Saturday, March 24, 2012


I'm coming upon the end of my trip. This trip, at least, which I consider to be over when Buster (that's my car, for those of you wondering) and I return together to Cape May. And we'll be doing that this Monday.

The hills I where walk (and sometimes ride a horse!), literally across the road from my cabin

Basil loves licking the popcorn bowl
I've been back here in Chimayo, NM, for a couple months which have passed far too quickly. In that time I have acquired a farmer's tan and a companion rabbit I've named Basil. Josh and I had to rescue Basil from the rest of the rabbits when a bigger male rabbit bit a nice big hole in his back, so I brought him back to my cabin and he's been licking my toes ever since. He's the sweetest thing ever, but we'll see how he fares with a 4 day car driving spree.

I don't really know what to write. I get this terrible anxious feeling when change is imminent, when I'll be leaving meaningful people that I'm afraid I'll never see again. This particular change is bittersweet because I am looking forward to moving back home and farming for a while in Cape May. I'm excited to be closer to family, because they're really all that matters, but I've also made another patchwork family in the past year and a half and I'll be leaving some of them in two days.

Since I never plan my life more than 3-4 months in advance, I'm not sure what will come in the fall. I do know that this adventure has been amazing and wonderful, complete with kind strangers, beautiful mountains, strange animals, amazing camping trips, crazy farmer's market customers, cozy coffee shops, friends that have become family, rodeos, and aggressive New Mexican Brown Dogs chasing after me at every turn. I hope it's not the only adventure I have, but it wouldn't be so bad if it were. So thanks to everyone that has been here with (and for) me, whether physically, via skype, via blog, or via po box. Onto your own travels!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona

Well hello readers! That is, if there are any of you left after my five month break (at least there's Mom, HI MOM!)

I just finished up a breakfast burrito for dinner. I'll tell you the ingredients and you guess where in the country I am:
-The best tortillas ever made by humans (can't say for certain about aliens, dinosaurs, nor the Little Red Hen, I hear she's quite the baker), eggs (from this plot of land), onion, garlic (from this plot of land), kale, green chile (from this plot of land), green chile, green chile.
That's right, readers, I'm back in New Mexico! But first, I must catch you up.

The last I wrote was while in Montana. I worked on the farm in Livingston for two months (farming, walking in hills, camping, fly fishing-sort of, watching the rodeo and demolition derby, thrift shopping, learning about dandelion greens from a man convinced he'll sustain himself on them when food runs out, working farmer's markets, eating ice cream, blowing up fireworks, blowing up fireworks in marshmallows, blowing up fireworks in kiwifruits, eating popsicles, driving tractors and old trucks, light saber battling with a five year old, you get the picture). I then met Seth in Bozeman, MT, and we visited Yellowstone, of which I believe I added photographs already. Next, I drove over to Seattle, WA, where I stayed with the Pipers (our neighbor's daughter and her lovely family who treated me to an excellent birthday dinner/cupcakes!), I took a train down to Portland, OR, for a couple days to visit my friend Rachel (and make some new ones) in Corvallis, OR.

The next leg of my journey was from the middle of August to the beginning of September in Vaughn, WA, which is on the Key Peninsula, southwest of Seattle. I stayed on Gentle Giant Meadows Ranch with the Sikoras. They raise animals: sheep, goats, cows, chickens. They also have horses and we got to trail-ride a few times, which was awesome since I haven't ridden in quite a while. They had a green draft horse named Quest (for those non-horse people, green means young and untrained, and a draft horse? think Budweiser Clydesdales, the ones that play football) that I rode a bit, not nearly enough, but we made good progress considering he hadn't ever walked without being led by someone walking on the ground.

 This is me feeding Molly while she gets milked

This is me learning how to butcher mutton

This is a goat eating my underwear

Chopping down and moving trees

Moving more trees

 Riding Quest!

