My Grandmother, My Grief & Me

My grandmother died a year ago today but there are still six voicemails from her on my phone, some from as far back as 2014. I haven’t listened to any of them, can’t listen to them, not now, but I can’t delete them either. She’d call and I’d be busy – at work, at play, at the gym – and I’d leave the message unheard on my phone as a reminder to call her back, to answer for sure the next time she called. And mostly I did, except for when I didn’t.

I haven’t heard her voice in more than a year, but I already know how each message starts. She’ll say, “Hi, Terra, it’s your grandma,” and then she’ll tell me why she’s calling, give me some grief for not answering maybe and ask me to call her back. I can hear it in my head, can hear the way she says my name, the way she pronounces grandma. I know the message. I just can’t listen to it.

Five of the voicemails are between 25 and 28 seconds long. The sixth, the outlier, is shorter. It’s just 17 seconds. Half are on or near a holiday – two on Thanksgiving, one on Christmas, three just because.

My grandmother was, in a real and honest sense, the entirety of my family. I have parents, sure. They exist but to call them my parents seems dishonest and they are nonentities in my life. So it was her, my grandmother. She was the only one who sent me birthday cards, who called on Christmas. She was the one looking out for me, asking me if I needed any support in the midst of my divorce. She was always there, no matter what.

She was my family. But she died.

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I was deployed when she died and her dying while I was gone was my biggest and only fear.

I saw her for the last time in Texas, over Easter weekend last year while we were at Fort Hood getting ready for the desert. She’s from Texas and it was to Texas she went after spending a whole bunch of her life in Virginia, including the part where she became my grandmother. My uncle lives in Houston, along with his family, so she moved close to him, into a retirement community.

Moving to Texas was a thing she had talked about for years. The house she left behind, in Fairfax, Virginia, was one I’d lived in during high school, was the house she’d lived in my entire life up until that point, the only real house I could ever go back to. We moved a lot when I was a kid, usually every three years or so, but there was always Grandma’s House. It was, a lot of the time, the only source of stability I had in my life. It was always a place I could go back to, and I did, for summers and holiday weekends. I picked blackberries in the backyard, made friends with the other kids in the neighborhood, played dress-up and always went to sleep warm, unafraid and well-fed. That house was my home, even when I didn’t live there. It was the only place that persisted.

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I flew to Texas for the funeral, first to Houston to be with my uncle and his family and then to Midland, an hour south of Loop, where we buried my grandmother the day after Thankgiving. We buried her next to her grandmother, where she could be near her parents and her siblings and their families.

At the church, she looked small and different, the way the dead always do before we bury them.

I spoke at the funeral. We all did, my uncle, his two kids. He gave her eulogy and the kids read passages from the Bible and I talked about how I was lucky, as the oldest grandchild, to have had her all to myself for a whole decade before my sister was born. I talked about how she instilled in me a desire to travel and about how she always warned me to be careful on escalators, how to stand in the middle so the escalator teeth wouldn’t grab my shoelaces or pants and destroy my leg.

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We drove around, later, my cousins and I, exploring the vast openness of west Texas, checking out the cotton fields where she used to pick cotton, the high school that’s K-12 and smaller than anything any of us had ever attended.

I was glad to be there, glad to see the land she came from, the places she always talked about. It would of been better if she’d been there to show it to me though.

Two days later I went back to Kuwait to finish my deployment.

There is not room for grief on deployments. You’re paid by the American people to do a job and so that’s what you do. There is no privacy, no place to release the torrent of emotions biting at your insides, you are isolated from your friends and your family and everyone else around you is deployed, dealing with all the things that come with a deployment, so grief is hard to process. I cried in Texas and that was it. I didn’t allow myself any grief outside of that, just locked it away. I felt too alone to even attempt to face it, so I didn’t. I didn’t write, I didn’t process it, I just put it away.

But grief found me, of course. It found me when I came home and it’s found me now, on this day, the day I’ve been dreading all year, knowing that the hurt I locked away this time last year would claw its way back out again. And of course it has. That’s how grief works. It will not be banished, it will not be silenced. It will be heard, will push and pull its way out of whatever contraption you’ve managed to stuff it into. It will come out when you see grandmothers sitting alone at the airport, when you sit down to dinner with someone else’s grandmother, when you come even close to the city she used to live in, when you least and most expect it, there it is, your grief.

