Friday, July 12, 2019

Plenty To Do Around ABQ

Monsoon season has arrived

Things are going well with our house and catsitting job in Albuquerque. It's good we are parked in one place for a while as Jim had to have a tooth pulled a couple weeks ago, then about a week later had a corneal abrasion due to his dry eye issues and had to see an ophthalmologist. He's got follow up appointments for both over the next couple weeks. Yes, it is always something.

Anyone know what kind of hummingbird this is?

We are finding lots of things in the area to keep us busy besides the regular neighborhood walks, pickleball, and gym workouts. Looking for a different place to walk, one day we went to the campus of New Mexico University. Not only is it a lovely campus, but there are also several museums that are open to the public. We visited the anthropology museum and two art museums that had some nice works. 

A few scenes from around the campus.

Jim had to take it easy for a few days after his tooth extraction so one day we drove about 45 miles to the east side of the Sandia Mountains to the small towns of Madrid and Los Cerillos, located along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. Madrid (pronounced with the accent on Mad) is the oldest coal mining region in New Mexico, and Los Cerillos, just a few miles north, is known for its turquoise, gold, silver and lead mining. When the minerals were gone and the mines closed down, most of the residents also left, leaving them ghost towns. 

Main street of Los Cerillos

This was the only business open on a weekday, a small general store.

The village of Madrid is a bit more lively since it was revitalized in the 70s first by squatters and then by artists. Although it now consists mostly of galleries and shops, it still retains much of its historic charm. Also, a number of movies have been filmed here.

Madrid was once a bustling company town for the Albuquerque and Cerrillos Coal Company.

Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe steam engine.

An employee in one of the shops here told us there were a lot of Vietnam draft dodgers who squatted in the abandoned houses during the 70s.

We were impressed with most of the artwork we saw in the shops. 

With the temperatures heating up into the mid-90s, yesterday we drove up to Sandia Crest, the highest point in the Sandia Mountains. At 10,600' it was only in the mid-60s, perfect for a hike in the woods. 

We can see all these towers from the house.
Looking down on our neighborhood.

On a clear day, you can supposedly see for 100 miles.

Sandia Crest House Gift Shop and Cafe.

Back of the Crest House from the rocky Crest trail.

With dark clouds building in the sky, we decided to hike over to the tram station on the Crest trail, about 2 miles away.

We took a little detour to check out the Kiwanis Cabin, originally built out of wood by the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club in the 1920s. It burned down a couple years later and was replaced by another wooden structure that was destroyed by high winds a few years after that. In the 1930s they asked the Civilian Conservation Corps to build a new cabin, which they did in the summer of 1936, this time out of local limestone, that is still standing.

Quite a view from the cabin.

Continuing along the wooded trail the dark cloud over our heads began dropping rain on us. By the time we got to the tram it had turned to sleet, but at least no thunder and lightning.

It stopped raining shortly after we got to the tram, so we were able to sit outside on the deck and eat our lunch while watching the tram come and go.

The Kiwanis Cabin is on the high point across the canyon.

After seeing how many people they crammed on the tram we knew we had no interest in taking the ride.

The sky began growing dark again so we quickly hit the trail back to the car. Very loud thunder rolled around us, getting closer by the minute, but we made it back to the car after a fast two miles with most of it uphill, which made our lungs hurt at that elevation. It's really pretty up there so we hope to go back on a clearer day.

And that's about it for now from Albuquerque, where we'll be for another month. The cats are doing well and we love having them around. Here is sweet Keira laying with Jim on the bed while he reads.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Albuquerque, Continued

After Alex and Ellen left, we finally made our way to the nearest pickleball courts, which are about 10 miles away. They have a very nice set-up at Manzano Mesa park, with 18 courts, each one with its own fence and bench. Outside of the courts is a big area of covered bleachers for viewing. As we walked in, the first person we saw was Dennis, one of our pickleball buddies from Jojoba Hills. He and his wife Debbie have a home in Albuquerque. We played a few games with him and another guy, then played a few more with some different people. We went back a few days later and found some other players who were similarly matched, so we had some good games. The Senior Olympics are here for two weeks so the courts are closed until later this week. 

Very impressive courts

Our next guests were George and Tina (and doggie Jax) from Hemet, CA, who were on their way from Silver City, NM to Cortez, CO. They stayed at the KOA just off I-40 and on the day they arrived we stopped by to visit after a great lunch at El Patron with Dennis and Debbie, and Murray and Nancy, also from Jojoba Hills, who were in town for a few days.

Jim. Murray. Dennis, Deb, and Nancy, enjoying the margaritas

While George and Tina were here it was the hottest it's been so far, so we took a drive about 50 miles north to check out the Jemez Springs area and go for a hike in the cool forest. We did a 4 mile out and back to McCauley Springs, a very pleasant trek through the woods, which would have been a bit nicer if the thunder and lightning hadn't been approaching. Jim ended up turning around as he didn't want a repeat of the hailstorm we endured in Santa Fe a few weeks ago, but the rest of us pressed on and only got a few drops of rain.

Surprisingly scenic red rock country near Jemez Springs.

On the way we stopped to check out Soda Dam hot springs, right alongside the road.

Jemez River

Soda Springs

Calcium carbonate deposits formed the dam

The trail to McCauley Springs is about 5 miles north of the small town of Jemez Springs at the Battleship Rock Picnic Area.

Battleship Rock

Trail starts along the Jemez River

Tina, Jax and George. Poor Jax kept getting picked on by bigger dogs along the trail.

We went on a Saturday so there were plenty of families and dogs in the springs and nobody seemed concerned about the thunder. There are several pools so the crowd was spread out, but we were not tempted. The water temperature is only around 89 degrees, so it's really a warm, not hot spring.

After the hike we stopped for lunch and a beer on the patio at Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon, where we found a pretty good veggie burrito. It was a fun day and we enjoyed hanging out with George and Tina, and Jax who was very well behaved in the car and restaurant.

Except for a few days in the mid 90s, the weather in Albuquerque has been pretty nice and we've still been enjoying our morning neighborhood hikes and walks. The flowers are one benefit of spending summer in the high desert.

A cool front came through over the weekend so we took advantage of it and did a scenic 5 mile hike on a trail we hadn't been on, the Piedra Lisa trail just a few miles up the road. The first part of the trail looked down over this subdivision of large homes that are accessed from a private dirt road that continues on past the trailhead parking area. We could see plenty of solar panels on the houses and found out this is an off-grid neighborhood. 

The trail climbed almost 1,200' up to 8,100' elevation. We could sure tell our bodies are not acclimated to hiking at higher elevations.

Soon we entered the wildnerness

This was huge.

Found quite a few cacti blooming.

There were plenty of rocks and views to help us forget about the climb to get up there.

Looking down on Albuquerque

We spoke with some locals at the top who told us the mountains haven't been this green in years.

They call this rock formation The Pancake but we can't figure out why.

We had a couple days of smoke from the fire in Arizona's Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix but the wind shifted and it's cleared up quite a bit.

Looking north towards Placitas and the Jemez Mountains in the hazy distance.

In other news, I think we've made a decision on a mattress and reclining loveseat. Our lease starts on July 1st, although we won't be in Fountain Hills until mid-August, but some of you may know that our friends Terry and LuAnn are already renting an apartment there and have graciously offered to accept deliveries for us so we will at least have a bed to sleep on and a place to sit when we get there. The rest can wait.

I'll leave you with this photo of handsome Luke on a bookcase in our bedroom. It's such fun having cats around the house again!