Musings and Info about life on the road

On a Mission to the Missions…..

Two weekends ago on a bright and sunny, but very windy New Mexico Sunday we went on a visit to the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in an area around Mountainair, NM. Mountainair is about 80 miles or so northeast of the Bosque. The missions, of which there are three, were built by early 17th.Century Spanish Franciscan Missionaries who were interested in souls and salt. They lasted until the Great Pueblo Revolt of 1680 when the natives here drove the Spanish back into Mexico for 12 years. The revolt’s causes were many, but mainly it was due exploitation of  Pueblo labor, the Franciscan establishment of theocracies in the Pueblo villages, and a bit of the Inquisition thrown in for good measure. And as you know, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!


The first ruin we stopped at is/was called Abó, and it is beautifully located on top of a hill on a high mesa.


All of the missions are quite large in scale, but somewhat rundown. Reconstructed ruins in fact. At this sight we could step aboard the T.A.R.D.I.S and see some artist’s reconstruction of the church and its happy inhabitants.


A rather glamorized and optimistic reconstruction I imagine.

We then drove on to Quarai the next mission on our tour. A different pueblo and mission but the story remains the same.


These ruins are quite large. To give some idea of the scale I occasionally had Kay strike a pose:


She’s hiding in the shadows in this pic:


By the time we got to the third mission, Gran Quivira the winter’s short day was getting late so we didn’t do any exploration there. It was a nice weekend’s jaunt and we arrived safely home to a Bosque sunset.


You can read more about the missions at this link: Salinas Missions


Where Are The Birds….???

Things have been pretty quiet here at the ol’ Bosque since the advent of the new year. We had a decent snow a while back and the weather has gotten colder…below freezing most nights. Here’s proof in pictures taken over a few days during our Snowmageddon:



The ducks in the above photo were hunkered down in the only open water on a 12 degree morning. Brrrrr. The buildings in the center of the picture are the refuge buildings. We live in the motorhome on the right. That same day I espied these two Bald Eagles with their faithful raven companion.


At our camp site, in addition to the multitudes of Crows, Sparrows, and Red-winged Blackbirds, we have had Pine Siskins visiting us for the first time since seeing them at our feeders in Colorado:


And here is a Red-tailed Hawk on a lovely, late afternoon on the Bosque:


One of the most frequently asked questions by visitors here at the Refuge is “Where are the Birds? –  which usually is in reference to the Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese whose numbers are down from previous years. It has proven to be a tough question to answer. The birds do what they want to do it seems.

Last weekend Kay, the dogs, and your’s truly drove down to Willcox, AZ on a four day escapade to the Wings Over Willcox birding festival to see the Sandhill Cranes that are supposed to winter over in that part of Arizona by the tens of thousands. And they do indeed! They were everywhere there were farm fields:


along with a javelina friend:


The festival was a good time with a lot of activities. Here are some more pics of the birdies that were about…a Great Egret:


An Acorn Woodpecker:


and a Loggerhead Shrike:


It was a fun weekend and a good break from the daily routine.


Merry Christmas…..

We are wishing each and everyone of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! I came across this poem a while ago and it seemed to be very appropriate for our winter home this year. The poem is by the poet Anne Stevenson: 


“A Carol of Birds”

Feet that could be clawed but are not …
Arms that might have flown but did not …
No one said “Let there be angels!” but the birds

Whose choirs fling alleluias over the sea,
Herring gulls, black backs carolling raucously
While cormorants dry their wings on a rocky stable.

Plovers that stoop to sanctify the land
And scoop small, roundy mangers in the sand,
Swaddle a saviour each in a speckled shell.

A chaffinchy fife unreeling in the marsh
Accompanies the tune a solo thrush
Half sings, half talks in riffs of wordless words,

As hymns flare up from tiny muscled throats,
Robins and hidden wrens whose shiny notes
Tinsel the precincts of the winter sun.

What loftier organ than these pipes of beech,
Pillars resounding with the jackdaws’ speech,
And poplars swayed with light like shaken bells?

Wings that could be hands, but are not …
Cries that might be pleas but cannot
Question or disinvent the stalker’s gun,

Be your own hammerbeam angels of the air
Before, in the maze of space, you disappear,
Stilled by our dazzling anthrocentric mills.

Our Christmas has been a good, if somewhat bittersweet, spent with our friends here at the Bosque. This is the first Christmas since our daughter Emily died, and the feeling of loss became acutely aware to us at this time of year. Also, our friend of many years, Carl Hyde, who we spent many a Christmas with, passed away a short while back and he too is missed.

Turn, Turn, Turn.

