And the Rest …

Ah, like when we moving out here, writing in the car to post later …

Breakfast Wednesday at, per our server at the Brewery's recommendation, Campus Cafe. Then about a 40-minute drive north and east to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Visitor center and then the "trailhead" — the parking that at the base of the dunes. A little creek to cross, and then you just go out and up. There were a fair number of people there, and a decent amount of families set up along and in the creek, kind of like at a beach. No trails in the dunes, you're free to find your own path.

Plenty of people out, a few kids attempting to sled down the dunes. Luckily, it was pretty cloudy when we headed out; after about an hour, we just sat to watch all the activity, and then jumped down the dunes ourselves and headed back in.

On the road again north, a stop at the UFO Watchtower and then a side trip to get lunch in the little town of Crestone.

Heading through the pass out of the San Luis Valley early evening, rainstorms rolled in. We made it into Salida and at the recommendation of one of Monica's co-workers, into the Woodland Motel (very dog-friendly, noted for future reference). The cool, rainy evening was actually kind of welcome; we were, again, in walking distance of the town, so strolled in and scored a table on the covered patio overlooking the Arkansas River at Boathouse Cantina and watched the kayakers playing in the fast-moving current.

Wandered the town some and, hey, well, there was ice cream being sold (which is, for the record, where we first heard The Michael Jackson News) …

Next morning, Bongo Billy's for breakfast and WiFi and planning the day. Left us some time to walk the main street more, when everything was open. As might be expected, the shops are pretty heavy on the outdoors/outfitters. I noted one of them selling some pretty cool-looking, casual shoes the night before; a talk with the shop's owner in the morning had me coming away with a pair of Sanuks. I think it's pretty clear I'm not much of a clothes and/or shoes guy, but so far I'm likin' them a whole lot.

Then north and west to, at the innkeeper's recommendation, the ghost town of St. Elmo.

The drive along the little road in is beautiful, going further into the mountains. The town is at the end of a dirt road; it's so well preserved because it's on private land; so, while it is an attraction, it's also like a town, with most of the property privately owned. The rain caught up with us again before I could buy seeds to join in on the feeding of the "herd" of chipmunks — and apparently squirrels — there. We drove back out and stopped at the trailhead for Agnes Vaille Falls and watched ill-equipped hikers coming down out of the rain. But a short wait, and it cleared enough for us to head on on up.

Mount Antero behind us, the trail's a half-mile out and a few hundred feet up through the woods. A little clambering over rocks at the end to get to the base of the falls.

Just shy of an hour out, and then we were on the road again.

Stopped in Buena Vista for lunch at Mother's Bistro— with, apparently, hundreds of bikers who'd finished some sort of ride. And then up to 10,000' through Kenosha Pass back down to 5280' (yeah, that's right, your capital is lower than ours) into Denver.

Our hotel, selected for its proximity to the comics event, is in LoDo, lower downtown. Our walk to find dinner took us along 16th street, which, other than horse-drawn carriages, pedicabs, and the regular shuttle buses that run the length, is for pedestrians only. Restaurants and shops line the way, and it was bustling with all kinds of activity Friday evening.

The next morning, we lingered in (forgot to check the hotel's alarm clock, so we were up at 5:00, then back to sleep after some recovery) and then drove out to I Want More Comics. Sean, one of the owners, had bought some of our books to sell when we met him at ComicFest, and then sold out and needed to be restocked. It's a pretty great store, a real hangout. And then back downtown for the Cowtown Comix Fest.

John, who we also met at ComicFest, had invited us up for the event a couple months back. It was brand-new, untested, and only ran 1:00-5:00, so at first didn't seem feasible; but then the way vacation time was shaping up, it turned into our reason to finally head north.

The store hosting it, Tattered Cover, is a pretty amazing, two-story, independent book dealer in a great space. We were in an event room with about a dozen other comics creators and artists and a space for some presentations, which went on throughout the day.

Nobody knew quite what to expect from the event, but around 1:15, people started showing up — and it didn't really stop until 4:00. We've had less successful full days at larger events; again, both the Denver crowds and creators were an interested, friendly bunch. Headed out for dinner and more visiting with some of the other exhibitors, a great evening of meeting and catching up. Rounded out the night hanging out with Stan, talking cons and Greyhounds.

