Friday, December 26, 2008

A PAUSE IN THE DAY'S OCCUPATION







Due to some unforseen circumstances, the Valencia County blog will temporarily cease, but will resume on Sunday, January 4, 2009.






In the meanatime my lovely wife Jasmin and I wish all of you good health, joy, love and prosperity in the year about to begin.



___Richard

Thursday, December 25, 2008

BROTHER DAVE'S BAD JOKE


SCENE: Tall, lanky Brother Dave Gardner (a popular comedian in the late 1970's) and his girlfriend are about to take a motorcycle ride.

GIRLFRIEND: Oh, Brother Dave, you are so smart!

BROTHER DAVE: That's right, honey. I know what is in every book in every library in the world!

GIRLFRIEND: What's that?

BROTHER DAVE: WORDS!

And here in the public libraries of Valencia County (in Belen, Bosque Farms, Isleta Pueblo and Los Lunas) are some of those words. Many people think that computers have outdated libraries, but that hasn't happened yet. In fact the Los Lunas Public Library (pictured above), to keep up with public demand for its services, just underwent a major remodel and renovation earlier this year. Through out the nation, the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation continues to pour millions of dollars into libraries for the purchase of new computers. You'll find millions of things in libraries that you will never find on your computers. Check out the library near your home.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

WHERE EAGLES LEARN TO FLY


This, as the sign so grandly states, it the home of the Eagles, Belen High School. This is where they learn to fly, we hope. We hope they learn well because someday, God help us, the kids that are here today will be leading the nation tomorrow.

This very day, however, this day before Christmas, these kids have reverted to a more child-like state and are safely home with family and eyeing the presents stacked under the holiday tree and wondering just whats inside those pretty packages. Time enough after the holidays to go back to the eagle flying academy. Good luck to them all !! May they all shine!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

WARM CHRISTMAS LIGHTS


As I write this it is almost 9:30 PM (2130 hours), and the weather outside is bitterly cold and very windy. Less than 5 minutes ago I put on my warm winter parka, my felt stetson hat, and charged out with camera in hand to take a photo of my neighbor's light display. All over this county, this state and this country, people have set up various light displays in their yards and on their houses as a way of celebrating Christmas. This display is not the best, but it is a long way from being the worse. One thing that particularly amused me about this display was the way the wagon wheels appeared to be moving.

You may wonder why there is no snow; Its because in this part of Valencia County we generally only get snow about two or three times a year. It may snow in the late afternoon or evening, but by 10:00 AM the following morning the snow is gone and the streets are dry!

I moved here some years ago from Albuquerque (just 25 Miles north), where they have a lot of snow every year. I am glad the snow is there, not here. I hate snow, but I know that my many friends and family members living in tropical countries like it, so if we get a bunch of it I will photograph it for this blog. Do you like snow? Why?

Monday, December 22, 2008

BYE-BYE BIRDIE


I finally got a photograph of the Railrunner commuter train leaving the Los Lunas station. Since December 17th the train now runs from Belen in the south to Santa Fe in the north. A new station has also been built on the Isleta Pueblo. A shuttle bus from that station to the Pueblo's casino and resort hotel is planned.

The train is free on weekends (Saturday/Sunday) until 4 January, and will be shut down on Christmas and the day after (25-26 December) and New Years Day (1 January) . As I understand it, fares from Belen to Santa Fe will be $6.00 with a graduated scale for in-between stations, and only $1.00 for senior citizens 65 and up, and children under 6 years. Check with your nearest station (or the New Mexico Department of Transportation) for confirmation of the above fares, and for departure and arrival times.

The train gets its name from our state bird, the Roadrunner, and the graphics on its engine and cars is a Disney-esque rendeering of the same. The little over two hour ride from Belen to Santa Fe is an inexpensive way to see a part of central New Mexico, but remember, the train is primarily set up for working commuters who need to go back and forth every day, and departure and arrival times are set for a normal working day schedule.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

EDUCATIONS FOR ALL


A great Englishman (Lord Brougham) once said, "Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave." If you live in Valencia County and want to expand your mentgak posers and physical skills, the Valencia branch of the University of New Mexico is the pkace to go to increase or update your education.

