Category Archives: camping

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Aaron and I at the entrance of the cliff dwellings

Aaron and I at the entrance of the cliff dwellings

I may have blogged about this before, but it must have been years ago! That’s how long it’s been since Aaron and I visited. I love being back in southwestern New Mexico. It’s a homecoming of sorts. Different town this time around. When I was a kid growing up in Las Cruces, we spent countless weekends and Summers camping, hiking and exploring the Gila National Forest.

Catching the first glimpse of the cave from the trail below

Catching the first glimpse of the cave from the trail below

We brought visiting family and friends here to see the beauty of this vast wilderness. The Gila Cliff Dwellings is one of the most visited spots in the Gila. The other being the Catwalk trail near Glenwood.

The cliff face near the dwellings

The cliff face near the dwellings

When we go hiking with our dogs, we usually stick to trails without other people around. This past Sunday, we left the dogs at home. Mainly because dogs aren’t allowed at the Cliff Dwellings. They do have kennels for the dogs though, just in case!

One of the ancient rock walls of the cliff dwellings with it's distinctive window shape

One of the ancient rock walls of the cliff dwellings with it’s distinctive window shape

The road out to the site is a twisting, turning mountain road with no center line. Though it’s paved, it is definitely a back country road!

The hiking trail up to the cliff dwellings crosses over a small stream several times before zig zagging up the hillside to the ruins. The heat of the sun gives way to the cool of the cave as you climb the wooden ladder into the dwellings that haven’t been occupied in close to a thousand years.

Looking out into the canyon from within the cliff dwellings

Looking out into the canyon from within the cliff dwellings

It’s easy to see why the ancient ones chose this place, up high on a cliff overlooking a mountain spring. A view of the canyon, a source of water, a shelter from the weather.

Looking back as we head down the exit path.

Looking back as we head down the exit path.

If you ever find yourself in Silver City, New Mexico, I highly recommend you take the drive up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. You won’t be sorry you did!

Advertisements

In Limbo…

Two of my painted guitars showing at the NMCCG March-May!

Two of my painted guitars showing at the NMCCG March-May!

A couple of small details to complete and I am ready for hanging my art at the New Mexico Cancer Center Gallery this Saturday.

We’ve had home inspections taking up our time and thoughts the past couple of days and I am so ready to be done with the  whole selling/buying process! In the meantime, we have 2 1/2 weeks left before closing on our house on March 13th. At which point, we will hopefully have our RV ready to live in while we wait the extra two weeks for the closing on our new house.

Until then, most of my studio is packed and in limbo, waiting to get to the new studio. I so look forward to getting back to my regular studio routine and I cannot wait to share photos with you all!

I’m working on staying positive and relaxed, but anyone who knows me personally, knows this is very difficult for me during stressful times. Just another lesson from the Universe I guess! My patience and positive outlook have definitely been put to the test the last 3 weeks. May the next few weeks pass quickly and smoothly!

 

Where have you been?

"Burning up for your love" guitar painting

Varnished, whole and ready to show! “Burning up for your love”, acrylic on solid Fender body, Available “as is” for $1,000. Price will go up once all the parts are added.

My solo show at the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club opens this Friday, 6-8pm. Tomorrow morning the show will be hung and ready to go! Today I took the guitar and neck to the guitar shop for connection. I’m excited about finishing up my first playable art guitar! It will be shown this month, as is, but after the August show comes down this guitar will get all it’s pick ups, tuning pegs and knobs, wiring, etc. Then it will be ready to be PLAYED! Until then, I had Aaron model the guitar for me, he’s a natural! 😉

My guitar playing husband modeling the new guitar for me! ;-)

My guitar playing husband modeling the new guitar for me! 😉

We went camping last week, in case you were wondering why there were no blog posts. We spent a few days with my brother and sister in law at the lake. They just got their boat up and running for the first time in YEARS, so we had to take it out for a test run! I had forgotten how much I love to swim! It was hotter than hell, but the water was PERFECT!

good times at the lake!

Me with (l to r), my brother Travis, Aaron and our SIL, Charlene.

After 3 days at the lake, I came home to a request from a local architect friend of ours. His firm, Design Group, is building a playhouse for Parade of Playhouses, an auction gala to benefit local non profit, NM Appleseed. His request was for my contribution to their playhouse project, in the form of painting a set of wooden gears that will be on the wall of the playhouse. The theme of the house is Dr. Suess. I was given the gears, a color scheme and the theme and this is what I ended up with. I am always happy to contribute my art work to good causes and NM Appleseed is a good one. From their website, “Focusing on issues like hunger, education and homelessness, New Mexico Appleseed’s goal is to make systemic change that yields permanent or long term improvement for the poor and under served.”

