Saturday, December 26, 2009

A White Christmas

On Christmas Day I drove northeast into the San Juan Mountains.

Believe it or not, while in this canyon my cell phone actually rang.  By the time I answered it, I had lost the signal.
On the way out of the canyon,

I had to drive 20 miles before I again had a signal.

I drove along Route 126, a road that was plowed for part, but not all of its length.  Midway along it, I saw a bull elk in the woods to the east.

What a magnificent animal!

For any readers that did NOT have a white Christmas this year, here is a photo taken from the NPS webcam in Glacier National Park.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, and I wish you all a Happy New Year filled with peace and well-being.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Long (but worthwhile) Day's Driving

After "sledding" down the mountain Tuesday, the return trip took me around the northerly end of Sandia Peak, giving me a view to the west that I hadn.t seen before.  Part of that view was a mesa similar in form to Devil's Tower in Wyoming but not as big.  Yesterday I began driving west to find it.

After viewing the mesa, I headed easterly, finding some nice color and formation.  I bet this would look great near sunset!

I then followed a road into Jemes Canyon.  I had a mule deer cross the road in front of me, then stop and watch me.  I obliged the posing with a photo, then moved on.

 In the canyon I again saw a lot of color and formations.

The road continued  on to the Valles Caldera, the crater of an ancient supervolcano that erupted, then collapsed 1,000,000 years ago.  The crater has a dome in the center, surrounded by a vast meadowland of grass called Valle Grande.  The grassland is about 3 miles from me to the trees, and about 4 miles wide.

At the far right corner, as I drove along the edge, I saw some dots.  They were a herd of elk, my first sighting of elk - more than a hundred of them!  These pics only show part of the herd.

The road leaving the caldera winds up then down through forest, where I saw

o happy day!

I headed home, finishing after 280 miles of driving.  On the way, the sun was setting in front and to my right.  Nice, but not worth stopping on a superhighway, until I noticed color in my rearview mirror.  The sunset in front was nice, but

the sky behind me over the mountains northeast of Santa Fe was incredible.

Whatta day!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What a Place for a Steerable Sled!

Today I drove to the top of Sandia Peak, elev. 10,600 feet.It was a very clear, mild, sunny day and the views were great.

On the way down, my GPS said the shortest way home was by a secondary road, Rts. 44 and 165.  At the turnoff, I looked and the road was narrow, plowed, but covered in packed snow.  The sign said, "Steep Hill".  I thought about it, then decided that I can't get adventure by sticking to highways.  I started down.  Three miles later, I had decended from 8867 feet to 6600 feet, an average of 13%, all on packed snow and ice, not a single clear section, no sand or salt, and no guide rails.  I was never so glad for the lessons my father taught me about driving on snow as I was today.  FUN DAY, though!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Velocitatus Incrediblus

... also known as flavorus delectiblus, and many other such names to Wile E. Coyote, but more commonly known as a road runner.

This guy has been running around my campground.  It was funny - as I was trying to get his photo, he kept moving efficiently, but not obviously, so that something (a bush, a building, an RV, etc) was always between us. I felt like Wile E. Coyote as I would concoct a scheme to get close, come around the corner of a shelter expecting to see him, and he winds up behind me!  I was laughing at myself about it.  15 minutes of stalking yielded 3 acceptable shots.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Santa Fe Filigree

We had a blizzard two days ago. The snow volume was not huge but it came in on the wings of 60 mph winds. Yesterday I drove to the Santa Fe Ski Area to take in the result.

The road up was mostly clear.

At an elevation of 10,200 feet I was as high as I could get by car. Everything was coated by the storm.

The wind-driven ice and snow created a delicate filigree that looked like it would shatter if you touched it.

In sheltered areas, the more familiar, gentle snow padded the branches and ground.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sandia Peak

I am going to be here until January, so this could get repetitive but... Sandia Peak really puts on a show almost every afternoon.

Last night we has a blizzard so today, the higher trees and the antennas on Sandia were covered with white frosting.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Off To See The Wizard...

Dawn filled Enterprise with a rich red light. I crawled into my clothes and, camera in hand, braved the low teen temperature outside for a photo of the rock by my campsite.

As I was going back in, I heard a roaring sound to the south. A hot air balloon was being filled in the field next to the campground.

I watched as the balloon lifted off. To my surprise, instead of lifting up to clear the rocks, the pilot kept the balloon near the ground.

The light breeze took it up the canyon I had hiked a day or so before.

In less time than I would have thought, it disappeared behind the rocks.

I packed up and headed east to Albuquerque. I have a nice campsite with a great view across the Rio Grande valley. Last night there was a temperature inversion. A cloud was rising out of the valley and formed a thin line of cloud above the valley and below the mountain just at sunset.