Another year around the sun. While this year, things look a little different for me, I still managed to squeeze in a new adventure for the occasion.
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…
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.
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.
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.
HBD to me! Well, it’s not quite my birthday yet, but my birthday gift arrive early & since it’s one I’ve been eyeballing for years, Brian let me have it as soon as it arrived.
My first image on my new tripod setup.
Down the Reddit rabbit hole I fell. The longer I lay awake, the further, and harder I fell.
It started with an image of a dust covered Jeep. Although it was the beautiful red rocks that surrounded it that really captured my attention. It only took me a few days to track down all the information I needed to know I could pull this off. Anything else was up in the air, but that’s all I needed at that time. Once I knew it was doable with what I already had on hand, I knew it was only a matter of time.
Moab is exactly a 6 hour and 4 minute drive from my house. After packing the truck and kissing my critters goodbye, Brian & I took off for the New Mexico border. Now while we’re fully aware that there is a global pandemic going on, we packed in such a way that required no human contact for the duration of our trip – extra gas, all the food (and them some) for all meals in the Yeti cooler, Tepui tent sleeping quarters, and all the other ammenities to make travel comfortable and devoid of all human contact.
We arrived with plenty of time to scope out our camp for the night. It was a balmy 107 at the peak of the afternoon when we arrived. Brian stayed in the air conditioned truck, while I basked in the heat after freezing my butt off in Alaska for 4 years.
I will say when the sun finally set it was the perfect temperature for sleeping. We were up with the sun and it was a beautiful time for photos while breakfast cooked on the grill.
After packing up, we hit the trail for the off-road adventure we had come here for: Chicken Corners OHV Trail. There’s not much I can say about my experience of climbing over 4,500 feet of rocky trail in one of the most beautiful places I have had the priveledge of exploring, so I’m just going to let my pictures doing the talking for me. Enjoy.
I’m supposed to be back on the East coast visiting my family for the first time in over two years, but thanks to Covid, that trip will have to wait until another time. I’d take time with my family over just about any adventure any time, but as a consolation prize, this was about as good as they get.
Just a few miles up FS Road 376, in the Jemez Mountains sits two tunnels, carved out of rocks. The original purpose of these tunnels was to assist the former Santa Fe Northwestern Railroad safe passage through the canyon hauling lumber out of the heart of the Jemez.
This also happened to be the scene of Yago’s first off-leash adventure since he was adopted into the Bennett family. I do believe he enjoyed his first day of freedom.
Life has been a little hectic and more than a little stressful lately. Despite all that, we’ve been trying to carve out a little time to forget about the world and just have a good time. Date nights have included a few random road trips, bowling for a cause, professional bull riding, winning big at the casino, a magic show, and even a cat show.
Feel free to share your favorite date night ideas!