Sky in Italian.

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In between soaks we went on another “trail walk” to take in the dramatic landscape along the “Big River.” I especially delighted in the path’s name: Truth or Consequences Healing Waters Trail.

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Then our itinerary was to drive, drive, drive through western New Mexico, on through Arizona, and into southern California. All along the way we were warned about how to drive through dust storms by a variety of road signs. I learned the gist of it is to:

   1. Pull off the road
   2. Turn off the engine
   3. Turn off the lights
   4. Keep feet off the brakes, and, 
   5. Stay buckled, until the dust settles.

I am grateful that we did not experience any need to exercise these rules.

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When we arrived at the border of Arizona and California — where we had planned to spend the night, it was early and the sun was still out. We decided to drive further to have a shorter drive the next day. It took us several more hours though to drive through Los Angeles, but we stayed in a bedroom memorably named, “Van Gogh,” in Santa Clarita.


Our efforts to continue the drive had made it worthwhile, as the commute direction would have likely impeded our progress. Instead the next day’s drive was most pleasant mainly through California’s agricultural Central Valley. We have now arrived in northern California, just in time for Christmas. We wish you and yours all the best of the holidays!

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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Week 159 April 15, 2017

Happy Easter! Loren and I were still in Santa Fe earlier this week. I had a milestone moment of progress in my Bikram Yoga practice, and after class my instructor gifted me a ladybug pin to mark the occasion!
On leaving Santa Fe, we chose to drive partway on a dirt frontage road along the Chama River, with the reward of breathtaking views. We only knew of Chama River thanks to our Colorado cousin, as they have vacant property along the river. It was gorgeous!
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We stopped at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, where we hiked a little in the stunning terrain. Then we took their Landscape Tour, to see some of the sites that Georgia O’Keeffe had painted near her studio/home here. I repeat, it was simply stunning to see the landscape in person, to see her rendition of it brought to the canvas, and especially after we had already been enthralled by her work in January at Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.
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We tried to stay at Chaco Canyon – a place that has been on my bucket list since we traveled nearly three weeks through the southwest some years ago. However, we had been unsuccessful in reaching the campground for advance reservations. We took our chances, ignoring the “Campground Full – Make Alternative Plans” sign. It was a long, poor dirt road most of the way in. We saw what seemed to be a wild horse, jackrabbits, and another pronghorn antelope, while neglecting the second “Campground Full” sign, hopefully trusting that it was out of date. “How could the campground be full on a Monday?” we wondered.
Alas the signs were accurate. The Ranger who flagged us down as we drove through – to make sure it really was full, offered that he knew there were only two campers at Angel Peak on Bureau of Land Management property, a two hour drive away, and this was nearly dusk. So we said a disappointed farewell to Chaco. To our great fortune, Loren’s idea of another BLM was less than an hour away. We drove more poor roads in to Bisti and De-Na-Zin Wilderness, where we were the only campers! We slept fabulously well here. In the morning, we hiked about 5 hours in the wilderness areas. The sights were otherworldly, some almost like above-ground caves of stalagmite/stalactite formations.
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I wrote another poem from this experience:
     Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness Wash
     Claire Adalyn Wright
     On our hike in the wide, dry, sandy wash,
     I noticed foot prints and paw prints,
     some hare prints, hoof, and claw prints,
     pebble prints, and fossil prints, as well.
     But the best, by far, were the water prints.
Speaking of experiences, my brother wrote,
    “Life is definitely made up from experiences we have, not just how long we live, so it
      sounds like you guys are living to the fullest. Keep it up.”
Thanks so much, I think we will!
Back in after being out of civilization during the week seeing elk, the southernmost Rocky mountains still covered in snow, and, beautiful wide open terrain, we made our way to a campground in Chama. Yes, we made a big circle in northern New Mexico this week. Compared to the BLM property the night before, our sleep here was periodically disturbed by barking dogs, artificial street lights, traffic noise – all at an RV park that was still “officially” closed for the winter.
The next day, after driving through more incredible scenery, we stopped to indulge at Ojo Caliente Historic Hot Springs for the afternoon on our way to Taos, where we are now. Loren’s favorite of the seven hot spring pools was Lithia, because it included jets that were similar to the ones in our backyard tub at home.
In Taos, we have attended two evening readings by local poets – after all April is National Poetry Month. We had a delicious vegetarian langar – lunch, at a Sikh Temple in the nearby town of Espanola, and, on Good Friday, we joined an annual six mile pilgrimage with the San Francesco de Asis – St. Francis of Assisi Church here, that included stops for recognizing the fourteen stations of the cross. I knew I would feel a bit more comfortable at our AirBnB, as our host’s front door graced us with familiar favorite images of mine.
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Our host has taken in three rescue dogs, while also cat sitting for Magpie, who has a thimble-full of white on her tail. Fortunately, the property has a large back yard where the animals are able to be outside some. Fun!
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Week 158 April 8, 2017, Year 4 begins!

