Thursday, January 30, 2014

Paseo del Bosque

First thing I needed to get done this morning, was fix the blown tire on the car.  Thanks to Affordable Tire & Service on Menaul in Albuquerque, in under 15 minutes, I was back out of their shop with a used tire.  Knowing that I was not from the area, he could have tried to sell me a bill of goods.  Instead, he noticed the other front tire is starting to cup and well worn, suggesting that I get things checked out when I get back home.

Back to the motel and napped a little until it was time to pick up the hybrid with its new tubes.  The bike shop (Fat Tire Cycles) had called me the day before that the bike was ready.  I was there before they opened.  Picked up a new helmet (part of the adjustment had broke) and and bike with plans for an afternoon bike ride.

Quick stop at Sports Authority while in the area - see what I could not do without.  Bought Nike cold weather tights with 25% off!

By the afternoon, the sky was mostly cloudy, the temperature was into the upper 60s and the wind kicking up.  Drove to Alameda trailhead of the Paseo del Bosque Recreational Trail.  Unloaded the hybrid and headed South (into the wind) on the trail.

My legs were not cooperating - still complaining about the talking during the trip yesterday.  Adding the head wind, I only rode a mile to Paseo del Norde and turned back to the trailhead.  On top of that, I was HUNGRY!  Stopped at Twisters, mexican and burgers.  Settled for a bacon-cheeseburger, curly fries, and soda.  Big portions and good burger.

Still tired from the Wednesday's activities, have been taking it easy and napping the rest of the day.  The photo above was taken on the Paseo del Bosque.

Festival of the Trails Discontinued

Today i received e-mail from CAMBA including word the Festival of the Trails has been discontinued.  During the 5 year run of the festival, it was generally held over National Trails weekend (first Saturday of June).  I was afraid changes to the festival as the group got involved in the Mt Borah Epic race. I thought the attendance was heavy enough to support the function.

The e-mail says that "fund raising potential never attained the goals to which we had aspired".  I hate to see this NON-RACE event is gone.  Enjoyed the 2 years where i could attend Festival of the Trails one weekend in Hayward, WI, play tourist in the area, and attend the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival the next weekend.

This year I will have to decide if I want to make a 2 weekend trip in June.  With Black Hills Fat Tire Festival moving to June's 3rd weekend, I could do a trip including Cuyuna and Black Hills.  Part of the decision is hinging on the BHFTF event schedule.  I stopped attending that festival because it had become too much race-centered.

Birds, a Fort, a Trail, and a Blow-out

My cousin Don (Albuquerque resident) and I headed South to spend a day playing "tourist".  The first stop was Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

I have stopped at Apache in January each of the 3 years.  In 2012, I was treated to a flock of snow geese taking to flight in front of me.  Nothing memorable during my visit last year (I had time to check out the VLA in the generally same area of New Mexico).  This year, some of the birds were cooperative, again.  Here, a Sandhill Crane flies nearly over me.

Next stop was Fort Craig National Historic Site.  Fort Craig was an important frontier outpost during the Civil War period.  Since it was left to vandals and the elements all that is left are well deteriorated ruins and earthen walls.  The fort was one of 8 forts that guarded the roads of the Rio Grange Valley.

Ownership of the fort was transferred to the US Bureau of Land Management in 1981.  BLM has done a great job of preserving the history of Ft. Craig with interpretive signs.  There is a small Visitor Center - staffed by a volunteer and open Thursday through Monday. 

When I stopped at Fort Craig Saturday, on my way to Albuquerque, the host suggested I visit the El Camino Real International Heritage Center.  The El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro - the Royal Road the Interior Lands - brought the first settlers to the area we now know as New Mexico.  Center has exhibits and artifacts providing information about the history of this important historic trail.

By this time, we were ready to head back to Albuquerque.  Stopped at a all-in-one "truck stop) for G2 - needed hydration.  Tooling up I-25 about 40 miles South of Albuquerque at 65mph, my car suffered a tire blow-out.  Not just a flat, but the tire sidewalls were in shreds.  Will have to get a new tire tomorrow morning. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Welcome to Albuquerque

My first day in Albuquerque was not without its problems.  Therefore the "tongue-in-cheek" title of this posting.  Called my cousin about meeting for breakfast.  Seems he was not up yet.  Headed to the breakfast here in the motel.  He called at I was eating my waffle. 

