RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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White Sands, New Mexico and an unplanned ode to the Sierra Club

 

white sands

Out of the tour bus at White Sands National Monument

I’ve been a member and supporter of the Sierra Club for almost forty years. Politics aside, the Club has been very good to me. Over the years I’ve participated in hundreds of hikes, events, activities and trips. And most importantly, I’ve made many good friends (including a couple of boyfriends and a husband!).

White Sands

A forensic nightmare: the perpetrator walked across the sand so we can identify the pattern on the soles of his shoes…

The Sierra Club has played an important part in my life. I was a hike leader for many years, editor of various newsletters and a volunteer at many fund raising events.

White Sands

The tenacity of plant life

It has also taken me on numerous wonderful trips around the USA and allowed me to discover the great National Parks of this country that I would never have seen on my own.

White Sands

Waves of sand. You can imagine the ocean in the distance but Santa Monica is more than 800 miles (1287 km) away

I’ve been on cruises, hiking trips, camping and just plain sight-seeing. This is an easy way for me to support the Club while having a good time myself.

White Sands

I’ve lived in Los Angeles continually since 1965. We are surrounded by beautiful mountains, but other than hiking the trails of Griffith Park (which are not to be sneered at) I had never really ventured into the Santa Monicas or the San Gabriels or the Verdugos. Around 1980 I discovered the Sierra Club and that all changed. I became addicted to hiking at least twice a week. One weekend my car wouldn’t start and rather than spend the time to get it fixed I convinced my father to loan me his car so I could go on a hike!

White Sands

The sun was already fading and the contrast between light and dark was making it increasingly difficult to capture the landscape

I can’t trust myself to do any heavy duty hiking anymore. My ankles, knees and hips took a beating with all the running I did for several decades. But that is totally okay. I have fabulous memories of trudging around the mountains in awe of the beauty of Southern California. I look up at the mountains now as old friends and we smile knowingly at each other.

White Sands

The purple flowers in the center stand out in this stark landscape

Sometimes I start writing and I get off on a tangent. So I just let it flow. This post was supposed to be all about my Sierra Club trip to southern New Mexico last year. And White Sands National Monument in particular. All the photos you’ve been looking at are from that area. We had a limited amount of time but as I’ve said before, there is always a trade-off when on a motor coach tour. On the one hand you have no responsibility and all the stress is on the shoulders of the leader. On the other hand, you don’t get to decide where to go or how much time to spend at any given location. But I did manage to take one prize-winning photograph at White Sands and that made the whole trip worthwhile for me!!!

White Sands
From the website: Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.

White Sands

As the sun went down the shadows were getting longer which made some interesting photographs

White Sands

On the photo above I liked the way the tendrils seemed to wave around as if the plant was under water and the shadows added extra interest.

White Sands

Hey, we saw some native wildlife! This beetle was making his own tracks over the imprints left by human visitors.

The original photo

White Sands

Playing a little in Lightroom and Photoshop

Although I love the act of taking a photo and making it the best composition I can, I have to admit the real fun begins for me in the post processing. When I saw this tree I also immediately imagined the possibilities. By itself it’s a perfectly acceptable photograph. But in my opinion the trip through Lightroom and Photoshop makes it magical!

White Sands

This leaf also had a little help from Photoshop with the posterization filter. This is my go-to filter to really make the image pop.

White Sands

Got to love those shadows. Although the light was getting a little difficult, it also added a little drama!

White Sands

White Sands

I had wandered off quite a ways by myself to take photos. I came back to see the group having fun sliding down the dunes. Good for them. My fun is in making art. To each their own, yeah?

Click on an image below for slide show.

Original photo

White Sands

A little fun with Photoshop

By now the shadows were REALLY long. I couldn’t resist taking this photo of my shadow. I didn’t even notice the person standing at the top until I played with the image in Photoshop. Totally serendipitous. This won first prize in the member’s theme at the Culver City Art Group Holiday Show. And I think it also helped me win for best body of work. You never know when you are out shooting what photos are going to turn out best and which ones are going to miss the objective. It really is a hit and miss shooting match!

White Sands

Like all the trips I take, I always think I’ll have the opportunity to return and take more time. But I never do. So I have learned to soak in as much as possible whenever possible.

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Photos I’m showing at the Culver City Art Group Show

The first five photos are in the main show:

Lion at the Los Angeles Zoo

 

Tree at White Sands

 

White Sands Landscape

 

Canoes for rent at Avalon, Catalina Island

 

culver city art show

William Jefferson Clinton Pedestrian Bridge, Little Rock, Arkansas

 

Entry for the Members’ Theme: Let there be light

White Sands

My self-portrait at White Sands, New Mexico

These will be on view Saturday, November 11 at Playa Vista.


