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Sooooo, I don’t have much in the way of houseplant news, because I haven’t done much with my plants lately, other than splash them with water here and there. I’ve been working a lot of hours out of town, so the plants have taken a back burner temporarily.

And I’m still battling the pesky wasps, who have turned out to be formidable foes. I didn’t want to bore you with yet another post about how clever (and PERSISTENT) the little boogers are.

So no plants, no wasps. What else am I going to post about? Well, last night I went to my regular spot to photograph this sunset looking west out of downtown Albuquerque:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Albuquerque sunset

And looked to north and noticed this new plume of smoke from a brand new fire in the Jemez Mountains:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, new wildfire in Jemez

DANGIT!

When I took that photo last evening, the fire was about 200 acres. Today, it’s a square mile. It’s burning in a relatively remote area – no communities are threatened at the moment. But that could change quickly, as we know all too well in New Mexico.

I’m very weary of forest fires. Especially today, the one-year anniversary of the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona that killed 19 firefighters.

It’s difficult not to associate all wildfires with tragedy. Even though no homes are threatened right now with our new fire, it still causes a sinking feeling in your gut when you see that plume. Because you know what could be, what may be. It’s a big price to pay to live or to play in the forest.

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Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Living in the Wild Wild West

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, wild west movie ranch set

New Mexico is beautiful.

On Tuesdays on this blog, I’ve been featuring beautiful outdoor spaces. Today I want you to come along with me to a very pretty place with a sinister name, Diablo Canyon.

The backstory is that my friend Amy, the one I’ve known since high school, is moving back to the Midwest. Before she goes, she told me she wanted to check out this canyon she’d read about – she found a passage about it from the Sierra Club’s Guide to Day Hikes in Santa Fe. I’d never been either.

That passage turned out to be very helpful. Exact directions to get to the canyon (take a left at the first fork in the road, travel 4 miles on the dirt road past the green windmill frame, etc), tips about the conditions (don’t go if it’s been raining), it had a little history, pointed out some birds to look for, mentioned that it’s a better winter hike because it’s about 10 degrees warmer in the canyon than in Santa Fe. It was a handy guide that promised a short but spectacular hike.

We set out on a perfect fall day.

The path was along a sandy arroyo (an arroyo is a water ditch), between the towering cliffs where there were lots of people rock climbing:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The reason you don’t want to hike this after the rain is because it’s no fun to walk through wet sand.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

There are some rocks to hop over at the beginning of the hike, but then the rest of the hike, it’s like walking through a dry river bed. Passing formations like this one:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

I didn’t look up the history of why it’s named Diablo Canyon, but it’s probably more than one reason. For one, it’s remote. Two, there’s definitely a big danger of flash floods during the monsoon season. The rock formations are imposing. The river can be dangerous even when it’s not monsoon season.

But as far as a day hike in October goes, Diablo Canyon is totally misnamed. It was not a difficult hike, certainly not dangerous in any way.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The guide book said it would take an hour and a half to reach the river, which was spot on. So it was a three hour hike round trip.

Look who we found along the way:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

It’s a tarantula, they are migrating through northern New Mexico right now. Well, migrating isn’t quite the right description. It’s mating season, so the males are out and about looking for females. They live here all year, but residents usually only see them twice a year – spring and fall – so it appears that they are migrating.

They are very gentle spiders. This guy froze when we walked up with our cameras, which was awesome, like he was posing. In reality, we probably scared the crap out of him. He may be a big spider, but we are still much, much bigger than he is.

We let him get back to his business of finding a mate, and continued on:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

See those yellow trees? We knew that’s where the river was.

Cottonwoods love to grow along the Rio Grande.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Aaaahhhh, the Rio Grande. The perfect place to stop and have a snack, and enjoy the views.

This is what it looked like downriver:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Upriver:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

And across:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Pretty, right?

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

We had snacks and drank water while sitting along the riverside. It was so nice. Eventually, we turned around.

We could see the Santa Fe ski basin off in the distance:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The trees out here are nuts. They will grow anywhere (well, try to grow):

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Crazy trees growing out of rocks.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

You have to admire their enthusiasm for life.

More pretty formations on the way back to the car:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

I highly recommend this hike in the fall and winter. It was flat the whole way. Dry sand is not difficult to walk on. The views are amazing. Chilling by the river was lovely.

