RCCLA rocks!

We have camped much of the Summer on land in far northern New Mexico that is managed by Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association (RCCLA).  From what I’ve seen over the Summer, this organization does the best job in New Mexico of managing and maintaining the vital habitat and wildlife of the Sierra Sangre De Cristo.

It’s pretty cool to see that a for-profit organization (private ranchers) are doing a better job than ANY of our national forests of preserving ancient grasses, protecting one of our country’s most delicate wild trout habitats, and operating a truly magnificent campground facility; all within the context of an obviously well-run ranching enterprise.

It’s increasingly difficult to find a pristine, clear, mountain river full of multiple species of wild trout – without going to Alaska or off the continent – let alone such a place with domestic cattle and elk being co-managed so well by a local cooperative enterprise.

Seriously.  If you want to camp, fish, hunt in the most beautiful wilderness in New Mexico or Colorado, and you want to see what old-world private ranchers can do when put in charge of precious natural resources, the you owe it to yourself to go stay a few days.  It’s easily the best outdoor experience you will have in New Mexico.

Unfortunately, I don’t do well above 8,500 ft. elevation – and much of this wilderness area is above 9,000 ft.   The highest and best scenario for me is to go up to that altitude with an understanding that I won’t be able to do much more than a 1/4-mile slow walk, and to come back down within 24-36 hours.

I love the serenity, though, and the extraordinary alpine meadows with their creeks and mountain seeps running through spruce, pine and aspen.  Stewart Edward White and Teddy Roosevelt both wrote of hunting expeditions into this region (private ranches then) just before the 20th century.

Important BTW::   I love Mia!  She’s the most awesome girl I’ve ever known.  I’ve never even MET anyone with values like hers.  She’s taught me more than I ever bargained to learn… and she’s really really cute!  I don’t really know if I can survive a winter where she lives but – I think – we’re to a point in our partnership where we are both wanting to move South in Winter and back to Taos in Summer (with ample commuting as necessary).

It’s a little strange, I think, that so many people think of the Sierra Sangre De Cristo as if it’s a New Mexico area/culture.  If you’ve not been to San Luis CO (the oldest settlement in the state of Colorado) and looked back into the Sangres from the Northwest, or you’ve not driven South from San Pablo CO to Amalia NM and realized THAT is the original land grant from Spain which defines this region’s cultural and natural heritage, then find a way to come visit!

Just remember to leave it better than you found it, and to be respectful of an ancient ranching culture that is the nation’s best example of entrepreneurship without greed – and without compromise of natural and human values.

God acted with Grace when He gave us each other and this planet.  So our only logical response can be gratitude; but gratitude is meaningless without the actions of love, tolerance, forgiveness, generosity, and service.

 

 

Unpleasant News

I’ve been pretty busy this Summer, and frequently many miles from the nearest internet or telephone service.

I promise to post more pictures and adventure stories from our treks in the HIGH country of the Sangre De Cristo Land Grant.  The highest peaks in the Sierra Sangre De Cristo aren’t even in New Mexico!  They’re in Colorado.  It’s one of the most beautiful and pristine wilderness areas left in the country.  Not many humans up there in that country – but lots of water full of wild trout!

Unfortunately, I am now a witness in a criminal proceeding against five individuals in Texas.  The charges are serious and the arrest warrants have been sent to Texas law enforcement.  The DA tells me out-of-state law enforcement doesn’t typically serve such warrants immediately; but sooner or later the warrants will pop up in a traffic stop, or when someone tries to get a state license, or in local “warrant roundups”.

What a freakin’ mess!

Aside from that, which is really not a big deal, I’ve had the best Summer of my life and promise to get pictures uploaded with more posts after I get back to where I have highspeed internet.

Best thing is I have not seen network television or news in almost two months.  Craziness.  I had figured Trump would be ousted from the race by now.

Most Scenic Place in New Mexico?

