Urban Exploring

Urban Treasure!

I realize not everybody lives in a place where you can hike to the horizons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go exploring! My traveling lifestyle really started in a city, the summer before my senior year of college, when I adopted Bowie, a hyperactive death row dog from a Pennsylvania shelter.

Bowie wasn’t a bad dog. Like many young, smart, active-breed dogs, he was in desperate need of lots of exercise. So we started going for a walk every morning, afternoon and evening. In a matter of weeks we had canvassed every sidewalk in my city and I had discovered places and people and shops and spots I never knew existed.

Those walks with Bowie taught me the single most important piece of travel advice I know: All you need to travel is time and a good pair of shoes.

Yesterday, I dropped my Subaru off at a garage in Santa Fe for a tune-up and to get its shimmy diagnosed (you’ll never believe what they found!) and spent the day walking around town.

The garage was just off Cerrillos Road, a main thoroughfare through Santa Fe. I have driven down Cerrillos a zillion times, but yesterday, on foot, I discovered a dozen amazing place I’d never even noticed before.

I spent part of the morning working in a great little cafe cleverly called “Counter Culture”, and then visited Opcit, the independent used bookstore next door, where I bought a book on Ghost Towns in the Southwest (sounds like a future road trip to me!).

Walking past the Santa Fe Hospice Thrift Store, I spotted a vintage copy of Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey in the window and bought it to give to a friend (I already have a copy) for 25 cents.

Heading north up Cerrillos, I stopped in a bike shop called the Broken Spoke to talk to them about maybe selling my mountain bike on consignment this spring, before I hit the road for the summer.

Then, I stumbled upon a real treasure: the Santa Fe Photo Co-Op. The owner of this shop, Lynn, has been collecting used camera and video equipment for the past 19 years and the place is full to the brim. This is a candy shop for anybody who loves cameras! I talked to Lynn for a bit and spotted a tiny Hit camera in a leather case. Lynn told me these miniature film cameras were sold in the 1950’s in gumball machines and at county fairs for $1. He offered it to me for $10 and I took it.

Hours later, the garage called: there was so much mud stuck up in the undercarriage that it was affecting the alignment and causing the car to shimmy. A $20 undercarriage wash and “The Raven” is good as new! Arizona here we come! 

For more on Urban Exploring, check out my previous post How Walkable Is Your Town and Ray Bradbury’s ominous short story “The Pedestrian”.

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently traveling the backroads from New Mexico to Alaska, writing and living out of a tiny Teardrop camper. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
This entry was posted in Bowie & D.O.G., Hiking!, New Mexico, Photography, Road tripping!, Sustainable Living, Vagabonding 101 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Urban Exploring

  1. TBM says:

    When I first moved to Boston, my hyper, but lovable dog, helped me explore my new city.

  2. Yep! No better traveling companion than an energetic dog! You have to get out more– otherwise they destroy your house. Now that’s motivation!

  3. Pip says:

    I used to have one of those little cameras! I’d forgotten all about it. Hmmm…wonder what happened to it?

  4. My guy forces me to meet new people all the time (I’m a little shy), because he just LOVES getting belly rubs from strangers. I’ve met uh, some “interesting” people that way.

    • Dogs are great icebreakers! When I lived in Baltimore, my whole social scene revolved around people I met at the dog park. Dog people are good people!

      • I was in DC for awhile, and we regularly walked in the city. A good number of people we “met” were afraid of Apollo, a golden retriever, simply because he was bigger than toy size. DC wasn’t too dog-friendly, in terms of sizes, and large dogs were a rarity. More common in the ‘burbs, though, where homeowners don’t have to contend with apt restrictions.

        I’m now in Seattle metro, and it’s a different story. Very dog friendly up here! Lots of bigger dogs. It’s nice.

        On a tangent – your pictures make me want to give the southwest a second chance. I drove through a couple states on my cross country trip and wasn’t too impressed, heh. But to be fair, I didn’t really see much of it from the highways. I would’ve explored some, but I was hauling a trailer at the time.

      • Yeah, Baltimore can be a dodgy place but I never had any trouble from anybody with big bad Bowie at my side! People often asked “Does he bite?” to which I usually replied, “Only when I tell him to.”

        Definitely give the Southwest another try! Hit me up anytime for recommendations. You can’t see anything from most of the highways in this country. Love the PNW too! I spent a year in Oregon. Have you been to Cape Flattery?

      • Not yet! I’ve been here only just a little over a year now. Between driving a gas guzzler (oh the rising gas prices!) and not having a lot of free time, I haven’t had much of a chance to explore.

        I’ve been wanting to head out there though! I’ve seen pictures of the Neah Bay and it is gorgeous. I’m going to try take a long weekend when it warms up, hopefully before I move again (eyeing Oregon – lower cost of living).

  5. This was such a inspiring post! I enjoyed joining you along your walk through that part of Santa Fe. I looked at the interesting links– the bookstore appeals to me, would have loved to have stopped in at the thrift store! One mistake I think people sometime make is adopting a breed of dog that needs plenty of outdoor exercise and running but leave it cooped up in a house all day and then wonder why the dog is hyper and uncontrolable.

    • Yeah, Bowie went through three different homes before I got him. His last owner brought him back to the shelter after he ripped up all the linoleum off his kitchen floor. I’m proud to say Bowie has never destroyed anything of mine. A tired dog is a good dog!

  6. Great post – I find that some people feel the need to travel to exotic places to “have fun” and “enjoy life” yet I find daily wonder and joy just exploring the area immediately around me. Even though it’s familiar, I always manage to find something new and interesting. Walking around with blinders on is no way to live life – every day can be an exploration and adventure as you’ve illustrated here. And good for you for getting all of that mud on the Subaru – I can measure how much fun I’m having by how much mud I get on my FJ Cruiser!

    • There’s plenty to be said for traveling to exotic places too! To each their own. I find it disheartening when people tell me they can’t travel, usually because of issues of money, time, fear or inertia. Hopefully posts like this one will inspire people to take a walk and see more of their world, no matter where they call home! Thanks for reading Laurie! Love your dog photos! M

  7. mjspringett says:

    Thanks i love your posts, MJ

  8. Great neighborhood you visited! Love Counter Culture’s haystack fries!

  9. Pingback: Grand Canyon Birthday Trek: AZ Road Trip! « Travels with the Blonde Coyote

  10. Oh I miss lunching at counter culture! I used to be a lawyer in Santa Fe. I’m so happy you stumble upon my blog so I could find you. I miss living in NM! Look forward to more! Elizabeth

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