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Confused outside Cuba

March 26, 2008

Graysen considers his grandmother’s warning to NOT take a flying leap off a cliff, but rather enjoy exploring the Rio Puerco fossil beds….

“Watch it, Bub, or you’ll wake up confused in Cuba.”
With this warning, issued to Soren by Mira, the kids divide into factions. It’s the blondies (Mira and Graysen) versus the redheads (Soren and Chiara) over a tailgate lunch in the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens parking lot. The kids trade challenges apropos of nothing and we laugh over barbecue, bemoaning the glaring lack of napkins and cutlery thanks to my cooler-packing ineptitude. As we eat I muse about our weekend tradition. We have long enjoyed these outings for the fresh air and perspective they lend us. Getting away for an “expotition,” to borrow from Pooh, helps us wend our way more cheerfully into Monday. Plus, we get to more deeply experience the randomness that is life with kids. One memorable Saturday saw us climbing a mesa, over scree and through scrub, with Chiara playing the part of five-year-old fashion queen. She topped the mesa to scope out rock art in a dress, tights, patent-leather shoes, and her very favorite hobby horse with the glittery reins.
But the kids aren’t the only ones keeping things surreal. On our most recent day trip to a favorite set of slot canyons up near the Rio Chama (not to be confused with the steakhouse) I ended up wanting to bludgeon something when I discovered that I had forgotten to bring my hiking boots. A three mile hike in flip-flops wasn’t really my idea of fun – especially when I had to carry Graysen, who fell asleep on my back during the last half mile – but it didn’t ruin the day. There is something more elemental about traversing slickrock barefoot anyway.
Most recently, all our well-laid plans were laid waste by my decided lack of any apparent navigational or direction-following skills. Just this past weekend we decided to take advantage of a window of good weather and head out to the Rio Puerco. This stunning landscape is home to a prehistoric fossil bed, a mesa-top Chacoan outlier site, and the vintage ghost town of Guadalupe. I’d visited the previous June but, as is my habit, paid little attention to the details that could get me back there once again. Mom did the driving and I think I read Ed Abbey essays to her along the way. This time, with all four kids and my husband, Chris, along for the journey, we had to take two cars. Mom and Chiara loaded up in her four-wheel drive and the rest of us piled into our blacktop-loving Mazda. Sadly, the beloved Moose – our ’85 Landcruiser – is out of commission. We crossed our fingers that the roads hadn’t washed out and left late in the day. Mom and Chiara went on ahead, promising to wait at the end of the road into the Rio Puerco valley, while we proceeded to pick up Soren from a friend’s and get gas and munchies. We figured we’d catch up with Mom but our stops took longer than we’d planned. Things were also a bit ambiguous about where Mom would wait and, for reasons I can’t now explain, I didn’t think we’d be able to see her from the highway. So we turned up the wrong road, after u-turning just a couple of short miles before the correct road. More than an hour and a few car parts later we pulled up behind Mom’s car, stunning her completely. We’d apparently taken a back road that Mom didn’t think even connected to the valley. Fortunately, it did. And after yanking the sagging skidplate off the bottom of the car we trekked out in the proper direction to enjoy the remaining hour and a half of daylight. Though we didn’t get to see the sunset from the top of the mesa, as we had hoped, an adventure was had nonetheless. That said, given my navigational disability, waking up confused in Cuba is plausible. With the New Mexico version just 29 miles past our fateful u-turn, Mira’s warning seems almost prophetic now.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 27, 2008 11:47 pm

    ≈ LoVe to you Ana June • You are a great photographer/mom/writer/designer & super friend ≈
    xox, Jennifer
    your friend & fan!

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