Taos for the Anniversary!

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My beautiful wife.

Lisa and I got married on November 30th 2001. Yes that means we have been married for fourteen (14) years. Much of that is not my own doing. There were a good many years I was very self destructive which means I was destroying my marriage too.

I am a recovering alcoholic and Lisa knew me and was with me during my drinking. All of it. I drank for the first four years of our marriage. I stopped drinking but didn’t try to recover and I was still an asshole, probably worse than when I was “just” drinking. I lied and I cheated. I manipulated and stole. I alienated and deceived the world, most notably Lisa.

We are still together thank God. These last two years have been particularly hard and amazing and enlightening. Through counseling, program work (AA and Al-Anon) and delving into a spiritual practice we have managed to stay together and married and even to improve our marriage and ourselves.

I am immeasurably grateful to be able to have an Anniversary Weekend at all. I do not deserve it. So I am especially happy to share last weekends adventures.

Taos:

City of Really Beautiful Mountains (and I guess Julia Roberts)

We had never traveled to northern New Mexico. We have lived here for approximately 5 years and we have traveled south-east a couple times. Alamogordo, White Sands National Monument (go there) and Carlsbad Caverns are favorites of ours and we are happy to have been there.

For our Anniversary trip we chose Taos. Part Ski-resort, part art colony and hippie breeding ground/mecca, part natural wonder. It calls all walks is all I’m saying.

The history here is immense. it is noted to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. We’re talking 1000 years. Native American history intermingled with the Spanish conquest and then the U.S expanding and fighting for control. Its a mess, which means life and death, and afterward life carries on

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 After walking around the plaza and visiting the well known church above Lisa and I settled into our room for the night and had a lovely New Mexican dinner.

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My gorgeous dinner (and life) companion.
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Courtyard at night.

The next morning Lisa did yoga in the room while I went to run. Planning on utilizing the exercise room (it was locked), I instead ran outside (which I prefer) but along the road (which I do not prefer). It was cold and windy and I wasn’t really dressed right so I made it short. Besides, we had a busy day coming up.

 Taos Pueblo

We spent the morning at the Taos Pueblo. It’s one of the oldest and longest continually inhabited settlements in the U.S. Over a thousand years or so.

It was cold and Lisa and I bundled up a bit but the walk around the pueblo was short. We stumbled into another couple on a guided tour (read: a local kid was walking them around). I get the impression pretty much anyone can walk tourists around and maybe make a few bucks in tips. He had a lot of information and details that really filled in the history of what we were viewing.

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Bell tower above the cemetery.

After a quick stop for some fresh fry-bread we headed out to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Well actually we stopped and ate at a little brewery but there wasn’t much to say about that. Decent food but not our scene.

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

(or that bridge in that movie you saw)

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This is a beautiful bridge sitting a few miles northwest of Taos. I was struck by how flat the land is  here and all of a sudden there is this big crack in the ground…..and in the distance behind you see the mountains rising up majestically, imperiously.

It was still cold when we got here and noticeably windier with no breaks to protect us. There are a few viewing platforms on either side of the bridge and Lisa and I gingerly made our way out to them. I felt safe and have no fear but a healthy respect for heights. High places and I have come to an understanding: I won’t do anything stupid if they don’t do anything stupid. Lisa was noticeably nervous and she trembled a bit walking out. Especially when any vehicle went by as it shook the entirety of the structure. We made it to the viewing platforms and enjoyed the vistas offered by being about 600 feet above the Rio Grande.

After the bridge, Lisa spent a few cold minutes shopping for earrings with the Indians that had set up tables near the bridge (a common tourist stop). It is a bit of a tradition that for our anniversary I take her out and she gets to pick something like this out and Lisa prefers to buy from the folks that made it themselves. No mark-up and it’s gorgeous stuff. Win-win.

There is a short 9 mile trail that runs along the western rim of the gorge. It is fairly flat and well groomed. Under non-anniversary circumstances I’d love to run it as it would probably be a fast and hot (insert inappropriate joke here) and scenic run. We hiked it though probably a good three and a half miles over all. It was cold and windy but beautiful and with the one person I’d want with me most so I have zero complaints.

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Mountains on the far side of the gorge.

I will leave you with something Lisa and I found rather emotional.

The Rio Grande Gorge bridge is 564 feet above the river below. It is high and desolate and standing on the bridge in the icy wind you could certainly feel as if you were on the edge. Some people come there because they are. There have been over 115 suicides in the past 20 years according to an article by the Santa Fe New Mexican. It’s sobering to be among such beauty and know that so many have come here with no hope left at all.

On the viewing platforms were crisis hotline call buttons. An effort for people with nothing left to reach out for something. All along the railings and over the call boxes messages of love and understanding were scrawled in sharpie. Inspiring words, “I love you’s” and a quote from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.

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I pray you are all happy and healthy and with the ones you love.

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