Sunday, October 12, 2008

'Do You Know the Way to Santa Fe?'

OK, so it's San Jose, but Santa Fe's where we've been this weekend ... Dori, the kids and I. We're in the Albuquerque airport, reminiscing about a weekend getaway Dori and the kids have all ranked a perfect 10.

We arrived Friday morning, checked into our hotel and then headed through the beautiful town of Santa Fe into the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. The scenery was stunning, especially as we ascended Hyde Park Road into Santa Fe National Park and the adjoining state park. Lime green aspen trees at the lower elevations began to change to a brilliant yellow with occasional flashes of orange. Firs and evergreens competed with the aspens for space, with many firs choking out the aspens that emerged after a great fire 100 years ago. All we could do was oooh and ahhh. I'll post photos when we get back to Tennessee.

Dinner at the Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery was outstanding. My blue corn enchiladas with red and green chile, spanish rice and pinto beans were perfect, complimented by a tasty India Pale Ale brewed onsite. The heat from the chiles caused a sweat, which evoked laughter from my weekend mountain friends.

I blew off an early Saturday morning run to enjoy scrumptious pancakes in bed with my family. Taking the advice of my boss, we drove to Bandelier National Monument for a hike. WOW and WOW AGAIN. What an amazing place. The canyon, which is a national park, was the home to Indians between 1200-1600. We saw reconstructed kivas, which were essentially circular pits that were used for religious ceremonies and meetings. The kids climbed ladders into the cliffs. Dori even joined them at one site. Archaic drawings were evident on the 1,000-foot cliffs. Our children sponged up the views and asked great questions, some that we could answer and some that stumped us.

At the end of the trail loop, we reached an alcove with a series of steep ladders that scaled 140 feet. Signs warned visitors to avoid the climb if you're afraid of heights or not in good health. Dori made it up the first level before deciding this isn't the way she wanted to go after smacking cancer upside the head the past year.

My mind was racing at this point. The kids really wanted to climb to the top. I'm a play-it-safe kinda guy, especially with the kids, but I decided this was a moment for growing up (them) and letting go (me). Kathryn led our three-person team, with Will behind her and me underneath. Going up wasn't a problem. The views back down the canyon were stunning.

Kathryn was the only person in our group that made it to the top. Will decided three-quarters of the way up was enough. Going down tested our nerves. I went first with Will next. Will recognized he needed total focus, and so he did. He was nervous at first and so was I, but he did it. Kathryn was fast on the way up and fast on the way down. I had to ask her to slow down, but she looked strong the whole way. I'm glad I let go a little and let the kids experience something very special.

Back in Santa Fe, we found a sports bar and watched the Commodores lose to Mississippi State 17-14. Note to the coaching staff: Play Mackenzi Adams as your QB if you want to finish the year strong. It was hard to watch our offense sputter with our best QB on the sidelines. Dori and Kathryn shopped in downtown Santa Fe as Will and I watched the carnage in Starkville.

We ate a good dinner at Zia Diner, then called it an early night. I woke up early to get in my last decent run before San Francisco. The thin air was noticeable, and it was also unusually humid. So it was a slow one - six miles that finished up a good hill. Glad that one is over, but glad I ran through downtown Santa Fe, which is home to many of the area's 250 art galleries. What a sight it all was in the peacefulness of a cool Sunday morning. Very spiritual, so I feel like I did attend church today.

New Mexico is a great place to bring a family. The vastness of the Southwest soothes the soul and rejuvenates the spirit. I'm glad we did this spur-of-the-moment trip and am grateful to my family members back home who made it possible. Thanks, Annie and Stephen and Mom and Dan.

Looking forward to sharing some photos ...

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