Spring Botany Study, Part 6: Kentucky Coffeetree Rediscovery

With Albuquerque temperatures climbing rapidly, Spring 2022 is almost a memory ….. almost.

As luck would have it, I found myself once again in northABQ with a bit of quality time on my hands, so Luna and I set off on the 2 mile round-trip walk to revisit my beloved Kentucky Coffeetrees. It was a rediscovery of sorts and a surprise to find the 2 female trees had progressed way beyond blooming! Fully leafed out, they were showing off newly developing, soft as suede seed pods!

Darn! Missed seeing the flowers, but Wow! What a sight to see these two ladies and the 6 male trees healthy and growing like gangbusters!

Continue reading “Spring Botany Study, Part 6: Kentucky Coffeetree Rediscovery”

Escapito #2b: Cuba Mesa, Santa Fe National Forest

We packed up camp at the Angel Peak campground early in the morning, and bounced back down 8 miles of washboard road towards the highway. Along the way we pulled into several picnic areas with scenic overlooks and ooohed and aaaaahed at the spectacular Kutz Canyon from many angles. Every stop was worth it..

But then a new destination was calling …… about 70 miles southeast ….. over the Continental Divide to Cuba Mesa.

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Escapito #2a: Angel Peak Scenic Area

It has been a while between Escapitoes, but for good reason! We decided to sell our RV, BagoBago, and go with a pull-behind travel trailer that would get off the beaten path more easily; would be equipped with all those features for off-grid camping and exploration. After a few weeks of shopping we decided the new MicroMinnie FLX from Winnebago would fit the bill nicely. This high clearance, rugged 22 foot trailer is loaded with solar panels, lithium batteries, on-demand hot water, eco efficient heater, AC and range, etc., and is surprisingly roomy with a Murphy bed large enough for two plus our 50# dog, Luna. (Yes, Luna is very spoiled!)

Enter ”The Felix” ….. and her maiden, shake-down voyage to the Four Corners region of New Mexico.

Continue reading “Escapito #2a: Angel Peak Scenic Area”

Spring Has Arrived! Part 5: Blanket Flower

There are some flowers, no matter how common, that always make me happy! So when the trails are decorated with sunflowers of any variety, it’s hard not to smile from cheek to cheek!

Yellow Blanket Flower fills this bill …… a what a lovely burst of sunshine popping up today!

Continue reading “Spring Has Arrived! Part 5: Blanket Flower”

Spring Has Arrived! Part 4: A New Mexican Sycamore

Strolling through a pretty north Albuquerque neighborhood a few days ago, I nearly stumbled over a pile of little brown golfballs. Huh? Not a single putting green in sight, I instantly deduced these carelessly cast-away orbs must be none other than last year’s sycamore fruit balls!

Sure enough, a quick glance upward confirmed my suspicion. I was standing in the shade of a huge, patchy-barked sycamore with draping branches over a stucco wall, approaching full leaf stage, and sporting hundreds of spring green fruit balls each with hundreds of immature arrow-shaped seeds.

Continue reading “Spring Has Arrived! Part 4: A New Mexican Sycamore”

Backyard Birds: A Tail of Three Towhees

Winter dissolves into Spring in New Mexico’s East Mountains, and with this change of seasons comes clouds of pollen, strong winds and a new cast of songbirds. As the Dark-eyed Juncos head north to their Canadian and Alaskan breeding grounds, they leave behind the resident Juniper Titmice, House Finches, and Mountain Chickadees, and one of the largest sparrows in the songbird group, the Canyon Towhee.

By early April, the warbly bell ringing song and raspy cat-like mewling call of the male Spotted Towhee can be heard from the tree tops, as he invites all willing suitors and warns off competitors, declaring our backyard his private territory.

Then by mid-April, in moves the dapper Green-tailed Towhee, dominating the seed-littered ground beneath the feeders and chasing away every other bird that dare to grab a bite.

Definitely Towhee season in the East Mountains!

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Update ….. Winter Botany Study, Part 5c: Kentucky Coffeetree Seed Planting Trials



The story continues! My Kentucky Coffeetree seedlings are coming along beautifully. After carefully cracking and planting 9 seeds on March 27th, it was exciting to see 4 seeds had germinated about Day 18. Literally overnight these 4 seedling stems had grown to 1/2” tall.

And then ……

Continue reading “Update ….. Winter Botany Study, Part 5c: Kentucky Coffeetree Seed Planting Trials”

Spring Has Arrived! Part 3: More Season’s Firsts

It was a sun-filled, wind-free hike through Copper’s lesser used trails. Darkling beetles were scurrying to and fro, pausing for brief seconds to let us pass, then resuming their mysterious quest to who knows where. The occasional high pitched hummmmmmmmmm of a hummingbird winging by; hopefully their search for nectar-loaded blossoms is successful.

Here and there the cholla is beginning to plump up, and shrub live oak is showing signs of blooming. Then Roy spotted the first Evening Primrose of the season, and a few steps further I noticed the first Puccoon.

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Spring Has Arrived! Part 2: More Season’s Firsts

Sometimes when hiking familiar trails, it’s easy to get lost in thought. Just being outdoors is very meditative, don’t you think? My mind wanders and it seems my head is high in the clouds, or at the very least I find myself looking up to marvel at that seemingly endless New Mexico blue sky. After all, my boots know where all the foot-tripping rocks are, and autopilot kicks in until ……

Out of the corner of my eye, a slight movement. A small stone gets pushed aside by the wary approach of a snake! Now’s not the time for daydreaming. It’s time to pay close attention to each footfall, because Spring in New Mexico has woken up all the slithering, crawling and buzzing wildlife and they are back at work.

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Escapito #1 Focus Study: Pyrrhuloxia Close Encounter!


When we left North Carolina, one of the birds we enjoyed immensely but sadly left behind was the Northern Cardinal. Such a brilliantly red, active year-round resident of the East. Fast forward to New Mexico and the State Park we visited after Percha Dam is called Rockhound. Known for its geology (thunder eggs) and breathtaking scenery (Florida Mountains), we were prepared to oooh and aaahhhhh at the view while finding a few rocky gems.

Little did we know the birds would captivate us, especially the Pyrrhuloxia, a cousin to the Northern Cardinal and full fledged member of the cardinal family.

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