Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Greatest Christmas Present Ever

What a dizzy person looks like who sleeps poorly
This photo shows me with my Alvarez acoustic guitar, which my parents gave to me as a Christmas present in 1975; thus I have had it for nearly 36 years.  My mother bought it for $120 (along with a second Alvarez for my sister) at a small music store on Eubank Blvd., north of Constitution Ave., called "Mr. Music," which went out of business shortly thereafter.  

I haven't played the Alvarez much in recent years due to my fascination with the electric guitar -- which resulted primarily from the fact that extremely versatile, relatively inexpensive guitar amplifiers (like my Line 6 "Spider" amplifiers) are on the market now.  However, last week I put a new set of strings on it and sort of "re-discovered" it, finger-picking old tunes like Roberto Carlos's "La paz de tu sonrisa," Christopher Cross's "Think of Laura," Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide," and Bread's "Diary."  At times I've considered buying a new, more-expensive acoustic guitar, but there simply is no need; the Alvarez has taken a beating through the years (including the extremely poor job I did years ago of replacing the tuners), but it still plays and sounds nice.  It was an "entry level" guitar -- note the adjustable bridge -- but it was always much, much more.

When I think about how long I've had the Alvarez, it occurs to me that it is the greatest Christmas present I've ever received.  How many people ever receive a gift that still brings them joy, and has practical utility, three or four decades after the fact?  I bless my mother for her kindness and generosity in buying it for me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hike to Rincon Ridge via Piedra Lisa Spring Trail

The Knife Edge of the Shield
The northern Sandias from the Rincon

View of rock formations from the Piedra Lisa Spring Trail
I'm still trying to hike on Sunday afternoons after church. Last Sunday, November 20, I hiked up the Piedra Lisa Spring Trail to Rincon Ridge, a 4-plus-mile hike (round-trip) that I'd wanted to do for some time but had put off due to (a) the long-ish drive required to get there, and (b) the lamentable $3.00 day-use fee that the USFS imposes on people parking at any of its trailheads.  (I remember when the USFS started charging what it originally called a "courtesy" fee [what a joke!]; the ranger I first spoke to about it told me the USFS was just "trying it out," but, alas, government regulation and taxation only ever seem to ratchet in one direction.)  Anyway, it was a great hike for me -- I loved the scenery and did passably well on the uphill leg; however, I've got to remember to take my trekking poles even on these shorter hikes, as the pounding I took on the way back down caused my lower back and hips to ache horribly.  The first picture above shows the "Knife Edge" of the Shield, the largest single rock face in the Sandias. (The "Knife Edge" is an increasingly popular route for thrill-seekers -- it's "Class 4" in rock-climbing terms but extremely exposed -- and several people have uploaded videos to Youtube showing some exciting jumps.)  The second picture is the view north from the Rincon, showing an aspect of the Sandias that is invisible from Albuquerque.  The last picture shows the "Needle," a large pinnacle, on the left, and the "Tombstone," a small formation that I climbed several times with Rod Williamson (most recently in 2002), in the middle.

The route

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Trip to Heber/Overgaard, AZ (Nov. 11-13, 2011)

At Cardo's in Payson
In our suite at the Worldmark resort

Mogollon Rim
Mike and Judy on the Rim

Looking at clouds from both sides now
Playing games in the suite

Dorine and I in the living room
Hot-tubbing in 40-degree weather
Mike taking panoramic pictures
Dorine at the Petrified Forest
Painted Desert, AZ
Dorine and I went to Arizona last weekend with Mike and Judy for our annual "anniversary" trip, which took place earlier than usual this year owing to family matters due to arise in the first half of December.  Mike and Judy are members of "Worldmark by Wyndham" (which is described on its website as a "flexible vacation ownership program"), and we were able to get a large suite at the resort in Overgaard, AZ (adjacent to Heber) for a really good rate.  Our trips with Mike and Judy are always enjoyable, largely because we purposely don't do much besides kick back and relax -- and we always eat well.  On this trip we drove into Payson on Saturday for gasoline (staying for lunch), and then we drove along the Mogollon Rim, marveling at the scenery.  On Sunday, we drove through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert on the way home.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hike up Long Canyon, 11/6/11

