TULAROSA TREASURES, AUGUST 2016

Nearby Tulsarosa has some wonderful treasures.

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Purple grapes ready for harvest.

 

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Another look at a Tularosa grape orchard.

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A popular hang out spot along Tularosa Creek, looking west.

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Looking east from the big tree.

This type of tree is dying along the river. Don't know why.

This type of tree is dying along the river. Don’t know why.

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RATTLESNAKE ON WALK SEPTEMBER 12, 2016

rattlesnake-going-to-point-2016-sept-12Was just thinking the other day that it’s been almost a year since I saw the tannish rattler on the trail to the point.  Mornings were getting cold, and it was obvious that it wanted nothing to do with humans or dogs.  It never curled.  Just rattled and kept moving until it slid into an impossibly small hole under a two ton boulder.

On mid morning, September 12th, SillyDog and I came upon this rattler under a juniper.  It’s the blob in the upper left.  Not real big, but curled and ready.  It was surprisingly dark gray.  I don’t recall if I could see a pattern.  The loud rattle told me all I needed at the time.

I took some lousy video.  Adrenalin was up just a touch.  This photo is a screen shot from the video.  If it was any worse I could claim it was showing a bigfoot.

This is a reminder to all you hikers and campers.  Snakes are on the move to get to their winter home.  Keep your eyes peeled.

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SEED THIEF, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016

seed-thief-2016-sept-12The reason why our bird seed disappears at a high rate.

A nest had worn a half inch trail under the bird feeders.

One little ol’ ant isn’t much.  Multiply it by a thousand and it starts to add up.  I’ve envisioning a nest underground that has little seed cubbies holds at least 50 pounds of our un-volunteered bounty.

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HIDDEN TREASURES ON THE WAY BACK FROM RED RIVER, NM, SEPT. 16, 2016

It’s a long drive home for old ladies.  We got an early start, temporarily postponed by me.  Remember yesterday when I ate fruities with unwashed hands?  Well, bite me it did.  My innards were in an uproar, and they roared a time or two before we left.  Was it coincidence?  I don’t know.  I do know we will be making more stops than usual.  I pack extra tissues for those au natural moments in the woods.  I’m not going to be a jerk about it because both Grace and MsSpry were such good sports the last three days.

enchanted-circle-near-rr-2016-sept-16Grace surprises me with a right turn onto Highway 38.  Instead of returning whence we came, we are going east to complete the loop of the Enchanted Circle, famed for it’s beauty.

Winter snows and monsoon has done their duty.  The views are fabulous.  Already the families of aspen are lightening.  Another month and they might be in full fall turn.  Sadly, we saw no elk or any other critters.

Eagle Nest Lake, at the town of Eagle Nest, is astoundingly low.  I know they hope for a massive snowfall this winter — just like they have the last four or five years.  We stop at the only convenience store for… you know.

Back on the road.  Nine miles further she takes another unexpected turn, onto Highway 434 which goes through Angel Fire, a once sleepy enclave now going crazy with building, thanks to their ski resort.

Surprise, Grace is taking us on an unknown road.  I’m not big on surprises.  Where the hell are we going?  I’m going to trust the car’s navigation system to get me through this alive.

So I relax, and be a good sport.  We pop out the other end of town and are making decent time when our car’s navigation system says there is congestion ahead, and it will create for us a detour.  Congestion?  It’s in the middle of nowhere.  We’ve met one car.  Cows?  Elk?  A herd of vicious chipmunks?  We are forced to stop at a police roadblock.  Yep, just what I need.  A big open place with a bored audience if my innards should do more than complain.  We’ve got 7 hours together in this vehicle.  Making a mess inside is non-negotiable.  I will accept public humiliation before dirty upholstery, as long as I don’t live in this place.  The wait is not long.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  A second police car and our car’s navigator detours us directly south whether we wanted to or not.  Gosh, my curiosity was a little high.

We have fallen to 8600 feet in Angel Fire, and continue a slow decline until we are on twisties in a fairly deep canyon, probably Coyote Creek Canyon.  A BM marker on a topography page says 8106.  We pass Little Blue Creek and Big Blue Creek.  We drive a hidden jewel.  It’s wet.  Marshy in a lot of places.

I’m thinking poison ivy everywhere.  Sigh.  My ego is going to take a hit.  I tell Grace when I tell her to pull over, her and MsSpry are to walk into the road and roll around to focus attention on them and not me nearby in the woods.  They laugh.  I’m serious.  I’m scanning both sides.  Cliffs, ravines, and barbed wire.

Look a sign.  Coyote Creek Campground.  WITH RESTROOMS.  Turn in.  Turn in.  I’ll pay the darn $5.  We screech to a halt at a magnificent set of restrooms.  Soon we are back on our way.

