New Light on 550

Photos R.W.

Not quite Fall yet, but the light has changed, falling at sharper angles. Add swirling clouds, virgas over the skyline, shafts of sunlight and the odd lashings of rain, and the ride home to the Jemez late this afternoon got high marks.

 

 

 

 

Big Chief Lives

Photos R.W.

A vivid landmark on the the road to and from town, the Big Chief has lingered for the last few years, seemingly abandoned. This is how the stop on U.S. Highway 550 looked back in 2008 (note the gas price):

 

And here it is now, with new life being breathed into it (BTW, look how smoky the landscape seems, with the Sandias barely visible, and how healthy the weeds have become):

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New Mexico Religious Imagery

Photos R.W.

New Mexico religious images are often unique, ranging from derivations of regional folk art, both sophisticated and primitive, through fairly conventional, as in first image below, to complex installations which combine many forms. Here are few that I caught on camera on trips far and near in the state:

Starting close to home (the rest are unlabelled).

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Gilman Tunnels Before and After

Photos R.W.

Some images of the tunnels from a couple of years ago set against their current condition. They were even more vandalized after the photo was taken. Sad to see the little shrine go away. There was also another shrine by the road above the tunnels, where people laid cigarettes under a small cross; that is also either gone or buried deep under a heap of granite.

Hard to see much change in the shape of the rocks on the face of the tunnel entrance.

Before and after:

 

Gilman Tunnels Are Back

It took a while, somewhat close to what the Forest Service predicted, but at last the tunnels over the Rio Guadalupe have reopened. It is hard to tell what has been removed; I will need to dig deep into my photo archives and do a before-and-after study. A casual glance up above still gives that slightly uncomfortable feeling that any moment a rock will tumble down on me, but then what do I know about the subtle science of granite rock stabilization.

What makes the most impact are the piles of granite lining the sides and the wonderful absence of graffiti. Even the guardrails have been cleaned; let’s hope this lasts for a while.

As good as new, just the rail track missing.

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Bad Day for Bad Bird

At the top of the news this weekend: forces of nature (Physics,  centrifugal forces, mostly) thwart  theft.

Please identify bird below and send information to either comments on this page or in Facebook.

 

At first all went well, and Bad Bird (BB) got a few deeply drawn sucks of nectar. 

 

But then, something strange began to happen…

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Some Hogans and Other Structures on the Rez

Photos R.W.

The Navajo Reservation stretches across a variety of landscapes, but what leaves the most lasting impression for me is the vastness, the vast emptiness, and the amazing setting for human habitation that this presents. People often live in isolated clusters of structures without another cluttering up the horizon. These are on occasion decent enough homes, but most often pictures of desperate poverty: a trailer, hogan and outhouse, and surrounded by vehicles in various degrees of completeness.

This is poverty that seems not to belong in this country, and yet it sits amidst some of the most breathtaking scenery on the continent, a site visited by millions of tourists from all over the world, who take away a picture of the U.S., a land of extreme wealth and poverty, and of a desperate struggle for survival amongst stunning beauty.

The stunning beauty of sites like Canyon de Chelly, the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley are rare on this planet, and the fact that a people live among all this grandeur gives them an air of being blessed with extraordinary privilege that denies any hardship that their circumstances might bring.

Welcome to some shots taken from a moving vehicle:

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Not-Pets At Large

Photos R.W.

Beasts on the ground, and in the water and in the sky. They keep a wary eye on us, can’t blame them, we’re pretty dangerous, but sometimes they allow us access within a gentle zoom.

This one proudly bearing a tag.

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Misty Dawn in Chaco

It has been a humid few days with busy skies and shafts of sunlight picking out landscape features, with spotty showers here and there and serious deluges elsewhere.  A morning at Chaco had a stream of low clouds drift down the valley and wrap itself around Fajada Butte.

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Small Blobs from the Ocean Charm Public in Albuquerque

Photos R.W.

From being practically unheard of in past decades Albuquerque has acquired notoriety and a terrible image these last few years, not just in its immediate neighborhood, but across the country, and even the world. And yet there are great things about the place. It has a wonderful setting and some remarkable outdoor and indoor sites.  Of these, I would place the city’s botanical gardens and aquarium near the top of the list.

Now a slowly rising and falling group of jellyfish might not be the star attraction of a great American city, but they do have a mesmerizing presence, and here is a brief record of them as they do their thing in the eerie light of their Albuquerque aquarium quarters:

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Smoke and Bird Updates

Photos R.W.

