Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 3 - The Day of Lasts

The day started early driving through Albuquerque. We did manage not to leave anyone anywhere on this day. But it was a day of lasts! The first thing we saw was hot air balloons over Albuquerque. They were gorgeous but I could not get a good picture since I didn't have much time. We stopped at Bosque del Apache. We were told it was a pretty amazing place and it did not disappoint us. Of course my pictures are not that great. We stopped first at the Vistor's Center which had a great gift shop. And Gambel's Quail were hanging out around the Vistor's Center. It was very pretty.

We drove around several lakes.

From there we drove to El Paso and the Franklin Mountains. Our main goal there was to get the Gambel's Quail in Texas for Bill and Bryan's Texas list. And we saw them! They are such gorgeous birds. Of course half the time the dial had moved on the camera and I didn't notice. Oh well.

Bryan and Stephanie.

If you look close you can see the Gambel's Quail.

Then the day of lasts began. We did not notice that the sign said the park closed at 5. Who closes a park at 5 during daylight savings time? I'm sure it's part of Governor Good Hair's budget cuts. So we get to the front gate at 5:06 and we are LOCKED IN THE PARK. Some other people pulled in behind us. They thought they saw some workers so went back to find them. We started calling every phone number on the sign. Of course NO ONE ANSWERED eventhough the sign said FOR AFTER HOURS CALL. Finally Bryan get in touch with the park manager and he gives us the combination to the lock. Ends up the other numbers we called would charge us to come let us out. (More Governor Good Hair's ways to raise money?) Then we didn't know what to do about the other car in the park. Fortunately they pulled up then and we all got out. And we ignored the other phone calls coming in on our cell phones.

Then we drove down the Hueco Tank's Road looking for sage sparrows but didn't find them. So we headed to Carlsbad. Bill was whining, uh, wanted a coke so I told him the next gas station. We drove 30 miles and hit the boarder patrol. So I asked them where the next gas station was and they said 120 miles. What? 120 miles and we had not seen a gas station in over 30 miles? So I check the gas gauge, we have over a half of a tank. And I do the math, we should make it fine. Of course Bill holds on to the door hanger the whole time thinking we will run out of gas.

We get to White's City with a 1/4 tank of gas, but the gas station is closed. But they take cards so I fill up with the most expensive gas ever. We go to the hotel across the street and they inform us they have no rooms. It's 9 at night and Carlsbad is another 30 miles. So Stephanie starts looking up hotels and Bryan starts calling. I wasn't sure when we would get there or if we would change our mind so I didn't make reservations. We finally get a room at a 1 star. So Bryan keeps calling till we get a 4 star satisfaction rating. And cancel the 1 star. We get there and the guy told us he just had a cancellation right before we called and that he had a hundred calls that day that he turned down. Ooops. Last room in Carlsbad. It was spring break.

So we passed a pizza hut and I call in a pizza. When I get there the guy tells me that the pizza is almost ready. OK, I am not sure if I have ever been to Carlsbad, but I know the guy doesn't know me. Well, we got the last pizza they made that night. Good thing we didn't stay in White's City, we would not have any food at all! Everything was closed.

Tomorrow has got to be better right?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Days 1 and 2, Driving to Moriarity and Sandia Crest

We started the day at 5 am by picking up Bryan and Stephanie in Tomball. There trip was pretty uneventful except when I left Bryan and Stephanie at the gas station near Waco. I took off and Bill asked me where I was going. I told him to the highway. He said "without the kids?". And I looked in the back seat and they were not there. When I turned around there was Stephanie with her snacks staring at us. Oops. . After the long drive, we got to NM and the Bucces of NM. Russell's Travel Center was awesome. . We get to Moriarty where we were staying and get checked into our motel. We asked where to eat since the choices seemed to be Blake's Lotaburger, subway, McDonald's and Arbys. The lady that owned the motel told us to go to Buford Steakhouse. Don't let the name fool you. We had the best NM cheese enchiladas. Except for Byran that doesn't do cheese. Enchiladas just like my mom would make! YUM! The main reason for the trip was to see the Black Rosy Finch that had been a nemisis for Bill and Bryan. I had been with them when we looked in Montana for them. On top of Sandia Crest is the Sandia House. . This is the only way to see birds. It was very cold and very windy. There are feeders at the gift shop and cafe. You can either sit on the deck or sit inside with tea, hot chocolate, coffee and watch the birds. Wow! Did we see them. We saw all three rosy finches, black, gray crowned and brown capped. My photography skills are still lacking, but check Bryan's pbase site for good pictures. Here is the black rosy finch, aka the the star of the show. . View from the top . . Another view from the top. . . I loved the rocks! . . Stephanie was loving the snow! . . A view from part way down. . . Bill and Bryan looking for raptors. . . Bill and Stephnie checking the ravine. . . Gray crowned rosy finch. .

We went down the mountain for pizza at one point and ate at the Sandia Crust! The pizza was outstanding!