Catron County, New Mexico has about 400 miles of paved road, and we're planning to walk every mile of it ... eventually ...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Finding beauty in the mundane

One of the differences between my walking blog and other peoples' walking and running blogs is my landscape. Not a lot that's manmade out here, and what there is embodies pragmatism more than wealth or novelty or ideas. Power lines, barbed wire fences, cattleguards, a two lane highway with no shoulder, the barest minimum of what's needed. And culverts. You have to have culverts. Even where there doesn't appear to be any water you need culverts, because when a hard rain does come, the hard baked clay soil doesn't soak it all up. The excess water runs off, finding the path of least resistance, which is usually a road or driveway someone has painstakingly scraped out with a back hoe, and carves it into something beautiful, but impassable. So you need culverts, a way to direct water so it won't do so much damage, a sensible pragmatic solution to the problem of rainwater run-off. Ugly, but utilitarian and cheap. And sometimes beautiful, when they create a little waterfall.
Culvert leading from "duck pond" to "blue gill pond" taken November 26th. Posted by Picasa
November 29th - first snow of the year. Same culvert, just a different angle. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Isn't she beautiful?

Slow walking

Spinning my wheels in the walkies department - and I don't mean bike wheels. So, just strolling around in circles close to home, playing with a cheap GPS and taking pictures. This little GPS dealie is pretty amazing. Latitude and longitude, elevation, date and time, trip odometer, average speed while moving, elapsed time while moving, elapsed time while stopped, bearing, time of sunrise and sunset... you name it, this little gadget has it, everything but the temperature. If you're dying to know, the elevation at my house is 6532'. Cool, yeah?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Walking the Colicky Pony

I walked all afternoon in the sunshine with my daughter and her pony, Cheyenne. She found Cheyenne lying down, apparently unable to get up, and we were able to pull her to her feet before she did too much rolling, which could have caused her intestines to become twisted.

It was an unbelievably beautiful day. We walked a mile at a time, down to the gate at the highway and back to the barn where we'd try to get her to drink some water, and do it again. And again. The only time in my life I've actually hoped to smell a horse fart - I don't quite understand what it's all about, but when a horse is colicky, you walk them and walk them and walk them until they begin to pass gas, and hopefully, drop a load of horse apples, which is an indication, apparently, that things are working again in the intestines. You have to keep them up and walking.

So, as I said, it was an unbelievably gorgeous day, and I found myself feeling grateful to the horse for being the reason that I was outside walking around in the sunshine with my children. Toward dusk, we saw a Northern Harrier. At least I think it was a Northern Harrier - they're known to winter in this area.

After a few false alarms ("Was that you? Or was it the horse?) we detected the greatly anticipated and highly desired gaseous emmissions from the hind end of the horse. I think she'll be okay.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

... Posted by Picasa

Crane Appreciation Day

A picture paints a thousand words, and I have at least ten pics I'd like to post, but I'll try to narrow it down to the best three or four from the Festival of Cranes at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge south of San Antonio, NM, which incidentally is where you will find the world famous Owl Cafe and quite possibly the world's best Green Chile Cheeseburgers.

It's hard to know what pictures to choose, but I'd like to be able to show you not just the pretty birdies but also give you a sense of the natural backdrop. At one time, millions of years ago, much of New Mexico was covered by an inland sea. When you drive into New Mexico from the east for the first time, it's easy to imagine that you're driving down onto the bottom of an ocean of air. The cones and calderas of ancient volcanos seem to be everywhere, and some of the 'ocean' floor is covered with sharp black volcanic rock from ancient lava flows. The Rio Grande River runs down the middle of the state, east of and vaguely parallel to the Continental Divide - from up in the air it looks like a ribbon of green with a thin brown stripe in the middle of it. The Bosque (pronounced Boss-kay if you're Hispanic and Boss-key if you're a gringo) is on the river.

These are Sandhill Cranes. In the background, to the left, if I'm not mistaken, is the peak that's shown on my map as Cerro Colorado. It's about a hundred miles to the east, and I'm not sure if it's on the White Sands Missile Range (military reservation) or not - if not, then it's just north of it. According to a book called Roadside Geology of New Mexico, "Mountains visible across the Rio Grande Valley are fault block ranges consisting primarily of tilted Pennsylvanian and Permian sedimentary rocks; in some of them Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks are exposed also." Look for the stripes that indicate sedimentary rock.
Better crane photo. Posted by Picasa
A sky full of geese hurrying in before dark. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Peregrine/gyrfalcon cross. Posted by Picasa

Harris hawk eating a snack of raw rabbit. Posted by Picasa

The Harris hawk taking off after a homing pigeon. Their normal prey is rabbits, so she was just playing around. Posted by Picasa

Raptor Appreciation Week

I was hoping to cover more ground last Friday and last Sunday but it was not to be. Very frustrating to keep experiencing walkus-interruptus when I'm trying to get some momentum going, but my car has apparently reached that magical age in which one thing after another goes wrong. Plan B - getting my Best Beloved to give up an afternoon of football for the privilege of transporting me and my purple partner to my chosen piece of distant highway and trailing me down the road - was a no go. Now I'm driving a loaner which is completely unsuitable for my novice pilot car driver to drive - huge and balky and unwieldy - so I'll have to figure something out.

