Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer in New Mexico

A New Mexico summer sky - on New Mexico Hwy 14 to Santa Fe

A lot of people think New Mexico is like Arizona - hot and desert-like.  Some people even picture saguaro cactus when they think of New Mexico.

Sahuaro cacti in Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona
To set the record straight, there is not a single saguaro cactus in New Mexico - they only grow in Arizona.  

New Mexico is #2 (after Arizona) for the most days of sunshine of all the United States.  But, it is a whole lot cooler than Arizona in the summer.

Most of New Mexico is mountainous,  high plains and buttes over 5000 ft. above sea level.  Our most famous desert is the beautiful National Monument of White Sands.

White Sands National Monument (NPS photo)
The most southern portion of the Rocky Mountains extends into northern New Mexico where the highest point is Mt. Wheeler, 13,161 feet above sea level, about 15 miles north of Taos, NM "as the crow flies".  The lowest elevation of New Mexico is 2,842 feet above sea level, at Red Bluff Reservoir on the Pecos River.

Climate (All temperatures Fahrenheit)
Highest TemperatureThe highest temperature recorded in New Mexico is 122°, Fahrenheit. This record high was recorded on June 27, 1994 at Lakewood.
Lowest TemperatureThe lowest temperature in New Mexico, -50 °, was recorded on February 1, 1951 at Gavilan.
Average TemperatureMonthly average temperatures range from a high of 92.8 degrees to a low of 22.3 degrees.

(from: http://www.netstate.com/states/geography/nm_geography.htm) 

Where I live in central New Mexico (Albuquerque), we have 4 seasons that are reasonably mild with an average of 9.39 inches of rainfall and 10 inches of snowfall annually.  This year has been very unusual with much hotter weather in June with several days of 100+ temperatures and several weeks of 90+ temperatures.

Summer in New Mexico is a wonderful season for outdoors activities as long as you plan for some extreme weather events like sudden afternoon thunderstorms, strong wind gusts, and short sustained rainfalls that may include hail.  Take plenty of water and wear sunscreen when you hike or bike or are just going to be outside for a while because we have strong UV light and very low humidity.

For ideas of what to see or do in New Mexico, check out the State Tourism website.

Here are pictures of some of the places Ron and I have traveled to in New Mexico and where we've taken family:

San Jose de Gracia church at Las Trampas, NM

Vicki at the Taos Inn, Taos NM

Amanda at Cabazon

Wild horses at Arroyo Tonque, San Felipe Pueblo

Gerogia O'Keeffe Country, Abiquiu New Mexico

Abo ruins Salinas Pueblo Mission Trail National Monument

Valles Caldera National Preserve
Valles Caldera National Preserve

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Mass Ascension from Rio Rancho

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Ron at overlook of Rio Chama south of Vado Lake

Fendler's Sandwort  at Sandia Crest

View of Albuquerque from Sandia Mountains Crest (elevation: 10,678 ft)

Tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera

Anne on top of Sandia Mountains with a view of Albuquerque, Sandia Mountains Crest (elevation: 10,678 ft)

Hummingbirds at the Sandia Crest House

Anne's family visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Inside Carlsbad Caverns 
Navajo Lake, NM

Ron and I camping at Navajo Lake State PARK

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pearl Burns, Grande Dame of New Mexico Wildflowers, Passes Away at Age 94

Please note this change of date for the Albuquerque Celebration of Life: An open house celebration will be held in Tijeras, New Mexico on Sunday, April 30 2:00-5:00 at the Sandia Ranger District Administration Building, 11776 Hwy. 337, Tijeras, New Mexico 87059. 

Pearl Burns in 2009 on the South Crest Trail
Pearl Burns, a former resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, passed way April 17, 2017 in Littleton, Colorado where she lived her final days with her family.  A Celebration of Life was held in Denver April 22, 2017 to honor Pearl's amazing life.  She was well-known for her passion and promotion of the preservation and enjoyment of our New Mexico wildflowers.  She trained me in 2009 to identify the beautiful wildflowers that grew in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Along with myself, she trained many others to become interpretive guides who continue to carry on her legacy by leading Forest Service wildflower walks every summer.


