Mark and I have been extremely busy this year and, to be honest, our alternative lifestyle doesn’t help. I often wonder whether it wouldn’t be healthier for us to settle somewhere indefinitely, while we attend to our full-time but low-paying careers. It would certainly cause less stress. But, then we might as well get “real” jobs… On the other hand, doing these house and pet sits all over the United States, allows us to explore certain regions in depth, turning the weekends into mini-vacations.
We are currently caring for a comfortable adobe home with plants, but no pets, near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Neither of us has ever spent decent time in this state, let alone lived in it. All we accomplished not too long ago, was drive through one way by train and return by camper, only stopping at a Trader Joe’s for groceries in Albuquerque and having a quick night of sleep in the El Malpais National Conservation Area. So, it was with anticipation and exciting plans for the weekends that we settled into our current home for four weeks. The first weekend approached quickly, and, as luck would have it, friends from Massachusetts were on a week-long holiday in Santa Fe when we arrived.
On Saturday, Mark and I had some immediate camper issues to resolve, so we didn’t arrive in Santa Fe proper – a 20-minute drive – until 4pm. The annual Indian Market festival was taking place. This allowed us to partake in cultural activities as well as get a first glimpse of the town’s architecture and atmosphere. It was shorts and T-shirt weather, our favorite. We met our friends Mark and Jen at the plaza and, after chatting for quite some time, enjoyed a Mexican dinner together.
Sunday, my Mark and I met the couple again at their hotel. After giving them a quick tour of Zesty, our Westy, we set out to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, or in short “Tent Rocks”. It soon became apparent why the park received its name. Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the traditional Indian language and we couldn’t stop gazing at the cone-shaped rock formations. The four us strolled, climbed and slid through gravel and stone pathways along and in between these remnants of volcanic eruptions that occurred millions of years ago. As the result of uniform layering of volcanic material, bands of grey are interspersed with beige and pink-colored rock along the cliff face. Over time, wind and water shaped the landscape into canyons and arroyos (gorges). It truly is a geological wonderland.
Since it was only our second day at this higher elevation (Santa Fe sits at over 7000ft and Tent Rocks NM at around 6500ft), Mark and I had to take it slower than usual. The air is much thinner and the slightest climb found us out of breath. Yapping to my friend Jen non-stop, made me gasp for air even more. The sky remained grey – good for our skin and efforts; less appealing for photos – but the daily summer storms stayed at bay. We all had a wonderful time and I do hope that I didn’t exasperate Jen. Being a full-time house sitter can be quite isolating and when friends are around, social times are wholly embraced. 😊
- The monument is closed to dogs (except service animals)
- Parking is limited; come relatively early
- There is no drinking water available, so bring your own – the dry air at this altitude makes you consume more than usual
- There are pit toilets near the parking lot
- Higher elevation means being closer to the sun: apply sunscreen and wear hat and sunglasses
- Veterans’ Memorial Scenic Overlook was closed due to road wash-outs as of August 20th, 2017
- The entrance fee is US$5 per vehicle (up to 8 individuals)
- Bring your own lunch to eat at the picnic tables
- Mark and I did not spend any money on this excursion. Mark and Jen drove from Santa Fe, I prepared sandwich lunches for four, and we have an annual National Park pass, which allows free entrance for up to four people. An annual NP pass costs US$80, money we spent when visiting Yosemite NP with family earlier this year.