Archive for the ‘Albuquerque’ Category

Glide path

May 5, 2021

The second of two birdmen sails in for a landing.

Some days it’s not about the bike.

No, that’s not me up there, banking in for a landing at the Menaul trailhead yesterday afternoon. You won’t see see me leaping off the Sandia Crest until the cops have cornered me up against the ragged edge and all is lost.

I was just out for a brief hike that turned into a longer one because it was a preposterously gorgeous day in the foothills. Also, I wanted to keep an eye on these glider pilots stooging around over the Sandias.

At least one of them was up there for a couple of hours, because that’s how long I was on the deck watching them. The other was packing up trailside as I headed home.

“Flying today?” I asked.

“Yep,” he replied.

“How long were you up?”

“Not as long as I wanted to be.”

The natives are restless

May 3, 2021

I wasn’t even the Mad Dog when I lived here in 1980, the year I worked for The Arizona Daily Star. My nick then was “Shady.”

An Albuquerque native recently told me that he’s had just about enough of the place.

With an eye toward putting the old hometown in the rear view he’s been spending some time in Pagosa Springs, Colo., which he likes quite a bit. Except for the part about winter, which Pagosa Springs actually has. Here in New Mexico we call that season “Not On Fire (Probably).”

Elsewhere in Colorado, my man Hal Walter reports that pretty much every property in Crusty County has been sold, except for his, and that’s only because his little rancheroo is not on the market.

Hal has likewise soured on winter, possibly because up there it drags on into May, and occasionally, June.

“It is foggy and snowing here,” he told me this morning. “It will not do.”

It will not do. The thought has caused me to pack my bags more than once. As a (chronological) adult I have (briefly) settled in Alamosa, Greeley, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Denver, and Weirdcliffe, Colo.; Springfield, Mo.; Winooski, Vt.; Tucson, Ariz.; Corvallis, Ore.; and Española, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque, N.M.

Sometimes it was professional; other times, personal. More than once it was simply the place. It will not do. So off I’d go, like a roach from under the ’fridge, looking for some place that would.

Each bailout involved a little more baggage, both actual and psychological. When I fled Springfield in 1972 I had a backpack for possessions and a thumb for transportation. Forty-two years later it took two cars and a professional moving company to get us from Bibleburg to ’Burque.

It will not do. The thought seems to be occurring to quite a few people who have taken a good look around at the places where they’ve hunkered down during the Year of the Plague and wondered just what the fuck is it that they’re doing there anyway.

Any of you folks planning to relocate? Got a dream destination in mind, or is it basically “Anywhere but here?” Give us your thoughts in comments.

Weather or not

April 28, 2021

The turnaround is at the bottom of that arroyo.

I looked out various windows, considered clothing options, added and subtracted layers, clapped on a sun hat, stuffed a North Face rain jacket into a day pack, then dropped the pack onto a chair, muttered, “Aw, fuck it,” and went out for a walk.

A glance to the north of where Comanche Road NE meets Trail 365 told me I probably should’ve left the sun hat on the chair and taken the pack, maybe given the rain jacket some gloves and galoshes for backup. The sky was blacker than that shrunken chunk of boiled batshit Tucker Carlson uses for a heart.

Too bad, so sad, I thought. Onward.

The view north after my U-turn.

Wasn’t long before I heard an occasional “pok” from the brim of my superfluous sun hat. Pok. Pok, pok. Pok, pokpok, pok. Etc.

I decided to pull a U down by the bridge. And as I turned to face the north without my North Face, I said: “Holy hell. I am gonna get wet.”

Now, this isn’t a long walk. Just under an hour depending upon how I want to do ’er. But all walks are long when it’s pissing down rain out of the north and you don’t have a Gore-Tex shell with hood concealed somewhere about your person. Just a stupid fucking sun hat.

Happily, it wasn’t raining quite yet. So I double-timed it, or maybe time-and-a-halfed it, jogging the uphills and flats. Hup hup hup. Try not to break another ankle, shit-for-brains. This time you’ll have to swim home.

About 30 seconds after I hit the door, boom. It started raining. For maybe a minute.

Shit. I don’t know why I keep holding on to this stupid fucking rain jacket.

Sore arms and sunshine

April 26, 2021

Sunny, warm, and windy. Don’t smoke ’em if you got ’em, please.

Well, here we are, enjoying our first Monday of total vaccination.

Not really. It’ll be a couple weeks before we’re deemed properly armed against The Bug® v1.0. But we’ve both had both shots, and so far the side effects seem mostly minimal.

Herself required a longish nap the day after she got stuck, and so did I. Sore arms for both of us, too. But the procedures went even more smoothly than before, zip and zip and zip. I’ve seen slower Golden Pride drive-thrus.

Before bagging some Z’s yesterday I went out for a short stroll to keep all the pivot points well oiled. It was shorts weather. The official high was 83 degrees, three short of the record and 11 above normal. Less than an inch of precip’ since Jan. 1. “No significant weather was observed,” adds the NWS. Ohhhhhh-kay.

