Sunday, July 19, 2015

Valle Grande


A lotta years ago, I was on a business trip which included a stop in Albuquerque. We were hiring for an administrative position at the college I was working for, and I was interviewing candidates in Denver and Albuquerque.  My old college roommate Doug was up in White Rock, working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  He picked me up at the airport, after the scariest landing I'd ever experienced.  It was a DC-3, I'm pretty sure, and I'm also pretty sure the wingtips weren't more than a couple of feet from the canyon walls on each side.

He drove me, in late afternoon sunshine, to Bandolier National Monument (now Park.) So, fresh out of late winter grimy slush in New England, there I was clambering around Anasazi cave dwelling ruins.  It was magical.

The next day, he borrowed some nordic skis for me and we went out into the mountains.  It was the first time I'd ever been on snow that was deeper than I was tall. Way deeper.  It was in a caldera (what I would have called a "crater") from an ancient volcano.    I was enchanted.

That trip was the beginning of my involvement with the American Southwest; it set in motion forces which retain their power in my life to this day.  I mean, here I am, years later, staying in Doug's house again, a few miles from Bandolier. Yesterday I drove out to the caldera to say hello again.

The official info sign

Looking out across the caldera.

Looking in another direction,

It's very hard to capture the feeling of big open landscapes with a camera. Ansel Adams I'm not. I sat there, leaning against my car, and felt the years sweep over me with the wind.  Tears and smiles: the story of aging.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Settled in White Rock

Even a few short posts and people are checking in here again!  Welcome back!

I'm settled in here in White Rock, NM.  The town is a kind of suburb of Los Alamos, and the local industry is the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  I'm told the number of PhD's per square mile here is astronomical.  The elevation is 6500 feet where I am... which means cool nights and warm days.  Perfect!

As I indicated in a couple of cryptic posts, the drive over from Tucson was tough.  Straight through, one driver.  Left at 5am, got in at 4:15pm (time zone change; would have been 3:15.)  I think on the way home I'll spring for a cheap motel someplace like Deming and split the trip up.

Somewhat to my surprise, the Beast is more comfortable to drive on a trip like this.  A lot of it has to do with the fact that the Hyundai doesn't have cruise control, I think.  The Beast has more comfortable seats.  I like being able to pull over and take a short nap.  Of course, visibility in the car is better, and gas mileage is 33mpg, as opposed to 9mpg in the Beast.  It's a 450 mile trip, one way, so the gas cost in the RV would be something like $132 at $2.65/gallon.  $36 in the car.  Even with a motel stay thrown in, it's still way cheaper to drive the car!  Dang!

I have a tourist-y trip into Santa Fe on the books for Sunday; I'll stay overnight there just so I won't have to drive up the hill home in the dark. (It's a about 40 miles).   Motel 6 is your friend.

I've met my neighbors on both sides, and a few miscellaneous locals from on-line message boards.  Nice friendly people, all of them.

I'm still not sure when I'll head back home.  Maybe next weekend?  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Here we go again

Taking off tomorrow (Wednesday) for some time in the cool mountains of northern New Mexico.  My friends in White Rock have graciously made their home available while they're in Maine for the summer.  Right now the overnight lows here in Tucson are in the 80s.  That's the afternoon high over there. We won't even talk about the dew point.

So Buttercup the Hyundai and I are headed out.  The Beast will stay here.  Actually, both my beasts will stay here: Emma the dog will be staying with a neighbor who is rapidly becoming a virtual co-parent.  With the small car it'll be easier to explore Santa Fe, Taos, and other places which  aren't exactly congenial for a lumbering box on wheels.

I'll be posting from the road, so there may actually me a reason to check in here again!