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. sloppy buddhist June 28, 2022 / 12:05 am

    The Nambé Badlands look like a slice of southern Alberta…and congratulations on your 300th story Neil 🤓👏sending joy hedy🧚‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynette d'Arty-Cross June 28, 2022 / 12:58 am

    Congratulations on the 300! It bet it was great to get together – covid has to some degree done a nasty number on us all. Fantastic photos. I have always enjoyed visiting New Mexico – such a beautiful state.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 3:38 pm

      Hi. I like New Mexico too. If my brother and sister-in-law hadn’t moved there, I doubt if I’d ever have visited that state.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sandy June 28, 2022 / 1:03 am

    Congratulations on your 300th! Not only the quantity but the quality, as measured by your delighted viewers. Now that’s an achievement 🙂

    Your desert scapes are awesome but it looks too hot for me. We had a sunny day this weekend – cloudless skies and dry 24 C weather. I almost had a heatstroke. LOL.

    Keep on posting Neil, I’m looking forward to the next 300 posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. George June 28, 2022 / 1:08 am

    Wow, the Badlands look stunning. We’re you wearing a ten gallon hat and chewing tobacco? Congratulations on your 300th post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jane Sturgeon June 28, 2022 / 3:29 am

    WOW, the Badlands are amazing and I am so glad you all had time together. Congratulations on your 300th, Neil, no mean feat. Much ❤ to you both. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 3:42 pm

      Hey, Jane. You’re not kidding about the Badlands. They definitely are something else. I’m really glad that I was there.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cynni Pixy June 28, 2022 / 4:03 am

    Congrats on the 300 stories!
    And that hike looks like it was an awesome experience, thank you for sharing it! 😁 Have a great day 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

  7. joylennick June 28, 2022 / 4:24 am

    Always good to get together with folks we like…Congrats. on your 300th Neil ! Always enjoy your down to earth, entertaining posts; look forward to more…Cheers! (Congrats too on your friend Debra’s co-written book Murder at the Crossroads. Is she a Schffablat? My mother-in-law’s full name?) x


    • Debra June 28, 2022 / 11:19 am

      Hi Joy. No, I’m just a Schiff.


  8. Platypus Man June 28, 2022 / 5:27 am

    Congrats on getting to 300. I hope you’re not thinking of retiring now you’ve reached the milestone, I’m sure you’ve still got many more great stories to share with us! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 3:47 pm

      Hi there. You know, I look at writing as sort of a part-time job. I like it, so I don’t plan on retiring! Thanks for visiting. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. swabby429 June 28, 2022 / 5:56 am

    New Mexico is one of my all-time favorite states. I’m glad you enjoyed your desert outing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Denise Denton Thiery June 28, 2022 / 7:13 am

    Congratulations on being such a prolific writer. I’ve never been to that area. It sure looks different than the rural midwest where I live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 3:50 pm

      And it’s completely different from my home state (Pennsylvania). The USA has an amazing variety of landscapes and seascapes.


  11. Paddy Tobin June 28, 2022 / 7:51 am

    Meeting family is special but that desert experience is simply fabulous. I’d really enjoy that. You obviously don’t agree with Benjamin Franklin’s “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days” and that’s a good attitude to have. We looked forward to eldest son and family being with us for a few days but both adults have come down with Covid. A disappointment! 300 is a good record. Keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Paddy Tobin June 29, 2022 / 11:06 am

        But, of course, not applicable in your situation!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. JOYCE HAMILTON June 28, 2022 / 7:58 am

    Badlands look great!!!! Something l would like to do!!!! Great photos. Happy you had a great time with your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. rivertoprambles June 28, 2022 / 8:56 am

    Glad you got to Santa Fe (possibly my favorite American city) with friends & family & also ventured into the dusty allure of the adjoining dry lands. I would also highly recommend a future visit to the neighboring southern Rockies & their beautiful forest ‘scapes before they’re burned away & lost.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 3:53 pm

      Hi. I’d like to see the area you mention. There are vast sections of the American Southwest that I’ve never been to.


