Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Santa Fe # 2

Even though we have only spent a week in Santa Fe, we have crammed a lot into our time here.  On Monday morning, Rue and I drove a half-hour north of town to meet Mary Starr Carleton for a herding lesson.  Rue did surprisingly well, considering it’s been a couple of weeks since we worked sheep.  Here is Mary with some of her sheep, while Rue waits impatiently for a “walk-up” command.

We worked for a while in the arena, then moved into the open field with a smaller group of sheep to work on Rue’s outrun.  Mary’s sheep are Cheviots, with their sweet faces and characteristic pricky, pointy ears, as well as some Dorper and Dorper crosses like the ones we work at home.

The lambs were especially cute, in particular the black-and-white one that Mary calls her “border collie lamb.”  

We were glad to have the opportunity to refresh our herding skills, and I am especially grateful for Mary’s advice on how to improve our performance.  (Well, Rue didn’t exactly listen to the advice, but she responded well to the instruction.)  We’ll be back for another lesson the next time we’re in town.

In the afternoon, John and I revisited the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.  We have seen the exhibits before, but not in several years.  It was a real treat, and I saw some pieces that I don’t remember from previous visits.  

And, one of her most famous New Mexico landscapes entitled Pedernal, 1941/1942

This morning, we hurried back to the dog park before the afternoon showers had a chance to develop.  A visit there is always a treat, no matter what the weather.  Today, though, we had a light north wind and perfect temperatures in the 70’s.  We walked the high ridges and marveled at the magnificent vistas.  

The dogs enjoyed the chance to explore, and had fun playing ball with their friends.  Rue and Colt think it’s the next best thing to herding sheep.

There are surprises around every bend in this city.  While walking along the edge of the dog park, we came upon trailside “art” made from sticks, stones and found objects.  

Now I’m inspired and when we return I will try to put some of the “treasures” piled up in the barn at the farm to better use.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Santa Fe #1

As we drove into Los Suenos RV Park, our friends from Granbury, Geri and Bob, were waiting to welcome us.  This is the third year we have met here.  Even though we are all from Texas, we have never managed to get together except here.  

In the past, Geri and Bob have visited in an RV, but this year they opted to stay in one of the cabins on premises.  We settled in and all went out for drinks and dinner at the excellent Harry’s Road House on Rodeo Drive.  The patio area is lovely and shaded, and we had a great meal and even better conversation.

Our stay in Santa Fe included a visit to their famous Farmers’ Market, where we dodged locals and tourists to visit booths and stalls filled with vegetables, fruit, jams, jellies, honey, cheeses and a variety of artisenal offerings.  

The Frank Ortiz Dog Park was also one of our first stops.  Built on the site of an abandoned landfill, it offers miles of trails through stands of piƱon, along ridges and through the arroyo.  It’s a great hike for people and dogs alike, and one of our favorite dog parks.

Not only are their miles of trails down arroyos and across the ridge tops, there are also trailside attractions.  I'm not sure whether they are memorials or decorations, but they're entertaining.

And, if you lose your keys, there is a good chance someone will find them and hang them on the post for you.

And speaking of the dogs, one of their favorite outings is right out the back gate of our RV park.  The Arroyo de los Chamisos runs for several miles, and is full of bunnies, ground squirrels and other interesting critters.  

You can tell there hasn’t been much rain lately, as there are a number of stacked rock cairns scattered along the bottom of the arroyo.  Viewed from different angles, several of them look almost human. 

The deep sand in the arroyo makes for strenuous walking, so after a mile or so we climbed out and took a street-level trail back to the park.  One side is a path through the sagebrush and cactus, and the other a nice, paved bike path.  

It was also good to see our friends, Rob and Donna, who live here in Santa Fe full-time.  We enjoyed a Mexican seafood dinner with them at Puerto Penasco on Airport Road and good conversation there and back at our place.

On Sunday after breakfast and church (a video of our pastor’s sermon from last week), we had a brisk walk at the dog park before it got too hot.  As we finished our walk, the clouds were building over the mountains, and it looked like the seasonal rains might begin today.  Usually by this time of year there are afternoon showers almost every day.  However, this year a persistent high pressure ridge until now has kept much of the center of the country hotter and drier than usual.  

Anticipating showers, we put the dogs inside for naps, and John and I headed for the Meow Wolf Art Complex.  Friends had recommended we take in the “interactive art experience” called House of Eternal Return.  The brochure says the exhibit features “a wild new form of non-linear storytelling which unfolds through exploration, discovery and 21st century interactivity.  Visitors choose their own path, walking, climbing and crawling through an imaginative multiverse of more than 70 unique rooms created by a team of over 500 artists.”  

