Category Archives: New Mexico

Inspiration for Planning

“It is finally, I suppose, a question of which force proves the stronger: the demand for an efficient and expensive highway system designed primarily to serve the working economy of the country, or a new and happy concept of leisure with its own economic structure, its own art forms, and its own claim on a share of the highway. At present we are indifferent to this promise for our culture, and to the extinction which threatens it; is it not time that we included this new part of America in our concern?  It is true that we can no longer enter our towns and cities on avenues leading among meadows and lawns and trees, and that we often enter them instead through roadside slums.  But we can, if we choose, transform these approaches into avenues of gaiety and brilliance, as beautiful as any in the world; and it is not yet too late.”

–J.B. Jackson, Other-Directed Houses, writing from Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1956



The quote is from an essay in this work.  Landscape in Sight:  Looking at America
Another encouraging book edited by D.W. Meinig.  The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes
Thanks to University of Nevada, Reno, Geography for introducing me to these works.

The photos are from my cell phone as usual.  First photo is from a ride around the Sandia mountains, and the second from a walk through the ABQ Biopark.  Arigato.

Morning Ride Together

Play is the highest form of research.  –Albert Einstein

We all want to have healthier communities.  The question for us was how to integrate health in a meaningful way into our outdoor recreation planning process.  –Alex Stone, RTCA planner

The morning bicycle ride together is a cool solution for the hot topic of improving public health.  It creates an opportunity to breathe fresh air, get the body and mind flowing, and spend time with friends.  It stokes that virtuous circle of enjoying outdoor amenities while conserving them.


Dry farmed quinoa, Sebastopol, CA.  photo credit:  Michelle Davidoff

Saturday morning I biked the Sandia Crest.  Beautiful to see so many cyclists out.  This time of year cyclists are training for the Ironhorse Bicycle Classic in Durango and summer events to come.  The weather was breezy, but that makes you dig deeper and builds up your strength and character.  The challenge of adapting to the natural elements enriches the bike life, just like the fluctuations in weather helps crops like the quinoa pictured above become more vibrant.

ground cover

I met a group of cyclists on the observation platform at the top overlooking Albuquerque.  They were having their picture taken.  What a unifying accomplishment, getting to the summit of the mountain together.  We talked about the progress of bicycle friendliness in New Mexico.  It makes it easier to get outdoors, leave the car in the driveway, and get some healthy exercise.

flowers I saw walking with Mai

We exchanged names and now we’re connected on Strava.  Strava is great for connecting with people, getting ideas for rides, and keeping a log of your routes and rides.  It is also good for referencing your times on local climbs.  It is not really for competition though, except competing with yourself, trying to improve.  Racing your bicycle in a sanctioned event is true competition.

Cholla flower sun

After the ride I recovered with some nice music.  Cycling up the Crest is a healthy high, and a great way to make indelible memories with friends and build a sense of place.  Then it is time to rest and recover, let the miles sink in.  On Monday morning you’ll feel like you did something extraordinary on the weekend, and you’ll come back stronger, ready for the next ride together.

La Luz trail

Opening quote from Breaking Down Barriers–Parks and Recreation Connecting with Public Health
Strava is free.  All you need is a device with GPS (cell phone).  Meet new friends & play.

Friluftsliv at Golden Open Space

Sunday morning Mai and I rejuvenated with a walk at Golden Open Space on the Los Duendes Trail.  Golden was one of the first spaces set aside by Albuquerque in 1964 to preserve nature. Exploring city green space is a way to engage what the Scandanavians call friluftsliv, free air life.

