Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sandia Mountain, RB-57 crash site

This is the type of military plane that flew into the 10,678 ft (3255 m) Sandia Mountain crest in New Mexico, at 10,433 feet, (3,180m) one night, many years ago while on approach to KAFB ABQ NM.

Tail number 292? didn't quite clear the mountain crest, reportedly the altimeter was not accurate. The scarred site of mountain slope is still visible with Google Earth at 35 12 32.5 N 106 26 40.3 W. Of which I had no knowledge on that first day.

My search for this site began on 22 September 2007. Armed with a very vague knowledge of the whereabouts, I set out at 10:30 am from my Jeep parked at the Sandia Crest parking area one mile (1.6km) up above the Rio Grande valley city of ABQ NM. 14 miles and 3,700 ft (1,128 m) up the mountain from North Highway 14, on Scenic Byway 536 out of Cedar Crest. I started hiking to the South Crest Trail TR 130.

Along the trail I met just the right people. The retired husband and wife were members of the original Mountain Rescue Team that found the TWA crash site on the west face, many years ago. They told me about the man that knew the Canberra RB-57's exact location among others. I called him for more exact details after returning home.

In the meantime, I ventured off the trail and thought maybe I could spot the area by myself. After walking for about three hours and checking each open meadow for signs of an old impact area, I saw only one small piece that looked sort of like an aircraft origin. I obligingly began picking up several carelessly discarded plastic water bottles, to return to a parking area trash container. I then settled down to investigate the area around the Historic 'Kiwanis Cabin' nearby.

The original cabin was built in the early 1920's and only survived about two months before being burned down by someone. The second attempt lasted about two years before the severe mountaintop weather tore it to shreds. The location being about 35 12 22 N and 106 26 58 W had plenty to do with it. The vertical Sandia Mountain Crest, is it's back door.

During the 1930's Great Depression in the USA, millions of CCC (civilian Conservation Corps) Boys and men were hired to build things all over the Nation to provide work. My wife's father was one of them. They built 46,000 bridges, 125,000 roads, 13,000 hiking trails, 300,000 erosion control dams, planted 2 billion trees, and built thousands of shelters. The Kiwanis Cabin was just one.

It was rebuilt out of 65 million year old natural limestone, pried (not cut) from the surrounding 300 ft (91.4m)layers with large bars. The style was Anasazi Rustic Aesthetic. It blended right into the mountain Crest. The glass windows set into the steel frames were all immediately and repeatedly broken out by various vandals, due to the irrationality of the self destructive human race, enhanced by it's remote un-monitored site.

'The Crest Rock House', as we call it, is about 1/2 mi South of the Sandia Crest Parking area near the antennas, and 1 mile North, of the upper tram terminal. It is easily visible from the city far below, using powerful optics. People are usually standing on the roof on weekends. Check the angular formation of Crest rock, South of the Antenna's. It was restored in 1993-95 to its present condition. The steel set windows were soon all broken out again. A few humans are the builders and innovators. Many sadly are the 'destroyers', Parasites of humanity.

After a late lunch, a sliced turkey sandwich, Nacho chips and bottled water near the Kiwanis Cabin with it's fantastic view overlooking the valley, one mile (1.6 km) below, it was time to pack up even more human litter, 'trail trash' for the hike back. The main trees on the harsh weathered Crest, are the Gambel Oak, Pinion Pine, and Limber Pine growing out of the rocks, along with the always hardy Mountain Aspen. The Aspen are starting to turn yellow and the Oak will soon follow with their red leaves. A small chipmunk, one startled deer, along with the many regal Ravens soaring up and down the shear vertical walls catching the rising wind, were my wildlife for the day.

The new $42 leather Sonoma Hiking Shoes from Kohl's, though a little heavier than the great selection at Target and Walmart, were excellent. Rock scrambling is easier now. They support my ankles instead of allowing the quick side twists that can disable a hiker far from help. I don't really desire sleeping on the mountain with the mountain lions and bears. I don't feel the sharp rocks through these tough soles. The old 'cross trainers' are ok for flat surfaces, Not mountain hiking.

Back at the Jeep by 3:00pm and start the 3/4 hr drive home. I will call 'The Man' this evening and get the real facts which are posted below:

My old 35mm Olympus with a 200mm telephoto/macro lens (out of respect and for the future interests of others, take only pictures and memories when you leave) will accompany the hike to the Canberra RB-57's nighttime 'terrain encounter' at 10,433 feet altitude, 35 12 32.5 N 106 26 40.3 W. This site is a white oval patch, on 'Google Earth' due to the image made in winter.

You will notice the long wide straight line running from South to North for many miles along the mountain at 10,000 feet (3,048m) altitude. (Site of the 10K Trails) That is the old clear cut for a highway proposed by the Forest Service during the 1970's. I blogged that hike a couple of weeks ago while looking for mid-cretaceous fossil images in a limestone outcropping I came upon 37 years ago. see;

The Forest Service hwy project was stopped by public opinion, originating at the University of NM, way back then. The cut will be visible for many hundreds of years, possibly 1,000's. It takes easily many hundreds of years for anything to resemble trees on any traumatized surface at this altitude.

That is one reason why open meadow hiking is discouraged by signs and barriers. The other reason is to allow wildlife (bears and deer) to forage for their food, without interference from hikers. Fire restrictions are often in place, closing the Forest trails. Check to be assured before heading to this great hiking area.

27 Sep 2007 I drove back up to the starting point to search for the site. This time I parked the Jeep at the 'Ellis Trail Head' parking area, which has a nice restroom facility. I walked toward the co-ordinates along the highway until I came upon a barely visible old 'cat' track, bladed years ago. Following it upward to an elongated clearing that looked promising, I settled in to more detailed exploration.

This is the clearing visible on Google Earth, but the CO-ORD's do not match my old Magellan. Most likely due to mountain anomalies. The pattern is consistent with a football field shaped, long up-slope impact area. I walked around the elongated site looking for any shards of mil spec material. One hiker told me that the intense retrieval endeavor swept the area very thoroughly. At the time, this plane and it's observation equipment was considered top security.

RB-57's, intensely modified by General Dynamics, Canberra's were also used during the cold war to spy on Russia and any other countries or situations considered a threat. Wife and her friends dated the pilots when young and single. TDY missions brought them back with Alaskan King Crab which was shared by the little gatherings around their apt complex pool.

King Crab are harvested from the Aleutian Chain. Russia shares, and is at the western end of the Aleutians (Ice Age migratory Land bridge), so it makes sense to return with Alaskan King Crab.. The Westernmost Islands including Wrangle may now be turned over to Russia... if the Obama administration allows it. After note: Sarah Palin was absolutely correct. From Alaska (her home) you Can see Russia.. Of course the Obsessed Liberal media predictably misquoted her (what's new) as saying from 'her house'.

After cris crossing the entire debris field a few times with no visible remnants to photograph, I continued the climb upward through the trees. Say now, these trails do not go directly to the site, surprise, surprise! Aha 'Buried Cable' trail (well maintained 4x4" post markers) looks interesting. I guess this one will work, nope, wrong direction. 'Switchback Trail' is surely the one. Nope again, wrong direction, guess that is why they named it 'Switchback'. Now I will head in the direction that looks correct on the GPS, Whoops, the trail now is going back down in altitude.

Finally I am on a trail that looks promising, 271 trail, now that sounds important. But wait, it meets 272 Trail along 130 Trail. A Hairy Woodpecker with it's long narrow beak (larvae removal tool) is knocking on the 5/32 in (4mm) hole in a dead tree to see if a Pine Beetle Larva is at home. Two young squirrels are scampering and playing along the low lying logs. Ahaa, 'Gravel Pit Trail', what a big old excavation, interesting but looped right back to TR130.

Met a volunteer Ranger. John was interested in the co-ord's of the site. He did point out the small vertical trail that 2 climbers used to return from the old early 1960's TWA, twin engine Martin 404,

Crash site. Pilot error, cloud flying on wrong side of Santa Fe beacon, took them directly into the vertical face of the mountain. The pilot apparently realized the predicament and tried to turn out of the box canyon.

John met the son of the TWA co-pilot one day on the trail, while climbing to visit the old wreck. Also John described a WWII B-25 bomber

that is located several miles south of that impact. Eleven 'known' total sites exist, at varying degrees of hiking difficulty, on this one 'relatively' small mountain. I could be busy for a long time.

John also had no idea where RB-57 was. One problem is the big trees in the forest, that keep the GPS from updating the numbers fast enough to keep up with my track. By the time it works out the co's, I'm farther along than I need to be. This process involves a lot of reversing direction. TR 130 is a common trail along the Crest. It also is diverted somewhat recently, to allow the animals to feed and travel without humans upsetting them. I'll go along with that. I tend to be the same way.

I kept running into the log rail fence around the 'Kiwanis Meadow' that is meant to keep hikers away from where the birds, deer, mountain lions and bears eat. Now that sounds like a good idea, I don't want to get eaten by a bear, but the headings are all leading me across that fence. I climbed over it and looked around a little, felt guilty and returned to the trail maze. OK now I am definitely headed in the right direction but the altitude is wrong and I am going higher, now whats up?

These trails are going to be hip deep in snow about December. The X Country skiers love them. It is possible to run the entire mountain's east slope, a 3000 ft (914 m) drop in altitude, down to 'Doc Long' picnic area on one trail system. That is only one of many. This mountain trail system is impossible to cover in one season. Some dedicated hikers are still trying to see the entire mountain after many years.

Back down in altitude a hundred feet and there is that dammed fence again. I have met more people in this particular area, looking for the trail back to the upper tram terminal (TR 130) South Crest Trail, than ever before. Must be a special day. Sat, 29 Sep 2007 is free parking day. I will stay away while the rest of the folks enjoy the mountain.

It is popular to ride the tram up, hike around a little, get lost, panic a little, then find their way back. It sounds almost like looking for old "Aircraft Terrain Conflicts". Five hours of wandering each trail around this mystery site is enough on this day. Guess I'll be back in the next week or so.

I had a broken buckle on the Eddie Baur, 'American Recreation Products' hydration pack, (an oversized fanny pack with 2 water bottles) which I mainly use to carry my 35mm camera with 200mm telephoto lens. A phone call to a very helpful woman at ARP, Mary, and A quick response in the mail, and I am back in business with 2 new buckles, all at no charge. 'Wenzel Company', New Haven Mo. is great to deal with. They handle the line of Eddie Baur that appears in 'Target' as well as other outlets.

The greatest little map and guide book for this mountain is 'Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide' by Mike Coltrin published by University of New Mexico Press. It is unequivocally the very best little packable reference guide I have found, The interesting sites are just as Mike describes them. In the back pages, the Co-ord's are listed for hundreds of way points. Mikes website also links to a great user guide for GPS basics. You are a true positive 'Guiding Light' in our society. Thank You Mike Coltrin.

I recently had someone ask why I do this 'wreck hunting'. My answer is "why would someone walk or jog on a treadmill for exercise, when the real world is so plentiful and interesting"?

'APPALOOSA' the Movie

Elizabeth Gabel's, Far Horizon casting agency just called. She has gotten me a 'featured' part as an 'Old Retired Sea Captain' Carpenter, building the main characters house. I'll be working with Ed Harris, what an Honor!

Viggo Mortensen,

and Renee Zellweger

'APPALOOSA', filming near Santa Fe. I will do Wardrobe tomorrow in Santa Fe. This is Great news, I love Western films, especially 1800's. They are like a full box of fine wine to a 'homeless alcoholic' with his bedroll tucked safely up under a highway overpass for a nice nights sleep.

The production will be shot in and around Santa Fe from October 1 through November 24 and expects to hire approximately 90 New Mexico crew members and 500 local background actors.

Ed Harris will produce, star and direct. Other principal cast includes Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zellweger. Alongside Harris; 'Producer, Director and Star', will be producers Robert Knott, Michael London and Ginger Sledge.

Appaloosa is based on Robert B. Parker’s novel, an 1800’s Western that tells the story of two lawmen (Harris and Mortensen) who are hired to bring order to 'Appaloosa', a dusty town suffering at the hands of a renegade rancher (A Hollywood portrayed, Dammed Conservative Republican most likely). But the arrival of an attractive, beguiling widow disrupts their plans. (Renee Zellweger)

This should be a great flik, also I have liked Viggo ever since 'Hidalgo'. What a fun career. What a great Country, The United States of America, One Nation Under GOD! 'Our Earth' 'Warm Earth' 'Cool Earth''Casting calls', click on 'In Production' and 'bulletin board' or 'for locals'.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Hamlett II, movie

Eric Eisner and Aaron Ryder will produce. Directing will be Andy Fleming who also co-wrote the screenplay with Pam Brady.

Hamlet II is an irreverent comedy. It tells the story of a very idiosyncratic Drama teacher, Dana Marszh, in a typical Southwestern high school who commits himself to writing a sequel to ‘Hamlet’ by Shakespeare. Buoyed by his students, he prevails and the play becomes a significant cultural moment and an emotional turning point for everyone involved.

“Steve Coogan is simply one of the most talented comedians there is. Andy and Pam wrote a very smart and engaging script and I’m excited to work with such an experienced team,” said Eisner.
See also; David Arquette
Catherine Keener;
Steve Coogan;

Hamlett II, movie casting call came in last week for a day in Pat Hurley park. Something else was planned for that afternoon, so I had to decline. That was the day I also decided to climb the mountain (previous post). Maria remembered to call me for the scenes at El Pinto Mexican Restaurant on 4Th street on Thursday Sep 20Th. I accepted readily, seeing as no big personal event was planned and it was time to see old friends. Maria, in her smooth flowing Louisiana accent, called the evening before and 'downloaded' the latest info into my ear. Call time was 1:30pm at El Pinto.

I arrived early which is my custom. Lo and behold, there was my favorite 'Strawberry', standing and waving to me. Hardly recognizable though, because of her normally 'Strawberry' blond hair now a color she referred to as 'Rue'. I, being a food service staff Sargent in the Air Force, recalled that, Rue was a gravy. Yup gravy colored hair. Her bathroom was splashed with blackish dye all over the place. Poor Debbie is changing her hair color so often lately, it is getting sort of straw like. Strawberry Debbie told me that she was a stand in for 'Catherine Keener' and had been working for days at each location.

Some of the scenes in the house overlooking the river, the days before, were steamy and she was layed upon by another one of our friends, Daniel, whom I call Dan'l, also a 'stand-in' for this film, taking the place of 'David Arquette' during camera set-up. You may recognise that name from many other films and TV programs over the years. The Arquette family is heavy into this filming industry. When I asked if her and Dan'l got emotionally involved, she replied no because the lights were hot and Dan'l was heavy. I asked if he was her 'Sweater'? She laughed when I referred to him as that.

Chow was in the walk-up craft trailer so burgers and chicken sandwiches were the main course. The rain was light but fairly steady. Joann was our 'Wrangler', actually a Production Assistant, to be sure we were in the right place at the right time. As pre-arranged, four of us were directed to drive in the 'roadblock Scene' just down the street. An extra $20 was added to our daily pay to use our cars. After arriving at the staging point, receiving a Motorola two-way for driving instructions, getting the Arizona plates stuck on, I got a nap while waiting for the camera set up to be completed.

Joann came by and asked if I was awake for the start of the 'drive by'. I was watching the NM State Patrol cars to block the street, so Yup, I was awake. After a long delay for various reasons, we drove in a repeat loop past the scene while the detainee was being arrested. The longest wait was after the shoot. A stray dog had to be leashed and a couple more kept barking.

