I like the word enchantment. It conveys a sense of wonder or delight. An enchanted land to me would be an inviting place to visit. A place where I could escape the realities of the world: a time of no work, but rather relaxation, daydreaming, and viewing beautiful scenery. I have been fortunate to have such a place, a land of enchantment.
New Mexico’s state motto is “The Land of Enchantment.” It is certainly that for me and my family. We live in West Texas with open spaces, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, as far as your eyes can see. I like the rugged beauty of West Texas, however, each year I am ready to retreat from the summer Texas heat and visit the mountains of New Mexico. It is our favorite getaway of the year. We visit the Texas coast in late spring and usually have done a visit to a major city outside the state once a year, but we need our annual pilgrimage to New Mexico to rest, reflect and refresh.
As far back as the 1960’s I had visited New Mexico as a teenager to snow ski with my family. In the late 70’s my wife’s parents from Lubbock, TX took us to visit New Mexico. In the 1980’s my wife and I began to travel to New Mexico for a yearly camping excursion with our small children. We would search for state parks that provide camping with quite a bit of privacy. The four of us, and eventually five, would sleep in one tent.
The days were comfortably warm and the nights were quite chilly. We were always cold to be honest, often wearing four layers of clothing in addition to the blankets on top of us. I always looked forward to the warming myself by the morning campfire with hot chocolate. I also loved the hearty breakfast my wife would dish up. I always seem hungrier in the mountains. A good hungry if you know what I mean. We would lounge, goof around the stream, play with the fire, and read. We also would take some time to hike.
Our hikes were short, maybe four or five miles round trip. The problem was, I cannot recall a time when I did not have to carry one of the kids. It comes with the territory of being a dad. I was young and in good shape but found myself wanting to get back to camp and rest.
I enjoyed our camping in New Mexico. Of course I camped back in Texas, but it had to be in spring or fall, not the summer. There was a problem however with our remote camping in New Mexico. There were no toilets. The boys and I had no problem with being Daniel Boone out in the bush, but as the years went by my daughter became a teenager. She and with my wife yearned for a cabin. I had my doubts I would like a cabin but needed to be sensitive to their desires. After ten years of the wilderness they were ready for a change.
My wife arranged through a friend to rent a cabin that would meet our family needs, yet was remote. It was a large cabin with three bedrooms, a ping pong table, a kitchen, two toilets, big fireplace, and was isolated in the New Mexico forest. It had been designed for family reunions. No phone, no TV reception, no internet, no cell phone reception. Most days we would eat and walk a very short distance to one of several springs and read a book. We always allowed one day for a drive of a few miles to a larger stream with a great hiking trail. The trial traversed the stream, the type where you have to criss-cross the stream on rocks or trees. We had to cross the stream about a dozen times. The kids loved it. My greatest remembrance of our mountain stream hikes were the years we brought our dog that loved to snoop and play in the stream.
In the evenings we would play ping pong, work on jig saw puzzles and play board games. I have always liked board games and always will. If it was just the boys and myself we might play a strategy game like Risk. If my wife and daughter were open for a game it was often TreasureTrove. Our family played TreasureTrove for almost twenty years before I ever had it marketed to sell. It was a great game for a family because it only takes 30 to 40 minutes to play.
I found myself sleeping better in the cabin and had more time to relax without always building a fire in order to cook. I had liked my camping days but found myself enjoying the cabin. The years passed and we eventually became empty nesters. It has been some time since all the family was together on our mountain retreat. One time it was just my wife and I, and we had a very enjoyable time. A great time to share with no interruptions. My daughter often tries to come along as does my wife’s sister. The boys prefer the family vacation to beach, but for my wife and me, it is the mountains of New Mexico that will continue to beckon us. We hope to visit the beautiful state of New Mexico for the rest of our lives. The folks that graciously rent the cabin to us are a blessing, as is their cabin. The greatest blessing is seeing the beauty of God’s creation within the New Mexico forests. It is indeed a Land of Enchantment.