Decided on breakfast tomorrow.  He was not up for a bicycle ride as he had some pipes (he makes some awesome looking pipe - the kind you smoke).

Unloaded the bicycles from te car rack and stored into the room.  Moved some other stuff from the car into the room.  Rested and prepared for a bike ride.  Great weather for a bicycle ride - mid 50s and sun, a little wind from the South.  Riding the North Diversion Channel Trail as I could ride from my room.  Riding the Bosque, there would could be issues with parking at trailheads with the weather.

Rode North to Paseo del Norde and took a break.  The photo here is my hybrid at that location.

Riding much slower on the way back as I was having a headwind and the trail is a little up hill in this direction.  About 4 miles from the motel, I realized I had a flat on the rear.  Stopped at the big tree alone the trail (at tree I have photographed several times) to contemplate it i walk the bike to the room or try to change the tube.

A young man stopped on his bike to see if I needed something.  Worked in a bicycle shop in Kentucky and is here in the Air Force.  He changed the tube for me.  He also noticed I had a broken spoke.  Looks like this bike has to go into the shop in the morning.

By the time I was nearing back to my room, I was just about spent.  Walked some of the last 0.1 mile.  Bonked or very close to it.  But, damn, I got in 11 miles!  My first ride for the year.

When i got to my room, the key card would not work.  Went to the office.  Asked the air-head clerk (some one that checked me in last night) is she had programed the key for just one night or the 8 nights left on my stay,  She did not answered my questions.  Just gave m a song and dance that is should work when I get back tomorrow night - if not they would program it again that night.  

Changed clothes and headed for Applebees.  All the way back on my ride i was thinking of having a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich at Applebees.  I was not to be.  They have dropped the sandwich from their menu.  DRATS!  Settled for a bacon-cheese burger, fries, and a brew.

Gassed the car and picked up a couple quarts of Powerade Zero to replenish my electrolytes.  Early to bed tonight..

"Ghost" Towns

Saturday was was the day to thank Sue & Merv for their hospitality and move on north to Albuquerque.  Merv was in Viet Nam the year before I was.  We met at the Echo Company, 2/3rd reunion.  Had a very enjoyable visit.  Upper photo here shows Sue, Merv and theor beagle "Murphy".

Late start.  Tt was almost 11 by the time we said our "good-bye"s, I gassed the car, and headed up the road.  First destination was the "ghost towns" of Hillsboro and Kingston, NM. 

I say "ghost town" in quotes as these tows are not ghost towns as depicted in TV westerns.  The population of these towns have waxed and waned as the economies of the area changed.  Both of these towns have an eclectic mixture of ruins, abandoned buildings, run-down shacks, well preserved structures and new construction.

Made a cursory tour down Main St of Hillsboro, snapping a couple photos.  Continued on to Kingston.  Most impressive structure in Kingston is Black Range Lodge. The lodge is a Bed & Breakfast as well as a retreat center.  Interesting place in south-central New Mexico.

A couple photos in Kingston and back to Hillsboro.  By this time,I was looking for a rest room and some a sandwich.  Decided at the General Store & Cafe.  Ordered a burger and went to the rest room.  What a "treat"!.  the "WC" was about the size of an airplane facility or less.  Hand holds on the dorr jamb to help sit.  The lower photo is part of the interior of the Hillsboro General Store Cafe.

At the store, it was suggested to grab the pamphlet about a walking tour of Hillsboro.  While i was not looking for exploring the town by foot, I took the pamphlet and did a driving tour of part of the town.  The pamphlet was also great to identify the structures in town.

Spent some time shooting in Hillsboro.  Soon, it was past time to be on the road North toward Albuquerque.  As I drove, I thought I might swing by Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge to see what are currently in "residence".

