New Mexico

The Almost Dead Blog

So, I used to update this page religiously.   I still have so many posts I could make, tons of content, a few years worth of vacations, weekend adventures and numerous photography outings.  I don't seem to make the time for it anymore.    All of the following images were taken at the Botanical Gardens in Albuquerque.   Expedition Oklahoma has been in New Mexico for a year, this expedition Oklahoman is enjoying her life in the west.  

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In a more intimate look at my life this year I will write like the blogger that I used to be.  I divorced this spring from a marriage that lasted over twenty years. It was over a decade ago but fear of being alone, fear of other things kept  me there. This notion that marriage is forever no matter how unhappy I was.  How ridiculous that we continue to suffer because of archaic societal expectations.   But it is still a terrible experience to lose this companion that you've known  your entire adult life.   Divorce is hell, terrible, traumatic and emotional no matter how necessary it is.  

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But it gets better.  It's slowly getting better.   I am far from impulsive and this decision took me a very long time to make, this move that I've thought about of for years and years.  This decision to move to New Mexico is one that I've written about and talked about for the last decade to friends.  This break which allowed me the freedom of dealing with anger or fear when I knew I left my world behind.   Rebuilding my life alone and away from the people I need every day because of the fear of staying too close to what was tearing me apart.   

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But then I met someone important.  I lost people who mattered this year, but I found someone who makes me realize why it never worked in the past.  

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So what is love? I was hesitant to say it but couldn't find any other emotion that fit.  I couldn't say I'm in "like" - Its not the obsessive love, it's not the disconnected love of twenty years of not feeling like I had control of my life.   It's not wanting to spend a weekend alone.  I'm an introvert, I've always valued my alone time.  It's learning about something that has never interested me because I don't understand it.  But at the same time its a million little things.

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Maybe this love is a love of the same things; it's a whirlwind weekend of road trips and concerts.  

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Love is effort and time.  This blog, this sightseeing, expeditions was largely driven by loneliness,  I photographed and became a photographer because I was lonely and wanted to be accepted.  I photographed parks because the camera was my companion.  The camera didn't disappoint me, the camera went with me and wasn't too tired for my time.  The places I went and things that I photographed and documented helped me put on a good face for the world.  I wasn't lonely when I could share how beautiful I found the world around me.  So much of my photography was, just that, loneliness.   

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So it has been four months and I'm not lonely.  I'm content.  I guess that is an emotion I've lacked in my life. I've always wanted to look for something better or more substantial for me.  But I'm content now.  

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I still love photography.  But I love my companion more and right now that is all that matters.   

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This song sums up my 2017...   "Lost And Found" - I went to see Train, alone the evening before my 40th birthday.  I will never go to a concert alone again,but this song resonates with my emotions this year...  

Here's to the time we have
Here's to the lines we crossed
Here's to the ones we're waiting on, and the ones we lost
Here's to the time we have
Thank God for what we got
Here's to the ones we're waiting on, and the ones we lost

And found, the ones who stick around
Lost and found, the ones who stick around


The Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque!

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It's been just right at a year since I moved to New Mexico.   We woke up early and went to the mall for the "Park and Ride" which is what I would recommend since it will save you the trouble of parking. Balloon_Fiesta_Albuquerque_2017-1

We arrived as dawn was beginning to peek over the Sandias.  

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What a beautiful morning in America.  

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I found a little history:

From a small gathering of 13 balloons in 1972, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has grown to become the largest balloon event in the world. Held each year during the first week in October, the Balloon Fiesta now attracts almost 600 balloons and 1000 pilots.

The first gathering of 13 balloons in 1972 was held in the parking lot of Coronado Center Mall in Albuquerque. The following year, 13 countries took part in the "First World Hot Air Balloon Championship", the world's largest ballooning event, held at the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. By 1978 Albuquerque was playing host to 273 entries. The number of balloons steadily increased, with 600 in 1988 and 903 balloons in 1999. The organizers of the Balloon Fiesta registered over 1000 balloons in the year 2000. Balloon Fiesta Background

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It was an amazing experience.  I also have had difficulty with my internet service at my current residence so updating this blog has been nearly impossible and extremely frustrating.  I live on a Navajo Reservation in western New Mexico and the digital divide is a real issue. 

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I really enjoy living in the west.  Albuquerque is a great town.

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I really don't need to write a lot here so I'll just share images from the event. 

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It was a "bucket list" kind of event.  I've always wanted to go to this event.  

