Rugged Beauty

My parents have been visiting with us since Sunday night. Like true retired folks, they are perfectly content just being here and continuing their home routine at our home. They get up, go for a brisk walk, read their Bibles, and do Sudoku puzzles. My mom continues to ask me to take her shopping, while my Dad happily stays back to watch Korean dramas. My mom and I almost have our own Korean drama at J. Crew when I fruitlessly attempt to pay for my own sweater and her small purchase of socks. We play the same drama at lunch; she is a tough opponent and rarely loses. My parents continue to spoil us rotten by insisting on doing these things, and it shows how unfailingly generous and loving they are.

The boys started their fall break today so we switched up the routine. I awoke at an ungodly hour to check Twitter feeds on the balloon fiesta. Unfortunately, the strong winds meant no mass ascension flight today, so we let the boys sleep. One day we will make it to the annual Albuquerque affair! Instead, we decided to go hiking together.

True to form, Ethan met this change of plans with whining protests. Not only was he unable to view the Angry Bird and Darth Vader hot air balloons, but he was also being forced to exercise in nature with his family. Poor kid. He had as much luck getting sympathy from me as I had in paying for lunch with my mom. None. He dutifully packed his backpack with a first aid kit, snacks, field journal, and water bottle. Connor, true to form, was more excited about the outing. He also packed a small backpack with a matchbox car and bracelet. If you are going to be on a season of Survivor with my boys, your best bet would probably be building an alliance with Ethan. 🙂

We hit the trailhead with Connor enthusiastically leading us forward and Ethan reluctantly dragging at the rear. We were maybe 10 feet in when Ethan told us how tired he was already. His lack of enthusiasm was no match for nature though, and the rest of us were enjoying every moment of what my mom appropriately called “rugged beauty.”

Starting out in typical order

Starting out in typical order

Connor forges ahead

Connor forges ahead

Dad waiting for Ethan who lags behind

Dad waiting for Ethan who lags behind

Connor ahead has to wait

Connor ahead has to wait

Ethan bringing up the rear

Ethan bringing up the rear

Connor getting way ahead

Connor getting way ahead

Ethan falling way behind

Ethan falling way behind

We stopped when Ethan asked if he could sit down. We all stood and waited while he ate a granola bar and drank some water.

All party halt for E-dogg

All party halt for E-dogg

Then we continued our hike. That must have been some miraculous granola because Ethan finally started to get into the hiking groove. He joined Connor in leading and pointing out all the cool things: small ants and anthills, freakishly large ant and anthills, beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies, and different cacti. The boys went further than they had ever gone before. We were past the flat, wide trailheads and into the narrow, varied mountains. I even let myself daydream that true hikes with the kids were in the near future. Maybe one day we could all hike to the peak! Ethan actually agreed but honestly said he would probably be grown up when that happened. His cautious self stated he would have to prepare for something like that. Time to stock up on granola bars!

Grandsons with their loving grandparents

Grandsons with their loving grandparents

Cheese!

Cheese!

My parents enjoyed being with the boys in the beauty of God’s great creation. The weather was windier than usual but extremely pleasant with plentiful sunshine, blue skies, and the crisp fall air.

Prickly pears

Prickly pears

Colors like this pop in the desert

Colors like this pop in the desert

We even saw some unusual sites that excited our formerly reluctant Ethan enough to claim that this was the BEST day. We walked by what appeared to be a single corn stalk complete with a tiny ear of corn. What???

Corn??!!

Corn??!!

The highlight of sightings for Ethan by far was when the boys were leading our line of hikers back. “SSSSSSSS” That’s right, a snake started to slither across the trail. I did not get a picture (surprise, surprise) because I was freaked out at first wondering if this was the day I would be sucking venom from my boys’ legs. The harmless little guy was even more freaked than I and quickly slithered back into the bush and out of sight before I could capture his black and yellow image. What started in his mind as the worst possible of activities turned out to be the highlight of his little life. Ethan said excitedly and repeatedly, “This is the first time ever in my 7 years and 11 months of living that I have ever seen a snake in the wild!!”

I was a little homesick after viewing gorgeous shots of the great city of Chicago today. However, I do appreciate the rugged beauty here. New Mexico is full of natural loveliness as well as exciting adventure. It might be disguised and harder for some to see than others, but it is undoubtedly there awaiting discovery. Here’s to more discoveries!

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