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.
Combining the lack of sunlight of winter with 9 months of Quarantine and my weirdness is really starting to come out. Even the cats are ready for me to get out of the house more at this point.
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.
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.
My neighbor, a wonderfully talented therapist, needed some headshots for a professional website. I hadn’t gotten my camera out in a bit, nor have I been out on the town in months, so I happily agreed to head to a few locations and take a shot at some headshots with her.
Little did my neighbor know my excitement about getting behind a camera, so I immediately searched for Albuquerque’s sunset (6:27 MST), hopped in my truck & headed to scout out a few locations to score the perfect photo. I wanted to share a few of my favorites here with you.
And since we’re being vulnerable, can we just talk for a minute? As long as I’ve been behind a camera I’ve had two dreams. One, is a photography series entitled Behind the Lens, where I am able to travel with a well known photographer & capture the moment they capture The picture. You know, the one that captures us all. Whether it’s the Tom Mangelsen’s Catch of the Day, any number of Chris Burkard’s wild surfing shots, or a part of Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark (my D4 was bought second hand from this dude. Seriously, give him & his work a follow. Actually, give any or all of these photogs a follow. You will not be disappointed.) There’s so much more that goes into getting that so called perfect shot that you don’t witness. So much more to that story I’d love to be able to tell. That dream is for another time… My second dream however, is a photo series of the amazingly strong women in my life who have played such an integral part of who I am today as a woman. Up until this shoot, I didn’t think I had the skillset to pull off the images of Barb, June, Karen, Virginia, Lydia, Mallory, Debbie, Pam, Kristen, Michele, Becky, Karina, Beth, Roni, Paula, Cally, Amber, Leslie, Kayla, Lola, Sam, Kristin, Jenette, Heather & so many other women that have meant so, so much to me during my life. After completing this project, I know I have the skillset required to pull off the series I have envisioned in my head all these years. Fair warning ladies, me & my camera are coming for you. xoxo.
We lost our boi, Yoshi, earlier this month. We was a grumpy little man from the start, but I love enjoyed my time with him despite this. Definitely going to miss our many days of sunbathing together.
Brian gifted my the tripod I’ve been dreaming about for years so I thought it was only fitting to take it out for it’s maiden voyage to the Valley of Dreams for a my first night shoot. I drug Monica along & convinced Mallory to drive down as well for a bit of adventure too.
We only had one night of clear skies, but it was enough to play around with the stars for my first time.
In the morning we meandered around the desert for a while, enjoying the otherworldly sights that New Mexico has to offer.
Another trip around the sun means another adventure for this slightly older gal.
Originally I had planned a blitz trip to the warm waters of Mexico for a swim with some whale sharks in their summer feeding grounds. Like just about everything else this year, those plans had to be altered thanks to the still present Covid-19 coronavirus. So, when I knew my original plans were going to be a no go, it was time to come up with a Covid-friendly alternative.
Enter Plan B: Tracking dinosaurs. Well, dinosaur tracking, er, tracks.
While well known locations such as Dinosaur Nation Monument exist within an easy drive, I was trying to respect local Covid-19 restrictions & stay within the borders of New Mexico. I’d heard you could stumble upon tracks out in the desert, or even bones if you were lucky enough, but I was hoping for something a little more predictable than an Israelite walkabout. Enter, Clayton Lake State Park.
And since I was going to have to take the entire day off to make it up there in time, why not make an adventure out of it. So I woke up early, threw my camera bag in the truck & hit the highway. I turned North on I-25, out of Albuquerque, and headed towards the Colorado border. Just over three hours later I arrived in Raton, a mere 10 miles from the state line, and turned east onto State Road 72 – a 36 mile stretch of windy country road that traverses the top of Johnson Mesa.
At the end of the road, in the tiny town of Folsom, I took a five minute tour through the two streets that compromise the whole town before heading south to Capulin Volcano National Monument.
Here I chit chatted with a park ranger about cross country motorcycling, picked up my annual park pass, then headed up the road to the summit of Capulin Volcano. At the top I ran into to young men standing in front of their vehicle. Hood up and clearly in distress, I hopped out of my truck & made a beeline towards them. I asked if they needed help and was immediatly dismissed for being a woman who most likely ‘knew nothing about vehicles or what it was like to be stranded a couple of hours away from home.’ Despite the immediate write off I offered them the only advice I could offer their poor attitudes, “Boys,” I said, “try and enjoy where you are while you’re here because bad days make for some really interesting stories.” With that being said I took my woman self and removed myself from the situation.
The smoke was thick from several local & regional fires – making for beautiful layers to my photography, but difficult to hike in. (Yes ma, I have been trying to get into a GP to get a Rx for my inhaler, but have been unsuccessful in landing one in network thus far) I took my time traversing the Crater Rim trail, stopping to enjoy the beautiful scenes both near and far along the way.
When I arrived at the entrance to Clayton Lake State Park I’d been on the road for somewhere near 8 hours, including stops and side tracks.
I was greeted with not only a closed gate but no trespassing signs posted all around. I’ll admit, I choked on a sob and held back a spring of tears that was welling up in the corners of my eyes. Outside my truck, I stood at the top of a cliff, overlooking the tiny lake and namesake to the park. From here, just a quester mile from my destination, I could see the short 1 mile loop trail I was originally destined to traverse. A gate I could, and most likely would, hop, but the no trespassing signs for this gal meant my journey ended here. My birthday had just been officially 2020’d.
Dejected, I crawled back into my truck and began the four and a half hour drive back to Albuquerque. Wanting to take an alternative route home, I headed south to I-40, then dead West to home. Along the way, when stopping for gas, along with getting myself locked into a closing gift shop, spotted the perfect lizard for the side of my humble adobe home. (Every house in our neighborhood seems to have at least one lizard hidden somewhere on its exterior. Except ours. I have been hunting for the perfect additon since I signed the closing papers) I’m calling this my win for the day.
A special thank you to all my friends and family for the calls, cards, texts, and gifts. Despite the otherwise seemingly regular birthday, I truly know how loved and lucky I am to celebrate such a day. Thank you. Xoxo.
Not sure how time’s flown by so quickly, but today we’re celebrating Yago & Beerus’ first Gotcha Day. We had only been looking for a new cat. While Brian was at The Academy, I had been living out of a suitcase primarily at my Seesters house. Bucket really seemed to enjoy having another cat around, so we began searching for a new feline companion once we’d bought a house.
Somehow this quest for a new feline companion turned into the adoption of this giant lug:
And this mouser on the exact same day (from different shelters).
It’s been an interesting year in a new home with the addition of these big personalities, but I couldn’t be happier about our growing family. Kratos is still not entirely sure about this new living situation tho. He thought surely Yago would have gone home by now.
One day at work, my coworker casually mentioned that she was considering starting a team for Bike MS. She’d recently begun biking more frequently and, as a person diagnosed with MS, thought this would be a great way to push herself and stay active at the same time. Having lost an aunt to MS, I immediately jumped on board. By the end of the day we had a registered team as well as a fundraising goal.
Now to the fun! I’ve started riding regularly – finding many nearby trails I didn’t know existed so close to my house.
My brother got on board and sold me his road bike he was no longer using. My prior road bike, which I let go of just before leaving Alaska, was named SpaceBat, after the creature discovered clinging to the external fuel tank of the Discovery. Everyone, say hello to Tremor, aptly named after the blue and pink stowaway on SpaceX’s flight to the ISS.
Once Tremor arrived I figured out how to work clip-ins without killing myself. Yay!
Since then I’ve spent most of my free time racking up miles on the pavement – still discovering new parade trails around Albuquerque. I’ve even begun biking to the office every Friday – a 13 mile trip one way – to squeeze in as many miles as I could in a day.
Sadly, the event itself was cancelled due to Covid-19, but I wanted to take the time to thank all my friends and family who pitched in to help me make my fundraising goal. Ya’ll kickcuss.
If you’d like to participate in a Bike MS near you, learn more about MS, or donate to a good cause, be sure to visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society‘s website. I urge you, before donating to ANY orgnanization or cause to do your research first. You work hard for your money and should know what it’s actually going towards when you donate.