My destination for the New Year was Santa Fe. It was a long drive back from the Four Corners area to make it in time for the New Year's party on Santa Fe Plaza that included live music in the last hours before midnight. My hike in Sandia Mountain foothills had an unexpected twist at the end, making the whole trip one to remember.
Gallery of my favorite photos
Shiprock Pinnacle dominates the view from many directions on a clear day in the New Mexico corner of the Four Corners area. Seeing it covered by snow seemed like a good idea but the weather did not cooperate. The rock formation was hidden right from its base up by low lying clouds.
I continued on icy roads toward Santa Fe through an emptiness of the Navajo reservations nearby. Light snow started falling again but the accumulations predicted by the forecast did not materialize until I got closer to Albuquerque where I-25 toward Santa Fe had numerous spin-outs in the median and on the sides.
|Transmission towers||Electricity in the air||Entrance||Empty spaces||Truck|
|Shiprock Pinnacle||Dino gas station|
New Year's Eve party on the square started at nine but I got there closer to 11 looking not to freeze by midnight in the single digit weather. Hot chocolate was available for free, pinyon pine bonfires warmed up the atmosphere, if not the air, and many stood around them to take in the radiating heat. The trees in the square were lit up with festive lights. Alex Maryol was on the stage playing his blues and rock songs. There was no ball dropping but instead the Zia sun symbol rose up with a backdrop of fireworks. What a great way to welcome the New Year!
|Pinyon pine bonfire||Snowy square||Alex Maryol||Alex Maryol in red||Alex Maryol in green||Alex Maryol in blue|
|Stage||Flames||Sparks||Street life||Countdown clock|
|Sparklers||Sparkle in the eye||Midnight||Fireworks||Fireworks|
|Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi||Dancing in the street|
I came out to Santa Fe Plaza and the nearby streets the next morning. It was as cold as the night before, but the sun peeking through the clouds made it feel warmer. It was quiet and the streets were almost empty, another contrast with the previous night. I strolled through the peaceful downtown for quite a while before I finally said goodbye to this town with so much character.
|Red peppers||Turquoise arcade||Artsy columns||Fountain||Cathedral|
|Shopping for native art|
|Icicle||Adobe icicles||Peppers||Street seller seat||Store window||Weed store|
|Coffee shop view||Orange jeep||License plate|
The snow picked up again as I drove toward Albuquerque. I had a few hours before my evening flight and figured it would be fun to enjoy the snow in the Sandia foothills. I first stopped near the La Luz Trailhead, and then moved on to Elena Gallegos Open Space. The snow was accumulating quickly, and with the permission of the ranger, I parked by the station instead of farther up in order not to get stuck. I started from Pino Trailhead and followed the namesake trail. I met a cross-country skiing couple near the intersection with Trail 341. She was Czech in origin - what a coincidence. I continued farther up into the snowy winter wonderland until I had to turn around to make it back to the trailhead in time to catch my flight.
When I got back, the car was covered by an inch of snow. I started the car to warm it up, quickly repacked for the flight, and started cleaning the snow off. It was getting dark and still snowing heavily. Finally, I was done and ready to go. Then I tried to open the door and it was -- locked. My flight was leaving in two hours and here I was, locked out of the car in a snowstorm on a deserted parking lot outside the city.
A young man on cross-country skis came by a few minutes later. I explained him my situation, and used his phone to call the car rental company who offered to send a locksmith service but it could take an hour or two. As I was making the call, a ranger came back to the station. After learning about my predicament, he offered for me to take shelter inside the station with him. I used his phone to call Southwest, and then AAA. The AAA locksmith arrived some 20 minutes later and unlocked the car in no time. I was on my way. It was too late to catch the flight but my second phone call to Southwest yielded a better result than the first. They offered to rebook me on the first flight the next morning at no cost, only reinforcing my good opinion about the company.
|I-25 to Albuquerque||Sandia foothills park road||Foothills||Biking in the snow||Inviting to sit down?||Snowy cholla|
|Cross-country skiers||Boulder||Snowy trail||Tree branches||Snowy scene|
|Snowshoer||Christmas in the woods||Fun on skis||Locked out not yet|
Having missed the flight the night before, I was ready at the airport at 5am. Everything was going according to the plan until the plane was about to be de-iced. The pilot reported an engine problem and we had to go back to the gate. After some waiting on the plane, he gave us the "good" news that Southwest had a spare plane at the airport, and it would only take an hour to move our baggage. An hour and a half later we boarded again. This time we did not even leave the gate before the pilot made another announcement "it is one of those days...". One of the duplicate navigation systems was malfunctioning and we could not fly that way. They would bring the part on the next flight from Dallas. It would only take another 2 hours and some time for the fix.
I asked for a meal voucher after waiting at the gate for a while. I was told I could not get one but I would get $200 in LUV vouchers toward future flights. The delay suddenly seemed a lot shorter.
|Control tower at ABQ||Two planes in one shot||Light at the end of the wing||Albuquerque from above||Above Arizona||Lake Mead|
|White Mountains||Mono Lake||Yosemite and Mono Lake||Union City||Landing|