After our Texas summer camps last year, my family traveled to New Mexico for an outdoor adventure with our own kids. I took this picture of a sign posted in our hotel room in Silver City. We had just come out of the Gila Wilderness where we hiked 13 miles round trip to a magical hot springs way back up in the mountains. It was not a well-marked trail. We ascended a mountain ridge, followed it for a couple of miles, then switched back down into a narrow canyon cut by a small but swift river. Directions to the springs said, “you’ll cross the river some 15 times.” We lost count, and got off track, and wondered whether certain crossings counted as “crossings”. We thought we’d get to the springs in time to soak our tired bones before setting up camp. Nope. We had to give up, pitch the tent, and then find the springs in the morning. It was worth every single scratch, blister, and missed river crossing. Since it was early in the morning, we had the springs to ourselves. They were a perfect 94 degrees and we could have stayed there all day. 

The Gila Wilderness, designated in 1924, is our country’s oldest wilderness area. It’s not as famous as some of our other wild spaces, but you won’t find a lovelier place. It’s got the majesty of the mountains and the tranquility of high desert mixed with the funky vibe of New Mexico. I love it.

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t bone-tired when we checked into the Palace Hotel in Silver City. But you know how after you’ve been on a long back-country hike, you feel clean afterwards? (Not physically. Obviously. We were disgusting.) I mean that you feel like you’ve reset yourself. Like a snake, you needed to scratch up against some logs and rocks to shed something old and ugly that you didn’t even know was weighing you down.

That’s how I was when I read The Travelers sign.

“We are all travelers. From ‘birth until death’ we travel between the eternities. May these days be pleasant for you, profitable for society, helpful for those you meet, and a joy to those who know and love you best.”

If you’re ever in Silver City, please stay at the Palace Hotel. They offer an historic old building, uniquely quaint rooms, and a beautiful blessing to see you through your travels.