TRAVEL // From Kelsey: Trip to Santa Fe & Vallecito Lake

Howdy! I just returned from a week-long vacation in Santa Fe and Southern Colorado, and I'm sincerely missing 70 degree weather. The trip was a special one for me and my family, as it was a trip to spread my grandpa's ashes in places that were important to him. He passed away over the holidays and we chose an outlook outside of Santa Fe and my grandparents' cabin in Pagosa Springs to have some special moments together.

Along the way I was reminded of how powerful the Southwest can be. In a day's drive you can go from dense forests and winding roads to open highways and rock deserts. Something about the altitude has a heady effect, and it starts to become clear why people claim to see aliens and get really into crystals.

In Santa Fe we explored the plaza, window shopping in all the galleries out of our price range. One such gallery was a tiny yet airy adobe building featuring the work of photographer William Clift (who we featured Monday.) I initially stopped in because it looked like a change from the turquoise and silver of many of the Plaza businesses. His work was haunting and evocative, where the split of a canyon stirs up just as much emotion as a portrait of a young girl wrapped in a blanket.

The next day we drove the mountainous Highway 550 to Croll Cabins, a set of cabins among many sets of cabins by the Vallecito Lake. Vallecito is one of Colorado's prettiest lakes, a mountain valley that also sits in the middle of San Juan National Forest. We were just outside a decent range of cell service, which allowed for a lot more time fishing, swimming, canoeing, reading by the lake, etc. The cabins were brown-carpeted relics from the seventies, which made the trip all the more nostalgic.

It was a trip that was simultaneously nostalgic, relaxing, and emotional. My mom's family spent many summers in the mountains of Colorado, specifically in Pagosa Springs. We got to revisit the cabin that my grandpa built by hand for his family to vacation in. Each summer he and my grandma would travel to Pagosa up a steep hill to their land, where he would add a little more every year until it was complete. It was a bittersweet trip, but one that allowed us to say goodbye and to show these spots to a younger generation of our family who hadn't seen them yet.

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