Friday, October 24, 2008

I Smelled the Pinon Wood and Lost My Mind

I spent the first part of the week in Santa Fe (one of my favorite places).  I wish I could bottle the smell: part pinon wood, part . . . oh, who cares what else, have you smelled pinon wood?

I was in New Mexico for work, and it was a pretty productive, interesting meeting. The meeting did not start until 1pm on Monday, but in order to get there in time I flew out on Sunday. This meant that I had some free time in NM.  My colleague and I decided to check out Tent Rocks. It was beautiful and totally worth visiting, even though it made us a bit late for the start of the meeting.


I foolishly took only my old camera (the one that freezes up when I try to zoom in).  I was not sure I would get to go for a hike, and I was not sure it would be worthwhile to lug my SLR all over.  That was a mistake. (Which Chris helpfully pointed out to me just now.) Had I taken the good camera, the above picture would not have those weird smudgy marks on it, but I will just let that go now.

slot canyon

As happens almost every time I travel, I felt an initial surge of love for my destination. Looking at (other people's) pictures of Tent Rocks, this is probably easy to understand. But I am not talking about my experience in the great outdoors. I am talking about the first 20 minutes of my drive to Santa Fe. While I was on I-25, not yet outside of Albuquerque.

Driving north out of town, I recalled the first time I visited New Mexico ten years ago. I remembered bringing Chris there for the first time, and a more recent visit during which we accidentally conquered the highest peak in the state. My heart swelled and I felt simultaneous wistful nostalgia and joy.  A little crazy, I know, especially because I still had 40+ minutes of driving on an increasingly dark highway where the minimum speed is higher than Oregon's top allowed.

By the time I got to my hotel my head had cleared some (thanks in no small part to the radio selections, which included a Spanish language version of Singing in the Rain and a few minutes of Christian broadcasters talking about why people should get involved in electoral politics).  I had a fantastic dinner and worked hard for most of the next two days. But I still have a schoolgirl-crush on New Mexico, and went so far as to inadvertently suggest to the state's Human Services Secretary that she should hire me. Really, it came out wrong, I was just trying to explain the warmth of my feelings toward New Mexico. In any case, her state government is under a hiring freeze, so I got back on the plane this afternoon without having to figure out how to tell Chris that we need to move. His skin gets so dry, after all.


  1. I wouldn't even have noticed those smudgy marks.

    Those pictures look really beautiful. I sort of feel the same way about Utah.

  2. Cool! I had no idea tent rocks was out there, but have seen many a picture of the one you displayed.

  3. oh, we went to santa fe when we were first married...brought home some pinon tp burn....ahhh.

  4. Gorgeous pictures! So what does pinon wood smell like?

  5. Sorry I see that gap photo and all I can think of if your womb baby!

    Take it easy! Still freaked and excited. One of my dear neighbours had her 3rd come out twins hey. She went through the pain of the Maclaren twin stroller before she found the release of the Urban buggy.

    Like I say.. I'm a bit excited....