Monday, August 31, 2009

Another One From My Bucket List

I have really not become a train nut or something, but there is something so exciting about seeing views of an old steam train in this beautiful setting that I have taken hundreds of photos. While out exploring, we came upon an old train trestle. We eventually figured out it was being used by the Cumbres and Toltec railroad. I thought it would be so cool to show this trestle with the train locomotive going over, so that got added to my photo "bucket list" of have-to-have photos. We figured out just about when the train would be at the trestle after leaving the station (see above photo) . We drove up the mountain and set up the cameras and waited...and waited...and waited. For those of you who might be in the Chama area and want to take this photo, the time it arrived was 11:18 AM! It finally climbed up the mountain and here is the photo I was waiting for below.

Now, if I can get a photo of an 8-point buck elk before we leave I will leave satisfied! They certainly can see me coming with my camera because they hide from me. Others here have seen them, but I have not been in the right place at the right time. Sigh.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rusty Creek

This is one example of the rusty creek beds in the area yesterday. I have some great shots of mountain streams that I want to paint, and they will all have this same color of the creek beds...rusty rocks! In fact, the name of this creek was Rusty Creek....duh!

To Summitville and Beyond

I took this photo to show you how high we climbed on the dirt road we took yesterday. This was 12,000 feet elevation! Surprisingly, neither of us noticed any difference in our breathing or any signs of being that high. Of course, we weren't hiking up there, but riding in the Xterra, but that is pretty high in the air.

This was our view on the way to the top of Lookout Mountain. These rocks contain so much iron they are this magnificent color in many places. Additionally, the water that flows down the mountains is so acidic and filled with iron that it is rusty! A sign said if you placed a nail in the creek water it would disintegrate within eight months! I will have to post a photo of one of these rusty creeks.
This is the ghost town that was Summitville, CO. This was a large mining area, I assume of iron ore given the nature of the rocks. All that is left of this town are many little shacks such as these and, now, a reclamation project sponsored by Superfund money, to return the area to its former environment. From the looks of the reclamation ponds and the scope of the job, this looks to be a big, long-term project! I spoke above of the rusty water...the reclamation ponds they were cleaning up had "bathtub rings" along the top, of rust. Really was an interesting sight/site to see.
This will have to be one of my fav photos for this trip. Along the Conejos River there was a herd of probably fifty horses running along a dirt path. I thought they must be a wild herd until we got to the end, by the river, and saw this one lone cowboy herding them to a different pasture. They were beautiful horses, with the sun shining on their backs in the early morning hours. The cowboy wasn't bad, either! I took many photos of these horses running, but I wanted to show one with the cowboy in it, bringing up the rear. Isn't being "out West" just great?!

Stay in the Car!

Yesterday we went farther afield as it was a "day off" of dialysis. We covered the 23-mile gravel road that we took from Horca to Platoro a week or so ago, which travels along the Conejos River. From Platoro, we took the 29-mile gravel road up the mountain to Summitville. It was such an interesting trip. Along the way, we came upon this sparkling little lake. Although we were on a public "road", the signs along this lake stated it was private property and had warnings of
"stay in car"! Well, Tom stayed in the car, but I quickly set up the camera for a panorama, he stopped at the right spot and I shot this series of nine shots over the hood of the Xterra and then we made a swift retreat. Shhhhhh....don't tell anybody! The scenery along this road was just gorgeous. Tom reminded me how many times I was using the adjective "gorgeous", so I switched to "majestic" as we climbed higher and higher.

I will post some more photos here shortly, we had another great day!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Barb's Hollyhocks

I posted my painting of the hollyhocks here at the RV park earlier. Barb, who was painting from the same photo as I, chose to paint the watercolor underpainting on sanded paper and then finish with soft pastels. I love her version! To see hers, go to her blog, it looks so soft and lovely.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spontaneous Photos

Chama, NM is one of the train stations of the Cumbres & Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad. We were heading to the store this morning and saw the smoke, which meant the train had left for the morning run to Antonito, CO. We raced ahead, stopping in five places along the highway where we could see the train well. It was such a fun time, staying just ahead enough to set up for more camera shots.

This is truly one of the advantages of taking these trips that I enjoy the most...the spontaneity of setting out to do one simple task and being able to take advantage of these special opportunities that present themselves! We plan on returning here in a few weeks, late September and early October for a week to take in the Fall colors. We have seen so many aspen, oak and evergreens here that it promises to be spectacular when they all turn colors. Hopefully, the week we have chosen will be the peak for the leaves!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rio Chama

I was standing on a footbridge over the Rio Chama and took this 9-shot series of photos to stitch together into this pano. I also took the shot from the opposite side of the bridge, looking downriver, but have not processed that one yet. Like I said earlier, this was a beautiful area with beautiful weather....I love photographing landscapes when there are clouds in the sky.

As usual, click on the photo to enlarge it for more detail.

Great Day

This is one of the many views we enjoyed yesterday. The Rio Chama, south of where we are staying, is running much higher and faster there than here. There were many rafters and kayakers on the river and it looked like they were having a ball. When I say "we" I mean the four happy "campers" below.

This motley crew consisted of our good friends, Barb and Charlie and Tom and I. I had set the self-timer on the camera and tripped my way back in time for the photo. That is the Rio Chama behind us. We had great weather, wonderful scenery, nice picnic lunches and, best of all, a day spent with these two great friends. They are leaving Chama today, it has been so nice having them with us!

To make the day even greater, when we returned I was paid for selling another pair of earrings from my display in the RV park office. I have had lots of time for making jewelry and painting while here, I hope that continues!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another Great Adventure

This is one of the many landscapes we visited yesterday. We were planning on taking a short morning trip to a road we had not traveled yet and then return for an early dialysis session. Well, one state highway led to another county road that looked interesting, which led to something else and it was after 2:00 PM when we finally returned. Of course, stopping every few minutes to take photos added to the time we were gone! The colors of that area were just phenomenal. This is part of the area that Georgia O'Keefe lived in and painted during the last part of her life. I can certainly see the wisdom of her choice, it is such a varied and colorful landscape here.

This is part of Lake Abiquiu. The water was so glassy and still when we were there! Wouldn't this be a wonderful place to have a houseboat?!

For my next project and post, I will stitch together some of the many series of photos I took for panoramas. Like I said, I took many photos!

Painting day

As requested by Susie Short in my prior post, here is the painting I worked on with Barb during our painting day. The RV park where we are staying this month has beautiful hollyhocks growing down the slope from the laundry room. I took photos the first day we were here and worked from those. I brought only a block of Arches 300-lb paper with me, as well as Pelikan transparent paints as my travel set. I am unused to working on the more absorbent 300-lb paper, as well as the more opaque paints, so this isn't what I expected for a result. However, I am not displeased with the softness of it. I think that hollyhocks require a more subdued effect since they are such an old-fashioned flower, or at least when I see them I feel nostalgic.

I am working on another painting now of the Rio Chama, which runs right beside the park. When we were here in May, the snow runoff made it run more swiftly and high up on the banks. Now it is a mere stream and rocks are visible on the sandbars.

I start working on another posting for today which shows some of what we saw on our adventure yesterday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Barb and Charlie at Chama

Our good friends, Barb and Charlie, joined us in Chama for a few days. They are staying at a nearby lodge. She and I had great fun painting this morning at our motorhome while Tom and Chalie went for a drive for some photo op's. The temperature was perfect, Josh Groban was playing on my iPod player and we were painting together. As Barb said, "it just doesn't get any better than this!" I agree!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We have been seeing quite a few critters in our explorations here. The chipmunk is robbing seed out of the bird feeder set out by one of our fellow RV'rs here at the park. The wild turkeys were seen along the highway and stayed there long enough for us to turn around and get some photos.

We hear of bear sightings and elk sightings down by the river just after sundown, but unfortunately that is when the mosquitoes are the worst and they like my skin too much to venture out at that time. This trip we are parked up above the river, in the open where the skeeters are not so bad. Our friends, Barb and Charlie, are due in tonight and she and I have a date to sit out by the river to paint one day while they are here in Chama. I am planning on changing that to sitting under our awning by the motorhome and painting from photos I have taken of the river! Don't like those mosquitoes!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mule Deer in Chama

We went into the heart of Chama to the one grocery store here yesterday. I have learned to not venture forth in this area without my camera since there seems to be so much to photograph. Yesterday was no different. By the side of the main street in Chama was a grassy area; standing in this area, eating breakfast, was this beautiful Mule Deer. It just stood there and posed for me, we were not very far away from her and she was not bothered at all.

Right near our RV park I have so far seen multiple chipmunk sightings, a deer and a fox. Being from the desert I never get to see these critters; we only have coyotes, jack rabbits and the occasional bobcat! I am promised photos of the bear that comes down on occasion to the river here in the park, so will share those when I receive them. I have left my cell phone number with one of the campers at the river's edge that if this bear returns to give me a call and I will hurry there for photos.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park

We drove to Alamosa, CO yesterday and decided to go up to the nearby Great Sand Dunes Nat;l Park. When we lived in Colorado Springs, CO back in the late seventies we used to go four-wheeling in this park, which was such fun. We only took photos this trip, however. The day was cloudy so there weren't the good shadows on the dunes, but the valley it extends into was so pretty I thought this would be a good pano shot. Another great day of exploring.....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


This is an eight-shot pano of the Trujillo Meadows Reservoir. It is of the north end of the lake. I also did a pano of the south end and will try to upload that in another post. These large files take FOREVER to upload to the blog, but at least it accepted this one. This was a glass-smooth lake when we were there and you can see the circles where the fish were jumping. No license, no fishing sad. It sure was a pretty area, though.

Hopefully, you can click on the photo and it will show more detail in a larger view....hey, I just tried it and it did enlarge!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Conejos River Valley

We drove from Chama toward Antonito, CO yesterday, turning off before we got to Antonito. One of the joys we find with exploring the areas we visit is the spontaneity to go off the beaten track and see what we can find. We saw the turnoff to Trujillo Meadows, had heard of that from friends, found a pristine reservoir there. I took some photos to stitch together of the lake and will do that later. When we left there, we found another side road that wound through the Conejos River valley, 23-mile dirt road that had breathtaking scenery the whole way. The round trip of 46 miles took us over three hours since we kept stopping along the way, frequently, for photo op's. It was a lovely day, perfect weather, wonderful scenery and the joy of discovery for us. We are so thankful that doing the dialysis in the motorhome successfully allows us a return to what we both enjoy so much...exploring places we have never been. Life is good!

Chama, NM

We made it to Chama, NM on Saturday afternoon. This will be our home for the next month! We chose a route through northern Arizona, driving to Gallop, NM the first day and driving through Farmington, NM to Chama on Saturday. This rock was one of the many we saw on this route. I think this must be the balanced rock capital of the world!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Proud Grandma!

Our son sent this recent photo of our Aubrey practicing mixing colors with her watercolor set. How fun is this?! I can't wait for our next painting session together, hope it will be soon. I want to send her some pieces of good watercolor paper. She likes my little surprise packages and I think she is ready to progress to Arches! We still have her first painting hanging on our refrigerator.

Also, please note the chair upon which she is sitting...we gave that to her for her first Christmas. She was too young then to appreciate it, but Patrick says she has claimed it as "her chair" and uses it all the time.