Today we have more of the same, with single-digit humidity and winds from the southwest that could hit 50 mph. We’re already had a couple small fires in Torrance and San Miguel counties and it would be nice if we didn’t have any more, please and thank you.

In other weather news, freak cold snaps devastate vineyards in France. In The Washington Post, Rick Noack writes: “By the end of France’s big freeze, at least one third of this year’s wine harvest and many other crops were lost, in what by some estimates was the country’s worst agricultural disaster of the century. It may take years for some vineyards to recover.”

I guess we’ll all be smoking weed before much longer. That shit will grow anywhere, under any conditions. The roaches will be toking up long after Gaia has given us the shove.

Lost in the O’Zone again

April 23, 2021

The haze looped around to the north, softening the sharp lines of the Sandias.

Yesterday being Earth Day, I decided to cover a few miles of it on foot.

Walking the Candelaria Bench Loop in counterclockwise fashion I saw a couple dozen deer working it in the opposite direction. Looks like maybe they’ve been visiting the folks whose backyards abut the open space along Camino de la Sierra. Before much longer they will be paying a call on us down here in the cheap seats.

Looking southwest toward the city.

From up on the bench I noticed a haze coating the Rio. This was either courtesy of a pair of small fires down along the bosque or the ozone we seem to be having too much of lately.

We are very poor tenants indeed. No wonder the landlord is taking measures to have us evicted. Gaia being indifferent as regards race, creed, color, or religion, she dispatches plagues instead of the sheriff.

Speaking of plagues, Herself and I are due for our booster shots this weekend. If you should happen to see any posts here that look something like “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn,” with illustrations of flailing tentacles rending squealing humans into party snacks, never fear … it’s just the nanoparticles kicking in.

Elsewhere, the Elon Musk Bus Lines have resumed delivering passengers to the International Space Station. I wonder what the carbon footprint is like for that action. Probably not as bad as rush hour at the Big Eye.

No word on when the routes to Luna and Mars will be open for business. Not until the Shackleton Crater Resort & Casino is up and running, is my guess. This may take a while. The moon is remarkably short of undocumented workers to help keep the hospitality costs down.

Mondaze

April 19, 2021

The skies looked promising to the north.

Well, consarn it all to hell anyway, we did not get the promised rain turning to snow Saturday night, though it was gray and chilly around here until midafternoon Sunday.

El Rancho Pendejo stays deceptively cool on a cloudy day, so by the time we’d finished our chores and stepped out for a bit of exercise, we found ourselves dressed for conditions that no longer prevailed.

“We could’ve worn shorts,” Herself sez to me she sez as we jogged up a short hill. And she did not lie. I was seriously overdressed, wearing pants, a hoodie over a T-shirt, and a ball cap. The hoodie came off fast. Smartwool glove liners that I stuffed into a back pocket before leaving stayed there.

Jogging upward through the cacti.

That was then. This morning the furnace clicked on promptly at 4 a.m., which is about when Miss Mia Sopaipilla decides breakfast should be served (“Meow. Meow? Meeeeeowwwwwww!”) Four hours later it just clicked on again. The furnace, not Miss Mia, who having enjoyed a delicious meal is napping cozily in the Situation Room.

More chores. For instance, coffee must be brewed, twice. Since our coffeemaker went south Herself uses the Chemex at Mia-thirty while I crank up the ancient Krups espresso machine an hour or so later. The last of the bread gets toasted. Old loafer bakes new loaf.

Out goes the trash and recycling for pickup. Brief yet cordial salutations are exchanged with neighbors and dogs. Something has shit in the cul-de-sac. Not a dog. Be on the lookout, etc.

As the temperature inches upward the lawn gets one of its twice-weekly drinks, which feels increasingly stupid with the Rio looking like a sand trap on the devil’s back nine. Time to help a landscaper make his truck payment? Probably. You don’t have to water rocks, or mow them, either.

Anyway, this old wasicu is too stove up to do a rain dance. The gods would just chuckle and avert their eyes.

“Hey, we told you to go to the desert, not to stay there. You get your wisdom and then you get the hell out. Who said anything about lawns, golf courses, and swimming pools? Not us, Bubba.”

And now, here’s Patrick with the weather

April 17, 2021

The maple shares the eastern horizon with blue sky
and a few clouds … for now.

The furnace was chugging away when I woke up this morning. This, after some days of riding around and about in knickers and arm warmers. (Not the furnace. Me.)

Our weather widget in the kitchen told me the temp outside was smack dab at freezing — 32° Fahrenheit. No wonder I was wearing pants, socks, and a long-sleeved shirt, I mused.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla says she would like her meals delivered.

In my office Miss Mia Sopaipilla was tucked away in the Situation Room, monitoring developments, largely through closed eyelids.