The thing about my grandmother is that she loved me more than anyone else ever did. More than my parents, more than my friends, more than any of the men who loved me, she loved me more and life without her hurts.  The holidays hurt, birthdays hurt, milestones hurt, all of it just fucking hurts because I miss her and I wish I’d been to see her more and I wish I could have been there for more of the last year of her life and I wish, more than anything, that she wasn’t gone.

My Grandmother, My Grief & Me || TERRAGOES.COM

Exploring History at Petroglyph National Monument

In going to New Mexico, I wanted to experience two things: National Parks and really good food. So, upon my arrival in New Mexico, I went straight for the tacos, at Kelly’s Brew Pub, where I met a bartender who shared my name. I took meeting her as a good omen since she was only the second Terra I’d ever met and then I scampered to Petroglyph National Monument, to get my first taste of New Mexico’s national park scene.

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Petroglyph National Monument is an urban park, with four units spread around the outskirts of Albuquerque. Of the four, three offer petroglyph viewing. There’s also the visitor center, where I stopped first. I asked the ranger on duty for a suggestion on where to go and she gave me a brief lesson on petroglyphs before giving me directions to Piedras Marcadas Canyon, one of the four sites. She said I’d be able to see between 300 and 500 petroglyphs along the 1.5 mile trail loop, told me to fill up my water bottle before I left and then sent me on my way.

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Put simply, petroglyphs are rock carvings. They’re found all over the world and Petroglyph National Monument contains an estimated 24,000 petroglyphs spread along 17 miles. Most were made by the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived in the area between AD 1300 and 1680, but some were made by the Spanish in the 1700s and a few are estimated to pre-date the Pueblos by as much as 3,000 years.

Volcanic eruptions left basalt in the area and, turns out, basalt is pretty great rock for making petroglyphs. It’s light gray in color but develops a “desert varnish” over thousands of years of sitting in the sun that’s sort of glossy and almost-black. To make the petroglyphs, the Pueblos chipped away at the top surface of the rock, the desert varnish part, to uncover the light gray of the rock.

Petroglyph National Monument || TERRAGOES.COM

There’s no for sure reason why the petroglyphs were made, not exactly. They’re more than simple rock art and they aren’t like hieroglyphics, but they are culturally important symbols. Some of the petroglyphs show tribal or clan markers, others seem to show who came into the are and many are still a complete mystery, which is a good thing, according to the Pueblo people of today, who say sometimes it’s not even appropriate for us to interpret the meaning of these images. Regardless of their perceived or actual meaning, the petroglyphs site is still considered sacred by today’s Pueblo people.

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At the visitor center, the ranger told me the Pueblos believe the petroglyphs only show themselves to those who are deserving or who have good intentions. Shadows also play a part in how many you can see at any given moment, as does the movement of the clouds. The glare of the sun will hide or highlight a few too.

I don’t know how many petroglyphs I saw while I was there. I wasn’t counting. Mostly I was in awe of how big and close the sky felt and how each and every petroglyph siting felt like finding hidden treasure.

NICE TO KNOWS FOR VISTING PETROGLYPH NATIONAL MONUMENT
  • There are no petroglyphs at the visitor center. Still, I recommend stopping by to get directions to the other sites, use the bathroom and top off your water.
  • Admission to the park is free, but the city charges a small parking fee at some of the sites.
  • Piedras Marcadas Canyon is open daily from sunrise to sunset. All the other sites, to include the visitor center, are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Binoculars are helpful in spotting off-trail petroglyphs.
  • Trails at the various sites vary in length and you can spend anywhere from thirty minutes to four hours at the park. Most visitors spend around 1.5 hours exploring the petroglyphs.

Petroglyph National Monument || TERRAGOES.COM

My Honey Badger Adulthood

Growing up, I didn’t know what adulthood would be like. I assumed it would have something to do with doing whatever the fuck I felt like doing, like eating cake for breakfast or staying up all night reading a book or watching a movie. LIFE ON MY TERMS, DAMMIT, that’s about all I knew about adulthood.

Somehow it crept on me though. I don’t remember it happening, the whole adulthood thing. But, here I am, an adult. I pay bills and drive a car I bought and paid for and sometimes I even eat cake for breakfast. I’m 33, inching my way into my mid-30s, but still, I don’t know when the adult thing happened.

