Archive for the ‘Heat’ Category

Horsing around

September 7, 2021

A horse bypass leads to a saddle. Irony scratches her mosquito bites.

The day after a national holiday weekend is generally top notch for riding trail, if the weather permits. Everyone who hasn’t tripped the Bug-O-Meter® or gotten arrested for fleeing the fuzz is back to work, or school, and a fella has a little elbow room out there among the cacti and buzzworms.

But for some inexplicable reason I decided to take a hike instead. Go figure.

I got the traditional late start (O’Grady Standard Time), so with the sun up, the wind at my back, and a steady uphill trudge for most of the first hour or so, I was sweating like a sausage in a skillet, doffing my hat at intervals to mop the brain-case with a bandana.

Slouching up Trail 365 I turned for no good reason onto the Embudo Trail Horse Bypass, mainly because I’d never used it and was idly curious. Generally I loop around on 365A and head back down to El Rancho Pendejo.

The bypass wound upward to a ridge that overlooks Embudo Trail 193, and so did I. Thought briefly about following it down to where the two trails merge, but I didn’t know exactly where that was, or what the footing might be like after the monsoons. Plus I’d been out for 90 minutes already, probably sweated off all the sunscreen, and was down to about a half liter of water and a half tube of Clif Blox.

Hey, it was a trail for horses, not a horse’s ass. I turned around, whinnied, and hoofed it home.

Smoke gets in your eyes

August 8, 2021

Where’s the fabled New Mexico wind when you need it?

The smoke has finally paid us a visit here in the Sandia foothills.

The world sometimes feels like a very small place, and never more so than when a wildfire in Northern California can make your eyes sting in New Mexico.

“Very hazy, hot, and dry,” predicts the National Weather Service. The women must be happy to be first off this morning as the criteriums wrap up masters nats at Balloon Fiesta Park. It was already 63 in the Duke City foothills as racing kicked off down below, where the high temp should be challenging the century mark this afternoon.

A tip of the Mad Dog sombrero goes out to Colorado hardman Wayne Watson, who took the 70-74 road-race title yesterday with a solo break. Wayne was hard to catch Back in the Day® and it seems that this, unlike so many other things, remains unchanged.

Dome sweet dome

July 9, 2021

Headed down, down, down to the bosque.

The more I read of the news, the more I want to ride my bicycle.

That said, holy hell, it’s getting hot again. The Heat Dome must be coming back for round two.

Another day, another century.

I was out for about three hours yesterday, down to the bosque and back again, and by noon I was starting to feel like a parched lizard in need of a shady rock.

My insulated Camelbak Podium bottles will keep water cold — OK, so, cool — for about two hours. But three hours in, what remains tastes like warm flu.

Today Herself and I got out early for our weekly leg-stretcher, about 90 minutes of pooting around in the foothills, and that was fine. Afterward we finished off the last of the tasty egg salad I made yesterday, in sandwiches of homemade bread, and I am not ashamed to say that we added some hipster potato chips to the mix.

Strictly to replace lost sodium, you understand.

Elsewhere, doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s hot, cold, up, or down, Mark Cavendish just keeps winning stages at the Tour. Dude is better at finding the hole than Ben Crenshaw.

Don’t blame the dogs (or the cats)

June 19, 2021

The weather widget hits that C-note again.

Summer doesn’t officially arrive until tomorrow, but I’m already pretty much over it.

This sweaty conga line of triple-digit temps is starting to remind me of summers on Randolph AFB outside San Antonio. Your options were the swimming pool or some indoor sport, like Monopoly under the Fedders window unit. Venture outdoors for the usual boyish hijinks and you risked sinking into the asphalt like a Pleistocene mammoth stumbling into the La Brea tar pits.

Eventually we’d flee by car to Sioux City, Iowa, to visit my maternal grandmother. This was not an upgrade.

Our neighbors have been scurrying off to the high country on weekends to camp or VRBO it for a couple days, take five from the heat.

We’ve been sticking it out for a variety of perfectly unsatisfactory reasons. For instance, rather than join me in blissful sloth and torpor, Herself persists in gainful employment. Extra-credit tasks are assigned regularly by Herself the Elder, lest the devil find work for her daughter’s rarely idle hands. And finally, Miss Mia Sopaipilla is not an agreeable travel companion. The sounds she emits in a moving vehicle make a Marjorie Taylor Greene screed sound like the “Ave Maria.”

