Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Out on the Range

We got to go out on the refuge by ourselves!!! I can drive now as Wallace opens gates.

The rise in the background is called Black Butte, a nice landmark.

We came upon this female box turtle. 

We saw a herd of pronghorn.

Our reason for being here was to pick up this trailer.

Kathy, refuge manager, purchased these plants to replace some that died from lack of water.

Wallace and Jim worked on the irrigation system and got it working...the filter gets plugged.

We thought this privet would look good in this space in our front yard.

Wallace and I removed ten dead trees prior to the planting. There was a dead cottonwood in that empty space. We talked to Kathy about how nasty these trees were and the fact that they are brittle. We are replacing all those dead cottonwoods with privet and desert willow trees.

Our reinforcements showed up. Two SCA students and Jim (not pictured, you will meet him later.

We managed to get all ten plants in the ground with two to spare.

We are checking other plants to see if they will put on new growth now that they have water...some of them are coming back.

AND look who dropped in on us just after we got the plants in the ground. Phyllis and Nathan. It was so great to catch up with them again. They are now back in Florida on the beach!!!

Our next assignment was to drive to Valle de Oro refuge to pick up this brush pile and take it to the zoo for the elephants. We were told it was a small pile. We were flabbergasted when we pulled up to see this!!! At this point we already have the trailer full with that much left over. We took this over to the zoo where they graciously accepted it but said they did not want any more!!!

Next we were to take this trailer full of metal to the metal pile, but first the tire had to be changed as it had a big bulge in it.

I was sick this day...Kathy, Jim and Wallace went out to dig up some coffee cans buried next to rebar that were used for some kind of research.

This was out near the wolves pens and they were able to observe them from afar. I was so upset thinking I might not get this opportunity to see them.

Wallace digging up a can.

I was home sick when our friendly rv repairman, Dale Hanson called saying our cooling unit was here and he would like to install today...YEAH!!! We are so thankful the refuge had a fridge here we were able to use while we waited for this fix. It is now fixed!!! Dale came to the refuge to put it in. Wallace had a surprise when he got home that more traipsing over to fetch!!!

Another project was to install two signs at the rest stops on both sides of the road near the refuge. After cleaning out all the gunk that had collected inside the rim, they slipped right in. We secured them at the top with the rest of the frame. While we were there, we met a fellow from the blood bank on his way to ABQ, I asked him where we could donate, got the address.

The next day we were to take the recyclables to ABQ, what a good opportunity to drop by the blood bank. We got the okay to do that as it was nearby.

We have never had to do this any place else but here all the recycles are weighed before taking them in.

We like the way the area is set up.

That is some of the things we have been doing during our time here, other than staffing the visitor center. Sound interesting????

Exciting things to come...stay tuned.

Until next time...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pie Town

Would you travel over 100 miles for a piece of pie?  Well, we did.

Just had to check out what people were talking about!!!

This is the place we picked for our "pie" experience. I highly recommend it. The people are very friendly.

When we walked in the door, my question for the waitress was, "do you have coconut cream pie today?" She said she had only one piece left...I was in luck. A fellow sitting at the counter said I could not have it as it was his piece and he would arm wrestle me for it!!! We bantered back and forth...the bottom line is, he secretly paid for my piece of pie. Found out his name is Steve and he lives in Pie Town. The waitress is from Alabama and has 40 acres near Pie Town. I asked her what happens in an area like this if you get really sick. Found out they pay $40.00 a year for air lift. I could handle that...I fell in love with the area and the people who live there.

There I am with my coconut cream pie, my favorite. Wallace had their New Mexico apple pie (with chili's). It was lunch time also so we enjoyed a burger first.

We found other things to do on our way.

We saw this sign and decided to check it out and were glad we did.

Another  beautiful canyon where we hiked around enjoying the beauty. Found a cholla walking stick, another stick I have longed for.

There were caves we explored as well.

We crossed the divide and saw many beautiful mountains with interesting colors and columns.

On the way is another place we visited.

The Very Large Array. It is a powerful telescope that observes the universe, night and day.

There are 27 dish shaped antennas that are tuned to a kind of light that eyes cannot see. The light is in the form of radio waves. It is an amazing place!!!

Until next time...

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rail Runner

The Rail Runner is this train that starts in Belen and travels to Santa Fe, a total of 91 miles.

There are several stops along the way just long enough to pick people up or let them off.

Our trip started at 6:30am departing from Belen. The round trip costing us only $16.00 for the two of us...senior discount.

We sat in the "Quiet Car." You can see there were very few of us in this car.

With a stop at McDonald's, we were ready for our excursion.

It wasn't long until the conductor made his rounds. You pay him on the train. Our first stop was in Los Lunas, picking up a few more passengers.

This stop was at Isletta Pueblo.

In the background is the bridge that crosses the Rio Grande River. The road is the interstate.

You may be able to see the bison. 

There is the Isletta Casino with a golf course and this rv park close by.

There are shuttle buses free of charge that will take you places. This one will take you to the casino.

This is ABQ. Next time we will take the train and depart here for the day...but today, it is Santa Fe.

Most people on the train are not interested in looking out.

We saw this little hill with the black cone, and this rainbow to the right of it.