Was it when I got married or when I got divorced? Did it have anything do with buying a house, getting my first credit card or having a car payment? Was it when I graduated high school, college or some other Army-related course? Or was it the Army? Did that knock me into adulthood? Was it when I stopped being able to sleep past 8 a.m. or when I started going to the gym? Does it have anything to do with my willingness to eat kale, Brussel sprouts and quinoa? Or was it when I got my job? Was that it, or was it when I started giving fewer fucks about the things that used to make my palms sweat, my skin crawl and my heart slam dance itself against my rib cage?

Maybe (probably) it was all of that and none of it, too.

I used to think there was a list that led us toward adulthood. Go to college, get a dog, get married, buy a house, have a baby, join the PTA, buy a bigger house, have another baby, etc. And I know for some people that is adulthood, but it’s not my adulthood. But my adulthood looks nothing like that.

Sometimes, in my adulthood, I ask my robot, Alexa, to put on the saddest songs she can find. I ask her to turn up the volume before pouring myself a glass of wine and having a dance party in my living room, mostly just singing to myself, the dogs and sometimes the cat. It’s like therapy, only with wine and a robot.

I eat popcorn for dinner at least once a week. I put cheese on it. Not bullshit parmesan from a green tube, but little pieces I slice from my brick-sized cheddar I bought at Costco. Popcorn with the cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of garlic and that’s it. The most winning-est adult dinner I’ve ever made.

I’ve got two dogs, Luke and Sadie, and they are senior dogs who behave like children, which is perfect. They shed nonstop and sometimes I don’t vacuum as often as I should. My clothes and car are almost always covered in fur, but those fluffs are two of my best friends.

Sometimes I am lazy and don’t feel like emptying the dishwasher. Instead, I just keep piling dishes into the sink until I can’t take it anymore and force myself to empty the dishwasher, only to generate a full load with the pile I’ve been building in the sink and the cycle starts all over again. I do the same thing with laundry.

I can almost always create a top-notch cheese plate from the snacks in my fridge but chances are good I’ll be out of some kitchen staples, like eggs or butter. I’ve got olives though, and at least two kinds of cheese and probably also an assortment of cured meats.

Spider crickets live in my basement, where my washer and dryer are. They only come out at night so I don’t go into the basement at night. They are terrifying and disgusting and they leap and one time one fell on me and it was awful. Also, fuck it, I’m an adult who does not have to do laundry when it is dark outside.

My cat who hates everyone and everything, except for boxes. I harass her a lot, mostly because it’s funny, but I also always leave empty boxes out for her enjoyment.

I host Thanksgiving at my house for friends and adopted family and it’s a tradition that’s been going strong for as long as I’ve lived in my house. It is one of my favorite things.

Sometimes I get through my to-do list for the day and sometimes I struggle to mark off a single thing. I drink a lot of water, but I also drink a lot of beer and wine, but am much better at moderation now than I was ten years ago. I have a short attention span, my default setting is mean and I still hate Christmas. My plants don’t get watered as often they should, but they’re still alive. I don’t ever watch live TV anymore, but I do listen to podcasts while I clean the house and sometimes I talk to the dogs about it, especially if it’s a true crime podcast. One of my toenails is fucked from running and it is ugly and gross and I’m pretending it’s fine because sometimes that’s how I handle things.

This is not the life that little me imagined. This isn’t what I thought adulthood would be like, not entirely, but mostly, I like it. It works.

6 Things I Learned at Appomattox Court House Historical Park

On April 9, 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in the small village of Appomattox Court House. While the official end of the American Civil War would come later, Lee’s surrender marked the effective end to a war that had raged for four years and claimed more than 620,000 lives.

The decision to surrender came after the Battle of Appomattox Court House. Lee’s men were outnumbered and starving, so, when Lee’s generals advised him that surrender was their best and only option, he agreed. He wrote to Grant, indicating his desire to surrender. Grant responded immediately and offered Lee the chance to pick the surrender site. Lee’s aide scouted locations and settled on the home of Wilmer McLean, in the village of Appomattox Court House.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park || TERRAGOES.COM

In the parlor of the McLean house, Lee waited for Grant’s arrival. Grant, when he arrived, found it hard to talk about the surrender. The two made small talk instead, talking about the last time they had seen each other, decades before, during the Mexican-American War. It was Lee who directed their attention back to the surrender.

The terms were generous. Lee’s men would not be imprisoned or prosecuted for treason, but all Confederate military equipment was to be handed over. Confederate officers could keep their horses and personal belongings. The Soldiers, too, could keep their horses and mules, on Lee’s request. He told Grant that, in the Confederate Army, Soldiers owned their horses and they would need them once they made their way back home, for farming. Lee also mentioned his men had been without food for days, so Grant sent 25,000 food rations to the starving and defeated men.