Some person on the radio suggested meat, I thought maybe adding some 'sleepy time' would help. I got to read while sitting in the car for over an hour. Finally back to 'extras holding'. The restaurant scene was being set up because the rain was getting too heavy and darkness was setting in rapidly, ruling out any more outside work.

My co-extra, Marianne, told me that in Los Angeles the neighbors keep honking their horns until the film crew pays them 500 dollars to keep quiet. Now it's a common occurrence (blackmail). Just one more reason for them to film here in Albuquerque.

After spending some time in the 'rain tent',we were taken in to the interior holding area. When 'wardrobe' had checked us for 'look', I wore western hat and jacket with jeans, Marianne was dressed in brown, the tables were ready for our positions. As luck would have it. Marianne and I sat at the table right next to the Stars David, Catherine and Steve. A prime place to be seen in the film because the action camera was focused right on us most of the scene. Our young waiter 'Stephan' was studying film and advertising PR at university , he worked at ABC as an intern.

David Arquette ("Are You Ready to Rumble") came over and shook our hands, and politely introduced himself. Nice young man. Catherine (film; 40 year old virgin) came over and did likewise. Catherine apologized for her language during the shoot, saying that was not the real her, but the character demanded the act.

Catherine kept telling the crew to bring me a real cold beer instead of the warm O'douls prop on the table. She kept insisting, but they only humored her and I did not get my cold beer. They did bring some food but we were instructed to not really eat much of it. Marianne liked it hot and would not touch it if it sat for any amount of time.

The other star was 'Steve Coogan', a British comedian that was in the movie "Night at the Museum". Steven, with long straggly hair, was dressed weird and wore pads on his arms and knees, a helmet along with roller skates. Steve sat at the table with David and Catherine. After more set-up and camera time, we were sent to our holding tent for 'lunch' at 8pm.

'Lunch' was chicken breast or pork with baked new potatoes, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, spaghetti, noodles with marinara sauce, mixed fruit and chocolate cake. All in all a pretty nice buffet. Time to return to the set came quickly.

During the camera set-up, Dan'l and Debbie sat at the table in place of David and Catherine. Of course that is just what 'Stand-in's do, in order to focus and align the cameras properly. Debbie and I were joking between our two tables, when the director barked at us to be still while they were testing. We shut right up.

When all was ready, David and Catherine were brought back in. The steaming plate of Fajitas smoking, was in reality, created by a little water in the bottom of the cold fajita plate with chips of 'dry ice' to leave a trail of 'smoke' as the waiter delivered the fajitas to their table. The dialogue was over the super sized Marguerita with lots of salt, in front of Catherine. When she said loudly "I'm getting Hammered" both Marianne and myself turned to look at her. If I ever see this film, I will watch for myself. This scene was done repeatedly throughout the evening. Marianne and myself were removed to holding during the close-ups. The holding area was regularly filled with the furious chipping sound of dry ice being prepared for that 'smoking fajita' scene.

After being brought back in, one more time for a short additional session, it was back to interior holding, until sign-out, about 12:00 midnight. Joann remembered we used our cars, then we were released. Drive home was quiet and I snuck in the house. A light came on so my wife and I talked for a half hour before trying to sleep. the late 'lunch' at 8pm kept me awake so I got up, worked on the blogs for a while before going back to sleep at 5:50am. Being in film, is a great way to spend a few hours a week. "Helping to create the 'Illusion of Fact' from Total Fiction". Thats obviously the reason why Hollywood as well as most filmakers are 'Libby Left', is it not? If my own personal observation did not turn you 'off', read the following comments for any following days 'rolling-rolling, backgroound, Action' in Ham II. Now for the next 'casting call', maybe another interesting mountain hike while waiting. 'Our Earth' 'Warm Earth' 'Cool Earth''Casting calls', click on 'In Production' and 'bulletin board' or 'for locals'.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sandia Mountain Crest, North Trail 'Our Earth' 'Warm Earth' 'Cool Earth''Casting calls', click on 'In Production' and 'bulletin board' or 'for locals'.

The drive to the top of Sandia Crest, the last 14 mi (22.5km) from hwy 14, with the numerous 'Crotch Rockets' passing at each area with out a blind curve (they are not stupid), is always a pleasure. The fantastic mountain views are around each bend in the road, like a moving panorama. After paying the 3 dollar parking fee at the Sandia crest parking lot
  • near the dozens of antennas, powering up the GPS and checking my gear one last time, I started the days small adventure.
    Hiking the North Trail.

  • Looking at history, it is like taking a day trek back into the distant past. Ten Million years ago, the Earth's crust was slowly raised by the relentless 'Faralon Plate' starting to dive beneath this Western section of the North American Plate, into the Magma beneath the remnants of the Western Interior Seaway.

  • The end result was the 'Range and Basin' effect prolific throught the Western interior states, dropping the valley floor a difference of over 5mi (8km) lower than the Sandia Mountain Uplift, at 10,678ft (3,254m) above sea level, called The Sandia Crest, capped with 300 ft (91m) of limestone from the previous Interior Seaway marine shellfish. The face of the Crest is near vertical and over a mile (1.6km) above the city of Albuquerque New Mexico in the Rio Grande Valley below. The plunging Faralon Plate took down, over 15,000ft (4,572m), a portion of the Limestone that remained from the Inland Sea.