Its a very nice, new campus. The above photo was taken on a late Sunday afternoon. It is centrally located, in the shadow of Tome hill, and is fully accredited. It offers a wide range of classes in all fields of education, even including some vocational courses. Some of the courses are free, but if you need a student loan the school advisors can help you with that. Also, UNM-Valencia offers night and weekend classes and flexible course schedules. Increased educational level almost always is reflected in an increase in salary.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

TOMORROW'S ANOTHER DAY


This is --or rather, was-- the Onate Theater in Belen. For years kids could go there on weekends and watch The Lone Ranger, Rex Allen, Bob Steele, Gene Autry and other cowboy stars on the silver screen. Mothers and fathers would gather the family and watch the latest Disney creation, and boys would take their girlfriends to a hot romantic movie, and if they were lucky, could steal a kiss or two in the dark. But times changed. Television came to town. At first, black-and-white TV had a limited audience. Then came color, then came more channels and better programming. The movie audience grew smaller. Finally, the inevitable happened. Outgo exceeded income and the theater was forced to shut down.

But, as Scarlett O'Hara said, tomorrow's another day. People, buildings, businesses and towns can stay alive by constantly re-inventing themselves. So it was with the Onate Theater. It died and was reborn as Harla Mays, a place that may not fill your mind with exciting fantasys, but can fill your stomach with good food. Here today, gone tomorrow? Perhaps, but I am sure that in one way or another this building will continue to be an important part of the Belen scene.

Friday, December 19, 2008

OLD CARS AND OLD MEMORIES


About 5 miles south of Belen, on the west side of NM Road 116, I ran across this old, sad and lonely vehicle sitting amidst the weeds in a small field abutting a small home. As near as I can determine it is a 1949 or 1950 International Harvester, Series L120. ( You can see one in the 1955 Austrian film 'Die Trapp Familie In Amerika).'

The front left wheel is gone and the axle is propped up off the ground. It looks like it will never run again. I had to stop and look at it because it reminded me of a fragment of my own youth. As a child in the 1940's my two older brothers and I spent a couple of summers on the farm , near Johnstown, Ohio, of a family friend, Gene Searfoss. The Searfosses had an old abandoned Duryea automobile straight out of 'The Grapes Of Wrath' set up on blocks out by the barn. It quickly became my favorite spot on the farm. Between chores, I would spend hours sitting behind the steering wheel, pretending to drive and soaking in the smells accumulated in years of service. The fragrance still lingers in my memory. I have a soft spot in my heart for old and abandoned cars that I don't think I will out grow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

PRETTY KITTENS; UGLY STORY


My lovely wife and I visited the Philippines in March and April past. At one point, in the city of Dipolog, capitol of Zamboanga del Norte Province, I saw these two baby kittens playing in the street and took a grab shot of them as or cab whizzed by. I later asked a man about them and was told not to worry; someone would keep them till they got older and then eat them. That thought reminded me of the dog markets in Seoul and Pusan, Korea, in the years I lived there People would select a puppy from a cage full, and the shop keeper would butcher it on the spot and dress out the meat for the customer's meal. This is not a 'passed down story," I witnessed it with my own eyes severeal times. Then today, on Yahoo news, I read an AP dispatch about some

Chinese protesting the eating of cats. You can click on this link to read the story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081219/ap_on_re_as_china_cat_protest I am not normally an animal rights crusader, but I think someone should bring this reprehensible activity to an end. HOW? Contact the Valencia County Animal Shelter (or your own local animal shelter) and adopt a dog or cat. You can get the address from my post a week or so ago. Make the effort, you'll be
glad you did. A few years ago the Jack-In-The -Box Restaurants imported a bunch of kangaroo meat to make their hamburgers with. Since that was stopped by the government, perhaps the next step will be to start rounding up stray cats and dogs (likse happened in Mazatlan, Mexico, five years ago) to sell to restaurants.
By the way, the dog I featured in my blog found a new owner the very next day after I published the pictures.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

GOT MILK ?




If you buy a quart or two of milk in Valencia County, it might just it might just start on its journey to you from the Shady Dale Dairy Farm. This large dairy farm operation is situated on an extension of Los Lentes Road,between Los Lunas and the Mid-Valley Air Park, (In the distance are the Manzano Mountains. Valencia County's eastern border runs along the ridgeline of the mountains.)


