A Family Gathering And A Desert Walk (My 300th Story)

It’s good to be around your relatives, is it not? Yeah, it is, but only if you like them! Well, my wife Sandy and I are crazy about my brother Richie and his wife Sara, and their oldest son Ben and his wife Amanda, and the latter couple’s two young boys. Ergo, we had one hell of a fine time recently when we gathered with this family grouping in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is where Richie and Sara reside.

Now, being Pennsylvania denizens, Sandy and I don’t get to see the folks listed above all that often, as they live so damn far away from us. Especially Ben and company, who call Hawaii home. So, when earlier this year the Hawaiian crew decided they would visit Richie and Sara in a few months, well, Sandy and I wasted no time in making our arrangements to join the upcoming celebration. We arrived in Santa Fe, via American Airlines, on the 31st of May.

We spent three days with the entire clan and, after Ben and company decamped for Hawaii, four more with Richie and Sara. The time flew by at lightning speed, as time is wont to do. Sandy and I did all kinds of fun things with the family. You know, shooting the shit, eating swell meals, playing with the kids, going here and there and there and here, etc., etc. It almost didn’t matter what was going on, though, since everybody was just plain glad to be together.

One activity in particular rang my bell exceedingly well. It resulted from Sara asking me, soon after Ben and his crew began their journey home, if there was anything special that I wanted to do in New Mexico. “Nah, not really,” I thought to myself. But all of a sudden I realized that there was: Below the surface I’d been itching for a desert experience, one that might rival the trek through Plaza Blanca that knocked my socks off when Sandy and I visited Richie and Sara in New Mexico four years ago (click here to read about it).

Right to left: Richie, Sandy, Sara, Alfie. (This photo and the other photos are from the Nambé Badlands.)

When I told Sara that the desert was calling me, almost at once she said that the Nambé Badlands was the place to go to. Man, turns out she was spot-on correct. A day later, there the four of us were (plus Richie and Sara’s trusty dog Alfie), strolling around this stunning wilderness together. Nambé thrilled our eyes and graciously allowed our feet to take us where they might.

The Nambé Badlands is a dizzying configuration, straight out of a surrealist’s mind, of gullies, canyons, hills, level grounds, and sculptural rock formations. It encompasses a huge chunk of territory about 20 miles north of Santa Fe. Sandstone and limestone are among Nambé’s main inorganic ingredients, and a highly surprising number of juniper trees, most of them roughly ten feet in height, pepper the landscape. We arrived at 9:15 in the morning, when the Sun was already more intense than we’d have liked it to be, but less so than it was when we bid adieu to the desert an hour and a half later. The skies were painted a sweet blue, and few clouds were on display. As totally expected, we spotted not a single drop of water on the premises.

For the most part, our group hiked on dusty trails, upon which we crossed paths with a dozen or so other humans, several of whom were zipping along on their sturdy bikes. The trails were easily followed. But I couldn’t resist going off-trail a couple of times, wandering down crumbly hills to peer more closely at canyon sides and dry gully beds. I toyed with the idea of making my way down to a bed or two, but in the end chickened out, though, to tell you the truth I think I could have done it. On the other hand, climbing back up without incident probably would have been a near impossibility for me, an old f*ck whose body contains more rings than 99.99% of the trees on Planet Earth.

Yeah, hell will freeze over before I’ll be mistaken for Indiana Jones. But so what? I lost myself for a while in the Nambé Badlands, my tensions and jumbled thoughts slipping away like yesterday’s news as I grooved on the wonderland surrounding me.

With any luck, some day I’ll be back.

(Girls and boys, this is my 300th story. I’m more than stunned that I’ve typed as many words as I have since launching this publication in April 2015. If I decide to throw a party to celebrate my unlikely feat, I’ll invite you all!. Here’s another important announcement: Anyone who enjoys mysteries that have a social conscience would do well to check out Murder At The Crossroads: A Blues Mystery, which was co-written by my friend Debra Schiff. It came out this year. A lot of info about the book is available by clicking here.)

172 thoughts on “A Family Gathering And A Desert Walk (My 300th Story)

  1. selizabryangmailcom June 30, 2022 / 6:36 pm

    The desert. It’s so mentally cleansing, like the sea.
    And congrats on 300!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2022 / 8:09 pm

      You’re right about the desert being mentally cleansing. I guess it’s the desert’s starkness that allows that to happen. In the desert we’re not overwhelmed with stimuli.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mosrubn July 1, 2022 / 10:50 am

    Kind of place I would love to hike in.