Billed as “The amusement park for people who want a weirder Disneyland,” the L.A. Times calls it “part haunted house and part jungle gym—giant artwork that people can step inside.”  The exhibit did not disappoint.  Here are some of the images I made while John and I wandered, climbed and crawled through. 

In addition to florescent paint and black lights, there was other-worldly music, some initiated by visitors to the exhibit.  We were almost at sensory overload by the time we finished, but it's an experience I hope you'll have an opportunity to enjoy.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Volente to Santa Fe

D-Day finally arrived!  We left Volente on Sunday, July 17, and made our way west.  For the first day, John and the dogs rode in the truck and I followed in Tracker because we could not make the lights that mount on its roof and connect to the coach work properly.  No brake lights; no turn signals; no tow.  After a generally uneventful but longer than anticipated trip (we missed a key turn and went quite a few miles out of our way), we arrived at our first overnight stop, the Red Arroyo Camping Area of San Angelo State Park.  Located on O.C. Fisher Lake, the park offers nice accommodations.  The lake is a little low, but we were told the water level is still higher than it has been for many years.  Here is a photo of our campsite.  We didn’t have a view of the lake, but we had a tree!  And we had bobwhite quail calling until dark and up again at dawn.

There are several walking trails around the park, and we as well as the dogs enjoyed winding through the grass and mesquite savannas.  We didn’t see any quail, but mourning dove and whitwings were there in droves. 

One reason we came west through San Angelo is because our grandson will attend school here at Angelo State University.  A part of the Texas Tech University System, Angelo State is situated on a beautiful campus covered with large live oak trees.

While driving around campus, we saw this statue of a sheep.  It certainly isn’t Angelo State’s ram mascot, but instead is part of a project that places similar sculptures around town in honor of San Angelo’s heritage as the Wool Capital.

We also took time to tour the historic Fort Concho.  The fort was established in 1867 to protect frontier settlements and map the vast West Texas region.  It served that purpose for 22 years, and at full strength was occupied by 350-400 men.  The fort covered 1700 acres and consisted of at least 40 buildings, most constructed of native limestone because there were few trees in the area. 

Fort Concho has been restored from ruins, many of which originally looked like these.  

One of the restored buildings is the hospital.  We were glad we didn't have to look forward to wards like these...

or "medicines" like this!

San Angelo SP is also home to some of the official Texas longhorn herd.  While driving around the park, we saw these beautiful longhorn cows grazing beside the fence.  Each one bears the five-pointed Texas Star brand.

We enjoyed our short stay, including moonrise on Monday night over the West Texas horizon.

On Tuesday morning we were up early and off to our next anticipated stop in Muleshoe, Texas.  Since we had planned only a quick overnight stop, we hoped to stay in the Ray and Donna West Free RV Park, a small, city-owned facility.  Remembering our several stays at the free city RV park in Concordia, Kansas, we were perhaps overoptimistic.  After all, West Texas isn’t Kansas, Toto.  We knew we weren’t likely to have shade and green grass like Concordia offers.  However, we weren't anticipating a bare caliche parking lot with eight RV hookups standing starkly in the middle, only a little grass along one side and no fences.  We decided to move on to Clovis, New Mexico, and hope for better accommodations.  

We had already traveled over 200 miles (our ideal maximum miles per day) and were getting tired and cranky.  We were understandably disappointed when the RV parks in Clovis weren’t much better than the one in Muleshoe.  Again we moved on, this time to Oasis State Park, located south of Clovis near Portales, NM.  It turns out that was a very good decision, in spite of the fact that we wound up driving over 300 miles that day.  

Oasis SP is a true oasis in the desert.  Bathhouses were new, and there is a lovely rock-lined pond that is stocked with catfish.  We found a long, pull-through site with a nice tree and a covered picnic table on a concrete slab with a wind block.  The gravel site was even level enough that we didn’t have to unhook and truck.

couple of horses grazed just beyond the park’s perimeter fence, and the calls of scaled quail filled the air.  

One of the camp hosts feeds the quail, so we got glimpses of several, along with numerous bunnies, scurrying around the park.  

Because the quail were running along the ground, they didn’t look like birds at all, at least in the dogs’ opinion.  Their prey drive kicked in and they wanted to chase them.  Fortunately, I was braced for the pull, but felt it in my arms and shoulders.  

As the sun was setting in the west another lovely full moon was rising over the desert.  We slept like babies.  

Wednesday morning we made the run into Santa Fe.  Along the way, we met several of these BNSF engines pulling what appeared to be oil transport cars. 
Then, north of Fort Sumner we almost dozed on these long, straight stretches of road.  (Fortunately or unfortunately, the road was rough enough to make dozing impossible.) 

As we approached Santa Fe, the clouds were building over the mountains to the north.

After an uneventful trip, we are now parked in our favorite spot at Los Suenos RV Park.  It feels like home.