The cows have put their heads through the stanchions in order to eat the hay that is spread along the road. When it is milking time, the work crew merely push a lever, which locks the stanchions around the cows neck, holding them in position so the crew can hook up the milking machines. Just a modern day adaption of the old wooden stanchions farmers have used for years. And the modern milking machines sure beat the old manual ways. Sure wish I had one when I was growing up and working on a farm. To me, milking by hand was the worse chore on the farm, especially since it was done in the early cold hours before dawn.




Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A DYING DINING TRADITION


A while back I extolled the glories of the fine Mexican food at Montano's on Main Street in Belen. Well, as much as I hate to admit it, Belen boasts another good eatery, the Rio Grande Diner. It operates in a building styled as a traditional railroad dining car, and since Belen was a major railroad hub of the southwest, the Rio Grande Diner fits right in. There used to be tens of thousands of this style diner across America, but they are rapidly fading away. The last two 'railroad car' diners in nearby Albuquerque (the Tic Toc and the Downtown) have long since gone, leaving the Rio Grande Diner the last representative of the genre in central New Mexico.

The Rio Grande Diner is clean, shining bright and cheerful. No 'greasy spoon joint' here. Being set just off I-25 (turn right on Camino Del Llano when exiting the freeway), its a convenient spot for drivers who want just a quick cup of coffee to brighten their spirits, or a complete meal, at a price that won't break the bank. You'll enjoy the ambiance, the friendly service and the good food.

Monday, December 15, 2008

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK




Today started out cold with dry, fine snow falling steadily. At about three o'clock my wife and I decided to drive to Albuquerque to do a bit of shopping. Heading north on State Route 47, we left Los Lunas just as the snowfall intensified. Shortly after reaching Bosque Farms the road was blocked by an accident. I was too busy trying to drive around the accident to pay much attention to it. I did notice that there police cars from Los Lunas, Bosque Farms, Valencia


County Sheriff's office and the NM State police there and police officers standing around in the blowing snow.


I commented to my wife that I would have stopped to take some photos but it was too cold and damp, and I wanted to stay warm. About a half mile up the street we came across another


accident. This one attended by 3 marked Bosque Farms police cars, 1 unmarked BF unit, and paramedics from the BF Fire Department.


Withoout a word to me my lovely wife grabbed a backup camera from the glove compartment and took the above photos through the front windshield.


What I want to point out is that the police officers and the paramedic crew did not hesitate to get out of their nice warm vehicles and take care of the injured and direct traffic around the accident scenes in spite of the horrible weather. Two officers were not even wearing jackets.


Having been a police officer once, I know from experience that after the victims are treated, the wrecked vehicles towed from the road, these officers have, at a minimum, another 3o mimutes of taking statements from witnesses, measuring the accident scene and writing citations and reports. All this in cold, wet, miserable weather. When was the last time you voted against a tax increase for our police?
































Sunday, December 14, 2008

WANNA GET STONED ?




If you want to get stoned, this is the perfect place to do it. Its New Mexico Travertine, Inc., on the far western reaches of Camino Del Llano in Belen. Here is where you can meet all your granite and marble needs for construction or decorative uses. As you can see, it appears they have an unlimited supply of large pieces of material.




The photo doesn't show it, but from their yard and office building you can see a fascinating panorama of the city of Belen.It may not be as interesting as a view of Alaska, but it is there.




With Belen being a natural railroad hub, and having immediate access to Interstate Highway 25, New Mexico Travertine should be able to arrange immediate shipping to anywhere in the state or the United States.




DISCLAIMER: This is not a commercial nor advertisement of the company or its products. I have no relationship, personal or business with New Mexico Travertine, Inc. I just think it is an interesting business!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

SMOKEY BEAR SAYS


Since 1950 Smokey Bear, a mascot of the US Forest Service, has been warning people of the danger of forest fires.

As I write this the television news is reporting about a grass fire along Interstate Highway 40 in Torrance County, which is to the east of Valencia County. The fire is reportedly over a mile long, but it seems that it is about under control now, as Torrance and Santa Fe county fire units are on the scene.

Grass fires, on a dry windy day like today race wildly across the prairie and can consume thousands of acres in just a couple of hours, destroying all wild life, homes and buildings in their path.

Note the grass around the Smokey Bear sign; it is just waiting for some careless driver to throw a cigarette butt out the car window. The dry grass is extremely flammable and everything along this stretch of NM highway 314 will go up in smoke, So, be careful out there. And as Smokey Bear has said so often, "Only you can prevent forest fires."

