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: 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mary and the Grand Kids Come to Albuquerque for Spring Break

My daughter, Mary, arrived Sunday with the grand children to spend Spring Break in Albuquerque.  They hail from Grand Junction, Colorado (pop. 59,000).  The kids are 5 and 7 years old.  They think Albuquerque is fabulous.  I asked why they liked Albuquerque?  "Because it is so-oooo big." said the eldest.  Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico (pop. 546,000 and metro area is over 900,000).  It's big for New Mexico which has only 2,059,000 population in a land area that is the 5th largest state (we have some wide open empty places in New Mexico). Their mom and Aunt Amanda and visiting San Diego friend Ashley and I have taken them to the movies, Museum of Natural History, Tiguex Park, Madrid (pronounced "MAD-drid"), Meow Woof in Santa Fe, and of course, splashing in Grandma's hot tub.  The weather has been sunny and in the 80's.  Wow, what's not to like about New Mexico?

I have a limitation on walking (due to bunion surgery March 7th), so I haven't been able to take them for walks or hikes. But we did get around the Museum of Natural History and catch the IMAX film in 3-D "Galapagos"  followed by a fun time in Tiguex Park where I mostly observed their boundless energy.

Evenings have been shared with movies, coloring, and falling in love with my cat, Precious.  The girls are totally delightful and I look forward to going to Grand Junction April 4-19 to help Mary and her husband Matt as Mary has to travel for her job.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Time to Sail Away From Reality

When you and your husband have opposite political views and you're both retired, your days and nights, particularly when the TV news is on, can be anxious and unsettling.  Going on a vacation out of the country can be a nice respite and quite healthy for a marriage...and we are getting older...and it's cold in New Mexico this month...and we filed our taxes and are getting a refund...and because it's Valentines Day... and Ron's, for many good reasons, we booked a Caribbean cruise for February.
On board enjoying the Bon Voyage Party

We found a very nice deal for a large Signature Suite with our favorite cruise line, Holland America, departing from Tampa, Florida on February 17th.  Southwest Airlines was having a sale and we got very inexpensive airfare.

We have good friends who live just outside of Tampa, and they offered to host us for a couple of days before we sailed.  On February 15th, we flew to Tampa and our friend, Anna, picked us up.  She took us to nice places for dinner (Middle Eastern and seafood) and the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg which was also featuring an exhibit of Frida Kahlo art and then dropped us off at the Cruise Port for our cruise which was to set sail at 4PM Friday, February 17th.

Departing the Port of Tampa

Downtown Tampa

Bon Voyage Party on the Aft Deck

Approaching the Sunshine Bridge
Going under the Sunshine Bridge

Sunset departing Tampa Bay

Sea View Pool aft at sunset

We docked at Key West the next day at 11AM.  Neither of us had been here before. The most southern point of mainland USA, it is a 2 mile by 4 mile island 90 miles north of Cuba.

Taking my morning walk around the Promenade Deck

Dawn an hour from Key West

Key West Port

The beginning of US Hwy 1 - The Florida Keys Scenic Highway 

Everything is pretty much sea level here.  Warm in the low 80's F.

We were at sea Sunday night as we headed to Roatan, Honduras.  It was a beautiful sunset.

Ron enjoying the sunset from our veranda
Sunrise on Sunday morning just west of Cuba


The Promenade Deck, always popular with walkers in the morning

The Lido pool mid-ship

  It was Gala Night on Sunday so Ron and I dressed up for dinner and later attended a show.

Vicki and Ron February 19, 2017 on the MS Oosterdam
We arrived at Mahogany Bay in Roatan, an island off the coast of Honduras.  It is home for the second largest Barrier Reef in the world and it is a haven for diving.

The mountains of Honduras are in the far distance
We had booked an island tour with Daniel Johnson's Monkey and Sloth Hangout.  Our driver, Michelle, drove us to Daniel Johnson's home where he has set-up an animal refuge for discarded pets.  He now charges admission to insure their economic welfare. You can hold some of the animals.  The sloth was so sweet to get a hug from.

Feeding a beautiful macaw

A parrot who knows how to pick a lock

A Three Toed Sloth

A Capuchin Monkey

My friend looking for a treat
We stopped for lunch at Gio's in Flowers Bay

Flowers Bay, Roatan Island
I had the King Crab with Lobster 
Flowers Bay, Roatan Island
Ron with his Coconut Rum drink at Gio's
Enjoying the beautiful view of the ocean from Gio's deck

 We did some souvenir shopping and headed back to the ship.  The next port was Santo de Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala.  We arrived at the steamy tropical port at 8:00AM on Tuesday.

I had booked a Humanitarian Tour to Livingston and the Rio Dulce .  We went up the Rio Dulce to a Mayan school where the children eagerly greeted us with songs and signs and notes written in English.  We passed out pencils, erasers and other school supplies we had brought.

Boarding our river boat from the port

The shore along the bay

Lots of pelicans - five species are represented

Salted fish laid out to dry.  This is an important commodity for Livingston.  

The children (grades 1-3) waiting for us.

An egret

There are many homes and hotels along the Rio Dulce


Heading back to the ship

The Port at Santo Tomas de Castillo is primarily an industrial port.  The cruise ships that dock here bring important tourist dollars to this poor Central American country.
 We sailed north that evening along the Yucatan Peninsula toward Costa Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico

The Cruise Port of Costa Maya, Mexico

Carnival has a big private cruise ship port development at Costa Maya.  But we passed on this, preferring to book a private excursion to Maya Chan Beach Resort.
Our ship as seen from the Maya Chan Beach Resort
Maya Chan was a a small private beach with great hospitality.

 Maya Chan Beach offered a rum punch and chips, guacamole and Pico de Gallo salsa upon arrival as guests were provided a reserved seating area, kayaks, snorkel gear, beach games,and floating beach chairs.  An all you can eat lunch was served along with an open bar.  Massage was offered for an additional fee and I enjoyed a half hour massage.

Maya Chan Beach Resort

My place in the shade

The dining palapa where we enjoyed a lovely taco bar lunch

Inside the gate entrance of Maya Chan Beach

The many colors of the sea at Maya Chan Beach.

Our ship was sailing at 3PM.  Returning to the ship, I enjoyed looking at the incredibly blue sea by the cruise ship port.  Beautiful day!

We sailed back on Wednesday, February 22nd, through a rain storm and some rolling seas and wind, arriving back in Tampa by 6:30AM on Friday, February 24th,