Yes, one more Sonic stop on the road. Now just about out of Colorado at around 2:00, crossing Raton Pass soon.


Update upon arrival. Figure just a bit more than six hours driving time from Denver to Santa Fe. Around 910 miles on this whole Colorado trip. Song of the drive (and possibly the summer) was undeniably "Boom Boom Pow."

This past week, seems that my Connecticut hometown was hit by a tornado. M's got some photos at her blog.

Our dog is totally sacked out now after a full weekend of, among other things, lizard hunting with her buddy Fifi.

Also worth noting that, until now, I've been really, really good about keeping a travel journal of our vacations over the past decade. Anything I write now will be days and days after the fact, so it seems I'm officially ceding that role to this blog now.


Albuquerque, Alamosa

Out of Mountainair yesterday morning, took the scenic route (55 &337) — which turned out not to be appreciably longer than the non-scenic — to Albuquerque.

Mett up with Jeff for a walk over to the Chocolate Cafe & Bakery by his house for breakfast. Chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate syrup, please.

Ahhhh. Then a short drive to Cibola National Forest to hike it off at the Piedra Lisa Trail. Where, as we were about to deposit the money in the pay station, that gray cloud above us opened up.

We retreated to the car for a few minutes, it cleared, we headed out. Well, up. And up and up and up.

Steady climbing through the woods and the flowering cacti, with occasional views of the gray clouds and rainstorms off in the distance.

We were grateful for the cloud cover, but when, about two hours in we reached the ridge, thought we were pushing our luck, so had snacks and headed back down. Just over a half-hour. Our drive to Sonic took us by local Page One Bookstore for a brief stop. Back home by dinner time.

This morning, took Cheyenne over to Santa Fe Baking Company for a burrito breakfast (us, not the dog), where, a real Santa Fe kind of thing, wound up sharing a table with Rich and his dog, who had some suggestions for things to do on our drive (Rich, not the dog). Then a flurry of errands and preparations, dropping the dog off with her sitter, a false start, and on the road to Colorado. By way of the inevitable Sonic stop.

A nice quick trip up through the more-forested, greener north and Into Alamosa by 5:00.

A walk through nice old neighborhoods with some great houses to the San Luis Brewing Company for dinner. North to Salida — which allows us plenty of time for sightseeing — tomorrow.


Getting Some Mountain Air

I'm off this week and in a few days, we're both off to Denver via the scenic San Luis Valley to staff the 7000 BC table at the first Cowtown Comix Fest. But I had a few on my own and just wanted to get out of town. At James' suggestion, headed to the town of Mountainair, south of Albuquerque (and actually at a lower elevation than Santa Fe).

Been staying at the historic Shaffer Hotel where (while sitting outside writing this) I just had a bit of a scare about being locked out. But otherwise, it's been good.

Hardly anyone else around, a nice covered patio out back that's within WiFi range. And plenty of barn swallows. Their dining room has been/will be closed for my time here, but there's Ancient Cities Cafe.

Arrived into town last night, spent most of it outside here. A leisurely start to the morning (including, again, some time sitting outside), and then to the Quarai ruins of Salinas Pueblo Mission.

The remains of a church from the Spanish missionaries; the history is the usual tragedy of "civilizing" the natives, compounded by the Church's conflict with the government, with a bit of the Inquisition thrown in, all done in by war and famine. There's the trail through the ruins, then one that runs a mile or so off up into the hills.

It was getting hot. The real onset of summer was pushed back by some rain, but today's my first experience with the summer sun. Hiking book had a route up Manzano Mountain that sounded doable (especially, since it's just out and back, offering the option of just turning around), but I wasn't feeling it. Luckily, my (mis?)reading of the directions dropped me at the campgrounds at Manzano State Park. Trails back around there had me going through the woods for a few miles, pretty much all I was looking for.

Turns out Orioles migrate there.

Afternoon, some lazing about and then strolling around town, "the longest Main Street in America." But — watch out, giant eagles may make off with your car.

And it all left me with the thought that, y'know, Hobo just isn't used enough in municipal signage.

