All images © Tim Keller unless otherwise noted


 

August 28, 2017    Scotland, New Mexico

Lake Maloya Hike Wild mountain daisies at Lake Maloya in Sugarite Canyon State Park, New Mexico

I've been hiking 25 to 30 miles per week ever since we returned to rural New Mexico in 1999. It's usually just me and our two dogs, but sometimes I succeed at getting Christina to stop whatever she's doing to come along with us. Labor Day marks five years since we moved to Raton, and that's how long Sugarite Canyon State Park has been my primary hiking ground with its three lakes and many trails.

Sugarite Canyon State Park, Lake Maloya footbridge

Last week the whole family went hiking at Lake Maloya, just ten miles from home, on one of the days that reminds Christina of Scotland for its overcast skies and stunning landscapes. We've had a wet summer, with afternoon rains so common that it's caused me to lose a lot of hikes, staying home in the rain. The trails have been muddy--I often have to leave my boots outside until the next day's hike. Jett, a Jack Russell Terrier mix, never needs his short hair brushed or cleaned, but border collie Django regularly needs a brushing after hikes. They usually jump in the creek before they get back in the van for the ride home, so the mud is washed off their feet. They love hiking. They watch me every day to see when we're leaving, and they know the boots and the boot socks and even the sound of the sunblock container popping open. Once a week I make the same preparations but only to mow the lawns, which takes two hours and substitutes for a mountain hike. The dogs are disappointed on that day and find it no substitute at all.

Yesterday was a mowing day. Today the pups and I will be hiking. It's a good day.

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August 20, 2017    New Beginnings

Jack & Joan Day Keller wedding, August 20, 1948, Cheviot Hills, California

My brother Terry and I today are celebrating the 69-year wedding anniversary of our parents, Jack and Joan Day Keller, who married August 20, 1948, in my mom's mom's house on Oaklawn Road in Cheviot Hills, near the 20th Century Fox movie studio in West Los Angeles.

Jack & Joan Day Keller wedding, August 20, 1948, Cheviot Hills, California

In the photo above, my dad's family is at left--my grandparents George and Eleanor Keller and aunt Georgia Keller Garey--while my mom's mom, Frances Day Wheeler, stands at right with her second husband Jack Wheeler. At left, Mom and Dad cut their cake, with both photos, I believe, taken by my dad's army buddy (82nd Airborne), Randy Harker, who provided me with a lot of his great photos of Mom and Dad when Dad died last December; Mom died the previous year. The sparsity of blog posts here (and at my photography blog) has much to do with the loss of my parents: my brother and I have both been immersed all year in wrapping up our parents' legacies and estate, and making resulting changes in our own lives.

530 Muskingum Avenue, Pacific Palisades, CA 1963-2017530 Muskingum Avenue, Pacific Palisades, CA 1963-2017

One of the biggest of those transitions arrives tomorrow morning when our family home sells to another young family--this one with one-year-old twins! We're thrilled because most homes in Pacific Palisades sell to developers who tear them down, build huge new homes leaving little of the lot free, and flip them for sizeable profits. Recently featured in the documentary film Skateboarding's First Wave, our family occupied 530 Muskingum Avenue continuously from 1963 to 2017; all four of our grandparents arrived in West Los Angeles during the 1920s. Terry this month bought a house in Asheville, North Carolina, and moved out of the Muskingum house. With me long in New Mexico (I left the Palisades for college in 1968 and returned only for visits), there are no more Kellers in southern California, for the first time in almost 100 years. (My Aunt Georgia Keller Garey is still there.) Terry's son Killian Caleb Keller lives in Austin, Texas, and my daughter Darcy Day Keller lives in Brooklyn, New York.

I have a backlog of blog materials that I look forward to posting soon; meantime, it's Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad, and SoCal goodbye. It's been good, really good. Thank you.

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August 14, 2017    Vermejo Park Ranch

Creme brulee at Vermejo Park Ranch  Berry tarts at Vermejo Park Ranch

Twice each year, on a Sunday in May and again in August, Ted Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch hosts a magnificent brunch as a fundraiser for Sugarite Canyon State Park. Our home in Raton sits midway between Vermejo Park and Sugarite Canyon. Christina had been to one of the brunches with her parents years ago but I had never been. We fixed that Sunday.

