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 big rocks in the river you still can’t see the tops of.
Along the river, rafters park their vehicles in pull off’s, pull on their orange life preservers, board inflated rubber rafts and edge into the cold water, eight to ten people a trip going for a bumpy joy ride down stream..
For several miles their hired river guides maneuver them safely through white water, and the rafters, excited after the trip, have an experience to talk about for years.
The highway from Creede to Alamosa, Colorado follows the river, as do railroad tracks, and the entire landscape drops in altitude from ten thousand feet above sea level to a mile above sea level in Alamosa.
This area used to have hard rock miners leading their donkey’s into wild canyons near the river where they would start a hole high up in the side of a mountain and throw the diggings down hillsides like a burrowing animal. 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 waste their time doing..
The rafts, passing me where I pull my car off the road to watch, hug the middle of the river where the water is deepest and the rapids are most challenging.
Occasionally, there is a news report of a tourist losing their life in one of these raft trips on the river, but that is rare and not enough to keep most people from changing what they have a mind to do.
Riding rapids is what we are all doing these days, whether we are on the river, or not.
I can hear excited voices as the river riders bounce up and down like a bunch of bronco busters.
These river guides are making more money than those hard rock miners ever dreamed of making.
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 twice a week scenic exercise hike, Alex and I pass numerous Apache Plumes, cactus, mesquite, juniper trees, and 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, if you are observant.
Other hikers are out this early morning, and, as we pass each other 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 return to the parking lot,more parking spaces have opened up and the lot is looking empty like it does most working days of the week.
You would think there would be more people hiking with a city of almost a million spread as far north, south and west as we can see.
Nature and exercise, however, aren’t part of everyone’s vocabulary.
It is a bit funny to me that we put Open and Close times on the Wilderness and have a locked gate to keep people out.
Last time I looked, the wilderness wasn’t wearing a watch.
I don’t think anything out here runs on our human time tables.
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, used sticks and a ball.
Those old guys hit for a distant hole dug in the ground and added traps and water and hazards 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, 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 frisbees at a close by practice hole they are using to warm up before the play begins.
I give a toss and manage to land the frisbee inside the little upright basket.
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. ”
Drinking predates golf by thousands of years, and explaining why your score was so high is easier with a cold beer, chips and dip.
Whether it is real golf, or frisbee golf, GOLF is still a four letter word.
Sports, of any kind, beat working any day of the week.
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 evening. Some grown men are on their cell phones, others are talking about something other than the game, the rest are watching equally grown men in under- shorts running up and down a 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.
When things get too serious and/or too hard, many take their ball and go home.
Spectator sports is one of the world’s biggest enjoyments.
Games of choice on the neighborhood streets seem to be dominoes and chess but I have also seen checkers and card games with money on the table.
This street corner game, in progress,even has an official scorekeeper who shouts out the score at the end of each game and visits his cell phone regularly. Some of us pedestrians stop to watch. This is likely an ongoing game between friends who have money and/or bragging rights involved.
The men don’t talk much. They slap their dominoes on the board when they make a play. When they shuffle the dominoes to start each new game in the series, it sounds like feet hitting the floor in a salsa dance.
It is quitting time, with darkness starting to move in, and the most conspicuous thing missing is rum.
When this tournament is over, the players and onlookers will go into the nearby colmado and take care of drinking business.
It doesn’t cost much to sit on this corner. When one tournament is over, different players take seats at the table and start another. There is luck involved as well as skill. You can have good dominoes but it you don’t play them right they aren’t worth a damn
No one says anything about my picture taking, and, I wouldn’t expect them too.
These guys wives, and girlfriends, know where they are.