Gonna have to do some research on this place.  There’s even a constantly flowing creek with trout.

alpaca-farm-on-434-2016-sept-16It’s all so darn beautiful. Mountains become big, big meadows.  Lotsa grass.  Tall trees.  I think it was outside of Mora when we passed a number of alpaca farms.  Those dots aren’t cows.  It’s shorn alpacas.  Ever hugged an alpaca?  It’s like hugging softness.

Little communities spread out in the flatter areas.  Ledoux, South Carmen, Sapello.  Highway 518 past a very flat Storrie Lake where many rvers hang out.  84 to Santa Rosa and Las Vegas, not far from the big wildfire earlier this year.

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It’s just downright pretty.

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A screenshot of part of our return.

vacuum-after-five-days-2016-sept-18We put miles behind us and are soon home.  So glad.  The dogs are happy to see us.  Thanks BIL for house and pet sitting.  I’m tired, and don’t do a thing the rest of the day.  This Sunday morning I have one chore — vacuum after being gone for five days.  The photo shows why it was necessary.

New neighbors appear to have moved in while I was away.  A short time ago a border collie with a harness nosed around our driveway.  Time to make it’s acquaintance.  I called to it, and it ran all the way back down to the house.  Letting your dog run loose is not a good first impression.  I’ll believe it was a fluke until I find out otherwise, but I’m well aware that they don’t have a yard fence.

Grace tells me this coming week will be unusually warm.  Time to get more painting done.

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MISCELLANEOUS PHOTOS FROM RED RIVER, NM, SEPTEMBER 13-15, 2016

It's some tough roots which must be corralled.

It’s some tough roots which must be corralled.

Ravens lunching on dead trout.

Ravens lunching on dead trout.

Mule deer on people trail above river. Saw lots of chipmunks and a big rodent in the river.

Mule deer on people trail above river. Saw lots of chipmunks and a big rodent in the river.

Flowers were blooming everywhere.

Flowers were blooming everywhere.

I braved an avalanche to fish.

I braved an avalanche to fish.

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RED RIVER, NM FISHING TRIP. SEPTEMBER 15, 2016

fish-hatchery-truck-2016-sept-15My last day to fish.

Fish.  Eat.  Rest until fidgety.  Fish again.

In the morning, a fish hatchery truck backs up to where I’m fishing.  It’s like Christmas and Easter combined.  A guy dips two nets full of wiggling trout and dumps them into the water.  Fa-whomp! They are a beautiful iridescent dark blue, clearly different from the tan “wild” ones.

fish-delivery-three-trout-hidden-2016-sept-15The release attracts a tiny crowd.  The fish flop everywhere. Grace tells me they questioned the guy when he put some in the pond.  The fish come to the top to burp excess oxygen introduced to keep them alive during transport.  The same guy tells me they haven’t been fed in two days and are hungry.  They pass my flies on the way to the spincasting worm fishermen.  The less-than essential pile at home bites me again.

trout-in-my-shadow-2016-sept-15Ya know, I probably wouldn’t have minded it except for the one newby who moved into my shadow.  I moved.  She followed.  I nudged her with my foot until she got the idea I was big and dangerous.  I figured nobody would believe me so I took a photo.  Her head is near the yellow arrow.

The new arrivals were raised in crowded ponds so they have no concept of trout personal space.  Time and again I watched them sidle up to a “wild” trout and have it turn on the newby, driving it away with bites and slaps.  Lessons were quickly learned.

trout-delivered-dead-2016-sept-15There were victims.  This dead trout would be dragged out to the shore by ravens and eaten.

It was a good time to take a break and snack on my little bag of fruity things which advertise they are good for you, but I know they aren’t.  I eat them like popcorn.  Oh so good and bad at the same time.  In the back of my mind I question the intelligence of eating with unwashed fingers that have been in the river.  Oh well, too late now.

breeze-in-bush-rr-2016-sept-15Amid all this drama, the breeze builds into a small gale,  pushing the clouds away and making me cast like a kitten with a ball of yarn.  Cast, cast, snarl.  Cast, cast snarl.

Flies disappear in the chop so I’m obliged to add a hot pink strike indicator which floats on the surface.  The trout are more interested in it than my flies.  I glue an indicator above a naked hook which kills their interest and makes me wonder if they are reading my mind.

I cast short downstream and feeding out line to drift past waiting lips.  It’s blowing so hard for a while that my indicator sails upstream dragging the fly past the trout who move aside.  Whut?  Bakards?  Moving aside is much more insulting than ignoring.  I add tiny bb weights to prevent sailing.  One day I’ll tell you how much one hurts when cast into the forehead.  (Safety glasses and keeping mouth closed is important on windy days.)  The divot and red mark faded in a couple of hours.

