Saturday, January 26, 2019

Tortolita Mountains and crested saguaros

I was so worried about catching Kevin's cold earlier this week.  I managed to fight off the bug and led a hike in my beloved Tortolitas again, my fourth hike with a group.  We hiked 14 miles through this saguaro-studded low range, using a network of trails for this big loop.

Eight people showed up.  That's pretty impressive considering the distance and strenuous conditions:  SteveA, SteveS, RodC, Doug, BarryD, JimA, Carol from Tucson and I with Zeke.  Weather was forecasted to be mostly sunny with temperatures in the 60s.  It was 32F when we started and 64F when we finished.

There were quite a few dogs at the trailhead parking lot, including a group of Pima County animal shelter volunteers out walking nervous dogs.  Once we got on the rugged Alamo Springs trail and its many ups and downs via stone steps, we were more remote and I took Zeke offleash.  He never ran off from me. This trail is a tough one for me.  I feel like I'm on a Stairmaster for two hours.

Everyone was on the lookout for crested saguaros.  The last time I did this hike, three years ago with SteveA and PatS, we counted three of them and all of them were on the northern part of this range, along the Ridgeline trail.  This time we only saw two of them on this trail.  Rod spotted a third one off Wild burro trail on a hillside, and JimA spotted one near the Javelina trail.  But what happened to that third crested saguaro on the Ridgeline trail?  I had spent time today while hiking that section looking for it.
What we saw instead was the first round of wildflowers, starting with the bright yellow brittlebrush blooms and then later the golden mallow, desert marigold and a few lupines.  The brittlebrush is a low-lying shrub and the first to flower in the desert. Its yellow-on-yellow flowers grow from long stalks.  Higher on the Alamos Springs trail we saw other annuals: several poppies were already showing, and then more purple flowers hiding in crevices.  We didn't see carpets of any one flower, though, but what we did see was an earlier-than-normal display.

We came across several other groups of hikers on this trail, but none of them continued on the Ridgeline trail.  Here is where I came back to life.  The Stairmaster exercise was now over and we were switchbacking up the trail, up to the pass that offers a breathtaking view of Tuscon and the Santa Rita mountains.  For most people on this hike, this was their first view from this vantage point.  It's a view worth stopping for.  I had a few tangerines and Zeke had some water.

We spotted our first crested saguaro, perched high off a cliff but visible right off the trail.  Some of the speed demons like SteveS and Jim didn't even notice it.  The second one, right off the trail, was harder to ignore as we all stopped to photograph it.  This is one that I remember from my first time on this trail.

I like the Ridgeline trail as it's all downhill from here.  The trail is the northern section of the park, with views back into the valley where once mines dug up the earth.  The old water tanks and horse corrals are still here, but we didn't stop.  The group slowly spread out, with the speed demons up front and the slower ones and me toward the rear.  These long hikes are slowly getting to be too taxing for me.

Jim radioed Rick to tell him he spotted a crested saguaro off the southern hillside in that last mile.  Sure enough, with binoculars it was visible.  Why hadn't I seen it before?  And here I always thought the crested saguaros were only on the north end.

We had a post-hike meal again in Marana, in the same Mexican restaurant as before, Nana's Kitchen.  This time we didn't have to deal with loud mariachi music and were able to enjoy a group meal in peace.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Hiking along Carr Falls

The last time I hiked up the falls was years ago with Sara and Sammy (may they rest in peace).  It was past time I did it again.

Many people hike up the lower falls by rock hopping and pulling themselves up via the manzanitas that grow along the steep slope.  A narrow but well-trodden trail follows the falls on the southern flank.  I hiked up to the base of the middle falls the first and only time I did this.  This tired out the dogs as it did me, but it was a nice physical challenge. Unfortunately, this is also party central in the summer time, and a popular smuggling route at night due to the water.

I got started late in the morning once I knew I wasn't getting called in today.  I took just Zeke.  If  there were any Thursday Carr Canyon Road hikers, they were gone as I did not recognize any vehicles parked along the road when I started my hike at 11:26am

One can climb up the rocks along the falls when it's dry, but the water had iced over, making climbing up the rocks rather treacherous.  This is why I stayed on the southern side of the falls (left side), to avoid any slippage.  However, as I neared the base of the falls the rocks became steeper and created small cliffs, forcing me to go even farther south than intended, getting me away from the falls entirely.  I now felt like a smuggler, pulling myself up dense vegetation while keeping an eye out for Zeke.

