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.