  14. Helen Devries June 28, 2022 / 9:10 am

    Congratulations on your 300 and looking forward to many more. Glad you did not risk dropping down into those gullies….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 3:56 pm

      Howdy. Maybe I’d have ventured down into the gullies, and back up, if I was with an experienced hiker. But I wasn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Deb June 28, 2022 / 9:39 am

    Thanks for sharing Neil, I’m adding this area to my “places to visit” list!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Cristina Crawford June 28, 2022 / 9:40 am

    Congrats on 300 and cheers to 300 more! Lovely read. Having lived so many years in Colorado, I know New Mexico well. Lots of treks through the state. You’ve got to check out White Sands National Park sometime if you haven’t already.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Debra June 28, 2022 / 9:53 am

    Mazel tov on reaching 300! It’s great when relatives or friends move to a place you want to visit.
    Maybe next time you’re in NM you can make it down to White Sands.Talk about other-worldly. Thanks for mentioning my book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 4:00 pm

      Hi. I hope that some of the people who visit my site will buy your book. As for White Sands, some day I hope to get there.


  18. Jacqui Murray June 28, 2022 / 10:35 am

    The Nambe Badlands looks like the type of land Old West cowboys used to cross. I bet you’d love the Westerns I read endlessly. And, I’ll check your friend’s book, Murder At The Crossroads.

    Glad your reunion went so well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 4:01 pm

      Hey, Jacqui. It was an excellent vacation/reunion. We all were delighted to be together.


  19. gabychops June 28, 2022 / 10:45 am

    Stunning photos of the desert and a lovely family tale. Thank you.


    Liked by 1 person

  20. June’s Travels June 28, 2022 / 10:54 am

    congratulations on your 300th👏. The mystery book “Murder At The Crossroads” sounds very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. sniderjerry June 28, 2022 / 11:28 am

    Hello Neil, You may enjoy this song, “Our Family” by The Bellamy Brothers. – you can find it on You Tube. And 300, wow, I think you’re starting to get the hang of it Stay the course. All the best. Jerry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 4:06 pm

      I don’t know if I’ll ever get the hang of it, but that won’t stop me from churning out the stories! Take care, Jerry.


  22. talebender June 28, 2022 / 11:34 am

    Another good story! I’ve always loved places where there was a (slight) risk of getting lost if one wasn’t careful, yet a reasonable degree of security to allow for exploring. Sounds like you found a perfect spot!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Becky Ross Michael June 28, 2022 / 11:50 am

    What a wonderful opportunity to spend time with special family members in a beautiful location, Neil. I love the photos! And congrats on your 300th post…wow!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Paula B June 28, 2022 / 12:02 pm

    It’s probably good that you chose not to stumble down into a dry gully. We need at least 301 posts from you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 4:10 pm

      Yeah, if I had descended into a gully, I’d probably still be trying to get out of it!


  25. Rebecca Budd June 28, 2022 / 12:27 pm

    Congratulations on your 300th story. Thank you for taking me on a Desert walk!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. fauquetmichel June 28, 2022 / 1:05 pm

    Thank you to let us know the desert around Santa fe, but take to the canyons :! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Rosaliene Bacchus June 28, 2022 / 1:45 pm

    Neil, how wonderful that you and Sandy were able to spend time with your favorite brother and his family! Greatest gift ever 🙂 The desert landscape is awe-inspiring in its own unique way. Congrats to your friend Debra Schiff and co-author on publication of their murder mystery novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 4:17 pm

      At the rate that I’m currently writing stories, it’ll take me almost forever to write another 300. But, we shall see!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. ellie894 June 28, 2022 / 3:05 pm

    Congratulations on 300 posts! That’s a lotta jazz and walking and ‘Badlands’ adventures. Looks like a beautiful place and real nice time with family. Take care, suzanne ☺️


    Liked by 1 person

  29. greenpete58 June 28, 2022 / 4:18 pm

    The desert has its own stark beauty. Happy 300th, Neil, I always enjoy reading your essays.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. eden baylee June 28, 2022 / 9:07 pm

    Mazel Tov on 300! It’s a huge milestone and one to be proud of! Beautiful landscape pictures too. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 28, 2022 / 10:24 pm

      Evening, Eden. If you’re ever in the Santa Fe area, I recommend those badlands. You’ll like them.


  31. cindy knoke June 29, 2022 / 1:52 am

    The fact that you like The Badlands at the terminal end of June, is impressive. I love the desert too in the heat of the summer. I liked it even better when I was younger and had a greater probabilty of surviving. The desert is endlessly fascinating. Many people see dust, death and heat, which is accurate, but in the midst of dust, death and heat, all of these odd scrappy plants and hidden animals live and prosper, which is beyond amazing, and so incredibly hopeful. If they can live with such hardship, why shouldn’t we?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2022 / 7:23 am

      Morning, Cindy. I live far from any true deserts. But on Cape Cod, where my wife and I have vacationed most years since the late 1990s, there is a long stretch of desert-like terrain. It’s at the Cape’s far end (Truro and Provincetown). It is comprised of huge sand dunes, sand valleys, ridges. I love to wander in that area.