The half-mile hike took me an hour.  When I started noticing beer cans on the ground, I knew I was close to the road.  I came out across from the rock retaining wall.  I must say I was relieved to be on flat ground again.  I don't think I'll be doing this climb again!  I may actually be getting too old to be doing these kinds of physical challenges.

I took Zeke to the falls for water, rested there a bit, and then walked back via the road.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Gleeson mines

David and Karen hosted a hike around Gleeson hill, a network of mines that now dot the treeless hills in the region.    Lead and silver were mined here late in the 19th century.  The land is still owned by the mining company, but hikers are allowed to walk the old paths if they are with landowners in the area.  They can not go into the mines.

It was a mild day, with whispy clouds overhead.  I took Zeke, who followed me closely from the start of this hike, even when we passed a few grazing cows.  David, Karen, Rod, SteveS, SteveA, JimA, Paul showed up.  We followed Karen around Mount Gleeson, down a sandy wash, before turning south on an old railroad bed that was still visible despite the overgrowth.  This old railroad went between two hills, from which other paths intersected.  At one point this was a very busy mining complex, with paths going in all directions.  Now catclaw, prickly pear and cholla dominate the hillsides, but the old road grades are still visible when one looks closely at the hills.

The hike itself wasn't very scenic, but one could see how once this area was all about mining.  This was more of a historic walk, imagining what this area was like when the mines were at their busiest early in the 20th century. Low-lying fog toward the eastern Chiricahuas still floated over the ground in the distance.  It never got too hot today, but I watched Zeke to make sure he was hydrated.  Jim, both Steves and Rod split early from the group to explore the northern mines while the rest of the group stayed with Karen as we slowly moved around the hill.  When we got to the southern section of the big hill and saw all the old mines come to view, even I sped up to use that extra time to explore the large mine that's visible from Gleeson road.

There were other people exploring some of these south-facing mines, decked out with lamps and hammers.  They came down from Phoenix and were telling me they were allowed to be inside the mine, moving around in the dark as the headlamps revealed colorful minerals in the walls of the mine.

I walked around the outside of the old mines, hoping to meet up with the rest of the group.  The vanguard returned but said they didn't find the "Mystery Mine," the one that allegedly tunnels its way through the hill.  When we all gathered up again, we drove to the host house where we mingled over chips and beer.  I was the last to leave, forgetting the time and not leaving until the near fullmoon rose over the hills at 4:40pm.  Watching the moon rise from their home is quite a scene as their home is on its own hilltop, secluded from noisy neighbors or nuisance dogs.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Lehner Mammoth Kill site loop

I'm back to working days but all day today I kept thinking of doing another walk near the Lehner Mammoth kill site at 4pm.  A speeding USBP van raced east on Hereford road toward the river as I was on my way to the site, making me wonder if there was something going on in the area.  I quickly forgot about any danger though and began my walk at 4:07pm.  Skies were overcast and it was 62F with no wind; a lovely time for a walk.

I started from the Lehner parking area.  This time I even read the sign.  The site is named after the Land owner, Ed Lehner, who discovered mammoth, tapir, bison and horse bones in 1952.  He donated this parking lot  to the public.  The parking area is 150' above the San Pedro river, with an expansive view of the Huachuca mountains.  This would be an ideal location for sunrise/sunset photography..

The trail is a mowed dirt road along a property line.  The trail isn't marked here, but I knew that the trail went south to the home line and the Casa de San Pedro B&B.  This linear trail then turns east toward the river, and parallels E Waters Road, which dead ends at the B&B.

I had been to this part of the river several times.  One has to be cautious as visitors to the B&B walk here to look for birds.  I passed one man who seemed worried about my dogs and turned around.  All my dogs were worried about was getting into the water.  The river is at the halfway mark of this rectangular route I took today.  I could have left my camelbak at home as the dogs watered themselves. 

The river is narrow here and snags tend to get jammed up.  I noticed the B&B owner cleared the snags, but the water didn't look the best.  The banks were heavily eroded as well.  I've hiked back to the Hereford Road parking area from this location, but today I had to hike at a steady pace before sunset and only did the big rectangle.