A brief smoke event with the wind travelling in the same direction as yesterday, but much less fierce, and picking up much less smoke. The Forest Service update tells us that the affected area has grown to 256 acres.

They also include an interesting explanation for yesterday’s photogenic event: “Fire activity was low to moderate throughout the day Saturday until about 5:30 p.m. when a storm cell brought much stronger winds out of the north, drastically increasing fire activity and pushing the fire to the south. The winds also helped create the very visible smoke column in the late afternoon. The blacklining that crews had worked on over the past several days held the fire in spite of the dramatic shift in wind direction and speed. Today, crews on scene continued to blackline the perimeter and look for spot fires. ”

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(Fake) Drama Above and Below and (Illegal Leaks of) Fire and Water

Photos R.W.

Update SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

The Peggy Fire as seen from a mesa in Red Rocks.

Do not believe what you hear or what you see. You might have read on these pages chilling warnings against life threatening  walls of storm water rushing down arroyos and calm reassurances about low intensity puffs of smoke lingering through the morning. Well…

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Rufous Loses Control

Photos R.W.

Ever since he arrived on the scene Mr. Rufous ruled the space around the feeder not allowing any other hummer the slightest sip. His aerial acrobatic reflexes, skills and tactics were quite impressive as he kept swarms of others of his kind at bay.

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Still Smoldering up on Peggy

Photos R.W.

The fire on Peggy Mesa, in its fourth day this Friday is making some slow progress and has grown from 11 acres yesterday to 35 acres today. There have been no more updates from the Forest Service since this morning. The air is pretty still and the smoke appears to be rising and drifting in a northeasterly direction.

Here are a few images of the rising smoke as seen from US Highway 4 this afternoon:

 

 

Riding the Railrunner

A Sunday ride on New Mexico’s outbreak of transportation infrastructure, all the way from Bernalillo to Belen (and back).

The train itself is very pleasant, it hoots a lot, that probably saves lives, it is air-conditioned, which matters on days like this, doesn’t sway too much, builds speed once in a while and travels through some improbable landscapes, stuff you don’t normally see through your car windows, at least not from these angles. The fainthearted I must warn, not all the images below are pretty (and often blurry, taken through clean, but somewhat fuzzy windows on a moving train):

Photos R.W.

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Fourth of July in Jemez Springs

Jemez Springs lived up to its high standards this fourth of July. A huge, spirited parade wove its way down the highway in the village with the sidewalk and shoulders lined with spectators.

When it was over the crowds drifted into the village plaza, and milled around the great selection of stalls.

Congratulations to the organizers, the “paraders” and to the crowds in attendance for making this a great day. Here are some images from this morning:

Photos R.W.

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Annual Congestion Festival aka 2017 Racing Southwest Jemez Cruise Road Rally Revisits Jemez Springs

Photos R.W.

It is so pathetic how rarely Jemez Springs experiences choking traffic and pedestrian gridlock. This Sunday afternoon our nearest metro areas gave us all they had: revving, fuming motors encased in glaring metal, waves of strange and unfamiliar looking people, a dense pack of beings and their conveyances as surprised to see one another as we were surprised to see them.

In case you all missed it, cowering in darkened rooms, here are some images from a fraction of the day:

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Desert Blooms

Photos R.W.

Rising above the wetlands of the Perea Nature Walk just south of San Ysidro are fairly undisturbed areas of higher ground, sandy soil responding to the season and recent moisture. While the lushness of the wetlands draws most attention, the ground above is having a great spring, with a wide variety of plants in full bloom. Here’s a (unscientific, unlabeled) survey:

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Last Glance for a While

Photos R.W.

The Gilman Tunnels, gateway to that great loop through the mountains, will be closed through most of the Summer. Perhaps we can add these “befores” to “before and after” shots sometime “after”, in August:

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A Chilly Day

Photos R.W.

Not green.

 

Still, what do you expect from places like Greenland, Iceland and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Plenty of snow was seen and reported to be falling in all these locations at various times last Saturday. Above in not at all green Greenland, as seen on a flight from icy Reykjavik, Iceland to supposedly cosy at this time of the year New Mexico. As the pilot slammed the flight through heavy snowfall into the swirling slush of the runway at the Albuquerque airport he shouted coarsely: “You gotta be kiddin’!”. Some people laughed. One person clapped. Some others resumed normal breathing.

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Prague

This city is so beautiful that it is hard not to wander around taking post-cardy shots of all around. Here are some takes where I carefully avoided that temptation.

 

Lady in park:

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