Monday, May 28, 2012
Hidden away in the Mogollon Mountains in New Mexico is one of the stateís premier ghost towns. The ďalmostĒ ghost town of Mogollon was once a bustling little town where they mined for gold and silver. Today just a few residents and store owners remain to greet scores of tourists who flock there during the summer to get a taste of the rich history of the town. There is a mixture of old buildings having seen their better days alongside other buildings and old homes that some of the die hard residents have preserved.
Having stopped there last month on my trip to New Mexico, we walked through the old cemetery perched on top of the mountain. It was sad to see how young most of those buried there had been at their death. There were graves that were elaborately decorated while others were simply unmarked mounds of stones whose occupants have long since been forgotten.
The entrance gate to the Mogollon Cemetery
After leaving the cemetery, I had my sister drop me off at the end of town. I wanted to be able to walk down the street to be sure I saw everything that I could. Aside from the sound of some birds, it was eerily quiet; tourist season would be starting in May. As I stopped to take a picture of the old general store, I was startled by a deep voice calling out to me. It was a friendly ďHow you doiní todayĒ question from an older gentleman I hadnít noticed before. He was sitting on the porch of his old house next to the general store. I stopped and we talked for a few minutes about the town. It was very obvious he was proud of his town, and why not? It was a fascinating place in a beautiful setting. After a few minutes we said our good-byes and he told me to be sure to come back sometime. I hope I can.
This one has definitely seen its better days.
Old mining cars
Old Mogollon Theatre
Main Street in Mogollon
Today, however, Mogollon, New Mexico is facing possible destruction. Iíve been watching and reading for days as the Whitewater-Baldy forest fire in New Mexico continues to grow and is inching ever closer to the tiny town of Mogollon. As of this morning, the fire had grown to 112,000 acres and was within 2 miles of Mogollon. The few residents that call the town home have been forced to leave. The remoteness of the area, dry conditions and low humidity only makes fighting the fire harder, and some vacation homes from a nearby community have already been lost.
I think about the nice man I met in town and all the other residents and hope that their homes are spared. The destruction of this town would not only be devastating to the residents, but to all of us. The area is so rich in history that I canít even imagine it being wiped away. Iím just praying that God will spare Mogollon and the surrounding area from the ravages of this monster fire. My thoughts and prayers are with the residents of Mogollon and everyone else in the path of this fire.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
About once a year I spend a few days cleaning out our large shed that sits a couple hundred feet behind our house. It always amazes me how quickly so much junk can accumulate in this shed that sees so little use. Of course this year was no different. I walked down there a few weeks ago and saw a number of items that I did not recognize, apparently deposited there by unknown family, friends or critters and then forgotten. There was also the usual six to twelve inches of dead leaves that the winter winds always push straight into this open front building partially hiding the contents that have been so carefully placed there for safekeeping, only to be found later wet and ruined. I looked at the mess in dismay and decided that since this was my long weekend off work and they were calling for nice weather, this would be the weekend to tackle the task of cleaning and reorganizing. Not only would it again look better (at least for a while), but I would also get in some serious exercise.
I spent the last two days cleaning out our shed, sweeping out leaves, moving items around, sweeping out leaves, throwing away garbage, and sweeping out leaves (yes, there was a little breeze that was determined to keep pushing the leaves back into the shed). All the while, I was watching carefully all around me as two years ago I had come across a copperhead snake and was hoping to avoid a repeat of that scene. All seemed to be going well.
Around lunch time my sonís girlfriend came by, heard Thor inside the house and decided to bring him down to the shed to us. She was walking around talking to me and watching Thor when she spotted a wooden bird house that Tommy had nailed to a post down there many years ago. Now for whatever reason, I had never seen any birds use that little house, instead preferring the hanging baskets on my front porch. She walked over for a closer look, stopped in her tracks, and then asked me, ďWhatís wrong with this picture?Ē I went over for a look and to my amazement saw the head of a black snake poking out the round hole in the front. After seeing us, he popped back down inside the wooden box.
I ran to the house to retrieve my camera and then this snake and I spent the rest of the afternoon playing a game of cat and mouse (or should I say human and snake) with me determined to get some pictures of him/her. I had to wait quietly and patiently nearby for the head to appear in the little hole, but I was finally able to get a shot of it peeking out at me.
As the afternoon wore on, I was able to get a lot more pictures of the snake looking out and then retreating back into the bird house.
It appears that he/she has claimed this little house as its own. This certainly explains the absence of birds in my shed!
While Iím not a huge fan of snakes, Iím just happy that my resident snake is this one and no longer a copperhead. All in all it was actually a fun afternoon. Watching the black snake and trying to get the occasional picture almost made me forget that I was working at getting my shed cleaned out and exercising also. Iím happy to report that my work is done and tomorrow will truly be a day of rest!
I hope everyone is having a great weekend!
Thursday, May 03, 2012
While the trees are all budding out and the flowers are blooming, the birds are also busy building their nests and bringing their little broods into the world. This is true at my house also, and for some reason the birds seem to love one of my begonia baskets in particular, the one that hangs the closest to my front door.
Every fall I put my hanging baskets in my basement and work to keep them alive through the winter. I've kept my begonia baskets alive for the last three years, hanging them back out front each spring. And each spring I can count on the little wrens immediately heading for the one closest to my front door. They work hard building their little nest while I try to stand on my step ladder and carefully add water around the nest to keep the plants alive during the heat without getting water on the nests. The truth is, it's almost harder to keep them alive in the summer when they have nests in them then it is to keep them alive through the winter in the basement.
Anyway, while I was away on vacation the wrens were busy at work on their first nest of the year (there are usually two to three nests in my basket each year). I looked in the basket two days ago and saw three tiny babies, their little eyes not yet even open.
This picture was taken two days ago (5/1). They were just little puff balls and their eyes were still closed. Momma bird flies to the nearby tree and fusses each time I get up on the stepladder to take pics or to water the plant, so I try to make it quick so as not to upset her too much.
This picture was taken this evening. You can now clearly see there are five babies and, although you can't see it in this picture, their eyes are now open.
I'll take another picture in a couple days and share it. I'm trying to find a way to mount my tiny camcorder near the basket and see if I can record Momma taking care of them, but not yet sure how I'm going to do this.
Anyway, update on my baby bird watch in a couple of days.
Hope everyone has a great weekend!
Sunday, April 29, 2012
So vacation has come and gone. We had a great time, but as usual some of our plans changed along the way. If Iíve learned nothing else over the years, Iíve learned to be flexible. Actually, we did do most of what we planned, but the last few days involved a hamstring strain (not mine) and much colder temperatures at night that my sister wasnít completely prepared for. So, we decided to get to a lower elevation after two nights of freezing temperatures and take in some different sights.
The first few days we camped and hiked near Three Rivers, New Mexico and Oro Grande and then also visited White Sands.
Sunrise at Three Rivers
Hiking near Alamogordo, NM
Sunset at White Sands
Sunset at White Sands
Ocotillo Cactus blooming near Alamogordo, NM
After that, we headed up into the Gila Wilderness where we camped at Lake Roberts a few nights and hiked during the day. We also hiked the trail to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and they were spectacular!
Gila Cliff Dwellings
Gila Cliff Dwellings
Sunset at Lake Roberts
Our tents at night
This turkey vulture decided to display his wings for me.
The weather was beautiful during the day, but the night time temperatures were around 30 degrees. I stayed pretty warm in my small tent and sleeping bag, but my sister was having some real issues staying warm. For that reason, we decided to stay in a cabin the last two nights and visited the VLA (Very Large Array) near Datil, New Mexico and then Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge. Neither were in our plans, but they were both awesome.
