Oh Santa Fe, how I miss thee....

I have now left Santa Fe, NM and drove to the beautiful state of Wyoming. I am sitting right now in a coffee shop called Coal Creek in Laramie, WY. The reason why I drove here is because I am here visiting a friend who works at Solid Rock Outdoor Ministry. Laramie is a quaint town with friendly people, cowboy boots, and the Snowy Range Mountains surrounding the city. I like this town a lot. I have gone to the local climbing gym.. or I would call it a room in an apartment with a bouldering area. Tonight, I will be getting to eat steak at a local restaurant. I expect it will be amazing since I past so many cattle farms while driving here.

On Friday, I will be heading to Ouray, CO with a group of people to do some awesome ice climbing. I have never done it, but I am way psyched. It will be cold, but I hear there are some nice hot springs there too.

PS.  I am thinking about buying some cowboy boots while I am here.  Might as well while I am in cowboy country.


I was offered a job on Friday to work at a company called Alaska Crossings in Wrangell, AK and I accepted it.  I will be doing wilderness therapy on 49 day expeditions.  I will be doing backpacking, canoeing, and mountaineering, which will be awesome.  I am way psyched and feel this is going to be a great learning experience for me.  Staff training begins Feb. 1st so that means I will be in Richmond for most of Jan.  Check out the website for more info.

PS.  My birthday is tomorrow.  :-)
I came to Santa Fe in September for an internship and it has been an awesome experience.  I have been able to work with many unique populations, traveled throughout New Mexico, and met some awesome people.  I have loved the ocean blue skys, the mountains, the food, the unique cultures, and the laid back atmosphere of the Southwest.  I am sorry to say that even though I have loved Santa Fe and my job, I am going to be leaving Santa Fe in a little over a week.  There is not enough programming for me to stay and work at the mountain center after my internship.  My co-workers and my supervisors all want me to stay, and they have been trying to figure out a way for my to stay.  As of right now though, there it not a place for me.  I am overall very thankful for my experience in Santa Fe.  I feel that I have grown both personally an professtionally.

After Santa Fe, I am going to drive up to Larmie, WY to visit my friend Rachel.  Rachel and I worked together at Peak Experiences Climbing Center and she is now working up there at Solid Rock Outdoor Ministry.  After we spend a few days together, we will be going to Ouray, CO to try out some ice climbing.  I am interested to see how I do or if I even enjoy it.  I have never done it, so it should be an experience.  After that, I will be driving home and probably stopping in Denver after Ouray.  After I drive home, I will spend Christmas with my family and eat a bunch of Lebanese food.  After Christmas on December 28th, I will be flying to St. Louis, Missouri to attend a conference.

After all of that traveling, I will be around Richmond.  I will be working at Peak Experiences Climbing Center until I find another job elsewhere.  I will keep you posted on exactly where and what I will be doing.  I have been applying to different places and have been getting some call backs, which is an awesome blessing in this economy. 

Thanks for reading my blog.... 
One of the things I have learned more about from living in Santa Fe is something called chili. If I was in Virginia, people would think chili was “Chili Con Carne” or a stew with beans, meat, and ground red chili powder. Not in Santa Fe. Chili is the type of pepper that you like to have on your entrĂ©e. The two types you choose from are either Red or Green Chili and you can find chili at every restaurant in Santa Fe. I have had green chili in croissants, pizza, enchiladas, burgers, french fries, burritos, stews and bagels to name a few. I am partial to green, but others praise red chili. If you can't decide between red or green chili, you can tell the server that you would like Christmas. That means you want both red and green chili in your meal. Green chili is in season and many people buy the roasted green chili by the car load from vendors at the Farmer's Market and freeze them so that they have the chili all year round. I hope to bring some Green Chili back home to Richmond so that others can enjoy my new favorite fruit.