But we can’t blame this on the cat. Even the dogs are out of bounds, according to Ken Layne over at Desert Oracle Radio.

“Take the dog out at 8 o’clock and it’s still 100 degrees. The dog’s looking at me like, ‘What did you do?’ And I say, ‘Look, I did not do it.’ But of course I did; my species, anyway. The dogs just went along for the ride. It would be nice to blame them. ‘You’re the one who always wanted to get in the car and stick your head out the window when the A/C was on.’ But it’s not their fault.”

Just deserts

June 12, 2021

Even the cacti are hunting shade.

“Just put a chair underneath the swamp cooler and deal with it all like a pro.”“When Everything Goes Wrong,” Ken Layne, Desert Oracle Radio

Gonna be a hot one — or two, or three, or four, or more — throughout the desert Southwest.

Especially out there in Desert Oracle country, where Ken Layne chats with author Claire Nelson about the time when her day hike suddenly got too hot to handle.

Here in the Duke City I’ve finally bowed to the elements and switched the Honeywells from “heat” to “cool,” because we’ve been having too much of the one and not nearly enough of the other.

And it will only get hotter. The National Weather Service predicts high temperatures of 5 to 15 degrees above normal for about a week (!) as a strong high-pressure system blisters New Mexico like a chile on the grill.

We didn’t need no steekeeng air conditioning back in Bibleburg. Nobody made us move to the upper edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. We knew it was wrong, but we did it anyway.

And whaddaya wanna bet one or both of us goes out onto the sunbaked trails to get the ol’ heart rate up for a while? No brain, no pain. If you don’t hear from me for a couple days call the Duke City trash collectors. I’ll be that bag of bones under the prickly pear somewhere in the Sandia Foothills Open Space.

The voice of the Wet Mountain Valley?

June 5, 2021

The Wet Mountain Valley with the Sangre de Cristos for backdrop.
| Photo: Hal Walter

I’ve gotten in the habit of listening to Desert Oracle Radio on Saturday mornings, while I inhale a few cups of java with one bleary eye half-focused on whatever news broke while I was bagging Zs.

So naturally I thought it was an acid flashback this morning when Ken Layne mentioned Westcliffe while running down a long list of places recommended to him for a Western hideout come August, when even the most hardened Mojave Desert rat starts to feel painted in not enough sauce but laid out on the grill anyway, working up a nice blackened crust.

He got a hundred or so suggestions, and Westcliffe, a.k.a. Weirdcliffe, was right there in the mix, rubbing shoulders with Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Salida, and any number of other places with better PR.

Someone even shilled for Albuquerque. Probably some flack at USA Cycling, which will be bringing its 2021 Masters Road National Championships to the vicinity Aug. 5-8. I don’t think any of their geezers will be zipping up the jerseys and fretting about frostbite when the road race tackles Heartbreak Hill.

Desert crapshoot

August 25, 2020

We’re a little light on shade out here in the foothills.

“It’s been a pretty sad monsoon season across New Mexico,” says weather wizard Daniel Porter over to the Albuquerque Journal.

Truer words, etc. Water use has risen in one of the driest summers in a decade. And the phrase “hot as balls” gets used almost daily at El Rancho Pendejo, because somebody around here has a predilection for coarse language.

A sudden deluge has a go at pounding down the dust.

I wore a big-ass Carhartt boonie hat and plenty of sunscreen for my five-mile hike yesterday, well above the haze drifting along the Rio Grande. I’ll pay attention to an air-quality alert when I can’t see my shoes through the smoke and my shorts are on fire.

Still, it was as hot as balls out there. I forgot a handkerchief and had to lift my lid periodically to drag a paw across my soggy noggin.

Come evening the universe decided we deserved a break. Out of nowhere it suddenly rained good and hard, if only for a short while, and we threw open the windows and doors to let the cool breeze blast through the joint.

Nothing is likely to cool the fevered lowbrows at the GOP ‘s Nuremberg rally, alas. Short of putting the lot of ’em in the deep freeze for a few dozen campaign cycles, that is. Don’t look for links. They’re all missing. Badaboom, badabing.

Going up and back

July 12, 2020

This is the view from what I believe is the southern end
of that trail I couldn’t find.

The heat wave continues.