    Now that is a good way of getting rid of waste. Why hasn't anyone thought of that? The magma that was trapped during the shallow plunge was squeezed up and out of the rising crust of The North American Plate along a line extending for hundreds of miles. It's like having too much peanut butter in the sandwich.

    A lot of the cores and lava flows from 120,000 years ago, forced out during the raising, are still very visible on the horizon, though now dormant. Well that is, except for the area near Socorro NM 80mi (129km) to the South where the last magma flowed through the Valley of Fires about 1,500 to 2,000 or so years ago. A 5.8 magnitude Earthquake occured there about 1906, shaking Socorro. Small ones still happen at times. One of the prolific excellent viewpoints is along the edge of the Crest Trail. On clear days, excellent viewing of over 100 miles (160km) is possible.

    I sorted my Day Backpack, which to a lot of people is an Overnight Pack. I bring along a combination 'shelter half/poncho', a foil 'Space Blanket', a double layer light jacket with a rain hood, and a spare lightweight long sleeve shirt. Remember anti-biotic ointment, sterile wipes and light bandages for abrasions. Although the weather is usually very mild and sunny during the days up to November, this mountain chain sticks up at 10,678ft (3,248.5m) above sea level. As I mentioned previously, a mile (1.6km) above the surrounding landscape. No mosquitos have oxygen equipment for this altitude.

    Clouds and storms are attracted to this mountain quite frequently. Many people out on a little day trek, have been stuck in raging snow storms overnight, sometimes longer, waiting for professional rescue teams to bring down their half frozen carcasses. I don't intend to be one of them.

    I also hike alone, so I have to be self sufficient, with a couple of butane lighters, a compass to augment my small GPS. What a great little modern engineering marvel. Capitalism sure beats the snot out of Communism. Of course a light rope may come in useful. Sportsmans Warehouse has a 4mm (5/32 in) rope that can support 1000 lbs (453kg). I spent a number of fun years of my youth, as a member of 'The Boy Scouts of America'. I never forgot that training and have tried to always "Be Prepared" as the motto was drilled into me.

    My sandwich is enough for a couple of meals along with my apple and various snacks just in case. Always carry more water than you need. This will allow you to survive long enough in case of anything unforeseen happening. The extra water and shelter just might help another unfortunate hiker survive as well.

    A few years back, one of my sons rode along with his small group of mountain bikers, high up into the Mountains of southern Colorado. As I mentioned happens frequently in mountains, the weather changed within minutes and they were trapped on top of a very rough peak. The snow and sleet became so oppressive that they lost the trail back down. Knowing that the darkness was fast approaching and a vertical drop off was along side their narrowing path, they had to stop. The small group wearing spandex type, riding gear, (not very good for survival in a blizzard) huddled together near a small mountain tree while the endless lightning strikes raged around them. (also not recommended)

    The non-stop, freezing sleet covered the small group. The lithe person that was the champion hill climber of the group, began to shake uncontrolably, hallucinate and huddled close to my large, bear like, son for protection from the Hypothermia that was overtaking the group. My son was wearing a 'Timex Indiglo' watch. The group would ask him often to light their faces for reassurance that they were all still alive. My son said that he became aware of his mortality at that time And began praying. The night passed with the hours extremely longer than any they had ever experienced.

    The dedicated Rocky Mountain Rescue Teams, were already gathering for the search during the nights storms. The first crack of light brought the riders to their feet to begin the perilous trek back up to the trail that had been missed in the storm. Then began the ride for their life down the correct trail. Riding without falling down numerous times, was becoming impossible for one rider, my son hung back to watch over his tortured walk down. Soon my son had to reluctantly leave him behind to guarantee his own survival and get help.

    The amazing high altitude Rocky Mountain rescuers were on foot, running up the high mountain trail and picking up the survivors, one by one. My son told them of the last rider and the Mountain Rescue Team found them all. The Colorado TV news reported the missing riders and the subsequent successful rescue. When my son returned from that ride, he changed his riding habits from 'always on the edge' to slightly more reserved and casual. Not quite as 'bullet proof' He is now a family father once more and a little more careful.

    I now also wear an 'Indiglo' watch, just in case, and think of my son whenever I press the button. My hike started a little later than I had hoped. 11:00 pm does not leave room for error. This hike is a short one today but the numerous trails from the top of the Crest are always in a down trek. Down is easy for hiking. The trail starts on the North end of the lower parking lot. The first mile or so is through pine and the trail is soft needles. The time was spent checking for the numerous areas to look over the edge and see the vista below. About 1.1mi (1.77km) as the bird flies, I heard a woodpecker.

    The binoculars revealed a black and white female (no red feathers) Hairy Woodpecker, colored like an 8in (20cm) flying 'skunk', which is rare in the Southwest USA. This high mountain climate area is 'Hudsonian' in nature with pine prolific. The pine Beetle has brought death to many pines. This bird is busy pecking away the flakes of bark and by working it's beak side to side in the larvae holes, doing it's part to slow down the beetle infestation.