Afterwards, as Lee rode away, Union troops started cheering, but Grant ordered them to stop immediately. He said, “The Confederates were now our countrymen, and we did not want to exult over their downfall.”

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park || TERRAGOES.COM
Today, Appomattox Court House Historical Park preserves part of the battlefield and the village of Appomattox Court House. The park includes original and reconstructed buildings that made up the town more than 150 years ago. In 1935, the National Park Service took control of the site from the War Department. Five years later, Congress designated the site a national historical monument. In 1941, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, work on the project stalled until 1947. Finally, in 1949 the National Park Service opened the site to the public for the first time and, in a ceremony held on April 16, 1950, descendants of Lee and Grant cut the ceremonial ribbon at a dedication ceremony attended by approximately 20,000.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park || TERRAGOES.COM

6 THINGS I LEARNED AT APPOMATTOX 

1. Appomattox Courthouse is in the town of Appomattox Court House.

See the distinction? There’s a common misconception that the surrender happened in the courthouse of Appomattox, but it didn’t. The courthouse was locked, which is why they ended up in Wilmer McLean’s parlor. Turns out, it was common practice for the county seat to be named for the county – in this case Appomattox – with “Court House” added to the end. Previously, the town had been called Clover Hill but, once the courthouse and jail were built, it was changed to Appomattox Court House.

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2. The Civil War started in Wilmer McLean’s front yard and ended in his parlor. 

The First Battle of Bull Run, in Manassas, took place on McLean’s farm, the Yorkshire Plantation. The Union Army fired at his house, which Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard was using as a headquarters. McLean was too old to fight and did not enjoy the whole war in his front yard thing, so he moved his family to Appomattox Court House.

Two years later, the Civil War ended in his parlor with Lee’s surrender. After the surrender, Union Soldiers started taking things from the house – tables, chairs, furnishings, even a doll that belonged to one of McLean’s daughters. They gave him some money, but not much. McLean smuggled and sold sugar during the war, but all his money was Confederate which was useless after the war. He defaulted on the loan repayment for the house and it was sold at public auction in 1869. It changed hands a few times and was eventually dismantled with the intention of moving it to Washington, D.C., where it could be reconstructed and opened to paying visitors. That never happened and the house sat dismantled for fifty years before the National Park Service rebuilt it.

3. A Native American recorded the terms of surrender. 

His name was Ely S. Parker, a Seneca Indian from New York who had earned Grant’s friendship after the Mexican-American War. According to legend, after learning Parker’s background, Lee said, “it is good to have one real American here.” Parker eventually became a brigadier general.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park || TERRAGOES.COM

4. Confederate Soldiers received parole passes to help them get home.

Surrender terms declared Confederate troops would not be imprisoned or prosecuted following their surrender. Still, Lee worried his men would face harassment as they made their way home from Appomattox. The solution was the parole pass and 30,000 blank copies were printed in the town’s tavern. The name of each Soldier was written on the pass, which identified them as a “Paroled Prisoner of the Army of Northern Virginia,” and said the bearer had “permission to go to his home and remain there undisturbed.”

5. Lee’s surrender didn’t end the war, not officially. 

Other armies were still in the field when Lee surrendered and while the Battle of Appomattox Court House was the last major battle of the Civil War, the final battle was fought at Palmetto Ranch May 11-12, in Texas and the surrender of forces continued for the next few month or so. Gen. Stand Watie surrendered the last large organized Confederate force at the end of June, in Choctaw County, Oklahoma, and the CSS Shenandoah, a Confederate commerce raider, didn’t surrender until November. 

6. The surrender was negotiated in letters, not through a treaty. 

As the ranger in this video explains, “American wars tend to end in treaties, but its largest war can’t; that would be diplomatic recognition.” Grant instead sat down to draft a letter of surrender terms for Lee to review. He accepted the terms with his own letter, then wrote “General Order #9,” which served as a farewell to his men.

“After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources,” Lee wrote. “With an increasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous considerations for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.”

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park || TERRAGOES.COM


Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is open daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free. Living history interpreters and NPS rangers provide presentations on various aspects of Appomattox and the Civil War throughout the day, and the website recommends visitors allocate at least two hours for their visit. 

SOURCES: National Park Service, Wikipedia, Civil War Trust

Getting to Know Me, Introvert Feels & Recharging

I’m an introvert. Sometimes people don’t believe me when I tell them that. But it’s true. I am.