Which reminds me of a story told by a colleague.  It seems one day he had his .44 handgun out and seeing there was a willowy stump nearby he thought he would blast it to pieces.  “Here”, he says to a friend, “Hold my beer and watch this.”  He shot.  The trunk bent low, then threw the bullet back at him, hitting him in the forehead with great force.  He staggered about in a daze.  “Here”, says the friend, “Drink this and you will feel better”.  He didn’t.  He refuses to boozy shoot stumps to this day.  End of story.

The wind settled down some at dusk.  I fished my achy feet home.  Below a head-high bridge I made my casts, always keeping one eye out for traffic and hoping my back cast wouldn’t catch a passing vehicle.  Finally, I am rewarded with two energetic trout caught in front of a cheering tourist well on her way to getting tooted on wine.  She made a great audience.

I return home to a couple of minutes of light and rain in the nearby mountains.  I’ll cast until dark.  Cast, cast, cast, CRACK!  I’m holding a lightning rod so I reel in screamin’ fast and hurry for the condo door.  An old man in an aluminum lawn chair looks at me like I’m a wuss and keeps fishing.  I’m tempted to call out, “Hey, buddy.  You aren’t going to live much longer doing that”, but he’s about a hundred years old.

I go indoors to reintroduce myself to Grace and MsSpry and remind them I actually came with them days ago.

And tell them about my fishing Superbowl win.

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RED RIVER, NM FISHING TRIP. SEPTEMBER 14, 2016

An early start is sabotaged by a poor night’s sleep in a strange place.  What is that sound?  Revelers.  What is that other sound?  Bugs.  It’s stuffy.  Crack open the sliding glass upper balcony door.  Blackout curtains hide the sun — No, it’s raining.  Low, drab clouds hide the peaks.  It’s so pretty I don’t curse the forecasters who predicted no rain.  No lightning.  I’m.Going.Fishing.

My plans had been to fish downstream for the day.  Backpack of food, water, flashlight, base layer, rain gear was packed and ready.  Fanny belt of fishing gear.  A fish net which fits no where and always gets in the way.  I suit up.  It feels like I’m lugging a piano.

me-fishing-red-river-2016-sept-14Two false starts of 50 feet, and I’m down to fanny belt and fishing nearby.  A waterproof, hooded windbreaker and the hip boots makes me impervious to all but the heaviest rains.  I feel like the most awesome fisherman.  Do I not look the part?  Is that not a happy look?

My quick steps slow as I eye the fly fishermen on the pond.  Why are they fishing the pond and not the river?  I think more room for me, and keep a walking.  I look over the edge and stare slack jawed at the water.  It is chocolate brown and higher.  Obviously, it rained upstream.  Is it beer 8 a.m.?  “Reading Trout Waters” tells me the fish see better than we think they can.  Not me.  As the water clears, I find I am casting to empty water.  I move.

I am the incredibly happy solo fishing nut on the river.  Yeah Buddy.  Happy like a truckload of pecans.  Thanks to my new hip waders I step into the river like I own it.  Nobody screams, “Get out of the water, you’re scaring the fish”.  Ha.  I cast to places I couldn’t reach while casting from the bank.  I was a casting and tying machine.  Tossed everything but the kitchen sink.  These trout are wary and well educated in the art of ignoring poorly presented flies.

rocks-for-red-river-2016-sept-15Next to the huge Visitor’s Center a field of boulders is growing.  In the fall of 2016, which is now, the city will be making improvements to improve trout fishing in the red river.  In-stream fish habitat upgrades they call it.  I call it digging a deeper channel for fish to swim in and boulders for fish to hide behind.  Some of my $5 mandatory habitat fee license at work.

red-river-behind-visitor-cntr-late-evening-2016-sept-14It rained.  I fished.  It quit.  I fished.  Yeehaw.  Lunch, a short rest and back out.  I head to above a pedestrian bridge where the river widens below rapids.  By rapids I mean something you could send a nervous toddler down in a tiny wagon inner tube.  Six trout convince themselves they are hiding in 14″ of crystal clear water.  If I get too close, they retreat.  Too far, and I can’t see to cast to them.  I’d like to think my casting perfection draws the audience on the bridge.  Mostly, they enjoy pointing out to each other where the fish are.  Hey, I ain’t proud.  As soon as they leave I thrash the area.

trout-red-river-2016-sept-14I catch one.  One.  Oh, you poor, stupid fish.  I release you to grow bigger and stronger (I don’t want to clean fish).  I cast so many flies it’s a wonder the fish don’t think there were multiple hatches going on.

At dark, I stumble home on aching feet.  I believe Scarlet O’Hara.  Tomorrow is another fishing day.

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