Friday, November 25, 2016

An Attitude of Gratitude

Our travels bring us to southern New Mexico this Thanksgiving week. The desert environment is not what we nor most of our "northern" friends are used to experiencing this time of year.  But this week, whether cold or hot, snow or sand, turkey or tortillas ... we try to keep an attitude of gratitude wherever RVentures take us.

Grateful for amazing parks "just down the road"

We visited White Sands National Monument which is located 50 miles east of Las Cruces. This incredible work of nature is a result of the forces of wind, rain, and erosion on the surrounding mountains of gypsum rock. The resulting gypsum sand is more solid than the sands found in Great Sand Dunes National Park. The sand also does not readily convert the sun's energy into heat ... making our two mile hike cool and easy in our bare feet.

Grateful for interesting plants and landscape

Before coming to this area, I had the perception that the desert southwest was a barren land with little more than rocks and dirt. Nothing could be further from the truth. Flowering cacti, desert grasses and Rio Grande Cottonwoods have adapted to the harsh environment ... benefitting both the environment and us humans.

Ancient Native American peoples used parts of the soaptree yucca, pictured below, to make sandals, mats, soap, shampoo, and even dental floss as they made White Sands their home.

Grateful for beautiful hikes and the friends we meet along the way

We hiked along the Organ Mountains to Dripping Springs and enjoyed breathtaking mountain views,

... as well as views of Las Cruces on the distant plain.

This natural area was the location of a mountain resort and sanitarium in the early 20th century. Remains of some of the buildings as well as the Dripping Springs (yes, it was just a drip of a spring) greeted us at the top of the trail.

Along the way, I struck up a conversation with Jean, a fellow hiker and retired Air Force nurse from Texas. We enjoyed sharing "nurse stories" as well as "travel adventures" as we hiked. In true "nurse" form, our hiking pace picked up as we talked leaving Doug far behind.  

Grateful for the "Young at Heart" friends we meet

One evening we went to St Clair Winery and Bistro for a wine release party to benefit the local Habitat for Humanity. It was so delightful to meet and visit with longtime Habitat volunteers, Mac and Donna. At 94 years young, Mac still serves as official photographer at special events as well as at the Habitat build sites.

Grateful for bike rides to explore our current "home"

These bike rides brought us to beautiful sites like the Rio Grande river, Old Mesilla Plaza, and a few local breweries. Always happy when a Spotted Dog invites us in to try his IPA and Brown Ale! 

Grateful for walks that allow us to discover the local beauty.

We have found that one of the best ways to get a feel for a new city is to take a walk. Local beauty can be found in the unique homes, gardens, shops, and parks in the area.

Grateful for the local church communities 

They welcome us with open arms to share in their worship and culture. We enjoyed the Spanish influence in the art, song and worship at St Genevieve in Las Cruces. 

While we miss the monthly pancake breakfasts at our former church in Minnesota, St Genevieve's Gordita lunch introduced us to the tasty Mexican-style corn "pancake" filled with deliciousness. 

Grateful for our ever-growing "Habitat" family

I had the opportunity to work with future home-owners, Corina and Amorette last Saturday. Starting out, none of us claimed to have any "serious" construction skills, but by the end of the day, we were sawing, hammering and drilling divas! As we proudly showed off our nicely sheathed porch, we were grateful for the encouragement and support we gave each other. I look forward to joining them for a cup of coffee in their new homes when RVentures bring us back to the area. 

We are also grateful to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with our fellow Care-a-vanners. I made my first whole turkey in our microwave/convection oven and am always grateful for my enthusiastic "man with the knife". Doug was thankful to see that I also made his favorite Pecan-Topped Yams ... think of pumpkin and pecan pies combining to create the ultimate Thanksgiving side dish.

We shared good food and lots of laughs with our new friends. The dedication, skill, and camaraderie of our Care-a-vanner community is what continues to draw us to these Habitat builds and will keep us here in Las Cruces for an extra week of building fun. 


Grateful for each other

Yes, even though we may have our moments (OK, me more than Doug), we still are grateful for the fun we continue to have together as we explore this beautiful country and share our skills with others.

An attitude of gratitude can do amazing things ... like helping us to raise houses as majestic as the surrounding mountains!

Until next time ... Happy Thanksgiving ... Thank you for all the ways you share your attitude of gratitude to make the world a better "home" for all!
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  1. I love this post! Your attitudes of gratitude and wonder that all you encounter is contagious. I'm so happy we have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with you both.
    p.s. Tom says he was being funny licking his plate in that photo but he looks pretty intent, no? ;)

  2. What a classic shot of Tom ... can't blame him as there was so much gooood food! Love the laughter ... and encouragement of you and all the Care-a-vanners!