Friday, July 31, 2009

Color Carnival: Cerrillos Sign

Here's a very nice sign we saw in Cerrillos, New Mexico, promoting community art. To see more colors visit the other photographers at Color Carnival!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jemez Springs or at Least Looking for Them

Driving up from Bernalillo, through the Jemez Pueblo and the mountain town of Jemez Springs, we stopped at the Soda Dam. It has been over a decade since I was here last and it was sad to see that all the little dams within the cave had been broken away by people crawling through it.

Some creative soul, though, had made snakes and lizards out of nails hammered closely together on the entrance logs. Pretty cool.

There were probably 50+ people swimming here in the Jemez River, so it was quite a feat to get photos without them in it. We stopped at the first campground where I'd stayed before and it was full! Guess I'd never come during summer before.

Where have all the flowers gone? Young girls picked them every one.

The Jemez Falls campground also said full, but the park host let us know someone had just left and the site was ours if we could claim it before anyone else. It was a beautiful site.

We opted to stay two nights. Each evening an electrical storm blew in and it rained. This might have discouraged some campers, but since we haven't seen much of the stuff lately we were delighted. Rain--what a concept!

Sunday we spent the day looking for hot springs. We got up very early to beat the crowds the park host had described, and hiked the trail to Jemez Falls. There were numerous wild orchids blooming in the pine duff.

These little falls above the big falls were delightful...

as were the Harebells, Campanula rotundifolia.

Jemez Falls is always a lovely spot.

We backtracked up to the trail head and followed the trail sign toward McCauley Springs. Now, all of the hot springs I've ever visited were right alongside the river they were associated with.

The trail was strenuous, up and down, and kept climbing up and away from the river. Maybe because I was out of shape it seemed like we had already gone the 2.5 miles. Looking down from this precipice I could not imagine us further away from them. We came upon a little stream, and in retrospect, I should have stuck a foot in it. But at this point we gave up and turned around, retracing our way. The parking lot was almost empty, where were the throngs?

We met only a woman and her daughters looking for the springs. We talked again to the park host, who admitted he wasn't sure where they were as it had been a while since he had been. We decided to drive up the road where lots of people park, assuming hot springs were nearby.

Nope, folks were just going down to some part of the river where it was deep enough to jump from cliffs. Along the way we saw this flower. At first I thought it was Apache Plume, but I think it's something else I'll have to study. The locals here told us we should go to Spence hot springs as they were easiest to find and right on the river.

We got there and a strangely dressed man from Russia greeted us. I said hello in Russian and he corrected my pronunciation. He was wearing a dress shirt, shoes, and socks, but with outdoor shorts and sort of a woven safari hat. Maybe his luggage was lost, or is this how they look adventuring in Steppes? Or, perhaps a nuclear scientist (or spy) from Los Alamos with a small wardrobe?

Anyway, he seemed well versed on how to get to all the local hot springs, and in recounting our earlier trek to find McCauley he said we were basically there when we turned around! Rats! The newest problem, though, was both trails to Spence hot spring were closed due to landslides. While we were talking numerous locals ignored the signs and headed for warm waters. He did not want to risk his visa, and we really didn't want to incur any fines so we left.

Down the hill, and around the bend was a day use fishing park...might not a short hike up the river lead us to the springs? We were off, pushing through brush. And snakes. And crossing the river. And displacing fly fishermen. Finally, we saw the highway above and hiked out, realizing we still were no where near the springs.

Our solution? We drove down to Jemez Spring and rented a hot spring at Giggling Springs.

Years ago I rented this as part of an accommodation...there was the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, and the small cabin I stayed in, the Skinny Dipper! But the owners turned that into the dressing room, and now make their money renting the hot spring by the hour.

No wonder, as it's impossible to find the others!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Madrid and Cerrillos

If you saw the movie Wild Hogs (we haven't) then you might recognize Madrid. It was our first time to visit. We got in close to sunset on Friday and had this wonderful view from the rooftop deck of our casita.

The casita was filled with light, decorated with posters of the wildflowers of New Mexico, and even harvested rainwater. Very charming!

Once a company coal mining town, this village is now filled with galleries of artsy handmade items, local food, and music. During the 70's mining ghost towns such as Madrid, Jerome, Bisbee attracted the hippies who purchased places with $20 down and developed them over the years into real communities.

Here are some of the whimsical sculptures of our host Michael Austin Wright.

There's not a lot of downtown street parking, and some folks let you know how they really feel about it.

Apparently there was a self-proclaimed Marshall who made sure people parked in the right spots. He has since passed on, but his legend is still present.

Madrid has a sense of humor, too. If you look closely under the poster...

Saturday morning we enjoyed coffee at the local Java Junction.

Farmer Rick discovered a local green publication as we hung out on the patio there.

We did a little shopping. This means I was trying on clothes and looking at art while Farmer Rick discussed local foods with the shop owners. He can work the word manure into any conversation!

We had the most delicious salads for lunch at a cafe with three different names out front (none of which we remember but highly recommend). There were so many vegetarian choices it was difficult to decide. Next time I'll try the parsnip tacos.

Two miles down the road is the community of Cerrillos, where green turquoise is mined. We enjoyed looking at all the rock samples at the mining museum.

Even derelict buildings have style in New Mexico.

And so do the doors.

A small personal shrine.

