Destination: Land of Enchantment

New Mexico doesn't' get much love but it deserves it.

Up until 2016, New Mexico was just a state I drove through on my way between Texas and California. Even then, there was something that intrigued me. Maybe it was the mysterious Native American culture, the vast open landscapes, or the towering Sandia Peak. All of which I conveniently saw from my car as it hurdled down I-40.

As fate would have it, I was offered an internship in Albuquerque. Aside from the traditional weekends, I also had every other Friday off. More time to explore. I skimmed blogs, Instagram, and local magazines to help fuel my adventures.

Over the summer I climbed mountains, walked through canyons, waded though a cool bubbling spring, and relaxed in a natural hot tub. The views were spectacular, however the views from my apartment window weren't anything to complain about.

Summer in New Mexico is known as Monsoon Season. Often as the sun was setting, dark clouds would roll into the city and dump rain across the valley. For a few moments after the sun dipped below the horizon, a spectacular orange glow would create a beautiful contrast with the dark rainclouds. With time, streetlights and residences would continue the glow.

Eventually the stars made their presence known.

Having camped in the desert at night on prior occasions, I knew outside the light polluted city, there was much more to see. One evening I headed west on I-40 until the city and its lights disappeared. At this point I made my way to a dirt road and took it north for another 20 minutes until I was in complete darkness.

It was a new moon and after turning off the car, I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. With the help of a cellphone, I gathered my tripod and camera. Even on the lowest setting, the display on my DSLR was blinding. For the next half hour I fiddled with the settings on my camera, took a few images, and enjoyed the solitude.

As the summer progressed, so did my adventures.

There was a walk through Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

Another weekend took me to the top of Sandia Peak. The window of a stone shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s offered an excellent view of the mountain and adjacent valley.

The trails were endless---many presenting their patrons with a beautiful destination such as the alpine lake below. The icy waters were welcomed by tired legs.

There was Soda Dam Springs where clear, cool water bubbled up from the earth.

There was history in the hillsides at Bandelier National Monument.

There were natural hot springs in the Jemez Mountains.

There were classic cars and scenic byways.

Eventually, like all good things, summer ended and I had to head back to Texas to finish school. With only a few hours of light left on my last day, I headed to a bridge overlooking the Rio Grande. The water slowly snaked its way towards me---flanked by green brush. Birds floated overhead in the warm evening breeze. Before I knew it, the light began to dim. As the blue sky reflected off the Rio Grande, I reflected on my time in New Mexico. It was truly---enchanting.

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