Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Unexpected Abiqui

Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Eat, Pray, Love, touched a part of all of us that longs for deeper experiences and adventures.
We started ours camping at Abiqui Lake in really rural Northern New Mexico.  We found this place, as such places are often found, by complete accident.  We're pulling our 12 foot vintage travel trailer and needed a place to camp near a monastery that we would be visiting in the morning.    Over the next three days I would be dragging my family through some of the most beautiful, unusual...and sacred (?) destinations Northern New Mex has to offer.  This wasn't how my trip was originally planned, but as I researched my original area of intention, other areas started rising from the landscape of red cliffs, seas of sage brush, mystery and legend.  They were all so compelling to me, so close to each other and the opportunity for more travel before winter socked us into our little mountain village seemed so remote, I wanted to see them all and after checking mapquest and figuring out routes it even seemed least to me.  My husband, Darren, would need a little more convincing.
Fortunately for me, I had an ace up my sleeve.  I had just spent the better part of a month entertaining Darren's family.  They're great people and I'm growing quite fond of them, but still, a month?  He owed me big.
And he knew it well enough that he agreed to be primary caregiver to our rambunctious two-year-old on this adventure, leaving me free to play writer/researcher.
All of these places have a certain amount of spiritual significance, some more than others and some more to others than to some.  Our destinations included:  Christ of the Desert Monastery, a benedictine Monastery with a modern penchant for going green for ecological as well as savy economical reasons; Ojo Caliente, where the Hot Springs heal the tired and weary adn the resort offers yoga and archeologically guided hikes through ruins of ancient pueblos; Chimayo, steeped in legend, mystery and the magical side of Catholicism that believes in miracles; and El Rito, a rock climbing haven that draws climbers from all over the world, some of them with their own strange magical realism spirituality.
But for now--we are camping at Abiqui Lake, on a small bluff overlooking the lake and the Chama valley, near the Georgia O'Keefe Ghost Ranch, in full view of the flat top mountain featured so prominently in much of her work.  Her home wasn't too far from here, though the lake wasn't here at the time.  I think she would have liked it, but I wonder how it would have effected her work and how prominently it would have figured into her interpretation of the desert.  On second thought, maybe she wouldn't have liked it.
The Lake is rimmed with rock cliffs and spoked with rocky side canyons, some making for private pool areas like the one my family and I swam naked while the sunset.  "Nila get tummy wet?"  Across the valley, higher cliffs can be seen, red, beige, pink, off in the distance, but not so far that the red beige cliffs didn't display spectacular details in the shadows.  Those rocky layers that always remind me of temples somehow.

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