Belly Button

Seven may be my favorite number, but it’s also the number of years my partner, Brian, & I have been married today.

What is a more romantic way to spend such a momentous day than taking a run around and getting lost in a Belly Button? The trailhead at the Arizona border sounded a whole lot less linty so we took off early in the morning, pups in tow, to try and beat the heat. We spent a better part of the day exploring the red rocks, but unfortunately got a little lost and could never find the end of the trail.

Much like our marriage, the hike had unexpected twists and turns, high and low points, encouragement and swear words, getting a little lost along the way, not quite how we anticipated it to turn out, but ultimately we did it together and are glad we did.

D6

Sometime around 2015, I won an auction on eBay for a used camera. This particular camera was a Nikon D4 from the set of Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark. Up until this point I had only periodically played with full manual settings. Reminiscent of when I bought Mi Baja there’s no better way to learn a new skill than to jump in feet first. My D4 and I have had countless adventures over the years traveling not only numerous states but countries as well.

Recently my most reliant travel companion has been acting up a bit. A trip to Nikon for cleaning did not address the main issue. Before I could even get her back to Nikon for a diagnosis Brian surprised me with Nikon’s newest camera, the D6.

*insert lots and lots of happy tears here*

The following photos are from D6’s maiden voyage. I reserved a ticket to the Albuquerque Biopark’s Garden and spent the morning enjoying the sights and my new toy.

Cabezon Peak

Rising 7,785 feet above sea level, Cabezon Peak towers nearly 2,000 feet above the surrounding valley. My first trip down highway 550 left me staring at this small Devil’s Tower wannabe. For two years I’ve dreamed of chasing down this peak – today I planned to make that dream a reality.

While I set out bright & early one morning with my goal in sight, my day would end in missed opportunities and even a few tears.

Like aspects of my life, my trip began long before I hit the steep slopes. I’d been researching not only how to reach this peak but how to possibly ascend it as well. Delving deep into the WWW I’d found a few (really) old threads indicating there might be a way to summit the peak w/out climbing ropes.

I began trekking the trail leading straight up to the base of the volcanic plug. Once at the base I circumnavigated the entire neck searching for a way to scramble the basalt behemoth. While never found a safe route to the summit, I did find snow!

My second set of tears came while descending back down the trail when a wild cactus jumped out of nowhere and bit me straight on the ankle.

All the photos in this post are straight off my iPhone 11. Why not my D4 you may ask? Well, she made it into my pack, but never out of the truck. She’s been giving me some issues lately that came to a head today before we even made it to the trailhead. Hopefully this isn’t the end of our adventures.

To be continued…

Goodbye 2020

2020 was an interesting year, to say the least. While it wasn’t the worst year in the history of ever it most certainly won’t rank as one of the top ten. Here’s a little collage of the end of the year. Goodbye, 2020. I’m really looking to you for some new adventures 2021.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1939 to provide a critical layover for migrating waterfowl, the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is just a hop, skip, and jump south of Albuquerque. Over the winter this outdoor haven is known as home to TENS of thousands of ducks, geese, and cranes. I’d heard whispers of this magical place but had yet to explore it myself until tonight. Hoping the holidays would keep a bit of the crowd at bay, I took off for a quick road trip tonight. The place did not disappoint. I cannot wait for my dad’s next trip to NM to show him this bird watcher’s dream come true.

ABQ BioPark

I’ve scrubbed the tile in my house three times since Quarantine began. The zoo has opened for a limited number of visitors by advanced ticket sales. Having not yet visited yet, I took this as an opportunity to get out of the house w/out heading too far away from home. While I felt comfortable being out under their guidelines, I look forward to visiting again once Quarantine is finally over.

Oryx Hunt

Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains there are few people in my childhood who didn’t hunt. As a small child, when angry at my father, would threaten to joint PETA when I grew up just to piss him off. I clearly was the only non-hunter in a long line of hunters.

So when I married Brian, and my life combined with his, I promised that I’d at least give one of his favorite past times a try. Not long after moving to Alaska I took my hunter safety course. That was as far as I was able to get mentally.

Six years later, Brian won a veteran Oryx tag on the White Sands Missile Range. As a once in a lifetime opportunity, I didn’t want to miss the chance so I started mentally preparing myself. My plan was to shoot the way I’d come so comfortable with, Nikon in hand. However, as a secured military and missile range, cameras were not allowed, so my D4 stayed home while we scouted the range. Only a single photo, under strict guidelines was allowed by a point and shoot (or smartphone).

The hunt itself was over in less than two hours. I thoroughly enjoyed scouting & driving the dirt roads of a scenic place with such restricted access.

Most importantly, I am so thankful for all of the delicious meat that now sits in my freezer. I’ve never understood trophy hunting, but there are plenty of meals that may have passed by in my childhood were it not for the ability of my father to set the table with the food the land provided. Delicious, nutritious, and another happy memory.