When I exited I-25, as I turned North the signs included information for El Camino Real International Heritage Center, Apache, and Fort Craig.  Hmm - Fort Craig, had not heard about this fort.  Drove the 4.5 miles on gravel to check it out.  Visited with the host there about the ruins of the old fort.  It was already after 4pm, was too late and my legs were not up to doing a mile hike to explore the fort.

The host at Fort Craig said the El Camino Real Center is worth a visit.  Maybe one day this week while in Albuquerque, can make a day trip to the center, fort, and refuge.

Rolled into my motel just after 6pm.  unloaded much of of my stuff out of the car into the room.  Still have to bring the bikes into the room.  Contacted my cousing here in Albuquerque to make tentative plans to getting together while my stay.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

White Sands National Monument

Yesterday morning was a lay-back morning for a while.  Did a little computer work, had breakfast and then Merv and I headed up to White Sand National Monument.  Had a nice drive as the weather was good and light traffic once out of Las Cruces.

Checking in at the entrance station (those National Park Senior Passes are great).  Explored the "White Sands" of the park.  The "white sands" really are dunes of gypsum. Unusual stuff to walk or climb on.  While like snow, but you do not sink into it like a snow drift.  Try to climb the dune, the gypsum move under your feed, to its "two steps up and 1 1/2 step down.  Here's a photo of me on a dune.

While we were there these was a wedding on the board walk at the Monument.  Different place to hold a wedding.  And it was a little chilly. While it was sunny (times of "filtered sun", the temperature was only about 30 degrees.  We had watched the temperature drop in the car thermometer driving up to the park.

We walked a little on a marked trail in the dunes and walked the "boardwalk" nature trail.  My knee felt petty good. Starting on the boardwalk i was not sure how I would be go, but ended up walking to the end and back.

Stopped at the Visitor's Center on the way out.  Piked up a cople book.  A book of the monument, a book about a well known couple the disappeared at the Monument, and a book about the ghost towns of New Mexico.  Then it was time for food.  Went into Alamogordo for lunch. Gad a good lunch at La Hacienda Cafe on White Sands Blvd.

On the drive back to Las Cruces, I commented that i did not realize how far out to the Monument.  The time flew by as the two of us seemed to solve half of the country's problems inosr conversation! In the morning, Merv and I had planned to take bicycles to pedal into the old town of Masilla (about a mile).  We were a bit too tired, and Sue joined up.  Took at couple photos of the plaza and a couple of the mountains as the sun sut.  The sunset was not as dramatic as it normally is.

The evening ended with a pizza dinner - great local pizza - watched the new, and chatted until we were all ready to sleep.

Lower photo is of the Basilica of San Albino on the plaza of old town Misilla, New Mexico.  Today, its load the car, and head North to Albuquerque.  Planning to stop at two ghost towns to explore on the way.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum

This morning (Thursday) made a dent in processing the photos i took yesterday.  Did not realize how many shots I took in Carlsbad Caverns. 

With Merv & Sue we spent some time checking out the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces.  Very interesting budding museum.  They could use some monies (what museums in the country couldn't use more).  Brought lots memories for Merv and me, being farm boys.

The museum is hosting a photography exhibit called "Pie Town"/  Pie Town is a real town in west central New Mexico.  The photos in the exhibit were taken circa 1940.  Very interesting and some awesome photography.

Back at the house, I finished processing yesterday's photos photos and took care of the ones taken today.  We were thinking of taking a bicycle ride, but the weather turned a little chilly and windy.  Maybe tomorrow.

Thought about touring old Masilla, just too tired to do much anything.  With the chilly weather, is was a good day to be a relax day - then give it hell tomorrow.

This windmill is located at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, Las Cruces.

Caves and Mountains

Was up in the middle of the night, not sleepy (that happens when I go to bed too early). Spent time posting a couple other photos on my photography blog and processed the photos from Tuesday's travels.  Eventually, went back to sleep for a while.

Another chilly (but getting warmer) morning on Wednesday.  Was in the upper 20s when I stuck my head out the door of my room in Roswell.  Good breakfast at the motel - busuits and gravey with some body!