We loved this image of Christ as a tree in front of the church in Cerrillos...

and this creative use of pallets! New Mexico is the land of recycle and we appreciate that aspect of this enchanting state.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Blog Friends Meet

Friday afternoon while driving through the Manzano and Sandia Mountains of New Mexico we were able to stop in to visit my blog friend Lisa and her wonderful family at Laughing Orca Ranch. We met through the Sunday Stills Photography Challenge.

We're both two tall southwestern ranch girls with cameras and lots of interesting animals! We are posing with the fly-masked Baby Doll, her lovely paint mare.

Here is Latte, a Mini LaMancha goat with the sweetest blue eyes and elfin ears. I want one!!!

And Moon Pie (or is it his sibling Mud Pie?) giving hand nibbles.
One of our many shared interests is in preserving heritage breeds. Both of us have Gold Lace Polish roosters ruling our roosts. To the left in the flock is a Churro, one of New Mexico's heritage sheep whose coarse wool is used in the making of rugs. Farmer Rick loved the llamas and now he wants one. (I have wanted a llama for a long time).

We loved the horse trailer too!!!

Lisa, thanks so much for the tour, cookies, tea and home grown peaches! Farmer Rick and I enjoyed our visit and hope you will come see us sometime!

Mountainair and Quarai

Friday morning we woke up and explored Mountainair, which isn't exactly in the mountains, but close enough to get a good mountain breeze and a view of them. I found four pairs of shorts, a shirt, and vest for a total of $3 at the Saint Vincent dePaul thrift store. Who needs shopping malls when you can recycle and be charitable at the same time? Saving so much on these name brands I could easily justify the beautiful little handmade ceramic teapot I acquired next door at an art gallery!!! (Does your mind work this way too?)

We had lunch at the Ancient Cities Cafe. (You could do worse.) Here's an interesting sign we saw in the parking lot.

Of course, we had to stop and buy fresh cherries and dried cinnamon apples from their produce stand. This very nice man was 11 in 1944 when they detonated the first atomic bomb near Socorro, NM. He told us it lit up the sky so bright it still looked like daylight at 3 a.m. and the fallout drifted over the Indian lands. He was very weathered, but his teeth looked brand new when he smiled.

We explored the nearby Salinas Pueblo Ruins at Quarai. During the early 17th century Spanish Franciscans founded this missionary effort in the once thriving Indian community.

Walking the surrounding trail, we saw what I think is Chokecherry, Wild Rose, Olives, and also Indian Paintbrush, Wild Geranium, and Indian Mallow.

From there we drove the Turquoise Trail through many small Land Grant communities to visit my new blog friend Lisa aka Rapunzel from Sunday Stills. Farmer Rick is chomping at the bit for a cup of coffee, so I'll write more about that fun visit in my next post.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

690 Miles and the Tar Baby

We actually made it out of the state in one very long day across miles and miles of Texas. We stopped at a new eatery in Del Rio for lunch and got filmed in their TV commercial. (Just wait until my client there sees me stuffing a panini in my mouth).

There was so much water in the Pecos River we now understand why our Frio is a trickle. The rains must have been falling in the desert. We saw many Texas towns that looked bombed out and falling down, wondering why there was even a dot for them on the map.

Near Dryden, we were singing along with Eric Clapton Unplugged when a piece of my jewelry fell between the console and car seat. We pulled over at a rest area so I could get out and contort myself to reach it.

When the mission was accomplished, I lifted a foot and thought I had stepped in bubblegum. But on inspection of my Chaco sandals I was standing in a small pool of tar!!! I suddenly understood how a dinosaur must have felt stuck in the La Brea Tar Pit. Arrrg!

I walked over to the dirt and did the Watusi. This did not remove the tar. Instead I picked up my own small rock collection. Now I had macadam feet. Farmer Rick helped me as we used bigger rocks to scrape off the tar and smaller rocks. Only I got one of these rocks stuck on my hand! As I walked I left goopy footprints and then got tar all over the car.

Do you recall the old story? Sadly, I am now the tar baby.

We enjoyed seeing the New Mexico orchards of what looked like Pistachio trees. In Roswell we saw a sign for the International Airport. I have no idea what other countries might fly there...perhaps they meant Intergalactic Airport?

It was dark by the time we reached Mountainair. We were exhausted and not in the mood to put up a tent. We opted for The Rock Motel, which is just about the cutest, nicest motel in which we've ever stayed. The super-fast DSL allowed me to upload some client billboards in a fraction of the time it would have taken on the wood-burning DSL at home.

Today we rested and ready to explore!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Stills: Nuts!

OK, rather than show a bleak photo of all the dessicated pecans falling off my trees from the drought, I thought I'd submit a cheerful and nutty self portrait from the archives! This was taken at the Pioneer Village during the Texas Folklife Festival.

To see some real nuts, visit Sunday Stills!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Don't Worry: You Just Aren't My Type

This morning we planted four types of cucumbers and some dill.

Pulling weeds in the garden this afternoon, I dislodged this Checkered Garter Snake, Thamnophis marcianus. We love diversity. This is a new addition to our species list. It was eating a small toad or spider when I ran for the camera.

For those of you afraid of snakes, there are a couple of comforting things you should know:

1. Snakes desire only two things in life--eating and mating--and you aren't appropriate for either.
2. You can outrun any snake.

During times of drought, they will come out after a rain to find something to eat. We got a little rain yesterday, which was refreshing. The evening air smelled earthy and complex, like patchouli. The sky is grumbling like it wants to rain again. Let's keep our fingers crossed!
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