Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Cranes and Bosque del Apache

I guess I used up all the available space on the last blog about the cranes, so I will finish here. If you are just coming into this blog, there are 2 more related blogs before (and below) this one!

Cranes are so graceful as they cruise over the fields, looking for a place to land.

At the refuge, there were always so many cranes around, it was hard to single just one out.

There were viewing stands and viewing blinds giving the photographer a wide open view to shoot.  The problem during Festival of the Cranes week is finding a parking space near the viewing areas!

Remember, if you want to see the photographs larger, just click onto the picture!

It was hard to believe how many cranes were there, in the fields, in the air and in the water.

The best time to see a gazillion birds is near sunset!
Here the cranes are flying in and landing prepared to share waterspace with the Snow Geese! 

I want to go back, taking Chuck with me and our camping friend Sue (she went to Chloride with us also) when we go! I keep talking about it, now maybe when they see the blog, we can actually set a date for a return visit!

I know there were a lot of photographs to wade through on these 3 posts, but now you should know that I took over 1,000 images that day.... it has taken me this long to whittle that quantity down to the few you see here! It was hard to edit out some that remain my favorite photos, but not wanting to bore you, my friends, to death with too many photos!

Happy Trails and Happy Holidays to all of you until we meet again!
Geri and Radar!

Bosque del Apache

Sitting just off I-25, exit 139 to the east,highway 380 sits the small, dusty western town of San Antonio. It's one of those towns with one intersection, one blinking light, a gas station, a veggie stand and two of the most dyn-o-mite ever burger places. The Buckhorn Bar and Grill on the right side of the road and The Owl Cafe on the left side! We prefer the one called Owl Cafe. Both places were full of ambience, and both are worth a visit to test the burgers yourself! Well, back to the only intersection and the blinking light by The Owl Cafe, turn right! That is highway 1, and about 12 miles down the road is Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge. About 8 miles down the road, on the right, is Bosque Birdwatchers RV Park. It is the only nearby campground and can be found online. This is where Chuck and I and Emily camped a few weeks ago, it's not fancy but it's clean, affordable and nice campground hosts!

This week, I go alone! I just left Monticello behind me and Radar and I are visiting the refuge solo today!

As I pulled into the parking lot of the park office and gift shop to buy a ticket to tour the refuge, a loud screaming, squawking and unbelievable noise reached my ears from the other side of the road! The air erupted with Snow Geese! I quickly went in, got my ticket and entered the refuge and headed over to where the geese were going crazy!

Geese were everywhere! Gazillions of them! Loud, screaming, screeching, squawking geese! You can't even imagine the sound! Amazing!

Finally the sheer numbers started dwindling, the geese started settling down and quiet once again! They were so many Snow Geese I could not have even imagined there would be this many! I have heard that because of the drought out here in the west, that many more birds are here this year than in previous years.
Bosque del Apache manages over 1,900 acres of wet lands, bringing in water from the nearby Rio Grande river. The water is channeled into canals that travel all through the refuge.

In the 1940's, mountain lions, coyotes and prairie dogs were considered "nuisance animals", today. coyotes have the run of the refuge, mountain lions are being studied and prairie dogs have been re-introduced and today there exists a population of nearly 100 elk.


An explosion of ducks!

The ducks were always exploding into the air! I had very few pictures of them calm in the water and of those, all the ducks were bottoms up like this one!  I don't know my ducks, but there were a lot of different kinds all being sociable with each other and sharing lake space!


Close to 18,000 cranes winter at Bosque del Apache every winter! Thw skies, the water, the fields are full of beautiful cranes! Each year the refuge has "Festival of the Cranes". A week long celebration of the beautiful bird, complete with classes, art shows, craft fairs and guided tours happens mid-November.

Cranes were everywhere you looked! In the air,

they are just such majestic birds.... so full of grace...

Whether coming in for a landing... 
or on the ground, the tall bird always seems to look intelligent, graceful, beautiful and photogenic !!

Exploring back roads and old dusty towns!

Back Roads to Monticello NM

Last week, Nov 17, Chuck and I were supposed to go camping at the Bosque Birdwatchers RV Park so I could go take part in the Festival of Cranes.  Chuck was feeling out of sorts with a cold, so I decided to go exploring on my own! I had always wanted to go explore the "almost" ghost town of Monticello NM.
I got up early, grabbed my camera and my dog Radar, and off we went to hit the dusty back roads!
Monticello isn't very far from Truth or Consequences!

