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My new goal in life is to move to El Pino Real.

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Jul. 7th, 2009 | 10:02 pm
mood: restlessrestless
music: Erykah Badu - Cleva | Powered by Last.fm

You know it's true because I even put it on my LJ profile.

I returned from New Mexico yesterday, and oh my was that a crazy trip. Here are a few photos and many words about it.


My mom was one of the organizers of a large family reunion scheduled for the July 4th weekend, so I decided to fly to New Mexico to attend. I usually go back to visit once every summer anyway, so this was a good opportunity to do that. I am saving my funds for my upcoming move, so my parents agreed to pay for my airline ticket. Sadly that meant flying on Southwest, but I survived okay. On Thursday morning Chadd drove me to the airport and I figured out the line situation, fought for a seat, and flew RDU-DEN-ABQ. Mom, Dad, and Earl picked me up and we then rendevoused with Brian and Susannah to hand off a tent and canopy for the reunion. It was being held at the ranch started by my great-great grandparents, but the cabins wouldn't hold everyone, so most of us were to be camping. From there, we attempted dinner at Tomasita's in Santa Fe but the wait was ridiculous and we ended up at Outback. Good steak, though.

We packed up on Friday and got to Pecos relatively early, but it was raining so we had to wait it out or risk getting stuck on very muddy roads. We made a home base at El Arbolito, talked to Jamie and doted on her sick dog, then went out for lunch. I had fabulous huevos rancheros, Dad got menudo, and we watched kids play video games very loudly in the dining room. By then, the rain had stopped, so we made the trek up the mountain to the ranch. Despite spending many childhood weekends there, I had not visited since 1997, as far as I remember, so it was kind of a big deal. We spent that day setting up canopies and an altar for the weekend's festivities at Uncle Isidoro's cabin, gossiping with second cousins, grilling burgers, and drinking beer around a campfire. I slept surprisingly well considering I was in a tent and it the low temp was probably somewhere in the 40s.

Road to the cabin

A bit of history about the place is in order. El Pino Real was started on land that my family settled on way over 100 years ago, and my great-great grandparents began a sheep ranch and also grew most of their own vegetables there. Over the years, the 160 acres also had goats, and my family produced and sold goat cheese! Today, there are several cabins on the land (one of which used to be La Casita de los Quesos, where the goat cheese was made and stored) that were built by my grandparents and some of my grandmother's siblings, though there are no fences separating our various tracts. The family still maintains the land, roads, and fences, and cobbles together the funds to pay the property taxes each year. It was mentioned many times over the course of the weekend that the younger generations were absolutely expected to continue doing so. My parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins use the cabin my grandparents built as a summer getaway and a hunting cabin in the fall, too. It is nearly impossible to reach the place in the winter, so I can't imagine what it was like when folks lived up there year round. Also, there is no electricity and no running water to this day; we do, however, bring a generator and string up some lights on most visits. And my mom would kill me if she knew I was writing this, but she totally brought her curling iron and did her hair while standing over the generator. :]

Dad setting up the campsite

Saturday was another early morning, wherein we made fruit salad for the reunion, dressed in our identical red T-shirts (one color designated for each branch of the family), and headed down the road for the ceremony. Auntie Martha had convinced a priest who had worked with my mom and aunts at the Pecos Monastery almost forty years ago to return and have an almost-Mass for the occasion. We gathered with about 130 folks, prayed a rosary and heard all about various relatives that died over the years, and then heard every family introduce its members. I knew most of the folks present but hadn't seen a lot of them since I was a kid, so that was tons of fun. Also, going for a master's degree really doesn't have as much cache with them as I thought, at least not everyone there, and I ought to remember that. Yay humility! After the ceremony, we dug in to a huge spread of food, including beef brisket, goat, and turkey that had been cooked underground, plus the usual enchiladas, beans, tortillas, pasta salads, and desserts. We got in about 2 hours of visiting and eating before another round of rain came and we retreated back to our cabin.

The rest of that day was spent catching up with my cousins and drinking way too much. In fact, we ran out of beer around 8:30 p.m. and decided that the occasion called for more drinking and thus sending someone sober down to town to get two 30-packs of Budweiser. Geez. Still, I enjoyed just soaking up the environment and trying to keep my kid cousins from burning themselves while roasting marshmallows. I think I have made my peace with the fact that we are an imperfect redneck family, lol. I woke up on Sunday with quite a hangover and was headed to the outhouse with the intention of sleeping for a few more hours afterward when the thunder started up again, and Dad was concerned that his truck with the camper on it would get stuck in the mud if he didn't leave before another rain came. So we feverishly packed up what we didn't need and he drove it down the slope a ways and walked back. In the meantime, I drank water and cleaned up the porch area with Jamie and Debbie and Uncle Edwin and Earl, and then everyone set about preparing breakfast for 30. It takes hours, especially when the first step is chopping wood for the woodstove, but it was definitely worth the trouble. Following that, I took a walk around the property so as to avoid getting cabin fever (it is not a large cabin, and there was too much activity going on) and really cement the idea that I want to contribute to keeping up this place when called upon to do so.

Drinking out the back of a pickup truck playing country

We left around 11:00 a.m., one of the first times I'd looked at a clock all weekend, and it took way too long to get back to town because the four-wheel drive wouldn't disengage and we had to drive slowly even on the perfectly even parts of the road. Most of the family followed not long after, and we then hit the road for Vegasville. Once back home, we had a few hours to unpack and relax a bit, and I caught up on news about Sarah Palin and Iran. I made lunch with some of our leftover camp food (a Spam sandwich and Fritos with bean dip, haha) and chilled, then repacked my stuff so Mom, Earl and I could head out for Albuquerque. We stayed that night in a hotel by the airport, having a long and leisurely dinner at the Village Inn down the street. I eat too much. Sleep was spotty that night, as the room was too hot, but I still managed to be up at 6:30 for breakfast and to get to the airport. The return route was ABQ-MCI-BNA-RDU and I arrived about 45 minutes late, a fitting summation to a chaotic visit. Also, bohemi_ohev and her sister were on my BNA-RDU flight! I'm inviting her to my going away party. Anyhow, Chadd picked me up from the airport, fed me dinner, and let me use his washer and dryer to clean my smoky clothes, and all of that made me very happy! Now I am done with visiting until Thanksgiving; it may take until late November for me to recover.

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Comments {2}


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from: kishenehn
date: Jul. 8th, 2009 12:41 pm (UTC)

WAY prettier than Michigan, you know. :-p

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(no subject)

from: silverthief2
date: Jul. 8th, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC)

I know! Michigan could use some mountains.

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