Friday, December 12, 2008

A FRIEND FOR LIFE FOR YOU




Today I visited the Valencia County Animal Shelter, generally referred to as the Dog Pound. This is a shelter for all stray and abandoned animals, plus animals held there as a result of police or court action. It is modern, clean and friendly. You can find some wonderful pets here, witnesss the beautiful dog pictured above. He is very friendly and well-behaved, and about one year old.


All he needs is a decent human friend.....IS THAT YOU?? I hope so, because of the large number of cats and dogs kept here, they can only be kept for a short time. If you want a good loving pet the time to get one is NOW.


More information is available direct from the Valencia Conty Animal Shelter, or you can contact


Pick Of The Pound, a volunteer organization of county residents who give their time, energy and money to ensure the animals can find a good home. Contact them by clicking on


http://www.pickofthepound.org/ or pickofthepound@yahoo.com. They will also gladly accept donations,which will go directly to the upkeep of the shelter facility and care of the animals.




Thursday, December 11, 2008

READY TO GO


In a nicely wooded setting, just south of Belen, the New Mexico National Guard contingent for Valencia County has this building for their administration and training headquarters. The Governor of the state acts as commander of the Guard in times of peace, and can utilitze their manpower and equipment to fight fires in the mountains, perform flood control duties, intercede in riots or as he otherwise sees fit. In times of national emergencies and wars the Guard can be 'nationalized,' and becomes part of the regular national army. Men and women enlist voluntarily in the Guard and attend weekly or monthly training in addition to two weeks full time service yearly. They are paid the same as regular army troops for the training hours they attend.

READY TO GO

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WOULD THE KING HAVE LAUGHED?


This is one family's tribute to The King; a short gravel path off New Mexico
State Road 109 (Jarales Road) that is grandiosly named Elvis Presley Boulevard. It runs west off of SR 109 about 150-200 feet to the gate in front of the truck. Having worked with Presley for a short time back in 1958 in New York as He was on his way to Germany, my impression of him is that he was very polite and would not have laughed at something that was meant to honor him. Elvis Presley Boulevard is not at all grandiose, but the family that erected the sign is.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

FOR THE HOT TIMES


Valencia county is fortunate to have some of the best fire protection available. Not only do the two major cities, Los Lunas and Belen, have their own full time fire departments, but most of the smaller towns and neighborhoods have departments manned by highly trained and skilled fire fighters.

The Los Chavez department, pictured above, has 2 full time firemen and about 20 volunteers. The volunteers are on call 24-7 every day, and all too often do not get the recognition they deserve. Not only are the men talented fire fighters, but Los Chavez also has excellent .emergency medical technicians. All fire fighters help other departments in case of major fires.

Monday, December 8, 2008

VET BENEFITS IN VALENCIA COUNTY, NM


One of the reasons for living in Valencia County is that the state of New Mexico has endowed its veterans with so many benefits. The state has a department of veteran affairs which is responsible for creating so many of these benefits, and pushing them through the state legislature.

I have talked with vets from many other states, and none seem so appreciative of the service veterans have given to their country as New Mexico. Here in New Mexico, veterans are respected and not treated like drop-outs from Cox's Army.

The state shows its appreciation in valuable, material ways. For example, vets who are certified by the US Veterans Administration, as being 100% disabled by a service connected problem, are given free license plates for their vehicles, for life , like the one pictured above! (If they wish the can have a label attached to the plate showing their highest military decoration.) They also get free hunting and fishing licenses for life, elimination of a large part of their property taxes. Veterans with lesser or no disabilities qualify for numerous other benefits, such as job training, and preference in hiring for state jobs.



Sunday, December 7, 2008

REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR !


Today it really is December 7, Pearl Harbor Day. I made a mistake the other day because I was looking at the November calendar instead of December's Anyway, it doesn't hurt to remember Pearl Harbor Day twice a year, or even more often. The families who lost their sons there, and on the fields of battle in World War II and other wars will remember it every day. Even if you weren't there, pause and give thanks for the things you enjoy today as a result of these men's servicel


The photo shows one style of remembrance, small signs listing the children of one small community who served on the land and sea and in the air. So, thank God you are alive to read this blog, and Remember Pearl Harbor!


Have you ever stopped to think, what if they gave a war and nobody came?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

GETTING TANKED UP


A reader from England noted that water storage tanks in his neighborhood were just big, round grey drab concrete structures. Here in Valencia County -and more and more throughout America- communities are beginning to realize that these structures offer a perfect signboard to advertise their community's virtues, products or sports teams.


These two tanks sit alongside busy Interstate Highway 25 on a high rocky outcrop overlooking the Isleta Indian Pueblo, and can be seen for miles. One bears a traditional Navajo Indian design. The other one used to be decorated, but it looks like they are planning to repaint it. There are other decorated water tanks in the county and perhaps in a month or so I can photograph them.


What do the tanks in your area look like?

Friday, December 5, 2008

OOPS !!

Seems like my Pearl lHarbor Day post (below) was posted on the wrong day! Sorry, but my feelings about war remain the same, even if I was working off a November calendar.

REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR !!!


Today, December 7, is the aniversary of that sad Sunday morning 67 years ago (in 1941) when planes and submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy staged a coordinated air-sea sneak attack upon the United States military forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Other places, such as Hickam Field, Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks were also hit. Over three thousand sailors, soldiers, marines, airmen and coastguards men lost their lives and uncounted hundreds were injured. Many naval and army nurses were aso killed or wounded while tending to the casualties.


This attack precipitated America's entry into World War II, which lasted over 4 years and caused millions of casualties on all sides'


The memorial pictured above is in the small rural section of Valencia County known as Jarales, and lists the men from there who died serving their country. On the other two sides of the tall triangular obelisk are the words Duty and Contry. The names shown on the base honors those men lost in the Bataan Death March, Wars I, II, Vietnam, Korea and elsewhere. and elsewhere.

A lot of good men from this small community died or suffered injuries serving their country during all those wars..

Why? When will the world ever learn? Remember Pearl Harbor!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

WANT A DELICIOUS, JUICY STEAK ?


This sign tells it all. Roland Sanchez's Red Doc Farm raises nice, juicy, fat Santa Gertrudis beef cattle, and if you are in the market for some top grade meat, give them a call. I wanted to put this picture in to show just how close the rural and urban elements co-exist in this county. The Red Doc farm is on the south side of Belen, just a hop, skip and jump from downtown.

Valencia County offers its residents rural beauty alongside urban convenience; a nice combination for a person like me who is torn between the two lifestyles.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A PRETTY CHAPEL


This is, according to the sign, the San Francisco Xavier Mission Chapel, a very pretty place on a neat and narrow winding blacktop (macadam) road, in Jarales. The date at the foot of the bell tower shows that it was built in 1976. Jarales is one of many communities in the county that were settled or established well over a hundred years ago, each with its own personality.

Some others are Tome, Bosque (not to be confused with Bosque Farms), Meadow Lake (the county slum area), Las Maravillas, Adelino, Los Chavez, Rio Communities, Casa Colorado, and others. Many of the peoples in these communities are living on lands their ancesters settled hundreds of years ago.

I don't know much about architecture, but the plain simple lines of the building appeal to me. I am not a religious man but it makes me wonder, why are the Catholic churches some of the most attractive buildings? Non-Catholics are equally just as fervant about their brand of religion but their buildings, generally, just don't seem as attractive

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

THE EAGLE HAS LANDED , and is looking for water


Continuing my comments (in a previous blog) on the importance of water to this county is the picture of this 500,000 gallon water tank on the northwest side of Los Lunas. This is just one of five similar tanks holding an estimated total of close to five million gallons of water.

This covers the estimated water usage requirements for a small size town like Los Lunas. These tanks are kept filled by pumps that draw the water up from the aquifer beneath the town. I think there is enough water in these tanks to fill up my daily pot of coffee.

(The painting on the tank is the logo for our high school sports team, the Eagles)

Monday, December 1, 2008

A DAILY RIDE


This is one of the many, many busses that take the kids to school each day. Eleetary, middle school, high school -- it make no difference, they all get to ride no matter how close to the school they may live. I remembeer growing up in central Ohio and Denver, Colorado: every day, fair weather or foul I had to walk my way through freezing snow, rain, or blazing sunshine to schools that were sometimes miles from my house. The only exception was when attending Central High in Columbus, Ohio (in the 1940's), when in really severe weather, I would take a street car part of the way, then walk the last half mile. No school busses there. No wonder our kids are getting fatter and fatter, earlier and earlier...no exercise! And our school budgets soaring out of sight!! How does the current high fuel prices affect the school budgets in your neighborhood?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

COUNTY LIFEBLOOD



The photo above shows just a small part of a vast network of irrigation ditches that carry water to the county's farms and ranches. Most of the towns depend upon community wells to bring water to the residents. These wells are fed from age old aquafers deep underground. The irrigation ditches are primarily fed from that great river, the Rio Grande.

