Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Santa Fe

Back in a big city. Well, not that big but bigger than almost every other place we have been for past month.  Actually we have already departed Santa Fe but pretend we are here now. Too cold most of the time to really get out much.  We restocked the larder, got the RV serviced, ate some wonderful food.
Old railyard where farmers market is located
I must say it was a bit of an adjustment to be in a faster paced energy here.
Basilica of St Francis of Assis.  Parton Saint of Santa Fe
Also it is a bit more expensive than other places.
Some cool painted posts

Vendors on the central plaza

We noticed this today at the Whole Foods Market. When I went out to resupply our drinking water, the machines charge $0.30 per gallon where everywhere else we have been charges only $0.25 per gallon.  A little thing, yes, however, indicative of higher costs.

 We did go out to eat every night, our one indulgence.
Cafe Pasquale.  Home of the Best Chile Relleno EVER!
Fuel is about the same all over New Mexico right now at $3.43 per gallon. Cheaper than Moab, from what can see.

From inside the Baslica
New Mexico, in the Spring, has two kinds of weather,  windy and very windy.  We try to plan our excursions when it is only windy or breezy (less than 20 mph). Very windy (30+ mph gusting to 45-50 mph) are days when the chill creeps through our senior citizen bones so we try to spend those days indoors.  One day we visited the State Capital where legislature and governor have offices.  The artwork was the compelling reason. I didn't take a lot of photos of the art but here are a couple

Notice the materials used here
From one of the moon walks

Our stay in Santa Fe began with balmy weather so we headed out side up to Vaias Caldera and Bandelier for a day.  The next day we had scheduled the RV to be in for routine service the wind came up, so we headed indoors spending much of the day in the public library. Sraddha wasn’t feeling well so needed quiet.  I had work to do with the online Ananda Library so what better place than a public library with internet access.

Cottonwoods by Georgia Okeefe
 One day we visited the Georgia Okeefe museum.  Always different.  There was an exhibit of Okeefe and Ansel Adams in Hawaii.  Couldn't take pix though.
Gerogia's cook book collection in orginal boxes 
Saw this unusual parking sign outside the library.  Turns out it is not DOT sanctioned.  Still real fun

Am doing this quick post.  Honestly because of the weather we didn't take a lot of photos.  Too cccccooolddddd. I had hoped to shoot a lot of color.  Next time.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Turquoise Trail

Quick note to all that we are in Santa Fe, New Mexico for a few days.  Arrived yesterday afternoon amidst a growing windstorm and landed at a nice little RV park in South side.  Pretty quiet for city life and near to everything. We had camped at Manzano state park (elevation 7600 ft) one night amidst the pines. Quiet and primitive but only $10, no hookups.  We liked the price and the view.

On the Road Again

Good Advice

Amongst the Pines in Manzano State Park
Interesting little choo choo on lawn mower

En route from Manzano State Park, we drove north over the Turquoise Trail east of Albuquerque.  The trip up from Texas has been on all back roads.  Haven't seen the interstate for 400 miles.  And won't for another 600+ miles until we reach Salt Lake City area May 9 or 10.

En route, we stopped at a couple places along the way.  We stopped in Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid), a few miles south of Santa Fe.  A former coal mining area which became an artists colony back in 70's.
Very narrow road caused us to almost not stop.  At north end we spied a possible parking location in a big lot next to a studio and the artist waved us in.  We parked and visited the studio.  Forgot to take photo here.  We walked back up the main road to see some other studios.

We also encountered this alien and his cowgirl freind.

Space monster


Apparently, near Madrid, Cerrillos Turquoise is mined and many of the local artists use this in their jewelry.  It is unique, pretty form, different from anything we have ever seen before.  We didn't buy any though.
Cerrilos Turgoise (photo from a website not my photo)
We found a rug/blanket merchant who specializes in Navajo, Tibetan and Oaxacan blankets Sraddha loves textiles and fabrics.  We visited with the proprietor for a long time and ended up finding a new bedspread for our bed in RV.
New Bed Blanket
This is amazing Marino wool.  So soft. It can also do double duty as a blanket for the couch and wrap around on cold mornings whilst meditating or sipping coffee.
Rangewest Stone Fountain

One other artist was really interesting.  Rangewest fountains creates these really neat stone fountains, carved from rock found in an abandoned goldmine nearby.  The tops and bottoms are level and they drill a core down the middle through which flows water which then flows all over the rock on all sides.  It sits on a solid metal box with grate provided by the artist, stable enough to hold the weight. THe grate is covered with river stones and a pump lives in the box which recirculates the water flows back up to top of fountain. An amazing design, simple yet elegant.  Sufficient water flows to make it mesmerizing and quite meditative.

