Goodbye school, hello summer.

The semester ended with a BANG!

Carson graduated with his bachelor's degree in Economics and Law; the party followed. Friends, family, good food and beverage, and good times. I'm proud of Carson for what his hard work and academic efforts have earned him. And I think he's a handsome fella...

-photo courtesy of Pete Smithsuth

I said farewell to my job and apartment the next week, moved all my belongings back to my parents' house (and camped near Logan for a couple days), then promptly left for a week-long vacation.

Carson and I drove down to Canyonlands National Park, a place that feels more like backcountry than national park, but quite close to Moab, and complete with astounding gorges, canyons and panoramic views. We camped our first night near the entrance to the park in a place managed by the BLM, and while I appreciated having a toilet to use, it wasn't worth having people trotting by our tent throughout the night. I prefer being relatively alone in my surroundings. The dry air was warm and after taking a quick bike ride to catch the sunset...

From Summer Vacation

-Photos by Carson

we made our tent set-up minimal, stashing the rainfly in the jeep and choosing instead to gaze at stars through the mesh. The following morning after breaking down camp, we explored the park a bit more by driving, cycling a bit, and hiking to a nice viewpoint of Upheaval Dome, a massive formation potentially caused by salt beds or a meteorite.

From Summer Vacation

-Photos by Carson

From Summer Vacation

My feet, his feet, the dome, and our competitive race to the best Chaco tan. I took the lead months ago.

From Summer Vacation

After walking/cycling around Moab a bit, we stopped for a refresher at the Moab Brewery, refilled our water at a random store and headed back on the road toward New Mexico. We camped somewhere inside a National Forest in Colorado that night in a quiet (and free) spot alongside a river. A campfire, tasty food, and late night reading made it the most memorable night for me. In the morning, we hit Mesa Verde National Park and explored the Balcony House Cliff Dwelling. The nat'l park allows visitors within five cliff dwelling sites, and at the time of our visit three were open to the public-- two by tour, and one self guided, but because we were eager to get to New Mexico (and I wasn't feeling too well) we didn't visit much else up close and personal. We did get out and walk around an excavated Pit House, and also enjoyed stunning views of cliff dwellings from a distance.

I'm losing steam; this blog has been in edit form for a week now.

Anyhow, after Mesa Verde we made our way down to Angel Fire where we stayed with my aunts in their condo. It was nice to kick back, drink beer, eat food and have a conversation before retiring to a bed with sheets versus curling up in a sleeping bag on an air pad. While driving through northern NM we came upon Tierra Wools, a weaver/spinner/knitter owned shop (practically a co-op), in Los Ojos Mexico. I had read about this place before we left but pushed it out of my mind thinking it would not be along our route. We were late arriving by an hour so they were closed, but we creeped around the windows and I drooled over the beautiful rugs, wall hangings, and hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn. This drooling manner of mine over wool/spindles/yarn/etc was a common theme throughout the trip (it started at a yarn shop in Moab).

We explored Taos by bicycle on Saturday, and caught the tail end of the Farmer's Market in its debut of the season (met a lady selling angora wool and invited me to the shearing of her Alpacas), as well as a minimal bike swap. I was hoping to find panniers for my bicycle so I can get into multi-day touring but didn't have any luck. My general impression of Taos, while beautiful and eclectic, is mostly a struggling artist's collective. I appreciate northern NM's exquisite wool, knitted goods, weaving schools, etc, but after very little deliberation I knew I couldn't survive there ... unless I had a ranch house in the mountainous regions we drove through, plus a hefty heard of sheep and alpaca, plus a few chickens and cows for fun.

City to note, before I forget: Pagosa Springs, Colorado. This quaint ski town advertises the abundant snow in winter for skiing and boarding, fly-fishing, hiking, biking and golfing in the autumn fall, and kayaking, white-water rafting, and rock climbing in the summer time. The local hot springs have rich history with Ute indians, and this small town of less than 2,000 people offers a slower paced life for vacationers. And, they host a Fiber Festival every summer, this year's event coming up on May 30. I wish I could be there. Any friends want to plan a getaway together this fall? We could hike and bike...

This entry is too long for comfort. I'll wrap it up. We stayed in Santa Fe, NM for a night and explored the historic areas there, but our overall feeling is that we appreciate the great outdoors more than tourist city centers. The vacation was awesome.

PS. We made a quick drive through Arches National Park on our way home but didn't get to do any hiking because the sun was setting and we were in a hurry to get back. We'll be back there soon. I love Arches.


  1. I will be there (Pagosa Springs) anytime you wanna go. Sounds like my kind of town.

  2. i pretty much love everything about this post. and it really makes me crave a western adventure.

  3. It sounds like you guys had a great time. I also would like to go to Pagosa Springs. Thanks for sharing your adventures. Way to go Carson on graduating. He is handsome and it sounds like you guys are having a lot of fun together. Love ya Mandy!

  4. You are a very beautiful couple! I have been thinking the last few interactions I've had with you, you seem really happy- so that must mean he is good to you! You deserve that!!


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