Nightwalking, New Mexico, tornado.

It’s been awhile since I posted, so I thought I’d put something up just to let you know I’m still here.

I’ve been on vacation, driving westward to Fort Davis, Texas, where I attended a Star Party (my third) at McDonald Observatory.

Then I drove to Silver City, New Mexico (stopping at a food co-op in Las Cruces), where I visited a beloved friend for a few days and explored this old hippie town with its own food co-op, a lot of artists, and craft stores. It rained every day, August being the monsoon season. (They were showers every afternoon or evening.) Picnicked in the Gila National Forest and enjoyed catching up with Laura.

I then drove to northern NM, passing through Albuquerque (stopping at yet another food co-op) and skirting Santa Fe (next time) on my way to Taos. 

I camped 4 minutes from town at the Las Petacas campground in the Carson National Forest for a fee of $3 per night (half price due to my NPS senior pass). There was no running water, but there was a toilet, and my campsite was situated where I could listen to the wind in the pines and a babbling brook, along with occasional highway traffic. Showers are available for $2 at the Youth and Family Center.

I was there for a Nightwalking workshop led by my Austin friend Katie Raver, who teaches Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) in Austin and other places around the U.S. and the world. Katie has inherited the mantle of my first NLP teacher Tom Best, who has passed, who learned nightwalking from Nelson Zink. (I had attended a couple of Tom’s nightwalking workshops, been on nightwalking outings with friends, and daywalked trails in Austin with a peripheral vision training device. I use peripheral vision often.)

The other teacher was Nelson Zink himself, who lives in Taos — he’s the originator of research and classes in nightwalking back a couple of decades ago. Katie persuaded him to help her teach this, and he was an excellent teacher (being a long-time psychotherapist and author of one of my favorite books, The Structure of Delight), a pleasure to meet, and a treasure of a human being. Nelson knows the good trails around Taos, so it was safe for a bunch of (mostly) Texans.

Our classes were in the early afternoon, with a dinner break, and then gathering in a rural location to walk at night. Oh, by design, this workshop coincided with the new moon during the Perseids meteor shower, and I saw some great meteors — a few in my foveal vision as clearly as possible, and many in peripheral vision.

The nightwalking was fabulous. You learn to easily distinguish between dark and darker and trust your feet. (They know where to step!) Your other senses really come alive. We walked two trails, one forested and one on a mesa leading to the Rio Grande gorge.

There was plenty of time to explore Taos in the mornings and for dinner. Places I particularly liked:

  • The Coffee Apothecary has free wifi (my campsite had no cell service) and a great matcha latte. I saw some long lines while there. It’s a popular place.
  • I had a good dinner one night with a friend at Doc Martin’s on a Saturday night. There was live music in the adjacent bar, and the food was delicious.
  • Five Star Burgers was a good place for our group to meet up the night before the class began.
  • I enjoyed SOMOS Books and Brodsky Bookshop, where I picked up How We Die: Reflections of Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland MD. Read this book if you’re ready to bust illusions about death.
  • A friend and I visited the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram and its Hanuman Temple (under construction). Neem Karoli Baba is the guru of Ram Dass, the singer Krishna Das, and some of my Austin friends. (Yes, there’s a well-worn path between Austin and Taos.)
  • The classroom part of the training was held at Winter Corn Place, a retreat center in the country near Taos developed by Nelson’s wife Chelona Zink. It was comfortable, with a classroom, well-equipped kitchen, big dining table, and comfy living room. Some of my classmates stayed there. The landscaping is fabulous.

On my way out of town, I met a friend at Ojo Caliente Spa and enjoyed the mineral springs, a mud bath, sauna, steam room, and a very nice lunch before hitting the road back to Austin. I broke the 12+ hour drive into two parts, getting into Lubbock at 10:30.

One morning, I drove through the Carson National Forest to Angel Fire for the fabulous mountain scenery, and I just happened to witness a small tornado! This sequence of photos occurred over about a 3 minute span. It was maybe 8 miles away toward Eagle Nest, and I wasn’t scared, having previously lived in tornado alley, Oklahoma.

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I enjoyed my time in New Mexico, learned some good tips for adjusting to the altitude with ease, and dearly hope to spend all of next August exploring New Mexico.

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