Tent Rocks:  Recorded in Stone

dreamstime_m_33616533I’d never been to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument before my friend Frances, along with David and his son Galen, took me on a surprise expedition, one of the best birthday experiences I’ve ever had. They blindfolded me and, as darkness descended, one winter’s evening, they led me to the entrance of the slot canyon where I was allowed to remove the blindfold.

The sky was the first thing I saw, stars throbbing out of the blackness. The wavery pumice walls were so narrow, they touched my shoulders as I tentatively began threading my way through. Suddenly, beside me, a tiny, fairy-like light flickered. I leaned closer. It was a votive candle, sitting in a naturally-carved nicho, bravely sending out its flame flare. As I continued forward, more fairy lights flickered in nearby nichos. I was encased in this somehow-familiar tunnel whose walls in the cold, clean air radiated stored sunlight and lava warmth. I caught glimpses, looming high above, of these strange giants, the hoodoos, peering down at me like a Greek chorus witnessing my journey. Within these tunnel walls, I felt protected and nurtured in ways radically different from those of everyday life. My thoughts were mysteriously still, my heartbeat syncopated with the pulse of the Earth.

Eventually, the tunnel wound around a curve and into a small round space, suffused in candlelight. David and Galen were already there; we all sat down for a picnic. “Wow, you guys,” I whispered. “How did you think of this?” “I was hiking here one day,” Frances explained, “and it struck me that it’s like being in the birth canal. And I thought, coming through here could be an experience of rebirth!” And I realized, so that’s why it felt so familiar. My heart just cracked open. Continue reading

Camping With Kids

 

Itzky 276My first official camping experience was, of all places, Bumpkin Island, a 10-mile ferry-boat ride across Boston Harbor.  I was a 26-year-old small-town Midwestern girl in the proverbial big city; that summer, Boston earned itself the title of “fastest-paced” (proudly beating New York), and with a density of 12,900 people per square mile—it was thronging in a way that I found to be immensely unsettling. I had to find reprieve. A fellow server doubled as a park ranger on Bumpkin Island and suggested I find it there. The entire island is only about 30 acres, but it was a whole new world of self-reliance, which is odd, considering I had been more or less on my own for the past decade. Sure, I could take care of myself in a man-made world; find my way around on the subway; order a decent bottle of wine with dinner, but I quickly realized that nature, in many respects, operates with an entirely different set of laws.

I stumbled around a bit for the next few days, feeling every bit the bumpkin as I tried to set up my tent, explore (it took me all of a half hour to walk the circumference of the island), and boil water on a camp stove. But I was simultaneously and strangely euphoric. I brought a flashlight, but my circadian rhythms lined up immediately with sunset and sunrise. I brought books, but I watched bugs. For hours. They became my friends. I collected wildflowers, and in a rare Julie Andrews moment, I happily wove them into a garland for my unwashed hair (though I did not thrust my arms out and sing and twirl). In short, I became something of a child again. Navajo tradition, I’ve since learned, having married a traditional Navajo man, deems that babies that haven’t laughed yet are not officially of human family; they still belong to the Holy People, which my husband describes as spiritual manifestations of natural settings. My camping experience helped me to understand what children know innately––they are at home outside.   Continue reading

Saving Your Skin

 

dreamstime_m_46901463I grew up in a time, not that long ago, when sunscreen was for babies. Literally. No one over nine worried about getting too much sun—certainly not if you were a teenager or in your early 20s. Instead, we lathered on oils that touted their bronzing efficacy. We wrapped cardboard in aluminum foil to hold beneath our chins to reflect the sun onto our necks, because to have a golden glow––male or female––was considered beautiful. We didn’t even wear sunglasses, because we might get that unsightly raccoon-eye ring. Being pale was for chumps.

Now that I’m of an age to see the sunspots darkening my hands and face (this is your skin’s response to overstimulation by the sun, and an attempt to protect itself from further abuse) and crow’s feet crinkling my eyes, I think differently. There’s a world of research about how skin cancer doesn’t just happen overnight, too. No, skin lesions of all sorts are often the result of cumulative hours of sun exposure. Sun-kissed is a lie–– sun-beaten and wind-blown is a more accurate description of what happens to our epidermis.

I’m certainly not seeking the “I just spent a week at the beach” appearance anymore. Living in New Mexico, we don’t need to hit the road to find the sun. We’ve got over 300 days of it. Plus, we live at altitude, which enhances the effects of Old Sol’s rays. And did you forget the wind? That and our dry desert air contribute to dehydration, which is murder on the epidermis. Continue reading

Bike and Brew Beer Dinners & Tap Takeovers 2016

Bike and Brew Festival is back and better than ever! This year Local Flavor is excited to participate by coordinating beer dinners throughout the week with several of our favorite local restaurants!

Reserve your beer dinner by calling our partner restaurants directly or just show up for any of these amazing after-hours craft beer parties and tap takeovers.