There were no other people besides the elderly man with the binoculars.  From the river I then walked north along the bank until the riverpath rejoined the main trail for 1/4 mile.  I then came across a mowed section that Susan had mentioned yesterday and took that back west.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lehner Kill site, San Pedro Riparian NCA

I had always wanted to see this Mammoth kill site, discovered by the land owner who was kind enough to make the site public.  This is where Clovis people 13,000 years ago ran wildlife into the nearby cliffs (now an eroded wash) where butchering tools have been found along with animal bones.  The bones and actual site is unmarked, but there is a rather nondescript plaque on a high point off E Lehner Road, a dirt road off the east side of Palominas Road.

SusanM, SteveT and I met at 10am with all of our dogs (six total!) at the Hereford Bridge trailhead parking area just west of the San Pedro River.  Steve and Trace were the first to arrive, then me and my four barking dogs, then Susan with her gentle Allie.  The only person we encountered was a trailrunner at the site who parked his Ford F-150 to run the three-mile loop.

Susan was right when she said the trail had been mowed.  No longer were six-feet-high grass blades slicing and dicing me as we followed the trail south, first toward the river and then to the kill site.  The first half-mile south to the first maintenance road is always overgrown and grows dense with vegetation by late summer, making this section hard to follow if left unmowed.

Weather was mild, upper 50s and overcast.  This is the kind of weather that's ideal for this exposed trail.  The only nuisance today was all the tumbleweed along the access trail to the river.  It had piled up over six feet high.

"I was hoping the equestrians [who use this trail] would have cleared this!" said Susan.  So had I!  Picking up tumbleweed and tossing it off the trail was the least fun part about this hike.

The dogs splashed around in the water.  Allie stayed with her mom on the banks but my dogs got wet and wild.  Minnie goes nucking futs whenever I throw her a stick, then Sadie wants said stick but never bothers to run after it.  After a few fetching rounds, we resumed our walk to the kill site.

The site is not marked from this vantage point, so Susan led the way.  On the southwest bend of the loop trail, there's a partial old stone wall, perhaps remnants of a dam.  That is where we cut off the trail to continue walking in the narrow wash.  Exposed roots of acacia and mesquite dangle along the edge, desperately clinging to life.  I can see how flash floods would seriously erode the canyon, perhaps change its course, and bury whatever ancient bones may still remain buried.  The dense desert shrubbery would make walking here at night treacherous, but provide valuable shade during the day.  Heavy footprints in the narrow wash allude to recent human traffic through here; a perfect course for border crossers to hide from the USBP as they would be below the horizon.

Trace flushed a large covey of quail on our return hike.  That dog gets so excited when he sees birds.  His hunting skills come out and he's enjoyable to watch.

I was a little disappointed that all we saw was a plaque describing the kill site.  We could have driven to this site from Palominas Road!  At least it made a nice hike destination. I also discovered where the trail diverts around the homes in Palominas and travels west-east rather than north-south.  No wonder I could never find the trail once I reached the homes off the trail, because there is no through-way in town.

We used the rock ledge at the plaque to sit on, eat some snacks and give the dogs some water.  The rock ledge is where once the BLM had a wooden sign designating this as the "Lehner Mammoth Kill Site."   All that remain of the sign are the two wooden posts that once held up the sign.  At least it made a nice place to sit, free from pokey desert flora and fauna.

Sadie and Minnie rested in the shade.  A cool breeze refreshed us before we resumed our walk back on the western loop back to the parking area, a 1.52-mile route.  The total mileage was just under 3.5 miles.  My GPS tracker stopped briefly so I don't have an accurate tracking of the entire loop, but I do have the return walk from the kill site recorded.

This isn't a bad hike, just a boring hike away from the river if one is alone.  The proximity to the border makes this a hike I would not recommend doing alone, but it makes a nice half-mile addition if one is doing the loop hike.

I was back home shortly after 1pm.  An hour later I had to get ready for my last evening shift at the night school.  Once there, I got a group text from my son Eric: he had landed in Baltimore!  His six-month deployment to Niamey, Nigers is finally over, but I won't sigh with relief until he is back at his assigned air force base with his wife Margaret.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Another pretty sunrise hike; a walk along the river

This is my last sunrise hike as tomorrow I have an 8am dental appointment and on Wednesday I'm back to working days.  It was another lovely sunrise with all four dogs.