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Cross of the Martyrs, Santa Fe, New Mexico

santa fe new mexico

See my post here on One Good Life Travels about my visit to the Cross of the Martyrs in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, New Mexico – a pleasant surprise

albuquerque-museum-of-artWhenever I am visiting a new place I always make a point of checking out the art museums. Being surrounded by art gives me comfort away from home and also gives me a good sense of the area.

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In January I attended the ITMI (International Tour Management Institute) in Albuquerque, New Mexico which I wrote about in a previous blog post. albuquerque-museum-of-art

The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History sits in a park close to Old Town and just across the street from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. I would like to have visited that museum too but because of time contraints, I had to make a choice.

albuquerque-museum-of-art

Before entering the museum I walked around the outside to view the artwork in the sculpture garden.

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The sculptures range from historical references to the founding on the area to pieces of modern art.

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albuquerque-museum-of-art

The museum is small (by big city standards) but I was impressed by the collection. I told the lady at the admissions desk that although I didn’t know what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised.

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The galleries inside are nicely designed and easy to get around.

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The collection ranges from traditional to contemporary. I had a hard time deciding which was my favorite.

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So in case anybody is ever in Albuquerque and wondering if the museum is worth the time and effort, the answer is yes.

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Click on the above photos for a larger view.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!

Additionally, while the photos of the artwork are my copyright, the original works of art are, of course, copyright of the individual artists.


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Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico – City in the Sky

acoma, new mexico

As I am stuck at home sniffing, wheezing, coughing and sneezing with this lousy cold I might as well get some blog posts out of the way.

On the same bus tour of the Albuquerque, New Mexico area that took us to the top of Sandia Peak, we visited Acoma Pueblo, the City in the Sky situated on a 367-foot sandstone bluff at an altitude of 6,460 feet. Founded in 1150 A.D., Acoma Pueblo is the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America.

We started out at the Sky City Cultural Center where our group was split into two to be loaded on to smaller buses to make the climb up to the pueblo.

acoma, new mexico

It was already a cold January day and as the bluff sticks up out of the mountainside, when we stepped out of the buses there was no protection from the wind.

acoma, new mexico

acoma, new mexico

At one point there was some light rain. But the air was clear and the views magnificent.

acoma, new mexico

Life in the pueblo is supposed to be lived as it has for centuries, with no electricity or modern conveniences.

acoma, new mexico

The row of port-a-potties attested to that fact.

acoma, new mexico

Most people who own houses here have other residences in the city. Although on the website it mentions that spiritual leaders live on the mesa year-round.

acoma, new mexico

Evidently there are no interior stairs. These ladders are used to go from floor to floor.

acoma, new mexico

Just a note that photography is limited. You must obtain a permit at the Cultural Center and no video is allowed. One gentleman tried to take his iPad on the tour but was asked to leave it behind.

acoma, new mexico

As you can see, the streets remain unpaved and some of the terrain is rough.

acoma, new mexico

This dog happily followed us around on the tour.

acoma, new mexico

No modern conveniences means no microwave ovens! Try finding room for this oven on your kitchen counter.

acoma, new mexico

After the shower, a beautiful rainbow appeared. If you look closely you will see it was “echoed” to the left.

acoma, new mexico

A new home being constructed. Note the modern windows.

At several locations on the walk we had the opportunity to purchase pottery created by local artisans. I didn’t take any photos as I was not interested in buying anything. Although it was all beautiful I am trying to keep more stuff from coming into my house. You can see some examples here.

acoma, new mexico

We were given a tour of the cemetery and the interior of the San Esteban Del Rey Mission, but no photography was allowed inside.

acoma, new mexico

acoma, new mexico

(All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!)


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Walking around Albuquerque, New Mexico – part one

albuquerque, new mexico

After two days of sitting through seminars at the International Tour Management Institute’s (ITMI) 2013 Symposium and Reunion I was ready to break loose. I really enjoyed the seminars but with my limited attention span I had to do something else.

albuquerque, new mexico

The Amtrak train from Los Angeles, Southwest Chief, which ends up in Chicago. The last time I was in Albuquerque I took this train.

As on our tour the first day we had really not seen much of the city itself, I set out on foot to explore Albuquerque. It was cold and windy but the sun was shining and I was wearing several layers of clothing so I was ready to battle the elements. In the morning there were gusts of wind up to 45 miles an hour that nearly knocked me off my feet. And for two blocks I suffered through a sand storm that stopped as suddenly as it had started. But I was determined to keep going.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

I loved this bear totem pole on a residential street.

albuquerque, new mexico

This was a little erie. Wednesday morning around 10:30 am on a major thoroughfare (Lomas) and not one car or one pedestrian in sight. Did I miss the memo?