    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2022 / 1:38 pm

      Hi, and thanks for stopping by. It’s definitely a good area to hike in. It’s very stark and beautiful.


  3. snakesinthegrass2014 July 1, 2022 / 1:54 pm

    Glad you were able to travel before all the airline snags started to happen. Beautiful shots. 300 posts is a great accomplishment! – Marty

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2022 / 8:55 pm

      Howdy, Marty. Actually, our connecting flight was cancelled on the return trip, But eventually we got home safe and sound.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Annika Perry July 2, 2022 / 10:30 am

    Neil, I clicked on every photo to see it enlarged and wow, breathtaking and surreal! I too would feel the tug to venture off on one’s own but then not a place to get lost in! It’s great you had a wonderful time with your family and congrats on 300 posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 2, 2022 / 1:16 pm

      Hi there. Getting lost in the desert would be a nightmare, that’s for sure. Have a great weekend, Annika. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Joe July 2, 2022 / 1:00 pm

    Way to go, Neil! After 300 articulate and humorous posts, I’d say you are much more than just “Another Blogger”. Congratulations on your milestone and endurance. You have brought a lot of joy to this admiring reader.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Lisa at Micro of the Macro July 2, 2022 / 6:10 pm

    Kudos all around! You may know from some of my posts, I loooooooooove Northern New Mexico! And how fun it sounds to have experienced this with family members you enjoy spending time with! We have a few of those! And 300, my goodness, Neil, that’s quite a milestone! I just passed 100 not long ago. Cheers to the next 300! 🌞

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Fran Johns July 3, 2022 / 12:17 am

    Loved the desert trek, but the Like button isn’t letting me register that. Anyway, congrats on #300. Special congrats on the fact that they’re 300 (or however many I’ve followed you through) stories worth writing & reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 3, 2022 / 7:36 am

      Thanks, Fran. I’ve always enjoyed reading your pieces too. Have a good holiday weekend!


  8. ckennedy July 3, 2022 / 6:45 pm

    Congratulations on 300 stories! And, the desert hike looks amazing. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. viewfromoverthehill July 4, 2022 / 11:35 am

    Neat post! Nice to have family you like and enjoy! Santa Fe is one of my favourite places to visit. So glad you got there. All the best, Muriel

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 4, 2022 / 3:44 pm

      Hi. I like Santa Fe too. The downtown section is pretty compact, which is an aspect of the city that appeals to me.


  10. D. Wallace Peach July 5, 2022 / 12:05 pm

    Great fun, Neil. My brother lives in N. Mexico (having moved from Hawaii) and I love visiting him in the desert as much as I loved visiting him on the beach. I’m so glad you had a ball visiting family and exploring that amazing countryside. You gotta love rocks! And the geology is just fascinating. It’s great to be outside getting some exercise, even for old f*cks like us! Lol. Thanks for sharing your adventure and here’s to more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 5, 2022 / 2:53 pm

      Hi. White Sands, in NM, has been recommended to me. It’s pretty far from Santa Fe, but maybe I’ll get there one day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • D. Wallace Peach July 5, 2022 / 3:22 pm

        My brother keeps talking about that one too. The photos of it are stunning. But best to go when it’s not too hot. 🙂 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  11. alhenry July 5, 2022 / 5:52 pm

    Congrats my man on #300. And for having likeable relatives conveniently located in a place you want to visit–careful relation placement is a must for savvy travelers. Likeable relatives in San Francisco, the Caribbean, London, Paris, Florence, Barcelona and the south of France would suit me.Hasn’t happened yet LOL. Glad you had the chance to “lose” some of the mental debris we’re all carrying these days. There is something about the vastness of nature that can truly cleanse your soul. As for the party invite to celebrate your awesome blogginess, I’ll be anxiously checking my Inbox!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 5, 2022 / 8:05 pm

      Hi, Amy. You hit a nail right on the head with this sentence: “There is something about the vastness of nature that can truly cleanse your soul.” Perfectly said.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. rkrontheroad July 6, 2022 / 2:10 pm

    Congrats on 300 stories, wow! The desert is another world, isn’t it? I’ve spent some time in desert climes earlier this year. Always amazed at how much wildlife and plant life survive in the sandy soil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 6, 2022 / 4:14 pm

      Hey there. I agree with your desert observation. For instance, there are plenty of trees in the badlands that I wrote about. That’s pretty amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Crystal Byers July 6, 2022 / 8:42 pm

    Congrats on 300, Neil! That’s a feat. I’m about 50 behind you. As for Santa Fe, I grew up about a 5-hour drive from there in the OK panhandle and have a special place in my heart for New Mexico. The skies are sweet. I’m betting you saw some stars at night.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pam Lazos July 6, 2022 / 9:05 pm

    Santa Fe is one of my favorite places on the planet, Neil!! The Badlands sounds badass!! We loved Bandelier National Park. I’d go back to Santa Fe in a heartbeat! 💓

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Americaoncoffee July 7, 2022 / 4:45 am

    Great story and a well planned adventure. I suppose that I am very spontaneous. One evening years ago I went searching for ufo’s with my family / hubby and children and inadvertently ended up camping out in the Mohave desert. The lake was boiling hot snd do we’re the fish. Creatures were lurking everywhere. We had to use ancient instincts to survive the weekend. Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Shelley@QuaintRevival.com July 11, 2022 / 6:36 am

    Congratulations on traveling and gathering with family, and re-visiting a favorite place! It was so fun to read about your trip and the desert, I’ve never been there, and seeing it through your eyes makes me want to add it to my bucket list. Congrats too on your 300th post – way to go!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 11, 2022 / 9:36 am

      For me, it’s good that my brother and sister-in-law moved to NM. Probably I’d never have gone there otherwise.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Shelley@QuaintRevival.com July 12, 2022 / 6:43 am

        I’m like that too – it’s much easier to visit a place where I know someone lives and has explored before. I’m glad to read how much fun you had with family!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. theburningheart July 13, 2022 / 8:41 pm

    Ah, the desert, I am quite familiar with, since a child, not much in New Mexico, that I only know Las Cruces near the Southern border, But I know Arizona, the Sonoran desert, and Southern California desert, and Both Baja, and Southern Baja pretty well, I do not know Death Valley yet, but I hardly doubt it’s much worst than the Sonoran desert, that cover the South East part of California, a part of Norther Baja, Northwest Sonora, and Arizona State, here it’s a video is in Spanish, but you can get the subtitles in English.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 13, 2022 / 11:58 pm

      Hi. You have a lot of experience with deserts. In their own way, they are amazing places. Mysterious too. I’d like to hike in some of the deserts that you mention.


      • Anonymous July 14, 2022 / 11:05 pm

        I ignore why the other comment come as anonymous, I guess I use two different platforms, Google and Yahoo, and sometimes, they do not know I am the same person, estrange, but happens.
        Yes, I have live around the desert as a child, because my mother its from Sonora, and we will travel from the Tropic to visit my Grandmother there, as a young man I moved to Baja, and lived there close to fifteen years, and lived in both Baja, North, and South, then spent 32 years in Los Angeles, since I retired about five years ago I moved back to Baja North on the Pacific side, but I am pretty familiar with the desert.
        Yes you can hike in the desert, during the Winter, doing it on Summer, well it can be very dangerous, if not lethal.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Anonymous July 13, 2022 / 9:11 pm

    Nice post, yes the desert it’s great, if temperatures are not extreme, like in Summer, when it can reach over 122F I am very familiar with the desert, in Norther Sonora, Arizona, Southern California, and both Baja North, and South Baja since I was a child here a video turn the volume off, and translate into English subtitles.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. ParentingIsFunny July 15, 2022 / 4:21 pm

    Reminds me of an old western movie. I can see how it would be quite peaceful. Glad you had a nice time with family. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. jeanleesworld July 15, 2022 / 8:05 pm

    You’ve reminded me of my visit to North Dakota’s Badlands long, long ago. For we temperate climate people with our foliage and seasons, standing in such an alien place feels very dream-like and impossible. I hope I can get my kids there someday. You ever been?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 15, 2022 / 10:59 pm

      Hi. I was in South Dakota about 50 years ago while on a road trip thru a good bit of the States. But I didn’t make it up to North Dakota.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld July 20, 2022 / 10:00 am

        That’s okay. South Dakota has more to see, but if memory serves, the Bad Lands in South Dakota are not as extremely “bad” as they are in North Dakota. But it’s been a couple of decades for me as well, so I could be wrong about that, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Lakshmi Bhat July 29, 2022 / 9:53 pm

    It is good to be with relatives who are kindred spirits. Recently I listened to Anne of the Green Gables series on Librivox. I have read the books many, many times through the years but listening to them was a wonderful experience too. So the words ‘kindred spirits ‘ are stuck in my mind😊. Thank you for taking your readers with you on the trek in the desert. Regards, Lakshmi

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 30, 2022 / 7:05 am

      Hi. I’m still thinking about that desert walk a bit. Desert terrain is completely different than the terrain where I live. Thanks for visiting my website. Enjoy the day.

      Liked by 1 person

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