Trip to the Grower’s Market

It’s a fine summer morning as I decide to ride my bike down to the Corrales Grower’s Market. I take the irrigation ditch road to the Rec Center, where the Grower’s Market is held twice a week.

It’s the peak of the harvest season. The vegetables and fruits on sale display a riot of color and bathe the senses in sounds and aromas.

Enjoy this photo essay of my visit to the Grower’s Market.

Corrales’ farmers depend on irrigation water delivered in acequias like this one.

The road along the irrigation ditch is designed for access to and maintenance of the acequia. It also provides a wonderful venue for walking, jogging, and cycling.

A large gate across the main ditch is lowered to raise the water level and allow the property owner to access the irrigation water.  This is the opening through which water flows to the field to be irrigated.

 

 

 

Water flows from the main ditch through a smaller one to irrigate the farmer’s field.

Property lines back up to the acequia right of way. Many properties have gates providing access to the irrigation ditch road.

The hot, Mediterranean climate, and an abundance of irrigation water make Corrales an excellent place for growing wine grapes.

Corrales farmers take pride in their locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Nearly all the produce is advertised as organically grown.

Heirloom varieties, like this Mr. Stripey tomato, abound.

The Bosque Baking Company sells wonderful bread. The potato scallion loaf is my favorite.

Roasting green chiles is a harvest time tradition across New Mexico.

Corrales used to be famed for its orchards. Much fruit is still grown here.

Tomatoes!

For $5 you can get a huge breakfast burrito

Not just a place to buy food, the Grower’s Market is a family outing

Live music is featured every week.

At the other end of the rec center, the Hot Flashes practice their horseback drill routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaco: Peñasco Blanco

I look forward to the coyote serenade each night.  It adds to that special feeling of being at Chaco.  I am disappointed by the moon, though.  It is waning, and no longer bright enough to be confused with sunrise.  I begin to appreciate why the Chacoans developed an interest in astronomy.  Compared to city life, the sun, moon, and stars are so much more a part of life here.

Breakfast is scrambled tofu with a red bell pepper.  I find I forgot to bring an onion and also any oil.  But I have butter for oil and the onion is not missed.  Of course tofu is nothing without spices, which I brought premixed.  This is a very pretty dish with the red peppers against the yellow tofu, and as I write this I wish I had taken a picture.

One other thing I forgot to bring is a long-sleeved shirt.  Being out in the sun all day Wednesday, I have picked up a touch of sunburn, and I am afraid the bright sun will make me uncomfortable on this long hike.  However, nothing can be done for it at this time.

This is going to be a long hike, nearly 8 miles, so I decide to leave the Pentax in camp, and rely on rely on the new Panasonic point-and-shoot for any photos.  This allows me to carry my water and lunch in a Camel-back instead of water bottles stuffed in pants packets, and I can also carry a pair of binoculars.

I throw a couple extra water bottles into the panniers and ride my bike to the trail-head.  On the way I stop at the Visitor Center to see if they have any long-sleeve shirts. They don’t.  At the trail-head I fill out the back-country permit and bike the one mile to Casa Chiquita.  The trail has been realigned and the round trip to Peñasco Blanco is now 7.8 miles instead of 7.2.  No bikes are allowed past Casa Chiquita.  Casa Chiquita is unexcavated, and to my untrained eye it looks like any other unexcavated Great House, so I skip it and start walking. I can see my destination, the Great House Peñasco Blanco, up on the western horizon.

I take the Petroglyph Trail, a spur that travels at the base of the sandstone cliff.  From here I see six identified panels of rock writing.  Many of the petroglyphs are of Puebloan origin, and many others are Navajo.  The art styles are distinct, even to the method of marking the rock.  Puebloan glyphs tend to be pecked into the stone, while Navajo symbols tend to be scribed.

I follow the trail across the canyon floor to the Chaco Wash.  Ranger GB showed pictures at the Night Sky show of the wash as it was overflowing its banks just last week.  It hasn’t rained since then, and the wash is now down to a small muddy stream, but the trail is still officially closed, as it would be easy to slip and fall on the muddy bank.  A few yards upstream someone has placed a large rock in the middle of the stream and this has become the unofficial crossing.  I cross with no problem, and am walking through a thicket of greenery, so different from the brown landscape almost everywhere else.