We hope you all are in good health, as we are, and again…..MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Getting Colder……

After a prolonged spell of nice weather here at the Bosque, and with Christmas right around the corner, the temperatures have taken a dive in the past few days. We were in the low teens this morning and there is snow on the higher peaks. It’s been a shocker!

We went to Taos for the Thanksgiving weekend with our friends Pat and Bill and the dogs. It was a nice break, and Taos is still Taos thankfully. The following week Kay’s daughter Dana paid us a visit all the way from Virginia, and as always it was great to see her. We some catching up and did what every does here…. ate New Mexican Food and looked at the birds. Here are Kay and Dana observing some Snow Geese as I recall:IMG_0210

While Dana was here we took in the Parade of Lights in downtown Socorro and ate…guess what?…. Mexican. A fun evening:



All in all things have been quiet here. The bird numbers are down from previous years for whatever reason. Too warm in the north? Consequently the visitor numbers are down also. Luckily we only have to be in the fee booth one day a week. Our other two days a week are spent riding around in a truck doing janitorial type chores including runs to Socorro and Albuquerque with the refuge’s recycling. So, that is whats going on here.

I’ll conclude with …what else…birds!





Meeting Your Supper….

Yesterday we through some ice in the cooler and took a drive out to Dunhill Ranch located south of Magdalena, NM. It is about an hour’s drive northwest of the Bosque in the high desert in the middle of nowhere. We took the drive to pick up some all natural, grass-fed lamb that Kay had ordered shortly after we arrived here at the refuge.

We had received some of their lamb the last time we were working at the Bosque as a Christmas present from Kay’s daughter Dana, and found it to be most excellent indeed. The owner, by the name of Peter, met us at his house and gave us a tour of his operation. Here is Peter outside the corral:


Dunhill Ranch raises Katahdin sheep which are very well suited to the high New Mexican desert. Daughter Dana and family who run Lazy Pigg Farm in Ferrum, VA also have Katahdin sheep. Coincidence? I don’t think so!




The dogs in the last photo are both working dogs. The large white one is a guard dog…an Great Pyrenees.

We spent about an hour or so talking about sheep and sheep related issues; then walked back to the ranch house to pick up our order… spying this lone tarantula along the way


We paid Peter and thanked him for the tour, threw the lamb in the cooler, and headed home to the Bosque Del Apache.


We’re Back!….Feathered and Not Feathered

After what seems like ages we are back to blogging, and ensconced for one more winter at the Bosque Del Apache NWR.

After leaving the Montrose, CO area we went south to Tucson, AZ and while we were there purchased a 2001 Fleetwood Bounder 32 foot motorhome. Quite a departure from our old Arctic Fox 5th wheel. Much more spacious, or so it seems anyway. We arrived here at the Bosque about a month ago and have been working for the refuge three days a week, and working on our new motorized casa the other four getting things arranged and removing what we don’t like. Hence the lack of posts to this blog. The motorhome could be called 2001 A Space Oddity as it has less storage space than our old Arctic Fox, and that has been driving Kay a bit batty. But, things will work out and all will be good in time. Here is a pic of the new casa at the Bosque in the same site we have had now for three seasons here:


It’s kind of like home. Notice the 100lb. propane bottle. Winters get chilly here in the Rio Grande Valley….the last two nights have been below freezing. The dogs spend as much time as they can tethered outside, after a rattlesnake check, stalking the numerous lizards in amongst the cacti and bushes. They would probably go into shock if they ever managed to get hold of an unfortunate lizard.



This year here at the Bosque we work one day at the fee booth, and 2 days  doing janitorial jobs. Think restrooms, pit toilets, trash collection, grounds maintenance, and taking recycling to Albuquerque. We get a lot of fresh air, well mostly, and see all kinds of wildlife. And speaking of wildlife:



Just in time for the annual Festival Of The Cranes, which starts next week, the Sandhills Cranes are arriving from the north being the party animals that they are, and with them have come the white geese – Snow Geese and the more petite Ross’s Geese:



So, next week this place will be a’jumpin with Crane festivarians and their long lenses. I’ll keep you all informed….promise!



Went to Town But There Was Nobody Around!

To the Prairie Dog Town, that is, about a half a mile west of the campground. They must have seen me coming as I heard their alarm calls but by the time I got there they had skedaddled as we say in these parts of the country. And well should they be wary. Around here the only good Prairie Dog is a dead Prairie Dog and I saw was this little cotton tailed critter on the outskirts of PD Town:


On the way to the town I managed to get a shot of a nice Mountain Bluebird:


After living a rather, shall I say, boring existence in Fruita these past months, we had a busy weekend. Nothing but blue skies and lovely coolish temperatures. Our days were spent geocaching in the area. The hunts were mostly successful. The one that was the most fun was about three miles or so away from where we are staying along an old narrow gauge railroad bed. When we arrived at the given coordinates we found a small container with a clue in to the exact location of the main cache.


