Embudo Canyon Hike Albuquerque's East Side

    Our country is now on  ” lock down. ” I’ve never been through a government ordered lock down where businesses are shut down, movement is restricted, banks are closed except for drive up windows or internet banking, and the real economy grinds to a halt as the stock market tries to reach it’s old- new heights. One of the few things we are still permitted to do, before we are fined for being on the road, if we don’t have our papers in order, is hike in the Embudo Canyon in the Sandia Mountains. The gate has still opened at seven in the morning and people are still coming to meet nature, in person, in their back yard. People are cautious with the new  ” social distancing ” orders from our state capitol building. On the trail, some hikers wear masks, and back ten feet away from us as we pass them on the same trail we have been hiking for the last several years. Some people you pass don’t even answer you when you greet them with a cheerful ” Good Morning. ” When you are not a billionaire, you can’t escape this new reality as easily,you can’t take a private jet to your private bunker in New Zealand or Australia,you can’t play the stock market casino with someone else’s money.  It’s a great morning for a hike and Albuquerque, from up here, looks like it always does, from a distance. It makes me wonder about the sanity of a “lock down.” For most of us, at ground level, the health of the economy is always life, or death. Is saving 2% of a population worth crippling the other 98%? What would Spock say?

Waffle House Shutdown Tramway/Central, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    ” We are not in the food business. We are in the people business. ” Joe Rogers Sr. – Co founder of Waffle House Inc. says on their website. The Waffle House has been in business since 1955 and has seen some history. The country, since then, has been through the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, several recessions, the Gulf Wars, the Moon Landing, Aids epidemic, legalization of pot in some states, the creation of food stamps, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 9-11 bombing, the introduction of computers and cell phones, the ” citification ” of America. This store hasn’t been here since 1955 but it has been here enough years to be a landmark in our local area, always busy on the weekends, but open 24/7 for quick economical food cooked right in front of you. At one time, this place was my early morning hangout for coffee and conversation. Since the Covid-19 explosion, this business, as well as all restaurants and food places in New Mexico, that can’t do drive up, or delivery, have been shut down, by order of our Governor, following what other Governors are doing in other states.  Why the Waffle House remained open during all the other bumps in our United States history, but is shut up tight for this bump, is something talking heads will discuss on television shows on Saturdays. Whether life will resume, as we knew it, after this whirlwind of emotion has passed, is an unknown. Even  ” People Businesses” are in jeopardy these days. For everyone associated with this business, ” shut down” has become very very personal.

Albuquerque International Balloon Festival 2019 from the Juan Tabo picnic area, Tramway Boulevard/Rainbow Road, Albuquerque

    The Albuquerque International  Balloon Festival was begun in 1972. A local radio station, 770 KOB, which is still with us, was celebrating their 50th anniversary. They convinced Sid Cutter, who operated a small airport in Albuquerque, and had the only hot air balloon in New Mexico, to let them use his hot air balloon as part of the celebration. The rest is history. In 2019, there are 588 balloons in the sky, 866,414 guests, and 671 pilots from around the globe.  Standing on a hill at the Juan Tabo picnic ground, this early morning photo is of balloonists beginning a mass ascension into clear skies. The city of Albuquerque spreads out almost as far as you can see and the balloons look lazy in the skies. There will be events, competitions, and spectacles during the festival and fun will be had by all. The festival runs, this year, from October 3rd, 2020 to October 11th. The official website gives specifics, videos, photographs, reviews, news about the next balloon extravaganza to hit our city. From the top of the little hill, Scotttreks gets an easy look at the balloons, without parking issues, crowds, and expenses.  Not liking heights much, if I had my choice, I would opt out of ballooning for snorkeling in the Caribbean with brightly colored fish and pina coladas in the middle of the afternoon.  The balloons, this morning, look like periods in a novel, jumping off the page, glad to be away from all those crazy human misconceptions, yearnings, and propaganda.

