Monday, May 25, 2009

Cougar safety in Last Chance Canyon

Before beginning our trek into Last Chance Canyon, the park sign had a sign about what to do if you see a cougar on the trail:

1)Pick up your children and calm them down.
2)Do not run (cougars will catch you)
3)Use your jacket and your arms to make yourself look bigger.
4)If the cougar comes closer, throw rocks.
5)If it attacks - fight back!

Yikes! Margaret was in the back of the group, but she planned to give the cougars a whap with her walking stick if they try to pick her off.

Sitting Bulls Falls

Sitting Bulls Falls is just a five minute walk from the parking lot, through fragrant trees that grow between the crevice of two cliffs. Though the walk doesn't seems life threatening, vultures are circling us. Calvin is delighted to be in the "pack pack". He's also learning to saw "cliff" "bath" and "down" (as in, let me down so I can practice my new walking skills on these slippery rocks that the ranger warned us about).

Bob explains that water that is cascading down the side of the mountain comes from springs at the top that form pools, like personal Jacuzzi's, at the top. You can actually sit in a pool that has water pouring over the edge.

The waterfall is covered with Tufa, a coating of calcium carbonate that is formed by dead plant materials. The informational placard on the fence says that in a million years the whole waterfall will be covered in the stuff. I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Anywat, it is rare for everyone in Quinn's family to get together, and so it was good that we got to all go on a hike together.

It was just like Josph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

We were driving through the desert to get to Lincoln National Forest on Sunday, when we saw three huge cows walking along the road. Their bellies swished back and forth like overfilled water balloons.

It was pastureland, and cows were all along the road. The first three were the only ones that seemed to be eating well. The rest were all ribs and hipbones. We couldn't help but wonder (out loud in the parking lot) why there were so many cows on the side of the road. A man in a fluorescent orange windbreaker, who was hiking with his daughter (?) had the answer. There are oil pipelines all along the road and water flows by the pipe lines. The cows go to the water, and there are plants there too, so that's where the cows like to graze. Then the cows poop and fertilize the soil, and so even more plants grow until the cows just spend all their time on the side of the highway.

At least they don't jump out in front of the car like deer.

Calvin's walking!

Over the weekend Calvin started walking all over the place. He's a late walker, and has been cruising and holding on to things for months. We went down to Carlsbad to see family, and as soon as he was surrounded by his grandma, Papa Bob (or Bob Bob as he calls him) and his uncles he started walking between us.

He's pretty pleased with himself.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I am a total moron

I can't believe how bad I am with small electronic devices. I put my cell phone through the wash and now I can't get a hold of my babysitter, and every time I go to Minnesota I lose a digital camera.

The first time was over fourth of July when we went pontooning on Leech Lake with Dad. I left my camera in the car at the Albuquerque Sunport where it got fried in our car in the parking lot. I bought a new one, which I lost when I was visiting Dad when he had cancer. We had just taken a great picture with him holding Calvin, and all of his brothers were there and we were eating pizza at a restaurant and having a good time. Then I lost it. Dumb. Dumb dumb dumb.

I wish I would have gotten a new one right away. There are so many things to take pictures of. I should have taken a million pictures of Dad while I was in MN last month. But I just didn't. I don't even think I can express my true feelings of anxiety over this. Luckily other people took good pictures. But time goes by fast.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tent Rocks

We took a Mother's Day hike at the Tent Rocks in Cochiti Pueblo on Sunday. This is one of the most amazing hikes I've been on. All those weird pointed rocks with layers of sediment that looked just like Dr. Seuss art. If God was a potter, this would be his stash of experiments. There were toadstool rocks halfway up the canyon wall. The canyon was so narrow that we could only see a sliver of the blue sky. Grooves in the wall; a racetrack for the wind. The rosy glow of the sun off the rocks and Quinn trying to explain how awesome everything looked through the lenses of his new sunglasses.

Calvin wouldn't wear a hat, even though it was 95 degrees outside and there was nothing between us and the sun. I slathered sunscreen on him so his hair stuck up like a crazy professor.

Toward the top the tent rocks looked like a gnomish village. We reached the top and could see every mountain within 100 miles (which is a lot). Calvin showed his appreciation by making a chorus of farting noises and saying "down", as if we'd just let him crawl off the edge of the cliff...I was a little tense, because of the sun I guess. My worry over Calvin's skin.

We headed down. There was one spot where there was a three foot drop that would be unsafe to do with the baby backpack. Quinn took off the pack, with Calvin inside, and I held it while Quinn got down. Then He just put the backpack on again when he was on the lower level.

We saw a man on the path who had a mustache, glasses and gray hair. Yeah, he looked like my dad, but he was a little less macho. Calvin saw him and said his famous, "JJJAck!" I don't know how I'm going to get used to this. I told the man that he looks like my dad and that's why the baby is calling him Jack. Quinn though the might be bothered by having a young lady tell him he looked like her dad. Tough shit, I say. I can't help it if (if) he is self conscious about his age. At least I didn't tell him he looked like someone who just died. I think that would give him a strange feeling all day.

When we got back to the canyon, in the shade and with the sandy bottom, we fed Calvin some carrots and ran out of water. Then we let him walk until he got fussy, and strapped him into the backpack so we could get going. It was getting late and there weren't any more hikers with us on the path. That seems like a bad sign. Even though Calvin was getting tired we calmed him down by singing "Are you sleeping?" and "Row, Row, Row your boat."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wolves in the Valles Caldera National Preserve

Every time we hike in the Valles Caldera National Preserve we see some critter that's at least as high as we are on the food chain. Yesterday we strapped Calvin, who was sound asleep, to the backpack and followed the trail that Quinn took last week to where there was an elk carcass.

We could see the white bones jutting out of the grass, but we could also see a wolf tip-toeing around the edge of the clearing. "Cool carcass," I said, "Let's get out of here."

If there was one wolf, there was sure to be more. I was there a couple of months ago with his parents and saw five of them. We turned around and headed back for another trail that would take us to the river.

Last fall we saw a baby cub in a tree near this trail, and thought we heard it's mother, and so we hurried out. We agreed, though, that the scariest thing to see in the woods would be a mountain lion, because that's the only animal that has actually attacked people in town (that we've heard of). We've heard stories of a mountain lion jumping on the back of a biker, or picking of a toddler who strayed behind. So hopefully we won't see one of them.