After Washington, I drove down to San Francisco where I stayed with the Larkins. They tolerated me for an entire 2 1/2 months, and were kind enough to show me around, recommend sights, feed me, and be the most amazing people ever. Emily and Lindsay came to visit, and it was really great to spend time with everyone together. Toward the end of my stay, my friend Rochelle facilitated a volunteering/interning opportunity at a photography lab called Rayko Photo Center, which was a really great time.
Buster reacquainting with the ocean, hasn't seen it in a year

Visiting Ocean Beach with Tom and Gabrielle
I made Gabrielle reenact the scene from Vertigo. I was in Hitchcock heaven the entire time (if you didn't know, it was one of his favorite cities, so just walking around makes you feel like you're in his films)

The view from our (hehe) roof deck, Alcatraz and the bay in the distance

Big Sur hike

Lindsay in Big Sur

Lindsay and Emily collecting jade

Gabrielle, Tom, and I visited Yosemite, too!

Yosemite: Half Dome on the left (also saw it from 30,000 ft up in an airplane, so beautiful). See those two waterfalls on the right bottom corner? Those are the Vernal and Nevada falls, we hiked from the bottom of the lower to the top of the upper one (or I think it's reverse, because the higher one is actually the "lower" fall. oh who knows). Also, fun fact, those are the falls where the three hikers fell and died last summer (they finally recovered the last two bodies a month or so after we visited).

Sequoia at Yosemite

Rochelle at Fort Cronkhite

I was sad to leave San Francisco, but I decided to fly home for Thanksgiving through mid-January.  Upon returning, I stayed one night in San Francisco (where my rear window was smashed in, nothing stolen- I'm sure they were really disappointed with my lame stash of thrifted sweaters and dirty pants), and drove to San Diego. I stayed in San Diego (Point Loma, actually) with Jon, who I had worked with on the farm in Montana. He and his girlfriend and roommates were really cool and I wish I could have spent more time there. In the morning I visited Fort Rosecrans at Jon's suggestion. If you've never visited a California military fort, you really should, I would love to make a trip of visiting all of them sometime. They basically combine all of my favorite things, managing to preserve wild open land, old buildings (sometimes complete with historical furnishings), and serve as national historical landmarks with plenty of room for education!! Fort Cronkhite (above) in San Francisco is within the huge Marin headlands, across the bridge from the city where you can hike around and check out dizzying cliffs, old weapon fortresses, maybe mountain lions, and collect pretty rocks on the beach! It's heaven. Fort Rosecrans in Point Loma (below) has a fully preserved lighthouse complete with bedroom and kitchen sets and little stories about the keeper's family. PLUS an entire separate building just housing the educational information about the history of lighthouses! Did you know that the job of Lighthouse Keeper was the first non-clerical government job available to women?!?! It's my new past-fantasy to have been a Lighthouse Keeper in a previous life.

Fort Rosecrans Lighthouse
View from inside the lighthouse

Fort Rosecrans military graveyard. As if I couldn't love it anymore they throw in a graveyard! These Californian military historians really know me.
After visiting the fort and having an Acai bowl (oh my goodness, whatever it actually all is, it's the best breakfast treat ever), I drove on to Tempe, AZ to visit my friend Rachel. She's in graduate school at ASU, and we played, ate, drank, snuggled, and walked around for a few days before I left.
On our way to Tempe with Buster's broken window

Arizona landscapes are quite different from anywhere else I've been
Which leaves us here, in Chimayo again. It's great to be back, especially since there's a human baby-addition to the family since I was here last. I've also already gotten bit by a baby goat, pricked by cactus spines, smashed numerous fingers in numerous doors, learned how not to build a fire in a woodstove, and forewent showering for five days. If you made it to the end, bless your soul, I hope it's been worthwhile, thanks for reading!

** OH MY GOSH! I can't believe I forgot to thank Julia and Ted and Rose and Ann for keeping my car at their house for the time I went home. I am so glad I got to visit with them, meet both girls, and see all the Bethels upon returning!
And for that matter, I should probably just throw a huge Thank You out there to everyone who has housed, fed, met up with, hung out with, or showed me around. People have been more than generous on this whole trip, and it really wouldn't be possible without everyone's kindness.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Recently, in photographs

I visited Yellowstone with my friend Seth, who took a break from bicycling to join me.