I started at 6:50am, the sun rose at 7:20am.  This time there was no precipitation in the air to cast a pastel hue over the horizon.  I also brought my better cellphone camera to capture the event.  We met the same USBP agent from a weeks ago, sitting in the same unmarked vehicle in the same spot on the north-south stretch of my route, scoping out the mountains to our west.  I even got to meet his dog, a pretty black and red German Shepherd Dog.  I wish now I had asked for its name.  The dog was non-aggressive toward my dogs as my dogs circled it to sniff it out, front and back.

Minnie was tired when I got home just before 9am.  I made some coffee and wanted to edit this blog when Susan texted me asking what time I wanted to get together with her for a hike along the river.  I had totally forgotten that we had wanted to get together today.  Minnie needed to rest and I kept Sweetie at home, so I snuck both Zeke and Sadie out the back door and drove down to the San Pedro river by the Hereford bridge.  Susan suggested hiking north for a stretch.

Sadie is normally grumpy around other dogs, but she seemed indifferent to Allie.  That's probably because both dogs were off leash.  Off-leash dogs are less aggressive toward each other.  Sadie stayed by my side while Zeke was more willing to hang out with Allie, although soon all three dogs were going their own way, yet stayed close to both Susan and me.

Susan noted that someone had cut down the tall grass in the area.  I speculated that it was a paid drug cartel member who lives nearby.  We were on a social trail, not an official trail, and the BLM does not have the tools here to mow down the grass along the river.  We saw cut blades and branches

We came across another cross erected by the Pilgrimage of Remembrance group.   These crosses are popping up all over the county now. It was just outside the treeline. This one depicted a woman's name, with the additional "Eight months pregnant."  Regardless of how people feel about illegals crossing our border, dying of dehydration is not a pretty sight.  The woman was most likely abandoned by her smuggler and she died suffering.

"I came to this country for a better life.  I did not come here for the hand-outs," Susan said, commenting on how many Americans accuse illegal immigrants of coming here for welfare, when all they really want is a steady job and a better life for themselves.

The river was flowing steadily.  There was evidence of recent flooding in some areas, as the tall grass was bent over northbound (downstream) along the banks.  The bank was also very muddy.  We saw some mallards, a couple of hawks again, but no other people.  Susan even pointed out a tunnel that a beaver dug to get to the river.  This tunnel was right off the trail and could easily trip someone walking here at night and inflict some serious body injury. We walked as far as the trail would take us safely, but turned around at the mile mark, making this a pleasant two-mile walk.

We will repeat this walk tomorrow at 10am, but this time hike south from the bridge and do a loop hike.  I will bring Minnie tomorrow for sure as she is my bonafide waterdog.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

San Pedro House and nearby trails

The San Pedro House near the San Pedro River is a popular birding spot.  It's along the 29-mile San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA).  A hiking trail that starts at the international border follows the river to just below St. David.  Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the house is staffed by volunteers of the Friends of the San Pedro River.  Books on birds, the regional history of both the Apache and European settlers are sold here. Hummingbird feeders, benches and an open field near the river make this also a popular spot for hikers and photographers. 

A new Facebook Community calling itself "Huachuca's Hikers Anonymous hosted a six-mile hike here at 9:30am.  The local Facebook community was formed just last month.  I invited Galen, SteveT and SusanM to join me.  Steve and Susan brought their dogs as well.  I brought Zeke and together we had a dog walk.

This was my first walk with the Hiker's Anonymous.  Twenty-five people showed up.  Outside of my four friends, I didn't recognize anyone else.  Small groups of people stood around in the vast parking lot, but the group never officially united.  I chatted with a few people, some who also brought their dogs, and at 9:35am the big group just took off.  Galen, Steve, Susan and I simply followed.  Now I know why this hiking group is called the Hiker's Anonymous:  no one made formal introductions and I have no idea who the hike leader was!

