Last week I had a family reunion to attend in Durango, Colorado. I flew in to Albuquerque, New Mexico (I kept wanting to call it ALBAQUIRKY, but figured nobody but me would think that was funny). I didn't have a whole lot of time or money, but I rented a car and drove around a bit in New Mexico before heading up to Colorado.
I am pretty much a nervous traveler -- I hate flying, and I think I am easily over-stimulated. Dork! But I have to admit that it was so exciting to see ALL NEW THINGS and ALL NEW PLACES. Kind of over-stimulating and maybe a tiny bit overwhelming, but not really in a bad way. It was good to just soak in new sites. Really good. While driving and wandering around I saw so many hilarious signs -- I ended up pulling over fairly often to take pictures [sorry for the photo onslaught posted here, on Instagram, on Twitter, on Tumblr, and on Facebook. Hello overkill/overshare!].
New Mexico was beautiful. Just gorgeous. I wouldn't recommend hanging out there in the summer -- it was SCORCHING hot. The hottest day topped out at 114 degrees. Uggggghhhhh. But the scenery and rock formations were lovely. Just incredible. People were very nice and friendly, and I got the feeling that they they relied heavily on tourists. I saw many Native Americans, which was strange. To oversimplify a complex situation, they and their ancestors sure got a raw deal in life, and I don't know how much their lot in life has improved. I felt bad when shopping in trading posts that were selling Native American trinkets, jewelry and souveniers to tourists -- it seemed like their history and culture were pretty much relegated to a "kitsch" thing that could be bought on the cheap. But if it pays their bills, I guess it is sort of okay? I guess? If others are involved in and care about their past and about supporting their present, does that make it a little less bad? I don't know.
I saw many homeless/down-and-out Native Americans. Several approached me and asked for money. I didn't really know what to do. I think I might have been seen as an easy mark -- single white chick traveling on her own -- and that made things a little awkward. I felt a little tiny bit vulnerable as I was alone in unfamiliar surroundings. At one point I was in my rental car when two homeless looking dudes came up -- one on each side of the car -- both rapping on the windows asking for money. It was rather intimidating, particularly since I was in a rental car and I wasn't all that familiar with how to lock the stupid doors. Maybe that was what I deserved for hanging out alone in a sketchy area away from all of the tourist action. Needless to say, that particular incident was my sign to high-tail it out of there. Nothing bad happened, but there was no sense in waiting around for something bad TO happen.
Colorado was also beautiful (but also ridiculously hot and humid). SO MANY TREES. Glorious long, winding roads. SO MANY MOUNTAINS. Endless, easy driving with no traffic. It was amazing. Just beautiful. I had a notion that Colorado would be progressive and "civilized", but there was still more than a touch of country hick there. I stayed in one hotel that did not have a computerized system. ?! When I told them I had made a reservation on-line, they looked through a stack of papers to find it. And then they handed me a REAL KEY to my room and told me it would be $35 to replace the key if I lost it. Ha. But ultimately I thought Colorado was charming. Mind you, I was only there for two days, but it was nice. Really, really nice.
It was good to see family at the reunion. It was strange and a little sad to see how some had aged so much, and fun to see new little ones that had cropped up. It was a tiny bit heart-wrenching to think of those that were no longer with us. But all in all it was great. Everyone seemed well-behaved and happy to get together, and it made me laugh that the majority didn't follow the requested dress code for the big family picture. Note: I think everyone in my family is bossy and stubborn, which can be rather annoying and rather entertaining.
Do YOU have any fun summer vacations planned? I think I have decided that spring and fall travel is preferable to summer travel, but I guess any vacation is good at just about any time. :)