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New construction for the US Courthouse. I liked the New Mexico-ish design.

albuquerque, new mexico

Another New Mexico-ish (I like my new architectural term!) building in downtown Albuquerque.

albuquerque, new mexico

An office building along the way.

My destination was the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, which I will discuss in another blog post. I had thought about taking the bus as Albuquerque seems to have a pretty good transit system. But I decided to leave that as a last resort because I always see so much more on foot.

Walking always has and always will be my favorite form of transportation.  I enjoy walking around taking random photos of things I would never see if I was in a car or a bus.

albuquerque, new mexico

albuquerque, new mexico

albuquerque, new mexico

albuquerque, new mexico

I was struck by the interesting and creative assortment of bus stop structures. Unfortunately, if we tried something like this in LA they would be torn up by skate boarders within a week.

albuquerque, new mexico
Turning around at the end of my walk by the acquarium at the end of town I saw this lovely view of the snow-capped mountains.

albuquerque, new mexico
A wall of mosaics as I walked back to downtown.

albuquerque, new mexico
albuquerque, new mexico

Albuquerque downtown 1949. 

Next up: walking around downtown

(All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Pleae feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!)


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Conquering Sandia Peak in Albuquerque, New Mexico

new mexico sandia tramwayLast week I was in New Mexico for the International Tour Management Institute’s (ITMI) 2013 Symposium and Reunion. The first day we were treated to an all-day “Meet Albuquerque” tour.

After a quick look at Old Town, we motored on out to the foothills of the Sandia Mountains for a ride on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, billed as the world’s longest free-span cable tramway. There is no word in that last phrase that gave me any comfort. I don’t like heights and at the top of my list of fears is any kind of  aerial cable car.

On a trip to Italy several years ago, we took the aerial tram from Lake Maggiore. I could not look at the lake as we climbed into the sky. My friends were adamant that I should look at the gorgeous view below. So I took the mirror out of my purse, and with my back turned to the view, I held the mirror in front of me so I could see the reflection. That worked!

The photo at the top of this post was my first view of the Sandia Peak tramway lines as we arrived at the parking lot. It didn’t look so bad without seeing how tiny the car looked at that height.

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View from lower level of the tram depot. This was a beautiful view and was it really necessary to take the cable car up to the top of the mountain?

new mexico sandia tramway

I walked up the stairs to the waiting area and made the mistake of wandering outside and looking at the cable car swinging its way up the mountain. At the first pylon the tram seemed to stop for quite a while. I instantly imagined they were in trouble and without even feeling sorry for the occupants of the car, I was relieved that the tram would be closing for the rest of the day.

new mexico sandia tramway

No such luck. The tram dipped and swayed and was on its way again. Do you see the teeny weeny little cable car way up there approaching the first pylon?

I went back inside the building and awaited my fate.

On this trip I wanted to take some photos on the way up. One of the ladies in my party who was as nervous as I was made the decision at the last minute to stay with her feet firmly planted on the ground. I was sooooo tempted to stay with her but I knew I had to be a big girl and do this. My only hope was that when the cable snapped and we plummeted to the ground I would die quickly of heart failure on the way down before we hit bottom.

The car came into the boarding area and without thinking of the consequences I made a beeline for the front window. We had not moved an inch and both my hands were already gripping the bar tightly. As the tram moved slowly away from the safety of solid ground I realized my mistake. Just a few feet up I was feeling nauseous and panicky. And I knew I had to endure 2.7 miles and 20 minutes of this.

I took the lens cap off my camera and placed it between my eyeballs and the glass. Looking through the camera lens made me feel  a lot better. As soon as I put the camera down I felt sick again. So that was how I was able to deal with the view. I looked through the camera lens then I looked down at my feet… I could not handle looking out the window without the camera.

new mexico sandia tramway

Looking back at the depot those tour buses were starting to look awfully small.

new mexico sandia tramway

About halfway up raindrops were falling on the windows.

Then the view disappeared. We were in cloud cover. I was actually happy because although I had wanted to get a photo from the highest point, with no view to look at my fear of heights completely dissipated.

new mexico sandia tramway

I was fine looking out the window at the cable lines disappearing into nothingness. At that point I could have probably climbed out of the car and danced on the roof… as long as I couldn’t see how high up we were I had no fear of it!  

new mexico sandia tramway

We were really rushed for time on our Albuquerque adventure so at the top we had to turn around and descend on the same tram car. But I did get a couple of pictures of the white stuff just to prove I had made it all the way to the peak at 10,679 ft (3,255 m).

new mexico sandia tramway

When I zoomed in on the railings I was thrilled to get this detail.

(All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Pleae feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, please check with us first for proper usage. Thanks!)