Guadalupe Mountains National Park — unexpected

My day trip to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park didn’t turn out as expected but the unexpected was worth the trip. I usually have two goals in mind when exploring new places on day trips — someplace my dog will enjoy and someplace where I can get some great photo ops. Studying my maps a few weeks ago, I noticed that, although in Texas and not my home state of New Mexico, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park was only 75 miles from me.

The unexpected included the spectacular scenery but also a few negatives so be prepared if you take the trip. There is a large visitor’s center but dogs are not allowed and I wasn’t willing to leave mine in the car so I passed on the visitor’s center. Sometimes if I carry him in his sling, people will let me slide but not this time. And since he has medical issues, I didn’t want to leave him tied up outside while waiting for me.

My biggest disappointment was that there are no driving tours through the park. The only way to access the park other than the camping area and the visitor’s center is by walk-in hiking. And no dogs are allowed on the trails! Bummer. We did spend some time exploring the campground area, checking out potential tent sites for future use and there is one paved walking trail by the visitor’s center that does allow canines.

From the website: Opportunities for pets are limited. Leashed pets may walk on the short Pine Springs Campground connector trail or along the Pinery Trail from the visitor center to the Butterfield Stage Station.

The morning in July when we were there we saw numerous hikers and backpackers getting ready to hit the trails from the parking lot. There was also a large bus full of teens and their chaperones. I’m not too fond of hiking with crowds but I’m sure if you go far enough, it starts to thin out. The tent camping areas were about half full and the parking lot with RVs was also about half full.

The park ranger standing outside the visitor’s center did tell me about some photography worthy scenery about four miles farther down the road but we decided to save that drive for another time. There are bathroom buildings that are accessible from the parking lots at the Pine Springs Visitor’s Center and campground. If you do decide to hike into the park, be sure to read all the information first and be prepared for changeable weather.

Roswell Beyond the UFOs — Nature Areas Near Roswell

Thousands upon thousands of fans and the curious descend upon Roswell every July for the Alienfest. You will also find the International UFO Museum and various trading posts busy with tourists throughout the year. But did you know that there are two large nature spots just a few miles outside of Roswell?

Bottomless Lakes State Park is 14 miles southeast of Roswell and has stayed open for camping and swimming throughout COVID restrictions. Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge, home of the annual Dragonfly Festival, is just 7 miles northeast of Roswell.

I visited Bottomless Lakes for a day trip in June 2021 and Bitter Lake in August 2021. There is a large visitor’s center at Bitter Lake that is currently closed but the hiking trails and driving tour are both open. Fall and winter is the time to see all the migrating birds, including thousands of Sandhill Cranes, but I was still fortunate to be able to photograph several species, including stilts and a heron.

At Bottomless Lakes, I drove through the campground, parked at the picnic area and walked down to the largest swimming lake, chatted with the workamper couple who mans the little visitor’s center, and took the scenic drive around the park. There are numerous smaller lakes along the route and several primitive camping spots (non-reservable).

Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge is free and is open during daylight hours. Bottomless Lakes State Park has a $5 fee for day use and a separate fee for camping. Annual passes are also available for purchase.

I’ll let the photos tell the story.

Bottomless Lakes State Park:

Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge:

Summer Reading Lists

I saw a news article recently where former President Obama published his summer reading list, which he’s been doing for years. This got me thinking about my own reading list. Of course, I don’t just limit it to summer as I read about 2 or 3 books a week year round.

And just now, I’ve got two “books in real life” partially read through on my bedside table and am halfway through another one on my Kindle app. I read the Obama article and although his taste runs more to the international stories of real people, there were a few I want to check out. One of which is a science fiction, Andy Weir’s “Project Hail Mary.” I haven’t read his other books but I own the movie, The Martian, which was adapted from one of his books and it’s one of my favorites.

Last week the New Mexico State Library rural bookmobile stopped at our mobile home park. I had seen the truck a time or two before but hadn’t ever stopped in. This time I happened to be in the Ranchhouse visiting without my dog so I popped over to the bookmobile. I chatted with the two employees, got a library card (I haven’t had one for many years), and got signed up for online resources. There are a lot of books you can read online or listen to for free if you have a library card.

This got me thinking and I went online to check out the local “sticks and bricks” library in my nearest town, about 20 miles away. They also have a lot of free online books and all I have to do is go in and get a library card. I plan to do that very thing this week. I’ve been paying for Amazon Kindle Unlimited for about 4 years but if I can start reading quality and entertaining books for free online, take me there!

So what’s on my summer reading list?

“Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal” — a memoir by Jeanette Winterson. I’m almost finished with this book and really enjoyed it. She’s an insightful writer with a lot of classic literature knowledge.

Hope Callaghan’s Cruise Ship Cozy Mysteries — I’m in the middle of the last one, 21 books in total. These are free if you have a Kindle Unlimited account. Engaging but not taxing on the brain. Good for reading before falling asleep.

“F Is For Fugitive” — one of the alphabet series detective mysteries by Sue Grafton, who published 25 in the series before passing away. I have the paperbacks and decided to dig them out and re-read the series again after a number of years.

Books that are waiting for me for the rest of the summer:

“H Is For Hawk” — a memoir by Helen McDonald

“The Year of Magical Thinking” — by Joan Didion

“The Art of Memoir” — Mary Karr

Plus anything exciting I come across as I explore more that the public libraries have to offer. I think the reading journey has just begun.

One Day on the Acid Watchers Diet

Food preparation has become my zen, not by choice. It’s labor intensive, definitely on the opposite spectrum of fast food. How many people can resist the urge to go the easy way out with their meals?

I’ve waffled over the years from a staunch healthy diet to relishing the gustatory pleasures of local restaurants. I’ve never had to actually change the way I eat by doctor’s orders, it was always because I either wanted to lose weight, get more healthy, or was feeling fine and really let go with the baking and the fried, fatty foods.

Now, my pain has become so severe and I want to heal naturally, not be stuck on evil prescriptions that come with more side effects than benefits. I was recently diagnosed with several things, all related to digestion, that explain the pain. I have a hiatal hernia, moderate to severe antral gastritis, distal esophagitis, and mild colitis. So, I had to make an immediate and strict lifestyle change and choice.

I’m a little over one week into the process and I thought I would document a typical day and what it involves. Thank goodness I’m retired but if you have to follow this same routine, it’s not too hard to prepare things in advance on the weekends and have your meals ready to go during the week.

I purchased the book titled The Acid Watchers Diet, not specifically for those with a hiatal hernia but often quoted by someone with HH as being most beneficial. I typed up the list of ingredients in chapter 9, The Healing Phase, and took it with me to the grocery store. I don’t specifically use the recipes in the book but I read through them to get ideas. There is one grocery store about 25 miles from me that carries a lot of fresh and organic ingredients, thank goodness. I hadn’t been grocery shopping in over a year because I was doing curbside pickup from Walmart due to the convenience. That practice has ended.

Today is Saturday, July 3

With this diet, you are supposed to eat 5 small meals a day. Hence all the constant preparing and clean up all day long.

7:30 Breakfast

I made a smoothie in my Vita-mix with the following ingredients (note: I never measure anything when I cook so these are all guesstimates).

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup frozen fruit (strawberries, peaches, mango), partially defrosted
  • 1/2 cup non-fat milk, reconstituted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 T maple syrup (the good kind)

10:30 mini-meal

I made a “dip” and sliced some organic carrots, celery, and cucumber

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise diluted with coconut oil (I shake it up in the mayo bottle before measuring out)
  • 1/4 tsp Mrs. Dash seasoning

Mash together with a fork and stir well.

12:30 Lunch

I took some leftovers that were made with:

  • diced baking potato
  • red pepper
  • celery
  • baby Bella mushroom

Cooked in water and coconut oil a few days ago.

I added the following to the Vita mix:

  • leftover potato mixture (about 1 to 1 1/3 cup)
  • 1/8 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup chicken bullion (I use Better Than Bullion)
  • 1/2 cup non-fat milk, reconstituted

I took this soup and microwaved for one minute.

3:00 Afternoon mini-meal

1 no added sugar fruit cup (cherry, peaches, pineapple, pear) with Simply Granola on top

5:00 dinner

The day before, I had prepared two tilapia fillets and saved one for today.

Set oven to 350 and grease a glass baking dish with coconut oil. Dip defrosted tilapia fillets one at a time into first a mixture of beaten egg and water and then a plate with cornstarch and nutritional yeast. Place fillets in the baking dish. Turn over once after 10-15 minutes. When fish is flaky and not pink, remove from oven (about 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness).

For dinner tonight, I combined the following:

  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 4 small baby Bella mushrooms chopped
  • 1 tilapia fillet, pre-cooked, and shredded
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 T Bragg’s aminos (tastes like soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

(Note: celery is nice too but I ran out). Cook in a nonstick pan with a small amount of water. Add more water as necessary until everything is cooked through and hot. This usually makes two meals for me.

Here’s to health. Enjoy!