Me in Long Canyon, 11/6/11
Dorine and I took a short hike today up what I believe is called Long Canyon, which I'd never, in all my years of hiking in the Sandia Mountains, visited before.  The canyon is accessed at the southeast corner of the Glenwood Hills subdivision, which itself is located at the far eastern end of Montgomery Blvd.  As it happens, Long Canyon is a pretty cool place, at least the lower part that we saw.  I now want to go back and hike up the entire canyon to its head at/near the "Whitewash" Trail.  The topo map (below) shows the canyon becoming quite steep near the top; however, it looks manageable, assuming there's a recognizable trail up that high.  I'm not quite sure why Mike Coltrin makes no mention of Long Canyon in his hiking guide; I wondered if it might be private land, but the topo map shows the wilderness boundary (dotted line) passing just beyond the existing subdivision.

[Update 11/8/11: I happened to be e-mailing Coltrin yesterday about a work-related matter -- he, too, works at Sandia National Laboratories -- and, in an aside, I asked him why there was no mention of Long Canyon in his hiking guide.  His response was simply that he omitted a lot of what he referred to as "user" trails from the book (especially ones that follow streambeds, which he says he avoids for aesthetic reasons), and that he didn't want casual hikers to get lost on unofficial, primitive trails.  I'm not sure I buy that 100%, since (a) Long Canyon has such easy access, and (b) his book references many other primitive trails that would be infinitely easier to get lost on, and where it would be a much more-serious matter to be lost (e.g., Chimney Canyon).  I can't help thinking that a combination of parties -- the USFS, the City of Albuquerque, the Glenwood Hills subdivision, the residents whose houses one has to walk past to get to the canyon, and perhaps even Coltrin and his publisher -- have collectively made the decision not to publicize Long Canyon for the express purpose of minimizing vehicular traffic and hiker impact in the area.  I'm sure they'd much rather steer hikers north to the Embudito Trail (see topo map).]
The routes of my two hikes up Long Canyon
[Update 11/28/11: Yesterday afternoon I went back up Long Canyon, this time by myself, and hiked/scrambled all the way up to the Whitewash Trail.  The last half-mile or so turned out to be a bit of an ordeal -- steep, rocky, loose, bushy, cactus-y, and not much of a trail -- and immediately upon reaching a real trail, I decided not to go back down the same way.  I essentially had a choice, then, between hiking up to Oso Pass, and then down the Embudito Trail, or simply going down the Whitewash Trail; lacking a lot of daylight, I chose to do the latter.  So I sat down, drank a bottled water, ate a granola bar, called Dorine to tell her I'd need to be picked up later (and then taken back to where I'd parked my truck), and then set out down the trail.  Unfortunately, I got off the bottom part of the Whitewash Trail (there being numerous "trails" in them thar hills), and rather than back-track, I kept going down, finally having to pick and slide my way down a boulder-strewn canyon and ending up behind the flood-control dam on Menaul south of the "Whitewash Trail" parking area.  Thus the last half-mile of the descent was almost as bad as the upper part of Long Canyon, and it became clear to me that I need to start going "shorter and easier" on my Sunday-afternoon hikes or else I'm going to burn myself out.  Anyway, below are a couple of photos of Long Canyon, taken from the Whitewash Trail; the first shows the lower part of the canyon, and the second shows the upper portion where I came up -- my path roughly corresponded with where the shadow line falls here.]
Long Canyon, 11/27/11
The upper part of Long Canyon

Friday, October 14, 2011

Trip to White Sands and Ruidoso, October 7-9, 2011

Sam, Zach, and Mason
Kayla, Mason, and Tyler
Tyler and Mason check out the gear
Grandma sledding with Mason
Sam, Zach, and Devery
Me and Zach at Oliver Lee S.P.
Making s'mores at Oliver Lee
Sam, Kiley, and Devery
Tyler and Mason
Sam packing up to go to White Sands
Getting ready to go to White Sands
Maddy guiding Tyler across the road
The girls in front of the Swiss Chalet Inn
Zach with Tyler
At the Swiss Chalet Inn
Kristy, Chris, and Kids at White Sands
In back of the hotel in/near Ruidoso
Toasting marshmallows for s'mores

Mason taking a tumble at White Sands

Grandma doing a little sledding with Mason

Me taking a sled run on "our" dune

Series of videos that Kristy and Chris shot at White Sands

Our extended family (minus Darren and a couple of sons-in-law) took a weekend trip to southern New Mexico on October 7-9, 2011. This was a trip I'd wanted to do for some time, so I looked forward to it with great anticipation. We camped Friday night at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, located south of Alamogordo, NM, then spent several hours on Saturday at White Sands National Monument, which is west of Alamogordo. Finally, we drove up to Ruidoso, NM (a pretty mountain town that was once the playground of many a Texas oil millionaire) and spent Saturday night in the Swiss Chalet Inn, an older hotel north of town.

I love the Oliver Lee campground and always enjoy staying there. It was windy and thus the tents flapped around all night, impeding everyone's sleep; however, I think we all had a great time camping out otherwise. The conditions at White Sands the next day were perfect -- perfect weather, perfect dune, perfect company, and perfect equipment (fast masonite sleds for the adults and slower plastic sleds for the kids).

Ruidoso was a little disappointing. The rooms at the Swiss Chalet Inn were far better than the online reviews I'd read would suggest, but the indoor pool was out of operation, a severe letdown for the grandchildren. And I became very self-conscious about our having five kids under the age of six, all of whom were excited to be with their cousins, in a hotel that wasn't designed for children. I know the desk clerks caught an earful from various guests about the noise, so if we ever take the whole family back to Ruidoso -- which I doubt, since there just isn't that much for kids to do there, anyway -- we'll plan it out better and get a cabin. The highlight of Ruidoso for me was eating at the Circle J Barbecue on Saturday night, and then at Schlotzky's Deli on Sunday before returning back to Albuquerque.

Overall, everyone seemed to have a lot of fun. It was the very sort of trip I'd like to take at least four or five times a year.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Random Thoughts, Part 7

1. Next year's presidential election is already weighing heavily on my mind.  Barack Obama has been such a disaster as president -- having no leadership skills and lacking sense enough to surround himself with people who do -- that one would normally think he had no chance whatsoever of being re-elected; however, the Republican field of candidates is something less than reassuring.  I feel like I should be enthused about Mitt Romney's front-runner status, given his being Mormon (and thus probably a very decent individual) and his proven administrative ability, but I can't feel good about his tendency to say and do just about anything that he thinks will help his chances of being elected.  I also know the mainstream media will lay off him until he becomes the nominee -- just because they they think his religion makes him an easy target  -- and then come at him full-bore.  ("Funny underwear!" "Polygamy!" "Men can become gods!" "History of racism and sexism!" "Weird temple ordinances with Masonic origins!" "Homophobic bigots!" "High rates of [fill in the blank]!")  But who else is there?  Apart from being more conservative, Rick Perry seems like the second coming of George W. Bush.  Michele Bachmann appears bright and sufficiently conservative, but the media proved with Sarah Palin that conservative women are easily ripped apart.  Newt Gingrich is smart and experienced, but he simply carries too much baggage.  I'd relish the pitting of a conservative African American like Herman Cain against the liberal ideologue Obama, but I'm just not convinced Cain is prepared to assume the office (reminiscent of Obama himself) -- and, of course, at any rate the media would paint him as a blood traitor to his race.  The election is a long way off, but the Republican train hasn't even made it onto the rails yet.

[Update 11/10/11: Rick Perry has now committed a gaffe in a debate -- forgetting "Department of Energy" as the third of three federal agencies he'd abolish as president -- that seems likely to seal his doom as a candidate.  And, as if anyone couldn't have predicted it, Herman Cain, like Clarence Thomas before him, is being tarred as a serial sexual harasser; it's curious how every conservative African American man seems to be "outed" as an out-of-control horndog at the precise moment he's poised to make an impact on the national political scene.  Barack Obama has an amazing array of dirty operatives at his disposal -- just look at his election as senator from Illinois, when the "sealed" court records from his opponents' divorces magically came to light -- which makes me wonder why it is that no reputable person in the party opposite seems to have the means or the nerve to dig up the goods on Obama.]

