Tag Archives: new mexico

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  We also found it’s no longer maintained for camping, dirty and trashy, and too high for me to get along safely.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!

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!

 

 

Transportation Woes

I’ve about concluded I will not be able to continue living in New Mexico without a car.  Things are too spread out, I’m 20 miles from the hospital where I have constant appointments, and I simply cannot afford to buy a car – especially knowing I could move back to Texas, where I have more social support and it’s easier to get places without a car, and not need a car.

I’m heartbroken because I like New Mexico and most of the people I’ve gotten to know here; but I need to be making changes in the interest of my own health & well-being.

 

Medicaid Discrimination

New Mexico Medicaid discriminates against parents who pay child support.

My monthly income from disability is barely above the eligibility requirement for New Mexico Medicaid – unless I pay my child support. Then it’s significantly below the eligibility requirement. Why does Medicaid punish me for paying child support?

Interestingly, if I go to prison for non-payment of child support (because I have to pay for private health insurance instead) then I will qualify for Medicaid by virtue of being a prison inmate.

I asked Medicaid for an appeals hearing several months ago. They acknowledged my request but took no further action.

Desperate to have some kind of medical coverage, and to avoid penalization for having no coverage, I called Healthcare.Gov to see if they have any coverage I might afford. Guess what? They told me they couldn’t help me because I qualify for Medicaid and because I have an appeal pending with Medicaid.

Luckily, the amount of my child support obligation was reduced after I became an invalid but it’s still enough to put me well below the eligibility requirement for Medicaid.

Evidently I must pay the fine, remain uninsured, and continue without medical services I desperately need – or do something to get into prison where I’ll be able to get Medicaid coverage. For the time being, I must pay out of pocket for very expensive health insurance.

Perhaps I understand Walter White better than I thought I did.

Chile Puya

Puya ChileI don’t recall ever finding Chile Puya in Texas or California markets. It’s common in Southern Mexico, where I remember buying it in the market at Tecomán, Colima.

Spicier than New Mexico or Pasillas but not as hot as Chile de Arbol – and almost a cherry-like fruitiness. Delicious find in Albuquerque at Los Altos Ranch Market on Atrisco.    

Taco sauce:

2 cups loose chile puya without seeds or stems
1 Tbs cominos
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tsp kosher salt

Cover the chiles with water in small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Crush cumin seed and add, reduce to simmer for one hour.  Dump all into blender and add garlic, oil and salt.  Puree on high for 30 secs.

Quelites

Ingredients:
10 oz bag New Mexico red chile pods
12 oz bag frozen chopped spinach
3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
3/4 cup cooked pinto beans (drained)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil

How to do it:
1. Carefully remove the corazones, or “hearts”, from all of the red chile pods. Throw out the seeds and outside stems for the birds, and save the flesh of the chiles in an airtight container for making enchilada sauce. This is a tedious process, but the flavor of the corazones is wonderful, subtle and unique. I like the hot red chile pods for enchilada sauce, but the corazones are extremely spicy so stick with the mild chile pods for this recipe (consider yourself warned);
2. Saute the onion in a large skillet over medium heat until clear;
3. Add frozen spinach, corazones and pinto beans;
4. Stir until spinach is no longer frozen, then add garlic;
5. Cover and reduce to low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently;
6. Remove to serving dish.

Eat hot with green chile corn muffins or fresh corn tortillas. If you eat pork, then quelites are a sure-fire compliment to grilled pork carnitas.  I don’t cook with salt but a little bit of sea salt will help enhance the subtle flavor of the corazones de chile.

I sound a lot like this when I eat my quelites: