New Mexico was an unexpected assignment. It wasn’t a place that crossed my mind as one I’d ever live in but it was home for nearly four years. Brian & I tried to make the best of our time there. Although Covid caused a kink in those adventures we weren’t expecting to leave the southwest anytime soon so we weren’t in any hurry to get back out there.
Just as unexpectedly as the world going into lockdown, I found out I was pregnant. Rost was a couple of weeks old and it was one of those all hands on deck at three a.m. with a crying infant kind of nights. Brian & I had just gotten our little nugget to fall asleep and we were trying to catch a few moments alone with each other before we both passed back out ourselves. We knew we didn’t want to raise our child in New Mexico but it was in that moment of exhaustion that Brian asked if I wanted to pick up and move back home to Montana. The sentence wasn’t even fully out of his lips before I quietly yelled YES! Thankfully, my excitement did not wake Rost back up. Over the next few days, we worked out what would need to happen in order for us to move home: my job would need to agree to my working remotely full time, and Brian would need to find a new job since he was tied to Albuquerque, we would need to work out housing in Montana amidst a housing crisis in Montana, sell our home in Albuquerque, and so the list went on. We figured all this would take roughly six months to a year to work out. It didn’t matter, we weren’t in a hurry. However, the actual timeline took less than two months to complete and before we knew it we were packing up our lives in the southwest and returning home to Northwestern Montana.
If you’re wondering, Bucket is still the queen of long road trips.
My dear, sweet boy. A month has already gone by and I cannot begin to describe what this month has been like. I hope that someday I will have the words to tell you all about this time, but for now, please accept this photo diary in their absence.
No one ever mentioned it… In the whole nine months it took to create this beautiful little human, not one person said, “You’re about to meet someone entirely new, and it’s not going to be your baby, it’s going to be you.”
Brian & I left the hospital a few days after Rost entered the world. We were both grateful to see my parents – both retired – waiting for us in our kitchen when we walked in from the garage. My mom is a retired pediatric nurse, so her presence was greatly appreciated because no amount of hours preparing for Rost’s arrival would come close to what we needed to get through our first week as a family of 3. We’ve survived week one thanks to the assistance of those who have traveled this path before us, so without further ado, please allow me to overflow your eyes with pictures of Rost from his first week on planet earth.
Another trip around the sun means another adventure for this slightly older gal.
Originally I had planned a blitz trip to the warm waters of Mexico for a swim with some whale sharks in their summer feeding grounds. Like just about everything else this year, those plans had to be altered thanks to the still present Covid-19 coronavirus. So, when I knew my original plans were going to be a no go, it was time to come up with a Covid-friendly alternative.
Enter Plan B: Tracking dinosaurs. Well, dinosaur tracking, er, tracks.
While well known locations such as Dinosaur Nation Monument exist within an easy drive, I was trying to respect local Covid-19 restrictions & stay within the borders of New Mexico. I’d heard you could stumble upon tracks out in the desert, or even bones if you were lucky enough, but I was hoping for something a little more predictable than an Israelite walkabout. Enter, Clayton Lake State Park.
And since I was going to have to take the entire day off to make it up there in time, why not make an adventure out of it. So I woke up early, threw my camera bag in the truck & hit the highway. I turned North on I-25, out of Albuquerque, and headed towards the Colorado border. Just over three hours later I arrived in Raton, a mere 10 miles from the state line, and turned east onto State Road 72 – a 36 mile stretch of windy country road that traverses the top of Johnson Mesa.
At the end of the road, in the tiny town of Folsom, I took a five minute tour through the two streets that compromise the whole town before heading south to Capulin Volcano National Monument.
Here I chit chatted with a park ranger about cross country motorcycling, picked up my annual park pass, then headed up the road to the summit of Capulin Volcano. At the top I ran into to young men standing in front of their vehicle. Hood up and clearly in distress, I hopped out of my truck & made a beeline towards them. I asked if they needed help and was immediatly dismissed for being a woman who most likely ‘knew nothing about vehicles or what it was like to be stranded a couple of hours away from home.’ Despite the immediate write off I offered them the only advice I could offer their poor attitudes, “Boys,” I said, “try and enjoy where you are while you’re here because bad days make for some really interesting stories.” With that being said I took my woman self and removed myself from the situation.
The smoke was thick from several local & regional fires – making for beautiful layers to my photography, but difficult to hike in. (Yes ma, I have been trying to get into a GP to get a Rx for my inhaler, but have been unsuccessful in landing one in network thus far) I took my time traversing the Crater Rim trail, stopping to enjoy the beautiful scenes both near and far along the way.
When I arrived at the entrance to Clayton Lake State Park I’d been on the road for somewhere near 8 hours, including stops and side tracks.
I was greeted with not only a closed gate but no trespassing signs posted all around. I’ll admit, I choked on a sob and held back a spring of tears that was welling up in the corners of my eyes. Outside my truck, I stood at the top of a cliff, overlooking the tiny lake and namesake to the park. From here, just a quester mile from my destination, I could see the short 1 mile loop trail I was originally destined to traverse. A gate I could, and most likely would, hop, but the no trespassing signs for this gal meant my journey ended here. My birthday had just been officially 2020’d.
Dejected, I crawled back into my truck and began the four and a half hour drive back to Albuquerque. Wanting to take an alternative route home, I headed south to I-40, then dead West to home. Along the way, when stopping for gas, along with getting myself locked into a closing gift shop, spotted the perfect lizard for the side of my humble adobe home. (Every house in our neighborhood seems to have at least one lizard hidden somewhere on its exterior. Except ours. I have been hunting for the perfect additon since I signed the closing papers) I’m calling this my win for the day.
A special thank you to all my friends and family for the calls, cards, texts, and gifts. Despite the otherwise seemingly regular birthday, I truly know how loved and lucky I am to celebrate such a day. Thank you. Xoxo.
Just a few miles up FS Road 376, in the Jemez Mountains sits two tunnels, carved out of rocks. The original purpose of these tunnels was to assist the former Santa Fe Northwestern Railroad safe passage through the canyon hauling lumber out of the heart of the Jemez.
This also happened to be the scene of Yago’s first off-leash adventure since he was adopted into the Bennett family. I do believe he enjoyed his first day of freedom.
Life has been a little hectic and more than a little stressful lately. Despite all that, we’ve been trying to carve out a little time to forget about the world and just have a good time. Date nights have included a few random road trips, bowling for a cause, professional bull riding, winning big at the casino, a magic show, and even a cat show.
Feel free to share your favorite date night ideas!
I celebrated the 33rd Anniversary of The Incident of 1986 in true Holly fashion – with a new adventure. This year’s adventure entailed a hot air balloon ride over the city of Albuquerque & the most delicious confetti cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes Albuquerque. If you have one of these Cakeries near you, do yourself a favor and get one.
One of my co-workers threw a lavish Old School Hollywood style wedding that Brian & I were lucky enough to be on the guest list. It was fun to get dressed up for the night & celebrate the love of two awesome people.