First Bike Ride of the Season

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Our first bike ride of the season turned into an afternoon spent sitting on a bench in a trailhead parking lot waiting for Lee to bring the car and rescue me and my crippled bicycle.  That was after we had spent about 30 minutes by the side of the bike path struggling with the tire, tube and pump trying to figure out why we couldn’t get the punctured tube out of the tire and then when we finally got that accomplished why we couldn’t get the pump to lock on the presta valve.  Helpless bike mechanics like us shouldn’t be allowed out in public.

From the place where I got the flat it was a fairly short walk to a trailhead parking lot.  Given the frustrations we were experiencing trying to fix the flat, we finally decided Lee would pedal back home to get the car while I made my way to the parking lot.  Not so bad to sit on the bench in the sun once I had half pushed and half carried the bike along the dirt road to get there.  It also gave me time to study the problem some more and figure out what we were doing wrong with the pump.

The bike shop was on our way home so we stopped in and handed the bike tire over to the capable mechanic and let him fix our botched job.  That way I could also get the puncture sealant goop put in the new tube.  Going for a hike is so much easier than dealing with bicycles.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get comfortable with basic bike maintenance.  But it was an outdoor adventure on a February day that felt more like April, and for that I am most thankful.

Unlocking Nature’s Mysteries

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What is going on here?

After so many cold, wintery days it was wonderful yesterday to enjoy springlike weather with a walk on some of the nature trails in the Bosque along the Rio Grande River near our house. Besides the pleasure of being outside, we were treated to a natural phenomena that for a time had us wondering what it was that we were seeing.
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When we got out of our car in the parking lot we noticed swarms of small insects flying around us and crawling on the ground and sidewalks. It reminded me of those times when you happen to be by the water somewhere and there is a hatch of mayflies that cause the fish to jump up in a feeding frenzy. But we weren’t by the water yet at that point in our walk.

After strolling around for a mile or two on the trails along the river and through the Bosque we again began to notice the flying insect swarms. And this time we also noticed that on the soft, muddy spots of the trail there would be large groups of the insects gathered in a cluster. We bent down and looked closer and were fascinated to see that in the center of the clusters there were small holes in the ground and the winged insects were climbing out of the holes. Not only that, but there were larvae or worms crawling out of the holes, too. That’s what I captured in this video, if you have the patience to watch for a minute.

Anyway, it was fun to observe this mystery of nature. And then when we got home and did some research we think that what we were seeing was a hatching and swarming of flying ants, brought out by the sudden warming trend in the weather. Interesting to read about the behavior of ant colonies and the short-lived life cycle of the flying ants.

High Hopes

With this bitter cold January finally behind us I had high hopes that a hike on this first day of February might not feel so much like winter.  But it was not to be.  We had a couple of warmer days last week but another front had moved in by this weekend, bringing winds and colder temperatures.  At least it was high desert country hiking so there wasn’t any ice or snow to contend with.

We went on this 6.3-mile hike with a group from one of the Albuquerque senior centers. It was on BLM land, totally off any established trails. The leaders of the senior center hikes use handheld GPS devices to follow pre-recorded tracks of the hikes. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been a hike that we could have found on our own.

Greeted by a bitterly cold wind when we stepped out of the van it was time to bundle up.
Greeted by a bitterly cold wind when we stepped out of the van it was time to bundle up.

Starting out, there was some sun, but as the day progressed it became more overcast.
Starting out, there was some sun, but as the day progressed it became more overcast.
Across Hwy 550 looking southwest is another area we've hiked--a ridge visible in the distance is called Dragon's Back.
Across Hwy 550 looking southwest is another area we’ve hiked–a ridge visible in the distance is called Dragon’s Back.
Many gnarly trees hunched against the wind.
Many gnarly trees hunched against the wind.
Looking southwest towards Albuquerque, Sandia Mountains in the distance.
Looking southwest towards Albuquerque, Sandia Mountains in the distance.
Descending one of several canyons.
Descending one of several canyons.
Yellow lichen growing on rocks.
Yellow lichen growing on rocks.
Cabazon Peak to the northwest, across Hwy 550.
Cabazon Peak to the northwest, across Hwy 550.
Mesa edge view.
Mesa edge view.
A sheltered rock alcove to stop and eat lunch.
A sheltered rock alcove to stop and eat lunch.

The GPS track on Every Trail.