Wallace and I conversed about this, and I guess it was a mistake in the "Quiet Car" even though we were talking quietly. Anyway, this long-haired fellow about five seats in front of us turned and said, "You are in the quiet car, thank you." Oh, my, some people are so up tight!!! I asked the conductor when we got off in Santa Fe just what it meant to be in the "quiet car," and his answer was "some people take it seriously...I noticed you were being very quiet." You can be assured we will not sit in the "Quiet Car" again if you can't even have a conversation!!! Right after that incident, a cell phone rang and the fellow behind us had a nice long conversation but the fellow did not say a thing about that. Oh, well.

We sat on the upper deck on the car right behind the engine.

In each car is this big screen that lets you know where you are at each here we are in Santa Fe...time for a walk about.

The shuttle bus picked us up at the station along with several other people. We get off here at the cathedral.

Another beautiful church.

Just a little taste of the architecture inside.

St. Fransis of Assissi with his wildlife. I love the adobe style buildings.

And then there is the Loretto Chapel with its unique staircase appearing to hang from the air. This was our main goal for the day.

It was constructed in 1870 with a design flaw...there was no way to enter the choir loft. There was a Novena made to their patron saint, Saint Joseph the Carpenter. This mysterious carpenter arrived and constructed this staircase using only a saw, a T-square, a hammer and tubs to soak the wood.

The staircase  contains 33 steps in two full 360 degree turns. It has no center support...the full weight rested on its final tread!!!

The side railings were added later as well as some other supports because of heavy use later on.

Upon his completion of the stairway, the carpenter disappeared without seeking any payment...truly remarkable!!!

San Miguel Chapel, one of the oldest religious buildings in the United States was originally built in 1636.

Notice the open bell tower with a cross at the top.

The fine statues and a high altar are from 1798. By clicking on the picture, it will enlarge for you.

And just down the road is the oldest house in Santa Fe. You can actually see the straw in the walls.

You must take a break at the Plaza, a market square built by the Spaniards where the Santa Fe Trail ended. The photo to your right is the first Capitol building now called the Palace of the Governors, built in 1610. It is now a museum.

Under the portico, Native American traders offer local arts and crafts for sale.

I was tempted to purchase some of those beautiful silver bangles, but at $60.00 a piece I would want more than just one!!!

Lunch was at Casa Chimayo where we enjoyed New Mexican food with those famous chilies.

All of this was in walking distance.

We had an enjoyable time with a nice train ride and time seeing a little more of Santa Fe.

We welcome our newest follower, Nathan and Phyllis!!!

Until next time...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sevilleta NWR

Sevilleta was established in 1973. It is one of the largest refuges in the lower 48, consisting of 229,674 acres...359 square miles, and borders I 25, with the Rio Grande River flowing through it. The area reminded  the Spanish soldiers of Old Seville in Spain...hence the name.

The Sierra Ladrones (Mountain of Thieves) lies west of the refuge at 9,176 feet and the entire Los Pinos Mountain Range, 8,320 feet, is located within the east side of the refuge. 

This is the visitor center with the color that blends in well with the surroundings.

Most of our days have been spent inside learning the operations.

The raising of the flag to start the day.

We don't have that many visitors that stop by, and that makes for a long day. However, we have been kept busy.

There is a lot to learn about the refuge and I keep busy reading and learning all I can passing it on to Wallace.

It is a beautiful visitor center.

Here we sit behind the desk.

A small bookstore where there are things to buy.

This is my favorite, the puma. We were in the day a fellow walked in wanting to see how we displayed the animal he killed. He worked for the game and fish. The animal needed to be disposed of.

There are four biomes: The Colorado Plateau Shrubs Steppe (treeless), the Chihuahua Desert, The Great Plains short grassland prairie, and Pinion Juniper Woodland.

There are nine natural springs and 16 man made wells in operation in 2009 when 21 motion detector cameras were placed around the wells to see what uses the "drinkers." Currently, there are ten drinkers with cameras. We have a slide show of all the animals that come to the drinkers that will keep one entertained.

In 1995, this refuge was chosen as the Mexican Gray Wolf Facility for the reintroduction of this endangered animal. The canyon represents typical wolf habitat they would use in the wild. They are located on a remote piece of the property. We now have 5 in the acclimation pen. It is a controversial subject around here with the ranchers. I may have more on this later.

The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher is another endangered species that nests in the riparian corridor. Salt cedar removal is now taking place where more native plantings of willow and cottonwood can be done which will improve the habitat.

We finally got out in the field to collect the prairie dog traps. The season is over for them.

There were three sites where we walked with our bags, picking up the traps, flags and gutters.

We were each given a bag and a row which we walked to collect the traps, etc.

We walked back to the trucks to empty our bags.

The interns really appreciated our help and we finished  before noon. It would have taken them all day.

Here we are putting our collections in the back of the truck to transport them back to headquarters taking them out again to store them there.

600 Gunnison's prairie dogs each year since 2010 have been reintroduced to the refuge and it will continue until it is determined that the population is stable and healthy. Their colonies provide benefits to other wildlife.

We have so many readers who are not signing up to follow...I am not sure why the hesitancy in doing this!?! Okay, Nathan, now that we know you are one of them, we are waiting!!! Please do this to let us know who is reading, and we appreciate all comments.

Until next time...