Friday, April 29, 2011

Tour of the Gila edition

The Tour of the Gila is probably THE biggest event of the year in Silver City! Thousands of bike racers and bike racing fans pour into the town for this event. Residents are asked to open their homes and host bikers, which we will probably do next year.

There's five days of races. Wednesday they raced through the downtown area and then NW to the ghost town of Mogollon, over the Continental Divide (which US 180 crosses about three miles west of Silver City). That's only 73 miles ... a warm-up. The bikers start in categories, so you never see all 600 or so of them at once; the bottom two pictures show them in the downtown area.

Thursday we did the real deal. The "Fort Bayard Inner Loop" race starts at historic Fort Bayard about five miles east of SC and loops over the Continental Divide to Piños Altos to Lake Roberts, down through the Mimbres Valley and back to Fort Bayard ... 80 miles and more than a mile in elevation!

That's Fort Bayard in the background as the Men's Pro, 1 group takes off Thursday morning. Above that is another group of men at 7000 feet, approaching the Continental Divide, with Silver City in the background and Mexico over the distant hills.

One of the lady riders is caught with the Mimbres Valley in the background as she rides up the LOOONG grade out of Mimbres. And, finally, at the top, we have a duel at the Fort Bayard finish line as a challenger in one of the men's groups pours it on in an unsuccessful attempt to catch up with the leader, who only moments before had been a minute ahead of the next biker.

We're taking a day off today. They're SW of SC, riding around Tyrone and we didn't see any reason to get up early and haul our bods after them. These folks are like mushers; they want to be up and rolling early! Too early for us old folks!

Tomorrow should be fun photographically, though; it's the "Downtown Silver City Criterium" ... street racing in a rectangle in the downtown area. The official description says, "Course hazards include rough pavement and errant pedestrians." There's nine different groups, including the only chance for locals to race, so it'll be all day long.

Sunday is the "Gila Monster" ... "a 105.7 mile point-to-point road race with 9,131 feet of climbing and 8,252 feet of descent." Not sure how we'll handle that one, but it should be a challenge for the racers!

It's a glimpse into a different world for us. I've learned that "peloton" is the term for the grouping they ride in to cut down wind resistance. It's an in-group, where the pro racers know each other's race history, etc. This year we don't have the international status that brought Lance Armstrong to Silver City last year, but it's still a big event, with a number of foreign racers and many race teams. And they're ALL like Jack Spratt ... not an ounce of fat anywhere! And they creste the Continental Divide at 7000+ feet with ease, going faster at the end of the grade than I can ride on the level! tv

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Just a quick update ... 'tis Easter and we are off to Meeting and then it's Westward Ho! to Phoenix. Parked the dog at Mis Amigos this morning, after which Sandy fixed a special Easter breakfast. We're only planning to be gone overnight, so not much packing to do ... easy trip.

Sandy will get measured and tattooed tomorrow in readiness for the radiation therapy that will start on May 2. We'll also look at a couple of housing options for May and then head on back to Silver City.

We got out stuff together for the Members Show at the Hearst Gallery in Piños Altos and took the pictures up there yesterday afternoon. Between that and filling the order from the Mesa Verde Museum Association, we sorta got back in the FeVa Fotos mode this week. With the usual irritation of cranky printers ... something to deal with when we get back.

In the morning, we went out to Fort Bayard to catch some spring pictures at the old facility. It isn't really spring there yet, but we did see some green grass and some flowers. And a lot of deterioration since we did a pretty comprehensive photo documentation of the major structures in December and January ... very sad to see the beautiful, historic empty building on Officers Row virtually abandoned. TV

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Beautiful days

The weather has been really beautiful here the last few days! Yesterday we had doors and windows open and it was sooo pleasant.

I hope readers of this blog have been following Sandy's blog at for updates on her condition. In brief, she went, she was seen and she is conquering cancer! The Mayo's analysis of the tissue samples showed four spots, each 1-2 mm, instead of the 1-2 centimeter spot previously identified. In other words, Sandy's cancer was barely Stage 1 and no hormonal or radiation therapy is called for!

She will have radiation, but it will only be for four weeks in May. We go back to the Mayo for an appointment Monday, April 25, and then the chemo will begin on May 2, be done May 27. Five days a week for four weeks. Wonderful prospects!

On the way over, we stopped and walked around downtown Globe, AZ, where I liked this juxtaposition of signs that seemed to be from a former era. A little further along, the ocotillo and cactus were in bloom, as well as around the Mayo buildings themselves.

Last Saturday I went with another Friend to the town of Palomas, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, just across the border. We were looking for ways in which Gila Friends Meeting could most effectively help the population there.

The dominant visual feature in Palomas today is The Wall ... a 10-foot high palisade of steel posts, shown here from the Palomas side. In addition to being ugly, it is (to me) an expensive exercise in futility. In addition to its ease to be topped by an ordinary extension ladder, walls have never worked ... the drug trade will continue as long as there is a demand in the U.S. and money to buy the products the cartels are selling.

However, there is a deeper story. There was almost no traffic at the port of entry. We walked over and back with no delays. The effect on the town has been devastating. There is widespread hunger; there are no jobs, as one of our contacts put it. There are unfinished mega-houses scattered around the town ... owned by members of a cartel that apparently doesn't have much of a presence in town, but the houses can't be sold or rented because the new occupants fear attack by members of a rival cartel. The high school kids we worked with on the playground project shown said that life is okay if you don't get involved in the drug trade ... or witness anything going down. The previous mayor was kidnapped and killed. It's not as bad as Juarez, to the east, but it's getting worse.