    Not many people trek this path, so the bird was oblivious to my presence. She apparently heard about the prolific beetle larvae and decided the trip was worth it. Happy hunting girl, send more friends. Soon the over look that was my goal, came into sight. The limestone trail began to appear underfoot. The trees began to thin out and scrub became more apparent. The helpful Ranger working the top parking lot, told me where the best point to see the plane crash remnants that I was looking for. The GPS indicated about 1.3 mi (2km) when I saw the first overlook clearing on my left ahead.

    Nothing but the balled up fuselage is visible of this crash that occured a few months ago. The cross country pilot apparently set the trim and took a nap. Not a good idea in mountainous terrain. Altimeters can be off a lot. The single engine craft hit at about the 9700 ft (3000m) level, of the North West vertical face of the mountain. The rescue team finally found the wreckage a few days later, and lowered by helicopter, a member down to the inaccessible site. Bears greeted him as if he were a party 'Pinata', he wisely and quickly pulled back up. The next day a ranger with a rifle accompanied the rescue. Whoaa, 'Pinatas' that fight back. They found that the bears had 'Shall we say, had some chow'?

    I finally saw the ball of aluminum but found no wings or tail? The aspens are starting to turn their bright yellow. The scrub oak is turning red. The colors will be in full flare a little later this month. I thouroughly reccomend a visit to see the colors this time of year. The famous Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is coming up sat Oct 6Th through the 14Th, so it can be a grand sweep.

    I then proceeded to hike to the bigger overlook just above the recent crash site, but nothing of the aircraft was visible from that point due to a second outcropping below the limestone. The trees, Limber Pine, Gambel Oak, and mountain Aspen, always look different from above. Lunch was wonderful looking out over the 3 million year old, Rio Grande 'rift' (one of the worlds deepest rifts at 5mi '8km') valley spread out one mile (1.6km) below. The powerful updraft wind is something to experience. It sweeps up into your face, giving you the feeling of falling, which is entirely possible if you get too close. After lunch, the rest of my downward trek was through scrub and walking on top of the 300ft (91.4m) thick limestone remnant of that Mid Cretaceous Seaway of 100 million years ago.

    Soon I realised that I had traversed down below the 9700ft (2,956m) level. The afternoon was progressing rapidly and I was to be at a fish fry at 6:00 pm. There were far more enticing sights to see ahead. Many more high points over the valley. Reluctantly I turned back, knowing that a return trip is in the future. I will admit that hiking back up 1,000ft (305m) on a rock strewn trail, is not anywhere as easy as hiking down. I had to stop each 100 vertical feet (30.4m), heart pounding, to fill my lungs with the high altitude thin air available. The return was over 2.5mi (4km) but felt more like 5mi (8km). I wore cross trainers for this hike, bad choice, twisted ankles are not conducive to getting off the mountain in a timely manner.

    The return meeting of another hiker was a welcome rest period. Great meeting with an experienced hiker to share stories with. Keep trekking my young friend, I already know by his education, knowledge of the area and enthusiasm, he is hooked for life. I knew that the end of the trail was near. A large chain link fence for the last 1/4Th mi (402m) is along side the dozen or more, repeater antenna array with the diesel generators running 24/7. The Jeep was waiting faithfully, the GPS was checked for accuracy before being put to rest. The gear was stowed. The half hour return, driving down the twisting mountain highway to home, was pleasant, knowing I will return next week to find the remains of the RB-57 Reconnaissance Bomber that hit the Sandia Mountain Crest, apparently due to altimeter error, many years ago.

    I have the site mapped and I bought some very comfortable, higher leather, Sonoma hiking boots with good toe room for downhill treks. The return uphill is always a different story. Today at Kohl's, 42 dollars, they may just save me from an unpleasant experience. Until then, enjoy the greatest nation on Earth, The USA.

    The greatest little map and guide book for this mountain is 'Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide' by Mike Coltrin, published by University of New Mexico Press. It is unequivocaly the very best little packable reference guide I have found, The interesting sites are just as Mike describes them. In the back pages, the Co-ord's are listed for hundreds of waypoints. Mikes website also links to a great user guide for GPS basics. You are a true positive 'Guiding Light' in our society. Thank You Mike Coltrin.


  • Thursday, September 06, 2007

    Our Anniversary 'Our Earth' 'Warm Earth' 'Cool Earth''Casting calls', click on 'In Production' and 'bulletin board' or 'for locals'.

    39 years ago my Wife and I were married. This date is getting very important because many couples these days, fail to stay together this long. When we proposed marriage, I was told by my wife to ask her Father for his blessing. When the early evening conversation was approaching, my wife became very nervous. Her Father, a 'common sense brilliant', self made businessman, was an unpredictable individual. I told him we were getting married and asked his approval.

    His very loud comment was, "My blessing? I don't even know who the Hell you are". "And if you ever hurt her young man, the entire state of New Mexico will not be big enough to hide you". Needless to say I have never hurt her. I did mention to her as we took the tramway ride up to the top of Sandia Crest that evening for relaxation, "Well, he didn't mention Texas".

    This evening was far more relaxed for us than our wedding day 39 years ago. The local Coldwell Banker real Estate Professional, neighbor gave us tram tickets for this 'flight'. There is a nice Mexican grill restaurant at the lower terminal, but we were going to the top restaurant 'High Finance', which also discounts tickets.

