Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category

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.

The new Disneyland

June 24, 2021

Road hard.

Americans are hewing to the Gospel of Willie Nelson:

On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again

The New York Times says tracking indicates that mountain-resort bookings are off the charts, well ahead of even last year’s record-shattering level.

Hotel rooms cost more, and so does go-juice for the family tank. Planning to camp? Do you have a reservation, m’sieur? Non? Please ’ave a seat in your Buick and I’ll see if we can pencil you in for, oh, let’s say … October. October 2022. Your bicycle should be available by then as well.

On the edge, back in the early Oughts. Photo: Merrill Oliver

I’m not immune to this sort of questing, especially since I’ve been up on blocks in Bernalillo County since fall 2019.

A couple old comrades recently invited me to join them for a spot of biking and hiking around Truckee, Calif., as in days of yore, but I couldn’t warm up (ho ho ho) to the idea of driving a thousand miles each way in a 17-year-old Subie through a series of forest fires. Visit colorful Flaming Rock! Retardant drops every hour on the hour!

So I scoped out a few getaways a little closer to home, quiet locales without zip lines, mountain coasters, or via ferratas, and ho-ly shit, no thank you, please.

Your modern highwayman is not an armed robber ahorseback bellowing “Stand and deliver!” but rather an innkeeper telling you your pitiful pile of Hilton points won’t make the nut here, Sonny Jim. You think Arizona was smokin’? Wait ’til you see what we do to your Visa card.

Samey same at campsites at any location with an elevation where daytime highs stall out in the double digits. Wanna pitch a tent? Thumb up some porn on your smartphone, Johnny Muir, our dirt is all spoken for. And you couldn’t afford it anyway.

The amusing part of the NYT piece is about how all these destinations hope to teach tourists how to eschew outlandish dickishness, which is a primary characteristic of the meandering jagoff. Pivoting from tourism promotion to tourism management, as The Colorado Sun puts it.

Hee, and also haw. You won’t have to drive to Tombstone to see the O.K. Corral, podnah. The same salt-of-the-earth types who were doing it hand to hand in the Dollar Store over the last jumbo pack of Charmin will be drawing down on each other — and the hired hands — at overloaded campsite pit toilets, chairlifts, and undistinguished chain eateries from coast to coast.

Being up on blocks in Bernalillo County suddenly doesn’t sound all that bad.

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.

A wee misinterpretation

June 10, 2021

“Oopsie.”

Well, it sure is shaping up to be an interesting summer.

Lake Foul is a couple quarts away from becoming a pump track. Lake Merde, a skatepark. And we have to boil the air before we can breathe it.

Good times. Maybe not.

It seems we took God literally when She said: “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Now I can envision Her muttering: “You write ’em books and all they do is chew on the covers. You see anything in there about Phoenix, Las Vegas, or California? You do not. Because I was writing the Bible, not ‘The Beverly Hillbillies.’

“I send you my kid and Ed Abbey and this is the thanks I get? I hope you meshuggeners like drinking your wee-wee. Straight, no chaser.”

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.

Refried

August 28, 2019

Mister Jones and me tell each other fairy tales on Trail 365.

Summer is leaving a few heat records behind as it lurches toward the off-ramp in a blue shroud of exhaust.

Even the space aliens are fleeing Roswell.

“Right, we’re off! Back to Vulcan, which should feel positively wintry by comparison. Live long and prosper. Or not.”

As I will never be smart, I pulled the Jones down from its hook and went kyoodling around the Elena Gallegos trails under the blazing sun. But there were plenty of other dummies impeding forward progress there, so I headed south for a quick inspection tour of Trails 365 and 365A.

Despite the heat the singletrack was crowded by vegetation, some of it spiky, and I found myself wishing I’d worn high-rise socks and maybe a pair of Kevlar shin guards. Perhaps 365 isn’t getting much use these days; I’ve noticed some similar narrowing of the trail between Candelaria and Comanche during my weekly runs. Makes it hard to spot the buzzworms until you’re right on top of ’em.

After a bit of lunch I went after my own vegetation with lawn mower and weed whacker, further enhancing my reputation for questionable decision-making. I was sweating like a Minnesota farmer in trouble with the bank and thinking seriously about ordering up a gravel truck and/or an airstrike.

At least there aren’t any hurricanes in the forecast. I don’t know that I’d care to surf the diversion channels down to the Rio Grande. I’d rather ride my bike.

Maple syrupy

August 20, 2019

Even a faux Canadian like me can appreciate the maple leaf, especially when a whole bunch of them shade the house as the temps inch into the upper 90s.

