Diablo Canyon to Rio Grande

Yesterday, a hike seemed to be in order. It had been cooler the past few days, and we'd been around two weeks and not really gotten out of the city.

Last week, I stopped by a "yard" sale in the apartments — a couple, moving back to Richmond, Virginia after having been here a couple years, after, of course, living in Arlington. They had a book of day hikes complied by the local Sierra Club. A few years old, but a range of hikes, difficult to easy, local to far. And all with good driving directions. We set out on the Diablo Canyon to Rio Grande: 6 miles round trip, 400' elevation change, 3 hours.

Packed a lunch, and off we went. The drive was almost an hour, the last half on bumpy, bumpy, rutted dirt road. Poor little Golf.

The trail starts off through basalt cliffs...

before coming to an arroyo that leads to the river. The sandy ground on the arroyo made for hard going; we took to just wandering off it and into the surrounding area.

In the distance, a thunderstorm seemed to be brewing. We weren't too concerned, the past few days had seen some storms, more clouds and noise than rain and lightning. And, out here it's tough to judge distances. Anyway, clouds were welcome.

We had lunch by the Rio Grande. Looked to be high and flowing fast.

The return hike, almost exclusively off the arroyo, seemed to take longer. The storm seemed to have swung way around to the other side, missing us completely.

It's a bit late in the spring, but there was a fair amount of flora:

And some fauna:

About four hours, round trip, including lunch break. Two-and-a-half liters of water each.


The Nervous-making Bike Tree

Photographed from the very chair I'm sitting in as I write this.

M&D In SF Pt. IV: Photographic Proof

They stopped by on the way to Albuquerque, after spending an hour at the flea market. We went to Bert's for lunch. A really good lunch.


M&D In SF, Pt. III: The Plaza and Beyond

Cooler today, the unusual highs of the 90s the past few days gave way, after some wind last night, to a cloudy and cooler morning.

M&D and Sandy met us at our place around 10, and we turned around and headed to the Plaza. M&D were on a mission to get some presents for folks back in Connecticut and to squander my inheritance. Circled a few stores, then headed to the Indian vendors at the Palace of the Governors. Always a selection of some beautiful art and jewelry, and Mom found a few pieces. They were already kind of New Mexico food-ed out, so passed up on The Shed in favor of their usual Santa Fe lunch spot, Geronimo. Over on Canyon Road, a respectable walk. They had their favorite, elk, Sandy joined them, and Monica and I had a terrific pork chop.

We headed back in, to a store in the newish Arcade that we had walked by. Amber jewelry, like an amber/turquoise necklace I had bought Mom for Christmas a couple years back at the Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market. As it turns out, not only was it the same vendor, but she remembered me. What followed was a kind of madcap, crowded shopping experience as Mom and Sandy kept exploring, finding, and seeking out matching pieces.

Dad, Monica and I left them behind and tried to seek out the Skeleton Art Gallery, something we had run across last fall, and really enjoyed (especially the work by Laura Brink. Seems to have moved. So we proceeded directly to Keshi, which has an amazing assortment of Zuni fetishes. Janie took us there a few years back, introduced us to the owner. We since have returned time and again for presents, a piece for us, and to just marvel at the collection. Dad found an interesting piece by a favorite (of ours, M&D's and apparently, Keshi's), Salvador Romero, who creates rougher, more abstract pieces. He'd been in that morning, and dropped of the piece that Dad found, unusual because it "bound" together two different animals.

Mom and Sandy found us, after hitting the turquoise shop across from the amber shop. We drove to The Spanish Table on the way out, where Sandy found some painted plates to round out a decorating plan she had. Then, sent them on their way back to Ojo.

Still no photos. And not for lack of a camera.

After our return, we met our across the hall neighbors, who took delivery of a package for us. The "bike tree" for the office, to store our bikes. Assembled, set up — it makes me a bit more nervous than I thought it would. It did inspire us to head out to rob and charlie's bike shop, to get Monica's tuned up and new, more road-friendly tires installed.

M&D In SF, Pt. II: Taking The Waters

On Wednesday, we headed out to Ojo Caliente to spend the afternoon at the hot springs there, courtesy of M&D.