I beg to differ with the travel guides who call the Lower Hondo Valley the most scenic place in New Mexico.  It’s indubitably a beautiful little valley where I live, but our state has some mighty scenic places – like the Rio Costilla Canyon Southeast of the town of Costilla.

We spent the weekend exploring the high country of the Northwest Sangre de Cristo range – mainly places in the Questa Ranger District – and had a wonderful time camping in the high meadows surrounding the Rio Costilla.  The drive up through the Rio Costilla Canyon is simply spectacular – and doesn’t seem to have been “discovered” by too many foreigners.  The river – with its wild cut-throat and brook trout – is a “best kept secret” of local fishing fanatics and it’s easily the most beautiful little river in the state!

We also visited Cabresto Lake and found it overrun with jeep’sters and foreigners gone fishing in the stocked reservoir.  We also found it’s no longer maintained for camping, dirty and trashy, and too high for me to get along safely.  The altimeter said we topped out at 9600 feet before dropping only a couple hundred feet to the lake itself, and it was obvious if I stayed for long I’d not be able to do much of anything.

So we headed on North, thinking we might go to the Latir Lakes (which turned out to be closed) and discovered the Rio Costilla Cooperative Campground on the road up the canyon.  It’s an excellent place to camp, and one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.  One helluva beautiful little river!

We camped just below 9000 feet and I was able to get along pretty well.  I can tell, above about 8500 feet, that my heart barely keeps up and my muscles fatigue and cramp easily – a sign of the oxygen deprivation – but I’m probably safe to stay 2-3 days.  Above that altitude I start to lose so much function it’s not worth trying to stay long, and it’s likely dangerous for me.

We’re off to camp and fish on the Rio Chama next week, then I’ll bet we go back to Rio Costilla to fish and stay longer!

It’s all New and it’s all Good

I can hardly wait to see Filastine on the mesa tomorrow night!  We’ve been having awesome weather for an outdoor rave!

It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come since February, armed with nothing more than a health/recovery plan and the will to be better, but I’m not complaining.  There are plenty of people in the world who make a pastime of complaining – but I’m not one of them!

I’ve gotten on and back off some horrific psych drugs, simply to get me safely past the psychotic episode when my heart failed (again), and I’ve resumed my full regimen of diet and running.  Per the plan we made with palliative care I’ve also gone to Texas and ruled out a move to Austin for health reasons; I’ve curtailed my involvement in stressful situations; I’ve done the oxymetry to make sure altitude is not contributing to any cardiac issues (in fact I am running one mile now at just over 4 mph, on a variable incline, at 7100 ft altitude, with only a drop below 96% saturation for a few minutes); I’ve acquired a new car; and I’ve gotten a new place to live in Taos.

That’s a helluva lot of improvement in only a short time!  It gets better, though!  My super cute new girlfriend has moved in with me in Taos (she blows past me at about 7 mph and keeps going for 11 more miles!), and I’ve been winning money playing roulette in the local casinos!  Good money!

Luck in the casino is NOT the reason I’m called Lucky, though.  I am Lucky because, in spite of a series of heart attacks that left me an invalid, I’m alive and I feel better (and act better) than I have since 2010 – or maybe since I was in my early 30s.  It definitely boosts my spirits to finally be coming into some money – and replacing some of the things I lost when my estate was dissolved to pay debts; but life has generally sucked since that first big heart attack.  I could not be more grateful that things are starting to look up!

Hehe.  I just got all my camping and fishing gear bought, and I finally got my very own Weber gas grill!  So I’m set for Summer!

We made a trip Sunday, up into the San Luis valley in Colorado (after I had a wonderful morning Saturday in Arroyo Seco), and got some ideas about where we’ll go camp later in the month.  San Luis is the oldest community in Colorado, and the mountains North of there around Blanca Peak are stunningly beautiful.  They look much more rugged and foreboding from the South than they do from the North!

My new Buick!