This week we celebrated both my 60th birthday, and, our anniversary of leaving home in 2014. We have not lived in our house for over 3 years as of this week… This is a perfect time to again extend our deep appreciation to our family members and friends who encourage us in our dream-turned-reality. Two longtime friends recently emailed,
     “…How long are you going… You may be looking at a Guiness book of records…”
     “…I want you to know how special I believe your trip is. Enjoy what I think of as your
     journey into humanity.”
Thanks to both! As Loren says, the beauty of our journey is that, “We have no end date.” I doubt that we will break any records, other than our own definite learnings about humanity and the world. I think that a bumper sticker I saw this week sums up what I am confirming has been my belief in our purpose on this planet to be.
Outside Flagstaff, Arizona at the start of this week, we stopped to see Meteor Crater, an amazing result of astronomic activity. There was a girls’ high school physics class visiting from Manchester, England, touring it at the same time we were there. It was fascinating to imagine that a little chunk of meteor in the photo with Loren is just a small piece of what slammed into the earth, some 50,000 years ago creating a huge indentation…
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We then stood “on the corner in Winslow, Arizona,” a la the Eagles’ hit song. More songs we were entertained by this week were the Chuck Berry and Nat King Cole recorded versions of the Route 66 R&B song.
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On our way to Albuquerque, New Mexico we spent most of a day at Petrified Forest National Park. This included many opportunities for taking in Painted Desert views, as well as seeing some tree fossils that are millions of years old. They were not frightened to death – just transformed and well preserved into mineral and rock by forces of nature!
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In Abq – as the locals abbreviate it, we joined our AirBnB hosts for dinner and watching a Warriors’ basketball games together. Loren relished in taking twice daily soaks in their hot tub. We also attended a UU Sunday service at a vibrant congregation, where, being the day after April Fools the service was a fun one, centered all around Fools! Yes, that is a donkey in dialog with the minister. Like usual when we visit with UUs, we felt right at home. We attended a small group mindfulness meditation after the service where we picked up tips on how to be mindful on a hike, then we enjoyed a spaghetti lunch offered as a fundraiser for their UU Kids Camp. We had hoped to see the friends from our home congregation who have moved and attend there, instead we had a nice conversation with their father over lunch. 
It was a scenic drive from Abq to Santa Fe on the Jemez Mountain Trail. We passed Jemez Springs, Jemez Pueblo, narrow red rock valleys with colorful steep walls, logging tunnels, Soda Dam – naturally formed by minerals, Spence Hot Springs which we hiked to but found they were not very hot actually, and a volcanic caldera, before we dropped down to Los Alamos.
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In Los Alamos we visited the Bradbury Science Museum which displays historical nuclear weapons and research artifacts. It was most sobering to see this graphical depiction of the extent of contamination from nuclear testing before the still controversial WWII bombs were dropped in Japan. 
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We took a scenic day trip to Las Vegas, New Mexico – not to be confused with the infamous Las Vegas of Nevada, to see the historic Pueblo of Pecos, the ruins of Fort Union where the Santa Fe Trail wagons stopped for supplies and repairs, and, we had a soak in the free to all Montezuma Hot Springs.
We were even treated to seeing a herd of Pronghorn Antelope along the side of the road!
We have driven on and off Route 66 these past couple of weeks, through Arizona and New Mexico. It was known in a bygone era as the “Main Street of America,” but is no longer contiguous. A part of it even once ran through the Petrified Forest NP. I was surprised to learn that mid-20th century mapmakers actually removed it from their maps when Eisenhower’s Interstate System was established. Steinbeck had dubbed Route 66 “The Mother Road” in his The Grapes of Wrath, and museums we have visited along the route have displayed different quotes from his writing to help explain the history.
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Here is my latest Haiku, about this week.
     Santa Fe
     Claire Adalyn Wright
     If “All roads lead to
     Santa Fe,” it is here, for
     now, that we will stay.
We noticed several familiar – at least to us – city or street names as we drove in and around Abq and Santa Fe, like, Santa Clara, Los Altos, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Coronado, San Mateo, El Camino Real, San Diego, Alameda and Santa Ana. But, we knew for sure that we were not in California anymore!

