a ‘new’ Jersey Girl   living life in the Highlands of New Jersey

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Visit to Las Cruces, New Mexico: Vaughn’s 89th

A sotol plant shows off its plumes in front of a changing tree.

I know, I know. Shocking to see a blog entry from me, eh? 

This weekend Rick and I flew down to Las Cruces, New Mexico to celebrate (a little bit early) his father's 89th birthday. It turned out to be a small family renioun with Rick's brother and sister, cousins and dear friends of Lynn & Vaughn. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip, but well worth it. 

We planned our trip just right because as I sit here typing snow is falling outside my window. Big sticky flakes that are turning the yard into a winter wonderland. We had wonderful smooth flights, avoided the high winds in El Paso, Texas and arrived home Monday night, well before the crush of holiday travelers and the snow storm. Truly a blessed trip!

Rick's mom did such a great job of planning all the events and keeping all of us together at the right place and appropriate time. Kudos, Lynn! It was great catching up with everybody and meeting people I had not met before. We stayed in a room at the Good Samaritan where his parents have a casita. It was really nice and all we had to do was walk a few steps over to their place. Since we didn't rent a car we were pretty dependent on other folks to cart us around, but it was not a problem at all.

Vaughn's birthday is really November 30th but it worked for best for everyone to celebrate a little early. We had his birthday celebration at a restaurant at noon on Saturday. We had party favors, balloons, leis, wine, food and lots of fun. After the party we visited the Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, which was fascinating. We really needed more time to thoroughly explore all the exhibits since they were pretty in depth. 

I will do a separate post with more photos from the museum. I really enjoyed the Cowboy exhibit the best. One round building on the grounds had various cut-outs of different farming/ranching scenes. This one below reminded me of the song by Ian Tyson "Jaquima to Freno" which is about the old Mexican vaquero's which were kind of like horse whisperers. 

"Hey Mr. Vaquero ...

Put a handle on my pony for me,

Teach me the mystery."

You can listen to the song here. It is basically about taking a horse from being wild, to the halter and finally to a bit and bridle.

We also walked through a native cactus garden that is just down the street from the parents' house. Again, I plan to do a blog post with photos just for that as well, but here is a tiny taste of what is to come.

Not to forget the most prominent thing we did: EAT. And, we ate. And we ate. And we ate again. It seemed like we went from one food event right to the next. All of it was great. We are jealous of all the good restaurants they have to choose from in Las Cruces. 

So that was our short trip in a nutshell. It was fun but it's good to be home! We are looking forward to Thanksgiving turkey tomorrow! Hope you have a good one!

Monday, October 13, 2014

It’s All About the GOLD

Our fall here in New Jersey is usually beautiful, filled with every color you can think of. Not this year, though. I guess the trees were starved for moisture and many of them never turned, just curled up their leaves and let them go. We have a little color here and there but nothing like usual.

In Colorado the fall is golden. Pure, spun gold is what the aspens (and the cottonwoods) turn. This year was a spectacular year for them -- wow. I did share some some photos on Facebook, but for those of you who are not on Facebook I wanted to post some here. 

We took a drive one day and a picnic lunch of leftover fried chicken to view the colors. Our trip was on dirt roads (or course, what else?) along the Laramie River Valley.

Aspens don't always have to turn gold. Some turn orange and some get to a glorious shade of orangey-red. I've been told that it has to do with the mineral in the soil. Since aspen within their groves all share the same root system, the results can be magnificent, or they can be mixed.




I love this old cabin/barn and the remains of what were other buildings. I like to think of some crusty old cowboy living here.

Here is Bull Mountain as seen from the road near our property. 

Whether viewed en masse or alone ...

... they are always a beautiful sight.

(I know I've been terrible about blogging and I'm sure some of you have dropped me off your reading list. I am sorry and vow to do a better job of blogging and commenting on your blogs.)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Last Day

This was the scene around the cabin yesterday afternoon. We had gone into Laramie to do laundry and pick up a few last things for the trip home. As we pointed Big Red in the direction of home we could see there was weather moving in. A big low cloud obscured our normal view from sight. Uh oh, doesn't look like rain to me. Sure enough, half way home we encountered snow and the further we went the more it was snowing harder and harder and sticking. The dirt roads were slick and muddy so we took it slow. We got about 2.5 to 3 inches of wet ploppy snow. It was beautiful coming down -- big flakes.