It's gotta be one of the lowest-key, unpretentious kind of spas you'd ever run across. A local friend told us we should've seen it in the 60s, when it was ruled by hippies. It's based around a couple old, restored buildings. There are a bunch of various kind of pools fed by assorted (iron, iron/arsenic, soda) springs to soak in and a conventional pool. Two buildings, one dating from the 30s or so, I think, the other more modern, for the treatments.

Headed out for lunch there with M&D and Sandy, and hung out in the iron/arsenic pool. Kind of burned in the sun, due to lack of application/not enough application of sunscreen. Other folks went "mudding," coating themselves in mud and baking in the sun. I have to say, they didn't make it look fun, but by the time I thought I'd give it a try, clouds rolled in. Thought, cold mud, no fun. Hopped to another pool or two. Then, had a massage (to work out all the moving and sitting in the car) while Monica had the cornmeal scrub. More sitting in the pool, as the sun set.

Then, into Espanola to La Cocina, on the recommendation of the woman who helped us with our bank account at Century Bank. A ridiculously large, but great meal.

This has got to be the least-photographed vacation my parents ever took. Even had the camera for the mudding, but there were innocent bystanders who, I figured, did not want to wind up on some stranger's blog in that condition.

Home, catching up stuff. Lost track of day and time, and so missed completely the Lost season finale. Looks like they're rebroadcasting the second part on Saturday, so anyone with a synopsis of what we'll need to know, please email.


Hill and Back

So, Arlington's at about sea level, right? Well, Santa Fe is just shy of 7,000 feet (that's the highest state capital — I'm talking to you, Denver), and that change in altitude makes a difference. The first few days, was winded just climbing those three flights of stairs.

One of the things I'll miss about Colonial Village is the walk/bike-abilty — of course, you had to walk or bike because of the traffic and parking, but I just got really used to being able to run errands without getting in the car. Our location here is pretty good, maybe a bit too inconvenient for walking, but certainly good for biking; the grocery store's about a mile, True Believers is about two, the Plaza can't be much more than three, and there's plenty in between all that. Great, except for the hills leading to our apartment.

It's probably just about a half-mile to our place, and it's not all uphill — there is a bit of a downhill break. And, I'd say it's not even as bad as the climb up from Key Bridge back to Colonial Village (a ride I did daily for a while). But this altitude. Whoof. Trying to build my way up to being able to make one of those errand runs, so been heading down to the base of the hill and back up one or two times a day. The burning in my lungs is not quite as sharp, and while I'm not yet sure it's getting easier, my recovery time at the end has decreased.


The Most Boring Post Yet

Today. Bookkeeping, filing, and cleaning up the mess that all generated. Getting Raised By Squirrels updated. Catching up on emails. And an afternoon of getting rid of the 15 or so boxes of books to make way for the bike rack that is, hopefully, coming soon.

New Mexico-type Cards Galore

Yesterday was Car Day. Headed out to the Motor Vehicle Division to get our licenses and to register our cars. Two-and-a-half hours later:

And, fortunately, for the plate, they give you a choice between the new version featuring ballooning and the old-school one:

(Oh, look, we're in sequence. How cute)

So, after a late lunch, treated ourselves to library cards at the Santa Fe Public Library (which has a blog of their own). Spent some time there, figuring the layout and checking out the collection.


just an amazing sky

Family who have been to Arcosanti outside of Phoenix, gave us these cool windchimes. No place to hang them at Colonial Village, so they stayed boxed up in the back of my closet for years. They're right at home now.


My parents just passed through town with their friend (and former neighbor when I was growing up) Sandy on their way up to a week-long vacation at Ojo Caliente. They've been going there for years, and on their recommendation, that's we headed after our wedding to recover. They took Sandy out last fall; they all had such a great time they'd scheduled this trip even before our move was set.

On Saturday, we had a flurry of last-minute unpacking to get it all as set as it was going to be for their visit. Pretty much everything's unpacked except for the books and the artwork; those have all been shoved into the corners, and we'll work on those sometime. But the furniture is all set up, and we can finally move about the apartment.

Mom & Dad treated us to brunch at Zia Diner. We hope to make it up to Ojo later this week, and meet up again with them to kick around Santa Fe on Thursday. On the way out, made a stop and picked up a little bamboo shade and rigged it up on the patio; that afternoon sun can be kind of brutal. We'll see how it works.

Birthday in Albuquerque

On Friday evening after a day of — you guessed it, unpacking — headed to Albuquerque to Casa de Benavidez to, as previously mentioned, surprise Shannon for her birthday. And it seemed to have worked — though, we had just arrived and were surprised by her as well. Bob had had to do a little misdirection during the week to keep it a secret.

Had a great time catching up and celebrating, and it was great seeing them both again. And the chiles were good and hot at the restaurant that day.


On the way home from Abq, we stopped at the Target in Rio Rancho (new nightstands), and this was the view from the parking lot:


Mostly unpacked

As Bram mentioned earlier, we're mostly unpacked. Here are the latest pix of the process.

Living/dining room: (click for larger view)
I did a lame job taking the living room pano — really really bad overlaps (or none). Rest assured, the hallway is still there. And that's Bram in the kitchen, making our first sit-down-at-the-dining-room-table meal (Steve Feraca's ragu recipe). Also note: BumpĂ© and Eyore.

Bedroom: (click for larger view)
This is where the magic happens.



Getting To Know The Grocery Stores

In excruciating detail.

Time to plan out the menu, restock the larder. There's Albertsons, the local big chain. Whole Foods, our old friend from when they were Fresh Fields and then Bread and Circuses (a personal favorite). And Wild Oats. There's also a co-op, but that seemed a bit ambitious for this trip.

Monica, somewhat foolishly, elected to come along on my scouting/shopping mission. It took about four hours.

Wandered through each. I know I'll catch grief for this, but created a matrix comparing prices at each of the places. (Last year, we discovered that certain things are actually cheaper at the yuppie-organic stores). Learned the layouts, compared. It was excessive, even by what I had planned. But now we've got a functioning kitchen, and know who's our buddies when it comes to particular items.

Then, more unpacking, of course. When I said things yesterday like "set up," I meant that the furniture was pretty much in place. The boxes are still all over the place.

And the first offical shopping trip to True Believers (where we left a pile of Raised By Squirrels to try and sell or otherwise dispose of).

Followed by sitting around outside and reading (after a wonderful, welcome call from Mel), after the sun set behind the building. First day of hot weather.

As Expected, Unpacking

Yep, unpacking. But with a few breaks.

Yesterday, headed down to Albuquerque to retrieve Monica's car. Arrived just fine — even been washed, better than mine's doing.

And — I think I'm safe in revealing this in the blog — swung by Bob and Shannon's place to see how it's going there. They were our former neighbors in Colonial Village, transferred to Utah a couple years ago, and just relocated to Albuquerque last week. Phone numbers were packed up, but had an email address, so just kind of popped in. Bob had just returned from errands, and took some time away from unpacking to show us around the (beautiful) place, introduce us to their two dogs, and visit with us. And Shannon's birthday is Friday, so we're planning on heading down a gathering in the evening and surprising her.

In the afternoon, a package arrived from Mary . . . treats from Harry & David. We enjoyed them out on the balcony that evening.

Today, errands in the morning, other getting-settled kind of stuff. As of our quitting time this evening, the bedroom is mostly together, the kitchen is done, the office is coming along and the computers are all set up, and living room is taking shape with the TV installed in time for Alias tonight.


The Only Thing Worse Than Not Having Your Stuff . . .

. . . is having it. Today, everything arrived. There was the hope of it getting delivered yesterday, but it didn't work out. So, around 9:00 this morning, our driver was trying to figure out the best way to get his truck up one of the narrow, winding driveways to our place. And then how to get our stuff down the few stairs, up the few stairs, and then back up two stories to our place. And he did, with the help of two local movers. The mule chest, the boxes of books, and everything else.

Only one casualty. A good news/bad news/good news/etc. kind of thing. The Mullany painting. The one we commissioned with a wedding present from my parents, of us at the old apartment. A big, valuable artwork we had the movers package. It's oil on wood board, but the movers didn't even bother to wrap it, so it got all scuffed up. We have it declared on the "major valuables" manifest. Hopefully, we can get the artist to touch it up (or at the very worst, repaint it) at Atlas' expense.

But the local guys who helped with the unloading and John, the driver, got the job done. So we're surrounded by boxes, wondering how we wound up with all this stuff. The real problem is, that when we moved from the apartment to the condo, it was pretty much the same layout. We, I think, actually have more space here, it's just a matter of figuring out where it will all go.

Some errands, some unpacking, and our first dinner in the new place. Got our camping charis set up out on the patio, and ate, the first box-free place to sit.

Living/dining room: (click for larger view)

Our bedroom: (click for larger view)


Serendipitous Sunday

Sunday was kind of an odd day. Once we knew the delivery wasn't coming, we were free. But having spent so many of the last few weeks rushing around in panic, didn't really know quite what to do with ourselves.

Monica did some cleaning, I did some kitchen restocking and sorting though all our travel stuff. We went ahead caught up on our receipts and other financials. The time change still has us off, and we were dragging by the afternoon. But decided that we should do something fun, and so just headed downtown to the Plaza. And there, just walked around, soaking it all in.

And then headed to Bert's la Taqueria, a favorite. Closed on Sunday. So, to Tiny's which Kathy introduced us to. Also closed on Sunday. Lacking any other ideas, to Zia Diner. Which, as it turns out, was pretty much just what we needed — as much as we like the others, a dinner salad outside worked out well.

Just up the street, with a few minutes to spare, decided to check on the hours of the local comic shop. Walked up to the door and saw the "Comic Creators Meeting" sign, and our gaze was met from within. And so joined in on the monthly meeting of local comics creators. A diverse bunch, but had a great time hearing stories, swapping ideas, and finding a new bunch to hang with. Had to head out before it all wrapped up, still on East Coast time. But the serendipity of it all really got to us . . . since Bert's was closed we would we tried Tiny's but that was closed, and so went to Zia and that woke us up enough to wander by True Believers and hooked up with this group . . .


Morning in Santa Fe

After a ridiculously early bedtime, began the morning with some tea out on the patio. The air, comfortably cool, but the sun was warming; a riot of birds and a glimpse of the mountain — I think that patio's going to go a long way to offset any of the apartment's shortcomings.

Monica, feeling ambitious, has headed out to Target for supplies. In case the mover calls, someone needs to be here (the answering machine's on the truck), so I volunteered. A few more cups of tea, some bread and fruit — all courtesy of Janie and Joa, accompanied a little reading in the The Annual Manual to see what we've gotten ourselves into.

Janie and Joa stopped by last evening, bringing us some much-welcomed food, utensils, and necessities, and a housewarming geranium. And then took us out to Diego's for a hearty, chile-rich dinner with the all-important Silver Coin margaritas. After running down the locations of some of the necessary stores, they dropped us back home. The evening, which I swear was warmer than when we arrived, quickly turned windy and brought a brief thunderstorm. It soon cleared, leaving what I choose to believe is a good omen:


New place

Day 7:
Tucumcari, NM to Santa Fe, NM
approximately 180 miles
Total miles entire trip: 2359

Earlier posts below. Well after, signing all the lease stuff, we finally got into our new apartment. It's a little bigger than the Colonial Village place (mostly in the living + dining room, near as I can tell). It has a balcony (yay!) and a much bigger kitchen (double yay!). Got that new paint smell, too. Some pix below, click on the first 2 to see a larger version.

Living/dining room:

Our bedroom:

Second bedroom/office:

No pix of the bathrooms which are too '70s-newly-remodeled-generic for words. (The shower heads come up to — maybe — Bram's chin!)

Here's the view from our living room of the mountains. There's still snow up there.

And, the mover called, our stuff might be here tomorrow!

Leaving Las Vegas

Well, actually, leaving for Las Vegas (New Mexico). Per Joa's suggestion, we took the scenic route: NM 104 from Tucumcari to Las Vegas. She was right, great views, beautiful drive. Below, a photo that just doesn't do it justice.

Stopped at this place in Las Vegas for coffee and carbs. Neat space that used to be the El Dorado Hotel. They're still finishing the buildout, and didn't quite have their business license approval yet. The proprietress told us we were drinking illicit coffee. Hee hee! Upstairs, an also-in-progress bookstore, where Bram picked up (at my urging) Devil in the White City which is about the serial killer active during the Chicago World's Fair.

Here's a cowgirl pinup mural for your enjoyment:

A view from I-25, heading into Santa Fe. Still snow up in the mountains.


Welcome to the Land of Enchantment

Day 6:
Amarillo, TX to Tucumcari, NM
approximately 200 miles

Earlier posts below.

Cadillac Ranch

On I-40 west of Amarillo, in the middle of a field (access is from the frontage road on the south side of the Interstate, by the way), are ten, half-buried Caddys. It is the Cadillac Ranch. The cars are buried at the same angle as the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. Ah, conceptual art!

Apparently, suburban sprawl forced the whole shebang to be moved further west a few years ago. It really needs the space. I can't imagine it would be nearly as fun surrounded by a bunch of condos. Maybe they'll just keep moving it.

Our friend Claire — who has family from Amarillo — remembers when the cars were first buried and they were still their original showroom colors. Over the years, they've been grafitti-ed over, which seems to be encouraged. There's a mini dumpster for the empty spray cans by the gate, and the whole thing is apparently repainted a single color every few years now, to give visitors a fresh start to make their mark. Of course, we did our bit too.

Palo Duro (Hard Wood)

After the nonstop stainless steelity and madcap excitement of the helium dingus, we went south to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Much better. Lots of cool stone buildings and crazy hairpin roads initially constructed by the CCC.

There was a 16 mile scenic loop drive along the floor of the canyon. Lots of camping and day use sites along the loop, as well as a few historic spots. One of which was a reconstruction of a dugout house/shelter built by one of the original (white) settlers. The canyon walls have some pretty specatcular geologic layering/stripeys, and in parts have weathered into cool fins and stacks.

At the 6 spots along the loop drive where the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River (yes, that is the actual name of the river) crosses the road, there are dire warnings posted about possible flash flood conditions. There are even flood markers that go up to 5 feet high. Last night there were big thunderstorms around Amarillo, and there was plenty of evidence that there had been some flooding on the crossings, but today they were all dry, except for one. Bram checked it out to make sure it was ok first.

The helium monument thingy

Apparently Amarillo is the The Helium Capitol of the World. And Bram really wanted to see the monument that they put up to prove it. But, wait, it's not just a monument to helium, it's also 4 time capsules, and a sundial!

Now how much would you pay?

New Muffler

Luckily the folks over at Meineke were able to put on a new muffler for me this morning. Only took about an hour, so we've got some time to spend around here before hitting the road.

Yesterday, in the car, finally got to start on Travels With Charley, (recommended by Scott when he learned I was driving cross-country) and read a little more this morning. Only about a third of the way in, but it makes me want to go on a road trip — and I'm already on one. It's pretty amazing and entertaining how many of Steinbeck's observations still hold true, even though this was written more than 40 years ago. Though there are still a few amusing anachronisms.


Adversity Sets In

Day 5:
Sherman, TX to Amarillo, TX
approximately 400 miles

The high-speed wireless at the hotel's down, so I'm back on dial-up, which was not without its problems. Below are posts from earlier in the day.

And, investigating the odd sounds at slow speeds from under the Golf, found that the muffler kind of swings free. So I figure we now know what we'll be doing with our spare time in Amarillo tomorrow. The goal is only to make it to Tucumcari tomorrow, which is about two hours away, but it puts us in a good position to get into Santa Fe during the day on Saturday.

The drive from Archer City went well, and eventually worked out way on to the main highway again. Continue to enjoy the Texas welcome centers along the interstate. Arrived in Amarillo and, after hearing Claire talk it up so much, had to do our dinner at The Big Texan. Had ourselves a satisfying steak, some Shiner Bock, and managed to polish it off with a big piece of chocolate cake.

The Oddest-looking Cows on Texas 25

Archer City

Pulled in to Archer city around 11:30 on the first cloudy day of our trip. Some years back, author Larry McMurtry opened up a bookshop in town with stuff from his collection, and over the years, it's grown to occupy four buildings. The books are arranged by topic, and you just kind of wander from store to store, returning to the first to pay. It was all more than just a bit overwhelming. You really need to be able to commit some time to do it justice and really explore, and we weren't really in that frame of mind. And having just boxed up our collection, weren't really on a major acquisition binge, though I did pick up a huge world mythology book, settling for that since they didn't have the mythology volume from the books that came with the Collier's Encyclopedia from my childhood.

The books and the rooms just go on and on:

In case you were wondering:

Only the first store is staffed:

To keep our strength up during our two-plus hours in the stacks, we stopped off at Cimarron Coffee Company for a sandwich, which mixes snack shop and art studio.