Pearl's last wildflower walk as a Forest Service Volunteer
(Juan Tomas Road, August 25,  2012)

Pearl's 90th Birthday Celebration in Albuquerque, NM (September 7, 2012)

 Here is her obituary:

Pearl Marie Burns

September 7, 1922-April 17, 2017

Pearl was raised in the railroad town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Perhaps she got her determination from her mother, Florence Viola St. Clair, who was married, a mother and a widow at age 19. She might have gotten her height and strength from her father, Earl Hall, a fireman with the Rio Grande Railroad who was killed in a train derailment in 1923. And maybe she got her kindness from her step-father Dan Pitt, who raised her and her younger sister, Ila Pitt Jenson.
In her youth, Pearl enjoyed playing the saxophone in the Las Vegas High School Marching Band and Orchestra. Being an independent spirit, she was probably frustrated when she played half-court basketball, a limitation put upon the women of her time.  She enjoyed being creative, such as when she used her excellent seamstress skills to make dolls to sell while in high school.
Her intelligence was put to good use when she attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She expressed her strong American spirit when, with the advent of World War II and the growing need for nurses, she put her degree on hold, moved to Denver, married (and later divorced) Raymond “Red” Mohr, and enrolled in the Colorado Training School for Nurses. In her words, “I had signed up with the Cadet Nurses Corps so had a cute uniform to wear. The war was over before my nursing education was completed, but I had a career.” She was a working mother before it was in vogue, raising her two sons, Robert Mohr and his younger brother Thomas (Tommy) Mohr while working as a visiting nurse. Her fortitude was surely tested when caring for children with polio in the iron lung while working at Children’s Hospital, and later when her own son Tommy contracted polio at age five, and even the iron lung couldn’t save him.
She lived briefly in Clinton, Illinois, where she worked as a nurse at Revere Ware Copper and Brass. Later, she moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she subsequently married Floyd “Burley” Burns and had sons, Gerald “Jerry” Burns, William ”Bill” Burns, and daughter, Candace Burns Ballantyne. In 1959, she began her favorite job of her career, in the delivery room at Presbyterian Hospital, where she once delivered a baby in the back seat of a car, much to the surprise of the father! She moved up through the ranks and her career climaxed as the Director of Nursing Services at Anna Kaseman Hospital, where she retired in 1980. 22 years later, she returned to the University of New Mexico and completed her Bachelor of Science in Biology. When the love of her life, Burley, predeceased her in 1981, she began to sprout wings.
Pearl continued her lifelong passions (bridge playing, reading, sewing, gardening, and knitting), but then began adding other talents to her skillset (upholstery, painting, weaving, quilting, and crocheting). Ginny Smith, one of the women in her upholstery class invited her to join her hiking group. She was also invited by longtime friend, Linda Buffett, to join the “Happy Hoofers” hiking group. On the first hike with Linda, she saw Ginny and realized it must be a great group of women, if they were both in it! It didn’t take much encouragement from her friends to get her outside more and combine her love of learning and nature. She increased her knowledge of the grasses, trees, bushes, and especially the wildflowers while hiking. That transitioned into backpacking with the “Meadow Muffins”, men and women who ascended New Mexico’s higher peaks and Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks, and descended into the Grand Canyon and slot canyons. At 64, she hiked Uncompahgre, her first 14,000 peak. Year after year, she continued to add more peaks to her growing list, until her last 14er at age 83.
In middle age, she enjoyed downhill skiing with her children, and camping with her family. With each year, she spread her wings a little more, and in later in life she added cross country skiing, snowshoeing and white water rafting to her accomplishments, and traveled internationally with friends to New Zealand, Australia, South America and Europe.
As her knowledge of native plants and wildflowers grew, she began to lead wildflower hikes for the Sandia Ranger District and Albuquerque Open Space and she began to soar! In 2003, she was flown to Washington, D.C. to accept the National Forest Service Volunteer of the Year Award. In 2005, she co-authored the wildflower section of the “Field Guide to the Sandia Mountains” with Tom Ferguson and Jeanette Buffett. In 2011, she and Larry Littlefield co-authored “Wildflowers of the Sandia and Manzano Mountains of Central New Mexico”. In 2015, they collaborated again on “Wildflowers of the Northern and Central Mountains of New Mexico”.
When it became clear to Pearl that her hiking days were numbered, she worked with the Forest Service to begin training her successors. She was proud of the cohort of volunteers, her successors, who carry the torch for her, teaching a love for the outdoors and specifically, wildflowers. 
Pearl is survived by her sons, Robert Mohr; Jerry (Liz) Burns; and Bill (Marcia) Burns; daughter Candace Ballantyne (Bill Wharton); sister Ila Jenson; grandsons Tommy Burns; Bryan (Lynell) Burns, Jason (Stephanie) and Scott (Kayci) Burns; Burley (Deidra) Burns; Clint (Stacie) Burns; Garrett Burns; Dustin (Taylor) Burns, Kelly (Erin) Ballantyne, Jeff Ballantyne, and in addition to the blessing of six great grandsons, and FINALLY, seven great granddaughters.
There will be a celebration of her life in Denver, Colorado on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 10:00 at New Denver Church, 700 Bonnie Brae Blvd., Denver, 80209 and a casual open house celebration in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Sunday, April 30 2:00-5:00 at the Sandia Ranger District Administration Building, 11776 Hwy. 337; Tijeras, New Mexico 87059. 

