Black Mesa Hike

Ok one more post about Santa Fe. On one of our sunnier days, we hiked into a canyon known by a number of different names. Black Mesa or Black Canyon seem to be the most popular names, though I’m not sure if there is an official name for it. It’s a fairly deep canyon on the Rio Grande just outside of Santa Fe.

Here’s Ms. J and Mr. C hiking into the canyon.


Mr. C noticed that there was a guy climbing the wall of the canyon using a system of ropes and pulleys. Let’s see if my camera can get a shot of him on the wall. There he is in the blue shirt. At first it looked like he was alone, but he did have at least one other person with him at the base of the wall, watching his progress and monitoring the ropes. The climber seemed to be fairly young, maybe in his late teens. Even though it was late December, and we had gone skiing the day before, it was warm enough that day in the canyon for him to climb in a T-shirt.


When I was a kid, my parents were very cautious so I would never have been able to do anything like rappel down a sheer cliff face. Even if I had somehow been able to go through hundreds of hours of training, it just was not going to happen. My Mom and Dad would take different approaches to safety. My Mom would be concerned with the possibility of getting seriously hurt of maimed when doing whatever activity was being considered, with the added bonus of somehow adversely affecting her health as well. ‘Oh, no, you’ll get hurt, please don’t do that, I’m sure I’ll have a heart attack if anything should happen to you’. I’ll call this the “guilt approach”. My Dad would go with what I’ll call the “shock and horror” approach. ‘You know what happened to the last guy who did that? He ended up crushed beyond all recognition at the bottom of the cliff, no one could tell WHAT he was, much less WHO!”. With that two pronged scare tactic, I didn’t do anything remotely risky when I was a kid. Probably the most dangerous thing I did was riding my bike off the loading dock of an abandoned factory once. It was something of a dare, or just peer pressure, from the group of kids that I was with at the time. Everyone else was doing it, so I had to too. Off I went over the edge of the crumbling concrete pad, about eight feet from the asphalt parking lot. I went flying over the handle bars of the bike and scraped the palms of my hands. And no, I did not tell my parents about that.

After all of the ingrained safety training, I might be expected to be cautious with Mr. C. However, it’s been a little bit of a struggle, but I’m trying to not be as cautious as my parents were, within reason of course. I’d like him to be able to ski and hike with confidence, without having to worry too much that I’m going to have a heart attack or have nightmares caused by my cautionary stories about being crushed by falling rocks while hiking. Much as my brain’s safety manual guidelines would require that Mr. C not climb the giant boulder at all, I do let him do it. Watching every step of the way, and making sure that Ms. J is right next to him too. I sweat every step and dig my finger nails into my palms in nervousness until he is on flat, solid ground.

I’m on a de-sensitization campaign with my parents now. Whenever we do anything that they would consider remotely dangerous now, I make sure to take a picture and email it to them. Like this one of Mr. C climbing a huge boulder. Don’t worry, Ms. J is right there next to him, unseen by the camera since she’s a little bit lower, holding on to him to make sure he doesn’t fall. Might be a little bit mean of me to send them a picture like this.

I’m sure that my parents think I’m completely crazy for letting him do some of these things. But at 4 he’s already a better skier than I’ll ever be.


You can see the dark shadow as we enter the canyon here. It must be at least ten degrees colder within the canyon, out of the sun. Must be why it’s called ‘Black Canyon’.





Here’s the road out. You can see the ruts in the dirt from the years of use. 20140113-170151.jpg

Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is ‘Horizon’, since I take a lot of landscape shots, this one was easy for me.

Sometimes I like to take a photo that emphasizes the sky a bit more than usual, especially if its a stormy day.  This one was taken south of Santa Fe.  


Another shot from the same area near Santa Fe, just a few yards from the photo above.  

The first three photos here were taken in a large wildlife refuge south of Santa Fe.  The refuge is  mostly wetlands, where more than 300 species of birds roost, or fly through on their migration paths.  The area is especially popular with sandhill cranes and snow geese.  While I did see plenty of birds, I unfortunately didn’t get close enough to get good photos with the camera I had at the time.  At least I did get some good landscapes though!




This one was taken in northern Arizona.   Usually photos I take facing into the sun like this do not come out very well at all, but I do think this one did come out fairly well.

petrified 48

One more,  this is taken from the ferry going back from Martha’s Vineyard to Massachusetts.  The sunset is breaking through an area of thunder clouds.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

I usually take photos outside, so this was a tough challenge, but what better photo than the best interior in architectural history ?

Can anyone guess where this is ?


Now for something a bit more local. Here’s a view inside one of our favorite restaurants. The Friendly Toast in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Can you tell that we are there for a very early dinner ? It’s something of a hipster hangout, so I don’t think they get a lot of families there as we were the only people in the place at about 5:30pm.




And here is a second photo from inside The Friendly Toast.  They have quite the collection of art work.

And here’s what happens when your 4 year old gets ahold of your iPhone.

This is a Lego house, with what looks like a family of dinosaurs living inside.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

For me, the sea is primarily a source of seemingly endless play for our four year old. Here’s Mr. C digging for something on Stinson Beach in California.


Though I do like to get a few shots in of changing weather. Here’s some fog coming in on, also on Stinson Beach in California.


