Skip to main content


Showing posts with the label riverFlow

Photographing a Flash Flood

A long time ago I saw my first flash flood, after years of being in the Southwest. It was pretty scrawny -- but still impressive if you think of what it represents.

Recently it happened again, except that it was even tinier. The onset of running water was only a quarter inch deep. But it was fascinating! I walked it downstream, at a rate of maybe one mile per hour.

I tried to play games with it. Could it be photographed? I looked at it from above: boring. Then I tried to get light to glance off of it: no good. Perhaps if the camera was lowered almost to the ground, and it focussed on the oncoming 'wave front', it might have looked a little bit impressive. But any still photograph would have missed the drama.

Where are the photographers when you need them?!

I played the game of guessing which way its downstream-most finger would extend. It proved impossible. That finger seemed like a sentient creature, probing, invading, and choosing its next victim.

There is such great use of this…

Authenticity Surrounded by Taos Tourism

If you want to lose confidence in your own judgement, just try visiting the famous plaza in Taos, NM. First you will have to fight traffic and struggle for a place to park. Then you will walk around, visit a shop or two, and put up with aggressive store workers and high prices.

Then a seditious thought lays hold of you: that there is nothing "famous" about the place. A visit to the downtown area in any small city in Mexico (or any place with a Mediterranean culture) is more interesting, chaotic, free, colorful, and authentic than Taos, NM.

But if that's true, what are all the tourists doing here? There are a hundred of them for every one of you. Are you going to claim that you are so much smarter or have such superior taste to the hundred?

Perhaps one reason that some of the suckers are there is that the previous president abused the Antiquities Act to declare a gigantic area nearby a national monument. The Antiquities Act is not should not be a way for a presidential signa…

The Evanescence of a Trail

It was hard to believe this forest road: it was an official road on the official map. But why weren't there any tire ruts in it? The grass and other vegetation had filled the road space in. But there was a noticeable road space: flat and smooth. 

Where were all the rocks? Credit the geology for that. 

It was strange to think that I had all this to myself, while just a few miles away in Abiquiu, the tourists were burning up in the heat to see the standard things. Perhaps a place like Coyote NM lacks the cachet they are looking for.

The topography was perfect for mountain biking, albeit backwards. When you camp at 9200 feet, you will usually have to start a ride going downhill -- not what is desirable. But in a heat wave, what else can you do? So smooth was this "road." It felt funny to have the grass tickling my bare leg.

I really hoped this road didn't crap off on me, because it would be a long push/walk back up the hill. It is the buggy season, June, if you think that …

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

Running water, in New Mexico? It just goes to show you that anything in this old world is possible. But it was worrisome: there was too much force to it. Should I or shouldn't I?

It certainly helps not to be a young buckaroo anymore. What did I need to prove? Besides, a driver has no experience with moving water. And experience could be expensive.

So I didn't even try it. The deciding factor was imagining the locals talking about some dang city-slicker who was stupid enough to be swept down the river.

Would my mountain bike do better than the van? It would be interesting to probe the risk/reward situation with stream crossings. It is too bad there isn't a rational and non-catastrophic way to get good at stream crossings. 

I started this post as a short anecdote of a fun experience. But now it occurs to me that a stream crossing is a marvelous metaphor for many situations in life in which risk is difficult to manage: investments, legal problems, physical accidents of different …

The Spirit-Soul of a Human Family

The woman in the RV park was swinging her arms as she walked. You can't get much of a walk in an RV park, so I considered telling her about Farmington's (NM) nice linear city park, along the Animas River. That would certainly make for a longer and more interesting walk for her.

But I kept my mouth shut. I might like recreational trails in a city -- in fact, they are my favorite thing -- but most RVers are out to "consume" the standard, bar-coded brand names of the tourism industry. In this area, Indian ruins are the main brand names, which is surprising considering how visually unexciting most old pueblo ruins are. It seems advantageous to simply read about them, for free, on the internet.

My dog and I went off to do our usual thing of walking along the Animas River. On the way back, we ran into two interesting families. The first was a goose family. They paddled along on the other side of the river, which tortures my dog, Coffee Girl, who is no fan of water.

The secon…

Appreciating Vastness

While mountain biking the other day we saw something strange ahead of us, as we headed downhill to the main dry wash -- the same one where I witnessed my first "flash flood," a couple posts ago.

And once again I was fluttering my eyelashes at the abrupt onset of a small "slot canyon" in plain ol' dirt. In the past I've tried to explain this fascination on the grounds (ahem) of it being easier to make a big impact on a human observer when processes take place on a human scale, regarding years and size. In contrast, the working out of geology and topography over millions of years can leave the human observer indifferent and unimpressed. In a sense, we need to anthropomorphize geology and physical geography in order to make them interesting.

Then I crawled down into the "slot canyon," and photographed the vertical walls.

It was easy to imagine this two-foot-high slot as being more dramatic than all the famous photo icons in the Moab area; these latter a…

A Granite River Runs Through It

The Little Poodle and I "paddled" upstream -- on the mountain bike -- along the popular Arkansas River, near "Byoona" Vista, CO. We saw one river rafting company after another. As luck would have it, we made it in time for their mass 'descension' of the Arkansas River. (If balloonists at the Albuquerque festival can have a mass ascension, then rafters in Colorado can have a mass descension.)

It seemed like a documentary about the D-Day invasion of World War II. Actually it all happened quickly and smoothly.

It has always been a poignant experience to watch people enjoying any water sport. I tried to connect with the water over the years, and nothing really worked. So I surrendered to my fate as a land mammal.

The little poodle, not being a Labrador retriever, feels the same way. So we turned away from the river and biked into an area dominated by foothills of spheroidally-weathered granite. The road was actually just a dry wash of decomposed grani…