5000 years ago a large star exploded in the constellation Taurus, and in 1054 the light of the supernova reached earth.  Chacoans were great astronomical observers, and they certainly noticed a new star that lit the night for a month, and was visible during the day.  The supernova event was during the height of the Chaco construction time period and it would make sense that they recorded the event.

I climb up out of the wash and approach the base of the cliff.  There underneath a ledge are three dark red pictographs: a hand, a crescent moon, and a star.  Taken together, these symbols can be interpreted as instructions for locating the Crab Nebula, which is the remains of the 1054 supernova.  Below the Supernova Pictograph is a fainter figure: three concentric circles.  This is interpreted by some as a depiction of Halley’s Comet, which made an appearance in 1066, only a few years after the supernova event.

So far the the trail has been fairly flat, with only a slight climb to the Supernova Pictograph.  Now I start the last 0.8 mile leg of the hike, up to the top of the West Mesa, to the Great House of Peñasco Blanco.  I pass a couple who had started early and are returning from the city.  Peñasco Blanco is where several Chacoan roads coming from the West converge; Pueblo Alto stands at the convergence of roads from the North; Pueblo Bonito is at the center.  From Peñasco Blanco I can see both of these Great Houses, even without the aid of field glasses.

It is now noon, the sun is overhead, and I am feeling yesterday’s sunburn.  I find a shady spot beside an ancient wall and have a sandwich and some trail mix for lunch.  After eating and a few minutes rest, I am ready for the 3 mile hike back to my bike.  Down by the Supernova, I meet three girls enthusing over the rock art.  Across the wash, on the way back to the Petroglyphs, I pass two men in succession, getting a late start on the hike.  By the time I reach the Petroglyph Trail, my arms and neck are prickling and my feet are dragging so I skip the spur and continue on to Casa Chiquita.

Bicycling uses a different set of muscles than walking does, so I feel better as I bike back to the trail-head.  There I find a couple having their lunch.  They speak what sounds like German among themselves, and we exchange only a couple of words.  I suck on my camel-back but nothing comes out.  Oh no!  I have drunk all my water, and I still have the bike back to the camp, in the heat of the day!  Then I remember the two bottles in the pannier.  Saved!  I shall survive this day after all!

Though it has a lower resolution than the Pentax DSLR, the Panasonic P&S camera has a more powerful telephoto lens, so I stop at the Staircase for some pictures.  I also stop at the Fajada Butte Overlook for the same reason.  Eventually I make it back to camp.  On the way a yellow VW camper van passes me.

Surprisingly, I am not especially tired upon my return, so I make a tour of the campground.  There is a Casita RV trailer parked at the far end; I want to meet the owners and ask them about the RV.  On the way I am hailed by a woman who says, “We passed you.”  She was in that yellow camper van.  We end up having an extended conversation on topics ranging from archeology, to economics, to health, to education, and more that I can’t now remember.  Christiana and her husband develop curricula for sixth graders that introduce them to soil, plants, and gardening.  They live in Albuquerque, where they do a lot of gardening.

I notice the girls are back from their tour of Pueblo Bonito so I walk over to their camp and we have ourselves a good “chin wag”.  The conversation is interrupted by their neighbor John pulling up in his truck camper.  He reverses a couple times so I walk over to see if he needs help.  He doesn’t, but offers a tour of the camper.  He’s very happy with the camper and explains lots of features he put in the truck to handle the camper safely.

Gayle and Bandhu go off to photograph Fajada Butte at ground level while Sor’a and I go to the top of the cliff to watch the sunset.  The trail closes at sunset and the Ranger yells up at us to be  “down here!” by sunset.  That admonition causes us to turn back earlier than we would have, so the photo of Fajada Butte from atop the cliff is partially obstructed by a closer cliff.

We are off the trail just at sunset, and join Gayle, Bandhu, and John (as well as everyone else camping that night – it is crowded) in the campfire circle to hear details about the next morning’s events.  First the head ranger (the one that yelled at us) explains the traffic arrangements, then Ranger GB explains the astronomical event that will occur.  GB throws in a lot of “informed speculation” about how the Chacoans may have utilized the astronomical alignments that are being found throughout Chaco.  GB emphasizes that only two facts about Chaco Canyon are known and agreed by everyone:

  1. A thousand years ago there were people here.
  2. They built large buildings.

Ranger GB is answering many questions about ancient astronomical alignments, but I have heard most of the answers at the Night Sky program on archeoastronomy.  We call it a night.  Gates to the park open at 5:45; we agree to carpool at 6:00.

