So when she called we confirmed a time and I set about getting ready. Everything was fairly routine until I got ready to leave and I noticed that a tire was a little low. I check it regularly because I have a slow leak and I simply forget to have it taken care of at the tire store. I got out the little compressor that plugs into the car's power outlet and set it about pumping the tire while I loaded my sweatshirt, walking stick, bottled water and food into the car. I called Gail and let her know it would be a few more minutes and why. Then I left the house about 15 or 20 minutes behind schedule. Not a big deal on a day with zero schedules to meet.
Then, halfway between my house and hers I realized that I'd left my camera behind. I called Gail and asked if she would shoot me if I went back for it. Her reply? "Maybe." Well, I thought about it for a minute. I knew I'd get some incredible shots but I could tell she wasn't feeling patient, so I opted to go forward.
Now, in retrospect, dumb decision on my part. Turning around, getting the camera and driving back would have taken approximately 20 minutes, so since we had no specific time frame or any schedule to meet, it was actually kind of a non issue. But I ferried on, since, after all, it was her idea, her car, and I'd already made us late.
As we wound around in the mountains, on one side we looked out over the valley that I so often photograph, but in the opposite direction. We were looking at the mountains I live in, including Sierra Blanca and Nogal Peak. Then as we circled the hills to the north, we were looking out over the high desert on the mesa to the north of the range. Remember that the Capitan Mountains are one of only a handful of mountain ranges that run east and west, the only one in the US. So our views were essentially North (desert) and South (Rockies/Sacrementos/Sierra Blanca Range). The views were awesome!
We crept up the incredible rocky, narrow road, and as we went, I learned that Gail has a problem with heights. I knew this, but I didn't realize it extended to being in the car. Eventually she reached her limit of tolerance and stopped. She was also concerned because there are very few places to turn around, so if we got beyond her limit of tolerance with no place to turn around, we were stuck. I offered to drive, but that seemed worse to her. So after leaving the car in the middle of this road, we hiked up the steep incline probably 250 or 300 yards, where Gail took some pictures.
I decided to hike ahead ans see what was around the curve in the road near the top of the hill. Gail stayed behind. I'm not sure if she was winded or if it was the height thing. I walked what I estimate to be another quarter of a mile, rounding the curve and going up another incline, fairly straight section of the road. I was hoping to find a turn around spot, but I didn't. And I realized that I should push myself too far, because if I slipped and were hurt How would Gail know, and could she get to me. (I can just hear some of you screaming at me!!) So I went back down.
I'm planning to go back with the camera!!! My concern is, however, that my truck is bigger, longer than her SUV, so turning around will be even more devilish for me. I wish I knew for sure what is farther up the road. Da Boss heard we were going up there and was excitedly telling me about many things to see, but we didn't get that far. I'll check with him and then make plans. I may even ask him to go along since he knows the area. And before any of you say it .... no, I won't go alone. If Da Boss doesn't go, one of the artists wants to go with me. She was at the Gallery when we came back down and said she'd love to go.
As we were descending, we stopped at a picnic site low on the trail to have lunch. Then we meandered near the base of the mountains, just exploring various forest roads. It was at about this time that I realized ....duh!! I have a camera in my phone! So I did get a couple shots, not the spectacular ones from up high nor of the usual quality, but pictures, none the less!
This first one is a picture of the mountains we had just come down from. What you see is not the mountain we were actually driving on, but one near it.
Then on the highway just before we got back to town, I spotted a herd of antelope. There were about 15 or 20 of them, but they moved away before I could take the picture. If you look carefully just this side of the line of trees you can see one almost center of the frame, and there are a few more to the right.
Wow, how exciting (not!!) to see pictures with dots that I swear are antelope!!! Sheesh. I...W.I.L.L...T.A.K.E...T.H.E...C.A.M.E.R.A...N.E.X.T...T.I.M.E!!!
But the day was fun anyway. The temperatures required a sweatshirt because of the breeziness, but it wasn't uncomfortable. The sky was, as always, awesomely blue and the clouds were bright white. The air was invigoratingly clean.
The one downer was seeing the sections with burned trees. When I go back I'll take pictures to show you. Most areas were lightly burned and beginning to grow back. One place was a total burn out, with just the underbrush making a comeback at this point. This area was in Capitan Gap, the place where Smoky Bear was found (well, I don't know if it is right where he was, but in the general area) and it was rather odd to be there, knowing he was rescued somewhere around here, and seeing the devastation. Reminder: if you're a smoker, DON'T ever, ever throw a cigarette or cigar butt out the window of a car, no matter where you are. If you camp, be sure to completely extinguish the campfire by dousing it and spreading the ashes to be sure there is no vestige of hot cinder left.
Life is beautiful!!!