Vacation, July 2011 - Angel Fire

The Story

We are back home: into 104F heat of Texas and humidity of Houston, but oh home sweet home - how nice to sleep in your own bed.

The trip was superb!!! A bit about it:

It was our first summer in Angel Fire, NM and we didn't know exactly what to expect, so we made sure we had almost everything that we needed for the trip and a lot of things we actually didn't end up needing (but it is good to be prepared anyway).

I better skip the driving part from Houston to Angel Fire (emotions prevail and blind my ability to type), I can only say that it turned out not as bad as we thought it would and when we got to the cabin I put all the driving experiences behind for good.

The city itself is located in the valley surrounded by the mountains - 8000 feet above sea level. The cabin we rented was up the hill (8600 feet), so the whole city could be seen from the porch like on the palm of a hand. There is an interesting fact we have noticed by entering the city limit: usually when you enter or leave the city limit there is a sign that says the name of the city and its population (at least what it is in Texas), here the sign has the name of the city and the elevation of it. Angel Fire is definitely a tourist city, although it is busy during major holidays only and very quiet through the rest of the year. The population is about 1000 people (the village I grew up in has the population of 4000 people and 4 times smaller by territorial standards as the size of Angel Fire). People are very friendly and it appeared that everyone knows everybody.

The cabin was big enough for 2 families (total of 7) and our dog Indiana, in a pretty secluded area of the forest and because of its position on the slope of the mountain it had a great view into the valley below where the main road was. Even though we brought everything that we thought we might need with us (like 1/3 of our house), the cabin named Lashley’s (after the name of the owners) where we stayed was equipped with everything you can possibly imagine: two level cabin with a deck on each story with plenty of space for everybody. It was wonderful to be together and at the same time everyone had their own privacy (since there were plenty of rooms).

Even though Angel Fire is a considerably small city (by Houston standards), it has a huge variety of indoor and especially outdoor activities. Dad, Malia and Steven took a horse back ride that seemed to be quite a popular thing to do in the area. My Mom and Frank went fishing a couple of times and they caught some good size rainbow trout that was excellently prepared by Dad for breakfast several days in a row. One day my Mom, Charlotte and I took a shopping "just ladies" trip to one of the closest city of Taos (40 min drive on a twisty and curvy Taos canyon road from Angel Fire). We also had trips to the local stores and ice cream place that sold Blue Bell ice cream (Blue Bell ice cream is a Texas invention by the way!). In one cloudy afternoon we visited the Vietnam Memorial that was build in Angel Fire in 1974. It is the only state park memorial of Vietnam War in the whole United States. …….

We took daily walks in the forest around the cabin: Zoya enjoyed the walks, she would sit in her green wagon, holding a stick or a rock ☺. Indiana had a blast of a time: he kept chasing the chipmunks that teased him all the time. One time we left the porch door open and a chipmunk got inside the cabin and hid itself in the corner of the sitting room behind the bookshelves. Who doesn’t know much about chipmunks, I’m telling you that although they are very cute, they can make a big mess in the house (they are very close to be as mischievous as their relatives squirrels). I was glad everybody was taking a snooze when the chipmunk got into the house, so I took my position on the couch with the broom: I wasn’t even moving, just breathing and trying to let the little guy know that there is nobody around and the grounds are safe to get out of the hiding. Finally after whole 20 minutes of sitting still it showed its head behind the shelves, I froze and the chipmunk did as well…. Another 15 minutes passed … both of us were motionless. Something creaked in the house and the little guest of mine moved and got under the chair that was very close to the open porch door, I took immediate advantage of the situation and through a couch pillow in the direction of the bookshelves in order to block the entrance to the hiding spot. It worked – the chipmunk ran back to the corner behind the shelves but the pillow was already blocking its way, so it went back under the chair. It was as fast as a mouse. I decided not to wait and put the broom I had into use, obviously the little guy didn’t feel welcome anymore and he seized the first opportunity to get out to the porch. I closed the door to the porch immediately. Pooh-pooh.

Another day when Steven, his Dad and my Mom went fishing we had quite an experience at the cabin with Charlotte, Zoya, Malia, Indiana and me. It was about 4-5 o’clock in the evening, very nice temperature to be outside. So we all decided to take a short walk down the trail that led from the cabin to another one. We had taken this walk on that trail countless times before.

We put Zoya in her green wagon and started to walk down: Indiana wasn’t on his leash, he was ahead of us in his search mode and the rest of us were walking slowly with the wagon and talking. 5 minutes into the walk there was a turn on a very slopey area, we all looked down so as to be careful not to step on the sharp rocks. A minute later I lifted my eyes to look for Indiana and there he was 50 steps away from me sniffing something under the bush and another 40 steps behind was Indiana!!!!!!!!!! A bear cub sitting and looking straight at us (or perhaps smelling Indiana). I froze in my tracks: panic swooshed over me. Before I even said a word (Mom was occupied with Malia walking carefully down the slope after me) the wave of thoughts attacked my mind: I had Zoya behind me sitting in the wagon and Indiana sniffing something between me and the bear-cub and the most striking was the question that immediately pooped in my mind: "If there is a cub, then where is the mama-bear?" I said to Mom: "Bear". It was all I could manage at a time. Mom stopped in her tracks and started to call Indiana, the cub moved and ran away. "There are two of them", Mom said, "We better turn back". Surprisingly Indiana came straight to us, I think he even didn’t notice the bear (by being so occupied with other smells around), so we slowly started to move back up. Well, it was the first time when I saw a bear in the wild. I can't tell that I was scared, but I was worried a bit for Zoya and Indiana. Afterword I told myself that I wish I had a camera on hand, but right there seeing the bear that looked straight at us it didn't cross my mind at all.

For the 2 weeks we spent time in the cabin, there were a number of times when we saw deer (bucks and does) eating grass and roots right under our noses or just passing by. One time there was a group of 2 and 3 just crossing the trail next to the cabin, so we all went to the porch and watched them walking by. The deer didn't seem to be bothered by the squeaky noises we made by walking on the porch. They just looked at us and then continued to chew on the tree roots.

All of us had a great time: Zoya has gotten used to the cabin and she played so well and she liked her walks in the green wagon. A number of times we all took her to the playground next to the Golf Club. Indiana kept chasing chipmunks and rabbits. During the second week we had daily showers that kept the temperature a bit down (lower 50s and higher 60s).

We love our trailer: it can hold so much stuff and the "garage" compartment is big enough to have all our 3 bicycles, Steven's motorcycle, Zoya's wagon and some other little items (like cribs, play-mats, baby fences, etc.). Steven and I were looking forward to a ride around Angel Fire. We took some motorcycle rides in and around on twisty roads – it was fun!

The day before we left the resort, we took a peddle-boat ride on the Monte Verde Lake. We could see that the level of the lake was at least 1 foot lower – it has been a very dry summer in many states including the mountain regions.

It was an awesome vacation: relaxing and at the same time full of activities. I’m sure we will be back to Angel Fire.

Of course we took many pictures, and here are some.