Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Been to the Desert on a Horse with No Name

Actually, it wasn't a horse.
It was an airplane.
Horse just made for a better title.

Last week I wrote a post about summer trips we made out west to see my grandparents when I was growing up. As is always often the case, that post started to run a little long so I decided to make it a two-parter.

You're welcome.

I mentioned in the Colorado portion of my stroll down memory lane that after we'd had our fill of the Rocky Mountains (is that even possible???) my grandparents would drive us over to New Mexico to spend time with my mom's parents and family. Essentially we exchanged the Rockies for the desert and Sandias.

I still remember riding the tram across Sandia crest. It was terrifying mostly because some of the crew rode outside ON TOP of the tram. You can tell my love of riding in a confined cable car high above the earth goes waaaay back.

My mom grew up in Albuquerque and we loved going to our grandparent's home there. It was a small house, about a block from a park, and we'd actually spent a year living in that house with my grandparents when I was a tiny tot. My dad was in Okinawa the year my sister was born so we moved in with my grandparents. I guess it was crowded but it's funny how I don't remember feeling that way. A kid's perception of space and time is a funny thing. My grandparents raised five children in that tiny house and we loved visiting the place my mom called home.

One of my most vivid memories of our summertime trips is the screen door. Do people still have screen doors? I remember my sister and I running in and out and my grandpa telling us not to slam the door. We couldn't help it...screen doors were made to be slammed, right?

When we visited Albuquerque we always made a day trip out to Santa Fe. I loved to see the Indian women sitting along the sidewalk with all their handmade turquoise jewelry for sale. My parents always let us buy something from the crafters and yes, we called them Indians back then. We certainly meant no offense and I loved their brightly colored blankets spread with all that gorgeous silver and blue. My love of jewelry apparently goes way back too.

I remember visiting some Indian ruins and I know they were near a place called Bandaleir because my mother very kindly noted that in a scrapbook she made for me.

That's my grandma in the back right beside my older sister with her blonde hair. In some pictures her hair is dark brown but this was taken in her blonde phase. I was totally enamored of my older sister. She is still pretty great.

My younger sister is in front of my grandma and she and I were like two peas in a pod. A pod that occasionally bickered, but still a pod. That's me with the pig tails and that lime green circle on my shirt was actually a giant smiley face pin. I loved that pin and my younger sister had one in hot pink. My grandma bought them for us because we begged and because smiley faces were all the rage back in 1971.

My mama birthed some skinny legged girls didn't she? You could actually climb inside a pueblo in New Mexico and you can see that my little sister is lovin' life. I appear to be very, very nervous and that's because I was. Ha-God laughs. It's kind of amazing to know I've traveled all over the world. If I could have seen the future my ten year old self would have collapsed into a puddle of her own tears. Thankfully life comes one day at a time.

Another special treat I recall about visiting my grandparents was the food. My grandma made the worlds best roast beef, mashed potatoes, and string beans. We still refer to that in our family as the 'grandma dinner'. She made your iced tea by the glass, ever so carefully sweetening each serving and stirring it with a long iced tea spoon. Remember those?

We also considered it a huge treat to go out for some authentic Mexican food. We had a favorite spot and my sister and I loved to watch them make the sopapillas behind the glass booth inside the restaurant. Sopapillas were nowhere to be found in South Jersey in the 1970's.

This is the only picture my mom has of all the kids with both sets of grandparents. It was taken in the summer of 1969 after my dad's parents drove us from Colorado to New Mexico. I'm dressed in orange which will make my girls smile, and my younger sister had a matching dress in lime green. Neon colors were big that year too which only goes to prove that fashion is cyclical.

The lighting is terrible and the photo somewhat faded but still, it makes me happy. I look at this picture and see a Colorado stream and a cactus in the desert. I smell bacon frying and the fresh squeeze of a lemon. I hear a barn cat's meow and the slamming of a screen door. I feel safe in the warm embrace of family.


  1. first of all, i love that song you referenced! i so enjoyed this post---it reminds me of my childhood too---and i love that picture--i can see why it makes you happy :)

  2. those pictures are just great :) and I think 'grandma dinners' are awesome :)

  3. I love seeing the pictures of you as a little girl traveling with your family. Reminds me of some of our travels.

  4. I am not sure if my first comment worked, but here were go again! I love all the photos and you sure looked cute in your orange dress! :)

  5. We lived in my grandparents small house for about a year when I was born. My grandparents were the best and I still miss them so much! I could tell which one you were- I could see your girls in your face. I do remember those long iced tea spoons. Haven't seen one in AGES! And the food at my grandmother's house? Let's just say I hope she's cooking in Heaven because I'd love to have her food again. :) Lovely memories and pictures! Have a wonderful 4th!

  6. I smiled all the way thru your post. One of your daughters especially favors you. And are you SERiOUs that someone rode on top of the aerial tram??? My palms sweat just mentioning a tram!

  7. Such fun memories! I've never been to New Mexico. I should put that on my list of places to go. I actually own four ice tea spoons! My mother-in-law gave them to us as a wedding gift. My hubby and I have talked about our grandmother's menus. :)

  8. I loved this post. Some of my best memories are the trips I have made. I still have long iced tea spoons....in my silverware. I did not get them with the stuff I use everyday. Have a safe and happy 4th.

  9. I always enjoy your posts and this stroll down memory lane is no exception. Sounds like you have been a traveler all of your life. Thanks for sharing!

  10. What wonderful memories! Our oldest daughter lives in Albuquerque so we love going there.

  11. I can just feel the summer in these photos! And screen doors.. you brought back so many memories.

  12. Yes, some screened doors do still exist. Ed's mom's house still has one on the back! You are so right about the children slamming them!!! My children are so guilty of doing that! And long iced tea spoons--I haven't seen one of those in years! Thanks for the memories :)