If you are travelling on I-25, take exit 76 and head west (left) to the "T" and turn north (right) on the next road. Follow the signs to Cuchillo and Highway 52. Turn west (left) at 52 and go about 5 miles to Highway 142 and turn north (right) to find Monticello about 12 miles down the road.

The first 8 miles is flat, good road but not too exciting except for the  blue mountains
layered in the distance.

When you see the road start to go sharply down, hang on because you are almost to Placitas NM.

The road into this beautiful valley is steep, but not gut wrenching like some we have traveled. You can see from the photo above how steep it was. For some reason, blogger isn't letting me enlarge my images, but you can click onto them for a better look!

The valley floor was full of golden cottonwood trees, wearing their best autumn colors!

Placitas is just a collection of small ranches scattered about, very pretty but no actual town that I saw. A few more miles up and down the road, I came to Monticello!
Monticello started out as a collection of old, really old abandoned cars and trucks!

Chuck would have loved seeing these old cars!

There were several older homes, still lived in. The streets were dusty dirt roads, but well maintained.
The road ended and I had to turn around, thankful that the MotherShip was not attached behind me. As I headed back out of town, this view of Monticello....

came into view.  I grabbed my camera for one last photograph of this quaint, dusty old western mining town, sitting on a dead end road.

I decided to get back on I-25 and head north to San Antonio and Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge!
Radar seemed to be in full agreement, he was enjoying not having to share the view with Scotty and DoogieBowser!  See you next blog at the refuge!
Happy trails!
Geri and Radar

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chloride Canyon

Chloride Canyon

We left the campground in Chloride NM about 10am, driving the Chevy TrailBlazer 4X4 with no idea what to expect!
What a journey!  This is a single lane dirt road that crosses Chloride Creek about 40 times before you get to the top!  We rode over so many rocks! You gotta do this road with 4 wheel drive, a high road clearance, and a brave heart!  There are no high cliffs or big roadside drops to make you faint hearted, just the sound of rocks scraping along the bottom of your vehicle if it isn't high clearance enough!

 You are gonna see lots of the windshield wipers and radio antennae in the pictures. Let me repeat... this was a very bumpy road! It was hard to get a good image without the wipers or antennae in the way!

 As I said, it was also very narrow! I let Chuck drive this road... and glad that I did!

 The yellow trees you see are cottonwood trees! They are turning colors all over New Mexico now!

Even the rock faces are colorful, these were sorta blue with red rusty colors!

 Here you can see how the road tilts down to the left! There were so many tilted places but they all came out blurry because of the bumpy road! I only got one good one out of about 10 photos I took! Sometimes I felt like we might be nearly tipping over! 

 There were lots of nice rock formations to gawk at along the way!

 Some of the rock formations were pretty darned close to the road!

 Once and a while, the road would level out and widen a bit...
only to start another narrow, twisty turny road.... 

 Higher up, most of the trees were bare...

 but dodging roads around big rock walls kept Chuck's attention!

 We even saw some petroglyphs near the road! 
I wasn't sure if they were real or just faked by bored hunters! Linda, from Chloride says they are real and that there is a cave nearby that has more petroglyphs inside, we will try to check those out next time!

 We were surprised to see cattle and cattle holding pens so far into the canyon!

 At on Chloride Creek crossing, we actually had to go through water... about 3 inches deep! haha! But there must be a seeping spring nearby because there certainly hasn't been any rain in weeks!

 Yep! That's the road ahead! So many rocks, it was hard to tell the creek bed from the road... and narrow too!

And then we meet a big white truck! No place to pass so what to we do?  We back up, back into the creek at a lopsided angle and the other driver gets about 1/2 way past us and he's all lopsided too... and tell us to pull ahead. That way he gets past us and we were both in the clear! We were really lucky, we only met 2 trucks on this trip!

 The cottonwood trees are really so pretty on the dirt roads!

The rocks just seem to keep jumping out at us!

Another dry creek crossing!

We even saw a very old log cabin/shack on the way!
Chloride Canyon became the adventure for a lot of prospectors in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Mr. Harry Pye discovered silver there and the town of Chloride was born! Of course, Harry Pye didn't get to spend much of his earnings from the silver as the Apaches ended his life and his prospecting!

We hope you enjoyed this journey up Chloride with us!  Next adventure will probably be back in San Antonio NM at the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge with the Festival of the Cranes... when the sandhill cranes return by the hundreds each winter!
We hope that you take the time to visit Chloride and Chloride Canyon the next time you are in NM!
Happy Trails from Geri, Chuck and our hound herd:
Scotty, DoogieBowser and Radar!