Some takeout chocolate pie now, heading to Abq to hike with Jeff tomorrow.


Dremeling the Dog's Toenails

Tough girl. Pretty fearless. The treats helped.


Springtime, and the yard sales are in full bloom

Another gray and rainy day here. Except when it wasn't. But a good day to be inside at the monthly GCNM adoption clinic.

That's Cheyenne with her girlfriends Fifi and Sweetie, who she'll be staying with later this week when we're off to Colorado for a little vacation and Comix Fest.


Reporter Block Party

Last night, ducked over to the Santa Fe Reporter's annual block party, held for the first time at the new Santa Fe Convention Center. Allowed them some more space for tables and a stage where, while we were there, Santa Fe's own Led Zeppelin cover band Moby Dick was performing.


It was just a quick pass through, we were joined by a co-worker and her husband. Weren't prepared to stay the evening and eat there, but did get to see Dave and Shelby in action at their O'Gelato table.

Their operation is really up and running now, they'll be doing all sorts of events this summer, in addition to their (or at least their gelato's) regular appearance at La Dolce Vita. We left with some of Mom's Candied Ginger.

Returned home to a new hat. Sneak preview here.


Borrego with Cheyenne

I was off today, so that meant dragging the puppy off on a hike.

But not before breakfast at Santa Fe Baking Company. Where, with Monica's suggestion, a bunch of dashing about and a fair amount of worrying while I got it all set up, I got Cheyenne to join me out on the patio. And, so, with my dog, my breakfast burrito, and my laptop with the free WiFi, I was set.

My goal was to be "that guy" — as in, who is that guy, and what does he do that he can sit around with his dog all morning at Santa Fe Baking Company? Except that, with the crowd that was there, someone who just hangs out for only an hour doesn't really merit notice.

So, up the mountain and off to Borrego - Bear Wallow - Winsor Loop. We'd done it a while back and I think I didn't have a clear memory of it. Seemed doable with the dog

And, yes, she was anxious and wanted to get out on the trail. Cooler up there, in shade, a pleasant walk. This was pretty much my view for the hike.

Trail goes down, trail goes up. At the bottom, about 40 minutes in, there's a creek crossing. It took some coaxing — she wasn't scared, she just didn't see the point in going across the water. I feared my new boots were leaking, but I think I was just feeling the cold water outside the lining.

While I was checking, Cheyenne was ready to get going again. Confirmed that nothing was leaking; other than something along the Achilles tendon which seems to be working its way out, the new Vasques seem to be working out well.

Another crossing, had me on a log up the bank and Cheyenne, knee-deep in running water wondering what she was doing; eventually got herself across and up.

For pretty much the whole time, straining at the end of her leash; after the second crossing, at the end of it, but not pulling. Only during that last 20-or-so-minutes of the 2:15 we were out was she worn out enough to just walk beside me.

Running around and such after, took us out to the Santa Fe Humane Society to drop off food and pick up a new Kong (the old one lost in the tree removal?). So well-behaved, and then she spotted the kittehs.

And then the bunny, and then the ferret in cages by the checkout. Still goofed up when we ducked next door to renew her license.

Home, where she slept and I continued to run around a bit before preparing our salmon dinner.


For those of you keeping score …

we managed to accomplish neither of the aforementioned likely Sunday chores:

1. The mulched Russian olive remains tarped in the driveway — hey, it was gray and windy and actually rained on and off all day; and

2. we still have no idea if our TV is so outdated that we need to replace it.

On the other hand, we had homemade banana-chocolate muffins for breakfast, homemade ribs for dinner, accomplished a few closet-related chores, and I wasted a decent chunk of the day getting 7000 BC's expanded Flickr stream going.

Arlington: The Rap

For all our homies back in the 22201. Word.
It's a real tough town
packing heat and boat shoes
my crib's in a rough spot
right next to the Whole Foods

Via Anji, on Facebook. Thanks Anji!


Full Saturday

The dog granted us a late start to the day, and she was well rewarded with a long walk — amble, really (so many yard sales!). Some time to get the tomatoes surrounded by their Walls O' Water.

The ones in the garden are struggling again; the ones against the south-facing wall, a little better; the ones up against the house a bit better still; and the little runts that didn't have a place and wound up in the planter out front by the door, quite nicely, thank you.