It was 100° here by noon, if you believe our weather station, which I’m not quite certain I do. Most of the other stations nearby were reporting mid- to high 90s.

But still, shit. Hot out there.

Nevertheless, the healthful outdoor exercise must go on. There’s a fat bastard around here somewhere, and he wants to be me. I gotta keep him down, the way Bruce Banner does the Hulk.

Mr. Sam Hillborne
with his new old pedals.

On Thursday I stalked around the Sandias trying to find an unmarked trail that supposedly loops around from Comanche to just north of Candelaria. No joy. Oh, there are plenty of trails up there, and I followed a few — more than a few, actually — as the sun smiled down upon me like a chef with his spatula.

One drew me into a shady, rocky area that smelled like cats. Not the kind you cuddle, either. So I got out of there and wandered back to and down Trail 365, to where this mystery trail is supposed to meet up with it on the south side, then backtracked a ways up the hillside.

Up on a ridgeline with a fine view of Albuquerque I saw what might be a path that could lead to the mystery trail. But by then my brain was thickening on a slow simmer and my ankle was muttering, “You know I’m gonna dump your dumb ass up here, right?” So I gave up and limped back to the rancheroo.

Old-school pedals.

The next day Mr. Sam Hillborne and I rolled out for a short one. The bike is now wearing MKS Sylvan touring pedals, deep steel toe clips, and some battered Alfredo Binda toe straps from my early cyclocross days. I hadn’t given them a spin, so off we went, in street shoes, baggy shorts and a red plaid Novara shirt that I almost never wear.

It was delightful, as you may have suspected. All my bikes save the Soma Double Cross sport clipless pedals, but it’s nice to take a short technological step back now and then. As with friction shifting, the pedal flip and slide comes back quickly. It’s just like riding a bicycle.

Harbinger

July 7, 2020

We’re headed for the red zone.

Last night’s fiery sunset was a glimpse of things to come.

The weather wizards say we’re in for a run of hot weather, with temperatures inching up this week toward triple-digit highs by the weekend.

“Yeah, but it’s a dry heat,” we quip.

Ho, ho, very funny, says meteorologist Andy Church. Not.

Clouds for now … but not for long.

“This heat, especially in the Middle Rio Grande Valley, with these types of temperatures this early, this high, is a pretty rare event,” Church told the Albuquerque Journal. “It is going to be a dry heat, but we know that doesn’t necessarily make much of a difference. We’ve got no clouds and little shade.”

And we’re light on river water, too.

The Bernalillo County Water Authority announced in early July that it would stop pulling drinking water from the Rio Grande, which is looking less and less like a river every day, and rely on groundwater throughout the summer.

Water resources division manager Katherine Yuhas told the Journal this type of shutoff usually doesn’t happen until August or September. It is also anticipated to last longer than in wetter years, she added.

“A lot of the snow sublimated, and we didn’t get the runoff we had expected,” Yuhas said. “With these dry conditions, the water authority wants to be off the river.”

Say, just how many horsemen are there in the Apocalypse these days, anyway? It seems to be staffing up.

The temperature is testicular

June 22, 2020

Smoke from various Southwestern fires is pooling down by the Rio.

Boom! And just like that, it’s officially hot as balls here at the Duke City Chuckle Hut.

We hit the century mark this afternoon, according to our Acu-Rite weather gizmo.

I got outdoors while the temperature was a frosty 84 degrees, so I didn’t explode like an unpierced spud in a microwave. I’m still not running, but a six-mile hike is a fine means of making a motheaten carcass carry its own weight for a couple hours.

Incidentally, if any of yis who commit pedestrianism have not yet tried trekking poles, you might consider giving ’em a whirl. I scored a set of Gossamer Gear LT5 poles when they went on sale earlier this month, and they give me something to do with my hands other than gesticulate while arguing with the voices in my head.

Also, moreover, furthermore, and too, they help buttress the bum ankle as I stumble up and down the rocky Sandia singletrack in my quest for the wily endorphin.

Alas, when I turned around up near the wilderness boundary a cloud of overcooked forest was obscuring the view. On a clear day it’s no trick to see all the way to Mount Taylor and points west.

Something else that’s not so hot: The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has been canceled for this year. That’s a solid-gold kick in the ’nads for bidness and gummint. A study of the 2019 fiesta estimated the economic impact at $186.8 million, with a corresponding shit-ton of tax revenues for the city, county and state.