2. I really don't know what to make of the recent "Occupy [Wall Street, etc.]" movement, if one can call it a movement.  Their contentions are both incoherent and absurd -- they're blaming banks that they ended up with $100,000 in student-loan debt and a useless college degree in liberal arts? -- but one common thread seems to run through them: the reflexive desire for government to step in and make things "right."  That in itself makes them, for lack of a better term, the "anti-Tea Party," given that the Tea Party movement wants government to intrude less and to allow free enterprise to refuel our terrible economy.  (More than one conservative wag, taking note of the personal-hygiene habits of the "Occupy" people, began referring to them as the "Flea Party.")  There is such an air of unreality these days, on both ends of the political spectrum, that I despair of finding a solution either to the debt crisis, on one hand, or the jobs crisis on the other.  Will our mind-boggling national debt be paid down without tax increases?  No.  But has Congress shown it can raise taxes -- or, for that matter, do anything at all -- without also raising expenditures?  (And are there enough "rich" people to leave holding the bag?)  No...writ large.  It's all too depressing to contemplate.

3. I've thought a lot about the devolution of traffic court in the local Metropolitan Court system.  At one time, smart people always opted to go to court when cited for speeding, simply because there was a better-than-even chance the police officer wouldn't show up for "trial" and the citation would be dismissed.  If the cop did show up, it was certain the person would end up paying something, as one could neither (a) argue the facts, since the officer was per se considered more truthful/credible than the "defendant," nor (b) argue the law, because frankly the law doesn't mean very much in traffic court -- Metro Court not being a court of record and its judges thus not having to fear being reversed or taken to task by a higher court.  (There's a term for a court in which neither the facts nor the law is subject to dispute or interpretation, and it involves a certain marsupial.)  However, the judge typically offered some sort of plea-disposition deal, which involved paying a lower fine and having the citation "dismissed" -- and not having the "offense" reported to the Motor Vehicle Division -- if the person had no subsequent citations for six months.  (The terms of such a deal were often deviously offered, which one would discover only the next time he was ticketed --  which could be many years later -- finding he was now a "repeat offender" and subject to greater sanctions such as driver-improvement school.)  The situation these days, however, is much worse.  First, on the initial trip to court, one meets with a court "negotiator" whose job it is to arrange for plea deals without involving the officer at all.  A person can still insist on having an actual "trial" date, but those dates are carefully aligned with the cop's schedule, and all APD officers are now scheduled to go to court on certain days.  And, second, the person is warned vehemently that if he doesn't accept the plea offer, he will, if (make that when) found "guilty," have to pay both the full fine associated with the citation and court costs.  This new system has made traffic court even more Kafka-esque than ever, something I wouldn't have thought possible; in any case, there's now a tremendous (and assuredly intentional) disincentive to go to court in Bernalilllo County on a traffic citation. Thank goodness I haven't had a speeding ticket now in over six years, but there are times -- particularly when I'm on my way to work and am trying to hit all the lights green -- when I exceed the speed limit by up to 8-9 mph.  In general, I'm fairly careful not to speed...too much...but I remain vulnerable.

4. I sometimes think about my immediate family's (that is, my siblings' and my) record in marriage.  Only two of my parents' six children haven't been divorced, or at least separated, from their first spouses.  One brother has been married four times to three different women, although his current marriage has lasted a number of years now.  Another brother has been married three times to two different women, although his current marriage has lasted about thirty years.  A third brother divorced after 33 years of marriage and is still in some personal disarray over the breakup, despite having been unhappy in his marriage for many years.  And my sister only recently reconciled with her husband after an extended separation.  Thus my remaining brother and I are the only ones who have stayed with our original spouses for the duration.  This record may not be a stellar one, but I attribute it more to basic incompatibility than to the shortcomings of my family members.  The LDS church leadership is on record as saying that any man and woman who are committed to living gospel principles should be able to have a successful marriage, but I think all of my siblings would agree with me that such a blanket statement is, to say the least, overly simplistic.

5. I bought a "magnet therapy" bracelet when we were in Pagosa Springs in July.  I considered it new-age voodoo even at the point of sale, but I've been willing to consider various alternative remedies for my equilibrium problems.  It almost goes without saying that the bracelet has done nothing to alleviate my dizziness, but I continue to wear it: one, I like the way it looks; two, it was Dorine's idea to buy it, so, in a way, it's a second emblem (along with my wedding ring) of my love for her; and three, well, I wear it as a token of both (a) faith that I can be healed from my mal de debarquement and (b) the utter failure of conventional medicine to diagnose or treat my ailment.  I'll probably lose the bracelet eventually, as small magnets don't make the best of clasps (and it's already come off at several inopportune moments) but I'll wear it while I have it.

