Clumsily Wrapping Things Up: New Mexico, Part Three

Hey, you in the back row! I see you rolling your eyes! I know what you’re thinking: “What’s wrong with this guy? Enough already about New Mexico. It’s time to move on, fella! Give us an article about your lifelong quest for the perfect jockstrap, or about your failed attempts to launch yourself to the Moon by using a mile-long rubber band. Anything except New Mexico, Part Three!”

Well, cowpoke, you’re plum out of luck. The conservation-minded Boy Scouts organization, in the early 1960s, taught me to waste not. And so I’m plowing ahead, about to squeeze New Mexico like a boa constrictor until a few ideas pop into my head. Take some deep breaths, Neil, and squeeze! Squeeze!

Oh man, it’s working. Something’s happening! I don’t know where this is going to lead but we might as well find out. Part Three, here I come!

Frijoles Canyon/Bandelier National Monument

Okay then. As I indicated in Part Two, the grandeur of wondrous landscapes and seascapes is hard to appreciate fully, at least for me, when legions of your closest total strangers are practically breathing down your neck. That was the situation at Frijoles Canyon last month when I visited its gloriously pockmarked cliffs with my wife Sandy and brother Richie. Part of Bandelier National Monument, Frijoles for centuries was home to many indigenous peoples, who now are referred to as the Ancestral Pueblo. Due to a variety of circumstances they left Frijoles Canyon around 400 years ago, moving to other locales.

Frijoles Canyon/Bandelier National Monument

Sure, I thought the cliffs were magnificent. Heavy erosion over almost countless millennia has turned them into rutted works of glory. But their beauty never fully sank in because I kept getting distracted by people sharing the trail with me. “Get a move on, asshole. You’re holding up progress,” I could swear one of them had to restrain himself from saying to me.

And things became really crowded near and at Frijoles Canyon’s most famous site, Alcove House. It’s a large opening in a cliff wall, 140 feet above ground. According to the literature I read, about 25 Ancestral Pueblo used to live in the cave at any one time. Others lived in smaller elevated holes in the cliffs, though the vast majority of Ancestral Pueblo occupied tidy housing built at ground level, Frijoles Canyon and nearby lands having been home to several settlements.

The final ladder leading to Alcove House

Bandelier National Monument’s personnel have made it possible to climb up to Alcove House. They’ve done this by bolting four wooden ladders into the cliff wall. Rock steps separate one ladder from the next. Climb a ladder, climb some rock steps, repeat, repeat, repeat. Voila! You now are inside the alcove, looking out at, and down upon, the various landscapes.

The views from up there were great. And I got a kick from the ascent that had brought me to the aerie, and later from the descent. But not as much as I should have, because both directions involved a lot of waiting — there were at least 20 people in front of me. What the f*ck was this? Disneyland?

A paucity of people: That’s one reason why I liked Plaza Blanca, my focus in Part Two, a whole lot better than Bandelier. There are times in life when I just don’t want to be around many members of our species. They can spoil the picture.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

And speaking of pictures, I’ve studded this story with some photographs that please my eye. Shots of the Frijoles Canyon cliffs, as you’ve seen. And one of a home in Santa Fe so intriguingly constructed that its exterior seems to be on the verge of turning to gel. The house is one of several in that same pliant condition that I noticed during my walks around New Mexico’s capitol city.

I couldn’t resist adding the photograph of a bright yellow newspaper box in Santa Fe. It was the first of about 180 pictures that I snapped during the eight days spent in New Mexico. Nor could I resist the allure of a snazzy blue newspaper box in the town of Taos. Sandy, Richie, my sister-in-law Sara and your humble reporter visited Taos during a day trip from Santa Fe, where Richie and Sara live. Hell, newspapers have been having a hard time of it for the last 25 years. The day may come when newspaper boxes will be found only in antique stores.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

As for the remaining photos, something about their colors or off-kilter arrangements or juxtaposition of objects convinced me to immortalize them in cyberspace. They’ll thank me some day. They better.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Gentle (or not) readers, I am going to conclude my New Mexico trilogy with these notes: I did virtually no research in advance of or during this trip. I’ve become a lazier and lazier son of a bitch as the years have elapsed, so my dearth of research wasn’t entirely unexpected. Nevertheless, I believe that the trip was a smashing success. Sandy concurs with that judgment. I thought, correctly, that Richie and Sara would have a fine stash of ideas as to how we all might spend our time together. And everybody left plenty of room for wandering, whimsy and improvisation.

