Saturday, August 27, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation

I didn't have any plans for the summer, and it's a good thing I didn't. Life happened and I've been busy traveling between SW Colorado, Northern New Mexico, and Southern Oklahoma. More about that. First, apologies to all the people I've neglected. Unreturned phone calls, unanswered emails, brief instant messages ... I have been terrible at keeping in touch. I was either busy as a one-armed wallpaper hanger, I was out of ATT's service area, or I was with other people.

Here's the story. I don't expect anyone to read it all the way through. Only my mother would do that.

When I returned from the Crazy Quilt Retreat at the end of June, I had just a couple of days before I took off for Durango, CO. The Las Conchas fire, the one that threatened Los Alamos, was burning when I drove from Albuquerque to Durango. See the two smoke plumes in the rear view mirror of my car?

Aunt Helen showing how tall the sunflowers are.
My favorite Aunt Helen wasn't feeling well, and she needed to me housesit and dogsit with her adorable dog Muffin because as soon as she felt well enough she wanted travel to Birmingham to see her sister, my Auntie Irene. Auntie Irene is in a place that cares for people with dementia. She's not doing so great. Despite this sad situation, Aunt Helen and I had a great time visiting, cooking, and just hanging out. She watches Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune every day, which is when we would have a beer and feed a few peanuts to Muffin, her adorable dog. I had time to work on my crazy quilt while we chatted, and finished up several blocks; I'll post more photos of the completed blocks.

Helen's backyard is a tiny work of art -- even the deer think so!


[Update: Last week the deer's fawns showed up in the yard, and Muffin got a little beat up by Mama Deer when she (Muffin) barked at the babies! As far as I know she is bruised and scared to death, but not seriously wounded.]

I was in Durango for five weeks, and had time to visit with my son, Barry, who lives there. I enjoyed becoming better acquainted with Barry's girlfriend Shannon, who is smart, beautiful, fun, generous, kind -- everything a mother wants. I'd better shut up before I jinx it. Shannon's parents were in town for a few days and after meeting them it's easy to see how Shannon turned out to be so special.

The weather in Durango was wonderful. A little hot during the day, but cool at night. The weather in Oklahoma during that time was brutally hot and I was grateful to be in the mountains.

Cloudy sky from Aunt Helen's garden.
At the end of my stay in Colorado, my son and I drove back to Oklahoma, where he spent two weeks helping around the "place". He and his Dad are working to make us more self-sufficient, and they installed a large drip irrigation system in the orchard. I didn't take any photos because it was too hot to go up to the garden.

We celebrated every day by having a pool party from about 5pm until about 10pm. We stayed cool, had a wonderful time with each other, and laughed our heads off. No photos because I was wet!

After two weeks, Barry needed to return to Durango to prepare for a mountain bike trip through Arizona (and he missed Shannon), so we drove him to Albuquerque on Sunday, August 21, where Shannon picked him up for the remaining four hour drive back to Durango.

Rather than immediately return home, Bruce and I meandered through Northern New Mexico. We spent a night in Santa Fe, a night in Taos, and took an indirect route home through Northeastern New Mexico. Bruce took me to Philmont Scout Ranch where he spent many summers as a Boy Scout. It is beautiful and I'd like to visit again. We stayed in an old hotel in Cimarron, NM called the St. James, where we found excellent food and tales of the gunslingers who stayed in the hotel while in the area robbing trains and banks. A fair number of them shot up the bar at the St. James while killing each other.

Adobe walls outside our room at La Posada.

St. Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe

Sculpture at La Posada.

Garden at La Posada.

El Santuario del Chimayo.

Crosses on tree at El Santuario del Chimayo.

Cimarron River.

Palisades at Cimarron River State Park, NM.

Bruce taking photos at Cimarron River.

Sunrise over Philmont Scout Ranch, NM.
We visited the Capulin National Monument, a dormant volcano, which has spectacular views from the top.

By Thursday, August 25, we decided that we'd go home. You know the feeling, you know your own bed will feel wonderful, but it's hard to say goodbye. Glad to be home!


  1. Loved the journey through New Mexico. How I miss it!

  2. Looks like you had a great summer Donna, great pics!

  3. Donna, it sounds like you had a most memorable summer with Aunt Helen, Barry (and Shannon) and Bruce. Who could blame you for not keeping in touch? LIFE with family is the highest priority, and it will be a summer you will always remember fondly. I enjoyed reading your every word; the pictures were gorgeous too! Hugs, Cathy

  4. It was fun to see what you were up to. Thanks for the report and the pictures!