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New Mexico

For the beginning of 2017, we're continuing our popular travel series, On The Road, with a visit to New Mexico.

Seeking restorative time with her father and dog, our photographer, Julia Cooper, ventured across New Mexico — with new Rye 51 products in tow — to give herself a renewed sense of gratitude and perspective for the year.

And the results, as ever, are striking.

"The overarching theme of this trip was change, I suppose.

Most people are focusing on starting afresh for the new year. And, in a roundabout way, I guess this does mark a new beginning in some respects.

But, more importantly, I simply cannot deny quite how much my life has changed in the past three months. And this trip, in many respects, is a testament to that change.

It all began about four or five months ago. I’d planned a trip to Aspen with someone who was once very dear to — and cherished by — me. As tends to happen, though, relationships changed and evolved.

Still, I was firm in my decision to make the trip. So, I decided to go with my dad. We chose to go to Ruidoso, New Mexico, as it’d only mean a day’s drive to reach snow.

And, with a dog like Toki — as some may recall — snow is a requirement.

The drive took us from cityscape to desert to snow. And, within eight hours or so, we’d arrived.

On our first full day, we drove to Roswell. I was last there when I was 12 years old and, frankly, the town is not as I’d remembered it at all. In my memory, it was a colorful, unique place. Today, however, it’s riddled with abandoned buildings, emblazoned with worn out signage.

Type was dated. Posters were peeling. And the lingering remnants of the early 2000s were on worn-out display for all to see.

I guess no one loves aliens any more.

The following day, we drove to the Lincoln National Forest in Ruidoso and White Sands in Alamagordo. The forest trail was a new experience for all three of us, and it was a good one at that. The trees were tall and silent; I could easily hear the crunch of the powdery snow beneath my feet. Toki ate so much snow, and had his puppy “zoomies.”

White Sands, later, was just a beautiful and pristine as I remembered. (I’ve been three or four times before.) Even with many people roaming around, there were enough dunes that you could claim your own and be alone.

Toki continued his diet and ate so much sand, interspersed with fits of happiness while digging holes.

The trip was brief, but it was emblematic of my place in life. Like Roswell, things have changed in my life. Things that were once wonderful were no longer the same.

I still struggle with that change. I’d claim to have completely surpassed that struggle, but the reality is much more heartbroken and disappointed than I’d prefer to admit.

But, like Ruidoso and White Sands, there has been plenty of positive change to balance things out. Ruidoso, in this case, reminded me that new experiences — even in familiar locales — can be exceptionally rewarding. When things don’t necessarily go your way, you can find solace and positivity in moments like that.

I realize that’s cheesy and trite, but I suppose there’s a reason for it being such a common cliché.

White Sands is, in many respects, a constant for me. Wandering alongside my dad, I was reminded to appreciate those constant — and sometimes easily forgotten — positives.

We ate. We laughed. He helped me shoot. Toki ate everything in sight.

It was the ideal way to refresh and take stock for 2017 — a brief, but restorative trip to be remembered."