The Rio Grande starts high in the mountains of Colorado, fed from springs and small creeks. As it flows south it gathers volume from snowmelt, rainwater, and the input of numerous small creeks, springs and rivers. The Rio Grande splits the state of New Mexico in half, goes down to the Texas border then flow southeast, forming the border between the United States and the Republic of Mexico. (In Mexico the river is called Rio del Norte.) Texas has legitimate claims to part of the Rio Grande's water, and even Mexico has periodically laid similar claims. Water rights claims in the southwestern parts of the United States have been a constant source of friction between states and individual municipalities and persons for may years, because without the watere, places like Valencia County would dry up and blow away.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

MY NEIGHBOR, MR GOPHER


This is my neighbor, a Gunnison's Prairie Dog, also called a gopher. He lives in a colony in a field just behind the church, two blocks from my house. Many (maybe a hundred or more) live with him (or is it 'her?') in the colony. They burrow holes that can be up to 100 feet in length, complete with side tunnels and escape tunnels. This prairie dog (Cynomys gunnison) is normally a vegetarian and lives from 3 to 5 years. Farmers hate them because they eat the vegetation and roots of farm crops and ranchers hate them because of the holes they dig, which can easily trap and break a horse or cow's leg. I like them because of their antics and natural intelligence. They also remind me of a pet ferret I used to have. Most of the prairie dogs have burrowed in for their winter hibernation. In Janary or February they will mate and in the spring each female will normally produce 3 to 5 pups. I look forward to seeing my neighbors, with their newborn, then. Do you have any favorite wild animals living near you?

Friday, November 28, 2008

DESOLATION AND DECREPITUDE


This sad, desolate and decrepit building was built at about the same time as the Belen Hotel (see prior posts), in the early 1900's. Then, like the Belen Hotel, it fell into disuse and neglect. Unlike the Belen Hotel, no one has seen fit to rebuild it, to bring it up to date to meet today's safety codes. Perhaps it is a 'basket case,' I don't know. I do know that throughout America's midwest, there are many similar buildings deserted by their once proud owners. There are many reasons for this, the most frequent being many small communities (especially those with just one major source of industry/employment have had their economies collapse as major businesses consolidated or folded. Families, who have lived on farms for generations, have beenn forced into bankruptcy and moved into the big cities to find work. I have heard that some states, like Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska, actually offer financial incentives (after a sufficient 'proving up' time) to those people -preferably with large families- who will move into these towns and operate some type of business. If you are looking for a job, this is one good way to start. All you need is ambition, some good business ideas, and hopefully some cash! Maybe thn you can find a similar tired old building and bring it to a new life.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

ALL THE NEWS......


The Valencia County News-Bulletin, published in Belen, is the area's twice-weekly newspaper, and is delivered to my home on Wednesdays and Saturdays. For coverage of world news there are the Albuquerque papers, plus CNN and BBC, but for local news coverage, the VC News-Bulletin is the last word. The editorial content is good and their coverage of local school sporting events is superb, with photography to match. They also publish an on-line version which can be accessed at www.news-bulletin.com. One of the major advantages of a small town (or in this case, small county) papeer is there is a lot of input from the public. Their Letters To The Editor column is always full of lively debate.I highly recommend it. The above photo is their offices in Belen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, LOUIE


I recall as a young man I saw actress Judy Garland dancing and singing her way across the silver screen in the movie "Meet Me In St.Louis." The complete plot escapes me but she portrayed a young girl working in a Harvey House restaurant, finding romance, and living happily forever after, Hollywood style. The Harvey House restaurants were America's first chain eateries, were generally located in or adjacent to railroad stations. The Harvey House shown above is in Belen. The sign above the arched window on the right says "Harvey House." It was built in 1910 at a cost of $25,000, and featured a reading room, a lunch counter, and an elaborate full service dining room, attended to by the "Harvey Girls" in their starched black and white uniforms. When not working, the girls lived in rooms abovethe restaurant and were very closely chaperoned. Miscreant girls were quickly and quietly removed.
The restaurant has long since been closed and is now a museum detailing the history of Harvey Houses and the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe (ATSF) Railroad.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A COLD, DREARY SIGHT


