Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hiking the Pino Trail #140

This morning, my Saturday morning hiking group headed back to Elena Gallegos Open Space to hike the Pino Trail (#140).   This trail is very close to where I live in the foothills of Albuquerque.  The weather was warm and sunny and many hikers were on the trail.

I drive north from my house (red star)  a few miles on Tramway Blvd. to Simms Park Road, then a mile and a half east to Elena Gallegos Park

We park at the upper parking area where the Pino Trail begins

There is a map and trail guide here.  In a short distance, the trail crosses into Wilderness area and bikes are not allowed.

The trail starts out in wide open grass and cactus covered desert foothills.
The trail climbs along an arroyo and soon is shaded from pinon and juniper. 

The trees make for a cooler hike even in summer. Looking north toward the Sandia tram.

It's a lovely hike year-round.  Sometimes there is water in the arroyo but not today.  Lichen-covered rock along the trail.

Our group of four women and Hank the dog did 1 1/2 miles up in a little over an hour, then we turned around to go down.  When we have more time, perhaps we will go all the way to the Crest Trail (about 3 more miles up).

We left the parking area (PNOWP1) about 9:30AM. The trail is 4+ miles up with the last 2 miles much steeper.  It joins the Crest Trail at the summit.

 Today, the temperature in Albuquerque hit a record high for March, 81 degrees F.  Most of the snow in the Sandia Mountains has melted.  There are many trails throughout the Sandia mountains for every level of difficulty.  Here is a map and list of the the trails from the the Forestry Service that you can print.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ciao! Come va?

Breaking News

I am learning a new language - Italian

Why, you may ask, would I in my seventh decade of life attempt to learn a foreign language?  The short answer would include three reasons:

1. It's a beautiful sounding language
2. I'm hoping to visit Italy and stay for a while
3. The culture of Italy is bellissima!

However, my secret ambition is that I have always wanted to be multi-lingual.  I think it is tied to my desire to see the world.  I am a native speaker of English.  In high school I studied a "dead language" - Latin.  I was an average student of Latin, but I definitely benefited from its study when I took up Spanish in college.  After three years of formal study of Spanish and several months working among Spanish speakers in Tucson as a community organizer for the UFW, I consider myself fairly fluent in Spanish.

There were a few other attempts at foreign languages throughout my life and into my 40's.  I did self-study of Russian, learning a non-Roman alphabet and some pronunciation of Russian words, but I never took classes so it went nowhere.  I took Japanese for a very short time at a community college in San Diego.  Both of my daughters took Japanese in high school and I had several girlfriends who spoke Japanese, so I thought it would be fun to learn.  I learned  a few phrases and then dropped out of that class.

My TESOL Certificate
When I was 49, I decided I would like a second career as a teacher overseas in English language schools.  I enrolled in an UCSD-Extension certificate program for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.  Our courses of study included the study of linguistics and theories on language acquisition. Learning a new language is a real challenge for adults. Our brains are very adaptive to learning speech and symbols from birth to about 7 years old.  But after 7, studies show our brain changes, becoming "hard-wired" in understanding the world in the the  language we are brought up in.  Before the age of 7 is an ideal time to learn more than one language.

I never did go overseas to teach English, but I have tutored adult ESL students for 15 years.  At the local community college where I tutor now,  I saw a poster advertising a Spring semester course in "Elementary Italian".  I haven't taken a college course since 2004 (when I was in an MBA program at the University of Phoenix in San Diego).  I found out that we senior citizens got a nice discount for community college classes (only $5 per credit) so I applied and registered at Central New Mexico College for the Spring, 2015 semester.  Our teacher at the local community college is from Rome and she is an enthusiastic teacher.  It's not easy, but it is fun.  My husband approves because he thinks that learning a foreign language helps fight dementia.

Another aspect is that I can appreciate better what my ESL students are going through. I think I am a more sensitive teacher because of my personal experience.

Ron and I in Sardinia, Italy 

In Firenze (Florence), Italy
I found out that a local Italian-American cultural club has regular conversation groups every week.  After I finish this class, I plan to join one to keep improving my language skills.  Then, who knows, maybe my husband and I will go to Italy and stay a while.  We stopped at five Italian ports-of-call when we cruised the Mediterranean in the fall of 2013 but I found that these short visits were a mere appetizer leaving one hungry for the full meal.

I've been studying Italian for 3 months now, going to class twice a week.  Each day, as I practice my Italian and learn a bit more, I am excited about the possibility of one day Ron and I going to Italy for a long term stay!  Ron loves Italy and wants to show me places he has been.  I'm hoping that I can learn enough Italian to help us navigate the country and its customs.

The Ponte Vecchio in Florence spanning across the Arno River.  

A market in Palermo, Sicily

The coliseum in Rome

Sistine Chapel in Vatican City
A street in Naples, Italy

A view of Naples harbor

Porto Cervo in Sardinia

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The redeemer Spring, at last

Purple plum petals 
reach toward the sun,
and then,
the wind.  
they fall
to the ground.
The redeemer Spring,
at last,
frees winter's
death grip
from the quiet grayness
of the land.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Blog Post Redux: Winter Pallette Unfolding

The morning light creeps in on tiny cat paws.
Silent hunter floating like a ghost
amid subtle tonal shapes 
and chromatic grays.

Eyes slightly open anticipate the canvas
in the softness of an early morning glow.

The winter palette offers quiet images
in values of light and dark,
as does consciousness
awaken slowly
to the light.

Beijing, China - Morning of November 28, 1980

Photography and poem by Vicki Powers
First published on The Universe Smiles on Monday, August 24, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hiking Embudo Trail (#193) in Albuquerque Foothills

With my Saturday morning hiking group, I continue to learn the trails on the west side of the Sandia mountains.  We hiked the Embudo (Spanish for "funnel") Trail in the Sandia Foothills Open Space last Saturday.

It was a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the high 40's as we started out shortly after 9AM.  Still too early for wildflowers.  This trail starts at the east end of Indian School Rd. NE in Albuquerque where there is a large parking area.  There are three trails here, #401, #365 and #193.  We took the trail due east which goes to the Embudo Dam where a gate and a marker indicate the Embudo Trail, #193 but there are no signs with a map or trail guide. This fence does mark the Cibola National Forest Wilderness area so no bicycles are allowed after this point. If you hike this trail to the top, it is over 6 miles in and out.   We were less ambitious and hiked 2.5 miles in and out to about 7000 ft., just below the juniper and pinon tree line.

The trail begins as a wide sandy high desert wash and narrows down to a rocky arroyo with Embudo Creek seeping downward along its rocky path.  There are willows and cottonwoods, still bare, along the creek so I think this provides a shady respite to summer hikers.

Looking west toward Albuquerque near the beginning of the trail

It's easy to get off-trail when you reach the narrow canyon and the rocks can be difficult to hike on.  

Here I am scrambling the boulders in the arroyo (picture by Susan Moore)

Rocks are quite smooth and therefore slick here

A little water was seen in the creek bed
Hank needed a push up the rocks every once and a while

Large cottonwoods along the creek

Large rock formations on each side of the funnel canyon

Nice granite

The lower arroyo

Heading home

Five of us and Hank, the dog, hiked this time: