Days shorten and leaves fall. North wind flings branches around roughly outside my window. Temperatures will be in the thirties the next three nights. I'm still beyond busy at work but am managing to get lunch every day and keep up with the pace, which shows no likelihood of easing in the new year. I think my blog creativity is down though - speaking so many words at work leads to fewer words to share here. I think I'll try a few highlights from last week's trip.
Bob and I stopped for supper the fist night in the small town of Fort Stockton Texas and looked around for a restaurant - found a family owned Mexican place which advertises itself as the "All Madden Hall of Fame" because the well known football commentator, who Bob admires, stopped there once to watch Monday night football and has since made it a regular stop on his travels and become a friend of the family. The lobby is festooned with all kinds of Madden and football paraphernalia. We both tried the Madden special - a chicken dish with peppers which was good.
The Cat Walk in New Mexico's Gila Wilderness is every bit worth the trip, especially in fall when the giant Arizona Sycamores flare gold, then lose their leaves. We stood on the trail well above the Gila river and watched the hand sized golden leaves drift and dance down on the wind, then float downstream. Waterfalls of different sizes each had a unique song. http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/trailNRT/Catwalk-NM.html
I actually beat Bob at Scrabble Monday night in Wilcox. I won with the word "finny" on a triple word score with the "F" on a triple letter score. That made me smile.
Coati mondi remained elusive at Chiricahua National Monument http://www.amwest-travel.com/awt_chiricahua.html, but we did see the rarest mammal in Arizona, the Chiricahua fox squirrel, who was adorably red and seemed to hop more than your average squirrel. I was thrilled as always on this trip to have found such a well matched hiking companion in Bob - not hurried, interested in taking everything in, just as I am, though much better with binoculars!
Tuesday night, after hiking the Chiricahua, neither of us felt quite done - quite ready to go home. I felt melancholy and would have just stayed in that mood, but Bob, being the magic finder man that he is, found a short route to Guadalupe Mountains National Park so we could hike McKitrick Canyon in Texas on the way home. That trail never disappoints. It was the first trail Bob showed me after we married, and a favorite with both of us. I've hiked it in winter and summer, but never hit fall before, and fall is absolutely the best. I'm still dreaming nights of the Texas madronnes laden with vibrant red berries and the big tooth maples flaming. Bob spotted a large (to our eyes) spotted fish in the very clear shallow water of a stream we crossed. I frightened the fish away when I crouched down predator like for a better look. His speed in take off impressed me.
After the extra hike - magic like any totally unexpected, apparently impossible treat, I was ready to head home for Thanksgiving - felt our trip had a real ending, a completion.