Gears for the Cat in the Hat Playhouse

Gears for the Cat in the Hat Playhouse

Memorial Day, Murals and Guitars

I hope everyone had a good Holiday weekend. I’m working through it so we can go camping this week. We always go camping the week AFTER Memorial day. We are the kind of campers that want to get away from everyone! Even in New Mexico, that is impossible to do Memorial Day weekend, so we wait until Tuesday when everyone else is back at work.

I’m writing this blog ON Memorial Day and remembering all the brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I was in the military during Desert Storm and personally knew a few of those people. I will never forget them, their sacrifice or the families they left behind.

Painted guitar in progress, Strat body.

Painted guitar in progress, Strat body.

Over the weekend, I started my guitar painting for the Sierra Club show in August. I’ve had this Strat body sitting in my studio for literally YEARS! It has been patiently waiting for me to make it beautiful. It is still in progress and I’m hoping to make this one my first playable guitar painting. I’m counting on my husband to help me with building the guitar from the empty solid body it is now. I’m showing only recycled art at the Sierra Club, because what better place to promote recycling, right?

Mural design, 12 x 12" oil on canvas, this will be painted at 10 times the size of this painting!

Mural design, 12 x 12″ oil on canvas, this will be painted at 10 times the size of this painting!

On Friday, I will be getting started on the mural project I’ve been writing about for the last couple months. I have created the design and have approval to get started! I’m really excited about painting LARGE! 10 x 10 feet large! I plan on making a time lapse video of the whole process so stay tuned. I may share bits and pieces of it during the process.

 

Living in the “Land of Enchantment”

Clouds, Trees and meadow in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

Before the snow, one of the many beautiful meadows in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

Ah, Spring in New Mexico! So many varieties of weather available to chose from! Rain, wind, sun, snow! If you’ve never been to New Mexico, you may not realize that our state is more than JUST a desert! We have mountains and meadows, rivers and lakes, snow topped tundras and then there are the deserts. There is a reason the state motto is “The Land of Enchantment”.

hiking trail covered in logs in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

The trail is covered with logs to give you some traction when the water is flowing and/or standing

There is currently a storm front moving through the state that has dumped snow in the northern part of the state while down south, they are getting highs in the 70s and 80s! New Mexico is a VERY diverse state. Diverse in our landscapes, diverse in our people. Is it any wonder why I love it here!?

tall Aspen tree in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

There are Aspen groves alongside Evergreen trees, very TALL trees!

Watching the weather report this morning, reminded me of a hike Aaron and I took a few years back. It was our anniversary, June 10th, and we decided it was time to head up to one of our favorite hiking spots. It is a summer only trail, as there is usually plenty of snow in the winter. Unless, of course, you have snow shoes! I’ve never been much of a snow lover myself, but NM also has some great skiing areas. The San Pedro Wilderness area is part of the Santa Fe National Forest. A bit west of the Jemez mountains, just east of Cuba, NM and about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Albuquerque. It is almost always wet up there, but that year? We got snowed on! It wasn’t a heavy snow, but wet, and it stuck pretty well to the green grass.

Lake Gregario in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

One side of Lake Gregario, such a beautiful sight!

Let’s just say we didn’t make it very far that day. We were not prepared for snow and so we turned around and headed back down the mountain, after we sat and enjoyed our lunch in the falling snow! San Pedro Wilderness is a wonderful place! The trees are tall and there is a lake for fishing as well. The trail we usually hike is called the “Las Vacas” trail, which is Spanish for “the cows”. You have to be careful not to step where the cows have been, it can be pretty messy! At least there is a stream to clean off your shoes, just in case!

Osa sneaking up on ducks at the lake in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

Osa THINKS she is sneaking up on the ducks, but they aren’t fooled!

Our dog, Osa, LOVES this wilderness! So many smells and places to explore. One of the best things about this trail is there are rarely any people on it past the lake which is about 3/4 mile up from the trail head. Osa loves this because she gets to run free without her leash!

Snow at the top of the mountains in the San Pedro Wilderness Area of New Mexico

And then there was SNOW! Yes! Snow in June in New Mexico

This forest is quite literally a rain forest. Ferns grow here and boy, the bugs are pretty bad! We have hiked to the top of the trail, the ridge that follows the tops of the mountains, and it almost always has at least an inch of standing water. It’s too bad we can’t transfer that moisture to other parts of the state at times. It’s green and lush and the meadows are gorgeous! Wildflowers abound in the late Spring and early Summer. It’s a great place for camping, just make sure you take your rain gear and a waterproof tent!

Snow on the ground in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

And MORE snow!