The forecast calls for snow, which some of you are already enjoying. Any inclination I might have to bitch about it is tempered by the ongoing grim news about the state of the Rio Grande, which is likely to be drier than the proverbial popcorn fart this summer. Pinning our hopes on a stout monsoon season seems about like asking Santa Claus to lay a few bazillion gallons on us. We have not been good girls and boys.

Speaking of water, if you are fortunate enough to find yourself restricted to the great indoors by inclement weather you might have a sip from this week’s episode of Desert Oracle Radio. Ken Layne discusses the “accidental miracles” that spared so much of the American Southwest’s mountains and deserts from growth for growth’s sake, which Ed Abbey dubbed “the ideology of the cancer cell.”

Then change channels to KLZR-FM in Weirdcliffe, where my man Hal Walter — who seems to be Mister Multimedia these days — chats with Gary Taylor about the joys of running and other things.

Hal is enjoying a bit of snow himself up to Weirdcliffe rather than running his ass off at the Desert Donkey Dash in Tombstone, Ariz., where the forecast is for a high in the 70s. If he has any regrets about this as he feeds the woodstove he is keeping them to himself.

Coasting into climate change

April 11, 2021

Sandia Peak Ski Co. wants to build a mountain coaster as a hedge against climate change. And who can blame them?

Well … plenty of people, it seems.

“Ski areas have found it very challenging to be dependent on winter alone,” notes Sandia Peak president Benny Abruzzo in a chat with the Albuquerque Journal. And the U.S. Forest Service seems supportive of the project.

But the Journal says the majority of responses during a public comment period have been less so, and a random sample indicates that they do not lie.

“If we built a mechanical bull ride at the top of the Sandias, yes, more people may go up there, but at what cost to the land/view?” one critic quipped. No, not me.

Every time I hear of a project like this I’m reminded just how little I understand about business. How does Sandia Park Ski Co. expect to make bank on this deal? A casual glance at mountain coasters in Steamboat, Gatlinburg, and Branson tells me that tickets are cheap — $16-$20 a rider — but I’ll bet construction and maintenance dollar up on the roof right smart.

Maybe there are enough sedentary bucket-listers to make a dog like this hunt in a town where Topgolf is considered economic development. Ride the Tram, ride the coaster, ride the rental car back to the motel. Whoop, watch out for that fairy on his bicycle. What’s for lunch, hon’? I really worked up an appetite clenching my butt-cheeks on that coaster.

But frankly, it doesn’t seem very imaginative. The Duke City has thrill rides aplenty, with infrastructure already in place.

For instance, anyone who craves a hair-raising vehicular experience in Albuquerque need only take an automobile for a spin on I-40 when the motorcycles are in bloom.

Bench press

April 9, 2021

The rocky wash leading to the bench between Comanche and Candelaria.

The old red flag was flying again today, so instead of cycling Herself and I scrambled into the neighboring Sandia foothills, working our way along bits and pieces of the Candelaria Bench Loop.

Herself bouldering upward. There’s a bit of singletrack off to her left but it’s a slippery sonofabitch.

It’s only a four-mile hike, but there’s a fair amount of vertical at the beginning and the end, much of it on crumbly gravel switchbacks lined with sharp rocks and cacti.

After the first steep, loose climb east of Comanche we stuck to a stair-stepped, boulder-studded wash that was a whole lot more fun than the narrow singletrack I took a digger on last year, slamming my left thigh into a big round rock.

Oddly, the winding descent to Trail 365 near Candelaria seemed less challenging than I remembered.

Once I met another hiker on that stretch who said she simply sat and slid down some of the steeper sections (glissading, for the aficionados among you). I’ve done this a time or two myself, but never on purpose, or without consequences.

Didn’t happen today, to either of us, so yay, etc.

And we didn’t see another single solitary soul, either. Unless you count the three circling crows who seemed to be tracking our cautious movements downward and providing an appropriate soundtrack. Haw … haw … haw.

Herself inspects the Greater Duke City Metropolitan Area
from the Candelaria bench.

Green Hills of Albuquerque

April 8, 2021

Descending Tramway Road to Tramway Boulevard.

Down, down, to Goblin-town, you go, my lad!

Well, not exactly. There’s some gobblin’ at the corner of Tramway Road and Tramway Boulevard, all right, but it involves barbecue at The County Line.

The place smells wonderful when your snotlocker works, which mine mostly does not, thanks to seasonal allergies (oak, cottonwood, juniper, mulberry, grass, etc.).

Between being all boogered up and tweaking my lower back the other day I have been in something of a mood. Maybe watching part one of the Hemingway documentary on PBS last night helped a bit. Wasn’t anyone pulling a couple hundred bits of shrapnel out of my legs in an Italian hospital, and I’ve managed to hang on to my first wife, too. So, yeah, winning, an’ shit.

True, global literary fame has proven elusive, but that’s not exactly a surprise. My agent warned me against titling my debut novel “A Farewell to Arfs.”