Vermejo Park Ranch brunch

Everyone meets at the Game & Fish offices where York Canyon Road begins on the edge of Raton, then they caravan up, 30 miles of pavement followed by five miles of well-groomed dirt and gravel.

The place is amazing--click here and look at their website for better photos than I'd be able to create in midday or with an iPhone 7, as I've done here. About a hundred people enjoyed a long buffet line with two kinds of fish, two kinds of beef, pork, chicken, roasted vegetables--on and on and on, plus great desserts such as the creme brulee and berry tarts that I photographed.

After brunch, I wandered around to take some photos. My favorite was this father and son wandering down the hill from the group.

Father and son at Vermejo Park Ranch

This morning I emailed Jared, who books these brunches, to put us on his mailing list. We'll be back to Vermejo Park Ranch every May and August for the foreseeable future.

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August 6, 2017    Yellow

yellow squash yellow squash

I grew a vegetable garden every year since we returned to New Mexico in 1999, until the combination of high school teaching plus professional writing and photography finally forced me to stop around 2010. Retired from teaching and scaling back my writing and photo projects, I started back to gardening last summer, adding zinnias and marigolds to my repertoire and having a glorious garden. This year has been just a good. This yellow squash seems happy as could be, bursting forth with life in every direction. Creation, life, amazing.

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July 31, 2017    I'm Going Batty

Bat inside home

My first thought was that my wife had bought a soft toy bat at Saturday's farmers market and hung it from the upstairs bedroom door frame as a practical joke. I started to reach up to touch it, just to make sure. But no, it turned out that this was a real bat. Good thing I didn't touch it. Instead, Christina brought a shoe box and covered the bat, then slid the box top under. (I was brave enough to photograph the bat, but Christina was brave enough to catch it.) The bat's wing hung outside the box, perhaps damaged. We set the bat on the dark driveway outside and watched. After about two minutes, the bat flew away.

Bats can carry rabies and other diseases, but they're also highly effective at eating up all the mosquitoes and other insects around. I just wish I could get them to eat grasshoppers. That would be good. And stay out of the house, thank you.

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July 16, 2017    Where Mud Is Welcome

Gardening shoes caked with mud

Here's something I've been doing besides hiking: gardening. We've had rain every day for a good spell--most welcome here in northeastern New Mexico--and yesterday morning I took advantage of the soft moist soil to go out and uproot all the weeds. I wore an old pair of shoes because I assumed they'd get caked with mud. They did.

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July 14, 2017    Discovering a Sugarite Canyon Gusher

Broken Raton city water main in Sugarite Canyon Broken Raton city water main in Sugarite Canyon

Throughout much of June my hikes up and down the Lake to Lake Trail in Sugarite Canyon State Park took me right past this loud burbling water between the trail and Chicorica Creek that runs alongside and near the trail. Only last week did I finally stop to photograph it, concerned that my dogs might fall into it: The water hole is about eight feet across and I didn't know whether it might suck a dog into the swirl. The steady gurgle in the left picture above was punctuated every ten seconds or so with a big eruption of additional water from below, when the water shot several feet into the air (top right).

Broken Raton city water main in Sugarite Canyon

I intended to stop at the park office to ask about this but there were so many cars parked outside--more than a dozen--that I passed it by. Next day was crowded there on my way in, too, but when I reached the trail above the footbridge I saw a ranger at the geyser. It was park superintendent Robert "Mac" MacIvor and he'd marked the location. He surmised that it was likely a Raton city water main broken eight-feet below the ground where it runs under the creek on its way from Lake Maloya to the city water plant. Sure enough, by the time my hike brought me back that way, the water had turned off and I could see rocks where the water had been (third photo). The next day, a backhoe was there at work. (P.S. - I hiked back a couple hours after writing this and took the same photo, but after the heavy machinery finished it looked like this.)

Yes, I should have reported this a month earlier! I guess I was lost in my hiking bliss and figured it was some natural phenomenon--there are so many cool things that happen out there in nature! Like the nest of mom, dad, and five blue heron chicks living high atop a dead tree along Lake Maloya's western shore.

I've also been neglectful of my blogs and website. My semi-retirement from professional writing and photography work has made them more intermittent as I've been enjoying so many other pursuits that I've let the website languish, alas. I'll keep it all alive--most of the gigs and income that now comes my way comes via the website--but like the work itself, the activity here is probably going to remain intermittent as I'm out hiking or traveling or cooking or...

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