New Mexico trip - June pril 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.  

David Noble Allen

Dave was a very well-liked guy, generous with his time & attention.  Most of the presenters at the service, especially family, mentioned Dave's non-stop intellectual curiosity, and, his full dedication to whatever task was at hand.  Dave often told co-workers that every day at work for him felt like a vacation day.  

The private service on Saturday at the Pecan Grille, where Dave had been the Brewer for a few years, 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 he 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 T-shirts, drawing roars of laughter.  

My siblings & I took to Dave as we found him, many of us getting to know him just after he returned from Iraq where he was the main pest control contractor in Baghdad's Green Zone.  I always found him to be a good conversationalist and he certainly had a creative sense of humor, sometimes silly, but always harmless. 

Dave Allen became a very successful micro-brewer, in the last few years winning numerous medals at State and International competitions. 

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 or two of Dave & Theresa from a year ago are posted on this website - look for Las Cruces in May and Colorado Springs in June '18.

Five of us out-of-town family rented a very comfortable southwest suburban house for three nights, and we made dinner each night for local guests sister Theresa and our brother Don & his wife Tina.  On Friday night we had Roger's excellent barbeque'd chicken, with a repeat on Saturday night.  On Sunday evening Roger made grilled salmon. Quite the feast and on all nights we had a side-stream of salad & other condiments.               

Dripping Springs 

On Saturday, four of us met up early, to avoid the big heat that usually arrives by say 9:30 or 10 am.  Las Cruces is at 4,500 feet, with near-perfect air quality, and sunlight here is very intense.     

We drove up into the Organ Mountains (west side) to the Dripping Springs trail, with its long & steady uphill grade.  Being there early meant we were mostly in the shade on the way up & we also had an unexpected cool ground breeze, strong at times, in our face.  It was a beautiful morning walk. 

Organ Mountains from the parking area the hike Don, Mary & Paul
  wild rose? simplicity in NM    Don
thistle at an old lodge historic vacation spot at a display the walk back down  
  ocotillo Mary    

It was just starting to get hot when we got back to the cars.  Later around 2 pm I went out for more dinner supplies, and between the car and the Walmart Store I felt like I was "baking in an oven."  But taken in small doses, it is fine. 

Once you survive the day, the 'high desert' altitude means it cools down, starting before sunset and progressing into the night.  This is a very nice weather pattern and we tended to sit outside for dinners, and talked the weekend nights away.  The airbnb thing, thanks to my sister Mary, worked out really well.   

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

Augustin Pass -      

White Yucca flowers   Hwy 70 at the Pass Organ Mountains

Tularosa

I've visited my friends here many times over the last decades, and small town living has its inherent value, seemingly still intact here.  Owners in the original city blocks all seem to take care of their properties, some of them historic.       

Residents receive ditch irrigation water; more on that below.  Here's a look around their garden....

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

When out for a walk around this tiny community in summer, you'll hear the pleasant sound of irrigation water, flowing downhill, no small quantity of water, musical in places, and you'll see gate valve structures at many neighborhood intersections.  Residents here get to lift a board on the ditch & flood their entire property once a week for 40 minutes, I think, in the summer.      

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 produced a lot of hail and by evening more than two inches of rain had fallen, a huge amount, considering the average annual total here is around 8 to 10 inches.

invasive sweet peas apricot on a wood bridge irrigation water running below apricots
  see note below   clouds building in the east a sea of tawny daylilies
welcoming but private too some kind of prickly pear? one room house? St. Francis De Paula Church
  giant tree and irrigation water   the long house  
  modern ruins not much happening on Main Street rusticated & scenic, nonetheless

note - this is Hesperaloe parvitlora or Red Yucca.

On my last evening in Tularosa I went to White Sands National Monument, however, the lighting was really odd and I walked around for maybe an hour before heading back. 

I encountered a visual white-out condition here where only my legs & stomach could tell uphill from downhill, for say 20 minutes.  It was pretty amusing and if you trip, Gypsum is very forgiving material, like extremely dense sand.   

I spilled onto the main roadway about 500 ft. south of the starting point....not bad for maybe three miles of improvised overland, and back, on a weird weather day.      

through a glass, darkly looking west White Yucca flowers clouds above  Alamogordo
  the special light here... see note 2 a beetle's life...  
a beetle's life...continued see note 1

note 1 - this image shows that Hwy. 70 slopes continually downhill on the approach to Alamogordo.  I admit I never noticed this before.       

note 2 - in most of the wide-angle format images from White Sands, I used Photoshop posterization to try to bring out those barely discernible but exquisite gypsum "waves", which stretch way out into the distance.  Posterization brings a valuable sense of sharpness, while sometimes adding too much grainy-ness.  

All photos were taken with a Canon G16. 

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