Returned & Enchanted: Through the Lands of New Mexico & Arizona (Part I)

Palo Duro

So a couple of months ago… Garett and I decided it was time for a trip. We had both been yearning to travel and breathe some new air, explore some new lands. As some of you may know by now, we’ve been going through a tremendously intense year and a half. My dad was very ill, and after some traumatizing (and divinely transformative) months, he passed away last February. Time has been entirely subjective and irrelevant. These days, I rarely know what day or month it is. Grieving has broken me open. My reality and all parts of my identity have been shattered, but the rebirth and awakening that have ensued have brought me Life, a life I never knew even before my dad’s illness. A life that is grand, beautiful, moving, and extraordinary, and that is more in alignment with my soul’s calling and more expressive of my purpose than anything I could have conceived of in the past. The greatest gift. The alchemical gold that escaped me despite years of spiritual study and even more years of painful longing. Hungering for the truth, the communion, freedom, love, and exhilaration we are to know.

Palo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo Duro Palo Duro

When the time is right, it all works out, right? Garett was able to take 3 weeks off work quite last minute easily, and we decided to take a roadtrip across New Mexico and Arizona. We knew little of these places, and they are our neighbors. It made sense. At the time, I still couldn’t imagine that anywhere could make me happier than returning to California, but soon, I understood why we chose these lands and why they chose us.

This time around, we set off to be a little more adventurous, and agreed to car-camp. Accommodations easily become the greatest expense, and we preferred to spend that money on other joys. Thanks to the magic of modern technology and helpful websites, it seemed easy enough. I put together a rough itinerary with enticing points of interest, but we knew we would be carried forth by Spirit, and soon, after much anticipation, we were on our way.

Palo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroPalo DuroWe began by heading North of home, stopping by the gorgeous Palo Duro Canyon (see above) before crossing over to New Mexico. Few people know, this Texas gem is the second largest Canyon in the US. There, we had a few hours to explore before the park closed, wandering the heights and depths of the canyon, finding our way to a little cave, whose natural entrance and its impressive markings seemed grand and mystical enough to be that of an ancient temple carved into the rock. As soon as we were out there, hanging above the dizzying view of marvelous minerals and colors extending far into the horizon, I felt the difference in the air that seeped into my body. It felt fresher, already. I felt freer. We witnessed the sunset from the highest point and watched the colors change. As the light withdrew, the bright oranges turned into exquisite shades of purple, mauve, rust and burgundy, now showing all of their depths and nuances. We held each other as the wind blew strong and the temperature lowered.

AlbuquerqueBelow, some shots from charming Albuquerque.AlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerque

We quickly found out it would be indeed simple to car-camp. Finding ourselves in visitor centers, camp sites, Wal-mart and other welcoming parking lots. Only once did we have to crash into a motel room after finding nowhere to stay late at a night in a shady border town.

AlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueAlbuquerqueDown one of Albuquerque’s many whimsical courtyards, we found a little gem. A French restaurant, whose name promised of crepes… one of our favorite foods, which sent us reminiscing about some of our bestest times in Paris. We had to stop. I asked them to make me my childhood’s favorite food – a crêpe à la béchamel, which is a crepe stuffed with a French melt-in-your-mouth gravy that tastes like heaven. When I was a child, I would sit with with a spoon and eat entire pans filled with this most amazing stuff. It was a sweet moment to taste it once again.AlbuquerqueAlbuquerque

The development of this voyage was two-fold. On one side, the incredibly fun and enthusing adventures and experiences we enjoyed each day, most often out in nature, hiking and exploring, and on the other side, the transmutation and changes undergone by my inner being, which were far beyond what I had the means to understand prior to our journey.

It’s so exciting to be outside of the confines and familiarity of our daily lives. I think this is something we can all relate to. Waking up every day in a new place, having the entire day ahead to simply follow your desires and immerse yourself in the current of life, wherever it takes you, whatever it presents to you, however it works on you. And indulging in every pleasure on the way. A sure path to rejuvenating every aspect of the self, and nourishing the soul to wholeness.

