Thursday, April 22, 2021

4/17 - Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM

 I have been here before, but it is always nice to come back and see what is new.  Had a little trouble getting parked, or rather getting into the parking lot.  As I turned into it, I noticed a bunch of medical people offering COVID shots, except they had also put a bunch of barriers and red cones to direct traffic.  Security guard came up to me in my big motorhome and was upset because i was lined up for a shot.  I told him I just wanted to get into or even out of the parking lot, and there was no other place to go other than the line for shots.  Anyway, he moved a few cones and guided me to a far corner, which is where I had wanted to go in the first place!!  

I should have taken photos of the COVID line, but I figured I was unpopular enough!  Walked around the building and found the entrance.

Basically, the museum is a semicircle around an outdoor activity area.  Nothing going on today, however.

Lots of interesting displays inside.

These were cute.  I especially liked the duck in the middle.  It was actually a water jug with a hole in its head.

This is a turtle curled up on its back. 

And an owl with babies on its wings.

This jug was amazing.  It was part of a display of pottery painted with yucca twigs.  Look at the amazing detail and accuracy of the lines!

Some types of pueblos.

This next section is fun.  One of the common figures you see all over the Southwest is a storyteller, with children crawling on her.  (Usually, it is a female, but not always.)  I had a very small one I purchased, but would love to have one of these more creative ones!!  This first one is an ordinary storyteller.  Note that the mouths of the storyteller are always open.

This is a turtle storyteller with children on its back. 

The children listening to this storyteller are comfortably lying on the floor.   Even the dog is listening.

This frog storyteller has a lot of babies listening to its stories!!

Another human storyteller, but this one is loaded with kids.  One on her foot is even playing a drum.

I love this owl storyteller with her two babies on her wings!

And even a snake can be a storyteller!!

Beautiful weather outside, so time to go home.

I like this mural of drummers. 

 Luckily, the parking lot was clear and the COVID vaccine people had left by the time I left the museum.

4/14 Oliver Lee Desert Garden & Walk Down Dog Canyon

I really like this state park more than most of the others I have been staying at in New Mexico.  On this day, I decided to take a short walk down Dog Canyon, which begins near the closed Visitor Center.  However, on the way, I found this small cactus garden.  And the best part was that some of the cactus were starting to bloom.  

Anyone know who this guy is??  He is mostly brown with a curved beak.  I think he might be a curved-bill thrasher.

I believe this is a hedgehog cactus.

Wouldn't this one be gorgeous in a yard?  I think it is a claret-cup cactus.

Another claret-cup cactus. 

Dog Canyon has a small spring in it and that results in a tiny creek.  When this was a ranch, there was a small dam that collected water in the canyon.   

This is a desert grasslands whiptail.  He did not like his photo being taken, so scurried off as fast as he could.

This is the trail down the canyon.  Actually, I called this a walk instead of a hike as it only goes maybe 500', but you can tell from the greenery that there is water here.

I did not get a good photo of this guy's face because he flew off right away, but his back colors identify him as a yellow-eye junko.  My bird book says he is a kind of sparrow.

I have no idea what these are, but they were growing at the edge of the little stream.

The water is crystal clear here.  No wonder this place attracts a lot of birds. 


Saturday, April 10, 2021

4/10 Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, Alamagordo, NM

 It was only about 25 miles from White Sands National Park.  I have been here twice. but that was several years ago.  I almost skipped it on this trip, but am really glad I did not because I had forgotten how beautiful the view was here.  The drive in was very flat, but the state park is up against the mountains, to the right of this photo.


I was happy to find out that this campground has paved roads!!  That means less dust when someone drives past. The other NM state parks I have stayed at in the past six weeks have all had dirt/gravel roads.  Every time someone drove past, there would be clouds of desert dust kicked up.  I could not open windows, and in one, you really could not even sit outside. It would have helped if drivers had slowed down, but you know how unreasonable THAT is!

So, luxury is paved campsites!!  Yea! 

These are strange campsites. They are very big with very nice gravel. (I would call it clean gravel, I think, although that sounds strange, but I mean very little dust and dirt.)  In nearly all campgrounds, you have a choice of back-in or pull-through sites.  Back-in sites are usually at a slight angle to make backing in easier, but basically they are long and narrow and at a diagonal to the roadway.  A pull-through site can be at a diagonal or parallel to the road, but you just pull in and drive out. 

These campsites are mostly square, so you have to figure how best to pull in so you can fit and still have extra space.  I backed in on a diagonal and ended up with a lot of space.  Being alone means I have to keep getting out and looking where I am going, or relying heavily on my mirrors and my new backup camera.  If it is a weird spot, like this one was, I do all three.  

 View from my campsite.
View of a dust devil on the plains I had driven across.  I love being in a place like this where I have a very long distance view. 

I was happy to see that it is warmer here and spring is closer than it has been in other places.  Part of this is due to the fact that it has been very cold in southern New Mexico until a couple of weeks ago.  Hurray for warm weather!  

These are really just buds that are ready to open, so I am going to have to keep my eye on it and take another photo in a couple of days. 

Also, the creosote bushes are covered with yellow flowers. 

There have been tons of mesquite bushes in other places I have camped, but they looked dead because they had no leaves.  Here they are almost fully leaved.  Mesquite trees produce huge amounts of edible pods later in the year.  They look like long, skinny beans.  Native Americans ate them fresh or dried them, or picked them when they were dry, and pounded them into a flour to make bread.   Here is an article on how they were eaten:

These are prickly pear almost ready to bloom.  They also produce an edible fruit, but that will be much later in the summer.  You can actually buy prickly pears in many grocery stores.  Native peoples also made a sweet syrup from the fruit.  You can also eat the young pads, but you have to remove the tiny thorns before you do so.  Here is an article on how to pick and prepare the pads and fruit:   Mesquite pods store

When you look across the "empty" desert in most places in the desert Southwest, think about all the food that is just sitting there waiting to be harvested!  The desert is far from empty, and these are just two of the seasonal food available. 

A few more photos of the campground and the distant scenery.

A yucca in bloom.

Right in the middle of the mountain in the center of this photo, you will see a dark splotch about two-thirds of the way up.  The next photo is a closeup of that spot.

That dark spot is an old gold mine.  You can barely see a path going horizontally just below the mine opening.

Here is another gold mine on the mountain but to the right of the one above.  It is more collapsed. 

And a birds nest of some sort in a cholla cactus.  Did not look like anyone was in residence, however.  Maybe later in the spring.

And the last cactus flower, at least for now.  In a day or two, I plan on hiking up to the canyon behind the visitor center.  I want to pick a slightly cloudy day, however, so it is not so hot.