From the road, I could see this abandoned structure in Cibola National Forest in a valley below the road. I found a path from a parking pull-off and was able to reach the ruin with an easy walk. The house contained one main room and two small rooms. A stone wall enclosed the area.

There was no marker indicating its age, but I did notice that the windows had a strip of iron or steel across the top. I cautiously explored the inside as there was no building debris or trash. The stone shell looked quite stable.

I was baffled by the stone wall. It looked like a lot of work for not much protection.

Safe Home

I’ve been driving through Raton Pass for almost twenty years, and occasionally muse about what would happen if there was a wildfire in the pass.  Today, driving back from a lovely weekend in Santa Fe, Jack and I discovered the answer.  We had seen the plume of smoke from at least forty miles away, and were disconcerted to find that the fire was just north of Raton NM along side the freeway.

There are, of course, other routes between New Mexico and Colorado, but the roads range from picturesque to downright terrifying and add two or more hours to the trip.  We consulted with the tourist information site in Raton, called my sister-in-law who was leaving Santa Fe two hours after us, and called a friend to make sure we had critter care coverage if we couldn’t make it home.  (She thought we should drive to Taos and spend the night if we could get a room.)

When I took this photo, I had walked up hill from where Jack was parked alongside of I-25, along with a bunch of other vehicles.  The wind was gusting 30 mph and I could see flames in the base of the smoke.  I had a bad feeling about sticking around and walked back and told Jack I thought we should take the eastern route and at the very least turnaround so we were going south.  When we turned, the visibility was very bad.  Fifteen minutes later we learned via local radio that they had closed the section of I-25 where we were parked.  That area is now under mandatory evacuation.

The New Mexican portion of the alternate route was picturesque but not scary. (Raton NM to Folsom NM to Branson CO to Trinidad CO.) I saw some of the volcanic part of New Mexico I had never seen before. The Colorado portion was standard Colorado plains. And it was slow.  We were part of a caravan of people who made the decision at the same time.  After an hour or so, we started meeting caravans coming down from the north.

Right now, the scanty news coverage is saying that I-25 may not open until morning, so it looks like we made the right call, at least if we wanted to sleep at home tonight.  The Track fire presently covers at least 1800 acres.  I hope the people who live in that area and the fire fighters are safe.  New Mexico and southern Colorado are currently tinder boxes.

Darth Vader at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Taken on October 06, 2007.

We knew that my young nephew was really looking forward to the Darth Vader balloon. As we walked down to the field from the parking lot for the mass ascension, we saw the Darth Vader balloon take off. My nephew started to cry: he had evidently expected to take a ride in the balloon, and couldn’t understand why it was leaving without him. It took a while for his Mom to console him.