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Around the magnificent Sandia Peak.Sandia PeakSandia PeakSandia PeakSandia PeakSandia PeakSandia PeakSandia Peak

I was very taken aback by what I found in New Mexico. I remember going there with my family when I was 15, and finding a sense of peace and ease between the blue mountains, the clear sky and the red earth, that I had not yet found in the little time I had been in America. This time around, it was the same essence that came over me, but I felt it even more deeply, at the very center of my being, along the vertical axis of my soul, and in the deepest pocket of my heart. I’m a daughter of the sea. Nothing brings me a feeling of liberation, breath and freedom like the ocean. And yet, the land of New Mexico turned out to be the exact medicine I needed.

The Nature there felt majestic and powerful way beyond the physical world. And at the same time, in all its bareness, it was also feminine, receptive, soft and nourishing. I found that the curves of its mountains were smooth and embracing, naked against the sky. From afar, they were a fading blue, and as we approached them, they unveiled a vibrant beauty of green and yellow. Oh, we were lucky to be there for Fall. To bathe in the fantastic weather and to be surrounded by the blooming Aspens and their blazing solar energy. Earth red like a raw heart, invoking life force from the deadened parts of you. And the calming tone of giant minerals grounding, pacifying, chanting a wisdom ancient and primal, lodged in our DNA, vibrating in our flesh, calling us Home.

That is what Nature felt like to me in New Mexico. As I wandered her grounds, I felt seen, seen for who I really am, recognized for my essence and truth. This all happened with no words in my head and little understanding from my logical brain. It happened with no previous knowing of this kind of intimate encounter. Because the way her energies came to interact and fuse with mine felt deeply intimate. It all felt natural, and easy. I was being worked on by its Spirit while it opened up to my own with the grace and embrace of a Mother, or Sister. Of an equal, that is for sure. We are made of the same, after all. That reminder suddenly felt so real.

I quickly realized most of the time, my head had become silent. I was fully present, simply because it was so. I sat or walked and contemplated Her, and saw beauty, power, and perfection, those that are beyond anything created by the human mind, well outside of modern times and problems. She felt fierce, timeless, sure. Just being, and in its being, emanating the essence of Life itself, of God, offering a haven of awe-inspiring proportions and yet such intimacy at once.

And as I felt deeply entranced and enamored with the insanely magnificent, inherently perfect, wildly intelligent, benevolent and indescribably grand nature of Nature, I began to see that it was Life itself that is that way. I began to feel the same about Life.

Diving into the nature of Nature granted me a new perspective on Life. A renewed love and reverence for it. An understanding in the fibers of my being of what it is, perhaps even, why it is, and the settling understanding of being a part of it, a part of it all.

I experienced a renewal of my faith in Life. For something that is that outrageously beautiful, of a power unmatched, of a nature eternal, existing and embracing the above as the below, the me, the mine, the individual and the all – something of that beauty, can only be something good. Can only be the why I am here. And the why it is worth it. Why it is all sacred. The deep, visceral, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, rage-inducing pain of my dad being gone, of my dad having left me, endured in each moment of every day, of every breath. And simultaneously, the rising of myself growing into my Self, my true Self, my most authentic and vibrant self, in all her humanity and all her divinity. My growing into a woman. Into my truth. Bringing me to stand anew with honesty, humility, and naked sensibility.

It’s funny because right before leaving, I wrote a kind of poem, speaking of grief like an endless walk in the desert night. I wrote about life and nature surrounding me and feeling cold, distant, disconnected, and out of reach. In reality, when I got out there, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The landscapes I came upon felt completely new. I actually found myself feeling infinitely safe, protected and self-assured in the desert. Many times a day, I couldn’t believe my eyes and the roaring beauty I was witnessing. And it took no effort to be completely, wholly, with it, a part of it. To understand the language of nature. To hear my own whispers and cries being reflected back to me in the wind, leaves and clouds. To find sturdy comfort and protection in the rocks. To see the fairies in the yellow and red trees. To kiss the air, to bow in love, to recognize that there was nothing to do or practice or anything needed at all but simply breathing and presence.

