Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In the Wilds of the West

After our sweet visit to Wits End Cooperative, Keith and I decided to take the "work week" off from visiting intentional communities. After possibly finding our new home in the hills outside of Santa Fe, there is a feeling of greater ease seeping its way into our journey, this journey of a lifetime that our time on the road truly is. I am grateful for it all, and especially to Keith who has been such a great traveling partner and devoted blog writer. I realize that my voice has been unusually quiet on "Mary and Keith's Excellent Adventure" for some time now, and it has taken this journey futher into the wilds of the West to inspire me to share some of it with you all once again.

So, embracing a collectively renewed sense of adventure and openness, we decided to take a left hand turn at Albuquerque and explore the Pueblo areas to the west. Usually we take care to not travel too many miles in one day, but yesterday was an unexpected exception as the miles continued to invite me into the greater reaches of the Land of Enchantment. If you've ever had a peak hike or an ultimate drive in the country and been completely mesmerized by the beauty, power and splendor of nature, then you can understand how I've been feeling since we headed west, young man (and woman).

Yes, yesterday's journey west consisted of eight hours of rig driving, but it also consisted of one of the most specatacular drives of our journey--and possibly of our entire lives---seeing Pueblo after Pueblo of tribal lands where sovereign indeginous people live their lives, and having the unique experience of being within the United States but not really being in US territory.

We are glad that during this ecstatic ride we mustered up our courage to stop at the Santo Domingo Pueblo and initiate a meaningful conversation with two Cochiti gentlemen. Our chat took place in their Santa Domingo Mission Church. This church was built fifteen years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and still possesess records dating back to 1605! Visitors to this Pueblo are welcome to worship side by side with the Indians and we felt honored and humbled to be personally invited to come and celebrate Easter Sunday with them next weekend. Our  friends encouraged us to knock on the doors of local artisans' homes, assuring us that we would be welcome guests. Since we are not into collecting material things at this time, we simply thanked them and went on our way in our loud diesel rig, attracting curious stares which we met with our gentle waves and smiles, most of which were duly returned.

I am still beholding the stunningly beautiful, vast open stretches of earth punctuated with diverse, layered mountainscapes and miles of mesas below them with blue, blue skies and the warmest red sunset above the amazing rock formations we call mountains. The day ended with the two of us watching the full moon rise over one such mountain we are nestled safely beneath in our "Rig-a-Tina"---not too shabby.

The peak sunset drive of yesterday landed us in the perfect place to camp here in El Morro, New Mexico amidst like-minded folks until we head back to Albuquerque to continue our community search on Friday. Not so fast will we return to the big city. We will linger here and lead a Laughter Yoga session in a community arts and events center called "The Old School", which is just across from the campground. Tomorrow we will visit the Zuni Pueblo and even though we are taking a break from the intentional community quest,  we can't help but visit the Zuni Mountain Sanctuary. ZMS is an intentional community of "radical faeries" near the Zuni Pueblo to which we were graciously invited by our generous campgound host who happens to be a co-founder and friend of ZMS!

In our lingering here in the wilds of the west, we will hike, eat, read, write and rest some more. When we finally peel ourselves away from this magical spot, we hope to visit the Acoma Pueblo en route back to Albuquerque. Acoma is place that beckons us to explore it more thoroughly, amazing Acropolis of the west that it is. This time we will be taking turns with Tina care as one of us takes the little bus up to the mesa village known as "Sky City". (No other way is permitted up the mountain). We cannot possibly live in New Mexico without this experience. Once back in Albuquerque, we will be visiting with the folks at Sunflower River Community just 4 miles south of the city over the weekend.

If you ever come out this way, dear Reader, be sure to camp at El Morro RV Park and Cabins where, at the base of a hikable mountain, there are little cabins, campfires, tent and rv sites, a yurt where massage, drumming circles and a Reiki clinic take place, and also the Ancient Way Cafe, which has the best pancakes ever (and we haven't even tried lunch yet!) In addition to the above-mentioned amenities, you can climb to breathtaking overlooks on amazing rock formations on the edge of the mesa some five hundred feet above the campground. (On our hike today, we had to make joyful sounds while hiking due to the bears that are waking up from hibernation. And hey, we found evidence of a coyote tracking us, most likely hoping for a snack just about Tina in size! We're also aware that there are at least a few elk and a mountain lion living in the hills nearby.)

Today we are resting up after our hike and these wild, dusty, spring winds of change blowing in from the Southwest. Manana we will go to "Inscription Rock", a nearby national monument, and hopefully visit the Wolf Sanctuary too. This certainly is "God's Country", and I am humbled with gratitude for all of this space in our lives, for the original people of "Turtle Island" and the perseverance of their cultures, languages, and what remains of their ancestral lands.

May you enjoy the links to all of the above and a few photos of our hike today. Because we are honoring the tribal laws that forbid photographing of Tribal Land without a purchased permit (with a maximum fine of $1,000), we won't have photos of the other scenes I'm barely able to even crudely describe to you. If we manage to buy a photography permit at Acoma Pueblo, then you can have a glimpse of the beauty we are blessed to behold here in one of the hearts of Indian country.



  1. I've been to Sky City 2x, it's an amazing place. Enjoy! Thanks for sharing your beautiful journey. xx Julie

  2. Great post Mary. New Mexico is a profoundly beautiful place. Your descriptions remind me of what I saw on my mountain bike multi-day trips in Utah and western Colorado. You have to live it to really understand it. And you guys are really living it!! Much love, Ken