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces

We stayed on the third floor of a park ranger's house. These buildings were originally built for a military fort and have been appropriated for the park's use. It is a beautiful historical building, complete with a pull-chain toilet (yes of course I used it!) and four floors. This particular building is split in half between two families. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to stay there (and not only because the campsites were all full) we all know how much I love history and old things. More info here on the area.

Seth at more hot springs, Norris Geyser Basin.

Of course these pictures are in reverse chronological order, so this is Elise and Eleonore overlooking Livingston at night sometime in the end of July.

Livingston sunset

My favorite truck at the farm, Ford F-600 manual transmission. Quite fun to drive.

Elise and my boy Zach at the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulfur Springs, MT. First off, if you're looking for work pants and you're a lady (of any shape and size), the Red Ants Pants company is AWESOME. It was started by a woman in Montana, who makes pants specifically shaped for women. They put on a music festival in some huge ranchers ranch, we parked in the recently-baled hay fields and made our way to the stage, in the middle of nothingness. The festival headliner was Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, and let's just say that I seriously enjoyed the night and they put on a great show (especially Francine Reed).

I apparently cannot upload any more pictures in one post, we'll see how I feel another day. I am currently in Vaughn, WA, working on a lovely family farm. I'm learning how to butcher all kinds of animals, as well as refining my tractor driving skills, my weed-wacking skills (awful, by the way), and getting on their 19 hand Shire horse (for those of you unfamiliar with horse measurements, a Shire is a bit bigger than a Budweiser Clydesdale), also went to the rodeo here and walked on water in a giant plastic bubble-ball best experience I've had in a while. Glad that Irene didn't wipe out the entire east coast! Keep safe and be well.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

4th of Ju-ly

I suppose I'm much overdue for an update. I've been dreading writing, because I have had so much to write about and no idea how to organize it. Plus, general overviews are boring, the detailed stories are the fun ones to tell. I'll try to mix it all together.
My new address is:
c/o The Rehders
315 S 8th St
Livingston, MT 59047

I got to Livingston, Montana on around June 11th. Leaving Chimayo was hard, but I said my goodbyes 30 times and got plenty of farewell hugs. My mom came to visit and we drove from New Mexico to Colorado, stopping along the way wherever we fancied. I showed her the farm, and we checked out Santa Fe, Ojo Caliente Mineral Spa-aaah, Taos, (oh gosh I knew I should've written this down, I'll never keep all of this straight), The Great Sand Dunes and Salida CO, Vail, the Continental Divide (tons of snow!), and spent our last day in Denver watching the Hangover 2 and watching homeless people fight. I shouldn't have let that end on a bad note because it was an excellent trip, for more reasons than I can write here. I'm so glad that she came, and I think she enjoyed her first trip to the southwest.

After dropping my mom off, I stopped by Boulder for the morning (which turned into afternoon) visited BMoCA and saw the most recent exhibition in installation, met some friends, got lost in the ever-expanding Whole Foods, and left for Wyoming. I drove through half of Wyoming, almost got stuck with an empty tank of gas and no place to sleep (don't ever assume there will be human civilization within 100 miles of a non-interstate rd), and made it to Livingston the next day. The farm (and town) is about 30 miles east of Bozeman, and it used to be the official entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Here I work for the Rehder family, Mark, Caroline, and their 5 year old Zach, and there are two other wwoofers. No animals, a ton of vegetables, and they even use a similar flood irrigation technique that I learned about in NM.
The town is awesome, it's tiny and adorable and has everything you could need (no chain stores!!). We sell vegetables at a couple farmer's markets (well, not yet, but when we're more ready for harvesting), the Bozeman co-op, the local Livingston hospital, a few restaurants in town, and they trade some for other things (like meat, eggs, and other goods).