Week 147 January 21, 2017

This week felt very full! We drove west across New Mexico through Arizona – surprising us in that it included driving through recent heavy fallen snow, as well as other beautiful vistas.
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Then we were into Nevada at sunset and for the moonrise, to reach Tecopa Hot Springs in southern California, which is next to Death Valley National Park.
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We were fortunate in that the forecast was clear for our stay, because this area had been deluged with a week of rain – which is very unusual for the desert. Other than the nuisance of mud-caked shoes, some wind, and winter cold, the major concern was for potential flooding… We enjoyed so much – the view from our “bedroom” (in our van!) on awakening,
a morning soak in the mineral baths, a hike, and, as our visit to Tecopa included staying Saturday night – when the new owner, who is a drummer, and several other musicians -performed their songs outdoors during the evening hours. Many of the visitors and the locals turned out for it at his family’s Bistro, a nice addition from our previous visits here. Fortunately we did not experience any flooding!
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We then had a full day of driving north to arrive in Castro Valley. We stayed first with Loren’s Mom and sister, who still live in the house where Loren and his sisters grew up. Loren’s sister owns an inflatable double size bed, which fills up to the height of a mattress and box spring. It felt similar to sleeping on a water bed. We have very much enjoyed catching up with them. So far here, we have celebrated Mom’s 91st birthday,
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enjoyed a hike with Loren’s sister, and I have taken daily Bikram Yoga classes while Loren has gone on daily bicycle rides unless it is raining, then he joins me for yoga.
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We had a delightful dinner with some of our friends in this area, many of whom Loren has known since his primary school days.
We also attended the San Francisco Movement Arts Festival, an endeavor and lovechild of Loren’s friend, who has put on such annual events for some years now. This time it was held in Grace Cathedral, where it was awesome to see dance and movement artists at the “Stations of the Dance.”
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During the week we moved in to our AirBnB with a lovely family, where we will stay for the remainder of our time here. Outside our bedroom window we see a festive sight, both day and night! On the personal side we have attended to some errands and so far visited the first of the several routine doctor’s appointments that we have lined up.
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We look forward to seeing more family and friends while we are near home, and, mainly, spending much time with Loren’s Mom, starting with brunch later today.