 

Chaco: Penasco Blanco at EveryTrail
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Paseo de Bosque: Alameda to Montaño

This was another after-work bike ride along the Paseo de Bosque, a paved multi-use trail along the east bank of the Rio Grande.  I took the opportunity to explore some side paths at the northern end of the trail.

One can cross under Alameda Boulevard from the parking area on the south to the north of the road. Note the pedestrian bridge across the drainage ditch that can be seen under the Alameda motor bridge.

I started at the Alameda Open Space parking area off Alameda Boulevard.  This is the northern terminus of the Paseo de Bosque.  However, the trail does continue under Alameda Boulevard.  On the north side of Alameda, one can continue north along the levee road, or cross the Rio Grande on the pedestrian bridge and continue north on the Corrales Bosque Trail.

This picnic area, north of Alameda, between the drainage ditch and the river, is often used for family outings.

From the parking area a spur leads past a constructed wetlands to Rio Grande Boulevard, where Bruce Papitto’s sculpture “The Bell Keepers” is located.  Also, the parking area connects to Alameda Boulevard, which has a wide bike path along the shoulder.

Normally, the wetlands is off limits (except to wildlife), but today the gate on the backside was open, so I was able to explore within the wetlands area.

At the intersection of Alameda and Rio Grande Boulevard, is a sculpture by Bruce Popitto representing the rescue of a bell from a flooded church in Spanish colonial Alameda.

Paseo de Bosque itself goes south from the parking area.  Today I passed under Paseo del Norte and continued on to Montaño Boulevard.  Both of these major roads have underpasses so foot/bike/skate traffic on Paseo de Bosque will not be endangered by motor traffic on Paseo del Norte or Montaño.

Many un-maintained trails branch off the paved trail.  I took one of these, a 2-track that went to and followed an older levee.  This older levee may have been constructed by debris and silt captured by fields of jetty jacks.

A fine evening adventure was brought to an end by fading light.

Whether by design or negligence, the gate to the wetlands was open. I was able to explore the service road and photograph these mallards through a break in the surrounding vegetation.

Paseo de Bosque crosses the drainage ditch and ascends the levee. Most of the length of the trail is along the top of the levee. Drainage ditches were built on both sides of the river so the wetlands (aka "swamp") could be put to productive agricultural use.

"Jetty jacks" were used for flood control before the dams upstream of Albuquerque were built. These metal structures, seen to the right in the photograph, were anchored by steel cables, and would trap debris and silt when the river flooded. Fairly quickly a levee would form , serving to constrain the river to its channel. Today dams regulate water flow in the Rio Grande, and the jetty jacks are no longer needed.

An underpass provides safe passage for crossing Paseo del Norte.

Another underpass provides safe passage across Montano.

At intervals along the trail, benches are provided for weary travelers.

Adventure Maps

Paseo de Bosque: Alameda to Montaño at EveryTrail
EveryTrail – Find the best Hiking near Albuquerque, New Mexico

Not much elevation change when biking along the river.

Pueblo Montaño at Sunset

I had heard of Pueblo Montaño, a park where there are supposed to be chainsaw sculptures, created from Cottonwoods killed during a wildfire.  However, I had never been there, and was not exactly sure where it was located.  I took this opportunity to go on a bike ride along the Rio Grande, looking for the place.

I found Pueblo Montaño just at sunset.

I knew the wildfire had been in the bosque along the river.  Also that it was near Montaño Boulevard.  In fact I had seen the burned-out forest as I drove across the Rio Grande on Montaño Boulevard.  However, I had never seen a park with chainsaw sculptures. As well as looking for Pueblo Montaño, I was exploring the trails along the river.  Because this ride was in the evening, I did not stop to take any pictures along the trail, wanting to use the available light to find the carvings.

Trees that had died as a result of the wildfire were left standing in place, and carved into amazing sculptures by local artists.

The gate to the Open Space Visitor Center was closed, so I parked in a church parking lot next door.  I then hopped on my bike and crossed the Corrales Main Drain to get on the levee road on the west bank of the river.  From there it was a straight shot to Montaño Boulevard.  A sign warned against crossing the busy road, and directed me east, into the woods.  The bosque had obviously suffered from fire here, and I was hopeful to find the alleged sculptures.  I followed a single-track all the way to the river, without discovering my goal.

One of the firefighters is also an artist. He carved this sculpture of a firefighter with his foot on the head of the fire dragon.

Retracing my path, I noticed a single-track heading under the Montaño bridge.  This path took me to the south side of Montaño, where it eventually joined a paved trail running beside the road.  I knew Coors Boulevard was not far to the west, and determined to explore this trail at least that far.

Just before the Montaño/Coors intersection, I found the Pueblo Montaño trailhead.  I took a few pictures as the sun was setting, and started exploring the levee road to the south.  But the lateness of the hour helped me decide to cut my explorations short and return.  This being late August, it did not get very dark immediately, but I did use lights on the return trip.

Adventure Maps

Click on this link Pueblo Montaño at Sunset at EveryTrail to see a larger map. Then select Satellite, go to the highest resolution, and see if you can pick out the carved trees.

EveryTrail – Find the best Hiking near Albuquerque, New Mexico

It was a pretty flat ride.

Open Space Visitor Center

Just south of Paseo del Norte and west of the Rio Grande is this portion of the Albuquerque Open Space. It is currently fenced off as a wildlife refuge. The parking area provides easy access to the Paseo del Norte bike path.

Richard had a driving lesson this Sunday morning.  I spent the couple hours in a pleasant bike ride along the Rio Grande.  I had heard of the Albuquerque Open Space Visitor Center and decided to try to locate it on this trip.

There are levees on both banks of the river, with an access road on top. I turned off the Paseo bike path onto the levee road along the west bank.

Richard’s driving lesson was at a storefront in a shopping center on Coors Boulevard, near Paseo del Norte.  So it was not a far drive to park next to a wildlife preserve off of Paseo that connected to the Paseo bike path.  The parking area was nearly full, as many people were enjoying the outdoors.

Paralleling the river is the Corrales Main Drain. I had to cross the Drain to the west and then double back north to reach the Visitor Center.

This day I elected to take the levee road on the west side of the Rio Grande River.  The levee road is popular with bikers, hikers, dog walkers, and joggers, all of whom were out in force.  Nice views of the bosque on my left, and horse farms on my right made for a pleasant ride.  I followed the levee road nearly to Montaño Boulevard, where I met two gentlemen walking a dog.  They had brochures describing the sculptures at Pueblo Montaño.  They pointed me toward the Open Space Visitor Center.

The trail entrance to the Open Space Vistor Center is at the end of this coyote fence.

To get to the Visitor Center from the levee road, one must first cross a drainage ditch and then backtrack north to the Center.  The path is not clearly marked and I took the wrong turn at first.  When I eventually I did find the Center, I was pleasantly surprised.  The Open Space Visitor Center has a beautiful courtyard that was in use for a yoga class.  Indoors is room for an art gallery that displays work of local artists, and a lecture hall.  Outdoors is a large field that will attract Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes in the winter.  An observation deck extends out over the field.  I saw an observation platform rising from the top of the Center building, but did not have a chance to use it.  A Spanish colonial garden completes the outdoor area.



"Arbor de la Vida" is located on the east (river) side of the Center. The sculpture is carved from a dead tree that was left in place.



Sandhill Cranes grace the top of the "Arbor de la Vida" sculpture.



Another "chainsaw" sculpture is located on the west side of the Center, next to the parking lot.

The Visitor Center had samples of solar dye displayed. Here is a yellow dye made from Saltbush.

There are a couple “chainsaw sculptures” on the grounds.  With the level of detail in these sculptures, I’m sure a chainsaw was not the only tool used.  These sculptures are carved from dead trees, probably Cottonwoods, that are left in place in the ground.  Very impressive.

A yoga class was in session in the courtyard of the Visitor Center.

Examples of a Hunter-Gatherer Garden and a Spanish Garden were displayed outside the courtyard. Here an olla serves as an automatic watering system in the Spanish garden. The unglazed clay pot is filled with water, which soaks to the soil, watering the plant.

I took this picture from the observation deck that extends out into the field on the east side of the Center. Note the observation deck on the roof of the Center.

Too soon it was time to leave in order to pick up Richard from his driving class. The return trip followed the same path as outbound, just at a faster clip.

On the north side of the Visitor Center, along the automobile access road, is a marsh and duck pond.

Adventure Maps

Albuquerque Open Space Visitor Center at EveryTrail

EveryTrail – Find the best Hiking near Albuquerque, New Mexico

Since the trail was along the levee beside the river, this trip was nearly flat.