Here is a little surprise update.  I got two of my wisdom teeth out yesterday.  I started to feel pain in my left mouth, ear, and lymph nodes last Mon or Tues.  I was hoping that it would go away, but the pain got worse.  I finally decided that I needed to see a dentist in Santa Fe, instead of waiting until I was back in Richmond.  I went yesterday and they wanted to take out all four wisdom teeth.  Since I am by myself in Santa Fe, I decided to just get the two wisdom teeth that were bothering me out (My parents also really wanted me to just get two teeth extracted instead of four).  I am at home this week recovering from the surgery and from the infection that had occurred in my mouth.

I am very thankful that the company I am working for allowed me to take off until Sat.  I have been entertaining my time with sleep and watching television, specifically Top Chef, The Office, and documentaries.  It has been hard staying home since the weather has been beautiful here, but it is all good.

Furthermore, I will be home in about two weeks (Wed-Mon during Thanksgiving).  I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family.

That is my update. 

Here are a few pictures of the snow that fell a week ago.  Even though it snowed a week or so ago, today's weather was in the high 60's. 

My goal was to try to write in this blog once a week, but it seems like I am little more sporadic with my posts. Oh well…

I went for another hike yesterday. I did the Aspen Vista hike again (pictures from last time below), but this time the trees were bare with little to no yellow leaves. No pictures this time of the hike, because sometimes I just want to focus on the task at hand.

The hike was a different type of beauty than before. The trees looked old and sleek.  The mountains looked like someone carved them from a stone block because of the greyish, polished feel of them. While on the hike yesterday, I was reminded of a nature metaphor that I mentioned to clients during a hike at work.  I told the clients that the changing of leaves reminded me of the cycle of dealing with problems or issues in ones own life. I told clients that Fall is when you begin to realize you have a problem and then you begin to deal with the problem. After dealing with the problem, the problem can sometimes go away or die, like the leaves and plants dying in the Winter.  Then the leaves grow back and life is good for awhile (Spring, Summer). Then sooner or later though problems arise and you have to deal with new issues ( the cycle of seasons).  I told this metaphor to clients who have addiction issues in their lives. Some of these clients are truly trying to better their lives, while others continue the cycle of bad choices. Just thought I would share that.  Hope it makes sense…  Tell me if it does not and I will try to reword it.

Well hello again,

This past weekend I worked a weekend trip where we took clients climbing and rappeling.  We were about 15 miles from the border of AZ, which was awesome.  I love that I get to travel as part of my job.  Furthermore, I learned about a climbing area that I would like to go back to and climb (without clients).  I hear you can climb there in the winters, which makes me very happy. 

On Monday I was off from work so I went climbing at an area called White Rocks.  We went to an area of White Rocks called The Overlook and it was awesome.  I had a great time climbing at this area because the rock was very gritty and the view from where we were climbing was beautiful.  You could see the Rio Grande and the surrounding mountain ranges.  I kept glanceing back into the the mountains when I was not climbing because it was so picturesque. 

Then on Tuesday, I went for a five mile hike on the Chasmia Trail, which is very close to where I work and live.  It was a nice single, track trail.  As I was walking, I was not sure what the names of some of the wildflowers and trees were.  Since I did not know what plants were there, I ordered a book on Southwest plants so that I can bring it along on some of my adventures.  Many of the trees and aspens are changing colors here already.  In Virginia we got all colors of Fall, but here you mostly get yellow and a hint of orange.  It is beautiful to see the trees and the mountains changing colors.  Furthermore, there are also some wildflowers that blooming all over the place.  It is awesome!

After I hiked, I went to the local climbing gym and coached climbing.  I am volunteering at the local climbing gym because I enjoy coaching climbing and also because I get a free membership,  It is only a couple hours a week and I am already enjoying it. 

