Saturday, May 18, 2019

Desert Contrasts - Gardens, Flowers, Sand, Stone and Water.

Desert Contrasts - Gardens, Flowers, Sand, Stone and Water: A photo montage. 
Click photos to enlarge.

Albuquerque has a beautiful Botanical Garden as part of its BioPark which includes a zoo and aquarium. I especially like the Japanese Garden which has a very New England feel, with trees, pond, and shrubbery that is found more often in Connecticut than in most of New Mexico.
#1 Spring display with pansies and poppies.
#2 Peonies 
#3 Koi Pond
#4 Pink Peony
#5 Sitting Duck
#6 Quack
#7 Koi in Foreground
#8 Walk Bridge
#9 Ornamental Garden
#10 Poppies
#11 Pretty (but I don't know what they are).
#12 Some Kind of Blue
#13 Alligator Juniper
#14 Columbine
#15 Pansies and Poppies
Leaving the environment of cultivated and irrigated flora brings us into the natural environment of the high desert where wild flowers were/are abundant this year. Here are some pretty ones:
#16 tetraneuris scaposa - Four-Nerve Daisy
Cochiti Lake, NM
#17 sphaeralcea ambigua - Desert Globemallow
Cochiti Lake, NM

#18 tetraneuris scaposa - Four-Nerve Daisy
Cochiti Lake, NM
#19 Loco Weed? Cochiti Lake, NM
#20 Un-identified Purple Flowers
Santa Fe, NM
#21 Cholla, Las Cruces, NM
#22 Cholla, Las Cruces, NM
#23 Opuntia - Prickly Pear
Las Cruces, NM
#24 Purple Cholla, Las Cruces, NM
#25 Ocotillo and Apache Plume
Organ Mt, NM
#26 Ocotillo, Blue Sky and the Outcropping
Organ Mountains, NM

On our current trip to southern New Mexico one of our stops was at White Sands National Monument. We'd been there eons ago, before we were likely to frequent Cape Cod. As we were driving in I couldn't help but be reminded of the dunes in Provincetown...and I immediately got into a funk.

So like Provincetown I half expected to see the ocean at Race Point beyond the highest dune, but, instead of an ocean (there was one here a million years ago) all there was was more white sand. So we saw white sand and more white sand and the more sand we was, the more depressed I got.

Besides it was hot. I don't seem to be able to tolerate heat (or cold) like I used to. Not to mention that hiking seems to take a lot more effort, even though I walk quite a bit every day. The heat just saps the energy out of me.

Enough of white sand, we headed up to Cloudcroft.

#27 Reminds me of the Dunes at the Cape
#28 Leon of Arabia and the Dog, Benni
#29 Blue Sky, Sand and Yucca
#30 Blue and White

In such stark contrast to the endless sand was the mountain country near Cloudcroft where evergreen trees - pine and fir - dominate the landscape. And where Benni was able to have a good, off-leash run, sniff new smells and chase sticks. 

We went from 90 degree+ baking heat at White Sands to wet, rainy and 50 degree cold in Cloudcroft. I had to buy a sweatshirt; I was shivering. Small town that survives on skiing and people from the hot regions going there to cool off. 

Flashback to Vermont. The cold rain ended and the sun came through to warm us up a bit.
#31 Leon and Benni in Cloudcroft
#32 Grassy Meadow with Aspen
#33 The Cool Green of the Aspen Trees
Went back to camp and heat in Las Cruces.

We were amazed at the agriculture in Las Cruces. Miles of pecan trees in neat rows were delightful to see. Many of the orchards were flooded - purposely - to irrigate the trees. Other crops were also being grown and the system of acequias or canals is vital to the farmers here and throughout New Mexico. Imported palm trees are common in landscaped yards.
#34 Rows of Pecans, Orchard in Las Cruces
From Las Cruces, we headed to Carlsbad. Later that day at camp, a pretty bad hail storm hit. New Mexico: heat, wind, lightening, hail. But it beats a large part of the US that is under water.

 Went to Carlsbad Caverns. We could have sworn we were here years ago but nothing we saw seemed to correspond to a memory. And Leon has a memory, whereas I have a forgettory. It was a long hike down into the cave where we saw all kinds of interesting stalactites and stalagmites and lots of rock. Almost as fascinating as the rock formations was the engineering feat that paved the walkway, built stone barriers and fashioned steel railings that followed a serpentine pathway. We emerged three hours later through the wonder of the speedy elevator.

Photos of the cavern are not spectacular as everything is monochromatic and theatrically lit.
#35 In the Cavern
Later that day we decided to drive out to Sitting Bull Falls. It is about a 36 mile drive off the main road through scrub desert terrain. The thirty-six miles seemed more like ninety-six. (Getting nervous as we had not filled the thirsty diesel truck). The only thing to see besides dirt and rocks and weeds was the occasional herd of cattle, some of the creatures actually crossing the road at their leisure. Out there somewhere is the promise of an oasis, a natural spring fed waterfall. We kept driving...
#36 Scrub Desert As Far as the Eye Can See
Near Carlsbad, NM
Yes, there, after the Lincoln National Forest sign (day use pay area - National Parks Senior Pass accepted) one comes to a very neatly kept parking lot, a number of picnic shelters surrounded by grassy lawns, a comfort station and info kiosk. Just beyond the picnic area are the falls. This is not a very crowded spot. There were maybe six other people there during our visit.

Interestingly, the falls, while surrounded by desert and desert flora had a very different micro climate and eco system. Willows, grape vines, ferns and mosses flourish there. In some ways I found this oasis to be more fascinating than the caverns of Carlsbad.
#37 Sitting Bull Falls

#38 Grape Vines
#38 Maidenhair Fern
#39 A Cool Pool
#40 Frank, Benni and Leon
A few more pics from a little restaurant in Mesilla (Josefina's Old Gate Cafe) where we had a late breakfast one morning this past week.
# 41 Leon, Benni Lounging
#42 Interesting Wooden Portal
#43 Old Gate at Josefina's
Spent the day tooling around Carlsbad. Impressions: Oil, gas, drilling, fracking, industrial, trucks, lots of very clean, fairly new, WHITE pick-up trucks (seems like some kind of status symbol), nice river front park, nice homes along and near the Pecos river, not so nice away from town, white and Mexican, lots of Texans, some wealth, some poverty, lots of machinery being lugged around, macho, family, religion, no ice cream shops we could find. Bought a tub of Butter Pecan and a tub of strawberry frozen yogurt at the market.

Heading home tomorrow - Sunday, May 19.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Recently On Netflix

We have been watching two new Netflix Original series: Special and Bonding.

Both have gay male characters who are "mentored" by strong, independent women but in totally different contexts. Both series are well-written, kind of sexy, and full of little surprises.

Both series are following what must be a new kind of format where episodes are no more than 15 minutes or so long. We ended up watching the entire series of Bonding and Special in one evening each.

Special follows a 20-something gay man with a "mild" case of cerebral palsy as he seeks independence from an overprotective mother and finds support in a no-nonsense female co-worker who pushes him into new territory.

Bonding brings together a female grad student who is a dominatrix in her spare time and a young, awkward gay guy who she hires as her "assistant" and insurance against would-be nefarious clients.

The short, 15 minute episodes are just enough to make the viewer want to see more. Light, sometimes outrageous, sometimes funny, these shows may be just what you need after watching the Evening News.


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