Birthday fun

This post is overdue I know. My birthday was March 28th and I’m just getting to it now. I’ve been busy changing jobs and crashing bikes so that will have to count for something I guess.

Enough excuses.

Day 1: Go West (slightly less) Young (er) Man

Everything came together at once. Spring Break started, it was Easter Sunday and my birthday was the next day. So to kick off the multiple celebrations we decided to head west to Grants. This was exciting as we had never been further west than the west-side of Albuquerque, all of our travels have been south-east or north.

Of course we did first let the girls search for the eggs the Easter Bunny had hidden. They had a great time, but probably not as much fun as we did watching them.

Westeros Bound!

After egg-hunting we packed up and headed off to Westeros. In actuality we went to the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Candy Kitchen New Mexico, but as it has been supported by George R.R. Martin and his wife and it hosts The Westeros Pack, my above statement is not untrue.

This beautiful 90 acre ranch hosts approximately 71 wolves, wolf-dogs and other candae. I had met a couple of these animals before at a Game of Thrones event up in Santa Fe (there is a picture of me somewhere getting licked by Flurry). Since then I have wanted to get out to the Sanctuary to meet the rest of the pack and perhaps volunteer.

Lisa and the girls were excited as we pulled up. If you haven’t guessed yet we are nature lovers and this was just the right activity for us.


It doesn’t look like much outside but we were greeted by a friendly tree stump as we made our way inside to register for the tour.

Inside there are plenty of fun items to purchase all wolf related and some GoT items as well. There were Stark and Taragaryen necklaces and Direwolf Plushies.

On the tour we were givens tons of wolf and wolf-dog information, met many of the residents and were even granted a visit by Teton one of the more reclusive wolves.

Currently they have a number of Wolves, Wolf-dogs (dogs with wolf DNA), New Guinea Singing dogs, Coyotes, Dingoes and a Fox named Romeo.

New Guinea Singing Dog. I can’t remember if this was Bowie or Bono.
Teton up close.

The habitats and enclosures are well maintained and the animals look healthy and happy from what I can see. Spending their lives in a Sanctuary space may not be the ideal but re-release and euthanization are not options and the staff and volunteers here really love what they do. It is the first thing you can see when they start talking about the animals.

If you are ever in New Mexico I highly recommend a visit to the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. It’s just outside of Grants (under 2 hrs from ABQ) so it makes for an easy day trip. Also if you are interested they offer camping across the street including renting one cabin so you can sit up all night and listen to the animals!

El Morro National Monument

Lisa and I can’t pass up a National Monument without stopping by. The girls could have gone straight to our cabin for the night but ….Nature! and History!


El Morro (the headlands in Spanish) was a watering hole for travelers for ages. Native, Spanish and American travelers stopped here to refresh their water at the natural waterhole (it collected rain and snow) and many carved their initials into the rock.

Honestly the girls were kind of bored but Lisa and I had a lot of fun. We didn’t hike up to the pueblo on the top of El Morro to try to spare the girls a bit of walking but the inscriptions were exciting. History is awesome!


Lisa smelling a Ponderosa Pine. It’s not weird, they smell like vanilla. OK it’s a little weird.


The Land of Fire and Ice

Curiously enough after leaving Westeros another stop was the Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave. We not out of Westeros yet!

A 10,000 year old volcanic eruption has resulted in a massive crater with a short hike to a beautiful overlook.

Overlooking the crater.
Stalwart hiking companions, bunny included.


Spatter cone. Lava came out there. Kind of like a volcano zit.
Twisted old Juniper.

There is a 500 year old Douglas Fir, possibly the oldest in New Mexico but for some reason I didn’t take a picture. I think I was carrying Snookums on my shoulders at the time despite me recently injured foot.

Another feature of the volcano was it’s massive network of lava tubes. Most of them collapsed but there was one just below the crater that remained moderately intact and with the insulating properties of rock created a natural refrigerator. The cave remains 31ºF year round which is incredible given the extremes of New Mexico’s temperatures.

A short hike down a well groomed path and then down a flight of steep stairs past a collapsed part of the tube leads you to a chilly wonderland used by natives and explorers and settlers to store food.

Collapsed lava tube.
Alpine moss growing at the beginnings of the cave.
Watch your step.


Chilly explorers.

I’m getting a loquacious at this point so I’m going to split this into two parts and finish up on the next blog. Honestly, I’m just happy to finally get this down and done.

When you travel is it what type of sites do you visit?

Who else liked wolves growing up? If not what were your favorite animals?

Game of Thrones? Yeah or Nay? GRRM is kinda of a big deal around here.




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