Thursday, October 29, 2009

First Snow of the Season

We had quite the winter storm roll through yesterday. Temps dropped from a nice fall 70, to a chilly winter 38 this morning.....burrrrrrr. We only got alittle rain here on the desert floor, but up in the mountains behind the house.............6-8" fell, making the first snow of the season a winter wonderland. So this morning after getting Sheryl off to work, I just couldn't resist a drive up to see the snow.

Really hard to believe how beautiful the mountains are when blanketed in snow. I drove up to and around the town of Cloudcroft via unplowed Forest Service Roads which wind there way through the backcountry.
Just a quick couple hour drive and back home again. Seeing the nature at its beautiful best is what it's all about, makes you love life even more!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

VLA and the Quebradas Backcountry Byway

Continuing the weekend outing from Monticello Canyon, I headed north on NM 52 towards my next destination and a evening of camping out under the stars. After travelling 30 or so miles I reached the VLA, time was running short, so I just stopped for a couple of quick pictures and decided to save a more detailed tour for another day.
The VLA is a series of large radio antenna in the NM backcountry, you may remember them from the movie Contact.

It was very interesting seeing the giants all pointing toward the heavens, so after a few minute visit it was off toward Socorro, NM and the Quebradas Backcounry byway.

As evening set in, I found a nice camping spot just off the Byway, which turned out much nicer than expected as this was my morning view. What a way to spend sipping coffee and eating a hearty breakfast. After packing up, it was off to travel the Byway.

I started at the Socorro (northern) end, the Byway travels for approx 25 miles east and south toward Hwy 380 through the arid NM desert, traversing high cliffs, canyons and arroyos.

Directions to the trail head from the BLM are kind of vauge, but they give you the general idea on how to get there. The byway is well signed and easy to navagate, however a high clearance vehicle is highly recommended as the arroyos can have some drop offs in and out of them.

Once into the Byway the scenery become spectacular and remains that way throughout.

The Byway is well graded, wide in places and narrow in others as is windes it's way through the countryside.

Toward the middle, you are atop a high plain with excellent views of the mountains to the west.

The byway continues on as before and out to the hwy.
This is a great trip and well worth the trip. you can travel the road at various speeds and be through it in an hour or less. However my suggestion is to take your time, 25mph or less, enjoy the views and stop freqently to soak it all in. As in most places photos just cannot capture the vast open range that you experience in person, only give you small window to imagine the rest.
From here, it was eastward and home stopping along the way to check out a couple of othe sites, but well save those for another day.
Take care, and love your live as much as you can, it's the only one you have!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monticello Canyon, NM

I've had my eye on doing this trip for a while now and not being familiar with the area, I have been putting it off, that is until this weekend. Recieved an email from Kirk (Kai38) from asking if I was interested in going, of course I jumped at the chance, and boy was I glad I did!!! Monticello is a small village northwest of T or C, NM. On the outskirts of the village is a county rd. which travels through the canyon for approx. 17 miles. Now one thing I have learned living here in NM is, even state hiways can be dirt roads and this county rd is no exception. The road travels the length of the canyon......but so does a small or large creek (depending on rainfall) and the road runs through the creek a countless number of times. This makes for an interesting and beautiful drive. Ok, on with the show. Pictured above is the town square area where we all met up to get everyone on the same page before we hit the trail.
Part of the town square is this old church, looks to have been renovated lately, but staying with old NM heritage.

Courtyard entrance to one of the old building in the square.

You can enter the canyon right outside of town, or you can take the forest service roads into the higher country. This route you over look and traveling through several other canyons and come out at the half way point of Monticello Canyon, which is the route we took. Here we are just leaving town and heading up.

and up.

We stopped for a break at this very scenic but exposed spot, the veiws we incredible as they were during the entire trip.

Again beautiful scenery everywhere you look

We stopped for lunch at this old corral found at the bottom of one of the several canyons.

Not much farther till our goal, just down and around the next corner.

Ahhhh made it, the canyon bottom is alive with trees, cattle and small ranches, and with fall in the air, the trees were painted with color.

