Giving Back to our Beloved Bosque

We have spent many enjoyable hours wandering through Albuquerque’s bosque, the riverside wooded area along both sides of the Rio Grande. Some areas of it we can walk to from our apartment, other areas that are further away we access by first driving to a parking area, and still others we enjoy as part of a bike ride. This morning we had an opportunity to put in some time working on improvements to the bosque, as part of the city’s 21st annual Dia del Rio (Day of the River) event.

The area of the bosque chosen for this year’s event is one that we pass by every time that we ride our bikes across the Rio Grande on the bike trail that parallels Paseo del Norte. We glance at it on the south side of the trail as we ride by, but we had never taken the time to walk through it. After spending the morning working there and realizing how extensive it is, I think we will walk there more often in the future.

Bike trail parallel to Paseo del Norte that we use when crossing the Rio Grande.
Bike trail parallel to Paseo del Norte that we use when crossing the Rio Grande.
View of bisque from the bike trail.
View of bosque from the bike trail.
View of the Rio Grande we see when we cross at Paseo del Norte on the bike trail.
View of the Rio Grande we see when we cross at Paseo del Norte on the bike trail.

Dia del Rio event participants had half a dozen projects to choose from, including trail maintenance, trash pickup and revegetation. I thought trash pickup would be about my speed, but with Lee’s encouragement, we joined one of the groups doing a revegetation project. The project was in an area that had been a temporary road through the bosque, but was now being replanted with native shrubs to restore it (hopefully) to its original, natural state.

Gathering at the registration booth.
Gathering at the registration booth.
Setting out the pots of shrubs.
Setting out the pots of shrubs.
Demo by city employee.
Demo by city employee.
Lee hard at work.
Lee hard at work.
Water truck made sure to give each newly-planted shrub a good first soaking.
Water truck made sure to give each newly-planted shrub a good first soaking.
A new 1/4-mile section of this trail was built as one of the projects.
A new 1/4-mile section of this trail was built as one of the projects.

Closing ceremony included a raffle.  We both had winning tickets--free entree at local restaurants.
Closing ceremony included a raffle. We each had a winning ticket–free entree at local restaurants.

The physical effort expended in this morning’s work was more than paid back to us by all that we enjoyed. And even if only one of the dozen or so shrubs that I put in the ground survives, it will have been worth it because that one shrub can grow up and reproduce many more.

Fall Colors in the Manzanos

We have had a stretch of warm, sunny days that, according to the weather forecast, is going to be coming to an end in the next day or so. To take advantage of the nice weather today we took a hike in the Manzano Mountains, about 50 miles southeast of Albuquerque. It was perfect weather for hiking and the fall colors added to the beauty of the views.

Trail in Manzano Mountains
Trail in Manzano Mountains
Start of hike.
Start of hike.
Trail towards ridge.
Trail towards ridge.
Looking southeast from ridge trail.
Looking southeast from ridge trail.
Looking northeast from trail up to ridge.
Looking northeast from trail up to ridge.
Looking to the west from the ridge.
Looking to the west from the ridge.
Below the ridge trail
Below the ridge trail
Ponderosa Pine
Ponderosa Pine
Red Maples
Red Maples
Red maples.
Red Maples.

When Wishes Come True

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One of the unique, exciting activities that we look forward to here in Albuquerque is the 9-day annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. There are activities day and night during the fiesta, and we couldn’t possibly attend all of them. But my favorite is to be on the launch field in the morning as the hundreds of balloons begin inflating and start the process of launching, while first light is just beginning to break over the Sandia Mountains.

Weather conditions aren’t always favorable and we have experienced the disappointment of seeing them inflate, but then not launch because of high winds in the upper air. This year, though, I was not disappointed. Both days that I was on the field, the weather was perfect and the 500+ balloons drifted upwards and filled the skies above.

Thursday when I was there it was a Special Shapes Rodeo, which is an opportunity to see some quite imaginative shapes and unbelievably large balloons.

Special Shapes Rodeo Photos

On Saturday, the semi-cloudy weather from earlier in the week had cleared out and our gorgeous New Mexico blue skies formed the backdrop for the launch.

Saturday Balloon Photos

Today is the last day of the festival, but there’s always next year to look forward to when they will be back again!

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Yesterday I wanted to go for a hike in the nearby Manzano Mountains to an area that has some red maple trees. This is the time of the year when we begin to see fall colors in the mountains. Most of our colors are yellows and golds from aspen and cottonwoods. To be able to see the red maples is a special treat. But Mother Nature, in the form of a rainy day, was not cooperative. We wouldn’t have minded hiking in a bit of rain, but when we saw the muddy conditions of the dirt road that leads to the trailhead, we realized it was not a good idea to try and drive our car further up the road.

But, like the Rolling Stones sang:

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need

We backed out of the dirt road, got on the highway again, and continued home a different way. Lee had always wanted to see Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument and it would be on our way with this alternate route back to Albuquerque. We stopped at the Visitor Center in Mountainair and watched an informative film about the 3 different pueblo ruin sites in the Salinas Valley. We then drove on to the site at Abo and walked through the ruins there. The sun peeked through the clouds for a short bit and we enjoyed our lunch at the picnic area.

Ruins at Abo. This was a Catholic church built by Spanish priests who built a mission at the pueblo in the 1600s.
Ruins at Abo. This was a Catholic church built in the 1600s by Spanish priests who came to the pueblo.

The next four pictures were taken on a hike last week in the Sandias to view the changing colors. The aspens were beautiful at Del Agua Overlook and along the Survey Trail.
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As another example of not getting what you want, I was disappointed Saturday morning when I couldn’t go to the opening day festivities of the 2015 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. But then this morning I was sitting in my recliner enjoying a cup of tea when a hot air balloon swept into view, preparing to land in the field behind our apartment. I jumped up and went out on the balcony where I had a prime viewing spot to watch four more balloons land in the field.
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Watching the balloons land is fun, but it’s nothing compared to the thrill of being out on the field when they launch, especially for the Special Shapes on Thursday or the Mass Ascensions on Saturday and Sunday. Those are what I really need to see and the week isn’t over yet so I’m hoping I’ll get what I want before it is.