Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year !

Hauoli Makahiki Hou from Sierra County!

I'm a beach kid. What do I know from “winter”? In California it gets colder but by and large, the leaves stay on the trees, right where they're intended to stay. How can you tell winter has come to the beach? The storms come in & wash out the sand, leaving the coastline, well, beach-less. That and there's no fog in the mornings, unlike the Spring, Summer & Fall where you're pretty much socked in from sun up till noon.

In Hawai'i, you know winter has arrived when you feel the need to put a blanket on your bed or wear long pants in the mornings when the temperature dips to a chilly 70 degrees. And if that system of seasonal reckoning fails, just look to the ocean. The surfers wear wet suits, which is mighty confusing to a shark seeing as how if they see something black & sleek moving through the surf really fast, that means “dinner”. Seriously. Most of the shark attacks in Hawai'i take place in the winter, on surfers wearing wet suits. Can't blame the sharks, they have the perfect defense: “well officer, it's like this. I thought Keoki there was a seal. Sorry about the leg, dude! My bad!”

Given this life experience, winter in New Mexico was something of a shock. This said, winter is something I've grown to love. On January 22, 2007, it snowed about 8-10 inches in Truth or Consequences. Not being clued in on the concept of “snow days”, I went to work. Which was fine, until I tried to drive home, up Foch Street, and my van slid sideways down the hill. Nonetheless, it was one of the best days I'd ever had at work. Sure, the cat was thoroughly baffled by the cold white stuff clinging to her fur – but she learned MUCH faster than I did. When it's cold, she stays inside. I, on the other hand, love to stand out outside & breathe the crisp air. And then I go back inside the nice warm toasty house.

At our December Tourism Board meeting, Catherine Wanek from the Black Range Lodge in Kingston ( announced that the first snow of the season had fallen the night before. No longer fearing the cold white stuff, I grabbed the trusty camera & headed out to Kingston. Pete Fust, co-owner of the Lodge, put me in his van & we went out to enjoy the snow in the Gila National Forest. I envy Catherine & Pete. They live in some of the most beautiful country in America, if not the world. They have a forest at their doorstep. They have a historic lodge where they bake their own bread and make their own ice cream. If you visit, be sure & get there in the late morning when the bread is still warm from the oven & they have LOTS of butter to slather all over the bread. It is the closest thing to heaven that I've ever experienced.

So there you have it. The beach kid loves winter in New Mexico. Who knew?
Happy New Year!
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway, Northern Route

Another Sierra County Adventure Awaits!

There are many things that I've always wanted to do since I moved to Sierra County. One of those things on my "to do" list is to drive the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway in its entirety. Lately I assisted with the editing of an "Apache History on the Geronimo Trail" booklet, providing me with the inspiration I needed to scream “Road Trip!” I decided it was high time for me to hit the byway. And as it happened, I found myself in temporary possession of a 4 wheel drive truck that beckoned me to take the journey.

My adventurous friend Susan joined me on this trek. With everything that I could find on the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway printed off the internet and my deluxe super-sized Gila National Forest map in hand, we hit the road.

The GTSB starts out easy enough, beginning in Truth or Consequences at the Las Palomas Plaza, moving on to Ralph Edwards Park and into Elephant Butte. Once you head out into the county, vistas of farmland and rolling hills open up. The Trail goes through Cuchillo (home of the Pecan Festival every February - don't miss it!), into Winston and then out to Beaverhead.

From Beaverhead we headed out to Wall Lake. Currently the Lake and its surrounding area are privately owned; there is picnic area that is no longer open to the public, but it’s a quiet place to sit and enjoy the view, the cows, the burbling stream…and the fabulously entertaining contingent of elk hunters that camp out in the Gila during hunting season.

Our plan was to venture onto Forest Road 150, head down to Mimbres and San Lorenzo & then work our way to Kingston, Hillsboro and back home to T or C. Women are strong and powerful; we fear not the prospect of having to do some four wheeling. In fact, we embrace the adventure! Well, we embraced it right up until the chorus of laughter that greeted us from everyone we talked to about this journey. “Dern fool women what will they think of next?” was the common sentiment expressed. The Forest Service grades this road annually after the Spring thaw, but after the heavy rains of last summer's monsoon season, the road is pretty well washed out and not recommended for inexperienced four wheelers - like me, for example. For visitors who are looking for an "adventure experience," and have to skill to negotiate this road, this part of the Trail is perfect for you.

But for Susan and me, it was not to be. At least not until next spring. So we got right back in the truck & headed back to “civilization,” as it were. The booming metropolis of Chloride awaited us. Population 11.

To be continued: Chloride Canyon adventures

Friday, October 24, 2008

Greetings from Sierra County!

Hey there!

In the immortal words of Austin Powers: "allow myself... to introduce myself..."

My name is Gina Kelley, and I've been the Director of Tourism here in Sierra County for the past year. I've lived in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico for 3 1/2 years, but I love every square inch of Sierra County.

I grew up in northern San Diego County, in beach towns that used to be considered "small". Well folks, there's not a whole lot of "small" left on the coast of Southern California. Every time I go back there to visit the kin folk I count my blessings that I live in Sierra County.

I spent many years living in San Francisco and in Hawai'i. So if I throw in the occasional Chinese or Hawaiian word into my blog, fear not. It's not because I'm trying to impress people, it's because this is how I actually think. Scary, isn't it?

This won't be a typical "come to my County because it's so special" kind of blog. Even though I think that Sierra County is pretty darn special, I was always taught that gloating is an indication of a poor upbringing. So this will be about real life travels through the County, the things that we who live here do for fun.

Every week I'll fill you in on what new, exciting or just plain strange things are going on in Sierra County. Trust me, I have lots of material to draw on.

A hui hou*,

*a hui hou is a Hawaiian phrase that roughly translates into English as "see you later". There's your first Hawaiian language lesson!