And then off to this month's 7000 BC meeting; on the way, wound up behind an ol' Crown Vic with a sticker on the back that read "My Enemies Are Not Flesh & Blood" that was, near as we could figure, full of mariachis.

Rolled into Warehouse 21 a bit late, along with other members … to discover quite a crowd awaiting their comic-making workshop. Jeff took the lead, ran through some of the basics of comic storytelling, and then got the group makin' their own, based on ideas drawn out of hats.

A whirlwind couple hours, left us some time to dash to Flying Star before everyone had to head their own ways.

Mon and I were off to Garcia Street Books for a reading and signing by Alan Furst, tipped by a co-worker's husband who works there and knows my fondness for Furst's espionage novels.

A couple years ago, after finishing The Company in one fell swoop on press check, I was in the mood for more spy stuff — and John pointed me to Furst. The shadowy pre-WWII European world suited my sensibilities awfully well — but also: that guy can write. He's one of those who just can put a sentence together, pace a story, find new ways to describe the familiar in a way that's just a joy to read, irrespective of the genre. He's also a skilled presenter at these kind of events; I was expecting a more reserved, academic sort, but he was lively, focused, and a terrific presence.

We were behind a woman drawing him for the reading, the brisk q&a, and then moved inside for the signing. Though I've devoured his books, they were from the library. This book tour is for the paperback release of Spies of Warsaw which, though a great read, set in Poland, and a fondly-remembered accompaniment to last year's staycation, wasn't my favorite — but all his books were available (paperback only, unfortunately), so I was able to grab Night Soldiers, the one recommended I read first and still like best.

The quick event allowed us time to walk and feed Cheyenne and make it to Jon's birthday party — at long last getting to his and Susanne's house, another Stamm in a different neighborhood. A good time visiting, getting the tour — they have an actual basement (a later addition [!]) — and visiting with other folks there, including catching up with some friends.

I foresee tomorrow involving moving the giant pile of mulch that used to be Russian Olive in the backyard from where it was chipped in the driveway back around. And maybe finally plugging in the digital converter box, see if we have TV. Off from work Monday, though, and I hope for another hike with Cheyenne.


Lazy Sunday

A long, early-morning walk with Cheyenne across the river, and then all sorts of games of phone tag with Jamie about breakfast plans. We wound up heading out on our own to the new Flying Star at the Railyard and meeting up with him in the middle of our Southwest Bennies, then lingering for a good long while. A quick trip through the Community Fair, then Jamie left us so we could go gear shopping at Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works and REI.

Which inspired Monica to get out the tent, set it up, and see if Cheyenne would go in it. Which she did, with a little coaxing. Discovering how crowded it would be for the three of us, the focus soon shifted to getting her to lie on her bed under the rain fly. And led to talk of a test sleepout in the yard this weekend.

Clear enough to fire up the grill and get James away from his computer for a couple hours for burgers for dinner.


There was, like, an honest-to-goodness night of rain last night. At least 12 hours, more or less continuous. It's such a rare treat to fall asleep to the sound, and so tough to get out of bed on a gray, rainy morning. Pretty much quashed our plans for the first Music on the Hill, but the plants were happy and all the rain barrels are overflowing. It was snow up in the higher elevations, coating the top of of the mountain, which we failed to get a picture of.

Our evening's walk netted us another dog, Marvin, a blond, total Northern NM mutt that we met wandering along the river. He was happy to follow us, and awfully anxious to get wherever we were going when we yoked him to Cheyenne's leash. A total sweetie. His owner, upon arriving in the Vanagon (while Marvin jumped right into the passenger seat) noted that he kind of faked them out and just got away. Again, no pictures of this snowy-faced affable lug.

There's also a bunch of new photos at Chamisa.

Photo at the top from the Railyard parking garage.

(Noted that posts have been getting awfully long and full of commas. Working on rectifying that.)


Arroyo Hike

Invited ourselves up to J+J's to catch up and join J on her morning hike with Audrey in their arroyo. There by around 10:30 for bagels; Audrey got pretty territorial about another dog in her house, so unfortunately she was outside while we were inside and vice versa. After breakfast and visiting, out on our way a bit after 11:00.

