Hiking Near Broomfield

Although things were a little hectic in Broomfield on our visit, we did manage to get in a couple of walks and take advantage of the beautiful weather and observe a new ecosystem. Prairie dogs are common in Broomfield, but I was amazed how long these two held their pose for me

until I realized that there had to be another reason for the pose. Sure enough, a Red-Tailed Hawk circled overhead.

I also managed a nice shot of this Red-shafted/Yellow-shafted intergrade, an increasingly common cross between a Red-Shafted and Yellow-Shafted Flicker.

We got our longest, and toughest, walk/hike in the last day we were there, and I spent most of the day watching the girls/dogs/Tyson lead the way.

Despite some recent snow, the area reminded me a lot of Indian Heaven in early Fall with its palette of brightly colored foliage and scattered trees,

though the distant rocks made it clear we were hiking just outside Boulder, Colorado,

part of the Rockies.

A Visit toSanta Fé

If you’ve followed this blog for very long, you’re probably aware that I’m not fond of cities, with the possible exception of Seattle. Needless to say, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Santa Fé. It certainly didn’t hurt that Greg took us on a tour. I’m sure it would have been a very different experience if we had just visited on our own.

Although we saw a very small portion of the area, I was impressed by how many homes and businesses had adopted the traditional adobe style, like the El Dorado Hotel.

Our tour also doubled down on visiting Catholic churches with a stop at The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. Religious or not, it’s impossible to deny that religions have inspired artists.

Considering how many adobe churches we had seen since entering New Mexico, it seemed a little strange that this church was built in the Romanesque Revival style. One of the guides told us that he cathedral was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy on the site of an older adobe church.

We also stopped at Loretto Chapel which featured this famous spiral staircase which seems to lack any central support.

As a semi-serious woodworker, I’ll have to admit that I was awed by the skill it took to build this.

Apparently this church was also commissioned by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy,

and was inspired by a famous French church. French or not, this simple, yet over-the-top, altar struck me as truly beautiful.

The High Road from Taos to Santa Fe

Knowing that Greg wouldn’t be available until 8:00 PM, we decided to take the High Road from Taos to Santa Fé based on recommendations I read on the internet. There were some beautiful sights just outside of Taos, including golden Aspen Groves.

Our first major stop was the Picuris Pueblo, supposedly known for its “beautiful arts, crafts, and pottery.” Unfortunately upon arrival we learned that they Gallery/Gift Shop/Restaurant were closed for the season. It turned out that there was still a $5.00 fee to enter the reservation and another $15.00 fee to take photographs. I kind of assumed that if they were charging another 15 dollars that there must be some great shots to be taken.

The church was beautiful, though not as striking as the church we had seen at the Taos Pueblo the day before.

The church was the highlight of our visit, and I found the almost childlike simplicity of the altar

and this display

truly beautiful.

I found the 400 year old kiva less impressive.

Unfortunately, I left feeling that I had been ripped off with the photography surcharge, and a little exploration on the internet revealed that I wasn’t alone in the feeling that way. Though there might be a few special holidays when it would be worthwhile to visit, our visit didn’t turn out to be so.

We had an equally unhappy experience at the Nambe Pueblo where I had intended to visit their waterfall, the second highest in New Mexico. The sign at the entrance said the park was open, but after driving ten miles down the road we found the gates locked and a sign warning that trespassers would be prosecuted.

It wasn’t a complete waste of time, though, as I pulled over and took some shots of the striking landscape.

In retrospect, if I were to make the trip again I would have researched the artist tour and focused more on visiting studios hidden off the road. We only managed to visit two of them but were quite impressed by both, even if I didn’t take any pictures At both places I was seriously tempted to spend a lot more money than I could afford. The first place had beautiful pottery and watercolors. The second was a weaving store; as much as I admired one coat, I couldn’t justify the $600 price tag though the handwork more than justified the price.

Taos Pueblo

After last year’s trip to Mesa Verde I was eager to further explore America’s Southwest Indians, particularly the Pueblo Indians this year. I hoped to extend our explorations to New Mexico and Arizona. After Leslie’s classmate’s invitation to visit in Santa Fé, I searched the internet for nearby places to visit. The most obvious was the Taos Pueblo, “one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.”

