I love the land – most specifically mountains, meadows and shores. I love the way the pines smell like my childhood camping experiences and how the hills and valleys hold the clouds’ shadows in the afternoon. The still of a mountain lake at both ends of the day; the embrace of everyday grass under bare feet; the change in the air that signals an ocean is just a few miles out of sight. It’s a love affair that few of my city-raised peers could understand. Next to being in love, rarity that that is, it’s often been the land that most makes me feel life’s worth. And that’s where I’ll start this story.
The first days of my trip I expected to experience strong emotions. Big life changes tend to bring these things about.
I’m going to cry at some point, and it will all be downhill from there, I told myself, a diagnosis and treatment plan wrapped into one thought.
But nothing came during those first days, except for frustration at the traffic getting out of LA. I’d thought that as soon as I hit the road the feelings of both fear and excitement for the future would wave over me. They did not. The breweries of Flagstaff didn’t bring them forth, nor did the panoramas of the Grand Canyon. The vortexes of Sedona (if they exist) didn’t pull them out, and the charms of Santa Fe only brought feelings of “oh, this is nice.”
As it turns out, it takes a big piece of green, rolling landscape to make me get that oh! there it is! feeling of really being alive. And that landscape was New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway:
The Enchanted Circle is a route running from Taos—a town that quietly resembles and sits just a bit above Santa Fe—through the countryside of northern New Mexico. This 83-mile loop throws a variety of visuals at you, evidenced by this small sampling of images taken during my drive:
While it’s better captured in images (or in person), you can also read about New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway here.