New Mexico, Thanksgiving 1999

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After years of talking about it, we spent the week of Thanksgiving, 1999 in New Mexico with our friends Judy and Bob. We have celebrated Thanksgiving with them since 1980. The first weekend we spent at the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, then a few days each in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

The highlight of the trip was the first morning at the festival. We met in the parking lot of the refuge at 5:45 a.m. - pitch dark - 20 degrees. They loaded us into school busses, drove us out into the middle of the refuge, then walked us out a dike between large containment ponds where the birds spend their nights to be safe from the coyotes. As it started getting light, we could see that we were in a wide, flat valley between two mountain ridges, now getting pink and gold in the dawn. Then the voices started - the honking of snow geese and the eerie warbling of sandhill cranes, quiet at first, then growing increasingly louder. As the light grew, we realized that the containment ponds around us were full of tens of thousands of birds (the staff estimated a total of over 35,000 geese and about 12,000 cranes)! As the song around us reached its crescendo, waves of thousands and thousands of birds took to the air in unison - clouds of birds lifting up from each pond and swirling around us in all directions - white and grey against the blue sky and pink mountains. It was magical. And yes, we did see whooping cranes.




Pond Field Birders

Geese and cranes in one of many containment ponds.

Cranes and geese feeding in the fields planted with corn just for them.

Marty, Bob and Judy

Very large array The boys Chimayo

The Very Large Array. Each of the 3 arms is 13 miles long - the entire footprint is larger than the District of Columbia! and no, Jodie Foster was not there!

The boys and the behemoth! The dipstick on this absurd vehicle was 3 feet long! Bob is 6'3" and he had to reach to wash the windshield!

The church at Chimayo, just north of Santa Fe

Bandolier Bandolier Ann, Judy & Bob

Ruins of Anasazi cliff dwellings at Bandolier National Monument

Ruins of Anasazi pueblo at Bandolier - this is where we spent Thanksgiving day. We even found a radio station that played Alice's Restaurant - keeping alive a tradition that began in 1980!

Three desperados

Pecos 4 Gringos

Part of the ruins of Pecos Pueblo - this was the second church, built on the foundation of the one destroyed in the pueblo revolt.

4 gringos on the wall of a kiva at Pecos Pueblo



Last updated July 19, 2007