Sunday, July 30, 2017

In Miki’s Words
Hi, it’s me again, Miki, the wonder camping (and exploring) pup!  I just thought I’d share a few of my favorite moments from exploring with Mom and Dad along the back road from Red River to Questa.
Wetting my Paws
After a bit of exploring in a small grassy spot where Mom and Dad let me stretch my legs, I noticed a nice, cool mountain stream – the perfect place to cool off my warm paws!
Taking a Sip
The water wasn’t deep enough to swim in, but it was very refreshing!  I don’t know why Mom and Dad didn’t take a drink, tho.  They seem to prefer drinking from bottles….
In the Swim of Things
Mom mentioned the mountain lake.  We had to walk soooooo long before we found a spot where I could swim that wasn’t close to other folks fishing, I was beginning to think we’d never find a place!  But, not only did Dad find a great swimming place, he also found a great stick so I could play fetch with him, swimming out to get the stick and bringing it back…..I don’t know why he wasn’t wild about me shaking off by him, tho.  I was just trying to cool him off, too!
On the Way Home
Here I am on the way back home.  I’m a bit damp, but I’ll dry!  And, check out how Mom and Dad made the entire back of the Jeep my very own riding spot!  How deluxe!  I’m facing forward in this shot, but sometimes I look out the back to see where we’ve been!
Flowers in the Mountains
All along the roads, we kept seeing some wonderful wildflowers.  I hadn’t realized that the wildflower season up in the mountains would still be going strong, so whenever we came across blooms throughout the area, they were always such a treat for me!
Field and Mountains
In a previous post, I mentioned that I wanted to be able to photograph the fields of Rocky Mountain Penstemon that were in bloom.  Well, here was a great photo op!  Not only did I get a field of picture-perfect purple, but also had the mountains in the background!
Deep Woods Bloom
Even in the middle of the woods, we came across some wildflowers, like these yellow coneflowers.  They do look a bit past their prime, but they are still lovely!
I couldn’t resist this little bloom!  It looks like it’s just beginning to open its petals to the sun, and the sun shone on it just perfectly to create a sort of natural spotlight.
On the Floor
I had to be careful when walking around, too.  This little gem was right at my feet, and so delicate, if I had not been careful where I was stepping, I might have crushed it.  I believe this is either a wood violet or wild geranium, but I’m not certain.
Forest Floor
I always love it when nature provides such a lovely vignette to photograph.  The rocks with the moss on them are a great compliment to the green and rust leaves.  Seems odd to have leaves already changing color in a few places, when the wildflowers are still bursting with color.
Leatherflower in the Woods
I believe this little treasure is called a leatherflower.  Seems like such an odd name for such a pretty flower, but when it’s done blooming and begins to wither, it really does take on the look of leather – albeit a pretty color leather!
Back Road – Red River to Questa
Another day on our recent camping trip, we continued to explore New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle, and took a back road from the ski town of Red River to Questa, a small town just north of Taos.  Such lovely scenery!
Red River Ski Resort
We weren’t too far on the back road when we got a great view of the Red River ski resort.  I love the pattern of the slopes crisscrossing down the mountain!  I’d like to think I could ski that, but it’s been far too many years!
Looking Down the Valley
 A bit further down the road, on the other side from the ski slopes was this wonderful view of a valley that is between two different mountains.  The air was so clean and fresh, it almost made one dizzy!
Deep Woods
We did stop at a small clearing and wandered around a bit, to give Miki a chance to stretch her legs.  When I looked up between some trees, I saw this great view looking up.  No matter how high we were, there always seemed to be mountains higher than us!
Towering Trees
I always tend to be amazed at how tall the pine trees grow!  These were just towering above us!  And, of course, the air had that wonderful piney scent!
Lake View
One spur road led us to a small mountain lake.  I wish I could say we were the only ones there, but this little treasure seems to be well known by folks who either live in the area, or a frequent visitors.  There were a number of fisher-folks, but we did find a place for Miki to take a dip!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Back Road Flowers
I was very happy to see that the wildflower season was still in full bloom, so to speak!  We saw flowers almost everywhere we went!  I couldn’t resist sharing them with you –
Summer Daisies
Daisies are such a happy flower, aren’t they?  They always just remind me of smiles. And, sunshine, with the yellow centers, and the white petals, like the clouds in the sky.  Ok, so my imagination is running a bit wild with this one, but it does seem to fit, doesn’t it?
White Flowers
These may be the same type of flowers that Georgia O’Keeffe painted.  However, I don’t think she knew what they were any more than I do, since she called the paintings of the flowers, “White Flowers”, I believe!  Still, they are so lovely against the green, aren’t they?
Purple Asters
I’m not 100% certain, but I believe these are purple asters.  They may be known by another name formally, but I do think they are in the aster family.  When I googled purple asters, the images look rather like these!  In any event, I was really surprised to see these, since I don’t know that I’ve ever just come across them on my own, without knowing in advance they bloomed in an area.  A real find!
Scarlet Penstemon
The scarlet penstemon looks so much different from what they call the Rocky Mountain Penstemon, it’s hard to see the family tie, so to speak!  Still, this is a lovely flower, altho they tend to grow in sparse groupings or singly, so to get an impressive “bunch” of them in an image, is kind of impossible for me. 