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The first balloon festival that I attended was in Gainesville, Texas in 2013.  My lens broke that evening.  It was too windy for the balloons to fly.  

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The moon was out and it was a beautiful morning. 

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What a crowd!  

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This is the world's largest hot air balloon.  

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So many images.  

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Come to New Mexico!  

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Hiking at El Malpais

Things can only get better!  Yesterday we went on a little hike to El Malpais.  The last couple of weeks have been crazy with the beginning school and managing to get a bad cold on top of that not to mention two amazing weekends in my new home state of New Mexico.  

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El Malpais is a National Monument which has some great hiking trails and it is just outside of Grants.  Check out the NPS website here: El Malpais- National Park Service.  

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The wildflowers were blooming! I didn't realize that New Mexico would be so beautiful this time of the year. 

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It was a beautiful hike.  

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Caves caused by the lava flows.  

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So I don't have a lot to say. It was a wonderful day (and weekend) and here are some more images.  

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I'm not in the mood to rant about politics.  Humans are disappointing.   

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We hiked to the cinder cone.  Which was pretty cool! There aren't a lot of ancient volcanoes to see in Oklahoma.   

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I visited this hiking trail last fall and didn't complete the hike to the cinder cone.  

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It's never a waste of time when you're out in nature. 

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The Indian Paintbrush is beautiful to see because it reminds me of spring at home.  

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So, let's be still...  

 


Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico

It is finally time to start working on photography again.   I've been a terrible blogger for the last couple of years and I have so much content to post.  Some of this is because I've had not-so-wonderful internet service.  

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A little bit about the Tent Rocks from the National Monument website

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a remarkable outdoor laboratory, offering an opportunity to observe, study, and experience the geologic processes that shape natural landscapes. The National Monument, on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico, includes a national recreation trail and ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level. It is for foot travel only, and contains two segments that provide opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, geologic observation, and plant identification.

The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash, and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a “pyroclastic flow.”

Precariously perched on many of the tapering hoodoos are boulder caps that protect the softer pumice and tuff below. Some tents have lost their hard, resistant caprocks, and are disintegrating. While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet up to 90 feet.

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It was worth the drive.  The first hike was around the tent rocks, which apparently are also called "hoodoos" in geology.  

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A relatively short drive from Albuquerque or Santa Fe, it is worth hiking the slot canyon, which is pretty amazing.  

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This was one of my last May outings.  I didn't know about this place until my brother mentioned that he'd like to visit last fall and I've intended to drive up and see this place.   A national park is usually always worth your time.  

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This was a day trip that was definitely worth it.  

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I really enjoyed walking through the trail that led through the slot canyon. 

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I still take photographs like I used to. I still shoot fairly often, but perhaps not with the intensity or dedication that I did a few years back.  I need to spend time working on this page and my other pages and get back to where I enjoy the hobby of photography like I used to.  I'm sure calling it a "hobby" would set the passionate, absorbed, serious photographers in a furious rage.   It's just that it is my hobby.  

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It was a great day.  

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Take the time to go see your world, even if you don't stray too far from home. 

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Tent Rocks National Monument is worth  your time if you're visiting New Mexico. 

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I've Decided

That it's time to work on this blog.  A few weeks ago I went to El Malpais and wanted to do some night photography. 

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This wasn't a good evening.  I was homesick for Oklahoma.  I just wanted something normal.   

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Driving around in the desert to shoot the stars.  My divorce was just finalized and I've been feeling lost.  

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I just don't remember a lot about this night except how terribly homesick I was.  

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But how amazing the night sky is in the southwest.   

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I'm trying to remember that night. I knew I felt better by the time I was home, at the same time I was still lost.   I'm grateful for the friends I've had this last month who have helped get me through. 


A Dead Blog

My blog is nearing the state of one of the lost ones.  Seven years I've worked on "Expedition Oklahoma"  but this last year and a half have been the hardest to maintain interest and stay motivated.  I have also spent the last six months in technological limbo; a failed internet connection and just a state of apathy about continuing to write my life down and document it one photo-essay at a time.   So I've had a huge change in my life and it is truly changing and my "expedition is no longer Oklahoma"  - I have moved to New Mexico.  Starting over.  