And a storm over Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts:


Something that impressed me about the beaches in California is the diversity of plant life. On the East Coast, there’s usually just a few grasses, and maybe some thistle and beach plums. On some beaches on the West Coast, there’s too many plants for me to identify.


And as someone who loves food, the sea is a source for dinner!


Martha’s Vineyard Ag Fair

For anyone who might think that Martha’s Vineyard is strictly for the jet setting media and political celebrity set, there is the annual Agricultural Fair. One of the oldest in the country, held every year for the past 152 years. Sitting a bit closer to the Gulf Stream, the island has a somewhat nicer climate than mainland Massachusetts, so it has a long farming history, that is still going strong today. The farms on the island do take full advantage of the free spending tourists by charging a premium for their local produce, such as $8.50 a pound for locally grown tomatoes.

Here’s Mr. C near the lamb pens. Not sure if he was allowed to pet the lambs, but there wasn’t much that would stop him. And yes, that’s a plaid hat with a stripped shirt. Dad dressed him that morning.


I remember going to fairs like this when I was a kid. Most will have a large area for judging a variety of farm animals, an area for judging baked goods, crafts, artwork and photography, and a ‘Midway’ with a few rides and games, as well as a variety of bad for you food. What’s nice about the MV fair is that a lot of the food vendors are local, not just a group of carts brought in with the rides to sell fired dough and hot dogs. The local food vendors are usually easy to spot as they have hand lettered signs, usually including info on how long they have been exhibiting at the fair. They will often give a portion of their profits to a local charity too. So you can get some yummy local food and support a good cause as well. It’s still mostly “bad for you fair food”, but at least it tastes much better than usual. And “Bad for you food” is pretty much what the fair is for anyway. When I was a kid, I was usually more interested in the animals and food than in the rides, and since Mr. C seems to be a clone of me, that’s what he seems to be interested in as well.

Here’s one of the chickens, ready for review by the panel of judges. If you ever wondered which chicken was the “Lord of the Chickens”, here she is. Her name is “Russel”.


Last year, Mr. C loved this farm pulley demonstration area. It’s an area set up in back of a barn to show kids how various pulley systems work. I took the same exact photo last year. Maybe this will be a family tradition. We’ll have a photo of him lifting this weight every year, with a variety of somewhat embarrassing outfits in each one, until he gets to be a surly teen and refuses to do it. Of course, I can’t seem to find last year’s photo at the moment.

“Feel my muscles!!” he said.


The tractor pull. I think this was the ‘antique tractor’ pull as each tractor seemed to be older than me. I think the winning tractor pulled a sled with 1,500 pounds in weights on it. Nice to know that the old things still can work. When we arrived home, Mr. C re-enacted the tractor pull using little tractors that he made out of Legos.



A wood chopping competition. Mr. C re-enacted the wood chopping competition at home using sticks.







A sheep shearing demonstration. Hmm… Mr. C always seems to be able to make his way to the front of any crowd.






He did manage to get to a few rides, but mostly, he was excited to see some animals…and eat a lot of bad food.

I’m already thinking about what kind of outfit he’ll wear next year.



Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot Two Ways

Which one is better ?   The little chair on the beach…….





Or the same chair with our 4 year old wrapped in a towel sitting in it ?   This little chair is very obviously broken, but he refuses to consider getting rid of it!




Which is better…   The view of the river as we rested after a hike on  very hot and humid day ?





Or the one where I turned the camera down just a bit to get the shot of our feet cooling off in the same  river ?


Things to do on Martha’s Vineyard when it rains

While we were on our recent trip to Martha’s Vineyard, it was either often raining, or Mr. C had a cold. I suppose that a lot of people go shopping while they are on The Vineyard. It has the reputation as being a destination for the high income set, so there are a lot of art galleries and other shops like that which cater to the 1/2 of 1% crowd. But, since I’m an unemployed stay at home dad and we’re saving money by staying at my in-law’s house, shopping there is mostly out. Besides, since it’s an island, the shops tend to try to charge for the boat freight for every item. So a gallon of milk can cost about $8, and a pound of sliced ham can cost $20.

So here are some of the exciting things we did while it rained or while Mr. C slept off his cold on vacation!

We made this puzzle! 1,000 pieces!
I wonder what Renoir would think if he knew his paintings were the source of jigsaw puzzle designs?

Mr. C was surprisingly helpful in doing this and other puzzles.




Played some vintage board games!

It turned out to be a good thing that my mother-in-law kept these games. I think they’re about 30 years old. Mr. C especially liked The Game of Life. This was always my least favorite game when I was a kid. My older brother always beat me, I always ended up bankrupt. Now he’s a Vice President at a very large financial institution, and I’m unemployed. Hmmmm……



We made another puzzle!

This one is missing two pieces. So it’s a 998 piece puzzle. We looked everywhere…. can’t find those two pieces.

There was also a 2,000 piece puzzle of a Hans Holbein painting. We’ll save that one for another time.




Made these prints using ‘Nature Paper’. Those are some shells and some seaweed, placed on the paper then exposed to light to create the image.




Ate a lot!

Ms. J made a Key Lime pie.

Here’s a slice.





There’s more to come, woo hoo!!