Category Archives: Outdoor Adventure

3,2,1…Lift-off!

3,2,1...Liftoff!

Now that the weather is getting warmer we have been wanting to spend more time outside.  We have picked up a new hobby that allows our family to do the majority of the work inside and the best part outside.  What is this new found fun we have been enjoying?  Rocket launching!  It is a lot of fun to build and paint these and have a launch party with some of your favorite kiddos.  You can buy these relatively inexpensive kits at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s.  The kit we bought costs about $30.00 and included 2 rockets, a launching pad and an ignitor.  Plus we bought the engines ( 13.00 for 3 of them).

making sure we followed the directions properly before our launch

Hint:  If you sign up for Michael’s email you automatically get a 50% off one item coupon.  We used it to buy a pack of 24 engines.  So instead of paying $80.00 for them we paid $40.00.  There is also a 50% off coupon in the entertainment book.

Once you buy the kit with the launch pad you only have to buy the rockets which cost anywhere from $7.99-$16.99.  The rockets vary in size and the height that they will launch.  For instance, we have a rocket that launches 1,200 feet up and another that launches 500 feet up.

Are you asking yourself, where do we have all of this fun?  Well, we launch at the West Mesa Open Space and for the rockets that don’t launch so high we light in my parents pasture.  We have rounded up a few kids and parents from my son’s school and the boys have a blast.  Their favorite part is racing to retrieve the rockets after they launch.  Happy lift-off!

S

the race to the rocket

Finally Tried SUPing!

SUP is short for stand up paddle board.  I’ve wanted to try it for about a year and a few weeks ago I finally got my chance.  I’d read that it takes balance and core strength.  It did!  It was supposed to be relaxing, invigorating, and mind-clearing all at the same time.  It was!

I took a lesson from a tour company in Honolulu on Waikiki Beach.  We started in a lagoon where I tested my balance and got the hang of maneuvering the board and paddle.  In these calm waters I practiced moving around on the board – swaying back and forth, changing direction, going fast and slowing down.  On the advice of the tour guide I even practiced falling.  In those parts, the advice was to fall flat (as in flat on your back) to avoid injury by coral – kinda scary but the advice paid off once we got into the ocean.

Practicing in the lagoon.

It was a bit windy but we headed out into the ocean nonetheless.  I was really anxious to move out of the lagoon and test my skills in the open water.  We started out on our knees to get past a breaker of coral and out into the ocean.  The water was choppy and required a good bit of focus so at first I wasn’t looking anywhere but down.  Our guide assured us that he’d keep us away from the waves and just glide along the coast for a nice tour of Waikiki from a unique perspective.  While this sounded like a good plan initially, I watched as other SUPers paddled out and rode the waves like surfers.  How could I resist?!  I told the guide I definitely wanted to try my hand at catching a wave.

We paddled out to where the waves were breaking.  The thought of falling on the coral made me nervous and, as with most things in life, the anxiety of it was worse than actually falling.  I needed to get my first fall over and done with so I could get on with SUPing.  I didn’t have to wait long.  In trying to catch my first wave, I promptly fell and followed the guide’s advice to fall flat.  Literally, a wave of exhilaration had washed over me.  With a silly grin on my face, I took to the paddle board again.  All it took was one more wave and I fell again.  I pulled myself back on to the board and at that point I knew I was going to get this.  I looked down and noticed a few scratches on my foot, no biggie, I just needed to remember not to kick when trying to right myself in the water.

After those first two falls, the SUPing was sweet.  I caught waves and rode them until they gave out on me.  The waves were not big, but it was a major accomplishment for me and I loved every minute of it.

This SUPing adventure was exciting, but I got the peaceful part too.  We paddled around and saw sea turtles swimming beneath our boards.  Very cool.

Did I mention T was watching Baby Girl on the beach?  It was not easy to leave her, but I’m learning that a happy momma makes a happy baby.

I really enjoy (endorphins anyone?) using my body to accomplish some physical feat (i.e. an act of skill, endurance, and strength).  SUPing fits the bill.  Of course, the views of the ocean, beach, and mountains were pretty nice too.

Just messing around a bit in the calm waters. If the water is flat, it's a fun challenge to try some yoga.

This is all well and good, but how about SUPing in New Mexico?  Lucky for us, there is such an opportunity.  SouthWest Windsports in Albuquerque provides lessons and equipment for SUPing.  Check them out on Facebook or  http://www.windsurfnm.com.  Just about any body of water can be used for SUPing so I think I’ll try cruising down the Rio Grande next – the Sandias are a marvelous sight too.

Happy Easter everyone!  If you need some Easter ideas, visit our posts from last year, here and here.

~R

The Petrified Forest National Park: Part II The Painted Desert

some of the spectacular scenes from the Painted Desert

Visiting the Petrified National Park was fun and it was neat to see huge forest trees in the middle of the desert.  About half way through this park there is another scenic area of badlands, mesas, and buttes called the Painted Desert.  It reminds me of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting because the colors are just amazing.  When I think of a desert landscape I think of brown barren land that is boring and desolate.  The Painted Desert is nothing like this.  It is vibrant, beautiful and full of life.  The colors range from yellow, orange and red to purple, gray and black.

I wish the sky would have been blue this day to make my photos perfect, but you get the idea of the landscape.  I love seeing how all of the different minerals were laid down over time.  This place was like no place I have seen before.  One of my favorite scenes was the Teepees (see below), a cluster of teepee shaped badlands that protrude out of the landscape.  All of these are different but similar at the same time.  I have a new found appreciation for the desert landscape.

The Painted Desert Teepees

Other places to visit inside the Petrified National Park…

Painted Desert Visitor Center and Park Headquarters
Latitude: 35.06543746738773
Longitude: -109.78153824806213

Rainbow Forest Museum
Latitude: 34.81517743163217
Longitude: -109.86576497554779

Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark
Latitude: 35.08343319608185
Longitude: -109.78861391544342

Do you have a favorite place like this you would like to share?

S

Grow Some and Hunt Some

We’re not great farmers, but we like to try.  Our backyard has a couple of raised planters where we grow a variety of vegetables like obligatory tomatoes, mesclun, carrots, kale, peppers, turnips, etc.  Despite our efforts, if we were only farmers, we’d starve.  So we supplement our produce with Los Poblanos harvest boxes

Mountain Views in the Carson National Forest

Alas, we are not vegetarian.  We like our bacon, grilled ribeye, and roasted chicken too.  Which brings me to T’s weekend adventures this fall:  hunting.  Unfortunately for me, he won’t be hunting pigs, cows, or chickens.  He and his brother hunt deer near Magdalena in southern New Mexico with a muzzleloader and elk in San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado.  It’s taken some time for me to acquire a taste for elk.  When we first got married, he insisted elk was good stuff and also very economical because he could hunt it and therefore we didn’t have to buy expensive meat from the grocery store.  I was not convinced.  I didn’t care for it at all, which did not please T.  Over the years, I’ve adjusted and now I do enjoy certain cuts – the good stuff – like elk tenderloin.  I’m still not crazy about ground elk, but I can hide it well in stew or a bowl of green chile and beans.

Surveying the Landscape for Deer

I’ve never hunted anything other than fish, but I guess that that’s fishing.  T really loves it.  He gets to get out town with his brother and hike around the forest enjoying the outdoors, all with the very primal purpose of acquiring food for his family.

Carson National Forest in Southern New Mexico

So for T, hunting satisfies all sorts of needs, namely providing food and connecting to the beautiful outdoors.  Does anyone in your family hunt?

The Very Large Array is in view - it's a small white patch near the top of this photo.

~

They did see elk and doe, but no bucks.

~R

mountain biking trails in Angel Fire New Mexico

the changing seasons during my mountain biking adventure in Angel Fire NM

I have really started to love trail riding.  The extent of my experience on these trails has only been on the Bosque.  I love the winding trails and it is nice that it is flat so I can go further.     A few weekends ago I decided to challenge myself.

 My brother and sister-in-law are hardcore mountain bikers.  They invited me along on a few of their favorite trails in Angel Fire New Mexico (that is where they live).   I was a little nervous for two reasons.  One- I wasn’t sure how my body would do with the altitude change.  We would start at 9,000 feet and ascend up to 10,0000 feet.  Two-  I was unsure how I was going to ride up hill and down hill on rocks.  The thought of it made me question my athletic ability and doubt my skills on a bike.

We started on Daniela’s trail and straight up we went for about half a mile.  Then we turned onto Kevin’s trail.  My family thought I was doing so well that we extended our trip to Ho Chi Minh Trail and ended up coming down at Niko’s Trail near the girl scout camp.  There were big rocks to maneuver along with some small logs but my brother-in-law gave me some advice, “ride over them and don’t look down.”  It turned out to be the best advice because that is exactly what I did.  I think that if I would have thought about how I was going to get down I would have gotten off my bike and walked.  Since he is the expert, I thought I would follow his lead and I am happy to say that he was right!  The ride itself took about two hours and it was adrenaline rushing, hard work and very adventurous.  I’m not going to lie, most of the time riding down steep rock covered banks I just kept saying in to myself, “oh, sh%$, or sh^%, oh sh#@.”

My balance was great and I didn’t crash once, a personal record for me.  I usually crash once every time I trail ride.  Over all, we rode seven miles and gained a thousand feet of elevation.  At my highest point we were at 10,230 feet.  After the ride I was so exhausted from the ride and the elevation difference between ABQ and Angel Fire is significant.  Our elevation here in ABQ is about 5,000 feet.  Where they live is about  9,000 and our ride was upward of 10,0000 feet.  I was out of breath at the top of each mountain and guzzled down water like never before.  Overall, the adventure was great and I highly recommend getting out of your comfort zone.  What have you done lately to get out of your comfort zone?

S


Gila River Festival – Wild and Free!

Have you ever been to the Gila National forest?  Well, the Gila River Festival is a wonderful reason to go if you have never experienced it.  The Gila river happens to be the last free-flowing river  in New Mexico and is home to a large number of different breeding birds, reptiles and other wild life.  The wild life is abundant and it is also nice to support local tourism.  There are numerous activities going on for the this festival.  Here are a few that I thought were interesting.  Click on any of the activities below for more information.

1.  Fish Tales

Can’t tell a spikedace from a longfin dace? Join fish biologist Dr. David Propst for a morning field trip to the Gila River at the biologically diverse Gila Bird Area, where participants will learn to electrofish, seine, and identify fish. Expect to capture and release native species such as longfin dace, desert sucker, and Sonora sucker, as well as threatened spikedace and loach minnow. You’ll also collect several nonnative species. Propst will discuss the life histories, habitat preferences and New Mexico distribution of each species, current status, and ongoing conservation efforts. He’ll talk about threats to their survival, including the impact of a Gila River diversion on our native fish populations. 

2.  Save for a rainy day

Learn how to capture rainwater to capitalize on our infrequent rain events. Local rainwater harvester Van Clothier will lead a tour of successful water harvesting projects in Silver City. See how water harvesting berms, curb cuts, and bore holes redirect street runoff to garden spaces. Tour projects where basins and other low-tech landscaping techniques cause roof runoff to soak into the ground. Learn how you can take advantage of rainfall to water your trees or garden, while conserving water and protecting the urban watershed from flooding and water quality problems. Everyone benefits from water harvesting!

Who says water and energy conservation aren’t related? Learn about the “water-energy nexus” and take a virtual home tour of how to incorporate water and energy savings in lovely and creative ways. Presenter Denise Smith will show how everyone can harvest the low-hanging fruit with low-cost, easy-to-install retrofits. Discover your home’s water footprint, in direct water consumption and also in hidden water usage embedded in common products. After Denise whets your appetite for water and energy savings, she’ll move on to inspire more beautiful dreams for green homes.

Gila River Festival

When?  September 15-18, 2011
Where? Silver City, New Mexico
S

Mt. Taylor and the Continental Divide Trail

campsite near San Mateo Springs

My husband is an avid camper and backpacker.  He went out for a weekend to get away and explore a place he has never visited.  He ended up near Mt. Taylor.  Mt. Taylor is located northwest of Grants New Mexico and is one of the nations most endangered mountain ranges.  There he discovered huge mountain ranges that peak at over 11,000 feet.  The particular campsite that he found did not have a formal name but was near the San Mateo Springs.   So, he set up camp and his new hammock and enjoyed the cool 79 degree weather.  Gosh, I was wishing I was with him when the temperatures in Albuquerque were at 96 degrees!

 The first day they spent exploring and hiking near their campsite and taking in the fresh air that always smells so sweet to me in the mountains.  The campsite was hilly which makes it easy to hike and navigate.  The area was green and overcast most of the day which made hiking even more enjoyable.  The second day they ventured to the Continental Divide Trail.