High RoadHigh RoadHigh Road

Cali Trippin': Big Basin

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“I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in books; I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.”
- Hermann Hesse

These words resonate so strongly right now.

I’ve been living in a space of complete openness, complete nakedness.

Not so much by choice. Not conscious choice anyway. But once I got here, bruised and scraped and soiled, on my knees with nowhere to look but inside, I couldn’t do anything but commit. But decide this would be it. The point of no return.

big basinComing to the point of having nothing to lose is a brutal journey. Life is the greatest teacher. The very Life that flows through me.

Like nature, it is a dance, a grace that knows no words, as raw and violent as it is bewildering, euphoric, infinitely intelligent and beautiful to weep for.

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe we have signed up for this. We have chosen this story. We have chosen to forget and go all in.

As we face this crazy world, we are left with nothing but the Life in our veins to remember who we are. Why we came.

There sure are a many fixes to soothe us for a while. There are material pleasures, there are countless ways to instant gratification. To instant relief of our angst and longings. There are foods and addictions. There are passions and hobbies. There are lovers, and loved ones. There is even personal development and spirituality.

And yet, we haven’t returned home.

We still seek it in our every word and thought and action, in our every outreach, the final fulfillment, the end of the quest, the deliverance from separation.

big basinbig basinbig basinBeing stripped bare, I have found my way home. I haven’t arrived, but I’ve at last found the path. I looked for a guide all along, and now we won’t ever be apart again.

And though the disintegration of all I know continues steadily, though the pain that emerges from deep hidden pockets in my cells and tissues is at times terrorizing and out-of-control like the ocean, there is no better time to be alive than now.

I marvel at the beauty of this experience, this whole great, grand, intricate, pulsating, intimately interconnected eternal voyage that we are all a part of.

I’m grateful and reverent and in awe at Life, the scale, the power, contained and uncontainable, alive, unfolded and expressed by us, indivisible from us.

And that alone, will always keep me going.

big basinbig basinbig basinbig basinBig Basin was a trip… to another dimension. Here, we took an afternoon to explore Big Basin Redwoods State Park and hang out with the tallest of Redwoods. The world’s tallest trees.

Redwoods, first of all, are quite an encounter. When I first met them, in Big Sur, I was immediately transported to the magical forest of my inner child’s wildest dreams. They feel like guardians, like protectors. Their energy is so strong, so grounding and yet so enchanting.

big basinbig basinbig basinThere was certainly so much love and magic to be found here. Nature is amazing.

Being here was indulging in the thrilling mystery of another world previously observed and longingly dreamed about in tales and books and Lord of the Rings.

Being here, parts of the self are reawakened. Parts of the self that might feel old and dusty. Parts of the self the child knows instinctively. Parts of the self that are an inherent and integrated cell of Life in the natural world.

big basinbig basinbig basinbig basinbig basinbig basinbig basinAs you can see, we could hardly stop looking up.

I loved being sucked into the extraordinary energy of this place. Captivated and enamored. Nothing to do but walk and take it all in.

It’s a wonderful and sacred time to be extracted from our daily lives and all of the stresses of the civilized world. To just be in our bodies next to these extraordinary trees.

It’s funny how being amongst such giants is actually so soothing. Maybe it’s their love for us. Maybe it’s being back at one with primordial forces, with the ancients that look over us and our planet, with our very roots. Maybe it’s because their magnitude is a welcome reflection of our own.

big basinbig basinbig basinbig basinbig basinbig basinbig basinbig basinIn two days we leave for a three week road trip through New Mexico and Arizona. I’m so excited! We’ve needed a breath of fresh air and some adventure for a while.

I’m just overjoyed to be on the road again. To go where the Spirit moves us, and experience love and magic in new lands.

Follow us as we explore on Instagram.

I send you all so much love and support on your journeys. Thank you for being here!

More Cali Trippin': Heart It Races // San Diego and Gaviota Peak, From LA to Cambria, Meeting the Big Sir // Big Sur, Point Lobos and Carmel

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