If you decide to go, it’s important to be prepared – Amy and I had plenty of water and food for a day hike. The New Mexico sun is intense, even in October, no one should go anywhere without water. We also had sunscreen – there is not much shade until you get to the river.

Also be prepared for it to be a little crowded. We saw lots of jeeps and four-wheel drive vehicles, and there a couple of dozen rock climbers, we passed maybe ten or so other people hiking back to the river. We even had a funky looking helicopter fly right over us. So it’s not terribly secluded.

But it was still awesome.

The rock climbers were still at it when we got back to the trailhead:

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Diablo Canyon, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Eeeee!

I hope you enjoyed this tour of a Northern New Mexico hike. If you have any questions about how to get there, let me know.

Thanks Amy, for the suggestion. I’ll miss you, girl!

I’ll be back tomorrow, hope to see you here.

New Mexicans loooooove to use the Zia symbol to show state pride.

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Zia pride

(This design is in Old Town, Albuquerque. But it’s not old.)

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, Quirky 'burque

It doesn’t have to be Balloon Fiesta time (usually the first 10 days in October) for balloonists to take to the sky. Practically every morning you can see hot air balloons. Which is cool.

(Sorry it’s hard to see the balloons – this photo was taken with my phone.)

I think this is neat:

529184_633308293362432_725082423_n

It was floating around facebook, so I don’t know who deserves credit for the image. Besides the Zia people, that is.

It’s not quirky to ‘burque – as far as I know, the state took the symbol for its own use. It’s definitely cool.

Look what I found!

Good To Grow, Liza's photos, first Crocus of the spring season

First Crocus of the season! A little early, but not by much. Yay! Spring is on the way!

Last summer, the Las Conchas wildfire erupted in the Santa Fe National Forest when a tree fell on a power line. At the time, it was the largest fire in New Mexico state history (it’s since been eclipsed by the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire in southern NM). The Las Conchas fire burned more than 150,000 acres.

The fire was frighteningly close to my Mom’s house in the town of Cochiti Lake.

When the family was visiting, we toured the burn area. This was the first time I’d seen the damage.

I had my point-n-shoot camera with me, I thought I’d share some photos with you.

As it happened, the Forest Service started a prescribed burn on the other side of the mountains the same day we toured the side closest to Mom’s. So the smoke you see in my photos is from that fire.

As you can see, the mountains are ravaged. In the photo above, that valley used to house Dixon’s Apple Orchard and a family home – they were partially destroyed by the fire, then completely destroyed by the floods that came later. So sad!

Charred trees for as far as the eye can see.

It was an eerie, creepy landscape.

We used to hike these mountains. Now that thought is inconceivable.

While just about everything was dead, including the cactus below:

There were signs of life, like this cactus:

They were few and far between, though. Some trees escaped the fire. Mostly everything was just dead.

It was a depressing tour.

Although, we all got a giggle out of this sign we found on our way back down the mountain:

It was hard to see what had been such a gorgeous area now bleak and lifeless. Efforts are underway to restore the trees, but it will take a long time before the forest returns.

No one was hurt during this fire. In future fires, we may not be so lucky. As more people build houses further into forested areas, the risks will increase. That’s why the Forest Service uses prescribed burns – to decrease the chance of future devastation. Let’s hope their work pays off down the road.

I’ll be back on Monday, hope to see you here.

Yesterday evening, smoke from the Whitewater-Baldy fire in the Gila National Forest (in southwest New Mexico) drifted into Albuquerque, making for a creepy sky:

The fire has now burned over 82,000 acres and is zero percent contained. That’s because firefighters can’t fight the blaze – the winds are too strong, and also the terrain is steep and treacherous. Planes and helicopters that could help fight the fire have been grounded, due to the winds. Crews have been constructing containment lines.

The fire was started by lightning on May 16th. If you’d like more information about the fire, please click here. To see photos of the fire, click here to go to KOBtv’s website.

In other Albuquerque news, the Downtown Growers’ Market is back in action.

There was definitely more socializing than photographing going on at the market.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend. Thanks so much to our men and women in uniform, as well as their families. I’ll be back on Monday, hope to see you here.

Oh yeah, this is my 800th post. Pretty cool, eh?

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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.

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