I was nearing the first anniversary of my small heart attack and, maybe because the date was looming, my blood pressure started zooming upward — high enough to warrant another emergency room visit.

Luckily, this time no heart attack but an increase in BP meds.

My friend from grade school and I scheduled a vacation for the week following this incident. We met up at the airport in El Paso and drove to Silver City, New Mexico, for a week of hiking and eating healthful.

After about four days, I began to relax. It took four days. I haven’t taken a vacation since we bought the paper. I take mental health days here and there but no stretch of time long enough to relieve the worries of everyday living.

Getting on a trail rewards the mind and the body. We climbed up steps to the Gila Cliff Dwellings past waterfalls within a lush canyon covered in wildflowers.

We felt transported back to when the Native American Mogollon culture lived there in the 13th and 14th centuries, eking out a rough existence, completely dependent on the flora, fauna and land around them.

But the life they woke up to every day must not have been miserable. The nature around us is the same that inspired the beautiful pottery the Mogollons, especially the Mimbres, created.

We visited other places during our stay, coming back to the house we rented feeling grateful for being able to hike and for what we learned about in that area of southwest New Mexico.

Though my BP is still not what I’d like it to be, I’m continuing to exercise, lose weight and explore other cultures. And I feel rested. A vacation is essential.

Becky Clark, Editor