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Westward! Ho, Ho, Ho!

When I had a miscarriage this past summer, it occurred to both Ian and me just how much we take our luxuries in life for granted. Though a saddening and difficult experience, the miscarriage provided us a chance to evaluate how we were leading our lives. With a baby on the way, I was resigned to stay at a stressful job for a full-year longer than originally planned. But all of the sudden, I didn’t have the excuse to postpone my career goals; by August, I had finally gotten a job as a psychotherapist at a community outpatient clinic and found my life brimming with unexpected potential.

Similarly, Ian and I had talked about taking a trip back to Santa Fe and the luxurious Ten Thousand Waves as something to do in a few years. Realizing that parenthood had promised to be a very significant change to our travel and financial flexibility, we took Baby Beta’s loss as a sign that we needed to do more together now, not later. As a result, this December for our Christmas present to each other, Ian and I took a road trip out to Santa Fe, NM and spent a full week creating a vacation to remember.

On the road again

I don’t know about you, but I love road trips. Although modern interstates and turnpikes have changed the on-road experience from those described by John Steinbeck and Jack Kerouac to one of almost non-stop driving and non-existent local interaction, there’s still a wonderful appeal to watching the trees, earth, sky, road signs, license plates and speed limits change as you whiz past. You also get to see those things that almost never change– Cracker Barrel anyone?

New Mexico 104The only challenge with a road trip that takes you almost completely across the country is having to balance time, money, and actual leisurely enjoyment. I had planned a killer itinerary for the trip out there, wanting to get to Santa Fe as quickly as we possibly could. Note to self: anything more than 10 or 12 hours of driving is likely not going to happen. Our anticipated two day trip out west turned out to be about three days; but the pay-off was worth it. The time we would have spent overextending ourselves driving through New Mexico in the darkness to meet our scheduled arrival was instead traded for a day of ogling half-frosted juniper, ocotillo, and mesquite; driving over cloud-covered hills; exploring abandoned gas stations; and eating a very tasty lunch at La Cita’s. We almost got to go to a dinosaur museum also, but we had arrived on a day when they were closed. It was on this third day, when Ian changed our driving course and we stopped pushing ourselves to be at point A by time B, that we finally were able to fully enjoy our road trip properly. Again, we find that our hopes and seemingly best laid plans’ failures are actually to our greater benefit.

Bringing out the best in all of us

Ian at Ten Thousand Waves Upon arrival in Santa Fe we stayed at the International Youth Hostel. Quite a place. Staying in hotels is nice. You don’t have to make the bed or clean the toilets and the soap is wrapped in waxy paper. Most hostels (in the U.S.) attempt to emulate that model but this one is quite different. When you stay in a hotel there are about a hundred other people from all walks of life mere feet from you but you will never meet them. It’s a closed-off system– you stay in your room, I’ll stay in mine, see you in the elevator. At the IYH in Santa Fe, you’re forced to share a (very large, fully-equipped) kitchen and common area with all the guests. You meet people from all over the world, share stories, food, booze and become part of their memories. Ian spent the evening playing drinking games with an Aussie, a girl from France and a girl from Germany. He took on more than his 30 year old body could handle at 6,000 feet above sea level and spent a while regurgitating the fun while naked in the common bathroom. See? Memories.

As one of the shopkeepers said, “Santa Fe brings out the best in all of us”. Ian and I would argue that Ten Thousand Waves brings out the best in Santa Fe. Snowy paths speckled with evergreen trees, steamy hot Japanese-style baths during a snow fall, serene moments of beauty, stylish digs, and an excuse to run around in a bathrobe all day long: Ten Thousand Waves proved to be the oasis Ian and I had imagined for the past six months and better. We stayed in the Silver Moon for a night before the pipes froze; the apologetic staff upgraded us to Full Moon for our last night with its fireplace, full kitchen, and more Buddha chocolates. What a way to spend a vacation!

Coming home

Jane and MeWe stopped off on our way home in Dallas to hang with my college friends Kate and Jory; though Jory had to leave town for job interviews, Ian and I hung out with Kate and their daughter Jane. I love hanging out with any kid at two years old, so I do not think I can accurately describe the visit beyond running down halls, avoiding ticklish fingers, laughing a great deal, and being well cared for by Kate. I get sappy about anything I do with kids as they are bundles of hilarity and emotion; I will spare you all the stories that only really interest me.

To be honest, I cannot remember much about the trip back. It was almost as though the entirety of our time in Santa Fe and Dallas had guaranteed that I would be happy no matter what happened on the way home. And I suppose that is exactly what a vacation is supposed to do–create immense feelings of enjoyment and contentment to spill over into our regular, drab, everyday life. With that in mind, I am going to go pretend I am sitting in a Japanese bath or a sauna and forget that I have so many holiday obligations to fill today.

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