Christmas in New Mexico

(After conducting a few pop-quizzes this Christmas, I learned that certain members of the family don’t actually read what Iwrite here. You know how you are. So if youjust want the pictures — including many that aren’t in this post — go here.)

After spending a few days with Lisbeth and her family, I went home to New Mexico just before Christmas. It was COLD! It was colder than Denmark has been all year. That actually isn’t unusual (Denmark has been record-breakingly warm recently, thanks in part to global warming), which makes it frustrating when Danes say, “Oh, you’re going to New Mexico — it’ll be SO warm!”

The view from mom and dad's porchthe road up to the ridgeThe view from the house

It was the first time I’ve used my sunglasses since September. Even on a clear summer day, the sun in Denmark is muted compared to the sun in New Mexico.

Lisbeth joined me on the 27th. We stayed the night in Albuquerque with Ben and Heather. The next day, both pretty jet-lagged, we got up early and walked up into the foothills near Ben’s house. It was amazingly cold that morning — so much so that some of the buttons onmy camera stopped working.

A Santa Fe-style house  near the foothills in AlbuquerqueLisbeth squints as the sun comes up and we head back to the houseSunrise near the Sandias in Albuquerque

Later that week, after Lisbeth met mom and dad for the first time (she’d met Diego, Ben, and Heather when they visited me in Denmark), we went to Springer, the town where I was born and where my grandparents and my aunt Donna and her husband Clarence live.

Lisbeth helps collect spring water in Cimarron CanyonDonna, in denial about global warming

Donna and Clarence took up for a drive up Cimarron Canyon to get some drinking water from a spring, and then on up to Eagle Nest. Despite the all the summers and weekends I’ve spent in Springer, this was only the second time that I remember of going up to Eagle Next. It’s amazing country.

Near Eagle NestEagle NestEagle Nest

Back at the ranch we gathered and had a late Christmas gift exchange. (We had it on Saturday because Donna had gone to Austin to see her daughter Rachel.) It was cold and windy, but after opening gifts we went for a long walk.

dsc_2939.jpgLisbeth and Mom take a walkThe barn

I wasn’t sure what Lisbeth would think of where I grew up, but she seemed quite charmed. She kept remarking about how clear the air is and how you can see for miles (or kilometers). It’s true. I’ve lived in a lot of places, and nothing compares in that respect. The color of the sky is often amazing too.

sunset at the ranchsunset at the ranchsunset at the ranch

It’s becomesomewhat of a tradition that, when I visit, we go for along hike along the ridge behind my parent’s house. This year was no exception, except that this time Ben couldn’t join, and we went South instead of North. This put us over the shooting range, but luckily no one was there. The views were great.

Lisbeth fights a stick away from Zeus at the outset of a long walkLas Vegas, from the ridgeDiego and Zeus, on the ridge

By the time we left, Lisbeth had a pretty good idea of what Northern New Mexican cuisine is like. She liked it. We took bags of dried chili back, and — if I can say so myself — my last batch of chili was pretty damn good.

The castle at the World College in MontezumaThe owl that didn't stop the neighborhood thieves from stealing dad's camera from his cardsc_3153.jpg

It wasn’t all walks and hikes. There was a lot of talking, a lot of eating, and a lot of puzzles. (We did three with Grandma on three separate visits.) There was a lot of shopping too. We went to REI a shocking four times! It is just amazing to see US prices after living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Everything seems scandalously cheap. I used to think that REI was pricey. This time it seemed like a specialty Wal-Mart.

With the exception of seeing how terribly frail my grandparents have gotten, it was a great visit. But no matter how great a vacation is, it’s always nice to get home and stop living in a suitcase. This time I learned from past mistakes. We got back to Copenhagen at 8:00am on Saturday. That made it possible to relax and sleep whenever we wanted over the weekend. That way going to work on Monday wasn’t nearly as bad.

(Last summer I got back in on Monday at 8:00am with the idea of going straight to work. After fifteen hours of traveling, that’s completely crazy. I got off the plane and called my manager, sheepishly explaining my naive mistake. Then I went home and slept all day.)

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