Thanks to a wonderful GM program for the disabled, and to the fine people of the UNMH Palliative Care Group who put me in touch with the program, I am now the proud owner of a new 2016 Buick Encore!

Even better I was able to walk into the dealership, pick out my new car, and drive away in less than an hour!

I’m totally jazzed!  Buicks rock!  Yes.  Mine is red – and the interior is unbelievable!

Going home to Taos tomorrow, and boy are friends going to be surprised to see me in my new red Buick!

 

 

Obesity kills!

Even young women die from the heart complications of obesity.

Even young women die from the heart complications of obesity.

Obesity is now the leading cause of heart failure, and the leading preventable cause of death among women over forty.

The problem with obesity is that, as a society, we have not learned to treat it the same way we treat all the other addictions.  Obesity does not carry the stigma that comes with most addictions; but it needs to.  All the behavioral issues associated with other addictions appear in obese people, too.  So we need to move quickly to identify the intense denial, control, family codependence, and insidiously harmful priorities of the obese person.  They’re just as sick, probably sicker, than the alcoholic or heroin addict – and when the disease has finished destroying everything else in their lives, it will kill them.

In fact, far more people (especially women) die from obesity than from alcoholism and drug addiction combined.

But addiction is addiction.  When you hear a fat person blame their condition on people or circumstances beyond their control, then you know you’re dealing with irreversible addiction that can only end in one of two ways: abstinence or death.

Yet we continue to tiptoe around the “elephant in the living room” instead of being blunt and calling a spade a spade.  We gotta stop doing that!

How many times have we heard a non-smoker walk by a smoker and emit the little false cough, scowl at the smoker, or even say something derogatory about the smoking?  We need to treat obesity the same way.

So if you see someone obese, you might be saving their life with a bit of ridicule.  Remind them their obesity will kill them – and that you’re tired of paying high insurance premiums that come from the enormous medical cost of their obesity.

If you’re fat, lose weight.  If you’re not, then find someone who is and tell them to lose weight.  Now.  The more blunt you are, the greater the chance they will actually get help and lose weight before it destroys their lives.

 

 

Meanwhile in Taos…

Kalya Scintilla played Saturday night at the Startribe music festival on Taos Mesa – and his show was excellent!  The whole Startribe experience was an ideal introduction, for me, to the local scene.  Playing music outdoors here is complicated by our infamous wind (especially out on the mesa!), but I thought the sound system was up to the task.  We were on our feet wigglin’ for nearly all of Scintilla’s set.

I was pleased to see so many splendid dancers live in the community, and thrilled by all the fire dancing and poi!

There was a cool mystic quality, too, in the full moon on all the surrounding snow-capped mountains and the fires & lights on the desert.  A strangely peaceful, surreal, and spiritual experience!

I have to be back in Bernalillo next week for a few days, namely to pick up a car, then will complete my move to the house here on the Rio Hondo.  Our weather is becoming much prettier, though we’re having little rain showers in the afternoons which remind me more of the weather we expect here in Fall; but the late mornings and midday hours have gotten warm & sunny.

Much to the chagrin of locals, we’ve been named the most scenic place in the state by online travel guides; and, sure enough, there’s been an increase in foreigner sightings.  I’m inspired to spend a lot of this Summer with the cameras and recorders to capture what I can of the place before more development occurs!

Like I said, it still gets cool in the afternoons and pretty darned cold at night; so I’ve not traded the axe for a fly rod just yet!  Still gotta keep enough wood cut to run the stove at night – though we’ve had a few nights without it these last two weeks.

The wonderful things I’m discovering about living in Taos are coming to constitute a rather long list!  I definitely like the music and dance scene, the peace-first attitude of all the local starchildren, the spiritual communities that converge so well in such a spectacular place, the availability of outstanding organic food at the local market, and the sheer magnificence of the wild surrounding country!  We’re only half an hour from access points to the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area, ten miles from the peak itself, and very close to Red River and Eagle Nest.  We’ve made some good trips already – mainly out on the West mesa and in the Rio Grande Gorge itself around the John Dunn crossing – but we’re really itchin’ to pack up the camping gear and disappear into the hills!