Continental Divide Trailhead

This trail is over 770 miles long in the state of New Mexico alone and continues into Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.  This trail is very universal as you can hike or bike it.  I hope you have a chance to stop by and see this area of New Mexico.  Mt. Taylor is a beautiful place!

S

flowers that were found on the hike

The Rio Puerco

Canyon

My father-in-law has a particular fondness of the desert.  He loves the colors of the landscape and has done a wonderful job of helping us appreciate the harsh landscape of the southwest.  We get on back country roads and always end up at the same place.   The land has a breathtaking quiet voice to it and I think that is what he loves about it. One particular place my father-in-law, A, and my son like to frequent is the Rio Puerco.  I have no idea how he found this place but my son gets so excited when the word is mentioned…. I will tell you why in just a moment.   The drive is about 40 minutes from Albuquerque.  We take I-40 West and exit 140 (where the Route 66 Casino is).   Instead of going to the Casino you head north.  You follow the dirt road about 12-15 miles and you end up at what seems like the middle of no where.    (If you want more detailed directions email us.)  We get out and hike around and explore the landscape.  We have found rattlesnakes, shark tooth fossils, and neat canyons and caves.    That is right, I said shark tooth fossils!  If you find them you can’t keep them, you have to  leave them there.  The law states so….. That is what is so special to my son when we go.  The hunt for finding the shark teeth!

shark teeth

S

Lower Hermosa Trail

Because every forest in New Mexico has been closed most of the summer due to fires, we have gotten our camping ‘fix’ in nearby Colorado.  One weekend we packed up the family and headed north to Durango.

the view from our hike at Lower Hermosa Trail

We stopped and set up camp at the Lower Hermosa Creek Trail.  It is about 14 miles northwest of Durango and is a free 20 site camping area.  It has bathrooms and is the perfect mid-point to the town of Durango, Purgatory, or Silverton.  We stopped and hiked at many different places on our trip.  One such place is called Cascade Creek Falls.

the start of Cascade Creek Falls

This is a steep trail for about 200 yards and then you hike in the water the rest of the way.  The water is cold and refreshing and you get to cliff  jump your way down a series of about 8 cliffs to the bottom.

the first jump into our hike

It was a lot of fun but we had to leave my son with my in-laws as he was too little to hike the entire trail.  He did the first part of it to the first cliff and that was all.  The jumps were about 6 feet except for the last one.  That one was about 10 feet.  There was also a ‘rock slide’ you had to go down which was a lot of fun.  Cascade Creek is about 2 miles north of Purgatory Ski Resort.  You can’t miss it, it is right along a giant curve.  One note of caution I would like to mention is that once you jump off of the first cliff you have to continue and make the commitment to finish.  There is no going back at that point because the canyon is steep and there isn’t a trail until you get to finish.

Pinkerman Springs

Another stop we made was at Pinkerman hot springs.  This amazing site is along the highway up to Cascade Creek.  The water is warm and smells a little like Iron.  Hence, the color of the rock.  We stopped there because there was a geo-cache hidden near there.  We had a great time exploring new places we had not been before.

Happy Hiking!

S

Durango Colorado

I had never been to little town of Durango Colorado.  I know, crazy right?  We decided to head out of town for the weekend.  I have heard so many wonderful things about Durango and I wanted to experience it for myself.  We packed up the family and headed out.  We arrived about 4 hours later to this quaint little town.  There is a lot to do here in the summer time.  We walked all over downtown and made a few wonderful stops.

Strater Hotel

We visited the Strater Hotel.  It was like going back in time and my son loved getting into the old wooden phone booths after we explained what they were :)  This hotel was built in 1887 and still has most of its original charm.  It was a lot of fun to see and the parlor, restaurant, and saloon were particularly neat to look at.

We visited the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad where visitors are able to buy train tickets and take a ride on the railroad.   They have a museum you can visit.  Times  vary and you can even walk out into the train yard.   While you are out walking around town you can hear the train tooting its horn as it passes by.  Durango has a  surfeit of happenings around town.  A few are kayaking, rafting or tubing on the Animas river, farmer’s markets, hikes, local brew pubs, and wonderful restaurants.  It was a great family mini vacation.  Do you have other small towns you like to visit?

S