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the following, or the organization of your choice.

Friends of the Sandia Mountains (Please make checks payable to FOSM)
PO Box 1832
Tijeras, New Mexico 87059

Albuquerque BioPark Botanic Gardens
2601 Central NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Would you like to vacation in Sedona, Arizona? I've got a place for you.

Sedona is a place of great natural beauty.  We travel there at least once a year often sharing our condo with friends and family.

Cathedral Rocks

Painting Cathedral Rocks
Red Rock Crossing 

Evening dinner at The Creekside Restaurant

Oak Creek in Red Rock State Park

Oak Creek flows through the middle of Sedona

Sedona is located in the northern part of Arizona, approximately 90 minutes drive from Phoenix, AZ at 4,326′ elevation. It is approximately 2 hours drive to the Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim).  Many visitors love the tranquility and energy of the place. Others like the arts scene, hiking, 4-wheeling or photography.  Shopping and dining there is terrific and there are so many opportunities for healthy living experiences, yoga, massage, golf, and mystical experiences.

My daughter has a lovely timeshare at Villas of Sedona which is available for one week a year (any week you want with advance reservations).  This year it is reserved for December 8-15, 2017.  It is a one bedroom plus a sleeping loft and 1 1/2 bathrooms. The bedrooms and a full bath are upstairs and a sofa sleeper and half bath are downstairs.  It has a fireplace, a private patio, a balcony, two flat screen TVs, DVD/CD player and is fully stocked with kitchen equipment ready for your enjoyment. It sleeps a maximum of 6 persons.

Activities center and outdoor pool and hot tub

The indoor pool
   Here s the floor plan:

The Chapel of the Holy Cross in the rocks

Slide Rock Park in Oak Creek Canyon

Here is what the condo (representative) looks like from the outside:

Here are some pictures of the inside (representative):

Living room

Living room and dining area

Half bath downstairs

Kitchen and door to outside front patio


Stairs to bedroom and sleeping loft

Upstairs bath with shower




Sleeping loft with Murphy bed

Balcony off sleeping loft

Sleeping loft upstairs


Living room

Private rear patio
This unit is for rent December 8-15, 2017 for $300.  Or for $301 plus $115 fees, you can purchase the unit as a deeded ownership for the week of your choice every year (including December 8-15, 2017).  Annual homeowner dues are $773 per year payable January 1 of each year.  If you own this timeshare, you can exchange your week for a fee to thousands of other places in the world. Besides your one week a year reservation, you can ask for Bonus Time 3 weeks in advance and stay for one to seven nights any other time of the year at any of three VRI properties  (subject to vacancy) in Sedona for a small fee per night.

Tlaquepaque Village

The chapel at Tlaquepaque Village

Sedona is a center of New Age activities
Ron and Vicki at Tlaquepaque Village

Ron flying in a vintage bi-plane at Sedona Airport

Here is a video I did of a drive through Oak Creek Canyon in October, 2015: