happy birthday, Oma!

31 January 1923


A Whole Nother Desert

Conde Nast Traveler has a feature on the Chihuahuan Desert (Web content lags the print version by a month), including the author's trip to Big Bend.

It was a vacation in 1997 to visit Steffen in Marfa at The Chinati Foundation that first brought us to the West. And our first afternoon in that small town showed us a double rainbow where we could see both ends.

It's fair to say that that first trip we took to the region, and then the two subsequent ones, were pretty magical, eye-opening experiences. Spending time in Marfa and Chinati, traveling around Alpine and Fort Davis, hiking and canoeing in Big Bend really exposed us for the first time to the beauty of the open desert. An appreciation for the land and the way of life set the stage for our continued trips the desert southwest, and, ultimately, our move.

The author looks to have had a different kind of experience, covering more ground and experiencing (as could be expected with that publication) fancier accommodations than we did. From his stories and what we've heard from other folks, things have changed a lot in Marfa and around Big Bend — but seems that the power of the desert to change people is still stronger than people's power to change the desert.


Ojito Wilderness

Started Sunday morning with mutant-sized breakfast burritos at the Santa Fe Baking Company. Managed to score Mary-Charlotte's corner table:

The latest newsletter from the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance had an article featuring the most recently-designated wilderness area: Ojito Wilderness. It's only about 25 miles north-northwest of Albuquerque, as the crow flies, but the route took us down I-25, out 550, through Bernalillo, skirting the northernmost edges of Rio Rancho, then 11 miles of unpaved dirt road out onto public land near Zia Pueblo. The "Hoodoo-Pines" hike is recommended for its tent rock-like stacks and unusual-for-this-elevation Ponderosa pines.

Upon arriving, we set out along an old two-track:

The trail skirted north of the mesa, and kind of disappeared. There were trails of other footprints in the sand, though; easy enough to follow to the hoodoos:

At about halfway, we climbed up to a rock outcropping that was partway up the mesa. That's it above Bram:

Our view included the Jemez, Sandia, and Sangre de Christo Mountains.

(click for larger pic)

Headed back after about an hour; 2 hours overall.


ta daaaah!

A new design for the blog. Stunning, no? Ah.... the joys of wrangling cascading style sheets.

There's some different functionality; the archive and recent post links are now aaaaaaallll the way at the bottom. But, as a consolation, you now only have 2 posts to scroll past. Also at the bottom is our new mini-links thing — a random list of things we're currently enjoying.

Well, check it out; I know you people aren't shy, and a few of you are even [gasp!] also graphic designers! I expect the opinions will fly. Don't mind me, I'm just ducking.


Behind the Photos

What goes into making those descansos pictures.

happy birthday, Grammy!

18 January 1920

happy birthday, Brewmeister D!

18 January 196x


Return to Atalaya

The warm weather continues (though they're talking snow tonight); yesterday was to be partly cloudy, but mid-50s.

Back to Atalaya, this time to the peak.

We started out around 12:30, the intermittent clouds working in our favor, as it warmed up pretty quickly once we were moving. There are little spots here and there that get no sun, and so still have ice.

We headed to the point where we turned around last time, and pressed on.

There's a sign at that point that indicates the mountain is two miles. That may be true — and anecdotal evidence indicates that it is — but it's a strenuous two miles at that point. The total elevation change from the parking lot where we started to the peak (9121') is 1781' and most of it takes place in that last two miles. It was slow going; we made the summit around 3:00.

It was windy up there, and cold with the sun pretty well clouded over. We had our sandwiches and waited for the clouds to pass.

"The long distance runner is paid by the snap of a
white thread across his chest.
You are paid by the picture at your feet."

(click photo to open larger version)

About 20 minutes up there, then we headed down.

Quicker going downhill, but it still got us to our car around 5:30, just as the sun was setting.

The total round-trip distance is 7 miles. From the mountain, showing where we started:

And the trailhead, showing our destination:


Many folks with dogs out on the trail, clearly a favorite spot for the local canine population. In the parking lot, a woman on her cell phone, impatiently to her excited dog: "_______, get a grip!"


public radio junkies

Bob Edwards is in town! He's promoting the addition of Bob Edwards Weekend to the KSFR Saturday morning lineup.

Bram has taken to listening to KSFR's Santa Fe Radio Cafe as he gets ready for work — interviews by Mary-Charlotte, broadcast live (usually, sometimes taped repeats) from the Santa Fe Baking Company. And today, there was that familiar voice. We assumed it was one of the taped shows because he was talking about his Edward R. Murrow book, which came out over a year ago. But then, he showed up later on Center Stage — the KSFR midday classical music show — for another interview.

His new show seems to be a weekly "best of" from his satellite radio show, in the style of Fresh Air Weekend. Last weekend was the first broadcast, featuring two half-hour interviews: one with Maureen Dowd (new book), and one with Bonnie Raitt (new album).

It's been over a year since the Bob Edward/NPR split (and all the surrounding brouhaha). Hooray for XM and PRI teaming up to bring him back to the (free) airwaves.


Compostable Matter

So, that laptop under the tree was for Dad. Not the computer, but what we'd loaded on the screen — we'd set up a blog for him.

He's been writing gardening-based personal essays for years, for the town garden club newsletter and for a few local newspapers, under the title Compostable Matter. We decided that his writing was ideal for a blog, and so now Compostable Matter is on the Web. Today's essay is about our Santa Fe Christmas.

And once the blogging madness started, there was no stopping. We've set one up for Mom to show her photos — the view from Mars — which also has some photos from their trip.


happy birthday, Ms. P!

5 January



Put in the left contact. Then — instead of putting in the right — attempt to remove the (nonexistent) contact from my right eye.

Do not try this at home.


Snow In The Mountains, Briefly

A few clouds yesterday; more up in the mountains, and when they cleared, there was a dusting of snow.

Didn't stick — gone by today. It's a dry, dry winter.