Loaded the car and off toward Carlsbad Caverns.  Had a very enjoyable walk in the cave.  Had to be careful walking until the eyes adjusted.  I used the handrail at times to guide me.

Cranked up the ISO speed in the camera for the low light conditions.  Took some available light photos and some flash photos.  Never sure how they would come out.

As I found this morning when reviewing and processing the photos, the flash photos come turn out the better shots, thpro.anks to the software I am using.   Some of the available light shots are blurry from notion (I did not have a tripod with me in the cave).

The upper photo with this blog posting was taken in the cave with flash and processed from RAW with HDR Darkroom 2

I walked the base loop in the cave.  There is a further loop, but did not want to push it with my knee.  As it worked out, when I got back to the elevator, I was ready for get off my feet.  Did the obligatory stop in the gift stops and picked up a couple things.  It was noon, so grabbed some food before heading back on the road.

When I stopped at the ranger desk at the caverns, I asked about the Guadalupe Mountains National Park which I will pass on my way to Las Cruces.  She informed me the park is mostly hiking trails, but had some interesting exhibits.

Before leaving Calrsbad Cavern, i had to check out the 9.5 miles desert scenic (gravel) one-way loop.  Not too much to see there, but stopped to take a few photos along the road.

I stopped off the road at the Visitor's Center.  Took a couple photos and and did a pass on the visitor's center..  Body ways it was time to head up the road.  Over 130 miles of nothing between the caverns and El Paso, TX.  The only things to break the monotony at times was to stop stretch the legs and shoot photos of abandoned buildings.

The lower photo was taken near the visito's center at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Rolled into Las Cruces about 4:30pm.  Now settled in at Army Reunion & wife's place.  Will be touring Las Cruces the next couple days.  Planning to get in a bike ride or two while here.  Looks likes it gonna be a great day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cowboys and Aliens

Different start of the day for me.  Woke up middle of the night, not getting back to sleep, so processed photos from yesterday and posted some of them on facebook.  Back to bed and finally got up about 6:30.  It was 11 degrees this morning in Dodge City - I was not in a big hurry to get out and on the road!

Changed lenses  on my cameras so that had the Rebel T1i set up with the Tamron 180200mm lens for the drive.  I gave up figuring you wny the 60D auto focus was not working.

Motel breakfast - sweet roll, coffee, biscuits and (very runny) gravy, and sausage patties.  Loaded stuff back into the car and checked out of the room.

Headed out towards Roswell, NM.  This was a day of non-interstate driving.  When I was at about 100 miles out of Dodge City, I realized that I was NOT on the right route.  General same direction, just not the planned route.  Grabbed the maps to figure out to get made changes without adding too many miles.

While the new route was still on US numbered highways, their conditions at times were typical for secondary roads.  That, and drove through some desolate countryside!  Surprisingly, US 70 out of Clovis to Roswell, NM is 4-lane highway with very little traffic and less to see.  Most of the scenery was desert grass and abandoned buildings. 

By the time I found and checked into my lodging for the night, I was just too tired and too late to play "tourist".  Particularly interested is exploring the International UFO Museum & Research Center.  As it was, the motel is a bit out from downtown - glad I checked my reservation.  My direction of travel was N to S, and had to turn West for over 20 blocks.  Anyway, I have to reccomend the Rodeway Inn of Roswell.  Very reasonable rate, large room with king bed and a decently sized bathroom.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dodge City, KS

On the road again...

Headed out this morning heading towards New Mexico.  Decent driving weather (was clean, cool morning, nice afternoon) today.

Was not ready to stop for breakfast when i hit York so turned South on US 81.  It was Ellsworh, KS before I found a little local eatery.  Small breakfast (1 egg, 2 sausage links, hash browns, 1 toast) and coffee for $5.25!  Ellsworh Steakhouse, Ellsworth, KS.

Surprised at the number of old abandoned barns and other structures along the highway.  I ran across one particularly interesting barn just North of Bruning, NE, even had to turn around on the highway and came back to take a couple photos.  Now with the look-out, I stopped a couple more times during the drive to shoot phots of old structures.