    The tramway ride was still as special for us as that other evening many years ago. The view is spectacular from the tram car. This is the longest tram of this type in the world. The base terminal is at 6,550 feet (2000m) 'Sonoran' Climate Zone. The top terminal is at 10,378 feet (3,153m) 'Hudsonian' Climate Zone. The double cable set is 2.7 miles (4.46km) long. Each of the 2 alternating cars holds 50 people. The travel time is about 15 minutes. Blogengeezer watched as this marvel was built back in 1965.

    As we were pulled up the cables at 13 Miles per hour, (19kmh) the ever present migratory hawks were circling, catching thermals along with the prolific large Ravens. Deer are usually spotted somewhere below. Sometimes a black bear wanders into view. The updraft created as the Westerly winds approach the face of the mountains, gives the birds including Golden Eagles, an astonishing rate of climb. Hang Gliders use this Peak as a thrill of a lifetime jumping off point.

    The 1.4 billion year old Granite face of the mountain, which was forced by the relentless pressure of the 'Faralon' tectonic plate sliding under our North American plate, to stand on end about 10 million years ago, covers hundreds of millions of years of history as it unfolds into view. The top 300 feet of Invertibrate, fossil laden, limestone is the bottom of an inland shallow sea of 100 to 250 million years ago.

    The following 'Range and Basin' uplift which is prolific in the Western Interior States, of the Sandia Crest, combined with the simultaneous drop of the 'Rift' (one of the worlds deepest) Rio Grande valley to the West, totals over 30,000 feet (9km). Taller than Mt Everest, but filled in with decayed Granite rubble over the millinia. The 3 million year old Rio Grande River, flows down from its headwaters near Crede Colorado, a few hundred miles to the North.

    The view from the top is spectacular and presents a panorama of an extremely large (9%) portion of the State of New Mexico. Many a trip was made by 'Geezer' and his 3 son's during the ski seasons years ago. I recommend a trip to see the lights and stars after dark. Many hiking/biking trails cross the Crest area, with it's numerous transmitting/receiving towers. If hiking, bring food, water and proper gear, the weather is unpredictable many times of the year.

    The valley floor to the West, with the Rio Grande river meandering down the rift valley, on it's course toward Mexico, spreads out like a table for the eye to feast upon. A person could spend a lot of time just looking out over the wide open space and see something different with each sweep of the vista. Volcanic action was highly instrumental in the forming of New Mexico's landscape. Look for lava flows and ancient volcanic 'cores' on the horizon.

    The service in the 'High Finance' restaurant was excellent. The food was excellent. Of course the company was excellent. An extremely plump squirrel was just outside our table window, standing tall on it's hind feet trying to see if the food it smelled in the waste container, was possible to access. All of this ambiance was further enhanced by the fact of a wedding taking place on the deck overlook in front of our window. The young bride and groom from Oklahoma, accompanied by the parents were fun to watch.

    After our meal, my wife went over and told the young couple that this was our 39Th anniversary. I hope it works as well for them as it did for us. The ride back down descended into the clouds for a very short time. The setting sun with it's special lighting effects, to further enhance the mountains rugged features stressed into the 1,350 million year old Granite face, came out from under the clouds within less than a thousand feet of the top.

    Our descent was enjoyable just as much as the ascent. A quiet ride, a nice evening at home, followed this special day. Enjoy life with others, it's a great way to spend your time on this Earth.

    Monday, September 03, 2007

    "SWING VOTE" movie, Greenleaf headquarters

    Also read 'Global Warming',
    'Global Cooling''Casting calls', click on 'In Production' and 'bulletin board' or 'for locals'.

    Received a call from ELIZABETH GABEL at FAR HORIZON STUDIOS late Sunday afternoon. Emailed her 'affirmative'. Tuesday, 04 Sep is the next day for the 'Greenleaf supporters' to do background. This time in Belen NM about an hours drive south of Albuquerque. Same dress code and wardrobe choice, 3 other cold weather outfits, that we were required to bring to the previous 'Madera shoot' August 20Th. This wardrobe choice turned out bad as you will see later on. Packing and choosing wardrobe is going on today, so that the trip can begin at about 6:30am.

    I like to arrive early to beat the crowd, have a cup of coffee, and chit-chat a little. Call time is 9am, but always some delays to account for. I hope to see several of the friends on this set from other films we have worked together. The call times and requirements are posted on; This is much better than 'Craigslist' where some casting calls are posted. Hamlet II, The call was held at the Holiday Inn Select on Saturday and a few friends were there. The call was interested mostly in young people and children. Alicia of course was in disguise. She looked a little 'Cammo Commando', so I did not recognise her there at first.

    Now on to Swing Vote Headquarters in the old Furr's grocery store in Belen NM for the days action. Naturally the famous 'Rebeca' (casting assistant) was already on the job at the Extras holding. I mentioned Rebeca in the earlier Swing Vote 'Madera' area. The rest of the Background actors slowly filed in after I arrived. Many familiar faces with which to occupy time while we waited. Of course there are new faces to speak with as well. One new face was the pretty, dark haired, dark eyed, 'Rachel'. She was just getting aquainted recently with the background atmosphere. I hope she enjoyed it and will return to become another pretty face on another film that Blogeneezer has the pleasure of working on. The food was pretty good today. Only 47 of us according to 'Elizabeth Gabel' who was there to make sure we all arrived. Not as many to feed compared to about 300 in Madera. Mario's catering usually does a good job.

