Category Archives: Traveling New Mexico

Hiking the Gila: Random Forest Roads

Meadow at the bottom of the canyon, looking towards the side canyon

Meadow at the bottom of the canyon, looking towards the side canyon

We’ve passed the hidden dirt road hundreds of times. If you aren’t paying close attention, you will miss it. There is a stretch of highway 152 where the road is high up above a scary cliff. I usually avoid looking down, mainly to keep from getting car sick. I’m not afraid of heights, but that particular cliff has quite a drop to it.

Now that my car sickness is getting under control, I have to move WITH the car on the turns to avoid it, I have looked over that edge to see the amazing, deep canyon below. My first thought was, I wonder what’s down there? My second thought was, HOW do we get down there? Our next few drives by, I looked and looked, trying to find a road to take us down for exploration. That’s when I saw it, just past the stretch of road on the cliff, the hidden entrance to the dirt forest road that leads into the canyon.

Swimming hole where we soaked our feet

Swimming hole where we soaked our feet

On Saturdays, we go down the hill to the local organic market in Mimbres. They have a small farmer’s market on Saturdays and we have started a weekly routine of stopping by the market for fruits, veggies and fresh eggs. The clerk who works the market on Saturdays is a friendly local guy and we’ve spoken with him at length about different hiking trails in the area. He told us about that hidden trail a couple of weeks ago.

Last week, we decided to check it out. The first time, it was later in the afternoon and quite hot out, we only hiked down the road about 10 minutes. The road is basically straight downhill. We turned around acknowledging that we would need to start earlier and have a full day to explore this trail.

Going into the side canyon, pools of water were everywhere! Wonderful that we've had so much rain!

Going into the side canyon, pools of water were everywhere! Wonderful that we’ve had so much rain!

Sunday we decided to take a longer hike to see where the steep hill lead. Another hot day, but thankfully, the Sun was in and out of the clouds. The further we went, the more the clouds covered the Sun. It was obvious that it had rained recently, as the trail was quite wet and even muddy in some places. I could not wait to get to the bottom to see where the water had flowed.

The hike down to the bottom of the canyon took about 30 minutes. We followed the trail as far as we could, back tracking several times after losing the trail. The stream bed at the bottom was not only running with water, but there were several large pools. We stopped to soak our feet and cool off in one of the larger pools of water. The water was so deep, we could have had a swim! If only I had brought the right shoes, I ended up cutting my foot on a rock because I didn’t want to get my brand new running shoes wet. I usually wear my “lake” shoes if I know there will be streams to cross.

Side canyon oasis

Aaron and the dogs in the side canyon oasis

We were told the trail went on to connect with another trail we’ve already hiked but, all we found were dead ends, so we decided to turn around and try again another day. On our way back, I noticed a side canyon I hadn’t seen on the way down. We decided to follow a vague path to this side canyon and found a wonderful rock and water oasis. We didn’t follow the canyon too far down, but saved it for another day. That is the joy of living here now, we can always go back for more another day! Not to mention getting to know the locals and finding the great, hidden spots in the Gila National Forest. So much to explore, so little time! Stay tuned, or subscribe to my blog, to read/see more about our adventures!

Until next time! :-)

Until next time! 🙂

 

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Turkey Creek, Gila National Forest

photo of turkey creek

Shadows play on the surface of the water

This past Sunday was mine and Aaron’s 21st wedding anniversary. We decided to pack a picnic lunch and head out to explore the Turkey Creek Hot Springs trail. Turkey Creek feeds in to the Gila River, or at least it must when there is more water. Either that, or the creek goes underground at some point. The creek bed is currently dry by the time it gets down to the river, but after a couple of creek crossings, the water was flowing quite well. Lots of deep pools for soaking feet!

hidden windmill

It took a while, but we finally spotted the windmill that marks the trail head!

On our way out past the windmill

On our way out past the windmill

The road in is not for the faint of heart! It is a 14 mile drive in from Hwy 180. At about mile 8 the pavement ends and a few miles later the road starts winding it’s way up and over a tall “hill” or what some people call a mountain. The road is narrow, bumpy and there are no guardrails. We drive roads like this all the time, but this is one of the more scary roads we’ve been on. The drop offs at the top are almost straight down! 4 wheel drive or AWD with high clearance definitely recommended!

photo of Turkey creek

Turkey Creek, so pretty!

All that said, the scary drive is well worth the end destination! Aaron’s mom asked why we drive roads like that if they are so scary? Because the reward on the other side is SO worth it! It’s not easy to find the trail head, even with a trail book of directions. There are lots of four wheel drive roads, more like a maze of roads surrounding the Gila River. We had to park a mile or so away from the trail head. Even though we drive an AWD Subaru, the river is quite deep in some spots, so we decided crossing in the car was not a good idea.

turkey creek

Who knew there could be such a beautiful desert oasis hidden in these desert mountains!

Crossing the river by foot is quite refreshing at this time of the year! It was 94 degrees the day we were out there and the cool water felt lovely. After four river crossings, we wandered around a bit, looking for the trail head. There is an old private homestead with a windmill hidden in the trees. This is where the trail begins. Unfortunately for us, after making our way through the maze of roads and backtracking to finally find the trail head, we didn’t have enough time or energy to make it all the way to the hot springs. According to our trail book, the springs are another 3 miles up from the windmill. We made it up about 2 of the 3 miles.

I love these tree trunks! Sycamore trees abound in this canyon!

I love these tree trunks! Sycamore trees abound in this canyon!

Now that we know where we’re going, we hope to make it all the way up to the hot springs next time. We weren’t too disappointed though, considering how hot it was! The cool water in the creek and river were refreshing and more than enough for this trek.

The rock cliffs tower hundreds of feet over the creek bed, though the trees cover most of them from view.

The rock cliffs tower hundreds of feet over the creek bed, though the trees cover most of them from view.

I’m planning on getting back to blogging twice a week. One blog will be about our latest hiking adventure and the other will be about my art. Subscribe to my blog above if you would like to be notified when I post a new blog. You may also want to go to my website and sign up for my email list to get more updates about my art and where our latest explorations have taken us!

Such a gorgeous landscape of rocks, trees and water!

Such a gorgeous landscape of rocks, trees and water!

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!

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!

 

The Sun and the Moon

I painted my latest mural this past Sunday and Monday. I’m so excited about this one! I’m calling it “The Sun and the Moon” and I think it’s the best mural I’ve painted to date. I painted it for my brother and his wife. They had a neighbor build a new cinder block wall bordering their driveway, and they thought it needed some color! It was definitely my most ambitious mural yet, at 33 x 5.5′ feet!

I’m considering making prints of this one, it would have to be a triptych as the wall is too long to get it all in one photo. I tried taking a panoramic shot, but hard to do on a sloping driveway! What do you think? Or maybe I will do a smaller canvas version of it?

As with my other murals, I filmed the process and created a time lapse video to share with y’all. I think the time lapse videos are my favorite part, as I get to watch the progress too! It’s a different perspective for me as I don’t get to stand back and watch while I’m painting.

The music on the video is written and performed by my brother, Travis James Manning. He is a lifelong musician and currently plays in two bands, as well as playing solo acoustic shows in El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM

Enjoy the video, share the video, comment on the video… any of these activities is greatly appreciated! Thank you for your continued support! 🙂

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.