Back Road to Taos
After the cabins, we actually turned onto the dirt roads that we’d follow almost all the way to Taos.  The sights were varied, and kept us captivated during the entire drive.
Driving the Back Road
We were having typical monsoon weather while on this camping trip, so we were a bit concerned that the roads might be a bit muddy and difficult to travel.  However, they actually were quite nice, and the afternoon showers only served to keep the dust down!  These roads were quite well maintained, as we discovered several folks did some true back country camping as we traveled along the way!
Old Fence
This portion of the fence just seemed so perfect sitting in the back woods.  I imagine that at one time, it was more complete, and held some horses, or even cattle.  Makes you wonder what happened to the rest of it, but that this part was left to stand as a sort of monument to times past.
White Woods
I have come to learn that these are not birch, but alder instead.  I loved the look of what I think of as the white woods.  I adjusted the image so that the white of the alders was emphasized. 
Wild Life Sighting
And, then, along the road, we saw 2 deer.  It seemed as tho they were as surprised to see us as we were delighted to see them!  I took several images, but these three tell the story.  They see us, and then, one at a time, they decided they didn’t care for us or our mode of transport, and off they went!
Peaceful Stream
We did stop at a place that seemed like it would be a lovely backwoods camping area and had a look around.  There was a lovely stream, slowing flowing along.  Camping here wouldn’t give us the sound of a babbling brook, but it would provide a nice place to sit and read, or think, or just imagine.
Deserted Cabins – on the Way to Taos
One day, Jeff & I decided to take another trek up to Taos, but this time, we would use a back road or two.  We saw several sights – and a few were these deserted cabins!
Deserted Porch
Such a welcoming porch – not!  Well, to be honest, in its day, it probably was a nice, welcoming porch.  It faces the road, so I imagined its occupants sitting on the porch on Sunday afternoons, greeting passing neighbors.  That hasn’t happened it a while, tho…
Old Window
I love the textured look of this window.  There were two that faced the road and onto the porch.  This window has the ceiling rafters visible thru the window, which seems to have had a mis-sized screen placed on its sill at some point.  Some sort of plaster or something was over the boards at one point, but now, they serve no purpose other than to create that wonderful texture.
Broken Old Window
This window has character of a different sort, created by the broken glass still in portions of it.  It does seem odd that someone once tried to board up the bottom portion of the window, tho – from the inside.  I couldn’t really see into this window at all.  Maybe I could have, if I got up on the porch, but it definitely didn’t look like it was capable of supporting any weight, so I didn’t chance it.
Old Barn
Beyond the cabin, there were two buildings – once of which was this barn.  I loved the look of the wood panels, and the directional design they inadvertently make!  The green foliage around it is a lovely complement to the brown of the wood.
Adobe Doorway
The second building was an adobe storage shed of some sort.  What did it hold?  Supplies, crops, some of the animals?  One would think the other barn would hold the animals, but maybe the feed for them?  It’s all a mystery now.
Down the Well
And, out in front, there was this wonderful well!  I can just see some child, perhaps, sent out to fetch a bucket of water for cooking, or maybe clean up.  Unfortunately, now, it just seems to be used as a handy trash receptacle.  Sigh….  Still, I love the look of the workmanship of the stones along the side of the well.
Postcard from Thursday – July 27, 2017
Learn from History
Driving along a secondary road near our home, I frequently pass by this solitary windmill.  It always makes me think of the farm or ranch that used to be where it remains.  But, the people who lived there have moved on.  Different skills were learned and people then left.  Conversely, I think about things today – the way people are sometimes clamoring for situations that their parents and grandparents worked hard to overcome.  And, the old saying is true – “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it”.  Let us learn from our history, and not keep making the same mistakes over and over.  To create this journal page, I converted an image of the windmill to a colored pencil drawing, added text and other texture elements.  It’s rather simple, but then so is the base image.
Learn from History

