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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Wolves and Surprising Terrain from Thoreau to Farmington, --two more days in New Mexico

Hello Trekkies, There really isn't very much to say about the pictures from yesterday and today but I'll give just a bit of commentary. Before I do, though, I'd like to say it was nice to see that my little intro of personae was enjoyed by you. It was fun to write it because it brought back many happy memories and reminded me about how we met and what we did together when we lived and worked within meeting distance. The feline that began yesterday's pictures was one of two cats that were hanging out outside our window in Gallup. There must have been a glare on the window because he stretched his head far forward to see me better and then scrammed out of there! LOL Our day began but heading south of Gallup to the Zuni Pueblo and then east to Ramah. The Wolf Sanctuary brochure says it is in Ramah; however, it is actually ten miles east of town and then another four miles south. A young teenage girl assured me there would be signs--right down the road ( 10 miles ) and then right there when you made your right onto the road ( about another 5 miles, another sign, another turn and 4 more miles!!!) I guess when you live out here where things are miles and miles apart, right there has a whole different meaning! Along the way we went through a Navajo community--each one has a council house for government, a police headquarters, usually a church, sometimes, depending how isolated, a school and often a medical clinic as well as an office of family services. The council members are the reps who attend government meetings/conferences at the Nation capital, Window Rock, Az. It is impolite to take pictures as you pass through the community. The speed limit was 35 as the road snaked among the homes and offices. The guy in front of us strictly adhered to the limit and Bill figured him for a local. Soon we came to the next turn-off for the Sanctuary and a dirt road--as we progressed down the last four miles the dust flew so heavily visibility was totally erased! But as the dust cleared we were there--you know, right there! The first tour was to start at 11 and by now it was about 1130. The next tour is at 1230, but happily, this tour started late--a small group of boy scouts and a few others--so we could catch up with it. We had to sign in, the couple, who were NOT locals BTW, but transplants from Bristol, Vt ( really think it was Bristol, Ct but wasn't going to argue with Bill) also wanted to join them and then another younger couple arrived. By the time we were all signed in and our escort arrived to lead us to the tour, it was a bit of a hike. She sort of rushed us over the rough and rutted trail, but I had not acclimated to the altitude yet, so I needed to stop several times, gasping for breath. Chelsea, Vt if I remember my classes there correctly is somewhere around 800 ft above sea level--Post Mills is a bit lower. Various places where we've spent time is about 4000 ft -5000 ft. The Sanctuary is at 7000 ft. Makes a big difference until the body adjusts to it. The Green Mtns are pimples compared to the heights out here. When I get home, I hoof it up my driveway as though it is perfectly flat. Doesn't last long but nice at first. Anyway, once we caught up, it was slower and not too hilly. Still I lagged and so missed a lot of the talk about each of the animals. I do know that most are wolf-dogs with a varying amount of wolf, although a couple are pure wolf. At the end of the tour are two enclosures of coyotes and one, the pack of brownish red animals--dingoes. A couple, like the first black dog is not wolf at all but was misidentified as a wolf dog--she is all dog. The beauty lying down with the black nose and brows is 14 yr old Nicky,he's also the next shot in profile. He is alone in his enclosure, since his partner died over the winter. He is very " possessive " and makes it hard for the keepers to even change his tub of water--doesn't like new things-it is an all day procedure. The character in the do not touch fence enclosure is a coyote running madly in circles--they apparently get quite stressed with the human pack that periodically comes roaming through. We were told to speed by to reduce the length of stress---sooooo, in view of the ONLY bench in the park, right outside their enclosure--I huffed myself to death to jprotect them. LOL Thence to the dingo enclosure and tour over. Just beautiful and interesting. The animals are so curious--I'm sure there are treats involved sometimes in these tours. On several occasions as I was focusing the camera, the animal had nose elevated and twitching to identify me--stranger? what pack is she from? any food? Opposite the dingoes is an enclosure of animals that are just dogs--feral if that term is used here. They are dogs that went wild, roamed in packs and were simply dangerous or destructive to wildlife and human habitat. It was thought when they were brought in that they were wolf dogs but they have no wolf in them. So, what is in this Sanctuary and why are they here--some were wild wolves who were taken young by humans and then became too big, too wild and dangerous or ferocious and could not be kept. Rather than destroy them, they