IMG_9894Easter Sunday we met up with Christa and her kids at Bandelier National Monument. It was a gorgeous, sunshiny day. The kids could hardly wait to get into these historic caves! I was excited too, but completely unprepared for how anxious I would feel with the kids climbing the steep ladders in and out of the caves and moving around inside them with open ledges to the outside!! I did my best to keep it in check, but definitely hovered more than the average mom!! None the less, it was gorgeous and fascinating to read about the native people who made their homes in cliff dwellings.

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Just some of the kids at the potluck

Earlier in the day Christa had sent out a message to her local friends inviting them over for a pot luck. Easter dinner was far from traditional but absolutely wonderful!! Four families, loads of kids, and another evening filled with laughter and great conversation. These people are cool…the kind of people we’d love to live near and hang out with. This is her tribe, and it’s a great one. This made it very hard to leave and very easy to imagine living there.

The next day we all met up and headed to the hot springs. I was looking forward to relaxing in a natural pool of hot water with these awesome people. Little did I know that getting to the hot springs would be an adventure of its own!!! It was a bit of a drive that was broken up with a stop to see Valles Caldera, the sunken volcano. This was an impressive sight, but what most excited my kids was the snow on the otherIMG_9906 side of the road. They hadn’t seen snow since we hightailed it to Florida at the end of January, so they were pretty excited! After reading the informational sign and taking some pictures, we continued on our way. We had one extra member in the car for this part of the trip because Christa had offered to Cake that she could hold Christa’s teeny tiny dog, Winky, in her lap for the remainder of the trip. Cake was delighted!!! She carried that dog like a baby, talking softly to him (which, if you’ve ever met Cake, you know is a miracle!!) until he fell asleep in her arms. Sooooooo sweet! Yes, I did take a hundred pictures of her holding the dog, and yes, I did temporarily have thoughts of getting a dog. I know, crazy!! What is New Mexico doing to my brain?!?

IMG_5201Once we arrived, our caravan of vehicles unloaded with endless children and one very loved dog. Then began the hike to the springs. First was a sign warning of the potentially harmful micro organisms that can be present in hot springs. Cue my anxiety, followed by teaching my oldest about what that meant! Thankfully, he is a scientist at heart and found this fascinating. He’s also cautious like his mother, so he was super careful to keep his head above water! A hike down and then up, along ledges that had my heart jumping, along barbed wire fences that had me continually warning my kids not to use it as a railing, led us to the springs – a larger, somewhat cooler pool on bottom and a cozier, warmer pool above. The kids were all quick to get in. Yay Yay and Cake really enjoyed it. Dooder was not such a fan. Even the warmer pool was not super warm, and in both of them, the rocks were pretty slimy. Dooder does not like slimy rocks! He and I stayed in for a little bit, and then hung out on some dry rocks for the rest of the visit. It was a beautiful spot on the mountain and a very cool experience, but it did not match the idea I had in my head of a hot spring – crystal clear, hot water rising up from beautiful (non-slimy) rock. Despite that, I am glad we went and experienced it with friends that are much more relaxed than this mama. Dooder and I had some sweet time alone together, Yay Yay and Cake had fun in the pools, and Yay Yay made a new friend that he has continued to keep in touch with. All in all, a pretty great day!

Back at the parking area, we said our final goodbyes to our new and old friends, as we would be moving on to Las Cruces in the morning. It was especially hard saying goodbye to Christa. She is one in a million, a rare gem, and a gift to those who know her. It is always hard to leave an area, knowing that there is so much more to explore, but none has been as hard to leave as Los Alamos. We may someday take them up on their offer for a commune in the canyon!