The UNM south golf course is a championship course that is way too much championship for this golfer.
It has ankle deep grass in the rough, tricky greens, deep traps, rolling fairways and a few doglegs that would make a dog blush. You wouldn’t want to walk this course unless you were a mountain goat and a masochistic one at that. The greens on all the holes have multiple breaks and the greens keeper always puts the pins where you would expect with someone who fights with the wife a lot.
On the back nine there is a short par four dog leg to the left that wraps around a little pond with a huge cottonwood between the edge of the left fairway and the pond. Long hitters can try to fly the cottonwood and drive the green while the rest of us mortals lay up to the right and have a wedge shot into a small tight green guarded by a big trap.
The pond is shaded by the cottonwoods and a gaggle of ducks live there. When we golfers drive our carts down the fairway, the ducks waddle out to meet us and sample treats we bring from home and have stored in our golf bags.
Growing up with ” Donald Duck” makes ducks seem approachable though we know these guys have a dangerous bill that gets aggressive if the duck feels threatened. If the ” Donalds ” get really bothered they usually turn back to their lake and paddle out to the middle where they can weather people storms.
Today, we give them treats and they stay close to us. We all hit our approaches to the green but no one makes a birdie. Walking off the green, we can hear the ducks quacking like television sports announcers.
Whether they are ” cute” or a ” Nuisance” lies in the eyes of the beholder but they make a tough day on the course a little less disheartening.
Even championship courses need diversions, even ones that waddle and quack.
The Rio Grande river is running high and fast with a bigger than normal snow pack this last winter. It is July and there are still big rocks in the middle of the river that you still can’t see the tops of.
Along the river’s edges, rafters have parked their vehicles in turn off’s, pulled on orange life preservers, boarded inflated rubber rafts and edged into the cold water, eight to ten people a raft going for a bumpy joy ride down stream..
For several miles their hired river guides maneuver them safely through the white water, and the rafters, excited after the trip, have an experience to talk about for years.
This area used to have hard rock miners leading their donkey’s to drink from this same river before they would start a new mining hole high up in the side of a mountain, throwing their diggings down hillsides behind them like burrowing animals. On Saturday night the prospector’s would clean up, a much as they could, and go into Creede to gamble, chase women, fight, and brag about their prospects. Riding the river would have been seen as something only crazy people would do.
The rafts, passing me as I pull my car off the road to watch their procession, hug the middle of the river where the water is deepest and the rapids are most challenging.
Riding rapids is what we are all doing these days in our Excited States of America..
I can hear excited voices as the river riders bounce up and down inside their rafts like a bunch of old west bronco busters.
These river guides are making more money than those hard rock miners ever dreamed of making.
It only takes a few crazy people to change an entire group’s mindset.
Albuquerque has just introduced E-Scooters to the Downtown Civic Plaza, Nob Hill, Old Town, and, eventually, other well frequented locations in the city. These scooters are lined up across from the Albuquerque Museum of Art, chatting up a storm and telling scooter jokes.
Two ladies, I talk too, say the scooters are fun to ride but you need an App on your phone to use them. There are about 750 of them, to start, and a private company, Zagster, has exclusive rights to promote in our city.
The scooters are available from seven in the morning till seven in the evening, have tracking devices installed, go 15 miles per hour, and cost the operator a $1.00 plus fifteen cents a minute to rent. The rationale is to address climate change, provide other modes of transport the younger generation will like (18 and older), encourage people to get out, and eliminate traffic in high traffic areas.
One of the big concerns of the Albuquerque Police Department is people driving these scooters while intoxicated, something that has already happened.
One of my issues is grasping how large American bodies are going to balance on these small running boards while going fifteen miles per hour with just hand brakes?
If the city was serious about climate change they would just make us walk in a transportation free zone.
Riding at your own risk, these days, has to be in all of our plans of the day.
We have come now to a place, in America, where adults dress and do what kid’s do,
Indian School is an east- west Albuquerque boulevard that ends at the Embudo Canyon Open Space at the far east side of the city..
The parking lot, at the roads end, is the beginning of a city Open Space area that moves into the Cibola National Forest Wilderness. The nature walks and trails, at the cities edge, open at seven each morning and close at seven each evening. If you are bold, you can hike back as far as you want into the wilderness and camp out all night under the stars.
Along our normal hike, Alex and I pass Apache Plumes, cactus, mesquite, juniper trees,jagged granite boulders with lichen holding to them tenaciously, rugged mountains laughing when we stop to catch a breath and catch our bearings. Along the trail is also a huge city deep water well enclosed by a chain link fence and guarded by government signs showing statutes that warn bad things happen to those who trespass.Wildlife has hidden itself but you see signs they are close by and paying attention to our progress as much as we are.
