Tag Archives: Arroyo Hondo

A magic time

Life really DID seem to be a fairytale.  I was living with the most beautiful girl I’ve ever known, in an old magic adobe house, just above the river.  Our road would take you down along our river, through its canyon, until you reached the John Dunn Bridge on the Rio Bravo.  Our Rio Hondo joined the Bravo just below that bridge.

I painted two of the best things I’ve ever done during that period.

I learned that magpies are not all they’re cracked up to be, though watching them frequently cracked me up!

Arroyo Hondo Community Center

I’d never experienced anything like the singularities we had in that relationship, or the  “matched hearts and minds” we had.  I’d never met anyone even remotely like her.  It was certain I’d found my “soulmate”.  She stunned me and said she felt the same way.

Right by the sign that says, “Beware of Rattlesnakes”
Poplar logs left on the truck bed to dry/cure
Right down the street from our old house.

She took me camping and re-introduced me to outdoor life.  She insisted on certain diet constraints.  When I followed her example I felt better.  When I listened to her and followed her lead, I was healthier.

What a spectacular and precious spot! We had this entire alpine meadow to ourselves. Prettiest place on Earth.
Mia holds off the impending stampede!
Our awesome campsite next to the Rio Costilla
House at Hondo
Where I lived with her almost a year on the Rio Hondo north of Taos. The adobe structure is over 100 years old.

She taught me to cook better food with less; to split logs with an axe and heat our home with a wood fire; to compost and to do all our laundry as simply and contentedly as possible, then hang it to dry outdoors.

I don’t know if we would have survived as a couple, had I not had an alcohol relapse, but I’d like to believe we might have.  I’ve never felt more in love or more admiration/respect for a partner.

I did so many wrong things to her ,though, and behaved so badly around her, I now owe her a huge debt of gratitude I will never be able to repay.

I used her to feel good about myself – when my whole life had fallen apart.  I told her I was a non-smoker then immediately started smoking when I felt secure with her.   I was frustrated and angry over the way my life had played over the last few years, and I directed much of that frustration and anger at her.  I abused her, and the beautiful setting of her home – a wonderful, clean, natural and spiritual place – to consummate a crash into depression and relapse of my alcoholism.  Last Winter was the worst thing, the worst terror and behavior, the worst darkness of my alcoholism; a time when I was 100% out of character and lost – manipulative, mean and dishonest.  I am not proud of, and will always regret, the way I treated my soulmate – a gift from God whom I abused horribly.

My biggest amends to her is to simply stay sober and stay out of her life.

She taught me things about the world and the wilderness that I’ve since relied on.  I’ve since gone out to the high mountains with little more than my tent, sleeping bag, and small stove.  She showed me how.

But I will never see her again.

When it starts to really hurt, this stuff about my son, and I start to cry, she is the one I first think of – the one I most wish was in the room.  The next several months, without her help and guidance, may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done by myself.

That’s just how I feel.  People tell me to just say what I feel and stop – before I go adding language, logic and persuasion.

The Dalai Lama has said, “contented abiding is our highest form of meditation.”  I have practiced this and know it to be true.  It’s hard to feel contented, though, when you’re abiding the disintegration and death of you child.


Northbound Again

Like the Dire Straits song but reverse the direction.

Leaving tomorrow or Friday for a week in the North country, mainly the headwaters of the Costilla River (right on the Colorado border) and the Blanca Peak wilderness area.  I’ve looked at Blanca Peak in awe, studied all the maps, and decided the best place to camp is accessible from the NE side (adding another 3 hours of driving).

My good friends, Debbie and Debi, will be joining us for the last few days of the adventure.  My best friend and sometimes nurse, Lysa, will be riding shotgun for the whole trip.

So how does a guy like me survive two nights in a freakin’ tent with three good-lookin’ women?  I’m thinkin’ the best way is to go to bed earlier than all my wild girlfriends, get settled, and make grunting noises when they bring all that girlpower into the space.  If that doesn’t work, then I go sleep in the car with the doors locked!

I’ve made two bamboo bobber rigs, and I’ve been practicing with my fly rod since April, so I’m gonna go terrorize those wild trout in the Northern Sangres!  All the fish I’ve seen up on the Costilla are really too small to eat; but the little monsters will be fun to catch & release!

Gotta stop in to see friends, too, in Taos and Arroyo Hondo; then the best AA meeting in New Mexico at Questa.  We’re going to hit the little club at San Luis, too.

Yayyy!  Finally going to the high country where it’s cool and we can experience a high-mountain thunderstorm!!!

Sadly I became such a worthless and arrogant prick, before I moved back South from Taos, most of my friends in the Taos area don’t even want to speak to me.

I no longer have the luxury of thinking I might never drink again; but two things give me much hope:  (a) I’ve never submerged myself to this degree in the honesty and humility of working our steps; and (b) I don’t have a lot of time left.  I don’t need to worry about staying sober for years.  Just today.  Just enough.

I want to die sober and surrounded by my loving, caring and TRUE family.  I can attain that.  Not so much to aspire to, based on the condition of my heart; but I’m 77 days sober and totally on fire with my own quirky step-driven spirituality.

Constant and persistent prayers for those of my past whom I have hurt or caused harm.  You are the most important people in my life, the ones to whom I owe the greatest debt of gratitude.

Que se vaya la paz contigo.




Most Scenic Place in New Mexico?

I beg to differ with the travel guides who call the Lower Hondo Valley the most scenic place in New Mexico.  It’s indubitably a beautiful little valley where I live, but our state has some mighty scenic places – like the Rio Costilla Canyon Southeast of the town of Costilla.

We spent the weekend exploring the high country of the Northwest Sangre de Cristo range – mainly places in the Questa Ranger District – and had a wonderful time camping in the high meadows surrounding the Rio Costilla.  The drive up through the Rio Costilla Canyon is simply spectacular – and doesn’t seem to have been “discovered” by too many foreigners.  The river – with its wild cut-throat and brook trout – is a “best kept secret” of local fishing fanatics and it’s easily the most beautiful little river in the state!

We also visited Cabresto Lake and found it overrun with jeep’sters and foreigners gone fishing in the stocked reservoir.  We also found it’s no longer maintained for camping, dirty and trashy, and too high for me to get along safely.  The altimeter said we topped out at 9600 feet before dropping only a couple hundred feet to the lake itself, and it was obvious if I stayed for long I’d not be able to do much of anything.

So we headed on North, thinking we might go to the Latir Lakes (which turned out to be closed) and discovered the Rio Costilla Cooperative Campground on the road up the canyon.  It’s an excellent place to camp, and one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.  One helluva beautiful little river!

We camped just below 9000 feet and I was able to get along pretty well.  I can tell, above about 8500 feet, that my heart barely keeps up and my muscles fatigue and cramp easily – a sign of the oxygen deprivation – but I’m probably safe to stay 2-3 days.  Above that altitude I start to lose so much function it’s not worth trying to stay long, and it’s likely dangerous for me.

We’re off to camp and fish on the Rio Chama next week, then I’ll bet we go back to Rio Costilla to fish and stay longer!