Ah Choo!

Cottonwood Canopy

The Rio Grande Cottonwood, a welcome sight to pioneer desert caravans because it often signaled water, typically reaches 50 to 60 feet in height, with a trunk of three feet in diameter. Some of the grand old cottonwoods in the Rio Grande Valley have reached 90 feet in height, with trunks five feet across. In open areas, the tree may divide into branches near its base, producing a spreading crown. . . .

The Rio Grande Cottonwood reproduces by seeding, unlike many other flood-plain trees which regenerate by sprouting. It flowers in the spring, before it leafs out. It releases its seeds, each carried by downy white tuft, or “parachute,” in anticipation of traditional spring floods and winds, the principal mechanisms for dispersion. A mature Rio Grande Cottonwood can produce as many as 25 million seeds in a season, covering wide areas with a blanket of “cotton.”

Rio Grande Cottonwood – DesertUSA


Two Misconceptions about Albuquerque

1. No, Albuquerque is not as hot as Phoenix, Las Vegas or Tucson. Last year the temperature rose to 100º F or more just twice. Not at all in some years. The temperature goes above 100º in Phoenix more than one hundred days a year.

2. Yes, Albuquerque is just as high above sea level as Denver. In fact, parts of Albuquerque are higher than any part of Denver. The altitude in Denver ranges from 5,130 to 5,470 feet above sea level. The altitude in Albuquerque ranges from 4,946 to 6,120 feet above sea level. Albuquerque has the highest altitude of any of the 50 largest cities.


Yesterday’s Photos

Click either image for much larger (and prettier) versions. Photos taken with iPhone 5s Sunday afternoon.

Looking upriver from about a mile north of Alameda. It's called the Río Bravo del Norte in Mexico, but Rio Grande seems better to fit the usually  placid river as it flows through Albuquerque. iPhone 5s photo Sunday afternoon.

Looking upriver from about a mile north of Alameda. It’s called the Río Bravo del Norte in Mexico, but Rio Grande seems better to fit the usually placid river as it flows through Albuquerque.

Not sure what the x-shaped vegetation is in our "we must preserve our natural Bosque" but they haven't bloomed at all yet.

Not sure what the x-shaped vegetation is in our “we must preserve the natural Bosque” but they haven’t bloomed at all yet.


Let’s Take It Back and Call It New New Mexico

It was 153 years ago today (1861) that Congress organized the Territory of Colorado and stole the Rio Grande headwaters, the San Luis Valley, nine fourteeners, a national park and a big chunk of plains from New Mexico. Colorado was given that part of New Mexico east of the Continental Divide between 37º (the current state line) and 38º (69 miles further north).

In the House version of the bill, the new territory was called Idaho. The Senate changed it to Colorado.

The good news is, two years later, New Mexico Territory gave up what is now Arizona.

So, lose some, win some.

Here’s an 1857 map of New Mexico.


Aztec Ruins National Monument (New Mexico)

… was proclaimed 91 years ago today.

Aztec Ruins

Around 1100 A.D. ancient peoples embarked on an ambitious building project along the Animas River in northwestern New Mexico. Work gangs excavated, filled, and leveled more than two and a half acres of land. Masons laid out sandstone blocks in intricate patterns to form massive stone walls. Wood-workers cut and carried heavy log beams from mountain forests tens of miles away. In less than three decades they built a monumental “great house” three-stories high, longer than a football field, with perhaps 500-rooms including a ceremonial “great kiva” over 41-feet in diameter.

A short trail winds through this massive site offering a surprisingly intimate experience. Along the way visitors discover roofs built 880 years ago, original plaster walls, a reed mat left by the inhabitants, intriguing “T” shaped doorways, provocative north-facing corner doors, and more. The trail culminates with the reconstructed great kiva, a building that inherently inspires contemplation, wonder, and an ancient sense of sacredness.


Ancestral Puebloans related to those from the Chaco region farther south built an extensive community at this site beginning in the late 1000s A.D. Over the course of two centuries, the people built several multi-story structures called “great houses,” small residential pueblos, tri-wall kivas, great kivas, road segments, middens, and earthworks. The West Ruin, the remains of the largest structure that they built and which has since been partially excavated, had at least 450 interconnected rooms built around an open plaza. Several rooms contain the original wood used to build the roof. After living in the area about 200 years, the people left at about 1300 A.D.

Aztec Ruins National Monument