Color country New Mexico style


Utah blue

Mai and I were startled at what we found there.  The fresh air and silence covered us like a shawl of comfort.  Though Golden Open Space is only 20 or so miles from the City, the Sandia Mountains run between them.  Golden is triangulated under three large mountain ranges, the Sandia, the Sangre de Cristo, and the Jemez.  The smaller San Pedro’s rippled profile meanders across the eastern horizon.  Between all these mountains is a country full of color New Mexico style.  Arroyos and erosion indicate water’s workings everywhere but the element of water itself is ephemeral and rare.  There are plenty of birds and horse prints.  Hidden beauty unspooling.

horns of Juniper

fallen gravity

color canyon

I’m a big fan of getting exercise in our city environment.  But we need to rest and de-stress too.  A gentle walk for adventure and discovery at Golden is a great way to combine the two.  Albuquerque is a nature rich city, and we have access across a range of scales, from neighborhood parks, to wide open spaces.  Every citizen receives nature’s benefits for free.


standing tall

yellow green


Resources:  Here’s the link to Golden Open Space at the City of Albuquerque website

Walking the High Desert Landscape

A walk in the foothills above Albuquerque yesterday reminded me what good a walk can do.  Walking lends perspective on our health and where we live.  It’s a simple and powerful tool.



Walking helps the mind flow.  Seeing the sky’s movement while we’re walking or being startled by the color palette of a sprinkle of flowers can free up our thinking powers.  We tune into nature’s economy and open up to life.  The rhythm of movement kindles creative sparks.

biker up


berries and twigs

Walking is a way of gathering information and experiencing what is going on in the world around us.  Reynold Levy recommends CEO’s grow their knowledge by walking.  “Take a walk, read widely…I am utterly persuaded that every nonprofit CEO should exit his or her office and walk two miles east, north, south, and west to see the organization as others do.  Elicit their point of view.”  Steve Jobs made walking an integral part of meetings with his colleagues.  Take a walk, boost your health, learn something new, shift your perspective.  Enjoy today.

cactus flower


America Walks offers tips for walking meetings.  National Walking Day is April 6, 2016.
Steve Jobs’ habit of walking meetings is documented in Walter Isaacson’s biography on Jobs

Crescendo of Sunrise

Here are three photos of recent sunsets and four from today’s sunrise.


Sunset oh

Sunset tree

Dawn and mountain forms

Dawn eruption


dawn glow

On Nathan’s ride yesterday we talked about the value of transportation corridors where people can feel comfortable and safe.  We need to relax and rejuvenate together.  Here’s an article by Tim Beatley that discusses the value of urban trails.  We are working to improve trails here.

“A well-developed urban trail system delivers substantial health benefits, helps to entice and tempt residents outside, and is recognized as a key positive attribute of quality of life. And it can provide important ecological connections and movement corridors for the many other species with which we share urban spaces.”  –from The Value of Urban Trails by Tim Beatley

Walking UNM

I took a walk on the University of New Mexico’s main campus yesterday after a meeting.  I had planned to visit the library but it was a nice day to walk and look at that horizon where the landscape meets the sky.  The wooden trim and decorated beams adorning buildings and the places where adobe brushes celestial blue make for an abstract charm such as music imparts.

UNM blanca

UNM chapel wood

UNM double corners

The integration of the built and natural environment is exceptional in New Mexico.  Cultural traditions intertwine and inspire new creations.  Trees lend a rooted and organic flavor.

UNM colors

UNM Maxwell Adobe Wall

UNM chapel

UNM spikey desert plants

Everything in planning and design is about getting it down to human scale.  And making the big things like buildings approachable and inviting.  The vernacular architecture of UNM makes the mundane seem extraordinary and imbues an everyday walk with a special character.  The upclose environment is warm and stimulating.  Clouds roll and dissolve in the mile high sky against distant mountain drops.  The omnipresent sun.  Time has a way of vanishing here.

UNM opening

UNM turqoise courtyard

UNM spiral

UNM big office

UNM greetings

Maple Dance

Deep in the canyons of the Manzano Mountains a special event occurs every year.  As the nights turn colder and the Fall equinox rolls by dashes of color appear amidst the green blanket of conifer forest.  Oaks turn rusty brown and maples glow yellow, orange and a fiery crimson red.

Manzano high

Manzano understory

Last year when we viewed the maples it invigorated our enthusiasm for making our home in Albuquerque.  This year my mother was here visiting and it was very enjoyable taking her to the Manzano forest to walk amongst the maples, oaks, and aspens embedded in the pine trees.

Manzano presentation

Manzano color

Manzano blue light

Manzano bloom

It rained the night before our visit.  Clouds peeled away as we arrived.  We heard water drops splashing on leaf canopies and grasses as we ambled up the forest road and trails.  Sunlight made the leaves glow.  It was like being in a 360 degree theatre except everything was live.  The light shifted as clouds washed past, momentarily eclipsing the sun.  We breathed in the aroma of wet leaves and essence of pine.  The sun warmed us even at its October angle.

Manzano coalesce sky

Manzano floor

Manzano trees

The diversity of the landscapes here creates rich habitat and environment.  It was startling to see the beauty of the maple forest up close.  The Taos Pueblo people have the sacred Blue Lakes up in their mountains as the pure source of wild water.  Albuquerque is enveloped in a wild world too, even if we are unaware or cannot always see it.  Sometimes you have to close your eyes and use your imagination to see the beauty that’s real and all around us.

Manzano bright on light

Manzano color blend

Manzano growth

The sky, the colored canopies, the evergreen boughs, the wildlife, people aloft on foot with the circling earth, magic happens when these elements come together in the high elevation sunlight of a Southwest pine forest.   Seeing the leaves changing and being there in a moment of morning glory with loved ones was an experience to remember.  I change too like the leaves, deepening my gratitude as life unfolds, growing more connected to the life that sustains us.

Manzano opening

Manzano introdcution

Manzano crooked light

Manzano soil starter

Images of Fall

If you want to find out what is happening in New Mexico take a walk.  It’s a magical season.  With family and friends visiting, we’ve spent time walking around Santa Fe, Acoma Pueblo, and the Albuquerque Biopark.  It has been exciting to share what we know and see New Mexico through new eyes.  And as we talk with more New Mexican residents we learn diverse perspectives and see there are many views of this place, and more friends to make.

Aspen Vista Mai

Aspen Vista light show

Aspen Vista roots

Aspen Vista life's direction


Acoma turquoise mountain

Acoma enchanted mesa with Raven

Acoma stone language


One stands out


Acoma church


Acoma kiva ladder

Biopark grass

Biopark pumpkin arrangement

Biopark desert beauty


Biopark scintillating

Biopark thistle giants

Aspen Vista hugs

Aspen Vista blue

Aspen Vista braided


Biopark garden zen

Aspen Vista see through wall

Biopark sunburst

Quebradas, or Breaks

At the O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe, I once heard a docent tell a visitor that some people say Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings are abstract.  But in fact the landscape looks the way the paintings show.  That is how Quebradas appears east of Socorro.  Colorful and otherworldly but real.

Quebradas over creosote bush

color banded land


The swirls of rock and intricate detail impart a sense of being up close in a far away land.  The sky and hills flow.  Afternoon rain showers elicit the pungent fragrance of creosote bush.

dome framed by sky prickly pear

front and center

heaven knows

mysterious land

Arroyos spilling down from the fractured rocks give sustenance to varied life.  The alluvial sands harbor trees and shrubs in microclimates around every turn in the sinuous canyons.  The main road going through Quebradas is spectacular, but a walk out into this land reveals much more.


cycle of life


Quebradas carpet

A rattlesnake the color of creosote bush slithered across the road.  We watched vertical cloud development quietly erupting over the tops of colorbanded rocks.  Enormous silent space.  The ecotones fold Chihuahuan desert plants with piñon, juniper, and varied small shrubs.


harbor canyon


close in a far away land

wild ocotillo

With endless contrasts in colors, habitats and scales, the Quebradas backcountry byway is a startling road for a timeless journey.  The mysterious opens our minds and awakens our powers of sight.  Quebradas defies expectations, and so doing broadens our sense of life.

contrast in color and scale

mixed scales


open breaks