I can do the whole social thing. I can be peppy and friendly and outgoing and all that happy horseshit, but in my little heart of hearts, I am 100% introvert.

This is a thing I’ve known about myself for a lot of years, but it took me a bunch of them to figure out what being an introvert really means for me. I’ve taken most of the quizzes on the internet, and they’ve all declared my introversion without hesitation. They’ve told me I’ll always pick a night in to a night on the town, that I dislike crowds and how I need time to recharge after prolonged social contact. And sure, that’s all true. Crowds make me nervous and angry, days of socialization leave me mentally and physically exhausted and I’ll almost always pick a night around my dining table with some lady friends to a wild night out.

But it’s more than that.

For me, being an introvert means it’s really hard to convince myself to be willingly social sometimes. And while I will openly declare my abhorrence for most people, there are a handful of humans I really enjoy. So it’s not like I don’t like people or that I don’t have friends, it’s just that sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I don’t want to be out, I don’t want to be around a big group of strangers, I don’t want to be on or friendly or any such shit. I just want to sit on my couch in pajamas, curled up with one or three critters, a bowl of popcorn and a tasty beverage.

And then there’s the whole recharging and recovering thing. I’m not a fucking iPhone. I can’t be plugged in. I’m not solar-powered, I don’t come with a gas tank or a jet pack. So, how? How do I recharge? How do I recover?

It took me a long time to figure this out and mostly, I have found, it varies.

Sometimes, when I’m totally and completely done with the world and everyone in it, I hide out in bed for half a day, reading a book, drinking some tea and only leaving my bed-nest to let the dogs outside and make popcorn.

Other times, it’s running that saves me. It’s my sport of choice because it is a solo sport. I don’t have to do it with anyone else, don’t need to phone a friend or consult a schedule. I just go. And yes, I do participate in races every few months or so, but I’m still alone, even in a crowd. It’s still just me putting one foot in front of the other. I don’t have to be social at races, don’t have to talk to anyone. I can retreat into myself on a race course and just be.

Books help too. So does ignoring my phone for a few hours, snuggling the dogs, taking naps, cooking dinner for and by myself, putting together a puzzle or drinking a glass of wine on the back porch at dusk. Mostly, it’s just being alone. That’s what helps, that’s how I recharge.

The nice thing about being in my 30s is that I give fewer fucks. I can say no to weekend plans when my daily, weekly or monthly threshhold for social activity has been met or exceeded. I don’t feel guilty for staying in on a Friday night and sometimes my company is the only company I want. And it’s nice to know that about me, even if it took until now to know it.

How to Spend 6 Days National Parking in New Mexico

My trip to New Mexico was my first-ever solo trip and I launched into planning mode before I even booked the tickets. I ordered a travel guide, started a Pinterest board, perused the National Park Service website and flipped through some of my favorite travel blogs to see if they had any suggestions on what I should be doing with my time in New Mexico.

The result of all that planning was a six-day adventure, with an early flight in and a late flight out, that took me across 800 miles of northern New Mexico, though five National Park units and one bonus park managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

SIX DAYS OF NATIONAL PARKING IN NEW MEXICO

Six Days of National Parking in New Mexico || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 1. ALBUQUERQUE TO SANTA FE

My early flight out of Richmond got me to Albuquerque a little after 11 a.m., and I was in my rental car and on the road by noon. I grabbed tacos and a beer at the Standard Diner, then headed to Petroglyph National Monument, for National Park #1. At the visitor center, the ranger gave me directions to Piedras Marcadas Canyon, where there’s 1.5 mile loop showcasing around 400 petroglyphs.

After marveling at the petroglyphs, I headed north on the Turquoise Trail stopping in Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid) for a beer at the Mine Shaft Tavern before heading on to my Airbnb in Santa Fe. I’d plotted the parks I wanted to visit on a map during my planning process and Santa Fe was pretty much right in the middle, so for me, it made the most sense to base myself there. Once I got checked in at the llama farm, I went to Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery for dinner, where I got a beer and a giant plate of nachos before heading home, curling up and passing the fuck out.

Six Days of National Parking in New Mexico || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 2. KASHA-KATUWE TENT ROCKS NATIONAL MONUMENT & MEOW WOLF

I had breakfast at the Tune-Up Cafe, where I order the Veggie Breakfast Hash from the specials board. It was delicious, with poached eggs, cheesy hash browns and a whole pile of vegetables.

