Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gallinas Canyon

The whole gang, left to right, back row first, my sons Nate and Jeff, Aaron and I, oldest son, Bryan and front row, brother Travis, his wife, Charlene and family friend.

Once again it's been too long since my last post. So much going on! I'm finally back in the studio at work after two weeks of home improvement projects and a wonderful camping trip.
July 30th thru August 1st we went on a camping trip to the Gila Wilderness with a specific purpose in mind. Along for the trip were my husband, Aaron, three sons, my brother, his wife and a good friend of the family. Gallinas Canyon is a place we know well. My dad took us there many times as kids and then as teenagers. This was also the last spot we camped with my dad during the summer of 2005. Camping has always been a favorite past time in my family. This time we were there to set my dad free, to spread his ashes in his final resting place.

One of the last times I saw my dad we discussed what would happen after he passed away. We discussed where he would want his ashes spread. Of course he told me he didn't care, he won't be here so it doesn't matter to him. When I mentioned the canyon to him, he agreed it was a good choice.
Wednesday the 30th we arrived at our camp site and set up camp. The weather was beautiful, the creek was running with lots of water and we found a perfect campsite at the end of the road. We spent the first night around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and playing music. My brother improvised a marshmallow song that was too funny! My dad always loved listening to Aaron and Travis playing guitars around the campfire.

The next day, after eating a yummy camp breakfast of Chorizo and egg burritos, we set off on a hike down the canyon to find the perfect spot. We had to cross the creek several times and in several places the water was up to our knees. The water was cold but refreshing. Our old 21 year old dog, Rusty, decided to follow us on the hike and had to be carried across most of the crossings. The canyon narrowed more and more as we continued down. At one spot we had to climb up the canyon hillside to get across a waterfall section.

We finally found a huge rock sitting in the middle of the creek with a small waterfall beside it and decided it was the perfect place. Just before we took out the box containing dad's remains, a Monarch butterfly flew by us and hovered over the waterfall as if to confirm "this is the place". My brother and I took dad's ashes out and together we emptied them over the waterfall and into the rapid water below. 
No one really had anything to say, it was a melancholy moment and we spent some quiet time giving each other hugs and saying goodbye to dad.

On the way down the canyon we had passed a spot with a swimming hole and small cave area. This is where we went back to enjoy a dip in the cool creek water and take a break before we hiked back to camp. We found a tree there and left a small memorial to dad. My brother had brought some teaching pins of my dad's and we carved his dates into the tree below them.
It was such a wonderful feeling of closure once we returned to camp. We had now laid dad to rest in a beautiful place and it felt as if he was there with us. 

Dad would have truly enjoyed the second night of camping! Sometime in the evening a big, dark cloud drifted in and settled over our camp. At some point my sister in law and I decided that it was time to get ready for the rain, and just in time! We got everything put away and the rainfly on the largest tent fixed just before it started to pour! It was one of those crazy New Mexico monsoon rains that went on for about a half hour and in no time there was water running through the camp and directly UNDER the tent we had taken shelter in. The best part was all the loud thunder and lightning. Dad loved thunderstorms.

Anyway, to make a long story short, we made it through the rainstorm, although everything was damp. The next morning we packed up camp and had to find someone to give us a jump start as the batteries on BOTH vehicles died. We made it home in one piece and since the trip I haven't felt sad about losing my dad. I just think about the awesome place we laid him to rest and how much he would have enjoyed the camping trip.


Travis said...

It was an amazing trip! Nicely written Paula!!
Love ya

Anonymous said...

Thank you Paula for posting these precious moments. I really loved the marker. Travis that was a great warm thought. I know Dan would of loved the time that you all spent there. The memory of carring Byrant as a newborn came to mind as I saw your dog being carried across the water. That was scary for me.
Love you all forever, Mama Minerva.

JafaBrit's Art said...

What a beautiful and special way to say goodbye in so many ways. A lovely post.

Anonymous said...

Paula, Travis and Families, Thanks for sharing with us. We know Dan would have been happy with what you did. He was so very proud of you!

Skip and David
Santa Teresa, NBM

Adolph Garcia said...

Paula, Travis and family, thanks for sharing this moment with us. Dan would have loved it. He loved ya'll very much. I myself will miss him tremendously!!

Adolph Garcia
Philadelphia, PA

Anonymous said...

I'm having a hard time seeing what I am typing with the tears in my eyes. Gallinas Canyon has so many good places in my memories. Your Dad would love knowing that he is permanently camping there. Love you, Mom and Tom

ljambro said...

Paula, Travis and Families.....Thanks for sharing this most appropriate tribute to your Dad. I am amazed at how often I think of him and forget that he is no longer there to visit with. I miss him. I remember fondly all the times we went to dinner and then to choir practive while Paula babysat for me. Then, as you kids got older, he and I would be off on some expoit or another. He was a good friend and I enjoyed his company. He was very proud of his family and I'm so glad that you are all at peace with this now. Thanks again for sharing, Jean

Paula Manning-Lewis said...

Thanks for all the lovely comments, so good to hear from everyone! Now I can hardly type through the tears in my eyes.


Anonymous said...

Looks like alot of fun! Thanks for sharing with us!

Lee said...

Thanks Paula for this update and for the stunning pictures. I know Dan would have appreciated the setting and the way the family said good bye. I will miss Dan. He was my best friend and it will be hard to start school at Chapin this year without him.

Poul said...

Dear Paula
What a fantastic blog. I which the distance between you and us weren't so great.
I remember the first camping trip I went on with dad, Minerva and you. Dad taught me to drink beer :)
Don't remember the place and it doesn't matter, it is the great memories that count.
P.S. Give my love to my room mate, Travis

Paula Manning-Lewis said...

Lee and Poul,
So good to hear from you.

I know you were a great friend to my dad as well. I hope we will stay in touch as I have always enjoyed hanging out with you and Ramon.

I also wish the distance was not so great. Someday I hope to see you again and meet your beautiful family!

cynthia said...

It sounds like a perfect family trip and tribute to your father!