6. I still feel some odd draw to my singles-ward days in 1981-84, and I wish for more content on Facebook about the old Albuquerque 11th Ward.  Just why I should feel a greater draw to the singles ward than to other times of my pre-marriage life (such as high school, my time at BYU, or my mission), I can't explain.  Do I miss these people?  Not particularly -- I'd like to become friends again with my old buddy Tracy Carroll, whom I haven't seen now in probably 12-13 years, and I'd sort of like to know what happened to Barbara T_____ and see a current photo of her, but that's about it.  I can't even say I'd like to re-live any singles-ward times or events, but perhaps I have a Freudian sense that I've left things undone or should have treated people differently.  Who can tell?

7. It's interesting to me how my diet has changed over time.  I still eat way too much of the wrong things, but I don't eat much ice cream anymore.  I also eat much less cereal, red meat, eggs, and even chocolate and other candy.  Finally, I drink quite a bit less soda pop than I once did.  However, I still eat too much in the way of chips, nuts, and other snack foods -- and even my daily quart of Gatorade packs a lot of sugar.  What I really need to do is eat fewer meals and smaller portions, and also snack less.  My metabolism has slowed so much that I can't say what it would take in the end for me to lose weight, but I've made some progress, anyway, in terms of diet.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On being "empty-nesters," going off sleep meds
(again), and other matters

Where did our chicks go?
As of Friday, August 26, Dorine and I officially became "empty-nesters," as Darren went back to BYU in Provo for his senior year. I enjoyed having Darren here for the summer and am happy he had a student internship at Sandia National Laboratories. It feels really strange to arrive at home at night and realize we aren't waiting for one of our kids to come home; however, the thing I've noticed most is a weird sensation that our house and all our possessions are finally "ours," as no one else is using them. Of course, we aren't "alone," as our four daughters and their families all live here in Albuquerque and we still get to see them regularly; still, this is the first time in our nearly 27 years of marriage that Dorine and I have no children at home. How did all that time pass already?

I finally decided I needed to kick my sleep meds again, as it was apparent they were causing lots of problems without any commensurate benefit. So, on Monday night, August 8, I quit the meds cold-turkey and have not taken anything since. It's been a struggle, as even a "good" night entails my sleeping only 4-5 hours, and many nights I've only gotten 2-3 hours of sleep, if that. However, there were immediate benefits. One, my mal de debarquement dizziness diminished, making it much less debilitating than it had been.  I can't say the sleep meds were the cause of my getting sick after our January 2010 Caribbean cruise, but it's clear now that they were at least part of the problem all along.  The dizziness is still there, but it doesn't control my life to the extent it previously had done.  Two, the act of "de-toxing" my body from the effects of long-term usage of prescription hypnotics (and an OTC antihistamine) -- especially the increased dosages I was having to take if I really wanted to sleep through the night -- has been a tremendous physical and psychological boon to me.  I just "feel" healthier, regardless of whether or not I really am healthier.  And three, I am able to exercise more, with less discomfort, even if the ravages of age are causing me to recover less quickly.  Six months ago, I couldn't have dreamed of doing the Chimney Canyon/La Luz Trail hike that I did with John Brewer a couple of weeks ago.  Despite the fact that I did that hike on two hours of sleep the night before, I was able to finish and survive it.  I can't say where I go from here -- my past experiences suggest that I won't be able to thrive, long-term, on less than an average of 6-7 hours of sleep per night -- but I'm hopeful, at least, that I'll get to that point without getting back on sleep meds.  Right now I'm fighting off a lot of night-time aches and restlessness that are waking me up early; I don't know if a new mattress would help, or if I need counseling from a cognitive behavior therapist, but we'll see what happens.

I'm in the process now of moving to another job at Sandia National Laboratories, one that is different from any position I've had there in 19+ years of employment.  It will be a relief to leave my previous job, as I needed a change; however, now that I'm encountering the expectations associated with my new job, I'm starting to fear it will be a rocky transition -- not because I'm not smart enough to catch on, but because my learning curve, barring significant mentoring, may be too flat to match those expectations.  Then, too, my new office is a dank, stuffy cubicle, a far cry from my relatively posh office space in my old job, which is going to motivate me to seek co-location near the program area director whom I support.  (One other time I left a job I knew well, in a nice situation in a decent office, in order to get away from a manager with whom I did not see eye-to-eye.  It didn't work out well because I ended up with the Job From Hell, handling extremely difficult services contracts and sitting in a cubicle next to abject narcissists who seemingly did nothing but toot their own horns all day.  All indications are that my new situation isn't that bad, but I've never handled change particularly well.)