Last Summer, we took a backpacking trip on this trail and ended up coming home after one night because our brand new backpacking tent leaked like a sieve and we were drenched! Even so, we have several happy memories of the place. Looking forward to the day when we can head back up there, I guess it will have to wait a bit longer for the snow to melt all the way. 😉

The Rio de las Vacas or River of the Cows in the San Pedro Wilderness Area

The Rio de las Vacas or River of the Cows

Living in the “Land of Enchantment”(NM): Carlsbad Caverns

Aaron and Paula standing at the entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

Aaron and I at the Cave entrance, about to descend 750 feet into the ground!

In 2014, Aaron and I took a trip down to visit Carlsbad Caverns in the SE part of the state. It’s a 4 1/2 hour drive down to Carlsbad, NM from Albuquerque. We had both been there several times as kids but never as adults.

Rather than stay in Carlsbad, we stopped off in Cloudcroft for the night. We love that little town in the middle of southern New Mexico at the top of the mountains. It’s name is very fitting as the clouds often get stuck at the 8,600′ elevation. Carlsbad is another 2 hour drive past, but it’s well worth the stop over. Especially in the summer, as the temps up in Cloudcroft are usually 20 degrees cooler than down in the scalding high desert sun!

Aaron’s family has a close connection to the small New Mexico town with a population of 674 (2010). His grandfather and uncles built a cabin there in the 1960s and the cabin has stayed in the family ever since. We have visited the cabin regularly for 20 years. We’ve always enjoyed hiking in the warm months and snow tubing in the winter. There are several nice campgrounds and a historic Lodge too. Even if you don’t spend the night, I highly recommend stopping in a Mad Jack’s BBQ for some of THE best BBQ you will ever have!

descending into the entrance of Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Descending into the main entrance of the cave. Though it looks scary, there is a paved, somewhat flat path leading into the cave.

The next day we headed out for Carlsbad. It’s funny when you go back to a place you haven’t been since you were a kid. You know how everything seems smaller? That didn’t happen at Carlsbad Caverns! I cannot imagine what I must have thought of this place as a little kid. The big room, is BIG!

cave formation in the big room at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

One of the many large scale formations in the big room.

It’s quite a downhill walk into the caverns, the good news is, there is an elevator at the bottom if you don’t feel ambitious enough to walk up and out. According to the website, the elevator is currently not working, but should be working again by May 31st.

We spent several hours walking around and exploring all the alien landscapes of the tremendous Caverns. I took well over 200 hundred photos, that I still haven’t edited! The few I’ve shared here are my favorite picks.

underground pool of water in Carlsbad Caverns

underground pool, there is water deep in the ground, even when the surface is a dry desert.

It’s impossible to get across the majesty of this place in words or photos. You simply have to see it for yourself. It’s like seeing the Grand Canyon in a photo, a camera flattens the image. I wish I could have captured it, but it’s nature’s beauty, it cannot be captured.

Giant stalagmites in the Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Giant stalagmites in the Big room

It is well worth the trip into the desert of eastern New Mexico! Any time of the year is good too, as the temperature in the Caverns stays in the high 50s year round. Follow one of the links I’ve provided for more information on Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, NM and Cloudroft, NM.

One of the muddy textures in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

One of the muddy textures in the Caverns

 

 

 

Step two, Facebook Detox

My religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.
~Oliver Sacks

The logical next step in my quest for ending my addiction to Facebook is detox. I need to get it completely OUT of my system. The best way I know of to stay off the internet and specifically, Facebook, is to get away from any and all wifi networks or modems. This is not an easy thing to do! Thankfully I live in a state with LOTS of empty space and very little LTE signal! My favorite way to get grounded and get away from it all is to go camping!

aaronpaulabernie

Aaron and I with little Bernie while hiking

We headed out Monday around noon and drove a couple hours south and west of Albuquerque to a lovely secluded campsite in the Cibola National Forest. There was a slight signal (3G), but it wasn’t enough to get online. Trust me, I TRIED! (I told you I am addicted!) Just enough signal to get a text message, but not quite enough for facebook, thank goodness!

thewholegang

The whole gang on the hiking trail, Left to right, my brother, Travis, his wife, Charlene, me and Aaron with little Bernie down on the trail

I won’t lie to you and say I haven’t been on facebook since our return to civilization, but  once you break that cycle of obsession, it’s much easier to stay off.

There is nothing better for the soul than a trip to the wilderness and a nice 6 mile hike to detox all of that nasty technology out of your system. Yummy ribs cooked over a campfire, time with loved ones, talking face to face, roasting a few marshmallows, sleeping on the ground. It will cure whatever ails you! Now, if I can keep going with my recovery and STAY off Facebook! I think I can, I think I can! 😉

viewshot

That VIEW was spectacular!