After breakfast, I headed to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. It’s administered by the Bureau of Land Management, so it’s not technically a National Park unit, but holy hell is it amazing. I hiked the Slot Canyon Trail, all the way to the top, and it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The trail takes you over rocks, under trees and through canyons and when you get to the top the view is made of magic. If you only hike once in the Santa Fe area, hike at Tent Rocks. It’s magnificent.

After the hike, I headed back into Santa Fe, to Second Street Brewery, for a beer and some tacos. Then, I went to Meow Wolf, for a non-National Park adventure. Meow Wolf is an interactive art experience, with more than 70 rooms, each designed by a different artist. It is strange and mesmerizing and magical.

I stopped by the local natural food chain – Sprouts – for some road snacks and then had dinner at Fire & Hops – pork belly tacos and a kale salad – before heading back to the llama farm.

Six Days of National Parking in New Mexico || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 3. PECOS NATIONAL MONUMENT & FORT UNION NATIONAL MONUMENT

I inevitably woke up at dawn, still stuck on East Coast time, grabbed some road snacks and set out for park #2,  Pecos National Historical Park. Next, I headed to Las Vegas – the New Mexico one – where Theodore Roosevelt recruited 40% of his roughriders. I lunched at the Plaza Hotel, where those very same roughriders had their first reunion, and then I scampered further east to Fort Union National Monument, my third National Park of the trip. Fort Union is a little eerie and sort of weird, but I liked it. I spotted some pronghorn antelope on the way out, stopped my car in the middle of the empty road and talked to myself about the insanity of life, New Mexico and seeing a herd of pronghorn antelope in real life.

For dinner, I went to The Ranch House where I devoured a whole pile of BBQ and then spent 45 minutes talking to the bartender and another couple about what to see, do and eat in the area. The couple came from Virginia and their enthusiasm for New Mexico was infectious.

Six Days of National Parking in New Mexico || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 4. VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE & BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

I woke up early again, and set out for Valles Caldera National Preserve, determined to get one of the park’s 35 backcountry vehicle passes. If I did this trip again, I’d spend the whole day here, hiking and exploring more of the park. Instead, I spent the morning at Valles Caldera, lunched in Los Alamos, had at beer at Bathtub Row Brewing, then headed to Bandelier National Monument.

These parks were probably my favorites – along with Tent Rocks – and there’s a lot to see and do at both. They’re close to one another and both deserve a full day of National Park adventure time.

Six Days of National Parking in New Mexico || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 5. BACK TO BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT & SANTA FE

I went back to Bandelier for an early morning hike on the Tsankawi Trail, which I had entirely to myself. If I did this trip again, I’d spend the whole day at Bandelier, exploring the Main Loop Trail, the Tsankawi Trail and one or two of the other park’s trails. Instead, I went to explore Santa Fe, where I mostly just ate food, marveled at the miraculous staircase at Loretto Chapel and shopped. After four days in the wilderness, being in a town, with people, was a bit much. Santa Fe was great, for sure, and filled with more delicious food than I could eat, but I’m a forest creature and being in the city made me miss the forest.

I spent the rest of the day at the travel trailer, skipping the nice dinner I’d planned for myself and eating in instead, watching the sunset at the llama farm.

Six Days of National Parking in New Mexico || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 6: LLAMA FEEDING, SNACKS & ALBUQUERQUE BREWERIES

I spent my last morning being lazy then took the Turquoise Trail back to Albuquerque, stopping at San Marcos Cafe & Feed Store for breakfast.

In Albuquerque, I lunched at Bosque Brewing Company, where I had one of my favorite beers of the trip (and some more tacos), and then, on a recommendation from both the dude sitting next to me at the bar and the bartender, I went to La Cumbre Brewing Company for a beer flight and then that was it. I headed to the airport, turned in my rental car, and scampered my way home.

When I tell people I went to New Mexico and I loved it, people have the tendency to say things like, “I couldn’t live without trees,” or, “I don’t know if I could live in the desert.” But, you guys, New Mexico is next to Colorado. At one point, standing at a beautiful and perfect lookout near Bandelier, I could see Colorado. It was more than 100 miles away, but still. I could see it, and also, a whole bunch of trees.

So, really, there are trees in New Mexico, and while there are definitely deserts, there are also forests and mountains and rivers and insane beauty pretty much everywhere. So go to New Mexico, you guys. They call it the Land of Enchantment because it’s fucking enchanting.

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