There is a new series that I think everyone in the world should be watching.  It is on PBS and it is about the National Parks.  The series is called, "National Parks, America's Best Idea."  The series is about the history of the parks and about the park's beautiful landscapes.  As I am watching it, the scenery sometimes takes my breath away.  Throughout the series, they have taken a lot of quotes from the naturalist John Muir.  I had heard about him before, but after learning about him in the series, I have ordered a couple of his books because he writes about nature in a spiritual manner, which is a way that I see nature too.  Everyday they are putting new episodes on the website.  You can watch it on PBS at home too.  Check it out!

I thought I would update you guys on more of how my life is going.  Overall, Santa Fe has been treating me well.  I am starting to learn the layout of the city, but I still have to whip out my GPS here and there because I am not sure how to get from point A to B.  I probably get lost because I keep staring at the huge and beautiful Sandia Mountains that surround Santa Fe.  Last week, I was surprised to see snow on the tops of some of the mountains when I was driving to work.  I was told from some of the locals that the snow was much earlier than normal, but it was still a beautiful sight to see. 

I have been spending my time working, baking and hiking.  Just a few moments ago I baked a loaf of beer bread which I just ate a slice and it was delicious.  Furthermore, on Friday I made granola bars topped with almonds which were awesome!!!  Baking is fun and the breads taste so much better than store bought.  Last week I made two whole wheat loafs that I have been using for my sandwiches.  Who knew that I would be enjoying baking so much? 

When I am not baking, I have been hiking.  As you have seen through facebook and the blog, have posted some pictures from my adventures.  Today I went on a four mile hike and it was beautiful.  The leaves are just beginning to change and was so awesome to take in the colors and the smells of the forest!  I thought when I moved to New Mexico that I would miss Virginia's change of color, but I have learned from the locals that the leaves change color here too.  In the next couple of weeks, I am going to do the Aspen Vista hike again because I hear that is one of the best hikes for seeing the Fall colors.  Tomorrow after work I am going to do another 4ish mile hike that is close to work, but we will see what happens.

When I am not baking or hiking, I am working.  I have been really enjoying the work that I have been doing.  I have been doing a lot of training and learning more about the mountain center.  I have also been trying to showcase my skills to the mountain center so that I can lead more programming for them.  So far, I have done programming for many different types populations and I have done many different activities including: rock climbing, team building, climbing tower, and other high adventure elements.  I have learned much already and I am feel very blessed to have this opportunity in Santa Fe.  I am way happy to be doing this internship because I feel that it will help me grow both personally and professionally.    

That is pretty much my life right now...baking, working, hiking.  Well, I forgot to mention that I have been doing a lot of reading.  It is nice to be out of school, because I actually get to read for fun!

Enjoy the update!  More to come later.
Today, I went on a little adventure to visit the Tent Rocks National Monument.  Overall, I thought it was a beautiful area with well kept trails.  My favorite trail was one that took me through a slot canyon.  I love slot canyons!!!  They remind me so much of a trip back in March when I went to Utah and explored slot canyons.  I took some pictures, but I cannot get them on the computer.  Here are few pics that I found of the area on the internet...

Slot Canyon

'“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey

Comments are working now... Yay...
I posted two albums on facebook of my past couple of days.  One album is from a hike I did on Saturday.   I did a hike in Santa Fe called the Aspen Vista hike.  I found the hike while driving around the mountains, so I decided to try it.  The sign said that it was only a 5.6 mile hike and the trail was a big fire road, so I knew that if I wanted to turn around I could.  I brought with me my essentials, food, water, and rain gear so I knew that I would be OK (even though I was wearing jeans and a cotton t-shirt).  The entire hike was uphill, but  I just kept going and going uphill finally making it to the top to Tesuque Peak.  The hike itself was awesome!!  The views were amazing and you gained in elevation 2200 feet.  (You began the hike at 10,000 feet).  I believe I actually had elevation sickness at the beginning the hike.  I have been overall trying to get use to the elevation change since Santa Fe is at 7000 feet above sea level, but this was even higher.  As the hike progressed, I noticed how tired I was and I noticed how much more time it took me than expected.  I headed back down the hike and looked at the sign again to see exactly how many miles I did again.... the sign still said 5.6 miles.  I was wondering why I was so tired and why it took me so long to do the hike.  I felt out of shape for how tired I was.  I drove home exhausted and hungry and researched the hike online.  I found out that I actually hiked a 12 mile hike so that made me feel better.  I am sore today and I am so happy that I pushed myself to get to the top.  I took a bunch of photos, but the photos do not look as good as the real thing. 