It was warm, occasional clouds and a breeze helped. Of course, out in the open, Audrey could just run off and the two dogs were completely unconcerned with each other. Gave us a chance for more visiting.

Took a bit of a side trip up to the ridge to an old burned-out house dating back decades, according to J. Pretty amazing little wreck, so much still in place (click for larger).


A little poking around there, then back home, about an hour-and-a-quarter out. Where J, not feeling well, was asleep. We sat outside for a bit (with Audrey inside), then all went our separate ways for the afternoon's chores.


free root beer float night at Sonic with Cheyenne

For our east-coast friends and family, Sonic is a drive-in burger joint around these parts with really funny ads.

And hey! Free stuff tonight!

The dog was pretty confused.

But she was happy to share the tater tots and lick out our root beer float cups.

Bram: "This could be the single lamest thing we have done yet with the dog."


Farmers Market Foray

All the stuff we were kinda planning for the weekend didn't come to pass, so that left us pretty much completely free. So figured we'd go to the Farmers Market on Saturday morning. Cheyenne had proven that she could make the walk to the area and last week she proved she has the endurance. So when she got us up in the morning, we fed her breakfast and then all went back to bed … to … ummm … give her time and make sure she didn't get bloat.

Later, we headed out, walking on the shady side of Alameda at a leisurely pace, and about 40 minutes later made it to the Market.


Dogs have always been prohibited there, at all its locations, but nowadays it's actually being enforced pretty strictly. But, this being Santa Fe, everybody's used to bringing their dogs everywhere. And this, being Santa Fe, somebody's figured out a way to make it work. There are dogholders at the Market, one of the members of the Greyhound rescue group had been doing it some, but she's recovering from surgery. But we had faith that someone would be there, and, after walking along the train tracks to the main entrance, found Susan to watch our dog. She's from Afghan Rescue New Mexico and donations for her dogwatching go to that group.

It's still early in the season, and, since there was no entertaining to be planning for and nothing that really caught our attention, we just grabbed breakfast and a bone for Cheyenne (for later). And headed back out to the main entrance, where one of the benches was in the shade. Which we proceeded to hang out by and occupy for about the next hour-and-a-half. We just hung out with Susan, met all the people who wanted to see Cheyenne. Went back in for pastries. Talked dogs, rescuing dogs, and just kind of enjoyed a morning with nothing to do.

Afternoon, while I, among other things, was posting our books to Scribd (which the LAT tells me is the next big thing) — at least I think I was; I mean, they show up in my page, others seem to have viewed them, but I'll be darned if I can search or browse my way to them (and now I swear only one is showing up) — Monica was getting stuff in the ground. And then we all walked some extra tomatoes over to Dave and Shelby's to visit and check out their gardens. They've been busy getting their gelato business going recently, so Shelby hasn't been updating her garden blog, but we'd heard about the new raised beds.

The three kids just love Cheyenne, especially BK (age 2-ish [?]). The dog's just amazing, the way she just goes along with them hanging over her.


Around the time we began to consider a grillout, the clouds rolled in, the wind picked up …

And, Sunday morning, with nothing to do, we again fed the dog and went back to bed. And after our breakfast later, packed her up and to the Dorothy Stewart trail over by St. John's. There's some up and down, but from previous experience, we consider it easier than Chamisa. Though it is more exposed, so we were lucky to have some clouds.

With a few breaks along the way, we were out for just more than an hour. By the end, she was dragging, but still game. Seems to appreciate a good hike. And was rewarded that afternoon with her new bone.

And, once we considered a grillout … you can guess where that's going. Cheyenne, as it turns out, isn't so fond of the thunder, I wouldn't characterize her as freaked out, but she is unsettled, we hung out with her until the storm passed. And then decided to just walk over and check out Tune-Up CafĂ©'s dinner. Our route took us by Jamie and Betsy's who, as it turns out, were wrapping up their afternoon of gardening and letting their new chickens out for a bit — and had no plans for dinner.


It was maybe a bit too cool to be outside, but we persevered in the corner booth, which offered the most protection from the wind.

And, to conclude our weekend report, a Giant Nose Picture of Cheyenne.