how we spent our winter vacation

A couple of months ago, my friend Trish called me.

"So, my friend is offering to let us stay in his house outside of Santa Fe during the Christmas break," she said.  "You're invited.  Wanna come?"

I probably waited half a beat to make sure that she wasn't kidding before I answered.  But seriously, a week with good friends and mountain views?  Is there even a way to answer that in the negative?

Naturally, we couldn't wait to get there.  Alex was excited about spending some serious time in the snow -- having never actually been in snow of any considerable quantity before, she was eager to try her hand (feet?) at snowboarding.  Marcus was looking forward to freshening up his skiing skillz.  Me?  I had three simple goals for this holiday:

1)  To relax, spending as much time as possible "lodging" rather than skiing, and as little time as possible working;
2) to take some awesome photographs of Santa Fe and the surrounding area; and
3) did I mention the relaxing and the not-working?

The anticipation was overwhelming.  The last few weeks of  2013 were spent preparing for our trip (Hats needed to be knitted!  Snow pants needed to be purchased!  Figuring out what "snow pants" actually are needed to be learned!).  At some point during that time, my friend Mark called, just to catch up.  As we chatted, it suddenly dawned on me:

"Dude, don't you have family in Santa Fe?"

"Yes -- why?"

"I don't suppose you'll be there at some point at the end of the year?  Because as it happens, we're going to be there ..."

He was.  And even more serendipitous, Mark's in-laws' place was less than a mile away from where we were staying.  Score.

We flew to Albuquerque, and then headed off into the mountains of northern New Mexico.  We arrived at our destination after nightfall -- a cozy house with the perfect fireplace, halleluia -- but the morning dawned bright and early, and the kids were ready to explore a world with actual snow.

To be clear, our little Texan children are wholly unfamiliar with the wonders of snow, so we decided that in an effort to get them acclimated to both ice and altitude, on the first day we'd take it easy.  Luckily, the house where we were staying is at the top of a gentle slope, and with a little bit of shoveling on Marcus' and Trish's husband Carl's part, as well as slight modifications to Carl's old snowboard, our kids could make like they were on the national bobsled teams of various countries.

Mostly Caribbean countries, admittedly, but countries just the same.


Since Mark and his family were so close, they stopped by several times over the first few days -- so needless to say, Mark had to give his son William (my godson) a turn:

I think William shows the most promise of being on a national bobsled team of a country that frequently has, you know, actual snow.  He's a natural, that kid.


After a while, the kids tried to use the snowboard as it was meant to be used.  Here's Alex giving it a go:

And here is Alex after having given it a go:


Not to be outdone, Marcus gave it a whirl:

I didn't take an "after" picture, but suffice to say that if I had, it would've looked very similar to Alex's photo, above.


Eventually, we decided that the kids were ready for the big time.  And so, armed with a "high-end" plastic sled purchased for $15 at the local supermarket, a few days later we headed for a proper sledding slope.

I hope you're grasping what a leap of faith and courage this was for us to take our considerably non-winter-accustomed children up on the mountain to do this.  People were racing past us on inner tubes, sleds and what appeared to be rockets at about 60 miles an hour, while our children were having trouble WALKING in the snow.

No, really, they were having trouble walking: 


But you know, kids are kids, and they learn fast, particularly if it's an activity that scares their mothers witless.  In no time at all, they were joining all the other human projectiles down the mountain, and with Marcus acting as a safety net, catching them before they plunged over various precipices to their certain death, they had a whale of a time.

Realizing that perhaps I didn't have the stomach to continue witnessing our husbands and children living out their death wishes, we all decided to spend the rest of the holiday following our passions:  Carl, Marcus and the kids continued their quest to find the perfect snow (and eventually even purchased lift tickets and skiing lessons -- the kids took to skiing like ducks to water, I'm told), while Trish and I spent our time doing the hard work of sitting by fires and chatting.   And, of course, a few times, I took solo hikes around the area to see what New Mexico light had to offer.

Unsurprisingly, it had a lot:

Gorgeous, gorgeous place.


Needless to say, our holiday was great: full of tons of laughter, and excitement and adventure, not to mention reconnecting with my dearest friends.  So, to Mark, Morgan & William, for their general joy and specific what-to-do-in-Santa-Fe guidance ...

... and especially to Trish, Carl and their kids, for both inviting us and providing laughter-and-wear-out-the-kids-fun every single day ...

... we owe a huge debt of gratitude.  And special thanks to Trish's friends for letting us use their beautiful home.

It was amazing, experiencing Santa Fe's incredible light.

To see all of the light and beauty I captured in and around Santa Fe, click here to see the new gallery.  It takes a bit of time to load, but I promise the light's worth it.


Song:  A new year requires a new playlist.  Click here to enjoy the January playlist, inspired by the mood and music of our little Santa Fe holiday.