We've seen almost every kind of weather since we've been here from sunny skies and temps in the 70's and even low 80's, to rain, hail and finally snow. It's almost as if the cabin is testing us and throwing everything at us in the almost three weeks that we've been. Almost as if it's asking us are you sure about this?

Here was the view of Bull Mountain this morning.

Today it's windy and in the upper 40's. Most of the snow is now gone. It's hard to imagine that this time tomorrow we'll be halfway through that big ole state of Nebraska, headed home. Funny word -- home. We've come to think of this as "home." Since we made so many changes to the inside of the cabin this year it's going to be even harder to leave. But, leave we must.

We did a good job of eating up most of the groceries that we purchased and used leftover in inventive ways. I'm proud of us! We usually end up giving our condiments (mustard, ketchup, mayo) to a neighbor plus anything else that is still useable and edible. The birds get whatever bread is leftover.

Even though I missed a few entries. like aspen photos and our makeshift gate, I'll publish those once home again. So, this will be my last blog attempt from the cabin. I'll see you back in New Jersey!

She’s Gone Country

She's gone country, look at them boots
She's gone country, back to her roots
She's gone country, a new kind of suit
She's gone country, here she comes

--Alan Jackson

'Nuff said!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Elk Stamp(ede) Of Approval

Bull elk on our adjoining property.

Tuesday morning started out like any other morning. I sat by the table with my mug of coffee and admired the strange light outside. There were dark clouds to the west while the sun was coming up in the east. Kind of ominous looking but beautiful at the same time. The day before we had a rainy day that resulted in nearly 1.25 inches of rain, pretty rare for up here. The wood stove kept us cozy all day while we put the first puzzle together of the visit. 

As I sat there gazing out at our newly cleaned up meadow watching the sun rising higher and higher, I noticed the light was just starting to hit an aspen in the forest, lighting it up like a golden torch. I went to get my camera and when I next looked out I saw two animals that I at first thought were deer and then realized they were elk and let out a big gasp. I excitedly told Rick we had elk in our meadow -- finally!

At first there were only a few, then more kept coming out of the forest. (The forest by the way we named the Ewok Forest because of all the tall straight pines --now of which most are dead. If you are a fan of Star Wars you will understand the name as a great chase scene took place in such a forest.) Within a few minutes the meadow looked like this.

All cow elk and babies. We knew Mr. Bull Elk could not be far off and then we heard him bugle. My excitment went off the charts! Bull, or male elk, only bugle during their rut (mating season) in the fall. We've heard a lot of bugling this year. It's a very odd sound, and if you don't know what it sounds like, listen here. We didn't have long to wait until Mr. Bull made his grand appearance. 

What a beautiful bull! It almost seemed like he was posing for us but I think he was really keeping his eye on us. Just look at the rack of antlers! We later learned that since he has seven points (counting his antler points on one side) his is considered a "royal." And royal he is indeed. Just look at the spread of his antlers.

The little ones were so cute.

Here is what it looked like looking out the dining room window.

They stayed and ate grass, nibbled on baby aspens (darn!) for a good twenty mintues or. Then, they spooked for some reason and took off at a run with even more coming out of the forest to join them. It looked like they had gone out to the main road and were headed (possibly) past our driveway. So, with bathrobe and slippers flapping, I headed down the driveway. I was not sorry I did. This is what I saw.

And here I am standing behind our fence at the beginning of our driveway looking out to our adjoing piece of land to give you some idea how close they were.

Then I finally got the shot you see at the very beginnig of this post. You can see the dusting of snow on the mountains behind him. 

It was a magical, almost unreal experience to see them that close and probably one we might never have the pleasure to experience again. I leave you with his last bugle before they headed out over the hill.


Welcome, I'm Lynne. My blog captures my experiences of living in the way-out suburbs of New Jersey through my words and through my photography. I hope that reading my blog will change your perception of my newly adopted state.

© 2006-2013 'new' Jersey Girl All photography and text on this blog is copyright. For use or reproduction please ask me first.

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