Sunday, April 20, 2008. Morning Birding. Jerry and Shirley Arrive. Museum Hill.


We have a nice sleep-in, then bird the RV park, getting some nice new trip birds.

I have gone online and found that the Santa Fe Audubon Center is open today, up in the hills, and we're going to visit the place, walk the trails and do some mountain birding. Because of the elevation here, it's not the same springtime that it is in San Jose yet. Green buds are just beginning to show on the trees.

I discover that the "map" feature of my iPhone works as a sort of GPS, but it's called TeleNav. This means it triangulates on three local cell phone towers to pinpoint your location, though pinpoint in this case means within a quarter mile or so, not a few yards. Still, it's extremely useful.

As we're driving, we pass a "Smith's", where gas is only $3.339 so I fill up. Then we drive on up to the Audubon Center, arriving about 10:30 am. It's located high in the hills, and there is good vision all around. We bird the center, then walk the trails, heading for Bear Canyon. We can hear water running down to our left. The sun is nice and warm and there are bench seats to rest on, but we're on a mission and we continue on. Up, up and into Bear Canyon.

We see no bears, but pick up some very nice mountain birds, as our trail drops down while the stream rises till they meet, then they go side by side, sometimes crossing each other. We walk up till we feel we've had enough, then we turn around and head back to the center.

After checking the visitor center feeders once more, we head out about noon. By 1 pm, we're back in our trailer. We decide not to have lunch, but wait for Jerry and Shirley.

We get a call from Jerry saying they have landed at the airport, and are driving to the El Rey Inn, up the road a couple of miles. They'll unload, unpack then come down.

A little after 3:30 pm, they come in. Jerry gives us a big smile, and he's wearing a set of teeth, with many missing, and the ones that ARE there point in all different directions. He's trying to look like me, with my missing front teeth. Excellent. But Dangit! I don't get a photo.

We decide to drive to Museum Hill, and check out a couple of museums and a famous sculpture. On the drive, Shirley tells this story about a friend of hers. Her friend has a niece, who is mother to a little boy. So the little boy is Shirley's friend's great nephew.

The little boy asks his mother, "How old do you have to be to get married?" Well, the mom replies, about 21 or 22, usually. "When I get married, can I still live here?" The mom says that most married people leave home and get an apartment together. The little boy thinks about it, then disappears for a few minutes. Later, they see him carrying his toy tool chest towards the door. "What are you doing?" asks the mom. "I'm going to live with grandma, and I'm taking the swing set with me," he says.

We arrive at Museum Hill. Brother George's wife Loretta has told us to go see a sculpture of a covered wagon, to walk completely around it once to fully experience it before taking any pictures.

I take one look at it and begin snapping off shots. I blame myself.

Sorry, Loretta. I couldn't control my camera fingers. It's really excellent, telling a story of life in those frontier days. I especially like the mules and figure that they were probably Missouri mules.

After experiencing this sculpture, we go into the Museum of International Folk Art, where a quilt display has drawn sister Shirley's attention. While everybody else is checking out the souvenir shop, I check out some of the sculptures over by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.

I go back in to find the others. It costs $8 to enter and there's only one hour till they close. You can buy a four-museum pass, but it doesn't make any sense to buy it today. We will pass on the museum for today and see it in a couple of days.

I do, however, make one suggestion, just to set a record. If we wait till one minute to closing, then buy four one-day passes for $8 each, then the museum will be making $1,920 an hour for that minute. Everybody laughs at my idea, which I think is stellar. Who can we talk into doing this? Hmmmm.

We have a cross between lunch and dinner at the Bamboo Asian Cuisine restaurant. I go for the orange chicken, which is excellent. Then, since both they and we are big movie fans, we go see Forgetting Sarah Ferguson, after which they take us back to their motel room. The claim is that no two rooms are alike, and there is a southwest feel about the design of the room. They are $109 per night, as I recall.

Then Jerry takes us back to our trailer, where I put my orange chicken doggie bag in the fridge. Tomorrow, we will take the Turquoise Trail, a National Scenic Byway, and it roughly parallels the freeway between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. It includes lots of scenic landscapes, Sandia Crest, the artsy, fun town of Madrid (say MAD-rid, not muh-DRID).

Trailer Ranch RV Park Morning Birds: Eurasian Collared Dove, Canyon Towhee, American Robin.

Santa Fe Audubon Center Birds: Western Scrub-jay, Western Bluebird, Northern Rough-wing Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Spotted Towhee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Townsend's Solitaire, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Chickadee.