We enjoyed working with the high school kids on the slide and swings in one of the town parks. You have to pay to go to middle school and high school (250 pesos a month one student said ... about $21), so these kids come from more affluent families. After three hours of work, we were invited to the home of a high school science teacher for lunch. Interesting experience ... we appreciated the hospitality, but it wound up taking about two hours, while more propane was sought, etc. The chicken pieces, shoe-string potatoes, sweet white onions and whole jalapeño peppers were fried in about two inches of lard, so the chicken tasted a little like pork rinds.

One of the projects we saw involved making papercrete bricks the size of adobes. They're a mixture of newspapers and concrete ... very light, very insulative.

Most of the streets in Palomas are wide and dirt. I was impressed that every couple of blocks there were things for sale ... used clothes hanging on fences, little mom-and-pop stores, two ice cream bar vendors on bicycles. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive ... it has to be!

Back home, we're enjoying the first roses! I got a new pair of loppers yesterday at Ace Hardware ... the joy of lopping! The 10-foot bushes look lots better now. We had a lot of tip-frost from the episode of subzero temperatures we had this winter. The experience left me bleeding (didn't armor myself before doing battle with the roses), but it was nice to be outside. TV

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another week

Boy, THAT'S a ho-hum caption, isn't it? ;-} Probly cuz I'm still waking up. Need coffee.

I'm feeling about as energetic as the two lazy critters in the bottom photo, who daily follow the path of the sun through the south-facing rooms.

So, after theater-in-the-round "Harvey" on Friday night, we enjoyed "Annie" in the packed auditorium-style theater at Western NM University on Sunday afternoon. Fifty humans and two dogs provided a great performance, much appreciated by an audience that included a lot of kids.

Was a bit startled yesterday to see the newscast on MSNBC suddenly switch to Merrill, WI, my home town, where there had been a tornado on Sunday. No deaths, thank goodness, but some injuries and a lot of damage.

Predawn light is beginning to show the hillside behind the house, so I guess morning is, indeed, arriving. In a couple of hours, we'll be off to Scottsdale for Sandy's post-op follow-up appointments tomorrow. It should be a leisurely drive through the desert mountains, hoping for more wildflowers than we saw in March. We seem to be about three weeks later than the Phoenix area in terms of Spring arriving, judging by the cholla buds just coming out here. tv

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A little cool today

... but it's snowing where we were a year ago! Hopefully we'll get some moisture out of this, but probably not much.

Mostly we have sun, which - as you can see in the bottom picture - Sophie and Scooby Doo take maximum advantage of!

Fruit trees are about midway, a couple are past their prime, a couple others are just coming in. Deer have been pruning the lilacs ... the blossoms must be especially tasty!

Buds are just showing on the cholla behind the house and on some of the prickly pear cacti out front. There were similar buds that I photographed on cacti in the Phoenix area about three weeks ago, so I guess here at 6,300 feet elevation on the north side of Silver City, our Spring is about three weeks later than Phoenix, at least this year.

I guess it's theater week for us. We went to see "Harvey" at the Seedboat Center for the Arts Theatre last night. The Seedboat is a gallery we like on Yankie Street and it has an enclosed courtyard with sculptures and other art placed around it. The theater has just been fixed up next door to the gallery, opening onto the same courtyard; I understand the theater can double as a recording studio, too.

The second picture from the bottom shows the performance area ... theater-in-the-square. It doesn't seat many, so it's quite an intimate setting. No problem hearing the actors!

The middle picture shows the courtyard during intermission ... outdoor on a pleasant evening, the moon overhead, art works here and there, plus good company. Really nice setting!

The casting was perfect; the characters were so well done! I don't know if this was The Ragin' Thespians Company's first performance, but I hope it won't be the last we'll see!

And tomorrow we go to see "Annie" at the WNMU theater. More on that later.

Next week we're off to the Mayo again; Sandy has appointments on Wednesday. That should end the uncertainty about treatments, etc. tv

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gettin' warm!

It's been a quiet week, but with a few outings. It's a time of relaxing, catching up on bills, etc. We were in town while the local chapter of Great Old Broads for Wilderness had a sidewalk march in connection with recent deaths of Mexican grey wolves. The fellow on crutches is protesting the use of leg traps; he's dragging one.

On a lighter note was First Friday a couple nights ago, and it was the best we've seen yet. Lots of shops open and lots of activity in the streets, bringing people downtown. In addition to the stiltwalker, the band Yo, Paulie! played and the folks with batons were practicing for fire dancing when it got dark (by which time us oldies were gone home).

It's been unseasonably warm down here for a couple of days and today the wind came up, blowing hard from the SW.

Important but not of our doing, my first great grandchild was born yesterday afternoon. She's Jillian Ruth Hoppe, born to David and Diana Hoppe in Schenectady, NY. Jillian was born at 4:47 p.m. and was 20 inches long and weighed 8 lbs., 8 oz. at birth. All is well and David and Diana (and lots of relatives) are ecstatic!

For readers who are not family, my daughter Beth is David's mother. It was a delight for Sandy and I to be able to attend David and Diana's wedding at the end of May year before last in the Spokane area. He and his brother Chris are fine young men! David (28 in a couple of days) is a nuclear reactor operator in the Navy. tv