Las Cienegas & The Empire Ranch

Have you ever felt so completely content, so at peace with your surroundings, so happy with your current situation that you want to share it with the world? That’s how I feel this week. Out here in the grasslands of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area I feel that if the world were to end right now, I would be happy knowing that I spent my last few days among this grass, these tress, those mountains in the distance. I know that’s a pretty dramatic statement to make, and it surprises me even as I write it. But it’s the truth.

Las cienegas
Perfection

Sometimes I fear you all must think I am being a tad bit insincere with you. I mean, let’s face it, almost every time we move to a new location I’m gushing about how gorgeous the mountains are, how magical the desert is, how charming the town was. Sometimes I feel like a broken record repeating the same adjectives over and over again. I mean really, how many times can I tell you about the incredible mountains, or the magnificent view before it all starts to sound like one big cliché? Here’s the thing though. It’s ALL true. There really are that many places in the U.S. that can be described as incredible, and magnificent, and gorgeous, and fantastic, and all those other words that I find myself using over and over again. Which is why I am completely content to be right here, right now. Not because this is the absolute best place we’ve ever been, or the best place we’ll ever go, but because I know there are SO MANY wonderful places out there…and we are lucky enough to be discovering them all.

las cienegas
Home in the meadow

When you travel like we do, always planning the route ahead, the next stop, the next adventure, it can be easy to forget to enjoy where you at that moment. I find myself in a constant state of excitement about where we’re going next. Every time we begin the process of packing up to head onto the next place I get this little thrill inside of me. This tingle that can’t wait to be out on the road again. Which is good, in fact it’s great, because it means that I love our lifestyle. But there’s something to be said about feeling content with where you are right at this moment, rather than always thinking about what comes next.

las cienegas
So many roads to explore

I don’t know if it’s the fields of swaying grass, the constant soft breeze, or the sheer beauty of this place, but this week I feel like I finally figured it out. I finally figured out what this traveling lifestyle is all about for me.

las cienegas
A wild looking Mesquite tree

It’s about being happy with where we are right now.
It’s about the excitement of where we’re going next.
It’s about loving all the wonderful places we’ve already been.
It’s about the thrill of places we have yet to discover.
Which for me all adds to up this remarkable feeling of peace and overwhelming happiness.

Las cienegas
The lovely grass of the grasslands

A few days ago we visited the Empire Ranch. This historic cattle ranch has been here in the southern Arizona desert for 135 years.

Las Cienegas
Barn & Windmill

It began in the 1860s as a small homestead with a 160 acres of land and a basic four room adobe house. Over the years the house, the land, and the success of the ranch grew. In the late 1980s after a series of land exchanges, the BLM took over management of the ranch and today leases out a portion of it for continued ranching. The original property, along with the house, (which underwent several major additions over the years) is currently being preserved and restored by volunteers through the Empire Ranch Foundation.

Las Cienegas
Empire Ranch

The house is open for self guided tours, and as we walked around the outbuildings and explored the house, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever be content to live in a house again. I used to want the stability that a house, a yard, a garden, a big kitchen, and place to entertain provided.

las cienegas
Even this old fashioned kitchen is way more kitchen than I need

I used to think that’s what life was about. Even when we decided to travel I always thought someday I would want to go back to that. I mean that’s what people do, that’s how people live right? But lately I’m not so sure.

las cienegas
Doorway to…

Lately I wonder if I might want to live like this forever. Roaming from place to place, discovering new views, new people, new experiences, new ways to find happiness. I am okay with all this wondering and pondering, because the great thing is that right now I don’t have to decide what I want for the future. Right now all that matters is that I have found a way to be content right here, right now – wherever that may be.

las cienegas
Some great details in this old, much loved house

Today is our last day here at Las Cienegas, and it’s raining. It’s been a long time since this area has received any much needed moisture, and for us this is the first time we’ve seen rain since sometime in the beginning of December. The steady rain means no long bike ride or hike today. It’s means we’ll have to forgo any further exploring until the next time we return. That’s okay though, because instead we are inside our cozy home listening to the soft patter of drops on the roof. Reading, writing, cooking, and of course, feeling content.

Stainless Steel LUX Drinkware

Fantastic, high quality cups. We use them for everything from smoothies to wine. Each cup comes with its own cloth bag to prevent scratching.

$39.99

Every purchase helps support this blog

10 Responses to “Las Cienegas & The Empire Ranch”

Comments

  1. Bill and Jodee

    Wow. Really, wow! While the previous post on “a day in the life” was good too, this post just…..well, wow!!! You are always well-written and the pictures are beautiful and I always want to be where you are and be doing what you’re doing. I’m that way with a few other bloggers too. But how I want to feel about the life we’re planning…..that’s what you captured here. I’m sure there are days when things aren’t going right and you don’t feel this way at all – nobody’s perfect life is perfect everyday – but to be content and excited at the same time is priceless. Thank you for sharing it and reminding me that what we’re working hard for now really is out there.

    Reply
    • Amanda

      Yes, what you’re working hard for really is out there! As you said, it’s not always perfect. Even full-time travels have bad days. Sometimes I feel sad to be so far from everyone we left behind, or anxious because I am not sure what to expect from our next stop, or just plain tired of always having to learn my way around a new town. But those bumps along the way are nothing compared to the overall feeling of well-being that has grown stronger and stronger the longer we spend on the road.

      Thanks so much for the comment!

      Reply
  2. Joanne

    Amanda, thank you SO much for this post! We’re in the midst of getting our house ready to sell in preparation for this wandering life, and your affirmation helps to bolster my resolve to part with our lovely house.

    While your blog is one of my favorites and is a lovely travelogue, I’ve felt it has rarely given me a sense of who you are personally and where you stand after all these months with this choice you made. That has changed lately, and this post tops them all. Thanks again!

    Joanne

    Reply
    • Amanda

      I am so happy that my post has helped you let go of your house. I remember well the bittersweet feeling of preparing our house for sale. I will say though, that by the time we drove down the driveway for the last time I was ready to let it go. And from the first day of our travels I knew we had made the right decision.

      I am also glad that you’re enjoying the more personal posts. They are always hard for me to write, both because it’s more time consuming, and also because frankly it’s a bit scary sharing my personal feelings in such a public way. I’m working on making my posts more personal though, and it means so much to me that you took the time to comment. Hope to see you out on the road someday :)

      Reply
  3. weather

    you’ve been given a gift of wonder,keep it close and so much will be well

    Reply
  4. Jeanne

    What a delightful expression of love for life! Thank you.

    Reply
    • Amanda

      Thanks Jeanne! It’s not the kind of post I normally write, but for some reason I was feeling especially reflective that day. Must have been the rare rain :)

      Reply
  5. Lenore

    Thanks Amanda for putting into words what I so often find myself feeling. We’ve been full timing now for almost three years and can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m enjoying being a parallel traveler with you. (Our paths have not yet crossed, except here.)

    Reply
    • Amanda

      I am so happy that I could express our shared love of life on the road. I truly hope that we can meet in person someday!

      Reply

Leave a Reply