Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Visit to the Chama Valley Supermarket

"Der Gila Monster" in front of the Chama Valley Supermarket in northern New Mexico, the weekend after the store's re-opening. The previous store building had collapsed in heavy snows during February 2008, so the community had been without a full-line grocery store for ten months. The new store has a much stronger roof, and is also much larger, with something like twice the floor area of the old Chama Valley Supermarket, which had been bought by Lowe's Supermarkets the year before. The new store has an expanded liquor and beer area, has moved fruit and produce to the front of the store, and has added a "Ranch and Garden Center" on one side with lots of hardware, tools, sporting goods, small and large appliances, and garden supplies, with a side door to an outdoor garden center to be used during warmer months.

Ranch & Garden Center facade, Chama Valley Supermarket

Chama Valley Supermarket entrance

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Inside the Chama Valley Supermarket

Meat cooler adjacent to the liquor and meat departments of the re-built Chama Valley Supermarket. Above and scattered around the rest of the store are some handsome and sometimes whimsical decorative touches.

Carnivore's Corner: The meat department is in the same relative position as in the old Chama Valley Supermarket, so carnivores will be able to easily track and corner their prey.

Frozen-foods aisle, Chama Valley Supermarket, December 21, 2008, just a few days after the store re-opened after being closed for ten months. The reopening was big news locally, with coverage on all three of Albuquerque's television news programs. Although some other shops carried very limited groceries and some household supplies, the Chama Valley Supermarket is the only full-line grocery store/supermarket in the area. While the store was closed, Chama Valley residents had to drive 25 to 75 miles each way to do their shopping.

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Chama Valley Supermarket back in operation

Below are some views of the ranch and garden center side of the re-built and recently re-opened Chama Valley Supermarket.

appliance corner, with everything from small appliance to flat-screen televisions to ranges and refrigerators.

hardware aisle, Chama Valley Supermarket

The north end of the re-built Chama Valley Supermarket is a "Ranch and Garden Center", with hardware, tools, appliances, sporting goods, and garden supplies. In addition to being open to the rest of the supermarket, the ranch and garden center has its own entrance and also, during warmer months, opens onto an outdoor garden center.

view toward produce area in front of Chama Valley Supermarket

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Elephant Butte Lake, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008

International Etchells USA 438, "Caliente" visible in the distance.

Friday, December 19, 2008 had good winds at Elephant Butte Lake, but "Zorro" was unable to sail; an acquaintance of his had been shot and killed across the border from El Paso in Juarez. Tragically, Juarez has experienced extraordinary violence and an out-of-control homicide rate in recent months.

On Saturday, though, Zorro was able to go to Elephant Butte Lake, so we drove down to join him, to squeeze in a bit of sailing before going back to Albuquerque to join Gerald and pick up a couple of his friends to go north to our cabin near Heron Lake in northern New Mexico.

"Ribbons", the new owner of a thirty-foot-long Etchells racing sloop, also appeared, initially planning just to look over his boat. But, since I was available to crew and to try to answer a few of his questions about the boat, we were able to sail out a little after Zorro and Carol Anne ("Batgal") had left the harbor on Zorro's Etchells, "Constellation".

Although we only could sail for a few hours, the sailing was pretty good, with breezes from four to seven knots letting us work up and down the main race area and set the chute for downwind runs and reaches. Ribbons and I were kept busy figuring out some of the more oddball rigging arrangements from the past owner and making notes of things that needed replacing, adjusting, or figuring out, but we still had a great sail.

Unfortunately, when we returned to Albuquerque, we found out that Gerald's friends had postponed joining us at our cabin and instead had made other plans, in spite of Gerald having driven 400 miles and camped out in a back yard to retrieve one of them for the express and sole purpose of visiting us. Later, they wound up changing plans and not joining Gerald and us at all, which we didn't find out until Gerald had driven 165 miles one-way from our cabin to pick them up. So, we wasted opportunities for more sailing with Zorro and Ribbon, disrupted our holiday plans, wasted household preparations for guests (including buying a 20.7-lb. turkey), and wasted some 750 miles of driving, and two or three days' worth of our time, because of inconsiderate would-be guests who made no apology and took no consideration for our efforts.