Driving Back to RV Park Birds: Hairy Woodpecker, Black-billed Magpie.

Life Birds:
None Today
Total: 4

Trip Birds:
Today: 14
Total: 94

RV Park: Night 2 of 7 at Trailer Ranch RV Park. $33

Miles Today (on our pickup): 29
Total Trip Miles: 1956


Monday, April 21, 2008. The Turquoise Trail, Santa Fe to Albuquerque


Jerry and Shirley pick us up at 8:30 or so, in their van, and we're off.

The first stop on the Turquoise Trail is the small village of Cerrillos. There is an old museum/gift shop/petting zoo here, and we stop in. The museum has an astounding array of old, old stuff, a lot of it from the early 1900s. The roof of the building itself is lined with both clear and blue-green glass insulators.

After the museum, we cruise through the streets, checking out the mission's front doors and a tree that has been cut and is in the shape of Jesus.

We drift over to an art studio, and meet a man who creates scenes from sandpaper. The different colors of sandpaper fit in perfectly with the various sandy colors of the southwest. What a great idea. The artist says he picks up used sandpaper belts from various shops, and now people he's met in his studio just send him their old sandpaper belts.

We ask if we can take photos, and Thomas Morin, the artist, says, "No." Protecting his interests. Oddly, the sandpaper art isn't as interesting to me as it was 30 seconds ago.

We drive down the road a bit and come to a weird display called Tiny Town. It appears to be an unofficial museum. It's filled with old beat up dollhouses, washing machines, beads, rocks, GI Joes, The Hulks, and there's a clever sign warning trespassers to beware.

I can hear a whine and locate a small wind turbine attached to the top of a trailer, where the tiny Tiny Town artist must reside. We move on.

Next we come to the town of Madrid. It's a thriving tourist town, and we learn that portions of the movie Wild Hogs was filmed here. In fact, I take some photos of a scene that I am certain was in the movie [I'm right, it turns out. Thre is a scene where they pull up in front of this building, and you can see "Maggie'" in the shot. Other buildings, however, they had to build outside of town because the plot calls for a bar to be burned down].

We check out lots of the stores and shops, including one with a soda fountain in the back. Sharon is hungry but Jerry and Shirley aren't yet, so Sharon postpones lunch. I buy some snacky goodies to "hold me over."

We continue on, but I have Jerry stop so I can capture an interesting bottle display, which Sharon's son Pete asks, "Doesn't that just cry out for a BB gun?"

Sandia Peak has been visible for a while, and Jerry drives us up to the top. The tram actually comes to a different, lower location that the one you can drive to. We get out, observing the cluster of antenna, then head for the lodge.

There is a souvenir shop and a restaurant, and from the restaurant, a door opens onto a deck, from where you can see most of Albuquerque far below. We go out and the wind is whipping at what seems to be 70 mph and zero degrees. MAN it's cold.

We don't stay long and it's back inside. Wow.

There is a newspaper article about two boys who created a websdite dedicated to the rosy-finches that come to this mountain top in the winter. Dangit. They're nowhere around. Winter has gone, and so have the rosies. I wander around and notice a memorial, dedicated to one of the names of the previous newspaper article. I ask what that's for, and they say he was killed in an auto accident not long after the newspaper article.

We order lunch, take a few more photos and then we're off, driving back down the backside of Sandia Peak. From there, we cruise around the peak, and into Albuquerque.

We find a town square and check out the stores and a mission. Then it's on to the Art and History Museum, but the museum is closed today. Luckily there are lots of sculptures out on the grass and grounds surrounding the building. A photographer's dream, and here are a few samples.


We stop by a couple of geodesic dome buildings, one of which is apparently under attack by a dinosaur named Spike.

So then it's back to Santa Fe on the highway, and we are at our RV site within an hour.

Tonight we hit the Souper Salad restaurant, where it's all you can eat for a little under $9. Salad, soup, pizza, banana pudding, ice cream. Mmmmm. I have two small helpings of the ice cream. Hey if my math is correct, that adds up to one big helping. Well worth it.

No Birding Today.

Life Birds Still Stand At: 4
Trip Birds Still Stand At: 94

RV Park: Night 3 of 7 at Trailer Ranch RV Park. $33

Miles Today (on our pickup): 0
Total Pickup Trip Miles Still Stand At: 1956


Previous Report
Next Report
New Mexico
Birding Trips