Thursday, October 30, 2014

apache de gila

high altitude bucci
the Gila wilderness was the nations first designated Wilderness . It was home to remarkable ancient cultures and unique eco systems . The Gila cliff dwellings . The home of Geronimo . Ancient Calderas . Great hikes . Before the Cliff Dwellings were built in late 1200s,  the Mimbres & Mogollon lived here producing some of the greatest SW pottery


I drove out from Silver City and camped in a great forest above a blown out ancient volcano . did a nice hike to Gila Cliff dwellings .

sandstone sentinel

great job on trail by NPS

view out

condo made of stona

the canyon in

major caldera


The weekend of October 25 had at least 10 races to chose from in the SW New Mexico / El Paso area . The Las Cruces races were 5ks , and after doing some very short intervals thursday I realized I would blow up in a short race . There was a 1/2M in Sunland Park which finished on a race track ( horse ) a marathon and half in El Paso . Both races involved no race day registration and the now typical big buck entrance fees . Meh . So I opted for the All Souls Urban Trail Races ( 5 & 15k ) in Silver City . With urban in the name …. how bad could it be ??

I spoke with Carlos , who owns the running store (Run Culture) in Las Cruces and he seemed to think the course wouldn't be too technical . Maybe some hills. .

The town of Silver City is about 110 miles west of Las Cruces in the SW corner of NM . At an altitude of 6000 feet it is somewhat cooler , especially noticeable at night . Western NM U is located here , along with a uniquely vibrant arts community . Like KW , it is a destination … not something you really drive through to get somewhere else,  although there is some major wilderness and ancient culture explorations to be had nearby . And hills .

The race was being run to help raise money for the town theater . And it was being sponsored by , among others , a brewpub, who would be putting on an Oktoberfest after the race . Yes .

The course started downtown in front of the theater , turned right for a block, turned left …. and went straight up (a half mile maybe) to a gate that gets you onto the trails .Since I was already toast  , I used the sharp right turn thru the gate as an opportunity to WALK . Yahoo … No O2 …. and I am just getting started . The course continued to climb and climb , making lefts and right here and there … each turn staffed by a couple of volunteers who cheerily gave you the "looking good" greeting . If I could have found the strength to vibrate my vocal cords I would have begged for ride back to the start . Shortly after passing by an old cemetery with band playing music for us , and an ambulance or two, we reached the point where the 5k and 15k split . I was so tempted . But not one runner in front of me turned for the 5k . Tell you anything ?

All kidding aside , the course was tough … very tough . But beautiful and fun . The ups were steep enough to make you walk if you didn't keep your focus . And the downs were scary enough ( steep , bumpy, and loose in spots) to make you crawl from fear …. but really for the most part , there was enough visibility so you could let it fly like an 18 wheeler in the Sierras ….  knowing there was a flat spot coming up before your wheels came off !  I found myself concentrating so hard that frequently I didn't have time to realize I was out of gas !

Great community support , interesting people … and I felt I had really accomplished something when I was done . The 2nd place finisher and I yakked for a while . He ran in sandals . And not some sport sandal . Homemade . He is doing a 100 miler next week and needed the work . "Because this is about the hardest course in the state" . Now I'm feeling even better !

the big ditch

coming into town

enter here

silver from where the course entered the trail

somewhere up there is the turn around

an outfall of owls ..... the city of the crosses .... las cruce nm

so ? Anybody been there ... anybody know where it is ??

At Chaco I met a guy early one morning who, like me, was out taking sunrise pics of the Fajeta Butte  . We ran into each other again later , and swapped emails so he could send me a picture ( the one of me on my bike frozen like popsicle ) . He owned a solar company in Las Cruces, talked it up , and when I emailed him back about some RV parks he invited me stay at his place . Like most people (it seems) in the SW he had a dedicated pad with electric and water for his RV and I stayed a few days and had the benefit of local knowledge .

Because with my limited knowledge the best thing I could think of was , southern New Mexico , it must be warm . (After it dipping below 40 at night in Chaco ... I'm ready !)  And now that I had looked at a map once or twice on the trip, I knew it was on the Rio Grande . This is what I found !

Take the state university . Place it in a town near the Texas / Mexican border . We are talking desert , high desert . Surround it with mountains . Run the Rio Grande through it and give it major Ag … everything from Pima Cotton , to Pecans , Corn to Cabbage , the famous New Mexican Pepper , onions, garlic , tomatoes … grapes ! NM has a burgeoning wine industry and this is one of the best appellateions . Throw in Spaceport America , Virgin Galactic , White Sands ….and you have a lot going on for an old spanish town of 100k !

Here is a link
las cruces

Anyway, I have had a blast hiking , running , touring . I literally woke up to the wonderful smell of chilis roasting every morning from the local salsa company . Hungry !!!!

Mellow & Janets house

looking east
locked gate while hiking

which one ?

running trail along Rio Grande

low tide on the River Large

dia de la muerte

 There are about 25 miles of formal trails in Cruces and at least 100 more on levies, drains, ditches, and washes . The trail in the pics below was called the Outfall trail and ran about 7 miles from the Rio Grande up to a trail called the Trivitz trail . It followed a drain called the Alameda and had numerous signs about the burrowing owl . A few folks will tell you ... I have been enamoured by the "collective noun" thing . Pride of Lions etc . Ever since Sting used Murder of Crows in one of his best songs I get kicks out of it . A Memory of elephants , a Stand of Flamingos .....

I give you my contribution ... An Outfall of Owls 

collection of cacti

A Parade of Pima Cotton

A Pandemonium of Parrots in the Pecans

Friday, October 17, 2014

this one is for Tracy ..... the VLA

aka Dish Network

Tracy gave me this quirky ( surprised ? ) little book b4 I left on this venture titled 50 unique things to see in Florida ( or something like that ) . Like the worlds largest pile of phosphates ... or the Rodin Museum . ...which might help explain why while on a journey to National Park and Monument Paradise,  I thought of her when I drove out to the VLA . Its really cool . Large too.

Short story

History of the VLA:

1972 August: approved by Congress
1973 April: construction started
1975 September 22: first antenna put in place
1976 February 18: first fringes
1980: formal dedication of the VLA
The total cost was $78,578,000 (in 1972 dollars), roughly $1 per taxpayer at the time; the project was completed nearly one year early, and within the allotted budget.
It operates on a shoestring budget , which congress just slashed ( they wont even allow for enough money to put up solar ) even though it generates revenue from scientists world-wide who line up for time. But I am going to resist going after the low hanging fruit .... saving that for a special post .

...and the worlds coolest sundial

lunch time !

seemed like a good idea at the time

repair shop ... those are people in lower right corner ... each dish weighs 230 tons


winner of best sign award