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We came back from New Mexico last Thursday.  The plane was slightly late getting off the ground, but we were only fifteen minutes’ behind upon landing.  It was one of the more pleasant plane trips I’ve had—as uneventful as one could hope for.  My sprained ankle is almost healed, but it wasn’t when we flew out, and the cramped space between seat rows meant I had to keep my feet rigid for almost two hours, which played havoc with my ankle.  On the return flight I managed to get a seat in the emergency exit row, which is more spacious, so I could stretch my legs.  Helped a lot.  I still can’t walk normally down steps, but I’m not hobbling anymore.  I even went to the gym yesterday.

The week before leaving for vacation, we had a foot of snow on the ground.  Walking the dog, I slipped. This time, it caused damage—a seriously twisted left ankle.  Damn thing swelled up to twice its normal size, I couldn’t bend it, I really did think (briefly) I’d broken it.  But it’s healing fast.  The bad luck really annoyed me.  I joked that I would be pretty much healed by the time our vacation was over.  Actually, I was doing fine during the trip.

We stayed in a casita (little house) on the south end of Madrid, NM.  Madrid is a strip of town along highway 14, just south of Santa Fe, speed limit 20 mph all the way through.  The speed limit is not a tourist trap.  Many dogs wander loose around the town, as do the locals.  They’re good dogs, every one of them friendly and used to a lot of strangers, but the road curves and it would be easy to hit one.  Or three.  It would be easy to hit one of the locals, too, colorful as they are.  Madrid has a cinematic claim to fame—it is featured in the recent film Wild Hogs, with John Travolta, Tim Allen, etc., and the town has embraced it in the form of t-shirts and coffee mugs and fading posters.  I’ve never seen the film.  From what I gather, the inhabitants are ambivalent, except for the increase in tourism it brought, and Madrid is one of those places that needs tourists.  The main strip is almost entirely galleries and craft shops.  There is actually some fine art to be found here, stuff I would actually spend coin on.

It’s surrounded by New Mexico hinterland—ranches, mainly, flat land that gives way to hilly land that is confined by low mountains.  Beautiful.  Our friend Terry lives on a place called the Horse Shelter, which has a web site.  I’ve known Terry for more than 30 years and have watched her drift from one profession to another, each one done with a care and professionalism I admire, none of which held her for a variety of reasons, until now, far from where she began, she has decided to work with horses for the rest of her life.  She seems to do it well—the animals like her.

This is our second trip to New Mexico.  I remarked the last time that I thought I understood why so many science fiction writers seemed to live there—the place looks like Mars in places.  But this time, we drove southeast, to Roswell, through Lincoln County, which is wholly not Mars-like.  Then we headed north toward Taos and, in a completely different way, it also is not Martian.

We didn’t get to Taos.  Heading up 285, well north of Abuqiuy, we encounter department of transportation trucks blocking the highway.  Six feet of snow above us.  We had to turn back.  We never made it to Taos, but the drive was still wonderful.

I am still, despite my antipathy, a photographer.  If I get a few good images from a trip, I feel it was a success.  Because of my ankle, hiking in the wilderness was pretty much out of the question, but I still shot a lot of film, and there are places in New Mexico that ridiculously photogenic.  I may post a few new pieces in the Art section, where you can see other shots from our first New Mexico trip.

The chief problem with this vacation is the chief problem of all vacations—too short.  To do all we hoped to do, at least three more days would have been required.  And then, of course, we would find other things to tack on that we’d have to do.  All of which ends up giving a reason to go back again.

But for now, here I am, on a Monday.  I have another chapter to rewrite, another book to read for review, and I have to go in to my day job.  Donna has already left for work (she threatened to go in over this past weekend, but decided not to) and I have to get dressed to walk the dog.  There is no snow on the ground now, so I won’t slip on ice and injure something else.  But the mornings seem so short anymore.

It really is time to write that bestseller and get on with another vacation.

Published by Mark Tiedemann