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In 2009 I was a frustrated teacher looking for images so I could educate my students about the state of Oklahoma; when I realized I didn't know Oklahoma at all.  I wasn't familiar with the history and the sense of place outside of the textbook.  I could teach but I could not educate because my own depth of knowledge wasn't deep enough.  So I took my camera and I started exploring when I had the idea for a blog.  I wanted to learn everything I could about Oklahoma so I could become an effective educator.  Here I am seven years later and I'm in a new state and I am an educator of state history - so once again I embark on a journey.  My sister suggested I rename my blog to "Expedition Oklahoman"- which is a wonderful idea but it probably won't happen. 

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This fall I made the great pilgrimage to The Grand Canyon and it was everything and more that I imagined it could be.  Less than a day's drive from my new home and I can see this incredible place.   I think the last year I have re-entered the education profession after two long years of graduate school.  I worked in a difficult school where I commuted a hundred miles a day.  I spent 2015-16 exhausted.  The pay in Oklahoma never allowed me to feel caught up with anything or enjoy my life as an educator so I decided to make a change.  I moved to a state that at least compensates their teachers with a living wage (which I do not see Oklahoma ever being able to do).  It is much easier to work in a position where you feel independent and able to support yourself.   I also moved because my asthma is so bad in Oklahoma that it affects my quality of life. 

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I moved in September and it's late February now.  I've appreciated the slower pace of life of living in a rural,  isolated community.  I've had to adapt to experiencing winter.  I've learned that not everything is as urgent as it could be and staying home and not always being busy is possible.   I want to find my love of writing/blogging/and photography again.  I want to find a love of a lot of things again. I feel that in the last year that I've begun to lose some of my passion for living and am choosing to not explore like I had.   

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A few weeks ago we were snowed in for a week.   My house surrounded by the towering Ponderosas and a foot of snow.  I am adjusting to high altitude living and am better off because of it.  

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In the last year I've practically given up astrophotography and the drive to go out and work on landscapes is leaving me; perhaps this is what happens when you feel that you've reached mastery level.  I grow bored once I realize I can do something and do it well, yet I know I can still improve.  I've grown bored with Oklahoma and my life and I want to find the spark that keeps me interested in living again even if that means I have to do things the unconventional way. 

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These are low res images so they don't appear as sharp on the page.  This is the first night shooting I've attempted in over a year.  I love shooting at night yet I haven't worked up the courage to do much night shooting in New Mexico.  The skies are dark and amazing though.   

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This post is all over the place. I have kind of stopped writing, yet there is so much I have to say.  Perhaps with my internet working at my new home this will be a start again.   

 


Snowy Sunday

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I'm so glad I drove back to my New Mexico home from Oklahoma yesterday instead of today!  It started snowing this afternoon.    

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So just a couple of shots of the winter wonderland up here at 7,000 feet. 

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I love the snow... if I don't have to drive in it.  Or get stuck driving in it - then I have panic attacks, but I am not going anywhere all week so I should be good.  

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National Radio Astronomy Observatory - A Very Large Array

On the Plains of San Agustin lies the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the home of " Karl G. Jansky A Very Large Array."

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This basin in Catron and Socorro counties in New Mexico is around 55 miles in length and 15 miles in width.   The plains are a remnant of a Pleistocene era lake.  After driving from where I'm living in Cibola county to the town of Fence Lake we continued to Quemado and across the mountains to the Plains of Agustin.  

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I think driving into these vast plains between the mountains is as impressive as the dishes.   I love landscapes like this, these basins that were carved out millions of years ago by natural geologic forces.  

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We stopped to take some photos before we arrived and read these signs...

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These signs should be when you enter the Plains of Agustin.  

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Now for the fun stuff....   

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My sister said I need to change my blog page name to "Expedition Oklahoman"   -  Not bad.  

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How they move them further away from each other or closer depending on what part of space they are hearing...

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This is how they move them around the rail around the Plains of Agustin 

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This is amazing, the technology of what it can do.  Seeing something that you've only ever seen in the movies.  Amazing.  

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Showing us that there is more out there than our little planet...

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So if you happen to be in New Mexico, I suggest stopping by and visiting A Very Large Array 

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We think our presidential election is so significant... 

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But if you look at the Milky Way we are nothing in comparison to the big picture.  


 


Zuni

When my youngest son was two and we lived in the shadow of this mesa he called it "Home, home Zuni."  

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My first full year teaching was in this ancient pueblo.  I didn't know a lot about the southwest until I moved to Zuni.  It was a learning experience, personal and culturally.   I loved the heritage my students had and how their history went so far back on this continent that they emerged from it and found the middle place.   I love the Zuni mountains they are striking on the landscape.  My students are in their mid-twenties now, I still think about them and that year in New Mexico.