Monday, December 28, 2009

Holidays in the burbs

Claud and Eleanor hosted Christmas this year, and I got to meet Sabina finally! Aurally, she's channeling Darth Vader or maybe a pack-a-day piglet, because she's crazy congested, and apparently it's a learned skill to blow snot out of your nose, or also to suck it in. So she's a very crusty and heavy breather right now because all the snot just sits in her nostrils and about every five breaths she'll inadvertently let out a snort, and every so often she also blows snot bubbles out of her nostrils. She's really taking full advantage of that window in life where whatever you do, no matter how disgusting, the world thinks it's the cutest thing ever.

We visited the pediatrician and she said she's pretty sure the eyes are gonna stay blue! Also, at just over four months she weighs in at a whopping 16.4 pounds, putting her in the 99th percentile for her age/size; I'm looking forward to getting her hand me downs starting sometime around next year...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day Eight

We woke up early so we could see the sun come up. While the sunset made the dunes lavender, the sunrise made them pink.

It had been a quiet night in our little tent.

When we got out and walked around, though, we were surprised to see little tracks everywhere in the sand. There was definitely some bird and insect life around. I'm not sure if you can make it out in my photos.

I don't mind waking up early to greet the sun, but after about 20 minutes, I considered it greeted and went back to bed. Julia stayed up to get the full nature experience.

Before we left, we took a few more turns on the sled.

And followed the posts back to the Impala.

We spent the day driving through Southwestern New Mexico. We stopped again in Las Cruces and the tiny town of La Mesilla. We ate, or rather, I ate lunch accompanied by Julia, at La Posta, which used to be a stop on the Butterfield Stagecoach. Julia could at least have a beer, since I was driving.

Outside La Posta, I took a picture of strings of dried peppers which is something we saw *everywhere* in New Mexico. Chili peppers are big here.

They're a real feature in the cuisine, and we heard stories about how much people miss them when they move away, and beg all their New Mexican friends to send them a giant bag at chili pepper season (August, btw).
We also found a pottery shop in La Mesilla, with colorfully-painted pottery. Some in the shape of, say, pigs, or cats. I think there are fawns there, next to the pigs.

La Mesilla also had a thrift shop! It had clothing, hats,

and curiosities

We left La Mesilla with a definite soft spot in our thrift-shop-loving hearts, but we had to get back on the road. We finally made it to the campgrounds at Gila National Forest, where they have natural hot springs!! I believe the name of the campsite was the Gila River Campground, and that it was. It was a pretty ideal spot. It had a kitchen, bathroom facilities, and did I mention, hot springs?

It even had a nice log bench from which to take in the river view while enjoying a brewski and waiting out turn for a quiet soak in the hot springs (pics to come in Day Nine).

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day Seven

We woke up early in beautiful Cloudcroft,

and drove back into town to Burro Street, where they have a quaint collection of shops.

On our way out of town, we ran into a shop called the Old Apple Barn, owned by Beverly and Bill Niffenegger. Beverly was possibly the most outgoing, friendliest person we met, but I still somehow couldn't bring myself to ask about the salt and pepper shakers I saw in the store.

And a close up:

We were a little late getting back on the road, and had to rush a bit to get over to White Sands National Monument to book our campsite for that night. They only have 10 campsites, and what with the beautiful weather and summer vacation, we didn't know how crowded it might be. In our worst nightmares, we pictured getting there in the early afternoon only to find that the campsites were all filled. So we got there around 1pm to reserve our spot and were told to return at 6 that evening to sign in for the night.

In the intervening hours, we drove up to the Three Rivers Petroglyphs site north of Las Cruces, with a short stop in Alamogordo's Shell Station to change the oil in the Impala.

Las Cruces was actually a pretty cute place from what we could see. At least we managed to amuse ourselves with crafts and ice cream (not pictured).

The petroglyphs to the north of Las Cruces were left by the Jornada Mogollon (pronounced Muggy-own, we found out) people who used stone tools to abrade designs into the rocks between 900 and 1400 AD. They feature animals, birds, even fish, as well as abstract designs.

I believe these are arrows sticking out of this ram. Wishful thinking?

We were a little shocked because the petroglyphs weren't protected in any way. If some wiseass were to come along and add some of their own scratchitti, there's nothing to stop, or even discourage it. It's really just a bunch of rocks on an open hill in the New Mexican countryside.

On the other hand, it's such an intimate experience to have nothing between you and these works, and to feel so integrated into the landscape. And I didn't see any defacement so far. I guess the people that go see this are a self-selecting group who aren't looking to damage the artifacts they drove a few hours to get to.

We got back on the road to White Sands with baited breath. Would we have to share White Sands with too many other campers? How many? Would they be loud? Wailing babies? Boy Scouts? We arrived promptly at 6 for our orientation only to find that we were the only ones spending the night in the entire park!
Even the lecture on unexploded ordinance didn't dim our spirits!

The sands of white sands are actually gypsum, which is water soluble. But since the Tularosa Basin has no outlet to the sea, wikipedia tells me that the rain leaves the gypsum in its crystalline, apparently sandy form, selenite. The road is packed down selenite, with white dunes in every direction. Here's the shadow of our trusty Impala in the "parking lot" of the campgrounds.

Note the rainbow in the background. Also note the sled we bought at the park gift shop.

Finding our campground wasn't too difficult, thanks to posts that guide you across the dunes. You move to a post, and then stay right there until you see the next one.

We got there just about an hour of light left, and we rushed to set up our tent so we could enjoy the sunset over the dunes. We were a little worried we were going to get creamed by this rather ominous-looking cloud,

but it passed us by without a drop. So we got busy with the sled on those dunes!

After a while, though, we had to just stop and admire the changing colors in the sky.

It was already quiet, but in the semi-light, with no one else in sight or hearing, we could have been the last people on earth.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Halloween, my favorite holiday, ever! The fun of dressing up, plus the joy of candy? What could be better? Right off, let me say that Angelique took the cake for best costume, as a dark cloud with a silver lining, as well as a shiny lightning bolt:

I went as "stripes," although I allowed people to say "zebra" if they were conceptually challenged.

We started off at Lovely Day, where there were several cool costumes to see. I don't know this girl, but she had a great thing going on, with a mask and antlers? antennae? That's Sameer next to her, dressed in scrubs.

Here's a group shot, so you can see everyone's costume. Monica is a gypsy (doing a booming business with the palm reading), Cara is a 60's airline stewardess, Angelique as the dark cloud, John is the killing moon (hiding his bloody machete for some reason), and Francis and Sandy as cat burglars.

After swinging by Andrew's fabulous party for a bit, we headed over to the party at the Angel Orensanz Center for a party.

Boy George was there.
As well as a couple of flamingos.

And cats...

and, something else...

and dancing!!

There was a fight right outside, that I kind of got caught in the middle of. Alas, I was too busy dodging blows (successfully, I might add) to take pictures. Ah, good times with good friends!

And strangers.