Monday, August 12, 2013

Basking at the Bosque

I had been waiting for a bit of divine inspiration before I resumed the daily, public blow by blow of my life and travels. Having failed to secure anything approaching poignancy I think I had better engage in some routine maintenance duties before memory gets too fuzzy and this stuff all blows away. Been a long trip, hair is a long tousled nest and I am officially out of socks and underwear.

The Albuquerque show was passably good, not quite as good as last year but managed to buy and sell a few things and get a couple of good stories out of Ron Munn.

We had a dealers meeting and remembered the comrades we had lost in the last year, Reggie and W.T.. Gypsy traders tend to die with their boots on. Dealer's meetings usually suck but this one was pretty good, if a little blubbery.

Shows in New Mexico are real good for people watching. Cowboys and cowgirls of all ages like to shamelessly dress up and put on the dog, strutting like peacocks and hens at sunday cotillion.

I had some very good meals in Albuquerque, carefully hand selected burnt brisket ends at Rudy's, upscale duck at Artichoke, a Cosmos tapas feed that was not nearly as good as the year before but did offer up a great steak topped with an egg. Maybe my trip to Spain put these tapas things in true perspective?

I also had one truly fantastic meal. Jennifer James 101. As good as it gets. One of my favorite dining experiences in memory. Perhaps it had something to do with the great company. Five of us ordered every item on the menu with the exception of the chicken entrée. All the appetizers, all the desserts.

The owner used to cook at a hidden little place called Chef du Jour, now sadly defunct. Lou and I would eat there every single night when we could.

I will try to not bore you and only recount some of the many highlights in a meal full of them. Started off the meal with the lusty monk, deviled eggs topped with sweet and spicy pork. At a buck and a half, maybe the greatest appetizer deal in the whole country. I also sampled an ahi, watermelon salad with basil and pine nuts that was simply sublime. We shared everything, including chick pea fries with a tangy dipping sauce that were just brilliant and off the charts.

For my entrée I chose the bacon steak, a thick chunk of braised pork belly served with grilled romaine, chipotle and blue cheese. Michael ordered the Wagyu flank steak with wrinkled beans and fried potato salad. Heidi had the tomato gnocchi. All dishes were equally fantastic.

Jennifer James 101 could dominate the culinary landscape in any locale in the country. I can't stop raving about it.

Dessert was awesome as well. I was particularly impressed with the lime tart, topped with toasted swiss meringue, whatever that is? The white nectarine and berry cobbler was pretty yummy too. Check the place out. Truly awesome.

I usually take a major side trip every year between the Albuquerque and Santa Fe shows, explore the back roads. This year I decided to take it easy and just chill. My buddy Mike, owner of the Pecos River Barbecue let me stay in the muy comfortable Airstream trailer parked in his backyard. Had a good time hanging.

He invited the gang over for a feast, secured massive chunks of steak, salmon and turkey at Kellman's and whipped up a feast for a king on his Santa Maria grill. I made a rather clumsy salad, not being much of a cook but more of an end user.  He also took me to Bruno's where I happily devoured an awesome sopapilla stuffed with cheese, beef and green chile.


The last day of the break I headed down to Socorro and Bosque Del Apache with my pal Steve Saylor to see if we could turn up a few birds. Steve, an Ohio native, is an experienced birder, who has recently moved to the area from Oceanside. I took it upon myself to show him around the state.

Things were pretty quiet at the Bosque, the Rufous necked wood rail now long out of sight, not having been seen since July 18th. That was fine, we had the whole place to ourselves and had a great time slowly tooling around the roads and marshes. A blue heron soared quietly overhead. Saw a peregrine falcon and rushed a gorgeous glossy ibis out of the tules.

We took the long hike around the marsh and got separated. It was hot and Steve didn't make it out for a long time. Thought he might have ended up in a mountain lion's belly. Turns out he ran into some artifacts.

Afterwards we decided to drive into the storm, past the picturesque old town of Magdelena and farther on to the Very Large Array. Such a fascinating place, each of the many track mounted radio telescopes bigger than the largest optical telescope in the world.

I wish that I had more time to shoot there. Photography is a solitary affair for me and it was late and rainy.

Would have liked to catch a rainbow and I am sure it was only a matter of time but we had to get back on the road.

I drove back to Mike's to spend one last night, get my gear and thank my gracious host for his hospitality. Always nice to get better acquainted with a friend. Then I drove up to Santa Fe and started unloading for the show. I am midstream right now, long haul, two more days to go at the show and I don't want to hex anything. So I will be back at you all later. Don't have a lot of complaints - good people, beautiful clouds and skies and the occasional afternoon monsoon rain. Everything is okay. To be continued...


Ken Seals said...

Sound like a stupendous trip. All the pics are great! Thanks for the update.
All the boys at Primo were wondering when you would be back. Sadly, none of the ladies cared.

randyman said...

Fantastic shots of the VLA! I really envy your chance to walk in the footsteps of Carl Sagan and Jill Tarter.

hobo_beans said...

I'll never forget my trip to the VLA... love that area. those are some great images you captured