Sunday, December 2, 2012

November 2012

With fall quickly coming to an end, we experienced our first snowfall in over two years this November. It was beautiful and we only wish that the fluffy white stuff would have stayed around a little longer. Chris took advantage of the empty streets and went for a long run, I stayed home and baked. It was wonderful. That night Gallup hosted its monthly Arts Crawl and so we braved the cold to check out the work of some local artists. There weren't many people out, which was a shame, because as always there were some incredible pieces out on display.

The rest of the month progressed quickly, as all of them seem to do these days. The only difference was that with the celebration of Thanksgiving, we had a week off from school (both as teachers and as students). It was a chance to get caught up on a lot of work and we were able to squeeze in a little relaxing as well!

The Friday evening before Thanksgiving we treated ourselves to a weekend (overnight) away. About an hour southeast of us lays the town of Ramah, home to El Morro National Monument and more importantly, El Morro Cafe and Cabins. We took advantage of their $100 dinner and cabin special and enjoyed an incredible meal of sesame seed encrusted tuna, mango chutney, stuffed winter squash, and homemade rice pilaf as well as a night in one of the cozy cabins. It was some of the most delicious food that we have eaten in a while. The owner is a wonderful man that shared with us the private trails that climb the mesa behind the cabins and so we got up early the next morning and enjoyed a nice hike before breakfast. 

The trail was still snowy in places and we passed by a 1500 year old Alligator Juniper tree. The trail ended at an old fire tower that was once run by the National Forest Service. We climbed to the top and enjoyed a mountain view in the distance. On our way back for breakfast we explored rocky outcroppings that gave an unobstructed view of New Mexico's natural beauty. With cold feet and rumbling stomachs we returned to the cafe for more wonderful food before heading to El Malpais National Monument, about 15 miles further east.

1500 year old Alligator Juniper

A close up of the Alligator Juniper's bark

"Visitors are requested not to climb" - Oops!

The rock outcropping that we explored the top of
The monument is a vast spread of land that protects the natural beauty that was left after several volcanic explosions thousands of years ago. There are different types of lava flow and numerous caves. While the caves are currently closed due to White Nose Syndrome, we were able to enjoy the trails and check out one of the volcanic cinder cones. Our hike took us to El Calderon, which is believed to have formed 115,000 years ago. Today the cone contains a small forest, but you can imagine what it may have looked like in its active days. We left the cone, sliding down red cinders until we returned to our trail back to the car. It was a wonderful experience and we cannot wait until we have time to go back and explore the area further.
Our red cinder path
The rest of our break, as I mentioned, was mostly filled with work. We took a break on Thanksgiving and ran a turkey trot to help raise funds for the local shelter, Care 66. The race followed a short loop through downtown (three times) and returned to the shelter where we were served fruit and hot chocolate. We waited for our limbs to thaw and then Chris received his first place ribbon. We came home and spent the day relaxing and eating, not turkey but stuffed portabello sandwiches. They were pretty amazing - who says you need to eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

And now we find ourselves in the month of December and only three weeks remaining until Christmas. 2012 is winding down quickly and we are still unsure as to where the year has gone. Just over six months ago we were sweating away in Costa Rica and now we are preparing for the winter chill that will engulf Gallup through March or April.

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