New Mexico trip - June 2019

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In late May I traveled to Las Cruces, New Mexico to attend a memorial Service for David Allen, the recently departed husband of my youngest sister, Theresa.  

David Noble Allen

Dave Allen was a very well-liked person, generous with his time & attention. Most of the presenters at the service, especially his family members, remembered his seemingly non-stop intellectual curiosity, and, full dedication to whatever task (or to whoever) was at hand. 

Dave enjoyed life and often said to co-workers that "every day at work felt like a vacation day".  

The private service on Saturday was held at the Pecan Grille, where Dave had been the main Brewer for a number of years.  It was nicely facilitated by Pastor Jared Carson, dubbed "the Beer-Vangelist" by Dave. 

Towards the end of the ceremony Jared read us his innovative "beer prayer", and then proposed a toast to Dave, most of us having a small serving of Dave's Peanut Butter lager.  Attendees then watched a slideshow collection of maybe 50 photos, with a few images showing Dave's edgy & outrageous T-shirts, which drew roars of laughter.  

My siblings & I took Dave as we found him.  I got to know him right after he returned from Iraq where (for 2 years) he was the main pest control contractor in Baghdad's Green Zone and at a few FOBs. (Besides making beer he also owned a pest control company.)

I found Dave to be a good conversationalist with a creative sense of humor, sometimes silly, but always harmless. I was impressed at his personal dedication and empathy for an edgy PTSD friend, who I encountered on one of my somewhat recent visits.   

Dave Allen became a very successful micro-brewer.  In his last few years he won top awards at State & International competitions.  He took home gold medals in all five categories at the New Mexico state competition, a few years running.  He also attained gold, while Sam Adams brewery took silver, in a world competition in L.A. two years before, in the "smoked lager" category.  

Unfortunately Dave had recurrent melanoma.  He rapidly got sick and died, essentially at the high point of personal success in this life....

note - you can enlarge any part of a picture by left-clicking in and then out again.

Pastor Jared  Carson family & close friends Theresa       spoke photo of Dave at Pecan Grille

Note - a photo of Dave & Theresa from a year ago can be seen on this website - look for Las Cruces in May 2018 and Colorado Springs in June '18, which pages had to do with the marriages of two of my nephews.   

Five of us out-of-towners rented a very comfortable adobe style suburban house for three nights, and made dinner each night for our local siblings, including  Theresa plus Don & Tina. 

On Friday night we had Roger's excellent barbequed chicken, with a repeat on Saturday night.  On Sunday evening Roger made grilled salmon. Quite the feast and on all nights there was a side-stream of salad & other condiments.  

Dripping Springs 

On Saturday, four of us met early, to avoid the big heat that usually arrives by say 9:30 or 10 am, in June.  Las Cruces is at 4,500 feet, with amazingly clear air, which adds up to intense sunlight.  

On the west side of the Organ Mountains we took a short walk to Dripping Springs. It was a long & steady uphill grade.  Being there early meant we were mostly in the shade, and, on the way up we encountered a cool ground breeze; it was a beautiful morning. 

Organ Mountains from the parking area the hike Don, Mary & Paul
    who knows what this is? desert simplicity
Don thistle at an old lodge   historic vacation spot  
  the walk back down ocotillo   Mary  

It was just starting to get hot when we arrived back at the cars.  Later around 2 pm I had to go out for more dinner supplies, and on the short walk between the car & the grocery I felt like I was "baking in an oven."  Taken in small doses, it is no problem.   

Once you survive another hot afternoon, inside probably, the 'high desert' altitude insures that it will cool down rapidly, starting before sunset and progressing well into the night, which is a really nice weather pattern.  We tended to sit outside for dinner, and talked the weekend nights away.     

After leaving Cruces on Monday, I drove east on US 70 for 90 minutes to stay a few nights with long-time friends who live in Tularosa, a little north of Alamogordo, NM.   

Saint Agustin Pass      

Hwy 70 at the Pass   east side of the Organ Mountains  

Tularosa - I have visited here many times in the last few decades. Small town living has its charms & inherent values, still intact here. The older parts of town have many adobe style houses & outbuildings, and communal irrigation rights.   

A look around the home garden....

a mystery plant another look, but out of focus Echinacea, native to South Dakota sprouting new growth
    edible artichokes barrel cactus
Swiss Chard perennial grass water-proof Cat skyway between buildings

When out walking here you'll hear the soothing sound of irrigation water gurgling, as it flows downhill through the community, in no small quantity. The  sound has musical tones, at key intersections, where the main gate valve structures are located.  

Residents here are entitled to lift a board on the ditch & flood their property once a week for 40 minutes, I think, in the summer.  This weekly allotment turns a very arid place into an mini-oasis, and has for a long time.   

It rained in late afternoon on two of the three afternoons I was there, providing relief from high desert afternoon heat.  The second afternoon's storm was intense & dramatic, generating a lot of hail.  By evening, more than two inches of rain had fallen, a huge amount, considering the average annual total here is 8 to 10 inches.  It was completely unexpected summer weather, a thrill to see and hear. 

invasive sweet peas on empty lot apricot on wooden bridge irrigation water below apricots above
    Hesperaloe parvitlora or Red Yucca clouds building in the east
lighthouse in a sea of tawny daylilies welcoming but private too some kind of prickly pear? one room house?
  St. Francis De Paula Church   giant cottonwood tree & irrigation water
the long house   ruins from the current civilization  
  not much happening on Main Street a rusticated & scenic town    

On the last evening in Tularosa I drove maybe 40 miles to the White Sands National Monument. Ambient light was really odd and I walked around for maybe an hour. At the turning point, I encountered a visual white-out condition where only my legs & stomach could tell uphill from downhill, for say 10 minutes. 

It was the oddest thing and pretty amusing.   

through a glass, darkly looking west White Yucca flowers
  clouds above  Alamogordo the special light here...
a beetle's life... ...continued... see note

note - this image shows that Hwy. 70 slopes continually downhill when approaching Alamogordo from the west & I admit I never noticed that before.       

All photos were taken with a Canon G16. 

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