Sheesh!  Between painting, taking photos, playing and recording music, fishing, camping, pokin’ around in the mountains, going to raves, and simply participating in a really cool community, I am going to have a busy Summer!

 

 

Murder Weapons for Sale??

So the gun used by George Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin is for sale on an internet auction site.  It’s sinister, in the least, to sell weapons used in violent crimes; but in this case it’s somewhat provocative.

So many signs, in our culture and media, that we’re foretelling a collective disaster with respect to class and race.  Yet nothing is stemming the flow of firearms onto the streets of the US or Mexico – and a helluva lot of the citizens who have those firearms share a distorted religious view that condones violence.

We are willingly and actively arming religious extremists right here in the US.  No need to worry about those other religious extremists in faraway places…

 

 

Alive in Chamisaville!

It’s like a dream come true to be able to say, “I live in Taos.”

But now I do!

Taos is one of 3-4 places in the US where I’ve traditionally driven out of town wondering, “Why am I leaving?”  So it’s soooo awesome to finally live here!

I actually live in a small community outside Taos on the Rio Hondo. It’s not far, though.  Everyone works and shops in Taos.

Based on the characters I’ve seen or met so far, this little community is a dead ringer for Chamisaville in John Nichols’ New Mexico Trilogy!  Very cool!

While Taos is a beautiful and historic place, it’s really the Taoseño culture that’s drawn me to live here. It’s almost an underground culture, in that visitors see mainly a tourism-driven community of shops, inns and restaurants; but behind the scenes, there’s a wonderful community of people who live by the same drop-out starchild values that I do.  And unlike the rest of the state, the spanish-speaking people here answer me in spanish!

A few other things I’ve noticed:  lots of genuine artists living close to the edge on solely the proceeds from their art; there are magpies all over the place and they really ARE drawn to investigate shiny objects; Cid’s market is way better than Sprouts or TJ’s; there are more charitable organizations per capita than anywhere I’ve ever lived, and if you want to keep your house warm you better know how to operate an axe!  Oh, and the pecan sticky buns at Michael’s Bakery are to die for!…

The most significant reasons for choosing to live in Taos, though, are spiritual reasons.  There is a strong sense of love, tolerance and generosity in the community – and a remarkable feeling that Taoseños share my values.  The same types of young people I find at raves down in Albuquerque – starkids who’ve abandoned mainstream culture and run for the hills.  Plenty of people who don’t vote, could care less about politics or government, and who feel real change occurs at a grassroots local/personal level.  A strong sense of “we” being far more important than “me”.  I have to admit, too, that I feel a pronounced sense of spiritual retreat when I’m home on the Rio Hondo.

And when you live in Taos you quickly learn to avoid that damn stoplight east of the plaza!  In fact you learn to stay off the main thoroughfare through town entirely!  Traffic at that main stoplight is how we know there are lots of foreigners in town!

But I’m duly impressed by the demarcation between the Taos which tourists see and the actual community of Taos.  Peace.  We either live by our values or we don’t.  I’ve found that, home on the Rio Hondo, we live by our values.

Here are some pictures….

Austin has become 100% icky!

I just got back from 2 weeks in Austin – where any aspirations I may have had to go back and live there were thoroughly smashed.  In fact, I may never go back.

The Austin where I grew up no longer exists.  The city is severely plagued now by poor air quality, high cost of living, horrible traffic, and a selfie culture that rivals that of Santa Fe.  Maybe worse.

I have dear friends in Austin whom I’ve gotten to see on this visit; but I could not help noticing that nearly all my Austin friends are struggling with the cost of living.  It’s just become an ugly place to live – and not even a good place to visit.

Taken near Anderson High School in Austin

Taken near Anderson High School in Austin