Sunday, December 21, 2014

El Santuario de Chimayo

This excursion was about a month ago but I am looking at photos again now so I thought I'd make a post! I had wanted to visit this little church for a while but reviews said it was small and not a "destination." Nothing else is nearby so we kept putting it off and putting it off. I am a big fan of cemeteries and churches but Jeff? kind of gets bored. I am not religious but I always find the displays beautiful, interesting and haunting/creepy. I find rituals of any kind bizarre and fascinating. Churches however are usually the best buildings in any town. So off we went to Chimayo, NM for a road trip about an hour to hour and a half away. It was a nice drive past Santa Fe and into the mountains on the road toward Taos. When we arrived we pulled into the lower parking lot and didn't even see the church, but rather some statues and photo collages and lots of crosses. After rambling around a bit we did find the church itself as well as the Shrine of Santa Nino Atocha (kind of a deceased baby church). The Chimayo Santuary was built in 1816 and became a pilgrimage of miracles with a little hole (el pucito) of holy dirt that supposedly cures all. This hole's dirt is "replenished" with dirt from the nearby hillside to a tune of 25-30 tons a year! Apparently everyone wants some dust. The church itself is a small and beautiful adobe structure. The arches and surrounding hillsides remind me of hobbit land or a fairytale movie set. There were a lot of the bag light luminaries in preparation for the holidays. It would be spectacular to see all lit up at night. The wood carvings were very impressive and inside the buildings the statues/figures and alters were truly wonderful. Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside the sanctuaries. One building didn't have signs so I took a couple quick photos but rushed because despite the lack of "no photo" signs I wasn't sure it was really ok. There was a wall of baby shoes that was oddly art-like. All around the premises there were crosses and rosaries. People make the trek there and leave these things behind. The setting, like many places in New Mexico, is just surreal with a quiet beauty. We saw some tile work of the same Saint or mythological creature we had seen at a high school a few weeks earlier. I'll have to look into the meaning of it since it has reappeared! The church has really marketed itself with free holy dirt for all, a restaurant (we didn't partake), gift shop, and rambling around caretaker type. I think it is worth another visit.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve

A couple weekends back we went on a drive to Pecos, ended up on a little mountain journey before finding Pecos, toured the ruins and then headed to Harry's Roadhouse for food at the recommendation of the park ranger. Harry's Roadhouse ended up being somewhere we'd definitely eat again - I had a veggie burger with beet/feta sauce and arugula and Jeff had a turkey reuben. The whole menu looked good! After that we were driving home and I spotted a bunch of fall colors along the highway and thought I saw a brown park sign. We took the off ramp, went on the frontage road and ended up at the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve which is managed by the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens. There also happened to be an art installation throughout the area! We had only 45 minutes but managed to see most of it. There was a lot of color and some of the "art" was kind of cool. After having hail in the mountains it was nice to have sunshine and this is a peach of a place that  I have no idea how you would actually know about it. Anyway, I took some photos of our first fall here. We thought these little ladders were kind of cool - who comes out to play on them at night?

We loved the jackrabbit complete with the giant ears. the first time we saw a real one we didn't even know what it was!

I didn't photograph it, but there were some installations underwater in the pond. I was enamored with the reflections. So it was a peachy little spot and good find. A very nice spot to stop when returning from places up north. When the colors were really going it would be even nicer but still, how can you beat this?

Friday, November 14, 2014

We are Moving Soon - Final Views Out the Door

Yes, we did just get here a mere 8 months ago but we are on the move again! Fortunately this time it is only a mile or so away and will hopefully be a 5-10 year stop on the Kruse adventure train! Moving is exciting, stressful, and a major pain in the ass. We have a whole lot less stuff than most but it is still a lot of stuff! I digress. The short story is that we are buying a house and have about 2 1/2 weeks left in the rental. We are fortunate enough to be buying a house with spectacular views of the Sandias and a peek a boo view of Cabezon. We will be on top of a mesa, so we won't have the rolling hills view we have now but I am sure the same sunrise and sunset views (minus Cabezone) will be spectacular! Anyway, here are some final views "out the door" from our rental.

Couldn't resist adding our coyote family...I am sure they wander a large range. The little orange patch of changing tree colors on the Sandia Mountains will be our same view in the new house. Lots to look forward too!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fall Colors in New Mexico

October was a busy month for us.  It was our first Balloon Festival and I didn't expect to enjoy it but boy am I a fan now! We went several times and to fireworks twice. I am already looking forward to next year! Then we started house hunting. We are going to be moving about a mile away at the beginning of December. As always we headed out to new places to see what we could see. Some of our last hikes were searching for fall color. We were probably about 3 weeks too late for the best stuff, but for people who have been away from fall for years we managed to find some really beautiful stuff. Next year we will head to Chamas and take the train for excellent color viewing. This year we had to "settle" for this! Some of these photos are from a hike near Agua Sarca about 8 minutes away, some are from a hike in the Sandias after driving 30 minutes up our road (highway 165), and the others are from our day trip to Pecos (1 hour away).

There are a lot of oak, sumac, poplar, birch, cottonwood and aspen trees. The scenery is spectacular here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Albuquerque Balloon Festival

We had heard about the balloon festival but figured it would be crowded, difficult, and maybe (like most large gatherings) not worth the effort to go to. Friends kept telling us "you have to go." Jeff asked around at work and people confirmed that, yes, you have to go very early to see the "mass ascension." It was decided that our friends Mike and Sandy would meet us at the RailRunner and we would head off at 5:30a.m. on the first day of the thing to check it out. Mike and I wanted to photograph (of course) and Sandy and Jeff were the reluctant "I really don't want to wake up for this" companions. The promise of cokes and food and every one saying "you have to go" got Jeff to agree to it (and he is glad he went - once). Jeff works right next to the balloon park and we were able to park in his work parking lot and do the quick walk. Getting to his work proved to be a little tricky since there was some construction but in Albuquerque "traffic" means 20 extra minutes max. There IS no traffic. This event has lots and lots of people so we did have some slowdowns but nothing worth mentioning. It was dark and around 50 degrees out. There were people milling around on the grass and you could just walk among the deflated balloons watching as everyone prepared for launch. There were lots and lots of balloons of different sizes and lots of flames and ropes. Everything was very calm and surprisingly quiet. Before we knew it it was lift off time and row one of balloons lifted off (Mike and I scrambled around), then row two etc etc and it was really just smiles all around and not knowing where to look because there was magic everywhere!!!! It was as if massive xmas ornaments were floating up and away all at once!

After the waves of balloons launched the odd-shaped ones were getting ready and the sun was coming up. The mountains that ARE Albuquerque appeared with the sun behind them and the balloons lit up as the sun hit them. It was spectacular - first the glow from the propane and then the natural night as the landscape transformed everything into something else. Now there were colors everywhere, breakfast burritos and coffee. After the mass ascension it was pretty much over but we munched and roamed around to see the odd shapes. Some of them couldn't ascend because they were too large to land in the direction the wind was going so they just bobbed up and down. The giant cow was deflated so a simpler back-up balloon could be inflated and sent up. It was comical watching it deflate as the crowd below just stepped out of the way. It was a wonderful morning (we were back by 11) followed by house hunting which is another post.

Verdict? We are going to the Glowdeo tomorrow night which is all the odd shaped balloons lighting up at once at dusk followed by fireworks. Then Mike and I are heading out even earlier on Saturday morning (while Jeff and Sandy sleep in) to see the "Dawn Patrol" which is when they launch the first balloons to see how the winds are. These balloons are HUGE floating across a HUGE landscape with a HUGE mountain as a backdrop. The day starts out chilly (50's) and then as the sun comes up rapidly warms to the 70's for burrito time and a little more by noon with the highest temperatures after 3pm. Just perfect! Lucky Jeff has seen them launch every day when he goes to work - his work parking lot is next to the balloon par