Trip to a New Mexico Dude Ranch

Earlier this spring, I traveled with Amy, her parents, her brother, and her sister + family to New Mexico to spend a week at a dude ranch. We stayed at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch in Winston, NM. Well, technically it was in Winston, but in reality it’s about 50 miles away.

The ranch is one of the few privately-owned tracts of land in the Gila National Forest. We were truly in the middle of nowhere; cell phones stopped working 2 hours before we arrived. It was glorious to be completely off the grid!

The whole crew, from left to right: Megan on Smoky, Clark on Rooster, Cam on Strawberry Shortcake, Hannah on Lightning, Karl on Blue, Mady on Casper, Holly on Buck, Linda on Lips, Dirk on Casey, and Amy on Comanche.

As it turns out, there is a pecking order between horses, and my Smoky was the sensitive soul in the bunch. Once we figured out he wanted to be as close to the front of the pack as he could, and only wanted horses that live in his paddock behind him, we were good.

Me, in front of the pack, on Smoky.

We rode for 5 days; 2 days were full-day trips (ride 2 hours out, lunch and hike for 2 hours, ride 2 hours back) and the other days were ride for 2-2.5 hours, back for lunch, then ride for another 2-2.5 hours. Since we were the only people at the ranch, we got to pretty much determine what we wanted to do and when. Fortunately, Meris, the head wrangler, had lots of great places to take us.

View of the Gila National Forest between the ears of Sunny, Meris’s horse.

We rode up onto ridges, down into canyons, through streams, through cattle grazing pastures, and everywhere in between.

Across a field used for cattle grazing.
Crossing the creek one of 30+ times in Taylor Creek Canyon.

The national forest is simply gorgeous. We saw eagles, heard canyon wrens, saw elk (and found a baby elk skeleton), were surprised by small lizards, and generally enjoyed the natural beauty of the Gila National Forest in mid-April.I can only imagine what it looks like when the rains come and everything turns green!

Those are some cool mountains off the in distance. I didn’t really pay attention because my horse was getting ticked off at Amy’s horse and there may have been a small kerfuffle so I had to go to the other side of the top of the ridge so Smoky would settle down.
Crossing Upper Taylor Creek

There were many ancient Mimbres pit houses and cliff dwellings in the area which we got to see, complete with petroglyphs and pottery shards. (We took only photos, left not even footprints…)

Petroglyph in a Mimbres cliff dwelling
Petroglyph in a Mimbres cliff dwelling
Shard of Mimbres pottery on the ground near a pithouse site

The modern Pueblo are some of the descendants of the Mimbres people. This issue of Archaeology Southwest magazine offers a lot more information about the Mimbres people.

This juvenile eagle was the largest predator we saw because despite our best efforts, we didn’t see any mountain lions.  We did spend a lot of time saying, “Here kitty kitty kiiiiitttyyyyy….”



Juvenile bald eagle, looking for lunch in Wall Lake

34. Travel to one of the states I’ve never been to before

Flag of Oregon

Today I booked tickets to go to Oregon for my friend Mike’s wedding in July.  I’ve known for several months about the timing of this wedding, but just needed to actually book the flights. Done! We’ve got a couple of days before and after the wedding to explore the western part of the state – looking forward to it and would love to hear your recommendations on things to do. I’m not the least bit upset that the travel itself won’t take place before I turn 40 (which is TODAY) – the spirit of the goal was to go someplace new, and it will be accomplished. Woo!

13. Go to 5 of the 125 Places to Have a Beer Before You Die

There is this great list of 125 places to have a beer before you die, courtesy of All About Beer. It was published way back in 2008, but is a delightfully relevant list 2 years later (which I suppose is a good recommendation for a list like this.)

Amy planned our summer vacation around the list. Isn’t she awesome?

In order of how we visited them on this trip (not their place on the list):

Great Lost Bear, Portland ME

Great Lost Bear

Great Lost Bear

Gritty McDuff’s, Portland ME

Gritty McDuff's Gritty McDuff's

Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown NY

Ommegang Brewery

Ommegang Rare Vos

Clark’s Ale House, Syracuse NY

Megan at Clark's Ale House

The Blue Tusk, Syracuse NY

At the Blue Tusk

F.X. Matt Brewery Tasting Room (aka Saranac Brewery), Utica NY

At the Saranca Brewery

Saranac Brewery: Summer Brew and Pale Ale

Besides these five, I’ve already been to these places on the list:

  1. Monk’s Café, Philadelphia, PA
  2. Hofbrauhaus, Munich, Germany
  3. The Brickskeller, Washington, DC
  4. French Quarter during Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA
  5. Andechs Monastery, Andechs, Germany
  6. Goose Island Brewing, Chicago, IL
  7. Cooter Brown’s, New Orleans, LA
  8. Sunset Grille & Tap, Boston, MA

Other places we visited on our trip included:

Ithaca Brewery

Ithaca Brewery: Partly Sunny and Apricot Wheat

Empire Brewery
Sampler at Empire Brewery

Middle Ages Brewing

Middle Ages Brewery

Beer is awesome.

What I’ve Been Up To – February Edition

Playing with:

Amy and I received some money for Christmas and we’d been trying to figure out what to splurge on. One day I sent her an email asking, “Should we get a Wii?” I think you could have knocked her over with a feather she was so surprised. Needless to say, I’m not much into gaming and actually made her put her old-school Nintendo system out in the garage when we bought the house. But we got the Wii and so far I’m really enjoying our one game (the one that comes with it) with tennis, bowling, and baseball. In a few months we’ll probably splurge a little more and get the Wii Fit. I’ve heard such good things about it. Do you have any experience with it? Worth it?



We went to Cabo San Lucas, Baja, Mexico with my parents and Amy’s parents! It was wonderfully fun and although I wasn’t sick of winter before we left, I sure am now. You can see all my photos at Flickr. A few of my favorite memories:

  • eating my body weight in guacamole
  • snorkeling at Chileno Bay where we saw all sorts of amazing fish including a moon wrasse and several king angelfish
  • whale watching from our patio
  • four flat tires at the airport

moon wrasse kingangel

Photos courtesy Richard Ling (license) and laszlo-photo (license) on Flickr, under Creative Commons licenses.


Neil Gaiman. How have I never read anything by him other than his collaborative Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett) before? He’s an amazing storyteller. On vacation I read Anansi Boys and The Graveyard Book.

Other Stuff:

I’ve been doing lots of other stuff too (hockey, soccer, LWD – living with dogs, and working) and will probably write about some of those things at some point. I’ve also got a post brewing about useful software products for undergraduates (or other folks) who want to stop using so much paper. It involves things like Zotero and Evernote, but oh so much more…. Stay tuned!