Rock Canyon Marina near the end of the day on Saturday, December 20, 2008. Pontoon boat in motion is being used as a marina work boat to carry material between the marina and nearby Rock Canyon boat ramp at Elephant Butte Lake State Park in southern New Mexico.

New Mexico is a land of fascinating contrasts, both natural and cultural. On Saturday we were sailing in near-shirtsleeve weather in southern New Mexico; just a day or few days later we were watching heavy snow accumulate in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chama Valley Supermarket back in business

After the roof of the Chama Valley's only grocery store had collapsed following heavy snows last February, the store had been out of business for several long months. Wednesday's re-opening of the re-built Chama Valley Supermarket was a truly big deal, attracting television coverage of residents returning to their new and improved supermarket. The new store is larger and adds new departments, giving residents and visitors more opportunities to avoid having to drive to Dulce (about 25 miles), Pagosa Springs, Colorado (50 miles), or Española (75 miles). This photo was sent by Belinda from Laguna Vista, who noted that the new store now sells such items as flat-screen televisions and barbeque grills; the photo shows the Chama Valley Supermarket just after it re-opened.

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Heron Lake and Laguna Vista in the snow

Dramatic view of Heron Lake. After a dry autumn season, a series of snow storms marched through northern New Mexico beginning around Thanksgiving. Photos were sent by Belinda from Laguna Vista and illustrate well the local landscape beauty.

Heron Lake, framed by snowy boughs

Elk in the snow. We often see elk at night when driving along Shroyer Drive, but seldom see them during the day. Mule deer, however, are very often seen near our cabin in daytime.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Update -- Winter Solstice and Sailstice

December has turned out to be a better sailing month than some of our summer months. Besides sailing Black Magic in light air on December 6 and 7, last Friday I hopped on Constellation with Zorro and Captain Groovy in some of the best, most consistent breeze we'd experienced in many weeks. We went out a couple of times and got in some nice legs with spinnaker runs and reaches. There's also a good chance we'll be able to sail some time during the Christmas holidays.

Speaking of that, I just received a press release from the Summer Sailstice folks encouraging people to sail (or, weather not permitting, watch a good sailing video or some such) this weekend in honor of the shortest sailing day of the year, Sunday, Sunday, December 21 (which is the beginning of winter as well as Hannukah).

Here's what they sent out to us (anti-spam padding adding to e-mail/url)....

Remember Summer? Remember Sailing?

In just a few days, Sunday, December 21st, the sun will ‘turn the corner’ and start its climb back towards the Northern Latitudes. This means, for sailors in the Northern Hemisphere, the days start getting longer and summer sailing and Summer Sailstice are not far away.

Why wait to celebrate? We’re encouraging all sailors to celebrate with a countdown to Sailstice starting this Sunday, December 21st. If you’re in Southern latitudes – Florida, San Diego, Gulf Coast it’s a great day to take to the water and head out for a salutary sail. If in the North perhaps a sail on an iceboat is best or frostbiting or maybe just settle in with a DVD of Wind, Morning Light or Captain Ron. Whatever the case, take a moment to give thanks that you’re a sailor and to look forward to Summer Sailstice coming June 20/21, 2009. The sun’s headed North and it’s not to early to think about a June Summer Sailstice celebration.

We’re looking for some 2009 fleet or class ambassadors.

There are over 180,000 Lasers somewhere in the world. And over 40,000 Catalinas. They can’t all get together in the same place but they can all sail on the same day. If you’re a member of a club, class or fleet you can help get your worldwide fleet sailing in a virtual rendezvous on Summer Sailstice. Send an email to m a r i e @ s u m m e r s a i l s t i c e . c o m so we can send information on building a global Sailstice celebration for your class.