Other hikers are out, and, as we pass them on the trail, we all say our hellos cheerfully. Nature lovers are glad to be out even if seeing humans is not what we come to the foothills for.
By the time Alex and I finish our route,more parking spaces have opened up and the lot is looking empty like it should.
It is funny, to me, to see signs putting Open and Close times on the Wilderness and metal gates locked to keep people out at night.
Starting my car and heading home, I’m very sure no one that lives out here gives a damn about our human time tables.
Wilderness time and people time use different watches.
Golf carts are standard equipment at most courses. They speed up play,bring revenue to the course, make the course more accessible.
This one is parked by the Paradise Hills Clubhouse while it’s owner-operator fills up with hot dogs and cold beer before tackling the back nine.
This chariot would have been the cat’s meow in San Pedro Town, Belize where golf carts are a preferred, and much used, mode of transportation.
These golfers are also obsessed, ostentatious Denver Bronco fans.
Bronco football hasn’t been up to par the last few years but they will turn it around if they can find another Elway type quarterback who can throw the football with accuracy,the entire length of the field, and shake off hard charging linebackers with mayhem on their minds.
If people weren’t in such a hurry we could all drive golf carts, save gas and a few lives, and let everyone know what our favorite NFL team is.
There are no sharp edges, nothing to scrape or cut, no nails, splinters, burrs or broken glass. The brightly colored posts can be walked around but are not easily climbed, colors are primary, and water falls from the triangular sails like a cool rain. The shapes here are organic and you can hide behind,or touch to your heart’s content.
Children’s voices are amplified and they are involved in their play, walking and running, under, and through the water. Their voices make a soothing melody. Besides the sails that give shade,there is a green sea serpent in the middle of this installation and a maroon lighthouse that gives the park its nautical theme.
The kids are happy this morning, inquisitive, co-operative, playful.
Temperatures will rise into the nineties with no rain forecast for the next several weeks, and, if I’m a kid, I can’t think of a better place to be while my adults are acting like bigger kids somewhere else.
Golf, as invented in the Scottish countryside, started with sticks and a ball.
Those old guys hit the little hand made wood balls for a distant hole dug in the ground and added traps and water later to make the game even harder than it is.They created a rule book and came up with tournaments and prizes to keep competition interesting and playing the game seem more noble than it actually is. Hitting a small ball with a stick with a club head, and getting it to go where you want it to, is a devilishly difficult skill.
Frisbee golf, as invented in our time, has recently become popular with the younger crowd. There is a frisbee golf course around this Fountain Hills Lake and it features eighteen designated holes, some par three, par four, and par five. There are no traps but the goal is the same – get the ball around the course in the fewest amount of strokes, or throws.
These guys are practicing this morning for their Sunday tournament today, and, by empty picnic benches, competitors are stretching, taking their frisbees out of Wal Mart tote bags and wiping them down with a clean rag.These two contestants tell me there are different sized frisbees for the different shots they have to make in a round. They let me try my hand and toss one of their plastic plates at a close by practice hole they are using to warm up before their tournament begins soon.
I give a toss and manage to land the frisbee inside the little upright basket where it is supposed to go.
There is room in this world, I believe, for ” frisbee golf. ”
After a round of ” frisbee golf ” I expect all these ” golfers” will easily be found at their ” nineteenth hole ” just as we go there after our rounds on our local courses.
Drinking predates golf by thousands of years, and explaining why your score was so high is always easier with a cold beer, chips and dip.
Whether it is real golf, or frisbee golf, GOLF is still, since it was made up, a four letter word.
Even if golf tests your temper and ego, it easily beats work, still another four letter word we all LOVE to HATE.
At night, when it is cool, Santo Domingo neighborhood people, in the Colonial District, congregate in front of the local mini market and watch sports on a big screen television.
This group of grown men and women, on the closest corner to the the LaPuerta Roja Guesthouse, are watching an American basketball game on television this midweek evening. Some men are on their cell phones, others are talking about something other than the game in progress, the rest of the congregation are watching equally grown men in under- shorts running up and down a hardwood court, tossing a ball into a basket, and getting paid millions.
Anything that gets people out of their house and visiting their neighbors can’t be all bad.
Sports and competition run deep within all cultures.
We all like to be entertained and mildly challenged but when things get too serious and/or too hard, many take their ball and go home to bed..
Spectator sports have long been one of the world’s biggest enjoyments.
Sitting out at night watching a big screen television on a working night, and not spending a dime, makes a lot of sense.