Chimayo, New Mexico

I’m not suggesting that anybody reading this story should skip doing research for their future journeys. You’ll need to do plenty of it, unless your tour guides are as good as Richie and Sara. But I am saying that there’s a lot to be said for frequently allowing gentle breezes to carry you here and there.

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71 thoughts on “Clumsily Wrapping Things Up: New Mexico, Part Three

  1. Candice June 21, 2018 / 12:35 am

    Loved this. The phrase, “home on the verge of turning to gel”, cracked me up. The photos of Passementrie is so beautifully colourful, and Lowlow’s Lowrider Art Place is uniquely weird.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The Lockwood Echo June 21, 2018 / 7:29 am

    I’ve loved all 3 parts. The scenery, the interesting buildings and most of all the colour. So beautiful, what an amazing trip.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 21, 2018 / 10:10 am

      Hello there. My wife and I were fortunate to be in New Mexico. It was a great experience for us.
      Thanks a lot for adding your thoughts. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 21, 2018 / 10:12 am

      Hi Jan. I’m not sure, but probably it’s the first time I used that word in my articles.
      Thanks for stopping by. Be seeing you —

      Liked by 1 person

  3. joyce hamilton June 21, 2018 / 8:24 am

    Love your articles and pictures of New Mexico !

    Liked by 2 people

  4. tylerus June 21, 2018 / 8:39 am

    LOL – I have (honestly) never seen/head the word “paucity”. Ya do learn somethin’ new every day. Thank you. Great pics, by the way (as always).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 21, 2018 / 10:16 am

      Yeah, “paucity” jumped into my mind from out of the blue. It’s not a word you run across too often, for sure.
      Enjoy the upcoming weekend, Tyler. See you —


  5. Laurie Graves June 21, 2018 / 9:32 am

    As far as I am concerned, there could be a part four. So very, very different from Maine. I, too, liked the observation about the “gel” house.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 21, 2018 / 10:18 am

      Morning, Laurie. That house is so strange. And, like I mentioned in the story, it’s not the only one I saw that had that kind of look.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. JT Twissel June 21, 2018 / 12:55 pm

    I agree – some people take to trails as if on a marathon to see as much as possible. Looks like a fab trip despite the human aspect – thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. andrewcferguson June 21, 2018 / 2:24 pm

    So true that sometimes a visit to an interesting spot is spoiled by the crowds. Jean-Paul Satre said, ‘Hell is other people,’ although I sometimes change that to ‘Hell is other people’s children…’

    Liked by 2 people

  8. cincinnatibabyhead June 21, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    I will be waiting for part 4. I made it out of McMurtry’s novel alive but I want to go back to New Mexico. CB being the unsocial creature he is, I would be making some moonlite visits to some of those spots and catching some of those ghost vibes. Good stuff Neil I like your off the cuff style.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Still the Lucky Few June 21, 2018 / 6:10 pm

    Enjoyed all of it, but you can keep ‘the final ladder to the Alcove House’—too high and steep for me!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 21, 2018 / 7:10 pm

      Hi Diane. I know — it’s way up there. I made sure that, with each step, I had good footing on the ladders.


  10. Alyson June 21, 2018 / 6:43 pm

    Nothing wrong with a trilogy of posts when there is so much of interest to write about. You were definitely smitten with New Mexico, we can tell – enjoyed all three posts very much.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 21, 2018 / 7:12 pm

      Hey there, Alyson. I wasn’t sure that there’d be a Part Three. But, as I said,, I squeezed it out!


  11. viewfromoverthehill June 21, 2018 / 7:47 pm

    Ah, the magic of Santa Fe — years ago it took away my sanity and when I got home I realized I’d bought a hand-made wrap for $350 I’ve never yet worn. Can’t get myself to throw it out. Yes, Santa Fe. Beware!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. sniderjerry June 21, 2018 / 8:41 pm

    I’ve heard it said, “All who wander, are not lost.” Party on, friend. See you on the trail. Jerry

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 21, 2018 / 9:28 pm

      Yeah, wandering can be fun. I seem to do a lot of it.
      It’s always good to hear from you, Jerry. You’re a good guy!


  13. Isabelle June 22, 2018 / 3:37 am

    I too do not do a lot of research before heading to a new place, Neil. Allowing gentle breezes to carry you here and there, it describes my travel mentality perfectly. Many interesting details in the article, that little house in Santa Fe looks like a bar of chocolate, I would have loved to have a good look at the colourful carpet shop. Loved the humour that was flowing throughout the post. Thank you, Isabelle

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 22, 2018 / 6:53 am

      It’s always good to hear from you, Isabelle. The colorful store that you mention is excellent. It sells beautiful rugs and fabrics and clothes, and other things that I’m forgetting. It’s like an art gallery.
      Here’s to gentle breezes!
      Bye for now —

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Jacqui Murray June 22, 2018 / 10:53 am

    There is simply no place on Earth more gorgeous than New Mexico. Well, unless you like skyscrapers and clutter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 22, 2018 / 11:24 am

      It’s a beautiful part of the USA. I’d never been there before, so I was especially taken with it.
      Enjoy the weekend, Jacqui. See ya —


  15. Itqon Askary June 22, 2018 / 2:42 pm

    I don’t usually read stuff like this tbh, but this made me read till the end. Was interesting!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 22, 2018 / 3:50 pm

      Hello there. Thanks for stopping by. If you enjoyed this story, then I guess there’s a decent chance that you’ll enjoy at least some of my others. Time will tell! Take care —


  16. doradarlingswann June 22, 2018 / 4:25 pm

    Your article on new mexico made me smile and Laugh a lot, something that I really don’t do enough of. I really liked your pictures, I especially enjoyed discovering that I could enlarge them and get a really good look. Sometimes i wish there were fewer humans on the planet and then I come across somebody like you and I am grateful.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Ann Coleman June 22, 2018 / 4:40 pm

    All those people would be annoying while you’re trying to commune with nature! But judging from the photos, it was worth the wait (or hurry, if you’re responding to those behind you.) And it sounds as if the trip was wonderful, despite the lack of planning ahead. Sometimes I think those trips where we do no research ahead of time are the best ones….but maybe that’s because I tend to be a bit of an “over-planner!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 22, 2018 / 9:10 pm

      Hi Ann. The older I get, the less I like doing research for pretty much anything — travel, car-shopping, you name it. So I was glad to not do much research for the New Mexico trip. Research and me just don’t get along very well anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. America On Coffee June 22, 2018 / 6:25 pm

    Such fun and excitement. A surge of nostalgia and inspirations create a great exploitative and Summer feel! Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Julie Holmes, author June 23, 2018 / 10:07 pm

    Hi Neil! Looks like you guys had a wonderful vacation in New Mexico–thank you for sharing it with us! And the ladder climb–not sure I would’ve done it, but I bet the view was spectacular!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 23, 2018 / 11:38 pm

      Hi. My brother, who had been at Frijoles Canyon once before, told me I’d be glad if I climbed up to the Alcove House. He was right.
      See ya, Julie. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. K E Garland June 23, 2018 / 11:27 pm

    I absolutely dislike researching places prior to visiting. I’m one of those people who like to just go and ask people who live there what’s good here??? Also, were there newspapers in those newspaper boxes?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 23, 2018 / 11:53 pm

      You bring up an interesting point about the boxes. I hope that both newspapers are doing OK, but who knows. It’s a rough go for most papers these days.
      I’m off to bed, Kathy. Got to get my beauty rest. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jveeds July 20, 2018 / 1:08 pm

      A little bit of research at least gives the lay of the land and a general idea of what “most people” want to see (In case you want to avoid them.) But isn’t “asking people who live there” a kind of advance research too? (Just a bit closer to the scene). A real non-research expedition would be to simply head out and stop wherever your eyes, nose and ears take you.

      Liked by 3 people

      • K E Garland July 20, 2018 / 2:07 pm

        True. I suppose I was thinking of people who pore over the Internet and books finding things to do on their trip lol


  21. alhenry June 24, 2018 / 5:37 pm

    Well, Neil, I’ve stuck around for all 3 installments of “New Mexico: The Saga.”

    Favorite moment here: “I kept getting distracted by people sharing the trail with me. “Get a move on, asshole. You’re holding up progress,” I could swear one of them had to restrain himself from saying to me … And things became really crowded near and at Frijoles Canyon.’

    We backpackers of the 1970s never imagined what we were letting loose on the world. Hordes followed in our sneakered footsteps. When I first visited the Sistine Chapel in 1976, it was a small, slightly grubby room with a memorable ceiling. By 2003, it was part of a HUGE Vatican “all inclusive” package of many connected rooms, viewable by standing in a line of thousands for hours. But, the ceiling had been restored to a fare-thee-well.

    Somewhat like your tale of climbing up to Alcove House, I bolted up a series of slightly hidden steps to sit beneath Michelangelo’s triumph. In this way, I avoided been shoved through the Chapel in five short minutes.