Here ya go...

St. Francis's Basilica
Santa Fe Railway w/ Farmer's Market In The Back
An Amazing Farmer's Market (HUGE!!!)
Loretto Chapel
(I wrote this yesterday, but did not have internet until this morning)

It took three days of driving and I made it to Santa Fe, NM. I will have to look tomorrow at my speedometer to tell you guys the exact number of miles it took for me to get here. I was very lucky to have friends along the way to stay with so I could save money and not have to stay at hotels/motels. My first stop was in the music city of Nashville, TN. When I got there, my friend graciously showed me the city and we got to see some live country music in a few bars and restaurants. We also went to a dueling piano bar , which was hilarious. These two guys would sing requested songs on there pianos while making fun of the crowd, the music, and themselves.

My next stop was in Kiefer, OK (near Tulsa). My friends treated me with dinner and a movie at their house, which was great. It was so nice relaxing and getting a good meal until the next days drive.

After that, I drove to Santa Fe, NM. It was fun driving across the country, seeing the different landscapes. I drove from VA to TN to AK to OK to TX to NM. I saw everything from the mountains to landscapes so flat that I could see for miles. I thought Tennessee, especially the Eastern part was beautiful. Texas was also a great state to drive through because it was so flat and a bit deserty,. My least favorite state was Arkansas….not much to say about that state.

Driving into New Mexico was a sight to see. The state is so beautiful with its mountains and deserts. As I was going West into the state, the state was flat, but you could see these beautiful mountains in the distance. As I continued driving I saw canyons, rocky out croppings, red sands and rocks… it was so great. I made it to the place that I will be staying for the first month and I am way tired from the journey. Tomorrow, I hope to do some exploring and adjusting in Santa Fe. Then on Sunday, I may head to Albuquerque to visit one of my friends that I met while working at Mercersburg Academy in PA.

Thank you to everyone for the well wishes and prayers for the safe journey. I hope to continue this good fortune in the weeks ahead.
Here is a small update:

Thanks to my good friend Nancy M. I have decided the day that I am leaving. She wants to hang with me as much as possible before I go. So, I am just letting everyone know that I am leaving on Wed. That leaves a couple more days to spend time with me and also for me to pack. I still need to do that whole packing thing....meh...

Have a great day!
I have been googling and mapquesting my way from Richmond to Santa Fe to figure out the best route and how long it will take.  The drive will take about three days long (1819.50 miles or 28 hours and 10 min).  I will be leaving either Tues or Wed of this week.  My brother Gregory is buying me and audio book or two so that I am entertained while I am driving this long drive across the country.  The map below showcases my little adventure.  I will keep you updated on how the journey goes and where I stop.  Speaking of the journey, I should really pack soon.  :-)

My sister suggested that I make a blog so that I could share my future adventures with my family and friends.  She thought of a clever title and helped me with the color scheme for the blog.  Thanks Linda!  I hope to write in the blog once a while so that I can share my experiences with people back in Richmond.

The biggest reason why she suggested I start the blog is because I received some exciting news.  Today I got the long awaited phone call from the Santa Fe Mountain Center that they wanted to offer me an internship at their nonprofit organization.  I was so excited that they offered it to me, but I told them that I would like the weekend to gather me thoughts before accepting the internship.  A few hours later I knew that I wanted to take the job.  I will be working in Adventure Therapy which is an industry that I have wanted to get my feet wet in for a while.  I think overall it will be a growing experience for me. 

Now comes the search for a place to live and figuring out the long drive Southwest....  More to come.