    The Wardrobe crew seemed to make a slight mistake in our first appearance on set. We were sent back to Wardrobe for another assessment. All of us were really upgraded. We looked too much like 'Lefty Liberals' on the first try. I now wore a nice shirt and tie. Many others were outfitted in dress clothes. We were now dressed up much more like 'Conservatives'.

    The first scene was filmed down the headquarters aisle. 'ROLLING ROLLING', 'BACKGROUND', and 'ACTION'! We scurried back and forth carrying boxes, dropping off mail, and just looking overall busy like so many 'beavers' crowded in a tight camera angle. 'CUT'! 'RESET'! After about three tries, they pulled 'Blogengeezeer' out of the crowded scene, leaving the pretty women in of course. Now it seemed to be much improved.

    While I stood deep in an Aisle reading my novel, 'Those Who Tresspass' by Bill O'Reilly, the 'hustlers' worked over and over to get it right. 'Jean' and her husband 'Charles' were kept busy. 'Serious Leslie' carried boxes back and forth about a dozen or more times, a very well dressed 'Strawberry Debbie' stood at a desk checking the screen on a laptop to read the latest News. She stood there a lot in her 'Iron' high heels, with her 'unhappy' feet. Barefoot was her preferred attire wherever she walked on the set. 'Curly' crossed numerous times. We do get a lot of exercise on these sets, as well as a lot of just standing very still while the cameras are reset. Oh well feet are expendable.

    Lunch time came around so we chowed down on some good 'Gedunk'. Tacos, Enchiladas, and lots of other stuff along with cobler deserts that went very fast. Mario's catering is getting better each meal these days. A short respite, reading my book then back to the set.

    This time we were in the Headquarters command center with live monitors all around the room. The reason that the 'secret Service' looked so much like the real thing? Four very much in charge, large men were in fact, actual New Mexico State Highway Patrolmen, off duty of course. My first position was at a desk top monitor in direct camera view. That did not last long. Someone noticed that 'Pretty Blond Jamie' was much prettier than 'Geezer'. An excellent choice of coarse. They put me back against the wall next to a background friend from the 'Lost Room' ('Norm' was a nutcase with a helmet 'not a tinfoil hat' in that film that we worked in together), and Ed, the other gunslinger.

    The beautiful 'Shani' (Shani was my very young wife/mistress or whatever, in Comanche Moon) was an 'aide' in this film, dressed in black, with high heels. 'Shani' always has a different appearance, depending on Heels or flats, suits or cammi's. I always have to look twice to be sure it is her. A 'chameleon' of sorts. 'Alicia' is likewise. Multi-talented 'Strawberry Debbie', can actually change wardrobe while standing right there in our 'holding' area. She is fast at it. She seems to know exactly when to pull up clothing to cover whatever is almost exposed, to expose as little as possible. It was very interesting to watch, to say the least! Maybe some future form of 'entertainment reality' competition, TV show?

    'Nathan Lane' is 'Dennis Hoppers' campaign manager. Nathan is a firecracker of action and had no problem doing his complex dialog, about how to appeal to Kevin Costner's character, to get his vote. Dennis Hopper had a simple dialog in comparison. As has happened on the previous set in the mountains, Dennis blew his lines many times. So many times that when he finally got it right, Nathan "went into a Zone", as he said, and forgot his own lines. We all laughed as he said that.

    Dennis Hopper holds no record. 'Alicia' worked on the 'Border Town' film that still owes the State of NM about 12 million dollars. 'Jennifer Lopez' (J'Lo) was far worse. Now that girl is a lot younger than Dennis Hopper, but can not ever get it right. Think 15 re-takes.... for some simple lines. Maybe too much of something else has contributed to some memory cell damage? Lot's of bloopers for late night TV. After about 8 'takes' of our scene, Camera angles re-adjusted many times as well, which required many more re-takes.

    The scene had 'Serious Leslie' standing at a monitor. 'Alicia' walked around the other monitors as Nathan Lane was telling us what we needed to do. 'Strawberry Debbie' was three people behind 'Larry', as he was berated by Nathan Lane, for an 'ipod answer'. 'Curly' (Rick, a competition gunslinger that will some day make a movie about 'The Buffalo soldiers') was off to my left, 'Curly Tina' was standing at a monitor to my left and 'Ed' (another gunslinger) was standing next to me, intently watching Nathan. Ed's wife loves Nathan Lane. He is very professional and a master of the cameras attention.

    A few more periods with and without 'background' Then "Checking the Gate". Finally all was right with the 'world of illusion', that we help to create.
    We got the word that it was time for most of us to 'go away until another day'. 'Rebeca', who secretly wants to 'roller skate' around the set, like another crew member, told me that my services were not required tomorrow. She is very unforgiving. I am now in 'therapy' for rejection. We need a therapist in 'Extras Holding' just for cases like myself. I will suggest that, to the producer of the next film. Don't forget Rebeca, I know where you 'hang out', Film Lots, of course.