In the meantime, in the super-de-dooper gas-guzzling unwieldy-mobile, we went east past the Very Large Array and on past the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge for a presentation by a falconer and wildlife rehabilitator on hunting strategies of hawks, falcons and eagles, and it was excellent. Three hours out in the wide open under a blue sky, soaking up late autumn sunshine and getting closer than most people will ever get to a Harris hawk and a peregrine falcon - fantastic.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Latest Map

Green is for feet, blue is for bike.

For beautiful, for spacious skies... Posted by Picasa

My trusty steed (again.) Posted by Picasa

The sign says "Hubble Ranch, Seedstock Production, Brangus and Angus Plus." I think seedstock might have to do with collecting and freezing bull semen for artificial insemination, but I could be wrong. I'm sorta curious about how they do the collecting, and then again maybe I don't want to know. Posted by Picasa

Near the ten or eleven mile marker, east side of highway. Posted by Picasa

Blue sky, purple bike, neon orange safety vest means...

With the loving help of my little homegrown co-pilots, I was able to get out on the road again today, even though I stayed up until 3am obsessing over election results and my ass was totally dragging.

I've been reading a book about Lance Armstrong's 6th Tour de France win, and apparently one indicator of Tour readiness is the ass factor. Tight little ass means you've been putting in the roadwork and shaving off all the extra little ounces. Something to look forward to.

Counting today's ride, I think I've got 96 miles to go, and it would be very cool to get them covered by December 31st. (Some people could get that done in a weekend, I know, but I'm not there yet.) Then, of course, there are another 906 miles (and counting) of unpaved county roads, and countless miles of unpaved forest roads. (Note to self - find out how many miles of unpaved road in the county.)

It would also be very cool to have a bike mechanic out here. I wonder if Socorro has one - I know Silver City does, but I'm not headed that way soon. Desperately need a tune up.

Catron County people showing their inherent niceness yet again - I was dragging my sorry ass up a very long hill, pushing my purple bike, and a woman with hair turning grey driving a small brownish pickup slowed down and pulled over to see if I was all right. I so appreciate my neighbors out here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My new partner. Posted by Picasa


I'm back on the road, thanks in part to the fresh inspiration of Grapenut who's just starting to walk her borough in NY and to the neverending inspiration of Spike who will have walked and photographed and discovered the history of every square inch of Woy Woy and its surrounding area before that walk is over.

It is so good to be back on the road! Using the bike, I was able to walk up hills and coast down them, and if it's not exactly the same as walking, I think it may be just as good, while the weather holds. I knocked off a little over four miles of road, although I walked and cycled more than six. I had a walkie talkie on me so I could keep in touch with my "pilot car", in case I had a flat or fell off and hurt myself. The range on the walkie talkies should have been about 3 miles, but because of the mountainous terrain it was only about 1 mile, which I found out after coasting down a nice long hill and trying to check in with Caravan One. (Like Air Force One, only made by Dodge.) Then I had to push the bike a mile back up the nice long hill to get to a place where I could make contact.

Biking is wonderful and doesn't feel like cheating at all. You feel every inch of the road through your hands on the handlebars, your feet on the pedals, and the base of your spine on the bikeseat. (I'm going to have a serious case of bike butt tommorrow!) The weather was perfect, cool and clear with a steady breeze and deep blue sky. Just me, by myself, was glorious. I could hear everything. I could hear the slight rubbing of the brakes on the back wheel, the creak of the pedals turning, my heart beating. I could hear the occasional car or truck approaching me from half a mile away, and the crackling in the power lines, and the wings of an enormous raven pushing through the air as it lifted itself off a tree branch. There was the constant sound of wind making the telephone wires and fence wires sing, and the sound of road signs rattling and struggling to get free from their posts and sail into the air like kites.

On the drive up to my starting place I saw four javelinas at the edge of the road. It seemed like a good beginning.

On highway 36 looking north about 6 miles out of Quemado. Posted by Picasa

On the way home. Moon was rising in the east, and the sun was setting in the west lighting up the western faces of these formations. This is what the camera saw - I haven't altered it in any way.  Posted by Picasa

Many elk on and near the road on the way home. Posted by Picasa

Did I mention it's hunting season? Posted by Picasa

Tiny old catholic church in town of Quemado. Posted by Picasa