summer rolled on... and so did we. as july kicked off, we headed south to the land of enchantment for some r&r at the circle a ranch in new mexico. cade's cousin was getting married there and we were thrilled to go and celebrate with the family.
the circle a ranch has been a part of cade for as long as he can remember. it is a ranch owned by his great aunts (and other family) who bought the old hunting lodge and land and initially turned it into a girls summer camp. cade's mother spent her summers there when she was young as a counselor and she tells great stories of her time at circle a. after some time, the ranch transitioned from a girls camp to more of a hostel or wooded retreat area. located in the mountains near cuba, new mexico, it has been a place where cade spent a lot of time playing with his cousins as he grew up. i have heard so many stories of this place so i was so excited to spend some time there.
the road trip south was, again, a worry with a little one to entertain- but.. she surprised us once more! oddly, we did go through three pairs of shorts for her during the ride. i think it was because i just kept handing her snacks and juice boxes to keep her occupied. every once in a while, i would look back to see this face
and i would know it was time to take a running stop. other than that, she was great! cade and i enjoyed the time to chat and relax. life seems so busy lately so i really just crave the time cade and i have to talk about whatever floats to the tops of our heads. this picture actually looks like we aren't speaking about anything at all... but it documents the hours we spent on the road.
we arrived at the ranch late at night and by then violet was dying to get out and stretch her legs. despite the late hour, she immediately set out to explore all that she could. i was a little more pooped than she apparently was so i just spent my time trying to keep up while also catching up with the family and wedding guests. after some chatting and gabbing, we all retired to our beds. violet is a great sleeper so when cade's cousin ane was making sleeping arrangements, i told her to stick us anywhere that worked for the wedding party. i didn't even bat an eye when she asked if we would be ok in the large bunk room with 8 or so other people. sure!
well, violet didn't really live up to the sleeper i talked her up to be. at about 6 am the next morning, i hear a little voice calling for "ash." i sat up in my bunk to see violet standing in her pack and play with longing eyes pointing right at her "ash." she was ready to explore some more- and the rest of us were not. i picked her up and we sleepily headed out of the room to let the others sleep. it was an early start!
our first day there was the actual wedding day. we spent the morning making love birds to hang from the branches of the trees while we got to know the other guests who hailed from all over the country.
that morning, ane had asked cade, dylan and rudi to write a song that they could sing as she came down the aisle. she wanted something off the cuff and improvisational so they sat down with a guitar a few minutes before everything got started and began singing whatever came to their mind. soon, they had a small crowd listening in and laughing hysterically as the three of them came up with some GREAT lyrics. i love when cade is with his cousins. he is so close to them and you can see such a history. in this case, it made for a hilarious time.
meanwhile, as they practiced, violet had hit a wall. that early morning had finally caught up with her so she took a snoozer before the wedding.
i love that cade is really getting into the music here as i twirl my fingers in delight. this is pretty spot on in describing the song-writing-scene.
so as the wedding started, the boys took their seats and sang their hearts out. it turned out great.
ane and che looked SO dapper.
the ceremony was beautiful and you could tell that these two have a real love and respect for one another. it truly was a sweet ceremony. after the ceremony, cade's cousin, dylan, sang a song that he wrote about the ranch. this group of cousins is so close and the song is about all of the experiences they had at circle a. it was a nice touch to the event.
after the song, we all gathered in a cirlce on the lawn and those closest to the couple shared their thoughts and congratulatory wishes. as the sharing circle was going on, the sun was getting hotter and my pregnant feet were not having it. i looked down to see my skin literally busting out of my shoes. cade ran and got me a chair and i gladly took a break.
afterward, we feasted and danced the night away. ane and che had a great band come in to play. we all stuck on some mustaches and let the good time roll.
even vi got a stache.
violet also took this opportunity to explore some more around the ranch.
and she even convinced mike to help her do some sidewalk art. there were very few children there so she was basking in all the attention.
it really was a fun wedding. we spent the evening playing games, chatting and dancing.
the next day, cade and some other family members took off on a hike to the top of the mountain. i GLADLY stayed home. after my exploding feet incident from the day before, i looked forward to taking it easy that day. cade had a great time hiking without me...
while cade was away, some of the girls took the opportunity to sneak away to the house of an old woman who sells turquoise jewelry in cuba. i have always LOVED turquoise anything- maybe it is my indian blood. i have distinct memories of my great grandparents wearing it... the indian and non-indian alike, so maybe it is nostalgic. i also remember a ring my sister had as a baby that was turquoise that i envied. i always thought it would be great to find a baby ring like that for my girls. as we walked into her little shop, lo and behold, one of the first things i spot is a tray of baby rings. who'd a thought!? so this shopping trip was a highlight for me. we loaded up on some handmade goods and headed back.
later that day, after everyone was back, we decided to head over to the clay flats.
the clay flats are a HUGE expanse of clay that has been eroding over time. as the rain slowly washes away the clay, petrified wood and other treasures begin to surface. we hiked around, gathered cool wood pieces as souvenirs and marveled for a bit.
this place was heaven for violet.
we headed back to the ranch for games and gabbing into the night.
by the next day, much of the wedding party had left which made things a little more lonely but a little calmer as well. by now, violet thought she owned the ranch. she could be caught splashing in the stream, wrestling with the dogs and smelling flowers. she really was a wild child. i was even a little afraid of the dogs (they liked to gnaw and nip), but she would walk right over to them and let them nip on her as they played.
we spent that morning leisurely relaxing at the lake with the crawdads.
and we said hello to the horses
later, cade wanted to take us to see the other sights at the ranch. our first stop was alice's grave. alice was one of the original aunts who really embodied what the ranch was all about. she loved life at circle a and spent much of her time there. many of the stories from cade's mom, aunts and cousins center around alice. she died a while back and was buried right there on the ranch. her grave was an eclectic homage where visitors had hung trinkets in trees, sprinkled ornaments on the ground and left little notes for her. a sweet memorial.
after that, it was off to fairyland. when cade's mom and sisters were counselors for the camp, they used to take the girls to fairyland to explore and make flower rings and such. we spent our time walking through at dusk, which made it even more fairy-esque.
we hiked on a little more to "mini grand canyon" which is just as it sounds. we didn't stay long- it started getting pretty dark and i am not much of a hiker these days with my big, old belly.
it was our last night on the ranch and we really just took our time enjoying everything. we loved the company of family and the great time spent with them. i loved hearing all the folklore about the ranch (like how it was a hunting lodge in the early 1900s where they imported real lions from africa to release into the wilderness to hunt) and meeting people i had only heard about. i really do look forward to visits to the ranch- especially as our children get older. to say it is a beautiful place just isn't enough.
on our ride home, we detoured and headed to four corners for some running time and navajo tacos. we look pretty grubby but it was a great stop.
in the end, i can honestly say we were enchanted by the land that claims to do so.
we'll be back!