Saturday, April 12, 2014

Albuquerque one last time

Without question, I came to New Mexico at a busy time for my friends. While I slept fitfully (no chickens!), they worked at their various tasks and obligations. In the morning, they had "to do" lists, while I had a "do nothing" mindset.

Not a problem! I have no agenda. We'll take it easy.

And we do.

After a lovely breakfast...

Albuquerque-1.jpg friend shows me how a garden might look were I attempting flower cultivation in New Mexico. Whereas in Wisconsin, my plants are lost in the profusion of abundant growth, here, each specimen is prized and labeled.


Without added water, not much would grow. With just a small trickle, you can help any number of plants survive the dry climate.

Since my friend has a lull in her schedule today, we go for a hike in Albuquerque's mountain range. Though the mountains look dry and brittle from a distance, they do have a fine pine forest at the midrange elevations.


We hiked up until our watches tell us to stop, take a picture...


...and turn back. Through the forest at first. A bit slippery on the gravel-like surface, but manageable nonetheless.


And once we emerge from the forest, we have the benefit of the desert flora: the cacti, the dainty grasses -- all of it new to me.  And maybe you'll find these to be too pale, too tame, too subtle in their presentation, but along the path, they stand out and are lovely to behold.



And now the forest recedes and the cacti and scruffy grasses take over and ... wait, what's that?!


How good are you at picking up the obvious -- that there is a snake, a large one at that (we later estimate it to be close to six feet long) making it's way through the grasses?

We freeze. I ask my friend what's the snake protocol? Do you run? Stand still?
She tells me -- I don't know, in all my years of hiking, I've never seen a snake before.

Do I bring wild dogs and snakes out of hiding??

We sidestep to the brush at the side of the path. We notice that the snake turns around and follows us across the trail.


I pause for only a second to take a photo and then we are out of there! I wont say we ran, but if you glanced our way, you'd probably admire how quickly we could move when there was a snake in our wake.

And still, I can't say that it was a disturbing encounter. The snake didn't rattle. We seemed to be faster in our getaway. There are good hospitals within spittin' distance. But more importantly, you can't help but remember the good elements of the hike. They stay with you. Views like this one:


And I think I'll leave you with that photo. We had other parts of the day still before us -- a quick little shoe shopping trip, a walk through Albuquerque's old town, a dinner downtown -- all the wonderful trimmings of a visit here. But I'll close the day with that view into the valley. It's what you'd want to remember -- a walk down the Pino trail in the Sandia Muntains of Albuquerque.

Tomorrow, way before dawn, I'll be on my way to Minneapolis.