R.I.P. Getting a tan

    Halloween creeps closer as leaves start to fall, pumpkins appear in windows, hot air balloons arrive for the annual Balloon fest in Albuquerque, creepy spiders turn up in school cafeterias and jackets become more than optional. It is a sparkling day and these three skeletons, in an Albuquerque North Valley front yard, don’t dress up, worry about hair style or designer clothes. They  look content in their birthday suits without the excess weight, blemishes and imperfections that the rest of us have to carry wherever we go. Next holiday season, I will set up my front yard like this too, but give my skeleton family a television to watch Netflix, game shows, soaps, or Dr. Phil. In a few weeks this congregation will put on their Pilgrim outfits and be chasing turkeys around the yard with hatchets. A few weeks after that, they will be hanging Christmas lights in these front yard evergreens and singing carols by a manger,surrounded by animals and angels, Mary and Joseph, welcoming Baby Jesus to the planet nuthouse. Bones keep popping up in Scotttreks, and, to be honest, we all need one day a year when creepy stuff camps in our front yard and ghosts and goblins have their say. The last thought that hits me, between my ears,as I speed away in my car, is that if we had to wash each of our bones, our showers would take all day and family members would rightfully want to kill us. R.I.P. is not bad advice, whether we are skeletons, or not.      

Remembering Ernie Ernie Pyle Library-Albuquerque

    At an annual celebration of the famed World War 2 correspondent, Ernie Pyle, at his home in Albuquerque, N.M., a docent tells the small group about the permanent closing of Pyle’s childhood home, in his birthplace,in Indiana.  Ernie Pyle was a celebrated World War 2 correspondent, but, today, there are many Americans who don’t know much about World War 2 except what they see in the movies. They don’t know Ernie Pyle, or Julius Caesar, or Frederick Douglas. They believe the American Civil War was only about the abolishment of slavery and the United States Constitution is outdated and irrelevant, written by stuffy white men who owned slaves and wore white wigs.. Where does history go when it is behind us? Does God put His memos, research papers,videos and photos on shelves in his personal library? Does he go back and review his plans and progress for the Universe, make changes in the roll out of his vision ? Does knowing history mean we can stop or modify what is happening to us while we are in the middle of its happening? On this pleasant afternoon, we are taken on a guided tour of Ernie Pyle’s life and times, in a place he fixed bacon and eggs for breakfast and read his newspaper thrown on the front porch by a neighborhood boy on a bicycle.  His house feels like a home and I walk away suspecting that Ernie would offer me a cold drink of lemonade on a hot summer day and have some good jokes to soften the wounds of World War 2 as we both set at a little table on his front porch. His writings and home survive him, and remembering him and his calling is something we still try to do. The beauty of his writing and life is that it seems like it was lived for everybody but him.  

High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass festival Westcliff, Colorado

      The High Mountain Hay Fever Bluegrass Festival runs July 10-13 at the Bluff and Summit Park in Westcliff, Colorado. A huge circus tent is set up in the town park with spectacular views of the mountains and valley nearby. In the 2010 census, the population of Westcliff was 568, up from 417 in 2000. 15 bands played this year and festival attendance was close to 4000. The Festival is a fundraiser for children of the area and helps with medical services for the town. In the last fifteen years, the event has raised almost $600,000 towards its charitable goals. In a town of 568, you know everyone, and everyone is involved in their town. There are volunteers running shuttles that pick us up in the festival parking lot and run us up the hill to the music tent. Volunteers haul trash away, direct traffic, provide first aid services, sell tickets ,and one of them wraps the four day green wristband around my wrist and fastens it.securely. If I remove the band I will have to buy another to get back inside the grounds. For four days, we listen to and enjoy all the banjo, guitar, mandolin, upright bass and vocal music we can handle. When, as one of the musicians says on stage, talking about a song he wrote, you move from a country where seventy percent of people lived in the country and farmed, to a country  where seven percent of the population feeds the other 93%, you are seeing real change. When people don’t know where their food comes from, they tend to lose their humility. When the country disappears from America, we have lost ourselves. Bluegrass should be in every music collection, even if you don’t know where the country is and would never go there of your own free will.  

