Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Mexico...

February 6, 2010

Cedar Point Grille in Cedar Crest, New Mexico at the southern end of the Turquoise Trail...my coffee and orange juice are on the table and I'm filling my time waiting on my Ham and Cheese Omelette Supreme by working on my blog. People are looking at me funny because I'm sitting at my table, alone with my mini lap-top, typing away (at least I hope that's why they are looking at me funny).

I like this place. It has good character and the people are all friendly even if they are wondering what I'm up to, pounding away on my keyboard. This little cafe at the base of the Sandia Mountains is good for writing. I'd like to come here for breakfast and write every morning.

Today begins the second day of my adventure in New Mexico. Driving west on I-40 Thursday night was an adventure in itself. I drove through varying degrees of fog most of the way. At times it was so thick I had to slow down to almost 50mph. Inside joke...even the fog doesn't slow me down much. However, at one point I had maybe 20 feet of visibility and turned on my hazard lights just so people could see me coming more clearly.

Arriving in Santa Rosa around 10:30pm Thursday night, I was already exhausted because I had only about three hours of sleep the night before, taught fifth graders all day, and finally drove for six and a half hours in the fog. Just as I was falling asleep a young couple with a screaming baby checked into the room next to me, completely oblivious to the fact that there could possibly be other people in the hotel trying to get some sleep. Their child screamed off and on for the next two hours resulting in me getting only three hours of sleep that night, too.

The next morning, my alarm went off much earlier than I would have liked. Eyes heavy and a sleep deprivation headache starting, I rolled out of bed and stumbled next door to the office, travel mug in hand, anxious for the caffeine jump start I needed. I walked through the outer doors, looking for the coffee that I was told would be in the office at 6:00am. But the office door was locked and the woman behind the counter looked at me rather rudely apparently wondering what I wanted so early in the morning. When I held up my empty coffee mug, she pointed at the clock. It showed 5:00am. That's when I realized I hadn't changed the clock on my Blackberry from Central Time to Mountain Time. Coffee wouldn't be ready for an hour. I dragged myself back to the room and took a shower.

The excitement of the day ahead of me energized me quite a bit. Before leaving Santa Rosa, I stopped and bought a large cup of coffee and began my journey. Once again driving west on I-40, I was jamming to the music playing on my XM radio. The New Mexico sunrise was at my back and I was heading to the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary located southwest of Grants, New Mexico.

My morning excursion took me through Albuquerque. As I came upon the Sandia Mountains, located just east of the Duke City, I was once again reminded of why I love New Mexico so much. The reddish color of the mountains is immediately warm and welcoming. It is said that they were named the Sandia Mountains because of this sanguine hue. Sandia, in Spanish, means watermelon.

Continuing on, I made my way west to Grants, turning south on Highway 53 and eventually headed further west, to the isolated wolf sanctuary where I found the most incredible animals I'd ever seen. My love of wolves started last year when I set about researching them for a book I am writing. I was immediately drawn to their sense of family and the intense loyalty they share with their mates.

A beautiful, twiggy girl named Kate led us around the snowy complex with its tall chain link fence enclosures. As she told us about each and every one of the wolves, she kept them close to us by tossing chunks of hot dogs over the fence or by pushing the chunks through the openings allowing the wolves' teeth to ever so gently graze her palm as she fed them. There were two to three wolves in each pen, specially placed to ensure a good cohabitation between them. Kate had only been at the wolf sanctuary for three months, but already she had a vast knowledge of the wolves and a very deep connection with them.

About a third of the way through our tour, one of the wolves began to howl. Then a second, and a third, and before long, the entire compound of wolves was howling, not in sync, but in a chorus of howls. Each wolf has a distinctive howl that is can be easily identified by someone who knows the wolf well. The howling was overwhelming to me....I got choked up and my eyes quickly filled with tears. I couldn't believe the impact it had on me. Hearing a recording of a wolf howling pales in comparison to being there....literally ten feet away from a full-blooded wolf, throwing his head back, thrusting his throat forward, ready to join the chorus. I watched as he closed his eyes, formed his mouth perfectly, and let out a guttural, primal howl. The experience touched me on a very deep and personal level.

As our tour continued, I felt even more compelled to write my book on wolves. For centuries, people have been misinformed about wolves. They have been trained to fear and loathe them. Then there are those people who feel a need to try and keep wolves as pets only to discover that they do indeed have a wild animal at home. That's when they turn to people who actually understand the true nature of the wolf.

Reluctantly, I ended my time at the wolf sanctuary. I spent some time in the gift shop buying a few souvenirs and talking with Jaye who runs the gift shop. She asked me to send her some of my wolf art.

I can't wait to return. Next time I will call ahead and schedule the photographer's tour. This will allow me to actually go into selected pens and interact with and photograph the wolves, up close and personal.

Leaving was hard, but I knew there was so much more to see. I headed back to Albuquerque to my hotel. After getting a much needed good night's sleep, I set out in search of the Turquoise Trail.

The Turquoise Trail is a national scenic byway that starts near I-40, just east of Albuquerque and meanders in a northerly fashion along Highway 14. My journey began by taking the little part of it that is actually south of the interstate. There wasn't anything really open yet, so I turned back north and found the Cedar Point Grill and thought it looked like a charming place to have breakfast....and so it was.

My Ham and Cheese Omelette Supreme was delicious and a perfect start to the day. I don't know what lies ahead of me at this point. My idea of a fun day of travel is to follow your heart and see where you end up. I've had many wonderful adventures this way.

So, I begin day two of my New Mexico trip......more to come later......

1 comment:

♥Georgie♥ said...

wow what a journey...i felt like i was right there with you!!!

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