Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

Louie is having bad flashbacks tonight. Only three years ago I rescued him from the left lane of I-40 westbound in Albuquerque during a pounding rain storm.

He and his human family had evacuated New Orleans ahead of Katrina only for him to be lost on the highway when a luggage strap failed. Now he's good buddies with all the other bears and critters in the Bears' Home Front Brigade.

He also has played a key role in the rescue of Lightfeather in Travel Schlepp's novella. Should be another podcast uploaded this evening.

Meanwhile, Schlepp, Louie, and other bears have been watching the Weather Channel and hoping that Hurricane Gustav doesn't do too much damage. In the photo above TS and Louie look at the Saturday AM model tracks from the Weather Underground. Louie has seen what a big hurricane can do and he's urging everyone to evacuate as ordered and make for high ground.

Postscript: Turtle weigh in. Terrance came in at 278 gm today, his heaviest weight ever. Its a good thing, too, with only six weeks or so until hibernation.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Valle Grande Walkabout

This weekend Schlepp and friends drove up into the lovely Jemez Mountains north of Albuquerque and hiked the Valle Grande. The Valle Grande is the largest of the huge high mountain calderas in the very center of the Jemez. They mark the site of what was once a lake in the center of a collapsed volcanic uplift, much like modern Crater Lake in Oregon. The lake drained 11,000 years ago into the East Fork of the Jemez River, leaving wide grassy bowls surrounded by mountains up to 11,500'.

In the panorama above you can see the expanse of the Valle Grande from the roadside viewpoint at the east end. Taking the gravel road out to the Valles Caldera National Preserve visitors center gives one a much better vantage.

Most hikes require reservations and a scheduled van ride to and from the trailhead, but three shorter hikes are available without prior arrangements. The scenary is superb and our short flower walk around Cerro la Jara was a joy, even if short. Its rare to come across a hike at a park site where one is instructed to strike out across the grassland without a trail.

Valles Caldera is a jewel. As a unique "national preserve," they are attempting to be economically self-sufficient by 2015. Currently they are at 20%. Every lesson they learn can be eventually applied to our other National Parks, Monuments, and Historical Sites. They deserve your support.

Visit their website (even if a bit awkward to use) and then visit the Valles Caldera. If you sign up for one of their scheduled events, note that Albuquerque to the Staging Area for meeting your van will take 2 hours. This gives you a little leeway for unexpected delays, getting you to the parking area 15 or so minutes ahead of time for administrivia and loading gear.

Schlepp plans on going back soon. He's signed up for the Heart of the Valles tour on Sept. 21. This will get him into the Redondo Border, an area that is not visible from any vantage outside the preserve and said to be extremely scenic.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Big Schlepp Goes Traveling

In a surprising turn of events, Travel Schlepp isn't the one traveling this week--Big Schlepp is. Caro is flying home to Myrtle Beach 'cuz Aunt Frances is sick. With Miss Frances in the hospital and not doing so well, Big Schlepp has his work cut out for him.

Here TS gives Big Schlepp some pointers on the use of airline headsets so he can watch the movie ("Kung Fu Panda"--pretty much a bear's kinda movie, don't cha think?)

Because Aunt Frances is ill, the Bear's Home Front Brigade decided to recruit a special bear for remote assignment. Just like we sent Cousin Brown Bear to stay with Bill in the hospital, we've found a special Gund bear for Frances.

He/she is still in the box with its big message of "Follow your Dreams" and has graciously agreed to let Miss Frances name him/her.

Here you can see our Special Agent Bear getting briefed on Bear's Home Front Brigade Security and Safety by Big Schlepp, Newport, the Beautiful Roberta, and the Cat with no Name.

We'll have more updates from Myrtle Beach as soon as Big Schlepp gets there late Thursday and probably a new podcast this weekend.