Sticky out there today. Eighty by the time I finally got out on the bike around 9:30. Much warmer by the time I got back. Much, much warmer.

All praise to the shade tree. It’s enough to make a druid of Franklin Graham.

Screwed again

July 21, 2019

Neither sealant nor lip balm will keep you rolling after you collect one of these bad boys in your tire.

You know what doesn’t give a shit about whether you have sealant in your tubes?

A big-ass screw, that’s what.

I collected this sonofabitch in the rear tire this morning at the bottom of the Tramway descent, just after I’d crossed under Interstate 25 and hung a left on the Pan American Freeway near Balloon Fiesta Parkway.

I heard a short clatter, then a “tick … tick … tick” that told me I’d picked up a hitchhiker, and so I pulled over to have a look-see.

“Th’ fuck’s this, a thumbtack?” I muttered, and then gave it a tug.

Spooge! Fwissssssssh. Phhbbbllllllllffff.

Seriously, it was like one of those volcano projects from junior high. Or Bluto’s zit imitation in “Animal House.”

And of course, it had to be the rear tire, on the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff, so called for the Rohloff hub on (wait for it) the rear wheel.

What are the chances of picking up something like this in a bicycle tire? If you’re me, 100 percent.

Did I mention the Gates belt? Yeah, it has one of those, too.

I don’t know that I’ve ever had to deal with a flat of any kind on this bike, which is a testament to its Geax AKA 29 x 2.0 tires. But this fucking screw might’ve given even Superman a hitch in his gitalong if he ever happened to be afoot in Albuquerque.

As I was, on a scorching Sunday morning, hoofing it along the shoulder of the Pan American, looking for a shady spot and trying to remember how to remove and replace the rear wheel on a Rohloff/Gates-equipped bike, a chore I last performed in a workstand at Chez Dog in Bibleburg back in … 2012?

Lucky me, I found a bus bench with a sun shade at Balloon Fiesta Parkway. And then I set about rooting through the ol’ mental hard drive.

Lessee here: Shift into 14th gear. Break out a nickel to loosen the thumbscrew holding the cable box to the hub. Remove the cable box. Open the quick-release lever. Remove the wheel. Bingo.

The bus bench had a convenient trash can that made an excellent workstand to hold the bike while I swapped tubes (just affix rear dropouts to rim of can).

Reinstalling the wheel proved a tad more challenging. Unlike a chain, a Gates belt isn’t a greasy mess. But it kept wanting to hop off the crank or the sprocket as I tried to mate hub with dropouts and brake rotor with calipers. Lacking a hammer, I was compelled to employ patience, which is always in short supply among the Irish.

After a few tries, the belt surrendered, I closed the QR, snapped the cable box back into place, screwed it down finger-tight in case I lost my nickel at the casino on the way back, and hey presto! I had all 14 gears and a slightly soft rear tire (about 30 psi, as it turned out, despite my best efforts with my thousand-year-old Blackburn minipump). That was enough to get home.

And a good thing, too, ’cause I only had the one spare tube. One more flat and it was the patch kit for Your Humble Narrator.

Now how’s that work again? Lessee here. …

Wild kingdom

August 6, 2018

Say hello to my pal Sluggo, who took the scenic route (down the stucco wall) to the yard the other day.

We’ve had a pleasant few days around the ol’ rancheroo, lounging on the back patio with a beverage of an evening, airing the cats, and watching the wildlife (which, unlike cable or even streaming video, is free).

The deer have been sniffing around again, drawn by the neighbors’ apples (they’ve already wiped out our crop). And our hummingbird feeder is attracting quite the crowd —  rufous, broad-tailed, black-chinned and maybe even a calliope. The aerial combat over the sugar water looks like the Battle of Britain. Even the bees are getting involved.

Bigger birds have been on display, too. One great big hawk, either a redtail or ferruginous, sat perched atop a neighbor’s tree for the better part of quite some time the other evening, putting a damper on all the other avian activity. A hawk thinks a bird feeder is a hawk feeder.

Later, what looked like a prairie falcon came out of nowhere and swooped low overhead, perhaps mistaking the Turk for a great big bunny. Nope. “That’s no ordinary rabbit,” as Tim the Enchanter has taught us.

Perhaps the most striking creature we’ve seen all summer was a two-tailed swallowtail butterfly, which found one of our shrubs mesmerizing. I should’ve taken a pic, but I didn’t want to interrupt its snacking.

And then there was Sluggo. Less attractive, perhaps, but he gave me an excuse to try the macro function on the Sony RX100 III.

Besides, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, que no? I ain’t exactly George Clooney myself, as Herself periodically reminds me.