Here is Kay trying to figure things out! The clue read: You are within 6 feet. Hint: Afterlife! After much head scratching and more searching we discovered that below us, running through the railroad bed six feet below where we were standing was a culvert:IMG_6878

And in the culvert was a magnetized box attached to the wall. Voila! The cache was found.

Saturday night we went to dinner with or old friend and ex-coworker Vicko Vidal and family. The night was spent yakking about the old days and catching up on Telluride gossip. The crew Saturday night was Vicko, Fatima, their two children, Vicko’s mother Edith, and a couple from El Salvador. We consider Vicko and family part of our family and I think the feeling is mutual.

On Sunday we went geocaching again up above Ridgway near Mt. Sneffles. Nice views with a bit of smoke coming in from California…whence the haze:IMG_6880

We were two for three on that geo excursion. Sunday night we drove to Ouray to visit and have dinner with Kay’s nephew Mike and his wife Jenn and their two children. They moved from Norwood, CO to Ouray last spring and are fixing up an old historic home right in downtown Ouray. It is going to be really nice when they are finished with the place. They even get Black Bears in their yard! Again the evening was spent catching up on things

So, that’s the news here a bouts . We feel like social butterflies!



After what was beginning to seem like an eternity, we are finally gone from Fruita and we have begun a slow journey southward heading for New Mexico and the Bosque Del Apache for the upcoming winter season.



We are now ensconced between Montrose and Ridgway, CO. for a week before we move a bit further on to the Ouray and Telluride area to do some visiting with old friends from days gone by. It is good to be on the road again. I will keep you posted.


What’s New You Say?…

Kay left the casa here yesterday for Angel Fire, NM and a five day, well deserved getaway from Fruita and the heat (Angel Fire is in the mountains at 8,600 ft)  to visit our friend Cathy whom we work with at the Bosque Del Apache. It was a daylong road trip of 375 miles and she arrived in Angel Fire late yesterday afternoon. The dogs and I are home alone…PARTY!…not.

Two weeks ago over my birthday we all took a mini vacation and journeyed to Frisco, CO on the eastern side of Vail Pass. We went via Aspen and over Independence Pass (12,096 ft) to Leadville (10,152 ft) then down to Frisco at 9075 ft. Here are some pics of Frisco:



Frisco is a very cute small town, very touristy, and nice and cool compared to the oven called Fruita.

Kay had been wanting to go to Leadville where she had been a few times years ago and visit the town’s cemetery which is quite unique.


The cemetery dates from the mid 19th Century on, and has quite a variety of graves… miner’s and their families, prostitutes, Hispanics, Eastern Europeans, Chinese and many, many children. Life in Leadville was hard.





Quite the place.

On are way back home we went via Vail and stopped at the Betty Ford Alpine Garden in the town of Vail.


Betty and and her husband, the Pres., spent a lot of time at Vail and gave the town this lovely gift.


And, as in many mountain towns out west there were the ubiquitous Yogsters. Many of whom appeared to be napping or writhing in pain.


But all things must pass, and it was back to Fruita we went from there.

This past Thursday we quietly celebrated our Wedding Anniversary with a wonderful meal at an excellent Italian restaurant in downtown Grand Junction. What a long, strange, amazing trip it’s been and will continue to be!


Needles In Very Big Haystacks….

Kay and I have a new pastime these days….Geocaching in our new 2015 Subaru Crosstrek that we bought about a week or so ago.  We donated our ol’ blue Subaru Forester to a local non-profit as it had 223,ooo+ miles on it, and we wanted a vehicle that could be towed behind the motorhome that we will be getting in the next few weeks if all of our stars fall into alignment. We needed a manual transmission in the Crosstrek, of which there were only two in Colorado, so we could tow it with the motorhome, a 2009 Newmar Bay Star. More on this saga later.

Anyway, Kay downloaded a geocaching app on her electronic smartphone machine and we have been hunting geocaches in the local area with pretty good success. Ain’t science wunerfull! This morning we went to the far side of the Colorado National Monument on another hunt. Mornings are the best time of day to go when the day isn’t blistering hot, or we don’t get caught up in the afternoon monsoons. Here is Kay on the hunt:



She is headed for the juniper that is supposed to hold the cache. As you can see she is recouperating nicely after receiving her new knee. She can both walk and look at her phone at the same time. Yo Kay, watch out for the snake!


Voila! The cache.

When you find the cache, the object in her left hand, you note that you were there and put it back for the next geocacher to find. Fun, fun, in the great outdoors!


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