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Adventures on a Harvest Moon Hayride

After I moved to El Morro Valley in the Fall of 2009, I was amazed how sociable everyone around here is, especially for such a remote and scattered rural community. I was amazed how everyone loves getting together with friends and neighbors for dinner parties, dances, drum circles, costume parties, cookouts, local outdoor music fests, May Day celebrations, creative workshops, landscape outings and the list goes on and on. The friendly outreach of my neighbors drew me out of my solitary nature into the whirlwind of creative community interaction.

To do my part to contribute to the unique, fun-loving, neighborly atmosphere in El Morro Valley, the idea of a hayride popped into my head. I already had a 16' flatbed trailer that I had purchased to haul my 2nd and last load of household junk to my new home. I needed several good reasons to justify buying it.... saving the cost of renting a U-haul trailer, for hauling firewood, hauling building materials, and TO HAVE A HAYRIDE. That was good enough justification for me. . When I told my neighbors Bob & Nita of my hayride idea they jumped eagerly onboard the idea and became co-hosts, contributing hay bales from their barn, their beautiful fire pit, hidden amongst the giant rocks, below El Morro Mesa.  Neighbor Kate had a bunch of loose hay she donated from her Feed & Seed Store, for the floor of the wagons.  My neighbor Jill and I had a fun time cutting 50 willow branches for the campfire weenie roast, in marsh in the canyon across from the Anasazi cliff dwelling. I was amazed to be standing in the very footsteps of the ancient dwellers who lived in those cliffs 800 years ago, and cut willows branches in this same marsh, for their community weenie roasts! ;)  

We would have loved to invite the entire community, but with only one 16' wagon (flat bed trailer) that seated about 30, we were limited. The initial guest list of 30 friends and neighbors, grew to over 45 as invited guests asked if one or two of their friends could come along (the answer was always Yes). Fortunately Bob & Nita had a small ATV trailer that we loaded with hay and the 15 overflow hay riders, just before embarking on our moonlit journey. Hopefully next year we can round up more wagons and invite everyone. Someone even suggested that we have a Community Hayride & Campfire Weenie Roast as a fundraiser to help pay for the "Big Top" tent at next year's Fall Harvest Festival. Sounds like a great idea!! Any Volunteers? Stay tuned!!

Everything just fell smoothly into place as the hayride morphed from an idea into a real life adventure. The colorful spectrum of the happy hay riders ranged from the teens & twenty something’s to ninety something. We reflected the colorful diversity of friends, from the many different paths and walks of life, that make El Morro Valley such a unique, interesting, fun, adventuresome, "never a dull moment" kind of place to call home.

We really wanted to create an "enchanting" atmosphere and experience for our guests. The evening of the full moon on Saturday, October 23, 2010 turned out to be the perfect evening for our "magical mystery hayride". A light rain had fallen the day before (reducing the fire danger & dust), the wind died down as evening approached.   The autumn chill in the air encouraged the hayriders to snuggle up under blankets to keep warm as several flasks of hot spirits were passed around spreading even more warmth & good cheer.

The hay wagon slow rolled from Highway 53, 1 1/2 miles down the dirt country road to a perfect vantage point on a ridge overlooking El Morro Valley. There everyone disembarked at sunset for some hot spiced wine, appetizers, and to "Oooow & Awww" as the clouds magically parted, vanished from the sky, and the golden Harvest Moon rose over the ancient ruins of Atsinna Pueblo high atop the El Morro Mesa.


The enchantment grew as everyone reboard the hay wagons and we rolled slowly down the ridge through the night landscape bathed in the light of the full moon with song and laughter floating in the air.

A warm bonfire awaited, where we roasted weenies over a camp fire with willows, then marshmallows for smores, followed by some good ole guitar pickin, singing and drumming by firelight and the silvery moon.

Everyone seemed to be beaming like the full, bright moon watching over us. After several hours of merrymaking around the campfire, as the firelight dwindled and the yawning was becoming contagious, everyone climbed back on the wagons for the final leg of the journey back to their automobiles. Right on cue, at the close of our adventure, the clouds magically reappeared and sealed the starry moonlit sky from our view, plunging the landscape into darkness. A perfect ending for a wonderful  Starry Starry,  Moonlit, Autumn Night Time Adventure "In the Wild" with friends and neighbors.

Photo Credit, Hollis Cellout