LBJ Photography Blog
This blog features travel notes and photographs.
The Land of Enchantment
In the midst of Coronavirus, New Mexico is still the Land of Enchantment. Diversity is still key to its charm and attraction: Shoshone homage to the land before a hike; homemade Thai egg and spring rolls; Western ballads; tile painting; millions of poppies. Such a plethora of awe!
Kayla's Shoshone homage: Before a hike to Soledad Canyon, Kayla, who is ½ Shoshone, explained that any Shoshone woman going out would wear a skirt—she wore one over her tights. A Shoshone woman would also wear moccasins—she wore hiking boots. After taking out a pouch of tobacco from her backpack she asked each of us to take a pinch of it. Then, she pulled a conch shell out from which she had whittled a hole. As we turned in each of the four compass direction points, she blew the conch. A moment of silent mediation was then offered up by each of us privately, and the tobacco brought down and placed onto the earth.
Wittara's homemade Thai egg and spring rolls: A bundle of energy is Wittara. If not serving at the local soup kitchen or learning painting/woodcarving/knitting, she is cooking. Luckily for us, we are the recipients of her generosity. The egg rolls—all ingredients freshly chopped—were the best we have tasted. The spring rolls were a dish never to be seen in any Thai restaurants we frequented. Served cold each one is mixture of greens, mushrooms, carrots, cooked chopped Thai rice noodles, and meat wrapped in an edible gelatinous, clear covering similar to the texture of saran wrap.
Dan, a neighbor on our street, travels a circuit throughout the USA entertaining 3-4 year-olds with his songs. His band, featured in the day-long Pat Garrett Festival, performed his original ballads and was a huge hit.
Esperanza's tile painting: Common ordinary white ceramic tiles are transformed into ones with amazing designs by layering different-colored mixtures of acrylics, glycerin, and floetrol.
Baylor Canyon--eye candy right now with millions of tiny poppies decorating the mountainsides. A hike there is indescribably delicious!
2 weekends in a row—three big hikes! At a glance one would scan the Chihuahuan Desert and say,
“Ain't nothin' out there!” Oh, but there is SO much out there.
Hike #1, 2/15/20, Prehistoric Trackways National Monument—a second visit for us to this site within three years, and it is still just as fascinating to see history at our feet. The tracks of sea creatures identified by Colin Dunn, archaeologist, were readily visible as we walked the path within the monument. Unbeknownst to us all, there was the added entertainment of a parading off-road rally with souped-up 4-wheel drive vehicles rolling along our path; they maneuvered the path with their highly visible (and needed) shock absorbers. As bystanders we marveled their rides as similar to being inside a cement mixer or a carnival ride.
Hike #2, 2/16/20, Slot Canyon, Robledo Mts—a hike done once and never to be repeated with boulders to traverse 3 ft. high! To get to the hike, the Rio Grande River had to be traversed. Plastic bags over shoes didn't cut it. Thank goodness for extra footwear and strong arms to aid in some of the ascents. A challenge by all means!
Hike #3, 2/22/20, Lucero Wash Petroglyphs—Victory! Over the past 2+ years Lou has adopted the moniker of “Moses” because on at least ½ dozen occasions he has led varied subsets of our hiking buddies into the desert in search of the elusive Radium Springs petroglyphs—undiscovered by us until 2/22/20. Hooray to the dedicated!
February 1, 2020
Three Rivers Petroglyph Site
Third time is the charm, and yesterday's third consecutive weekend hike with our hiking buddies was “icing on the cake”. When Fred sent a photo he had snapped of Lou at work with the remark “Can't wait to see your photos”, it was obvious that more than our usual 4-5 photos had to be posted.
What a blessing our hiking buddies are! Somebody pops up with an idea for a weekend hike, sends a global text, and all of a sudden a bunch of us are exploring a new trail with many wishing to conquer the heights of the knolls, mesas, and outcroppings of rock formations. Of course, as a culmination, there is always the question, as Tom so aptly states, “I'm starved; where are we going to eat?”
January 19, 2020
Pena Blanca—our first hiking buddies' outing!
No pictures? Well, none of our own. Neither Lou nor I brought phones or cameras to record, but between all our hiking buddies, we have accumulated an anthology of the hike. At the tip of the Organ Mountains, this little gem—Pena Blanca—is tucked away in the middle of nowhere (like many hidden gems).
January 6, 2020
Off the radar until our very last overnight stay in a motel in Socorro, we glimpsed an attraction that made us stand up and take notice. About an hour out of our way to the west was the installation of a radio telescope array of 27 dish antennas in an interconnected Y-shape which sends signals back to Earth from deep space. The information is gathered and then sent to the Etscorn Observatory on the campus of NM Tech in Socorro for interpretation by astronomers from around the world. What we know about new galaxies, black holes, and other mysteries of deep space have been gleaned through a handful of installations of this type throughout the US. The VLA (Very Large Array) is in the middle of the desert far away from civilization in a bowl surrounded by a mountain range. It is an ideal location because it is dry (moisture can negatively affect the reception); there are no competing human electronic waves to interfere with reception; and the mountain “bowl” cuts off ambient distracting waves allowing the dishes to zero in on deep-space radio waves.
Lou and Bonnie Janelle (LBJ) are career professionals who are currently pursuing life-long interests in photography and digital imaging techniques, respectively.