We drove up to central plaza area to have dinner at Cafe Pasquale as recommended by our long time Ananda friend, Jivani. We arrived early without reservations and lucked out with a table. It did not disappoint.  One of the best Chile Rellenos we have ever had with home made sauce.  Cilantro Rice, Corn Torte and grilled banana.  We did not need desert. The service was delightful.
at Cafe Pasquale last night
Today we took Charli, the RV into Hank's for routine service.  Had to be there by 0800 in order to get service done today.  New brake pads and fluid,  lube, oil change, filter, annual generator service,  routine inspection, etc.  Trying to do the preventative maintenance as much as possible.

We picked up our packages and mail at US Post Office general deliver station.  We had several Amazon packages, new water filters, and mail which came to village address.  Thank you Paalaka, my friend.

Now doing some shopping and using coffee shop to download updates and publish blog.  Also visited the local public library.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In the Tulies with Birdies, Pistachio's, Petroglyphs and Lava Beds.

White Sands forms the south end of the Tularosa Basin, or Tulie Basin, as some call it.  Truly out in the Tulies, trust me.  Wide open spaces, and also some interesting local places.  High mountains surrounds the 200 mile long basin. 

We arose with sun and headed out for some early morning birding.  Light was good.

Last Early morning birding at Holloman Lake

I managed to get some passable photographs of some of the shore birds feeding and flying.  The swallows were particularly difficult with their dodging around so fast.  I had to handhold and try to catch them in good light.  Did ok.  Avocet was easier as it is larger.  Click on any picture to make it larger.

Greater Yellowlegs (in front left), Avocet, Stilt 
Ring-Billed Gull Flying

Avocet Flying
Ibis and Black Necked Stilt
Violet Green Swallow
(Talk about hard to photograph)

Barn Swallow in flight

After some early morning birding, we pack up, head north, fill up Toad at the local Alamogordo Walmart, dump trash and recycling and fill up water jugs.  All in one stop. A little bit north, we find a Pistachio Farm
Pistachio Orchard  20,000 trees here
Did you know that New Mexico grows huge amounts of Pistachios.  Apparently this area along with the area over by Las Cruces in southern New Mexico is similar in climate to Iran, the main source of world wide Pistachio nuts.
Pistachio nuts soon to be harvested
We buy some Pistachios both regular and green chile flavored.  Nothing says New Mexico like green chile.  Unfortunately when we arrived at our campsite and broke out the bags we were disappointed with the quality.  Last year's crop.  Fortunately we placed a call with the vendor who is going to refund our money.
Old International truck in good condition
We head north along the highway.  Clouds are really wonderful.  Not much wind today (yet...)
Heading north through Tularosa Basin
Some of my train buddies have been giving me a hard time about not seeing trains.  Well, one buddy in particular.  You know who you are.  Seems there is a major north-south rail route through the basin. We saw 4 trains today in both directions.  I caught this one below by pulling over along side of highway as he passed.  He tooted his horn!.  Note the new streamlined car behind the engine.
Mainline North-South Union Pacific Train. We saw several today  
We stop at Three Rivers Petroglyphs area for lunch.  What a sight.  We can see Sierro Blanco in east which is 12,0003 mountain on Mescalero Apache Indian reservation.
Lunch at Three Rivers Petroglyph area (BLM)
This is a BLM site which we thought we might want to camp.  Nice place with flush toilets. We hike the trail to see some of the 20,400 petrogplyphs from the Mogollon era sometime in distant past.  Some artists were quite busy.  You could see different styles.
One of many, many Petroglyphs in area
I could put up a lot of photos but here are a couple.  We spent maybe 2 hours hiking around looking at them.
Cool design.  this artist was a bit more sophisticated than many we saw
We decide not to camp here and head north to Valley of Fires Recreation area where we are now.
We pull into the BLM camping area and find an incredible space.  There are some with electrical but we don't need it.  So we pick a dry camping spot on mesa overlooking the lava beds.  360 degree views.
Our Campsite at Valley of Fires overlooking Lava Beds
We get out the chairs, the aforementioned Piastachios (notice bowl), water, iPad (we have good internet here) and proceed to spend next 2 hours watching sunset.
Looking South from Valley of Fires campsite with Sierra Blanco in background
This campsite is amazing.  I would say it has it all.  Internet, cell service, view,  only $6 per day.  We will return here and spend a few days as a base next time where we can drive to various locations.  Beautiful locations with good internet and cell are hard to find.  This is a keeper.
Sunset reflections over Tularosa Basin
Next morning we hike around the lava beds.  Apparently 1500-5000 years ago the northern part of Tularosa basin opened up cracks and vents in the earths crust whereon lava flowed out.  Not erruptions but just flowing like some places in Hawaii.
Crack in Lava Bed 
The lava flows are over 40 miles long in certain areas which then cooled, and nature took its course.  Now all kinds of vegetation, plants, animals live in area. 4 different kinds of bats sleep in the cooler cracks left behind below ground.  Birds, lizards, rabbits,  coyotes, etc.  Amazing variety out in the "Tulies"  wouldn't you say?
Another Lava Bed
The wind was heavy overnight but now calmed down.  I have a conference call at noon.  With spotty internet north of here, we elect to spend a leisurely morning and will head out after noon call and lunch, northbound.  Only have 70 miles to drive and a couple stops along the way.  We expect our destination campsite not to be full, so have made no reservations.  Such is the life of nomads.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Holloman Lake