This is the municipal complex of the town of Bosque Farms. Today is a cold, dreary day, unusual for this area. If the truth be told, these buildings are not very attractive even on the best of days. But don't be fooled, Bosque Farms is really a nice place to live. Most of the homes are rather expensive and are attractively sat on one or more acres. There are a lot of trees and other greenery. Many of the residents own horses and the town boasts a nice rodeo arena. The main streets are paved and have horseback riding/jogging paths on the side. It is a pleasure to drive through the town on a warm sunny day and watch all the outdoor activiities taking place. When summer once again comes around I'll return and make some nice pictures to show you. Meantime,I am going to hide inside on days like today.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A QUIET, COOL PLACE


If I were a devout religious man, I think I would head for this church to escape the
blazing hot New Mexico summer sun. The thick adobe white-washed walls would protect me.
This, as proclaimed by the plaque on the base of the bell tower, is the "San Antonio Roman Catholic Church." It is located on Los Lentes Road in Los Lunas, and is well over 400 years old. The Spanish, under the leadership of Coronado, trooped up through this area in 1540 in search of Cibola, the fabled city of gold. This church was built in the decades immediately following the conquest. Coronado's expedition consisted of the military to pacify the indians and the priests to convert them. The sword and the cross. But that is all past history, as I fear the the church here will soon be. A man working nearby told me the church was only used
for special occasions now. I wonder how many weddings and baptisms were held there over the centuries?
Are there such attractive churches as this in your neighborhood?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

IT'S NOT HOTEL CALIFORNIA, BUT.........


In 1907 if you were tired and dusty after a long ride, by train, wagon or horseback, you could rest your weary bones in this brand new, modern brick hotel. You could safely leave your wagon team or horse or pack mule with the hostler out behind the hotel, and after a cleanup, you could walk the two short blocks to the train station and have a sumptuous meal served to you by the charming girls at the Harvey House restaurant. This beautiful old building was erected in 1907 and for many years was a thriving business, but gradually business declined and finally the hotel was closed. After many years of neglect and decay it was purchased by a man who spent a minor fortune in restoring it to it's former glory. Now it is no longer a hotel; it is a private residence for the family of the man who restored it. Wish you had your own private hotel to live in? Dream on...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

WANT TO GO SHOPPING?


This old early 1900's store is still open down near the old railway station and Harvey House restaurant in Belen. Sure, there are a lot of bigger stores in
Belen, which carry a huge variety of merchandise, But somehow this old store brings back memories of stores I used to go to when I was a child. What is ironic in this age of the mega marts is that a large portion of this stores income is as a result of the sale of fresh and frozen chile products to about every large store in the county. Got a favorite old store in your neighborhood?

Friday, November 21, 2008

UGLY BUILDING - GREAT FOOD


This is Montano's Restaurant in Belen. This is one of the joys of living in Valencia County. It sits about 75 feet off Main Street in Belen. The parking lot is not paved, and inside it only has 8 tables, seating just 32 people at most. On the walls the decor is kitschy signs saying things like "Never Trust A Skinny Cook." It is a family owned and operated restaurant serving excellent Mexican food. Large, steaming hot, delicious food! Some of the greatest Mexican restaurants are small and not impressive on the outsidie, but who cares? The stomach rules.
Most states have a state tree, a state bird, a state flower or some item particular to the state. In New Mexico, unlike anay other state, we have an Official State Question. The question is: "Red or green?" That is the question asked in every Mexican restaurant and refers to the type of chile you want on top of your food.

I am reminded of Cyrano de Bergerac who once said, "I wear my adornments upon my soul." The Mexican restaurants here show their pride with every dish they serve.
Do you have a good Mexican restaurant where you live?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

DID I MISS A PHOTO??

WANT TO TAKE A WALK?

These are middle class homes in a middle class neighborhood in a middle class city in Valencia County. Look at it! Check out the well-finished, curvy sidewalks, and the decorative planted here and there. What's missing in this picture? People. Where are the people? Compare this scene to a typical Asian city scene. In Asia (you pick the country and city) people are everywhere. Sidewalk vendors hawking their wares, food and snack stands, friends meeting and chatting. All that and more. The sidewalks are a place to become a part of the world around you. America is different. Except in the major cities, everyone drives everywhere. We are a nation of cars and trucks, and of laws that generally restrict and forbid those sidewalks vendors that attract foot traffic, and we seem afaid of the strangers on our streets. And we're the poorer because of it. Sometimes this country seems so cold, then I remembeer the street crowds thake Asian cities seem to warm and friendly, and I am glad that somewhere people actually enjoy other people.
Have you strolled down a sidewalk lately??