Water crossing after water crossing, some short, some longer. The canyon begins wide near town and gets progressivly narrower the farther in you go, until it is just wide enough to get through with your vehicle at the end.

Poser rock, everyone has to get their photo op

The end of the canyon, from here the road travels about another mile though open country out to NM 52.
This was my first trip with Expo Portal folks and what a great bunch they were!!! Looking forward to more travels with them.
This was actually a weekend trip for me, so as the others headed back home, I headed off for a night of camping and another trail in the morning, so stay tuned.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Red Sands OHV Area, NM

Clear Blue Sky's and a forcasted high of 74, what a great day to hit the desert. Approx. 20 miles south of Alamogordo lies a 5x15 mile track of BLM Off Highway Vehicle area, so that was my goal for the day. A little exploring around the desert basin between the Sacramento and Organ Mountains. The area begins off of Hwy 54 and goes west to the White Sands Missle Range Boundry.
A couple miles in to the North, you come to an old corral.

I took the road north and the headed due west for several miles, most of the roads are fairly wide and sandy, some areas deeper than other and some hardpacked also.

The western border is the missle and bombing range, not the place to be at the wrong time!!!

The southern boundry appears to be private property, no signs, just more fence. OHV area is mainly set up for ATVs and motorcycles, so if you go, be prepared for some desert pin striping

Came across this foot crossing several miles from anything and no decernable path on either side.....strange. Maybe in days gone by it led somewhere.

Nice view of the southern Sacramentos in the background.

After a few hours it was time for lunch and some shade. One thing that really struck me, was the silence, it has been a very long time since I have experianced silence like that. I just sat and enjoyed for an hour or so.

After lunch and several more miles of exploring, it was time to start heading out. On my way out I ran across this stark reminder of just what a harsh enviorment the desert is. It's hard to remember that sometimes as we drive around in our air conditioned vehicles without a care in the world.
Always remember to go out prepared with extra food, water, and equipment to spend the night if you have too. However I did make it out safe and sound!!! The desert is a great place, the beauty is all around, many people say there is nothing there and can't understand why people say it is beautiful, I say you just have to look at it and let it embrase you. Beauty is everywhere and in everything, you just have to change your perspective.
Ok, another adventure down and countless more to go, so see ya next time.................

Monday, October 5, 2009

Trinity Site, New Mexico

July 16, 1945 5:29;45 a.m. A moment in time that changed history. The first atomic bomb was exploded in the New Mexico Desert on what is now known as the White Sands Missle Range. Today the site is opened up to visitors twice per year (first Sat of Apr and Oct). Since this is a very historical site and I had the chance to go, I went to check it out. Saturday morning was a cool, cloudy, rainy day here in Alamogordo as I headed out for the 2 1/2 hour drive to the site. Luck was on my side though, as I progressed north, the weather began to break and turned into a really nice day.
Once you trun off the main Hwy (380) it is still another 5 miles to the WS Missle Range gate and then another 17 miles to the site itself. As you could imagine it's a wide open lonly place out there.

Upon arrival, I took the tour bus 2 miles out to the McDonald Ranch House. This is were the Plutonium core was assembled and then transported to ground zero and placed in the bomb itself. By todays nucular standards, it's hard to imagine the master bedroom of an old ranch house as being the assembly area for such a weapon.

The ranch consisted of a windmill and water collection area, a couple of out buildings and corral. The house a been restored to it's original condition, however photos of the house after the blast showed it to be in surpisingly good shape, for only being 2 miles away.

Once back at the parking area, it's a 1/4 mile walk to the site (ground zero). The site is marked with a lava rock monument, and what is left of one of the four tower footings. The 100 foot tower was incenerated in the blast. There really is not much to see, just a monument in the desert and not really worth the visit other than to say you were there.

One highlight however was this old restored army truck, a visitor to the site brought it out. He was allowed to park up near the display area and it really added to the day. The second picture, I took in B&W as a way to capture the period.
All in all it was a good day, long trip, kinda disappointing, (could have done a better job with displays) but still worth the visit.
So until next time..............Keep Lovin Your's the only one you have!!!