    As for your wise admonition to “frequently [allow] gentle breezes to carry [us] here and there,” I’ve been saying for years “Let yourself get lost in Venice.” For what is life without mystery?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 24, 2018 / 6:36 pm

      I’m glad you mention Venice. My wife Sandy and I were there 7 years ago. We loved wandering around the back streets and little canals late at night, in the dark. Very atmospheric and uncrowded. I’d like to go back there.

      Thanks a lot for your excellent (as always) comments, Amy. Bye for now.

      Liked by 2 people

    • jveeds July 20, 2018 / 1:05 pm

      I’m inclined to give some leeway to folks dawdling in wondrous places, like rope ladders and cliff dwellings. Now, buffet lines are another thing…”Hey dawdler! You don’t need to pick out the perfect cauliflower ear. Move it along.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, Another Blogger July 20, 2018 / 2:00 pm

        What, you got something against cauliflower?

        Thanks a lot for adding your comments today. Have a great weekend.


  22. havepaprika June 25, 2018 / 5:34 pm

    Love this (and the previous New Mexico posts). Also guilty of insufficient research for trips, and also agree that that’s not always a bad thing. Love the way you write.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 25, 2018 / 6:32 pm

      Hi there. It’s always good to hear from you. Yeah, research is a pain. Some people seem to love doing it, though.
      Thanks for keeping up with my articles. I appreciate that a lot.
      Take care —
      Neil S.


  23. pjlazos June 25, 2018 / 10:35 pm

    We stayed at the St. Francis Hotel when we were in Santa Fe! I love the whole missionary vibe of the place and its proximity to Bandelier and Frijoles Canyon. What a trip!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 25, 2018 / 10:54 pm

      I thought that the hotel name sounded familiar — its sign is in one of this story’s photos! Small world.
      Have an excellent rest of the week, PJ. Take care —

      Liked by 1 person

      • pjlazos June 26, 2018 / 7:21 am

        Too bad you didn’t stay. It’s either one of or the oldest hotel in Santa Fe. Very good energy there.
        Have a great week back at you, Neil.😆

        Liked by 2 people

      • jveeds July 20, 2018 / 1:10 pm

        Speaking of odd signage juxtapositions: it almost looks like you framed the St. Francis banner next to the “Do Not Enter” sign — a Mason Williams-kind-of-thing (if you know who I mean)

        Liked by 1 person

  24. tanjabrittonwriter June 27, 2018 / 4:02 pm

    Hola Neil,
    At least this person in the back room will never be rolling her eyes at more stories from N.M.! Sorry you had to deal with the opposite of “a paucity of people” at Bandelier. It is more enjoyable without large crowds, but at least you were able to see it. Many people never do.
    If the muse whispers more stories about New Mexico into your ears, bring them on!

    Liked by 3 people

  25. C C Cedras July 12, 2018 / 7:26 pm

    Another great episode, Neil! I loved Bandolier (I was 35 years younger and the ladders to the Alcove House didn’t exist, then), but other wonderful vistas and experiences abounded — including a small herd of mule deer that paced along with us through a canyon and the photo I was able to snap of one taking a wee p*ss right next to me. Anyhoo. It’s all wonderful and your visit sounds amazing. I couldn’t agree more that going where whim takes you can open up your imagination and lead you into unexpected wonders that an organized tour would never do. Bask in the glory of your experiences!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 12, 2018 / 9:56 pm

      Thanks a lot for stopping by, C C. I really do appreciate that a lot.
      Yes, leaving plenty of space for improvisation is a good way to approach travel, and pretty much all of life for that matter.
      Have a great weekend —

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Coral Waight July 12, 2018 / 7:39 pm

    I’m loving seeing these outback places in the US. So different to what you’re presented with on television. Love the scenery. One day I’ll get to Santa Fe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 12, 2018 / 9:59 pm

      Hello there, Coral. The USA is so physically large, there are enormous areas of great beauty. Mountains, forests, deserts, ocean coastlines, etc.
      There’s a lot to see!

      Liked by 1 person

  27. authorpolk July 19, 2018 / 1:03 pm

    I visited New Mexico: Bandelier, Chimayo, Santa Fe, last year with my family. Your post and photos brought back lovely memories. I agree with you 100%, I preferred finding the less well-traveled spots. Filing through Bandelier in line with other tourists detracted from the experience; although, while my family trekked up to visit alcove house, I was able to find a quiet spot to meditate and enjoy some peace and quiet.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 19, 2018 / 2:19 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Ruth.
      If you get back to New Mexico, you might want to check out Plaza Blanca. There was almost nobody there when I visited that spot in May. It’s a dramatic chunk of desert with amazing rock formations.

      Liked by 1 person

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