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

WAITING FOR THE TRAIN?


The train will be here tomorrow, if I get to the station on time. This is the newly finished Los Lunas station for the RailRunner commuter train . It presently runs from Belen to Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque by about 20 miles. The extension of the tracks to Santa Fe is almost finished and should be in operation by the end of the year.
New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has been an enthusiastic pusher of this commuteer rail service, which was proposed by ex-governor Toney Anaya many years ago. Interestingly, the city of Albuqerque's bus lines re-arranged their schedules to cordinate with the arrival and departure times of the RailRunner. A commuter can catch the train here, hop off in Albuquerque and step right on the bus to his ultimate goal, making it a seamless transportation system. (If the commuter is a bicycle rider, his bike can go on the RailRunner -and city busses- free!)
So tomorrow morning I shall hop down to the station and take a picture of the RailRunner.
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WANT TO GO TO JAIL?

To go to jail all you have to do is to commit a crime then get arrested. You will be taken to this brand new county courthouse (13th Judicial District of New Mexico) for your trial. If you are found guilty then you may be sentenced and serve your time in the the Minimum Security Penitentiary Honor Farm just to the left of the courthouse, or the Medium Security Penitentiary, just behind the courthouse. Lots of guards and barbed wire, bad food and worse social companions! In Los Lunas there are a juvenile detention faciity and an adult facility for minor miscreants sentenced to less than one year's incarceration.
Notice the green field in the foreground, showing the basic rural nature of the county. In summer, cattle graze here. Also, on the right top corner of the field, you can glimpse a small part of the railroad track which is used by the commuter train -the Rail Runner- which travels between Belen and Santa Fe.
(Photo taken with an Olympus OM-1n 35mm camera, Fujicolor 200 film, scanned with a Microtek 6000 scanner, and sized to fit using Adobe Photoshop 7. )

Monday, November 17, 2008

GOTTA FLY?


FLY ANYONE?
Valencia County has two main population centers: The Village of Los Lunas, the county capitol, and the City of Belen. But also there are many small clusters of homes, some with their own governing bodies, some without. It is all so casual. That is one of the charms of the area.
The Mid Valley Air Park is a group of aboout 35 to 40 homes set along each side of well-maintained and named streets. There are small one- and two-engined aircraft everywhere. Most homes have an aircraft hanger as an integral part of the house. Some have detached hangers, and those that have neither just park their aircraft in the driveway or yard.
When they want to fly they just start their engines and drive down the streets to the runway along the west side of the Air Park. Auto drivers beware, aircraft have the right-of-way on all roads in the air park.
The man in the photo above must love airplanes. There are two more planes hanging from the ceiling of this shed, one on each side of the flag.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

To the right is the newly opened resort and hotel owned by the Isleta Indian tribe. Just south of Albuquerque, off Interstate Highway 25. Below is the Iseta Casino, which has been operating for several years. (Both photos taken with a Canon Rebel EOS dslr).
I hold the copyright on all photographs in this blog unless otherwise explicitly stated.
A short history lesson might be useful for readers from other countries. Valencia County is about in the middle of New Mexico, just south of Albuquerque. The Isleta Indian


Reservation sprawls across the northern part of the county. It is one of 25 such reservations in the state.. These reservations are, in essence, sovereign nations, established by treaties between the U.S. government and various Native American (aka "indian") tribes. They have their own governments and laws but generally work in close concert with county, state and federal governments. Non-indians can normally travel freely through the reservation and pueblos. They need only to obey reservation laws and normal social conventions.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Riding High!

This is a team calf roping event . It is a timed event. The calf is released from one chute and two cowboys come out of another chute. The coowboy in the white has just lassoed the horns. Now he will drop back and let the man in the red hat lasso the two back legs. The well trained horses will then stop, hopefully dropping the calf. One cowboy will leap off his horse and tie one front leg and both rear legs of the calf together. It took this team just 13 seconds. This is just one of the things you can see in
Valencia County. What unusual sports do you enjoy in your part of the world?