One thing to know about Montana is they take their fireworks seriously. They're legal here, and for at least a week and a half leading up to the 4th of July, there were fireworks constantly going off (middle of the day and middle of the night). There was a three day rodeo in town that brings cowfolk from all over the country (Georgia, Florida, Texas, Oregon, etc), and a fireworks show after every evening, which we could see from the second floor of the barn. I was hoping to make a guest appearance on one of their bronc's but entries apparently were all full. I went to the last night of the rodeo with the other wwoofers, and after discovering firsthand that they take identity theft VERY seriously, we had a nice evening watching from the bleachers and praying that the lightning going off wouldn't strike us. We celebrated during the day by cooling off in the acequia (water ditch, it's a tributary of the Yellowstone River) and drinking PBR's on the roof of an old bus-converted-into-bedroom.

Bought my first fireworks the day after that (we were hoping they'd be on sale. they weren't). We blew up a kiwifruit, unsuccessfully tried a marshmallow (just toasted the inside), and shot a bottle rocket which curved and bee-lined it for a patch of trees and the neighbor's house. No lost eyes, no serious burns.

Other than that, there's been a ton going on, but I've been too busy reading, knitting, making a journal, and watching previous seasons of Bones on netflix to write things here. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Life Is A Zoo

Fred with Fangs

I’m not sure how exactly to start this post, so I suppose posing a question might be the easiest way:

Have you ever been about to step in the shower (naked, as one tends to be who is about to get in the shower), when a goat walked into your bathroom?

This situation occurred tonight in my very own bathroom, about an hour ago. I live in a cabin with one roommate, Renee, and our yard houses Francisco the adorable (yet irritatingly poorly behaved at moments) puppy, and Frederick the broken-legged-teenage-goat. They aren’t usually allowed in the house, but Fred has a serious affinity for dog food and will bully Francisco for his food, so we bring Fred inside when we feed Francisco (alliteration!). Tonight I went to take a shower and Renee tried to distract Fred with grapes (he prefers them bitten in half) and by singing “All around the mulberry bush” while circling a table meant to keep him out of our bedroom. I typically shower with the door open because I don’t want another mold problem (when I first moved in I found what looked like pasta shells spilled behind the toilet and yelled to Anne and Josh (the other wwoofers here), “HEY, DID YOU GUYS SPILL PASTA WHILE ON THE TOILET?” Turns out they were fungus). So there I am, standing outside my shower, when Fred runs in, somehow escaping the game of “Mulberry Bush”, to say hello.

I will go on. We just acquired a hummingbird feeder, and immediately there were four regular visitors. They feed while we sit on the porch, while we watch from the kitchen table, while we stand directly beneath the feeder, while we're chasing the dog that's chasing the goat, they’re just constantly buzzing about, all over the area. It’s pretty magical, though I’m becoming a bit desensitized because every time I look out, there is at least one flying about. We keep getting nearly dive-bombed because they’re so aggressive towards one another and territorial about the feeder. This afternoon l looked out and there were three sitting on the feeder together. I don’t know if they were in some sort of poly-amorous relationship or just too tired to chase one another, but it was pretty cool. A little later I was heating up a tortilla and I look out the window to see Francisco tearing up and eating Renee’s bag of tobacco (excellent for dog-digestion. Just kidding, he didn't eat the tobacco, just the bag) I ran outside, grabbed all of the pieces, and by the time I got back inside with everything, my tortilla was burning and the house was filled with smoke.

Yesterday it snowed all day. We went on a hike, made soup (okay Renee made soup), tromped around in the mud doing chores. There’s a cholo wandering around trying to break into everyone’s houses (successfully a few times, apparently: Someone Stole Tom Holland's Shotgun- said in cowboy speak and you've got yourself a movie title), so Renee and I hide our computers in paper bags in a cabinet under the oven. There are paper cranes, paper boats, and paper throwing stars all over because Elias the nine-year-old little brother wanted to have boat races and Renee makes cranes. On Easter weekend, we had boat races in the pond and mine was winning (I know about currents, even in a still pond) until Elias started throwing mud clots at it, and then we declared blitzkrieg on everyone’s boats, sunk them, and recovered them the next day, dazed and washed ashore.