come here, but being acclimated to humans they cannot return to the wild. Others are wolf-dogs--some more dog than wolf--others more wolf than dog. In some cases the cross occurred in the wild, in others they were deliberately cross-bred by humans. For whatever reason they are no longer wanted or they have been neglected or abused. Many are so badly mistreated that again they cannot return to the wild. Since they are pack dogs, the Sanctuary tries to at least have two animals per enclosure. They try to make them male-female pairs. Sometimes the pairing works, sometimes it does not. They had an alpha female that developed cancer, the pack recognized it and several females started to compete for leadership--the sick wolf was killed and the others had to be separated. The whole operation is incredible. Wolves do not mate for life though it is said they do--usually a pair will stay together but sometimes there is a struggle for dominance within the pack and the couple may have moved on to other partners. One of the females that was moved in the power struggle grieved so long for her pack that she wouldn't pay any attention for the longest time to any of the males they tried to pair with her. She ignored them and paced along the enclosure wall that was shared with her pack. Eventually, she did find a male she liked and she settled into the beginning of a new pack. We returned to the main road and continued on to El Morro--a monument we've visited many times before. Bill walked down to inscription rock and I found a bench in the sun and just sun-bathed--burned one arm a bit--and chatted with some of the other tourists. As we were leaving the boy scout troup arrived--they had stayed and eaten their picnic lunches at the Wolf place. The transplants, who now live in Los Lunas, had continued on to Grants to eat. As we drove farther along we came to Malpais and drove into the Caldera area and took pictures of the beautiful trees and the snow. Notice we crossed the Continental Divide at over 7000 ft. I like it here better than up in the Rockies which are more like 10000-11000 ft. Came down into Taylor Valley and Grants at the foot of Mt. Taylor. We went to our favorite Steakhouse on Geis St. They've added banquettes since we've been there. I noticed that all the other couples were sitting next to each other, while we sat across from each other--Bill said they were younger--the man at the next table told me, nope--not it--they want to face the TVs on the wall behind me. LOL Nice steak dinners--I had prime rib and Bill had the dinner steak. Then we sat and drank some fancy beer for Bill and two different Cabs for me--paid more for a glass than I usually pay for a bottle--but it was delicious and absolutely no effects in the morning. But I did go to sleep at 830 last night. Last picture of the day, arriving at the Quality Inn. Chatted with our waiter about the possibility of getting into Chaco with our car. He seems to think that the road from Durango to Cuba has a turnoff to Chaco that is paved all the way to the visitors' center. Everything I've read, heard or on the website says the road in is dirt and quite rough. We may venture there when we come back from Mesa Verde. Today, we left Grants and headed once more toward Gallup on the Interstate getting off at Thoreau. Then we ran back along the Interstate until there was a gap in the redstone mesas, where 371 took a sharp left and headed north to Farmington. As soon as we reached height, the redstone was gone as we descended on the other side. For the full 109 miles from Thoreau to Farmington there was no large town, no gas station, no store, nothing. Just never changing topography--just magical and unbelieveable. From red mesas we arrived on the top of a wide mesa whose large fields were being irrigated and obviously are farmed. THEN, the capstone of the day, the descent from the top of that mesa---poking out into space like its fellows to either side--reaching into the San Juan River Valley--9% grade with tight curves and beautiful views. Tooled around town a bit and found that the Aransas River joins the San Juan here. Checked in and while I did my computer thing Bill went out to Buffalo Wild Wings. Brought me back my favs--Asian Zing and Honey Mustard. Have eaten the former but will eat the latter, later. We have been eating very early 3 or so and I get hungry around 7--tonight I have something good to munch on. So another day comes to a close. Tomorrow Mesa Verde--I'm going to go up this time. A couple of years ago I took one look at the access road and said "no way'. Bill, then, decided not to go, even though I told him I'm perfectly fine just sitting below. I'm wondering if there is snow up there--those mountains we saw as we came toward and then into Farmington are in Colorado. We will probably stay in Durango tomorrow night and then head toward Chaco. Spoke to Betsy --supposed to get a big snowstorm again in the next couple of days. Then she asked when we were coming home--well, by April 1st for sure--that's all we know. It looks like PBS is between spectaculars so guess NCIS-LA gets me back for a week. Other than that--day is done and so am I. Will be in touch again in awhile. Til then, catch up on your sleep before tomorrow. Good night from New Mexico. KandB

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