Sunday, July 15, 2007

Close to Home

Though it was only 8:30 when we left our house on Saturday morning for a scenic tour of the Aldo Leopold/Gila Wilderness areas, it was already an hour and a half later than we had intended to set out and we had yet to fill our van with gas. We were just nearing the closest gas station when I realized I had left my wallet at home, so we turned around to retrieve it, then headed back out again. By that time, Dylan was complaining from the back seat that his shoes (hiking shoes he hasn't worn in a few months) were hurting his feet, and since we weren't entirely sure yet of how much actual walking we'd be doing, we decided to also stop at the K-Mart near the highway exit so I could run in and pick up some new shoes for him. (Many miles and countless S curves later, I was ever grateful for that impromptu stop, as all of us became quite car sick and one particular little boy couldn't quite keep the contents of his stomach down. Thankfully, we had the brand new, empty shoe box lying right on the floor at his feet...the perfect receptacle!)

It had been several years since Darren and I traveled this particular route, having been to the Gila Cliff Dwellings together before Dylan was born but never again in the years since his birth. But after reading Jennifer's amazing account of the camping trip she and her family recently enjoyed, I was chastened to realize that here I live in the beautiful state of New Mexico, yet so seldom take advantage of all the incredible opportunities we have to explore (and all within a reasonable driving distance from our home).
So, following our successful expedition to Aguirre Springs on Friday, we decided to try the trip that we remembered was so gorgeous, especially since this is the prime time of year for seeing hummingbirds at one particular lodge we stopped at six years ago. But because it was such a long and winding road, and because we all did feel quite ill after a while, we made numerous stops along the way at scenic lookouts and various campgrounds. (We had, in fact, considering camping overnight ourselves, but were deterred by reports of recent flash flooding and a bear biting a local man in the bum.) One of the first stops we made was at Emory Pass, where we got out to stretch and to take in the gorgeous panorama. Next we proceeded to the Grey Feathers Lodge, where we had the privilege of enjoying a delicious lunch right beside a large picture window, on the other side of which were numerous hummingbird feeders, frequented in large numbers during the course of our meal. This was so amazing. I really hated to leave, but from there we continued on to Forks Campground, where we parked the van and splashed for a while in the Gila River. (While Dylan and Caitlyn had a grand time playing with their Daddy in the water, Meghan was securely strapped into a pack on my back the entire time. We were quite content to watch from the shore!)

It was quite apparent to Darren and I this weekend that we really have no excuse now for not taking more day trips like this one. Even with our late start, we still had plenty of unhurried time to just be together, having fun together. And by taking a different route there and back, we got to see so much of our local area that we would not otherwise have been able to. Highlighting on our map the circle we made gave us a better perspective of just how much we did see!
There were other fascinating, nearby destinations that we could easily have worked into our trip, including the Gila Cliff Dwellings and City of Rocks State Park, but we chose to leave those for a later date. Because now that we know how easy this can be, we will be going back! When all three kids were still so small, it was overwhelming enough to simply go to the grocery store together. But they are growing up so fast! Dylan, in particular, has matured to a point where it is a real pleasure to explore and learn with him. We will never again have this exact time in our lives--or theirs--to capture moments like these, moments where we are together learning and playing and hopefully forming lasting memories.

I had a really hard time deciding on which photos to share from the approximately 140 that I took, so I decided instead to form a virtual photo album from the fifty (give or take) of my favorites (because even I won't post that many in a single entry!) So please, stay a minute, and enjoy a peek into our album. But be warned: you just might be enticed to visit in real life!


1 comment:

Mom to Four said...

I am leaving right now. Don't worry. I'll bring a sleeping back and park it on your family room floor. :)

Seriously, we do hope to make it there someday!

You make me want to do more local exploring as a family

And Melissa, you have GIFT for photography!!!!!

Much love!