Playing the National Anthem LifeQuest Fundraiser Golf Tournament, Tanoan C.C., Albuquerque, 2019

    The National Anthem is one of the most played songs in America. If you have played in school bands, military bands, marching bands, or are a musician who has performed at any sporting or public event, you have played the familiar melody since you were very young. In America, individualism is worshiped, but so is big Government. After the National Anthem, the color guard marches off the putting green and we golfers all find our assigned golf carts and roll out for a shotgun start to the golf tournament. This golf tournament is a fundraiser for Lifequest, a group that mentors juveniles locked up in jail, believing that the Bible and good mentors will keep juveniles from going back to jail after they serve their time and are released.  Regardless of our place on any line, we know mistakes are made and not every child has a good home to come from, or a good home to go back too. Listening to the National Anthem, I know my battle line in the sand. If it wasn’t for mistakes, we wouldn’t be human, and, politician’s sons and daughters need to be on the front lines of any war their parents start.  

Police Band Zona Colonial Plaza Santo Domingo Event

    The last police band i saw was in Cuenca, at a celebration for ex-pats and foreign business development in that Ecuadorian city. This Santo Domingo events aim is to support women and fight domestic violence in Latin America.This police band provides some of the entertainment. There are uniformed officers patrolling all the tourist destinations in this ” old City.”. and, except for getting hustled to buy things you don’t want or solicited to take a guided tour from one of the many guides in the area, the Zone is very safe. The police band’s music is contagious, in a good way. It is good for the police to show their gentle side since most of their job deals with locking up family, friends, and strangers who choose not to follow rules. Police are still humans, we sometimes forget, who wear guns, handcuffs, badges, drive official vehicles. play in the police band, and put people in jail. They can never lose their humanity no matter how much bad they have to clean up. When public servants and institutions lose their humanity, we all lose.      

Santa Plays his Sax Holiday Stroll, Albuquerque Old Town -2018

    Sax Rats is our saxophone quartet – two alto saxes, a tenor sax, and a baritone sax.  It is cold this evening as we load into Dan’s van, drive down, set up, begin our first music set at the Holiday Stroll in Old Town, Albuquerque. ” In college, ” Chris tells us, ” I did gigs and made $50.00 a night and was happy to get it ”  ” The other day, ” he goes on, ” I did a jazz gig and still made fifty. ” he laughs. Chadd, my saxophone teacher, has a sign on his studio door that describes a musician as a person who will work most of their life to get enough skills to play music in public, play a several thousand dollar instrument, drive a hundred miles to a gig in a six hundred dollar car, spend fifty dollars on drinks, gas, and food out of their own pocket, make seventy five dollars for the night’s gig, and wake up the next morning with a hangover and barely enough money for huevos rancheros.. I expect we will be back at the Holiday Stroll again next year. Latest government stats say the U.S. doesn’t have any inflation. Musician pay certainly proves their point.  

Turkey Time A Day of Thanks, 2018

    Pots and pans are on the stove, the table has been set for three, a Butterball Turkey browns in the oven. It took four hours for this bird to cook and slicing it up on the kitchen counter means dinner is close. Alan, Sherrie, and I have Thanksgiving this year at Alan’s. At the White House, a Trump turkey is pardoned but White House chefs are in their sparkling kitchens preparing a big feast of beef, ham, salmon fit for a King and Queen. Dignitaries visit America’s White House throughout the year, and, while discussing policy, like to wine and dine as befits their diplomatic positions. On a turkey’s calendar, November 22 is marked with a huge X and circled for emphasis. On Thanksgiving, they load their families into their SUV’s, tuck in their feathers, and go to the beach, out of harm’s way. Next year I’m planning on being  there with them. Seeing turkeys, in bikini’s, is something I just don’t want to miss.  
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