VLA (Very Large Array)
Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge
And, I must post my favorite picture from the trip. We stopped in Silver City, New Mexico to get gas and in rolled a couple on their motorcycle with their little girl "Sadie" who was riding in a sidecar. I had to get a picture of her with her own seat belt and goggles. She was the happiest biker I've ever seen.
Sadie in her own sidecar!
All in all, it was a great trip, but I also missed all my boys at home. As much fun as it was, itís good to be back with my family and back to my own bed. Now time to get back to my workout routine and tracking my food again.
Hope everyone has a great week!
Monday, April 09, 2012
I was lucky enough to have Easter fall on my long weekend off, so Tommy and I decided to spend the weekend at my uncleís mountain home. We planned to go bike riding on the Virginia Creeper Trail, which has long been one of our favorite activities.
With my best friend being on spring break (sheís a teacher), we decided to invite her to go along. Alyce decided to drive up Friday evening and stay with us the next two nights. Then, Friday morning while I was finishing packing and getting ready to go, Tommy looked on Facebook and saw that one of his cousins, Janyce, was in the mountains for a few days. Since she was alone, he contacted her and asked if she wanted to come and hang out with us. She agreed and he was excited because he hadnít seen her in many years. I was happy because I had never met her before.
So off we went Friday morning for what would turn out to be quite a day. We got to the house, turned on the hot water heater, unloaded our stuff and waited for the others to arrive. The first call came from Alyce who had taken a wrong turn, but we quickly got her back on track and to the house. Then the series of calls from Janyce began. She was coming from Cherokee, NC and had never been near where we were. It would have been comical had she not been so frustrated and it was getting late in the day. I was worried about her being lost on those winding back roads after dark (there is no major highway between Cherokee and West Jefferson). Fortunately, after dealing with wrong turns, dropped calls from lost cell signals, and her unplanned side trip to Roan Mountain in Tennessee (oops), we finally met her in West Jefferson at 8:30 Friday night. We had a great dinner at Genoís and then headed back to the house to relax in front of a wonderful fire.
Tommy really wanted Janyce to ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, but she was a little hesitant about bike riding 17 miles. He loves taking people on the trail for the first time and sharing in their excitement, so he finally convinced her to go. I was happy she agreed, but also a little concerned about whether or not he could make it all the way. Alyce and I decided to drop them off and go hiking instead of riding so that we could pick him up at a road crossing if he got too tired. Well, Iím happy to say that Tommy and Janyce completed the entire 17 miles and we met them at Dotís Inn in Damascus, Virginia for a late lunch. He was exhausted, but very happy, and Janyce had a great time also.
Tommy and Janyce starting down the Virginia Creeper Trail
While Tommy and Janyce were bike riding, Alyce and I got in some exercise by hiking over Backbone Ridge and along the river. Wow, it was a gorgeous day!
Trail across the top of Backbone Ridge
Hiking along the river
Dogwood blooming by the river
The trillium was also beginning to bloom. They were beautiful!
After lunch we went back to the house where Tommy slept in front of the fire for hours. It was a great weekend with great friends and lots of fun and laughter!
Tommy was tired after his ride, but very happy.
We also stopped by St. Marys Episcopal Church in West Jefferson. The chapel is so beautiful.
St. Marys Episcopal Church in West Jefferson, NC.
On a side note, while we were at Dotís Inn in Damascus, I started talking to two AT thru hikers who had just finished eating there. The AT trail goes straight through the middle of Damascus and most thru hikers will take a break there to resupply, shower, rest, etc. When I told them about my dream of thru hiking the AT someday, they started really encouraging me to go do it. When I told them I had some more pounds to lose before considering it, they laughed and told me not to worry about the weight, to just start walking and they assured me I would lose all the weight I wanted and then some. I was so excited talking to them (they had already hiked 400+ miles) that I forgot to ask them if they have trail journals and what their trail names are. But to the two young men I talked to in Damascus, thank you so very much for the words of encouragement. Someday, when the time is right, Iíll do what they said. Iíll put my pack on my back and just start walking.
I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!
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