Posts Tagged ‘Albuquerque’

Kasha-Katuwe tent rocks, New Mexico

May 26, 2012

My flight home departed at 3:55. I had rather thought to go to the airport mid-morning and stand by for something earlier. My pal Denis had a car, and hoped to convince me to do something around the Albuquerque area; he proposed visiting pueblos, some of which don’t welcome visitors, others of which charge a photography fee for gussied-up touristic trash. Not very interested, thanks. He suggested the petroglyphs, which are basically old graffiti on random rocks, not very interesting. After a week, I’m ready to go home.

Then he proposed we visit the Kasha-Katuwe tent rocks national monument (thanks to remote research by his wife). What? Never heard of it.

I researched it on the web: it’s an area of eroded volcanic ash, managed by the BLM, and not too far from Albuquerque. And there’s a steep 600-foot climb on one of the trails (photo above: Dave at the top). All right, let’s do it.

From the parking lot, we see a few columns topped with capstones, above. This already looks interesting. The trail goes back toward one of the ridges, coarse white sand that is in fact the volcanic ash.

The interest here is in the texture, not the colour. I’m reminded of Munich, the contrast of the white Theatinerkirche with all of its elaborately coloured Bavarian baroque neighbors. (But I would still take Bryce canyon national park if I had the choice!)

A row of sentries on the skyline.

Time was, I thought these smoothed out avalanche chutes were evidence of substantial water flows sometime during geological history, but I think just rockslides would also polish the surfaces pretty smooth.

There is a slot canyon that eventually widens out as the trail begins the steep ascent to a knife-edge observation ridge.

I am reminded of the entranceway to some gothic cathedral somewhere. I heard someone talking about the architecture of Barcelona, and when Jacky saw the pictures, she thought of Turkish dancers.

And the grunt is worth it, as we look down and out at these strange formations.

This little point (below) is opposite the end of trail lookout area. I was ahead of Denis on the way down, waited near here for him to catch up with me. No Denis.

I figured he had stopped to take some more pictures up top, but after a while, that explanation didn’t work. I went back out on the ridge, no Denis.

I don’t know how he got ahead of me, but as I started down, I met several people who told me that my friend was further down. I went down the steep part as quickly as I could, and when I got into the slot canyon, started running. Caught Denis about a hundred meters before the parking lot.

There is another trailhead two or three miles further down, but we thought we had used up about as much time as we could afford. Denis is only flying tomorrow, but I want to get home today.

There was a sign promoting a restaurant at a nearby golf course. It was around mid-day, so we thought we might get some lunch. I was a little concerned that in our dusty hiking gear, we might be too grubby for a classy restaurant. Not to worry: it was an order at the counter hamburger joint. We bought a couple bottles of water and went on without eating.

There is a large dam (a really large dam) across the Rio Grande here, and Denis thought it might be interesting to drive across it. We turned off at the Corps of Engineers visitors’ site but the dam road was closed, so that didn’t work.

Back to Albuquerque, where Denis dropped me off at the airport for my flight home. A good thing to do; thanks for the adventure: a site I had never heard of, and well worth the seeing.

Albuquerque botanical gardens, aquarium

May 26, 2012

If I had to pick a single picture that captures the flavor of the southwest, it might be this one:

Here’s a nicely done statue at the entrance to the old town. Never mind that it’s completely silly; it’s nicely done.

Well, the old town is about three blocks one direction by two blocks in the other direction. We get to it and through it pretty quickly.

I explored the parks along the Rio Grande, which include a botanical garden. The price of admission to the botanical garden also includes the aquarium, so I went there, too. There’s also a zoo somewhere around, but I didn’t see it, didn’t go there.

Jacky remarks that Georgia O’Keefe just used the colors she saw every day. There’s something to that thought…

One section of the park is a Japanese garden, a little waterfall and a pond, a bridge, a few side paths, and Japanese stone lanterns. Rather nice, although it bears mentioning that the bridge and some of the other places are roped off from pedestrian access. That would *never* happen in a real Japanese garden!

To the left of the picture, a heron perched on the rock. One of the gardeners told me the heron is an old friend.

But when I got back to the hotel and blew up the pictures, I discovered that our old friend here has swallowed a fishhook, and is encumbered with a substantial length of fishline.

I sent the photo and its description to the botanical gardens people, and got a thank-you response. No idea whether they can do anything to help it or not; just cutting the fishline would surely make its life a lot easier.

I was impressed by the layered fabic texture of this little guy’s wings.

And this is the top-side of the same butterfly. Very classy!

I shot a lot of photos in the aquarium, but as expected, they mostly didn’t turn  out very well, so I’ll only include a few of them.

Above, a nest of pipefish, and well camouflaged they are, too!

Nice place, well worth the visit.


May 20, 2012

Well? Well? That’s how it’s pronounced, isn’t it! Bigger town than I would have thought, maybe a million or so.

The flight from San Francisco landed just about the time the solar eclipse was beginning. I shared a taxi with Navid to the hotel; we found many colleagues (and others) watching through heavily tinted sunglasses. One or two of them lent their sunglasses to us, and I have to admit, it really was worth seeing. Having checked in and dropped our things off in our rooms, we were outdoors just about the time the eclipse was at its maximum. Cool!

The taxi driver had recommended the St Clair Winery and Bistro, only a block or two from the hotel, so we decided to give it a try. As those who know me can attest, I’m more of a beer guy than a wine aficionado, but the menu listed an oatmeal stout that was pretty good. A lamb stew sprinkled with feta cheese, and once again, I’m pretty spoiled.

Very spoiled.

As to names, I asked our waiter Mark whether it was Rio Grand, or Rio Grande. He had always pronounced it just English grand, but he took a poll in the kitchen and came back with mixed results. So the Spanish haven’t completely surrendered the language!