Since August I’ve had three oil changes in three different states. I’ve gone from Seattle to Wisconsin to Vegas to Key West to Boston and back. I’ve heard Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera’s “Moves like Jagger” approximately 700 million times on radio stations across the country. (My car and my iPod are apparently not compatible).

So when I got home last night and threw my first load of clothes into the washer, I was only thinking one thing: Thank God I’m leaving in three days.

And I am beyond excited about this next trip. This past month I’ve been screaming “I can’t wait for New Mexico!” in inappropriate places (Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, for example) because not only do I love hiking through red canyons, but this will also be my first press trip.

The opportunity to horseback ride through the Zuni Mountains came about by my participation in MatadorU’s travel writing program. I knew enrolling in the course was a good idea after seeing my instructor’s byline in National Geographic Traveler, but tons of magazine contacts and a plethora of press trips are also definite bonuses.  

This trip to New Mexico comes from the Blue Desert Guide Company. Started by two former teachers (teachers! my favorite kind of people!), my trip with BDGC means visiting pueblos, hiking in the Bisti Badlands and the Chuska Mountains, staying at the Oso Vista Ranch, exploring the Canyon de Chelly, watching Zuni dancers, rock climbing, and horseback riding. And I’m only seeing a small fraction of what BDGC can offer. Guides Amanda and Vino have lived and worked in New Mexico for several years, and their connection to the area means that they can take travelers to reservations, ancient destinations, and off-the-beaten-path locations not accessible to most people. Their website is full of stunning canyon and vista shots, proving that there is no better combination than red rocks and blue sky.

I already know that the area is gorgeous. A trip last summer from Mesa Verde, CO to Las Vegas took me though the Four Corners region. I was dying to stop and look around, but the rock stuck between my brake pads meant that my car was hell-bent on screeching its way to the nearest auto repair shop. I can’t wait to return in someone else’s vehicle. Mine needs a rest.     

I’m most excited (okay, and a little bit nervous) for the rock climbing. I’ve always wanted to be surrounded by ropes and mountain cliffs, but never had the chance (aka, I’ve never dated a guy who’s been into rock climbing. Now I don’t have to). Kokopelli Adventures is going to swoop in for this part of the trip, and I hope my arm strength will not disgust them.

Excuse me while I do a set of push ups.

I’m excited to flex my writing muscles as well. After re-reading press trip advice on Kaleidoscopic Wandering (my go-to blog for travel and writing advice) and talking to Julie Schwietert from MatadorU, I have a list of publications to pitch to. Plus I have twelve different people telling me to take pictures of everything I see, collect contact information from everyone I meet, and write down even the minutest of details. So if this blog is suddenly inundated with 342 pictures of the bathrooms at the Albuquerque airport, you’ll know why.   

So I’m off to go buy another memory card, get my climbing arms in shape at the gym, and get another oil change. Maybe I’ll hear “Moves Like Jagger” on the way to the store. Maybe I’ll forget I’m home and check into the hotel down the street. I kind of hope so. I already miss being on the road. New Mexico cannot come soon enough.