Monday, July 24, 2017

Angel Fire Chair Life
On day, we decided to ride the chair lift up to the top of the Angel Fire Ski Resort.  I recall back in the day when I used to ski, the ski resorts were a seasonal destination – winter only.  In the summer, the chair lifts were silent, and the slopes deserted.  Not any longer!  Now, one can take a “scenic” chair lift ride up to the top of the mountain, check out the views, and then ride the chair lift down.  However, if one is into mountain biking, you can enjoy the mountain in the summer, too!  Some of the chair lift seats have been replaced with bike lifts (my term), so that one can ride the chair lift to the top, and bike down…..again and again!
View thru the Trees
Right after we stepped off the chair lift, I shifted to the side (to avoid being hit by the chair lift making its turn to go back down the mountain) and took this shot of the valley in which you can find Angel Fire.  The fencing on the lower left of the image is what’s up to keep the skiers (and mountain bikers, I suppose) from deciding to ski down below the chairlift.
Two Trails
As we walked along a bit further on the top of the mountain, we saw a few other trails.  There are chair lifts galore up there, so that skiers can ski away from the main lodge, but eventually return to the top of the mountain to make the last run of the day back to their starting point.  One other summertime activity on the mountain is zip lining.  When we were on the top, there was a group being taught how to zip line before taking the plunge, so to speak!
Long Way Down
Here we are heading back down the chair lift.  I thought this was a really cool shot!  I admit, I hung onto the back of the chair lift seat when we came over the top ledge and saw this (as our chair lift didn’t have any bar in front of us to hold us in place!).  The guy helping us onto the chair lift had warned Jeff to take off his hat because the gust of wind that we felt as we came over the ledge was strong enough to blow it off!  Just as an fyi – the chair lift went all the way down to the lighter area that sort of forms the top of the letter “T”.  The chair moved pretty quickly, so it wasn’t that terribly long of a ride.  Fun!
View to the Side
As we were on the lift, I took this image of the valley as it unfolded from behind the trees.  On one of the posts on our way down, we saw a large birds’ nest built onto the machinery.  However, I wasn’t quick enough to capture it with my camera.  I tried to avoid sudden movements on the chair, so I wouldn’t lose my balance!
Ski thru the Pines
Here’s a view of one of the ski runs that cut across the path of the chair lift.  One of my favorite memories is the time I went skiing with some friends to Park City, Utah, and skied in knee-deep powder down a run very much like this one.
Spotted a Deer
Wildlife abounds, even with the noise of the chairlift overhead, and mountain bikers dotting the slopes – or are they more like streaks, given how fast they ride?  I think this deer got a bit spooked by the sound of Jeff & my voices, rather than anything else.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Historic Taos Plaza
Finally!  We made it Taos Plaza!  It’s the oldest part of town, some parts over 400 years old!  It was a bit difficult to walk around the plaza.  The streets aren’t set up in any sort of logical way.  They may dead end into a string of shops or turn down an alleyway – one never knows!  The “streets” are very narrow, limited to only foot traffic in today’s world.
Taos Hollyhock Bloom
Throughout the plaza, there are flowers all around.  This hollyhock was one of the prettiest blooms…..
In Taos Plaza
Also along the plaza were lovely flower bowls, just overflowing with color.  For this image, I chose to convert it to a watercolor painting, because it just seemed to fit my mood looking at this small vignette in the plaza.
Window Boxes
Another place we saw flowers was in the flower boxes along the outside of shop windows.  All the flowers seemed to soften all the adobe and stone found throughout the plaza.  Again, watercolor seemed the best way to present this.
Taos Flower Wagon
As we made our way to a restaurant, we came across this little wagon full of flowers, of course!  Again, I used the watercolor effect on the photo.  It truly seemed to capture the feeling that all these flowers brought to the little vignettes throughout the plaza! 
Lunch in Historic Taos
We had lunch at a restaurant that was in the oldest building in Taos.  We did enjoy the margaritas, but the true point of this image is the wall beyond the drinks.  It is part of the building that is 400 years old. Having lunch with a piece of history!
No Parking
On our way back to the car, we came across this little sign – I found it rather amusing because no cars are allowed in the plaza area!  So, why the “no parking” sign?  A small piece of whimsy!

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
On the way back down the mountain, we stopped by the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge before heading to the town plaza.  I never really knew this was there!  I found this natural formation amazing, sort of like the Grand Canyon, on a much smaller scale, but grand in its own right.
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
In order to get a good view of the bridge, we had to drive across the bridge and park at a rest area at the other end.  I thought this was a great view of the span of the bridge.
South View of the Rio Grande Gorge
I walked out toward the middle of the bridge to get this and the next image.  It was a bit unnerving.  When I looked down, it felt like I was walking on a tightrope.  I wanted to hang on to the railing, but kept myself from doing so.  It took a bit of an effort!
North View of the Rio Grande Gorge
I crossed the road to get this view toward the north.  I find it amazing how such a relatively narrow river could wear away so much rock and stone.  Over probably millions of years. 

Taos Mountain Stream
We had been to the Taos area a few times before this trip, before we actually moved to New Mexico, but had never driven up the road to the ski valley.  So, before we visited the actual town plaza, we thought we’d take a drive up the mountain to the ski resort area. 
No Cares
As we drove up the mountain, I realized that the wonderful views were found along the side of the road, in the form of a mountain stream.  We stopped a few times so that I could capture some images of the stream, and this view made me feel as if I didn’t have a care in the world.  I could see myself sitting here just letting the world go by.
Rushin’ Past
Here’s a close up of the stream, so that we can really see how fast the water rushed by.  I slowed down the shutter speed, so you could really get a feel for the speed!
Flowing Toward Me
When I turned around, this was the view I had.  What a lovely view looking up the stream!
River Rocks
At one point, I looked down and really liked the look of the water rushing over all the little stones and pebbles lying on the bottom.  I think the golden color was due, in part, to the sun shining down at that moment.  In any event, it makes for a nice abstract!