I’ll have to admit, though, that the pueblo wasn’t quite what I was expecting. In retrospect, I’m not sure what I was expecting, certainly something closer to what I saw in Mesa Verde last year. I thought “pueblo” described a particular kind of architecture, not that it was simply a synonym for “village.”

The Catholic Church that stands at the entrance of the Pueblo was the first indication that this was not going to be Mesa Verde.

As it turned out, Catholic Churches stood out everywhere I went in New Mexico, but especially in the small Pueblos.

It was only from a distance that Taos Pueblo reminded me of the Mesa Verde ruins,

but the brightly painted doors (and parked cars, of course) didn’t quite seem to fit in.

The other part of the village, across Red Willow Creek, looked even more traditional, at least from this angle.

Much of the village looked like a Western trading post, like this café which served a delicious green chili and fried bread.

Perhaps the most interest site to me was this church what was destroyed by the U.S. Army after braves killed Governor Charles Bent in a Taoist revolt during the Mexican-American War in 1847.

Apparently the warriors were under the illusion that they would receive sanctuary there. American troops bombarded the church killing or capturing those inside. Our tour of the village began with a visit to the destroyed church.

The Rio Grande and the Millicent Rogers Museum

We spent our first afternoon in Taos eating and shopping; I was too busy spending money to take pictures. Early the next morning we set out to visit the “famous” bridge over the Rio Grande.

This was supposed to be a good place to get shots of Bighorn Sheep, but we certainly didn’t see any despite returning later in the day. Worst of all, the shadows were so deep that it was impossible to get a good shot of the canyon even using HDR.

It probably didn’t help that just peering over the edge of the bridge made me feel queasy.

The highlight of the stop for me was a glimpse of these Mountain Chickadees, a first I think.

We spent the rest of the morning visiting the Millicent Rogers Museum. They had me hooked with this statue in front of the museum.

I was pleased to learn that I could take pictures anywhere in the museum, but I quickly learned that there was so much glare from the lighting that it was impossible to get a decent shot of any of the framed art work, as well as the delightful display of rugs.

Luckily, it was easier to get good shots of the statues. I loved this one combining modern and ancient motifs in particular.

Works of art as splendid as this always make me wonder if I didn’t make a mistake choosing a low-paying career like teaching.

The golden trees on the road back to Taos reminded me that

beauty doesn’t have to be purchased; it’s present for all who are able to see.

Broomfield Soccer

We timed our trip to Broomfield so we could see all three grandkids’ soccer games since that is one of their favorite activities. We got to see two of the three kids play on Saturday. Zoe’s game came first. Zoe plays fast and aggressively,

often getting to a ball other teammates can’t get to.

Unfortunately, Grandpa failed to capture her only goal of the game.

Logan is a freshman playing on varsity for his high school team, so he had less of a chance to show his skills. Despite the sunshine, it was brutal on the sidelines with wind gusts up to 40 mph. Grandpa was relieved that he did get a chance to play at the end of the game.

As it turned out, we also got a chance to see his last game of the year in Colorado Springs on our way back from Santa Fé. The weather for this game was delightful and we got another chance to see Logan show his skills against some older competition.

We didn’t get to see one of Sydney’s games until our second weekend. Sydney plays defender and it was nice to see her show some aggression.

Most of all, it was good to see all three kids enjoying the game.

A Stop-over at Bear River Bird Migratory Refuge

I find it nearly impossible to drive past the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge without stopping since I discovered it a few years ago, but I didn’t really have high expectations. The last time I drove through it in October I got a lot more mosquito bites than photographs. We stopped at a campground about 50 miles north of the refuge and planned on driving through early in the morning.

Leslie captured this shot of a hawk watching us watching it just outside the refuge.

I was a little surprised to see large flocks of Avocets in non-breeding colors as we approached the refuge since I thought they would have left by now.

Though it was the striking orange breeding colors that first attracted me to American Avocets and brought me to Bear River, seeing them in non-breeding colors made me look at them in different ways.

I was also surprised to see Clark Grebe’s with young this late in the season.

I wondered how long it would be before the young were ready to fly to their wintering grounds.

Although there weren’t nearly as many grebes as there were at the beginning of summer, there were still quite a few adults around so perhaps the young grebes have plenty of time to mature before they need to leave.

Though we have American Pipits in the Puget Sound, this is the first time I know that I’ve actually gotten a shot of one.

Bear River was a good way to start the last stretch of our trip to Broomfield.