A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Sierra Ladrones’

Belen, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on October 18, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2302; A Landing A Day blog post number 732.

Dan:  Today’s NM landing is just the second (in my last 86 landings, since I changed how I get my random lat/longs).  Since NM is so big, it’s still undersubscribed, so my Score went down from 632 to 615, a new record low.

Here’s my regional landing map:


And my local landing map, showing a string of little towns along I-25 (35-50 miles south of Albuquerque):


My streams-only map shows some ill-defined and unlabeled drainageways near my landing.  They carry any run-off east towards Rio Puerco (3rd hit); on to the Rio Grande (you’ll have to trust me on this):


And that’s my 47th Rio Grande landing.

Time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight to Central NM.  Click HERE, enjoy the flight, then hit your back button.

Here’s an oblique GE shot, from the Rio Grande, across the Rio Puerco, past my landing to the Sierra Ladrones:


Of course, I checked out Street View, and was able to kill two birds with one stone, sending the Orange Dude on a bridge over the Rio Puerco, looking out towards my landing:


And here’s what he sees:


As I typed the words “kill two birds with one stone,” I realized that society in general has moved away from violent imagery.  When I was kid, this was a common expression, and no one gave much thought to the image of two bloodied, dead birds lying on the ground.  But today?  It seems a little barbaric.  So, it’s time for a new expression.  These two birds agree (jantoo.com):

' 'Kill two birds with one stone'...I've always hated that expression!'

I did a quick Google search, and look what I found!


And then there’s a list of 75 possible alternatives (most of which didn’t make much sense).

They range from the mundane “Catch two birds with one net” to “Tickle two people with one hand” to “Catch two fish with one worm” to “Kill two flies with one swat:”


And then there’s the inevitable bathroom humor entry:  “Dump two turds with one flush.”

Back to business:  Here’s Street View for the Rio Grande:


And what the Orange Dude sees:


I think that the Rio Grande is typically more modest than the rain-swollen shot above.

So, I dutifully checked out all of the little towns along I-25, but had to settle on Belen (the largest by far, pop 7,200) for my titular town.

According to Wiki, “Belen” is Spanish for Bethlehem.  Really?  Seems a little strange.  I went to a translating web page, and they let me know that belen (with a small “b”) means:

  • nativity scene
  • crib

And colloquially:

  • mess
  • bedlam

And then, with a capital “B,” it in fact means Bethlehem (it can also be a man’s name).

Wow.  What a crazy homonym!  In Spanglish (accent on the glish):  Belen was a difficult toddler.  When he was upset at bedtime, Belen made a belen of his belen.  It was total belen!

Moving right along . . .

From Wiki:

In 1927, Belen native and movie stunt pilot Arthur Goebel took up the challenge by James Dole, the Hawaii pineapple magnate, to race with other pilots to be the first to fly nonstop from the mainland United States to the Hawaii territory in what is known as the Dole Air Race.

Here are some Wiki factoids:

  • Eleven planes were certified to compete but three crashed before the race, resulting in three deaths.
  • Eight eventually participated in the race, with two crashing on takeoff and two going missing during the race.
  • A third, forced to return for repairs, took off again to search for the missing and was itself never seen again.
  • In all, before, during, and after the race, ten lives were lost and six airplanes were total losses.
  • Only two of the eight planes successfully landed in Hawaii.

[Belen’s own,] Arthur Goebel, flying Woolaroc, landed first in Hawaii after a nonstop 26 hours, 17 minutes and 33 seconds, receiving the $25,000 first prize.

A quick word about the name “Woolaroc.”  Woolaroc was the name given to a nature / hunting retreat in Oklahoma founded by oilman Frank Phillips (of Phillips Petroleum).  The name Woolaroc is a portmanteau of the words woods, lakes, and rocks.  The retreat is located in the beautiful Osage Hills of northeast Oklahoma.

The property is still going strong as a museum & wildlife preserve (woolaroc.org).

From ThisDayInAviation.com (caption below):


The start of the Dole Air Race at Oakland Field, California, 16 August 1927. In starting position is Oklahoma. Waiting, left to right, are Aloha, Dallas Spirit, Miss Doran, Woolaroc, El Encanto, Golden Eagle, Air King and Pabco Flyer. (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

And here’s a shot of Woolaroc, getting ready for departure:


You may have noticed a mountain range not far west from my landing, the Sierra Ladrones.  From Wiki:

Ladrón Peak is an isolated, highly visible peak in central New Mexico, lying about 50 mi (80 km) southwest of Albuquerque. Ladron Peak is the only major peak in the compact range known as the Sierra Ladrones.

Despite its conical shape and its proximity to lava flows and small volcanoes, it is not itself a volcano. The core of the mountain is Precambrian granite (i.e., more than 600 million years old).

The peak rises dramatically from its surroundings on all sides; the summit is almost 4,500 feet above the Rio Grande Valley

The name of the peak means “thief”, and “Sierra Ladrones” means “thieves’ mountains.” Navajo and Apache raiding parties, and later Latino and Anglo rustlers, used the mountains as hideouts, hence the name.

Evidence of human occupation goes back over 10,000 years, and more recent prehistoric use occurred by the Mogollon and Anasazi cultures.

Ecologically, Ladrón Peak is a “sky island,” supporting vegetation and wildlife not found in the surrounding grasslands. It is high enough to have coniferous forests on its upper slopes. Animal species include mountain lion, bear, pronghorn, elk, deer and reintroduced desert bighorn sheep.

Seems appropriate to close with some Sierra Ladrones shots.  First this, by Michael Zanussi, on MatadorNetwork.com:


Here are some GE Panoramio shots of the Sierra Ladrones.  First this, by GoOutsideAndPlay:


And this, by BWHallett:


I’ll close with this shot overlooking the Rio Grande Valley, by Jeffro24:


That’ll do it . . .




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