I just realized that I never wrote about the pilgrimage to the Santuario de Chimayo on Good Friday, along with the estimated 30,000 other people. That might need to be another time, this post is long and my shoulder hurts from being in a weird position to reach my computer, because I only pick up internet from one awkwardly angled corner of the kitchen table, smack up against the window. And only if Fred jumps up on the windowsill (which he did this morning).

Renee feeding Fred some grapes in the backyard

One of my hummingbirds in the snow

Boat Race: Renee, Adan winding up with mud, Elias returning from another attempt to sink me

Sunday, April 17, 2011

visual updates

A view of some of the buildings on the property, from the Chile Field

My new band-picture with Froadrick. Fist bump.

Fred (with broken leg) and Francisco the cutest puppy ever.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Life in Chimayo!

Hello! An update for the curious!
On Tuesday morning, March 29, I departed Boulder, my home of over 4 months, after a filling short stack (okay short is an exaggeration, they were huge) of pancakes from the Village Coffee Shop courtesy of my p-diddy Seth (who also sent me on my way with a magnificent bag of Whole Foods goodies that I will be stretching through as long as possible). Chimayo is in Northern central New Mexico, between Taos and Santa Fe (about 35 miles north of Santa Fe). I took 25 down south to the High Road to Taos, on south to Chimayo.

I am working at El Rincon Farm with the Trujillo family. This farm has been in their family for hundreds of years, but only recently have they reacquired and begun organic farming some of what they own (about 3 of 20-some acres). Their most special product is the Chimayo Chile, a green chile that's one of the best ever. Literally. I'm not much of a spicy person (low tolerance), but these peppers are grand. They use heirloom seeds that go back to when the Spanish conquistadors came up from Mexico, that haven't been cross-breeded, and produce a medium, to medium-hot chile. Such good flavor, I eat it on everything. So they harvest them, roast them, and freeze them in 1lb bags to sell at the Santa Fe Farmer's Market (we went today-which is why I know the spiel). And yes, they ship them.

So anyway, the Trujillos are wonderful, and then there's Mario and his wife and kids and brother-in-law Ramon who are wonderful and are from Mexico so I've been practicing my Spanish (it's a shame I cheated so much in high school--why didn't they tell me that someday I'd be working on a farm with two Mexicans with little knowledge of English??) Kids, eat your green chiles and practice your foreign languages, it's practical, really.

A little about Chimayo, it's a really interesting area. There are a good amount of neighbors, and we're on a dirt road off one of the main roads in the valley. The roads are all one-way, dirt roads, named in Spanish. There are tons of Chihuahuas (don't ask me why, but one was tragically run-over yesterday), Magpies, random dogs without collars (including our own, Whiskey) and old broken down cars in peoples yards. My phone's always dead or out of service (or broken because I dropped it on the floor), only adding to the feeling of being completely lost in Mexico. Two days ago I went out phoneless-dead as usual-to look for an alleged grocery store, only to get lost, find some sort of expanded liquor store where everyone was speaking Spanish and I looked like some weird, sort-of-sunburned white girl that's completely out of place with her own bag trying to buy produce instead of cigarettes. Everyone's really nice, though, and I haven't really gotten weird looks, and everyone waves back when I do that "hey" nod-and-wave. I don't know, I learned it in West Virginia (certainly not in New Jersey). But sometimes I find myself wandering around, wondering how I ended up in another country without my passport. New Mexico is certainly a new experience for me, and I'm loving every minute. Especially riding the two-year-old paint mare they've got, albeit in a western saddle. Always something new. Helmets and appropriate gear are for the birds.

So while it was sad to say goodbye to everyone in Boulder (roommates-thank you SO MUCH Marina, Remah, and Seth, BMoCA-mates, and friends picked up along the way-it's been splendid, and let me repay you in seafood and snuggles), I'm happy to say I'm happy, and really looking forward to my time here. The landscape is so excellent, I'll be excited to start shooting and drawing and brainstorming artistic ways to incorporate it.

My address:
c/o Marisela Trujillo
PO Box 1026
Chimayo NM 87522