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We woke the next morning to even colder weather. It was 11 degrees Fahrenheit. 11. In a tent trailer. And the forecast said it was not going to get warmer. So I fed the dogs, made a quick cup of coffee and some tea in a thermos and two PBJ sandwiches and quickly folded up the camper. In near record time. I looked at weather forecasts for other parts of New Mexico, SW Colorado and into Utah. The warmest place was Moab so we headed north. It took much of the day but we pulled into the sprawling tourist town around 4:30 and found a dog-friendly hotel and settled in for a warm night.

In the morning we drove to Fisher Towers for a wonderful hike in the red rock country. It was a great hike with panoramic views over the Colorado River and into the rugged Onion Creek area to the south. The towers themselves are incredible pinnacles of red rock, attractive to rock climbers.

The Bernardo Wildlife Area was just minutes from our campsite. I had read a small article about it in the National Audubon magazine so I knew it could be a good spot to see cranes and I had driven by it before setting up the camper earlier in the day. We went there for sunset and were not disappointed. And the next day it was even better at sunset. With colder weather and more wind, I never did get back to Bosque.

Bernardo had a very nice, short auto route and several really nice blinds for watching wildlife. The best part (besides the birds) was that no one was there! And the dogs could get out of the car. They are pretty good bird watchers. Sometimes all of us stayed in the car and used it as a blind to watch and make photos. They watched and listened while I made photos.

We continued to travel south, staying at another RV park without goatheads this time, north of Socorro. I wanted to see wintering Sandhill Cranes and other birds at Bosque del Apache, a National Wildlife Refuge in the Rio Grande valley. After setting up camp, we headed for the refuge and spent the afternoon in the visitors’ center and driving one of the auto tours. The dogs spent the whole time in the car so as not to disturb the wildlife. The weather was cold and windy, not the best for bird watching and photography but I made the best of it.

The trip did not end in SE Utah. The girls and I continued south to Albuquerque where we camped just outside of the city in an RV park. Not my favorite accommodations, for sure. And Sky was very upset. It seems that the place is covered with goatheads. In case you are not familiar with them, let me explain. Goathead is a common name of an annual weed sometimes called puncturevine among other things. Its seeds are small and have sharp thorns that can puncture a bicycle tire. Imagine stepping on them with bare feet. The dogs would come to a complete halt, unable to move until I came over and removed the goatheads from their pads. Poor Sky could hardly relieve herself while we were there. Luna took to going as soon as she got out of the camper. It was a challenge for the dogs for sure. I did find a couple of trails at the nearby Petroglyph National Monument where they could walk more easily on leashes.

So why did we stay three nights in this RV park? My friends, Jennifer and Judy, of Notable Exceptions (you can listen to and buy their music here) were up for an award at the International Western Music Awards show and they were debuting the Corral Chorale, a mighty musical event and they asked me to photograph it for them. It was a fun weekend of music. Everyone was decked out in their finest western finery and I had to borrow a shirt. I did have my own boots.

Here are just a few photos from the weekend.

I can’t say enough about the wonderful desert hiking we did while we were in the Bear’s Ears region of SE Utah. And we just began to explore the area.

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