Monday, March 14, 2011

Kilbourne Hole,

Kilbourne Hole, Aden Crater, a day off.

Still here in Las Cruces, still working 6 days a week, but the end is in sight.

Of the 6 houses, 4 of them are really close to being done, carpet going in, and the other two are getting interior paint this week.  We have a reduced number of RVers here to work, and the days and nights are warm.

This Sunday, for a few hours, I was the only RV parked here.  I was strongly tempted to just hook up and drive away, incognito, vanished.  But I didn’t, can’t.

We have a new crew now, with a couple of wing nuts in the mix, so there should be some funny stories.  The last few groups have been wonderful people, cheerfully doing what was needed, and not complaining if we had a slowdown.  They are the real thing, doing well by doing good, not swaggering around with their tool belts, not swinging their egos or personal agendas by the tail.  They were a treat to have here and a pleasure to work with and lead.

Friday, there was nothing to do, so Steve and I took off to hike in the desert.  We drove south and west into nowhere, nothing, yucca, cactus, mesquite and sand.  Not the required 40 days for total soul repair, but it helped.

Kilbourne hole is a maar, a crater more than a mile across one way, more the other, and 7 miles around. It was formed when water met magma under the surface and turned explosively into steam, blowing 50 million tons of dirt into the air. It is rimmed by black basalt, with a bit of sandstone on one end, and the bottom is all sandy and flat.  We hiked along the sandy rim for a ways, marveling at the size of it.  A fancy stunt plane was zooming around with red wing tips, too close to the ground for safety.  It would be fun to see this from a plane.  There is good rock hounding on the northern edge, but we moved on to another crater.

Aden crater is small and a more typical crater.  There is a lava flow field running south from it, called a malpais (bad land) black, foamy rocks tumbling over the desert flats, like rapids stopped in time, and the crater is all black and crusty, ridges and fissures and deep holes.  There is grass and some ocotillos growing inside, but it is a violent landscape, air pockets, wrinkles, walls of rock in a stop frame that hints of the violence that went on millions of years ago.  In the light of the earthquake in Japan, the earth’s surface seems less secure these days.  And climbing around on the rocks inside the crater made me think about Yellowstone, where many think an epic outburst lies dormant.  If it blows, they say, much of the US will be affected, perhaps the whole earth, God’s version of the nuclear winter.

We climb down into a long fissure, hoping to see a barn owl that Steve surprised when he was here before.  But we only found white droppings on the black rock, and piles of tiny bones left over.  There were several nooks and crannies that would make a good hiding place, but no owls.  Up along the rim, clambering over loose rocks, we look to the south, trying to see Kilbourne hole, but it only shows as a slight rise.  Aden crater, like others nearby, is very visible, a black raggedy crown of rock that rises above the desert floor.

It was a good trip, Darth Vader happily bumping along the dirt roads, clambering over lava, and wallowing in the sand.

One of the CAVers is a tall thin ex-trucker who is a caricature.  Big nose and ears, and full of stories and opinions, he always knows better than Steve and I how to do things, and argues.  At the orientation get-together he went on and on, doing his whole slightly sordid life story.  Not very good radar about people, one gal runs away from him on the job site.  I corrected him a bit shortly and I am now “The Warden”.  Good, maybe he won’t come stilting over in the evening, blowing smoke in my door and being mildly inappropriate.

Another nice young man had a hiking accident.  He was up a trail in the Organ Mts, slipped in loose gravel and broke his leg in 3 places.  He called 911 and then me and then his phone died.  It took the rescue team 2 hours to carry him down in a Stokes basket, and then he ended up in the ER, where we went to see him.  I picked up his dog the next morning from the EMT who kept her over night ( another angel) and I have her, a nice black lab and ? cross with nice manners and a lovely temperament.  He will have a pretty serious operation tomorrow, and then recuperate at a local friend’s house.  Then his sister will fly in from Cleveland and drive him and his RV home.  Not the mid-life adventure he was hoping for, hitting the road to rethink life after a downsizing.  Dog is good, but no temptation to replace Pepe.

Biggest news, we are going to Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge to volunteer from June 15 to August 15 and maybe longer.  We had signed up for several HFH builds, but our hearts are not in it right now.  I got a call from Bosque, asking if I would come based on an application two years ago!  It’s a new position, well positions actually, for them and they were glad to include Steve. The winter positions are pretty well sewed up usually, that’s when all the sand hill cranes, snow geese and other birds winter there, and scads of people come to see them.

We’ll spend May 1-June 15 doing nothing but some hiking and sight seeing and, just sitting in the desert doing nothing and listening for coyotes.  That is unless we lose it and get fired. Bad idea to take all this on by ourselves, and nothing but nitpicking from the Exec. Dir. who does little to make our jobs easier, and some to make them harder.  We are mentally and physically very tired.