We wish you a great holiday season ahead and look forward to celebrating sailing with you on June 20/21, 2009.

Sign up at: www.s u m m e r s a i l s t i c e.com

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sailing in December at Elephant Butte Lake, Day 2

P Cat with mountain scenery to the NNE. After a long slog struggling with barely perceptible breezes, I was grateful for some more usable breeze, which ranged from 3 to 8 knots. Just as the breeze gradually rose from something like .1 knot to a few times more than that, a catamaran launched itself into the lake at Hot Springs/Jet Boat Cove and glided over the lake to join me. Paul, the skipper, noted that he'd decided to sail his nineteen-foot Pacific Cat out despite the initially calm lake, since he'd seen me plugging away. Fortunately, we got some passable wind and were able to get in some several tacks around some navigation buoys and then sail around with the thirty-four-foot S2, Cultural Infidel, when it joined us.

P Cat approaching

Nice view of Paul's P Cat.

P Cat approaching buoy; view to northwest

P Cat astern

View from the helm after I finally got a bit of usable breeze. Days like this taught me to feel subtle differences among the faint breezes. During part of the trip, incense sticks were lit to help me track faint, switch, unpredictable bits of breeze. Velocity headers, wild swings in direction, and sudden gaps in the light air were all part of Sunday's program.

GPS display showing 7 kph (4 knots) speed. Later, the speed increased, but as a solo sailor I became a bit busy.

I dropped the jib about a thousand feet before reaching the Marina del Sur breakwater -- and, of course, the breeze then dropped to about 1.5 knots! So, Carol Anne had plenty of time to wait for me at the courtesy dock. Later on, the breeze came back for a while to 6 to 8 knots, but by then Black Magic was on her trailer in the mast-up storage lot.

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Cultural Infidel Sailing at Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico, Pearl Harbor Day

Cultural Infidel is a thirty-four-foot racer-cruiser sloop that was built by S2 yachts. Their other models were designed as cruising boats, but this model can be equipped for racing, and active S2 34' fleets race on Lake Michigan. Elephant Butte Lake is rather smaller than the Great Lakes, even though it can be New Mexico's largest lake, with 50 miles of surface area and many miles of shoreline to explore.

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Sailing at Elephant Butte Lake, December 7, 2008

Close view of Cultural Infidel

View astern of 19' P cat and S2 34 Cultural Infidel

S2 34 heading toward hills and mountains beyond

Stern view of Cultural Infidel

Sailing toward Turtleback Mountain. Now and then the GPS recorded speeds of 9 kph (5 knots)

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Kris Kringle Race 2008, Rio Grande Sailing Club, New Mexico

Hunter 28 Erebus, named for the Antarctic peak.

S2 7.9 (26') sloop "Delfin" serving as committee boat for the regatta

Five Planks and Nessie

Twenty-six foot S2 (S27.9, committee boat), C&C 29 Nessie, and Freedom 21 Five Planks.

Freedom 21 (sloop-rigged with staysail jib), Five Planks

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Nessie in the Desert; C&C29 sailing at Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico

The C&C 29 sloop Nessie approaches the finish of the Kris Kringle race at Elephant Butte Lake. The race was a distance race from south of Rock Canyon Marina, around Rattlesnake Island and marker 13, and to the finish in the middle of the lake between Rattlesnake Island and Rock Canyon Marina. The December 6, 2008 race in southern New Mexico was the last race of the fall season for the Rio Grande Sailing Club.

Portrait of Nessie, the C&C 29 sloop

Nessie approaching the finish line

Nessie and the pin buoy for the finish line

Stern view of Nessie after she finished the Kris Kringle race

Nessie in the sun

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Sailing Black Magic back to Rock Canyon Marina after the Kris Kringle regatta at Elephant Butte Lake

After arriving finally at the race course, starting, and taking photos of boats, it was time for me to try to reach the Rock Canyon Marina before the wind failed completely. As it was, it was a slow sail for the last mile.

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