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.
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.
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.
I celebrated the 33rd Anniversary of The Incident of 1986 in true Holly fashion – with a new adventure. This year’s adventure entailed a hot air balloon ride over the city of Albuquerque & the most delicious confetti cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes Albuquerque. If you have one of these Cakeries near you, do yourself a favor and get one.
Well, I gave in & picked up a new toy this past weekend. It wasn’t in the plan to get a new truck anytime soon, but sometimes life throws curveballs. Sometimes they’re fun curveballs. After getting the little taco all dolled up, Brian & I took her for a little offroading adventure to get a little dirt on her tired.
Compared to my usual, I have not had much time for exploring the great outdoors of my new home state. So when both Brian & I had a Sunday free we took advantage of the nice weather and headed out for a hike.
Having had good beginners luck with different hiking books in various states, I had picked up 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Albuquerque not long after we rolled into town. The hikes have never really been described well in the book & I have been grateful that the hikes I’ve done in it so far have been urban enough that I didn’t mind getting a little lost. However, Brian & I drove about 45 minutes out of the city for this hike and it wasn’t until we had had enough that we finally found the actual ‘trail’ we were supposed to be on. Overall, we still accomplished 3 miles of… – let’s call it a walkabout – and Kratos got to stretch his legs.
Needless to say, I’m taking a bike ride to Barnes & Noble’s at some point today to check out other local guide books. If you’re from the Land of Enchantment & have any guide books or trails you recommend, please share them!
For this year’s festivities, my adventure was a bit unique – I wasn’t out skydiving or seeking my usual hit of adrenaline. I spent the weekend immersed in a new experience of documenting the love and life of a beautiful couple.
Thanks so much to all my family and friends who reminded me in a multitude of ways how lucky I am to have survived another trip around the sun. Xoxo.
Not far from our home lies one of the most unique parks I’ve had the chance of visiting – Petroglyphs National Monument. Being only a twenty-minute drive from where I rest my head every night, this place was high on my priority list of places to visit soon after arriving in the Duke City. Today we had the chance to head out and explore a bit of the park. I’m more than excited to get to experience more of this place as time goes on.
I drug myself out of the woods late Sunday morning to head into town to pick up the 26 ft U-haul truck waiting for me in Evergreen. Thanks to the help of my in-laws and their amazing friend John, I was able to have the entire storage unit cleared out in around an hour and the excess stuff we’d had stored around the Bennett house pack up in another.
I set out early Monday morning. The scenery -as always- was beautiful and the drive was relaxing despite the heavy construction and the giant vehicle I was soloing. My first stop was Missoula for a quick ice cream stop with two of my favorite people.
After Missoula, I spent the next 3 days taking my time traveling down to Albuquerque. With only a few hiccups along the way, I was able to take my time moving our household goods from Montana to New Mexico. One of the hiccups involved our new house not being ready for us to move into yet, so I hired a few movers for a couple of hours to help get everything out of the truck and into a storage unit. I’m about to hop an earlier flight back to Ohio for a few extra days with family before picking up Brian and driving back across the country to start the next chapter.