Wednesday, May 18

monks-ale-logoL’Olivier
Brewery: Monk’s Ale
229 Galisteo Street
Santa Fe
505. 989.1919
View Menu or Make Reservations

 

New_Belgium_Brewing_Company_logoPranzo Italian Grill 
Brewery: New Belgium Brewery
540 Montezuma Avenue
Santa Fe
505.984.2645
View Menu or Make Reservations

 

3958-5d9fb26c-7724-4a8d-b640-9ab0be0b5dd2Andiamo! Trattoria 
Brewery: Marble Brewing
322 Garfield Street
Santa Fe
505.995.9595
View Menu or Make Reservations

Continue reading

Fishing Report May 2016: Fishing the Cimarron

guides_op_640x491The Cimarron is a small-tail water fishery that comes out of Eagle Nest Lake. Although it is small and close to the highway, it does have a lot of trout and excellent insect hatches. The water from the Cimarron is used to irrigate hay fields to the east. The stream’s all-important flow rates are based on agricultural needs downstream, and the flows are often counter to what one might expect. For example, expecting the river to be high from rains may not be the case because rain curtails demand for irrigation water––as does haying. In addition, many times, the water is coming out sparse from the dam, but fishing is OK downstream a ways, as small tributaries add to the flow exponentially. In fact, there is usually a sweet spot of several miles where the flow will be good, especially below Clear Creek. There are two gauges at either end of the stream, and you can pretty much figure all this out before you leave the house. (The ideal flow is about 30 to 40 cubic-feet-per-second (cfs) out of the dam.) The great thing about the Cimarron is that it often fishes best when other streams don’t—namely, during the spring runoff in May and June.

Since it’s the handiest trout stream close to Texas, there can be lots of fishing pressure. Luckily, it’s rarely so crowded that you can’t find a little personal stretch to fish, and much, if not most of it, is so thick with brush that it discourages a lot of people. So dive into the brush—then wade right up the middle. Do whatever it takes to get your fly in there––resort to dapping a single dry fly tied to a very short leader. A bow and arrow cast is often good to use. Another handy maneuver is to take a weighted fly and swing or “lob” it in the deeper pools. This is especially deadly in eddies. The water load is handy as well.

The “Cimarron sling” is the most important cast in this stream and is described in greater detail on page 39 of my book, Instinctive Fly Fishing II: A Guide to Better Fishing. Because false casts and tight loops catch lots more branches than trout, the best cast is an ugly short stroke—a half-cast/half-roll that starts with a half-assed water load. This cast is performed by letting the flies drift past you and then, just before they get tight in the current, slinging them forward with a rounded-out half stroke. This is a one-time deal––make no false casts!

The special regulation section at the upper end of the river has a gravel bottom, moderate flow and beaver ponds. Key in on mayfly hatches here. Downriver, the water becomes faster and rockier, and stoneflies and caddis flies are more prevalent. The stone-fly hatch is very important on the lower sections of the stream and commences in late May to early June. If you see a hatch flutter past you, tie an imitation one on your line. The best time to be on the lookout is around noon. At that time of day a black stonefly nymph will do very well also, but most stonefly nymphs are far too heavy for the shallow Cimarron. Be sure and get the lighter—and smallest choices.

The stream is 45 minutes east of Taos on Highway 64. One passes by Eagle Nest Lake on the drive. Although it has fished poorly the last few years, historically, the lake produces lunkers. If you pass by it when the water is calm, be sure and drive down and see if there are fish rising close to shore. Beware that there are a lot of carp and they are easy to confuse with trout to the average fisherman. But even the carp are a challenging and fun fish, too! More on them in a later report.

Fishing report by Taylor Streit

Night Biking to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Biking-BalloonFiestaEarly morning, mid-October. Astronomical twilight—that moment when the faintest glow touches the eastern rim of the night sky—is still an hour away when I leave the house. Riding north, I peddle through quiet, somnolent streets (even Central Avenue sleeps this time of day) around the university duck pond to the intersection of Tucker and Yale. This is my first experience biking in the city, in any city, and I have no idea what to expect—of my endurance, of the ride, of my borrowed bike—but I am all exhilaration. Anticipation. Childlike delight. For 10 delicious minutes, I feel completely alone, as though I have the entire city to myself.

We have planned to meet in a parking lot on the north side of campus, and—overestimating (for fear of being late) how long it would take me to get here—I am the first to arrive. I lean my bike against a curb, pull an apple from my bag, and take a bite, slowly savoring a scant first breakfast while I wait for my two companions. The morning air, like my apple, is crisp and cool—cold, actually, now that I’ve stopped moving. With a shiver, I pull on a sweater and a pair of gloves, crunch through the rest of my Braeburn, and check the time. Ten past five.

Other bikers gather gradually, huddling into little bands here and there throughout the lot (which seems to be a popular meeting place). I watch as a pair materializes from the murk of a dimly lit street, straining for a glimpse of familiar faces but unable to make them out before they pass, gone again in the darkness. Several minutes later my phone rings. With the help of satellites orbiting high overhead—twinkling somewhere above us like stars with which to navigate—we find each other at last. Now, the real adventure begins.

Continue reading