Down the hill from Cloudcroft we go in a driving rainstorm, descending about 4500 ft in a short 14 miles.  We elected not to hook up Toad, so Sraddha followed me down.
Washing the RV and Bikes
Oops, we forgot to put on the bike cover.  When we got to Alamagordo, we discovered the rear end with the bikes were covered with road dirt and mud from the rainstorm.

A lot of cleaning to do so we found a car wash and backed up to it only to have the manager come racing over thinking we were going to take off the roof.  He re-directed us to another location with a bay large enough to enter.  Whew.
Gee Are there Birds here?  Lessee
We found a free campsite just 2.5 miles north of White Sands called Holloman Lake.  It sits adjacent Holloman Air Force Base where they do missile testing.  Actually the missile testing is on the north side of base and we are on the south side.  Another whew.
Out our front porch looking west at Holloman lake 
360 degree view from our location.  Below, looking east, are the Sacramento Mountains (9,000 ft elevation) from whence we came the day before.  Atop is an observatory if you click on photo to enlarge.  Alamagordo is to the left out of the photo.
Our Campsite at Holloman Lake
We ventured over to White Sands National Monument amidst a brewing thunderstorm.  Warned not to be on top of the dunes when lightning strikes we were careful as we hiked around.
Facing southeast into teeth of thunderstorm.  
 I tried to get some lightning shots but am not fast enough on the trigger.  hehe.  Still fun.
Panorama of above photo
We drove as far out into the dunes as possible then walked out 1/2 mile further.
Photographer at work
 We couldn't get very good photos of the dunes due to flat light but the clouds were awesome.  Eventually I suggested we head back to car as the storm approached.  About half way back the wind really kicked up the wet sand and we just made it back without getting soaked.
Our tracks up one of the dunes.
 We made it back to the RV to watch the rest of the storm.  OOPS we left out the solar panel and chairs which all got knocked over.  No permanent damage but a warning of next time to be more carelful.

That was only time out on the dunes.  Next day we just hung out all day around the lake.  read and photographed the incredible birdies.  Sraddha saw 37 different species.  Avocets, Ibis, Egret, varioud sandpipers and other shore birds.  More on that later.
Last nights sunset. 
I sat outiside shooting the sunset last night til it was real dark and cool.  Not cold.  Calm winds right now.  That will change tomorrow.  It is spring, after all.
Snowy Egret
Flying Avocet