  32. johnlmalone June 29, 2022 / 2:41 am

    a great post, Neil; it is good to get together with distant rellies; I’m a surrealist at heart so I would love the Nambe Badlands; loved the Indiana Jones reference 🙂 it’s good when we can laugh at ourselves 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  33. mariezhuikov June 29, 2022 / 8:15 am

    Glad to hear you got reaquainted with your relatives and with the simplicity of the desert.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Sangeeta Verma June 29, 2022 / 11:10 am

    Lovely piece with the most awesome pictures. Loved your description of the Nambé Badlands as straight out of a surrealist’s mind! Spot on! And ”more rings than 99.99%of the trees on planet earth” had me laughing a long while!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2022 / 12:55 pm

      Hi, and many thanks for adding your thoughts. My desert experience was a good one. And, speaking of deserts: It’s amazing that humans have built major cities in the middle of deserts, both in distant and recent times.


  35. Anonymous June 29, 2022 / 3:26 pm

    Glad the desert was good medicine for you. It has done wonders for me from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2022 / 5:36 pm

      It had been four years since I’d walked through a true desert. I was glad to have the opportunity again.


  36. shoreacres June 29, 2022 / 9:04 pm

    I think I must have found you around #240 or so, but I’ve certainly enjoyed your work, and am looking forward to seeing what comes in the future. As for New Mexico, it’s one of my favorite states, and yet I’ve never heard of the Nambé Badlands. I must have been close when I made the drive north to Chimayo and Abiquiu, but I guess my mind was on other things. If I make it to NM again, I’ll take a look.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2022 / 7:04 am

      Hi. Right, Chimayo is only a bit north of the badlands, less than 10 miles away. Have you been to Plaza Blanca, which is near Abiquiu? — it’s spectacular.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Alyson June 30, 2022 / 9:18 am

    Great to be able to travel again and meet up with family. Congratulations on the 300. Quite a milestone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2022 / 12:28 pm

      Hi, Alyson. I don’t publish stories at the pace that I used to maintain, but I keep chugging along. Enjoy the upcoming weekend!


  38. adguru101 June 30, 2022 / 10:23 am

    So true, Neil. Glad you had a wonderful trip, and yes, you are lucky to have family whose company you enjoy. Congrats on #300, Alisa

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2022 / 12:30 pm

      Howdy, Alisa. I’ve been in New Mexico twice now (2018 and early this month) — the state is definitely growing on me!


  39. roughwighting June 30, 2022 / 1:19 pm

    Many celebrations abound. One – that you get along with your family and love them so! Two, that the get-together worked so well. Three – that you got in your “Indiana Jones” time. And four – 300 posts. WOW!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  40. chattykerry June 30, 2022 / 3:56 pm

    There is nothing more fun than meeting up with family (that you like…)😉 What a contrast in landscape from Pennsylvania to New Mexico. My great grandparents died in Tucumcari, NM, and it was almost an alien landscape when we went to visit their graves. I haven’t seen my family in years – maybe next year.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2022 / 6:10 pm

      Hi. New Mexico is enormous, and I’ve seen only a relatively small section of it. I’ve heard of Tucumcari, but had to go to google a few minutes ago to see where it’s located. Enjoy the upcoming weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • chattykerry July 1, 2022 / 11:31 am

        Tucumcari is not what it once was but it thrived being on Route 66. May the 4th be with you!

        Liked by 1 person

  41. tanjabrittonwriter June 30, 2022 / 6:32 pm

    Congratulations on post #300, Neil. Time flies when you are having fun!

    We have explored various parts of Northern New Mexico but somewhat missed this place altogether. The scenery looks stunning, in a sere kind of way. I have come to appreciate the desert for many reasons and seeing your photos makes me want to go back. But not in July or August!

    Liked by 2 people

      • tanjabrittonwriter June 30, 2022 / 8:15 pm

        Thank you, Neil. We have actually been there while exploring Abiquiu and surroundings, including Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch. Another amazing New Mexico destination.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s