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Sunday, November 08, 2009

A Visit to the Ghost Ranch

The Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, NM
This past week, I traveled to a place called the Ghost Ranch—located about 20 miles north of Abiquiu, New Mexico to be on staff at the CLASS Christian Writer’s Conference.

All of us were in for a surprise as we pulled off Highway 84 and headed down the mile and a half long gravel road that leads to the Ghost Ranch: we were cut off from the outside world. Our cell phones had zero bars in zero places; internet access was limited to a few hot spots; and we didn’t have a television.

There’s a certain stillness that is attractive about the place.

The dust swirls off the roads. The rock formations surrounding the buildings demand attention—especially if you are outside in the morning when the sun reflects off the earth toned colors. You have to go looking for a stream, but if you look hard enough, you can find one.

Animals walk around freely and pretty much get what they want.

One particular portly raccoon shows up every night and climbs into a trash can that sits outside the building known as the gathering place. He doesn’t mind people. But he also doesn’t mind having a little fun with them. As people walk past the trash can on their way to the bathroom, he pops his head out. More than one woman shrieked. I couldn’t help but laugh.

One night, as I was driving my golf cart back to my room, I heard a noise about 100 yards off the path. I turned my flashlight in time to see an animal that looked like a cross between a deer and a kangaroo. It had long floppy ears. Later in the week, I had a friend with me and we ran into several more of them. He said they are mule deer. He was right. I found a video of mule deer to give you an idea about what they look like.

And then there were the mice. If you left anything edible out, they attacked while we were in class. They ate chocolate marshmallows, gum, granola bars, and just about everything else. In fact, they even chewed on the buttons of a CPAP machine.

I’m not particularly fond of being cut off from society, but every once in a great while, it’s probably not a bad idea. God seems to beckon from the silence. You get to see wildlife in their natural environment. The landscape is awe-inspiring.

For a week, it seemed like the clock was been turned back 70 or 100 years to a simpler time. Not simpler in terms of not having hardship, but simpler in terms of having fewer distractions.

Truthfully though, I was glad to pull into my hotel room in Denver tonight, complete with four bars on my cell phone, free Wi-Fi in my room, without any concern for mice devouring the snacks in my duffel bag.

One trip back to a simpler time per year seems just about right to me.


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