Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Revisiting Santa Fe and Photo Challenge Day Two

We last visited Santa Fe, NM in May 2013, for a week. This time we chose to spend a week on the edge of town at Santa Fe Skies RV Park. Less than a mile from Santa Fe Skies is Santa Fe Brewing Company AND we arrived on a Wednesday which happened to be $2 pint day!!!!

The State Pen Porter was delicious!

Santa Fe has a variety of local trails to hike, beautiful neighborhoods to walk, and many cultural and historical sights to see. You can read my wrap up post from our last stay here.

We had a fun lunchtime meetup with Rick and JoAnne at The Pantry, where the food was delicious and the conversation flowed...and we look forward to another meetup with these two and others in May! Afterwards we took a walk through some of the lovely residential streets near the Santa Fe Plaza.

A welcoming Santa Fe style courtyard.

Santa Fe has done a great job of creating several networks of trails for their active community, and we were able to pick up a trail map for the Dale Ball and La Tierra trails at our RV park, this site has map links. During both of our visits we have hiked many miles of these trails.

The La Tierra trails are mostly smooth flowing dirt trails over rolling hills among pinion pine and juniper, excellent for mountain biking or trail running.

The Dale Ball trails are also dirt/rock trail through juniper and pinion forests, but tend to be steeper and have more views and more shade. Our last full day we did an awesome 5 mile loop that took us to the top of Picacho Peak; at 8,577 feet the views expand well beyond Santa Fe. Ponderosa pine, cacti, yucca and granite outcroppings are the reward for climbing to higher elevations, worth every bit of effort.

Seen in a wash at La Tierra on a cloudy day.
Pincushion with offspring on the way to Picacho Peak.

Looking North from Picacho Peak.

Another excellent hike in Santa Fe is the Sun Mountain trail. Less than two miles out-and-back, this trail gains about 800 feet of elevation and offers up 360 degree views of Santa Fe and the foothills East of town. We were pleasantly surprised to be scrambling over rose granite boulders cut with veins of rose quartz and claret cup cacti and yucca just beginning to bloom. Parking is extremely limited at the trail head.

Sun Mountain looms above the trail head.

The trail gets steeper and rockier the higher you go.
It was a bit slippery coming down later.

Expansive views in all directions from the top of Sun Mountain.

Yucca and claret cup buds.

After the short but satisfying hike up Sun Mountain we drove a few miles to the Randall Davey Audubon Center and did another short hike in this surprisingly riparian canyon just East of the Plaza in Santa Fe. Here's my post from our longer hike in this area in 2013.

The Santa Fe River emerges from this canyon just East of downtown Santa Fe.

One afternoon we drove about 15 miles South to the artist community of Madrid. We met up with friends Glen and Eliane who live in this vibrant town, and along with a few of their friends, had a fantastic dinner at The Hollar (highly recommended) and attended the very unique Free Box Fashion Show. Locals donated and performed dance numbers in clothing that was then auctioned off to much hilarity and audience participation AND benefited the community. What a fun night!

Very good Southern style food at The Hollar.
Excellent company too on this night!

Madrid's Free Box Fashion Show is a blast!

Campground Review

We visited Santa Fe, NM in the spring of 2013 and stayed in town (our RV park review is here). This time we chose to stay on the edge of town at Santa Fe Skies RV Park.

Santa Fe Skies was a terrific place to stay, especially since we had site 19 in the southeast section of the park. The northwest part of the park has sites in rows that are pretty close together. The southeast side has more randomly placed sites, and some of those along the East edge are spectacular...in particular, sites 17, 18 and 19.

The main road into the park is paved, all other roads and the sites are gravel. Each site has a cement patio with a picnic table. Site #19 was a large curved pull through with a wide open view to the East. There is .75 mile walking loop around the perimeter of the park, easily accessible from our site, though you have to watch out for goatheads off the trail.

Another great thing about staying at Santa Fe Skies instead of Trailer Ranch is the quiet. It's very peaceful at night. The Verizon signal is excellent. Also, being at the West end of town you are strategically located with a couple of options to bypass the center of town and its stop and go traffic. We'd definitely stay here again.

View of our site from the walking trail.

The view from site 19.
We LOVED watching the clouds change from our patio.
The view morphed constantly, enchantingly!

Day Two of the Black and White Photo Challenge:

It always makes me happy to photograph Rosie, in color or not. Her snow white belly really works well in B&W! This shot was taken at Picacho Peak State Park in AZ. Rosie loved that park and so did we!

Rosie is a happy kitty when she can stretch out in the sun and fresh air!

We're moving on tomorrow...Las Vegas here we come!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Photo Challenge - Day One

Jodee from On the Road Abode invited me to participate in a Black and White Photo Challenge.

I don't post black and white photos often so this is a fun opportunity to look at some of my older shots from a different perspective or to take new shots with black and white in mind.

This photo is from our March 2013 stay at the Triangle T Guest Ranch in Dragoon, AZ. The fabulous giant granite boulders of Arizona's Texas Canyon are great fun to explore and make for good black and white subjects too!

The only rules of the challenge are:

1. On five consecutive days create a post using a recent or past photograph in black and white.

2. Invite another blogging friend each day to join in the challenge.

Today I invite Ingrid of Live Laugh RV to take the challenge! A full time RVer, Ingrid, along with her husband Al, have been on the road since June 2013. Ingrid's photos are a feast for the eyes!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ruidoso, NM: A Return to Pine Forest Hiking

We've spent the last few nights in Ruidoso, NM, enveloped in pine forests. Ruidoso is a resort town that sits at 6,920 feet in the Sierra Blanca Mountains. There are two ski resorts nearby and lots of hiking trails, so the town has many lodging and camping options, as well as lots of restaurants and touristy shops. We never did walk through town or try any of the eating and drinking establishments, our main objective was to hit the trails, enjoy the forest and start to acclimatize to the higher elevations we'll be in for the next couple of months.

The Ruidoso Chamber of Commerce has done a great job putting together a trail map for the area, you can get an excellent hard copy at their office or use the links here to view the maps online (though the maps would be hard to read if you printed it out yourself...do yourself a favor and stop by the chamber office for the hard copy!).

We hiked a number of the easy fitness trails around town, some are paved, all are convenient and pretty and perfect for a nice evening stroll or quick workout. We also hiked a couple of wonderful loop trails in the nearby mountains.

For our first hike we drove North of town into the White Mountain Wilderness. From the Argentina/Bonito trailhead we did a wonderful seven mile loop going up Argentina Canyon, across the Crest Trail, then down Little Bonito and Big Bonito trails. We did the loop counterclockwise, which seemed to be a tad easier than clockwise, with a gentle ascent of about 1,300 feet. We sure felt it though...we hadn't hiked at 8,000 - 9,000 feet since last fall!

Many of the trails in the area look like this - small streams and forests of mixed conifers and some stands of oak.

Once we reached the Crest Trail the views opened up.
The fence protects Argentina Spring from livestock.

Long distance views to the North.

This wonderful view included the tallest point in the Sierra Blanca range at about 12,000 feet.

Nogal Peak is a hard-to-miss point on the horizon to the East.

There were many stream crossings on this hike, but not enough water to make any of them too difficult.

We played 9 holes of the 27 hole Grindstone Park Disc Golf Course. This was a terrific course with lots of variety of terrain, we just weren't up for a long game that particular day.

Hans contemplates his strategy...the basket is far into the trees across the ravine.

After disc golf we drove up to Grindstone Lake hoping to take a little hike...
it turns out the dam is having a liner installed to minimize leaks.
It's quite an elaborate and interesting project, but also killed our desire to hike there!

