THE TIME HAD COME:
The time for goodbyes as classes were over and I had a few more weeks until I would hop back over the pond.
Many a red cup had been drunk from, many a crazy party had been had (with many a stumble back home along Route 66 from Burt’s Tiki Lounge, Downtown Albuquerque). I’d said goodbyes and now it was time to hit the road and soak up as much New Mexico sun as possible before heading back to the Wet Country (England).
THE LAST ADVENTURE(S):
I had added a few more places to the list; Four Corners, Carlsbad Caverns and a volcano. Yep, it’s true, Capulin Volcano in New Mexico is officially an (extinct) volcano! Bet you didn’t know that. Funds permitting I was also hoping to make a trip out to Sky City if my lecturer was around for a visit. Shiprock and the Grand Canyon were also on the to-do list, depending on if the car would hold out.
But, before we did anything we took a week-long hike in the Sanida Mountains, camping in nothing but bivy bags, drinking puri-tabbed water from streams (as well as quite a lot of rum and some mead – yes, they have mead in New Mexico and it’s AWESOME) and foraging for food! Although we never actually had direct contact with any ‘large predators’ (mountain lions and black bears are regulars in these parts) we definitely heard them and saw evidence of their left over dinners! Upon this discovery we did briefly glimpse a black bear who decided to follow us for a bit, a little bit closer than was comfortable. We climbed a tree; with one of us whacking a skateboard against the tree, the other shouting at the bear, and me bashing our metal pan against my phone (it’s shock proof). Eventually Mr Bear got bored and sloped off into the woods.
IT’S WATERMELON IN SPANISH:
Watching the sun set that evening was pure magic with the mountains around us lighting up a vibrant shade of pinkey-orange. Interestingly, the name ‘Sandias’ comes from the Spanish for watermelon and legend has it that this mountain range got their name due to the glorious warming colour they turn when the sun sets and the brush showing as black pin-pricks resemble the seeds. Others believe the most likely explanation to be the one believed by the Sandia Indians, that when the settlers came in 1540 they thought the gourds growing in the mountains were watermelons.
We had one more night in the wilderness, but after all this excitement even the slightest rustle set us on edge that night, so no sleep was had. Either way, the range is stunning and its such a privilege to have such an amazing mountain range right on your doorstep.
In the morning as we began to make our way back down the mountain we discovered a horny friend (no, not what you’re thinking, dirty mind). Horny Toads are quite common in New Mexico, parts of Texas and Mexico as they like arid conditions. He was so well camouflaged that I only noticed him when he tried to march over my foot. He was very friendly tho and quite happy to climb onto my hand so I could move him off the middle of the path. After this toad encounter we finally got to the bottom and after much searching managed to find the truck! Either someone had moved it, or we didn’t park it where we thought we had…we will never know!
A LONELY VOLCANO:
With the sun steadily making it’s way to the top of the sky we headed out to Capulin Volcano National Monument. We stopped off at a store on the way to stock up on tacos, chill sauce, chicken, fry bread and prickly pear jam! This was going to be the best pick nick ever…on a volcano (now that’s really not something I thought I would ever say!)
FOUR STATES AT ONCE:
Unfortunately we never made it to Carlsbad Caverns, or the Grand Canyon due to the car having other ideas. Spending the best part of a week and a small fortune for parts to get it fixed we had run out of time so the final trip was up to the only place in America where you can stand in four different places at the same time- Four Corners Monument. This drive was very hot and deserty with the only sign of life being a deserted house by the way side. No idea how long it had been there but it had become so so sun-bleached that what must of once been blue paint was now almost white!
With enough cultural adventures under my belt to last me a little while I figured I was just about ready to head home. I was gonna miss this place, the people and the adventures. But I know one day I will be back. A nice 6am flight from Albuquerque Sunport International Airport is not going to be fun! But not before one last trip to Cold Stone Ice Cream Parlour, for one last chocolate laced ice cream with extra clotted ice cream made especially. Aaaah.