So, Christmas—headlined in the banner—is about Jesus, and facts about his life are slim. As I understand it, the drummer boy is singular, and added to the mythology L-O-N-G after the man died. So, that here there are twins wearing outfits modeled on modern military uniforms means…this is an example of sociopolitical evolution.
WDM? [Meaning, what doesn’t match?]
I’m in the mood for a cheery, uplifting, seasonal, gauzy bow. I rarely am, but today’s the day for it!
Driving across North America, we usually seek a balance between moving along and stopping for necessities. This necessity stop was in Greenville, Mississippi, where the county welcome center is a pseudo-steamboat.
With informative and well-made displays upstairs about local residents and events. This is the home county of Jim Henson, and where he invented Kermit the Frog (they use “born”)…one of the many facts I didn’t know about US history.
We kept our easterly bearing and happily joined good friends for sober discussions, great laughs, and yummy eats—big thanks to all—in the shadow of this bathouse. If the builder is Batman, then his sidekick is his son?, therefore Robin? I hear it took the bats a while to find/occupy it, and over fifty did this year, and it is supposed to be able to hold hundreds more. Looking forward to hearing next seasons population….
Mr LateNight aka the Guru piloted us along a kinky route around Tupelo, dodging a major new interchange under construction in Birmingham, and avoiding daytime traffic by a nighttime run, no Coors on board. We are not bootleggers.
With the higher population density of cities, you gotta expect to encounter wacky human-stuff more often in urban areas than in rural, low-population density places. Welcoming us to Atlanta, and explosion of lemon slices. Wha?
And a red light that won’t change, while no vehicles pass through the green-light directions. Ah, home. Glad to be here at 3:10am here time, trying to think of it as merely 1:10am, as it is in Santa Fé.
And this is the reason for my delayed post, signified as always by the 10:22pm time stamp.
With a major push of over 740 miles, we “Texas hecho,” that is: we finished with Texas, and are sleeping in Louisiana. ’Bout darned time.
The first photo is of dawn through the Window (formation), Chisos Mountains. The second is intended to illustrate leaving the Chisos Basin.
Ah, yes, toddling down the road in these parts means an interview with Border Inspection personnel. Darned perfunctory quiz this time. He almost forgot to ask if we were US citizens. Don’t think we were stopped for even a minute. A battery of powerful cameras take many photos of vehicle and occupants before you stop—and also of the traffic in the opposite direction. Very creepy. My messy hair and sunglasses are now backed up in databases from Texas to Moscow, I’m hypothesizing.
Pushing north to get out of the park, then turning east…power generation…Texas is an energy state, but it’s not all petroleum-based energy.
Only bison of the trip.
Auto racks in sunset light somewhere near Waco, I think.
Yawn. Over and out.
As we were leaving the dining room, these wispy clouds came in, I think generated by the sun hitting the air. Cool, cool morning. Frost on the windshield cool.
With a big, hot breakfast on board we headed out down the trail to The Window of last night’s sunset photograph.
Here’s the mountain face to our right, to the north, as we began our descent.
Look at that! A Mexican jay.
You can tell it’s chilly…and windy. I have my coat on over three layers and am glad I can stuff my hands in my pockets. Yes, I have on a windproof neck buff, ear band, and a baseball cap—all of them. That’s the left or southwest wall of the Chisos Basin behind me.
That gap is the Window that we’re descending toward. That’s the desiccating blossom stalk of a Havard agave, if I remember right.
Detail of a boulder we had to go around. It looks different than most of the other rocks around this immediate area.
Lookee over there! Way over there, thankfully…long lens…a trio of bears, perhaps a mom and two cubs. They were way up on the slope to our left and pretty far away and not interested in us. Whew.
Getting closer to the window. Are those clouds coming in? I promised the Guru we had to go early so we wouldn’t be out in the heat of the day…but where’s the heat???? 😉
We trekked carefully past a spring and crossed the water several times to work our way down to finally view through the Window! Vista found! Now, time to ascend. Glad it’s cool finally, but not looking forward to headwind through canyon above Window.
Here’s the spring water, and the trail-builders worked hard to make steps in the bedrock to make hikers safer.
Took a side path for a short distance for another view out the Window. From here you can hardly tell how deep the canyon is.
We got out just fine, took a lunch break, then headed out in the pickup. Here’s the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo from hear a hot springs. I know this cane as carrizo from my time in Oaxaca. Yes, that’s Mexico on the other side, so let’s all call it carrizo, or car-ee-so.
Driving along, making our way back to the turn that will take us back into the Chisos Basin for the night, we found this coyote by the road.
I’ll take this as a goodnight from our patron peak, Casa Grande, right above our modest room. I’m sure all the rooms here are modest. The bling is in the views. And the critter sightings.
We stayed in an end-of-the-road town, too small to have chain motels, and I supposed that’s why the one we stayed in, clean and maintained, offered no breakfast. So we went down the street, and enjoyed a hot breakfast at a little café. We learned from observing the men who came in that the proper greeting is, “Buenos días, how are you?” and that it’s possible to wrangle 157 horses before breakfast. I don’t know how big the crew was doing that.
We ventured into the local grocery store for a few supplies. We skipped the many institutional sized cans of food (pozole, anyone) and Mexican brand cookies, and even these Jesus candles. Looks to me like he’s modeling a wedding dress, but I probably don’t understand this imagery.
Then we began moseying downriver, following the Rio Grande toward its mouth far away. We passed a large state park (miles) and some ranches. Found this mostly grown colt and perhaps mom getting their breakfast.
That’s the Rio Grande, or the Río Bravo to people living on the other side, in México. As in: “I can see Mexico from my pickup.”
Took the old road for a stretch, going through surprisingly still active dispersed communities. This church was hanging on, but the second one in this area was decrepit and unused.
Hoodoos overlooking the RG/RB. (From a pano, if it looks a bit distorted.)
Finally, we crossed into Big Bend National Park, and our first stop is this dramatic canyon, named for Santa Elena. Last time we were here, the water was much lower, and we walked into the cleft. Computational photography means detail is visible in the dark canyon faces.
Meet Mules Ears. There’s a trail going over to it, but we were content to look from here.
These olive tinted layers caught my eye.
This spot is called Sotol Overlook. These are sotol plants, pronounced soh-tohl, but the Guru says they are so-tall. 😉
I walked up the hill from our room and heard noise in the brush to my left, looked, and: wow! two deer grazing. I froze and prepared to photograph. They were unconcerned. I got this shot when the second one crossed the street, looking down at the Guru sitting in the porch-shade (difficult to see).
Golden hour on the rocks above the lodge.
Sunset through the formation called The Window.
We departed early, heading south through the Galisteo Basin. Cool archaeology is here, but we didn’t stop.
We spotted trains crossing—enough train action here to merit the two levels of tracks….
Strange giant cowboy cut-out face-off or smack-down.
At the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns park, there’s a multifaceted business called White’s City, a commercial undertaking with many buildings that seeks to get money out of your pocket and into theirs. Look at the critter-statues…bison, alien, etc., and a big USA flag flapping above.
Road to the visitor center…hairpin turn that looks like it may hang in space. Turns out it’s on solid ground, however.
We took the sissy elevator entrance. The elevator has a top and a bottom stop, nothing in between. And the distance is measured in feet. We dropped smoothly several hundred feet. The walking tour is of the Big Room. It goes on and on. And on and on.
First view. Shiny handrails are on both sides of the paved path.
Handrails left. This is a big space. Even standing there it is difficult to grasp the size of the open space around you.
More big stalactites, stalagmites and perhaps speleothems.
I was fascinated by this well-decorated passage to…dunno where.
I was also fascinated by the few pools of water we could see. This one had drips falling into it, making the “wrinkles” in the water.
We elevatored back to the surface, had a snack from our abundant food stores in the cab, and headed south-ish below the Guadalupe Mountains. Signs every few miles warned us about the wind. It was always there this afternoon, and for maybe fifty it was straight at us, spoiling our mileage.
We crossed into Texas and had this confirmation that we were approaching the US–Mexico border. We frequently hear about walls, but these things are perhaps far more effective. When airborne.
We had a fancy dinner way out in the relative boonies, very delicious, at Cochineal in Marfa. I had a pricey and yummy steak, and the Guru had schnitzel. With veg for both of us. Recommended.
I found pockets of people/businesses active before 9am this morning, but along this block, it was me and this crow. Since they are often in a group, aka a murder, I am a bit mystified about Mr/Lady Solo.
I hoofed it up Ft Marcy Hill, jacket off despite it being rather chilly…go heart rate!
Cutting back through the plaza and heading for the capitol side street, I found a line of baggied meters…clearly the city-fathers and -mothers opted for encouraging shopping traffic rather than collecting change.
Then we took off southbound to meet up with dear friends. We took the Interstate for a bit, then got off and took the back way (where it survived). In this area, signage makes a big deal about damaged guardrails, although, mysteriously, not in this case. I suspect this practice dates back to the early days of guardrail installation, when, if they were present, some drivers depended on them to nudge their vehicles back onto the road should their steering waver. Hypothesis.
Great view of the Rio Grande valley; we’re shooting off to the left, downstream.
Our secondary route took us through several pueblos, where we saw many hornos, sometimes in doubles and triples. Wonder how hot cottonwoods burn.
We even found a dozen or so sandhill cranes in one field, I guess opting to avoid party central down in Bosque del Apache.
We had a great visit with our friends, trying the whole time not to regret that we live so far apart. Talk, laugh. Repeat.
It gets dark early here, and the low light angle made for stupendous landscape views.
And here’s the basin of Santa Fé, a band of sunlight and city lights combining in this magic moment.
Finally, a birdy bookend, this time pigeons.
These photos all are of places within a 15-minute walk of the state capitol building. Scout’s honor: 15-minutes.
I find this scruffy house on a double lot oddly eye-catching.
Near as I can tell, this construction is most commonly called a walk-through gate in these parts. This short section of road can’t be driven on, but foot traffic and bicycles can make it through. These are the most heavy-duty walk-through gates I’ve seen.
On another path, I found this foot bridge over a channelized drainage. In case you decide to spend time here, find reading material in this little free library.
Not many steps later I found this undeveloped land signed “Private Property,” although I think my mapping apps show it as a park. Again: this is within a 15-minute walk of the state capitol.
A windmill survives in two parts in this parking lot for rental units. Looks beheaded now.
I came out this alley and proceeded through the “Begin One Way” signs straight ahead. Yup, the right-of-way narrows, as you might expect. Note that is is a sandy gravel road, with surviving ice blobs and muddy spots even today.
As I walked along, I was passed by a Ford Focus, then this fancy Porsche. Someone in an expensive car visiting or living in a house on a dirt road less than a ten-minute walk from the state capitol. The Porsche is waiting for a gap in the traffic on the Old Santa Fé trail…a main drag, no?
Not sure what to make of these observations, but I note that the civic-ceremonial zone here in New Mexico’s political center gives way to residential buildings quite quickly—within two blocks—and that residential zone may not have fancy capital improvements 😀.
Fascinated by the “regular” mailbox cemented into the stucco “adobe” wall.
Where’s…oh, you get it.
Note tabby and horno. And pig toy/sculpture, lower left. That’s the most accoutrement-ed horno I’ve ever noticed/seen.
The Guru took Droney for a quick flight. That curved wall building is the capitol (behind the dark red-brown roof).
We took a short drive south to Lamy.
Amtrak stops here, and it’s the closest stop to Santa Fé, if I have it right. We were lucky to be there when the train stopped…and left maybe five minutes later.
Abandoned? parked caboose. Unnecessary in the digital world.
Glass insulators are still in use in these parts in some rural lines. The Guru says these are for telephone/communications not electricity. The pairs are a clue.
We walked to dinner, which means after sunset (before 5pm), and after the cold is setting in. Brr. But, we’re tough. After dark means opportunities for computational photography—yay!