Week 146 January 14, 2017

We were in Austin at the beginning of this week. As it is the Capitol city of Texas, and as we were in the downtown area, we paid a visit to the Capitol building. Here we learned a little more about the history of Texas. After it was part of Spain, it was part of France, then part of Mexico, then – yes there’s more – it was an independent colony of Mexico, before it became the 28th state to join the Union. Being an independent colony explains further what an AirBnB host had told us: since Texas was once its own country – a Republic – Texans are allowed to fly the state flag at the same height as the US flag. Texas was also part of the Confederate states after joining the union, but we learned that Governor Sam Houston was resistant to both sides of the Civil War, which then cost him his job. With all that history, the Capital proudly displays all 6 state seals.
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We again enjoyed eating – here we had various tacos, a BBQ dinner, sushi… It was still quite unusually cold for in Texas winter – that is frost on our windshield one morning. We stayed one night at a hostel that was opened by a travel blogger who Loren follows. Unfortunately he was not in town. We attended a UU Sunday service, and, we had a little more exercise this week with daily Bikram yoga classes. I had the delight to catch up with a Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Littermate, here! And, we enjoyed an evening walk at Zilker park where we captured the skyline in the nearing of twilight.
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It is true, Texans do things BIG… aside from the state itself being second only to Alaska in size, our first AirBnB in Fort Worth was in a big HOUSE, our AirBnB in Austin had big bed PILLOWS and big fluffy TOWELS, and, we saw big trailer loads of COTTON being harvested west of Austin, – in my photo, that is one “bale” with a huge tarp over it; and *at least* tens of square miles of WINDMILL farms, for example. I just had to stop by the side of the road to touch a puff of escaped cotton, many of which could be seen all over – there is a little seed inside, surrounded by soft cotton. On further thought, Loren and I might be more Texan than we thought – after all, we are on on a big 146 WEEKS of journeying, so far!
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Along our 12 hour drive to Santa Fe, New Mexico from Texas, we saw a few more than the usual number of hawks. Their flying closer to our car allowed us to see them better. Then there was the beautiful male pheasant right beside the road. And, we can attest that Canadian geese end up in the south, as we saw so many here, with one pond absolutely teeming with them as we drove by. Unfortunately we were unable to capture snapshots of any of these. Please take my word, the images are indelibly anchored in my memory.
[Update from a week later: I was able to make a couple of photos of hawks in the desert near Tecopa Hot Springs.}
To sum up Santa Fe for us in a word? It would have to be smitten! For example, we were thoroughly inspired at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Her life story is impressive – she too was smitten with New Mexico. We learned that her style of art is known as “imaginative… grounded in personal expression and harmonious design” leading “to an interpretation of the natural world, not a representation of it,” as she learned from studying art at the University of Virginia.
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Santa Fe happens to be the Capitol of New Mexico. Similar to how we visited the Capitol building in Austin, we stopped in at the one in Santa Fe too. Inside the building, most of its hallway walls are covered with impressive and inspiring galleries of art. Additionally most of the homes and buildings around Santa Fe are of the one story adobe style architecture, and some of them are gaily painted or decorated as well. Fun!
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We enjoyed taking more daily Bikram Yoga classes here, and, we found a couple of meaningful weekday activities in which to participate at the local Unitarian Universalist Congregation too. It is wonderful when we find a place that is home to a Bikram Yoga studio and a UU congregation. But we only had time to just whet our appetites for the locale – wide open spaces with fringe mountains nearby… Ahh!
We also hiked at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Kasha-Katuwe, translated from the Native American name, means White Cliffs. The only other place in the world where you can find such similar geological formations is in Cappadocia, Turkey. In a word, they are gorgeous!
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[Another update from a week later: I think these unique formations highly influenced the Sufi meditative dance practice of Whirling Dervishes, especially based on this image I found at the small public Library in Tecopa Hot Springs. What do you think?]
Today we will be driving 10 hours to stay a couple of nights in southern California… When we had first arrived at our AirBnB in Santa Fe, we found a pair of fun eyewear. I believe it is still a fine time to wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Most Meaningful 2017!

REPOSTING in Progress: Weeks 2 to 109

This place holder is for the entries from our original blog to be added, eventually. Please check back – this re-creation is a labor of Love and will take a bit of  t-i-m-e- which, while still traveling, we do not always have a lot available to devote to this.