It's now been a full five years since I last went to Las Vegas.  I keep feeling a strange desire to go back -- not because I want to gamble, or pay too much for show tickets, or stay in a four-star resort, or slaughter my stomach in some expensive buffet, but simply because I miss the excitement.  I suspect the bad economy has done a lot to drive room rates and food prices down in Sin City, but I can't say when I'll ever make it back there.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chimney Canyon/La Luz Trail Hike,
September 3, 2011

The route -- more or less clockwise from upper left
John Brewer and I went hiking on Saturday, September 3, 2011. We chose what has become an overly ambitious hike for me, going up the bottom part of the La Luz Trail to the mouth of Chimney Canyon, then up the Chimney Canyon Route to Sandia Crest, then down the La Luz Trail to our starting point. John and I did fine on the first part of the hike, chatting about work and other matters; however, once in Chimney Canyon proper, I became progressively worn-out, to the point where, on the steepest parts of the trail, I was taking fifteen steps at a time and having to rest in between. We still made pretty good time for old men, reaching the Crest in roughly four-and-a-quarter hours total; however, by the time we reached the gift shop, where we stopped and ate (I had the $3.50 hot dog + chips and a $2.00 can of soda), I literally felt like I couldn't have walked another hundred feet. The rest reinvigorated me to the point where I felt like I could manage the hike down the La Luz, but, though we took every major shortcut that I'm familiar with -- including the long one that bypasses most of the lower switchbacks -- it still took us three more hours to reach the bottom La Luz trailhead. It doesn't seem that long ago that I could hike up the La Luz Trail to Sandia Crest, and fairly comfortably, in three hours; now I'm reduced to hiking down in that time (although, admittedly, the hike up Chimney Canyon was extremely taxing and clearly took a lot out of me).  I also don't recover nearly as quickly as I once did.  I can't say I'll never hike up Chimney Canyon again, but, if I do, I suspect I'll either make arrangements to be picked up at the Crest or else hike over to the the Sandia Peak Tramway and ride it down!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Camping Trip to Villanueva, August 5-6, 2011

Devery, Mason, Darren
Kayla and Tyler
Kayla, Tyler, and Mason at the playground
Dion at the playground
Tyler, Kayla, and Heidi
At the playground
On the main road through the park
On the bridge crossing the Pecos
Dorine and I

These photos (and the video) are from our one-night camping trip to Villanueva State Park, New Mexico, on August 5-6, 2011.  We went with Heidi and her husband Dion (and their kids Kayla and Tyler), and with Devery and her little boy Mason.  We pulled into the park early on Friday afternoon, just as the camping spots along the river were filling up, and immediately the lady in the site next to us warned us of nocturnal bear activity and strongly advised us not to spend the night in tents.  However, we, never camping more than a couple of nights a year, only have tents (or "white trash trailers," as Dion calls them) for camping, and we certainly didn't drive all the way out there not to spend the night, so we ignored the warning.  (I also got the distinct impression that the lady was a little bugged about having little kids in close proximity and would say anything to get them to go away.)

Anyway, we did spend the night and, fortunately, weren't bothered by the juvenile black bears that, per the ranger, had been overturning trash cans every night.  Our campsite was very fortuitously located across the road from the park playground, and the kids all had a great time playing on the various slides, monkey bars, and other jungle-gym equipment there.  Villanueva has become sort of like our "family camping spot," even though we only go there once a year; the combination of accessibility (while still being off the beaten path) and physical features (Pecos River, hiking trails, and hills) makes it ideally suited for our purposes.  If I had my way, all of our trips there would be for two nights instead of just one, but "one" beats "none"!  I'm hoping to get in a second camping trip in October down at White Sands National Monument and Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, both of which are near Alamogordo, New Mexico, and perhaps we'll even get in a second night down in Carlsbad so that we can take the kids to see the Caverns.