Our second long hike started on the edge of town and took us up a spring touched canyon, then along a ridge amongst giant alligator junipers and ponderosa pine, just beautiful! The Perk Canyon (T93) and Perk Ridge (T92-1) trails make up a five mile loop that includes a mile of strenuous uphill to the ridge, and then equally steep downhill from the ridge.

Love this waterfall!

The flowering apple tree in the center of the photo was the only one we saw on the trail...Spring is here!

One of many giant alligator junipers!

There were not a great many flowers along this trail,
but along the ridge were a few large patches of "Locoweed", poisonous to livestock.

Sierra Blanca peak through the trees.

There's going to be a bounty of strawberries in a few weeks in these mountains!

There are many campgrounds and RV parks in and around Ruidoso and we decided to stay at RV Resort of Ruidoso. It's a fairly new park and we just about had the place to ourselves. Only one other neighbor out of 66 RV sites during our entire stay! There is some highway noise but it's pretty quiet at night; the sites are terraced up a hillside creating views and getting you away from the road.

The RV park roads are paved (except the top tier, that's gravel) and the sites are gravel, there is a bit of slope to some of the sites, though management seems to be working on fixing this. Very few of the sites have picnic tables. All facilities are clean and new. We had good 4G Verizon signal.

Hans is showing Rosie the deer in the RV park.

Next up: We return to Santa Fe.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Roswell, NM

Roswell, NM surprised us with some excellent museums and art and historic homes. We only stayed two nights but we managed to pack quite a lot of experiences into that short time.

First stop: Spring Street River Park and Zoo. This small park and zoo is free and has the unique feature of being a locals funded zoo. Individuals and families adopt an animal to provide for its care. Some of the enclosures could use updating and enlarging but overall it was an interesting place to visit. I won't show you photos of the animals in their enclosures because that just makes me sad...but the freeroaming peacocks were rather photogenic!

He's a handsome devil.

I'd never seen a white peacock before.

Here is one of the fine old homes in Roswell:

Colonial Revival style.

The owner of our RV park highly recommended the Southeast New Mexico Museum. Unfortunately it was undergoing renovations during our visit but an enthusiastic historical society member did let us see a little bit of the downstairs of the beautiful old home that houses the museum.

Freshly renovated, the wood features and furniture of this home are gleaming and gorgeous!

It easy to see this was an elegant home in its heyday.

The Roswell Museum and Art Center provided a comprehensive look at all facets of local history, detailed displays of Dr. Robert Hutchings Goddard's work -- considered the father of  liquid propellant rockets, plus several art exhibits for us to browse. This was an excellent museum and it was free (donations encouraged).

The Emporer's Palace.
Lots of New Mexico art on display.

Part of the Native American display.

Part of the Dr. Robert Goddard display.

Next, we checked out the International UFO Museum.  This museum's primary focus is on the Roswell UFO Incident, which is either a UFO event covered up by the government or the crash landing of a Project Mogul ballon in 1947.

Hans is ready to join the aliens!

Thanks to our RV park owner's recommendation, we had a fantastic lunch at Big D's Downtown Dive. Definitely worth a stop and let's hope that TV show never finds out about this place...

Our last stop in Roswell was the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art. We LOVED the variety of art here and the purpose behind it. The museum was built to showcase the art of the Roswell Artist in Residence Program. Founded in 1967, the program gives artists the "gift of time", allowing them one year of residency to focus on their work.

This painting reflects the contradiction of water hungry Los Angeles in the middle of the desert.

Mixed media of mosaic and oil painting.

We stayed at Red Barn RV Park, a small park just a couple of miles from the center of Roswell. There are only about 20 full hookup sites, and most of those are taken by seasonal rigs. The owner was extremely friendly and helpful and made this a pleasant place to stay. The only drawback was noise from the local highway and an occasionally braying donkey across the road (we wore earplugs to bed).

This is actually a pull through site, the white gate in front of our rig opens up.

Back in sites back up to an alfalfa field.

Rosie especially liked the view...look at all those squirrels!

We're off to Ruidoso today, back to pine forests for a bit.