Checked into my lodging - Knights Inn, Dodge City, KS.  Time to play tourist and take photos.  The Boot Hill Museum looked like a great place to explore.

The museum is a recreation of the old Front Street,  Front Street was built over the original "Boot Hill" cemetery (if you could call it a cemetery).  Today's photo was taken in the Long Branch Saloon (of 'GunSmoke' fame). in the Museum.  Interesting as the shops (and sollon) is a living history museum.

After taking photos, problems with the new camera, it was time for food.  The Long Branch proprietor (sorry, no Miss Kitty) suggested Casey's Cowtown Steakhouse.  Had a pint of a very good amber bock (unknown brewery) and patty melt with fries.

Tried to correct camera malfunction/setting problem.  For some reason the auto focus in not working.  I can cause auto focus by hitting the AF ON button, but cannot get AF to stay on.  Early to bed tonight, just exhausted.  If i wake up early in the morning, will process more of today's photos.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Xtreme Winterfest Bike This Saturday

After the deep freeze we have have had the last week - how about a bicycle ride!  Saturday weather forecast for Council Bluffs is for a high of 40 degrees.  YES - 40 degrees.

Gather your riding friends for the 11th Annual Xtreme Winterfest Bike Ride - Saturday, January 11th.  The ride starts at the Western Historic Trails Center at 11am.  Arrive early and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa and tour the museum.

The ride will be on the river trail 3 miles to Caddy's Riverside Grille. Lunch service will be available.The ride is free, lunch is on your dime.

The ride is sponsored by Council Bluffs Parks & Recreation, Western Historic Trails Center, and Caddy's Riverside Grille.

I am hoping to get over to check out the trail before Saturday.  See if I can ride the hybrid or need the hardtail with studded tires.  Friday weather forecast is for a "wintry mix" and high of 37.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014 Mountain Bike Festivals

With the bitter cold weather this week, my thoughts started turning to warmer weather riding and the
Spring mountain bike festivals.  Previously, I have attended festivals in Rapid City, SD,  Hayward. WI,  Crosby, MN,  Quad Cities IA/IL, and Wausau, WI.  Here's what I know now and those I will be watching for locations and dates.

Black Hills Fat Tire Festival (Rapid City, SD) has moved is dates.  The festival had been held Memorial Day weekend.  This year it is scheduled for June 20-22, 2014.  Rapid City Parks & Recreation returns as the organizers.

Today, I was able to confirm dates for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival in Crosby, MN.  The festival will be held on Friday and Saturday June 13-14, 2014.  Headquarters is the Crosby Town Park (camping spaces available).  Explore that trails of Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.  I have attended this festival since the ride center opened. 

I have not been able to confirm dates for CAMBA Festival of the Trails.  Previously, it has been held over the National Trails Day weekend except for 1 year when it was held over Memorial Day weekend.  In 2013, the festival was held the same weekend of the first annual Mt. Borah Epic Mountain Bike Race.  That race will be held on Saturday, May 31, 2014.

The festivals in the Quad Cities were MidWest Mountain Bike Festival - held there for 2 years.  That festival moves every 2 years - I believe is is being hel in Brown County, IN in 2013-14.

In 2012 I attended GnomeFest.  That yeat it was held at Nine Mile Woods near Wausau, WI.  I have relatives in the Wausau area.  That was the only year it has been at Nine Mile Woods.  No plans to attend this year.

The best situation for me was last year - when I was able to attend Festival of the Trails in Hayward, WI the first weekend of June.  Play tourist in Superior/Dulth.  Then attend Cuyuna Festival.  If the 2014 Festival of the Trails is held the weekend on May 33 - June 1, I may have to skip that festival and revisit the possibility of making the 10 day trip adding Black Hills Festival.

Just for information (June is mountain bike month, it seems) Crested Butte (CO) Bike Week is June  25-29, 2014.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

I hope all of my friends have recovered from the festivities.  I spent a quiet evening at home processing some photo files. 

We received a dusting of snow and will be turning bitter cold once the clouds clear.  Looks like we are in the pattern of warming up to snow, then turn cold.

Hope you have a great year in 2014.  Keep on Pedaling!