I stay in the back (or front) of a group when I'm with my dogs in a group of people. This prevents people tripping over them.   Today I stayed in the rear.  The rest of the hikers quickly took off.   We all headed toward the river  and then took a turn north.  The big group disappeared in the treeline and tall grass while I stayed with Steve and Susan and dogs Trace and Allie.  It was the last we saw of them. Allie is Susan's newest dog, a gentle dog of German shepherd/Golden Retriever mix.  Trace showed quite an interest in Allie, but Zeke stayed by my side.

We were soon on our own, just us three humans and three dogs.  We then made this a private dog walk, taking our time as we meandered north along the river.  We came across a red cross commemorating the death of a migrant (the crosses are erected by a non-profit group called Pilgrimage of Remembrance), then saw two Cooper's Hawks fly overhead, one carrying a snake in its talons.  We did come up to two people in the initial group but it was obvious they had broken off from the main group.

The two-mile northern loop connects with the main trail via a wash for 1/4 mile before heading back south toward the parking lot.  Susan stopped here and went home, not wanting to overtax Allie, but Steve and I ventured on, continuing on the southern loop around Kingfisher pond, a popular gathering spot for birders.  We saw a group of birders and quietly went around the pond to avoid them.  Trace flushed out a flock of small birds (much to the chagrin of the birders, I'm sure) as we looped around the opposite side of the pond.

We came across a few other dog walkers, but once away from the pond, we were back on open (re: boring) terrain.  In the summer this part is hot and exposed.  The BLM seems to use this southern section as a dumping ground, as we came across a mound of rolled concertina wire and other security items off trail. Today our dogs enjoyed the exercise.  The trail had dried up nicely since the rain and snow from earlier this year.

We were done at 11:56.  We had walked 4.6 miles in around 2:30 hours.  It was a calming walk with like-minded people and friends. Weather was ideal, with little wind and just enough chill to stay warm while walking.  We came across a few hikers who had done the entire hike, 6.6 miles, at the San Pedro House.  Galen and his wife Sunny were some of the hikers.

Steve and I finished off the hike with a visit to our local taphouse.  I got back home at 2:30pm.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Sunrise after the rain

Moisture in the air at sunrise creates some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Thursday morning was such an example. Daylight began under heavy cloud cover.

I got the dogs packed and drove to my usual spot on a forest service road off AZ92, three miles from the house.  It was 6:40 and sunrise wasn't slated to begin until 7:20am.  The dogs were barely out of the Honda and marking their territory when another car pulled in across from me.  Normally the few vehicles I see on this short road are Forest Service, BLM or USBP vehicles, and they all drive on to the multi-agency workshop down the road.  This vehicle, however, parked across from where the dogs like to defecate.  What was going on?

It turns out it was an amateur photographer who wanted to photograph the sunrise.  He pulled out his tripod and wanted to set up at this location. Downed grass in that area from weeks ago made me think someone had pulled over to carcamp there, but this man probably had been here before several times.  We stopped to chat and introduced each other.  The dogs gave him a thorough sniffdown but weren't barking or growling.  The startled man is Sean Y. It turns out we both are members of the Facebook group "Cochise County and Its Wonders" and contribute photographs of the area.  I haven't been active since 2016 when my Canon 6D took fog damage from my road trip to Washington state, but I still enjoy looking at others' photographs.  I feel so lucky living in such beautiful country.

Ten minutes later, by 6:50, morning nautical twilight brought in enough light for me to walk safely.  I walked my usual Z route, first east, then north, then east again, then turning around and returning the way I came.  This way I have mostly an eastern look at the horizon as the sun slowly pushes its way up over the Mule mountains.  Today's light was a beautiful pastel of orange, pink and reds as the moisture in the air created a watercolor painting.  I regretted not having my LG v30 phone with me and only my LG Stylo4.  The stylo simply doesn't take eye-catching photos as the more advanced v30s.

Once the sun came up, though, the light quickly dulled.  The low clouds prevented any more colors to form as the sun quickly hid behind the clouds.

Sunset was as spectacular as the sunrise, with precipitation still in the air.  This time, though, I was at the Alternative Learning Center and couldn't go outside to photograph the splendor.

The man I met in the morning, however, posted his photograph on the Facebook group and mentioned the dogs and me. (Click on the photograph to enlarge it)

Friday, January 4, 2019

Mount Kessler outside Fayetteville, AR

Distance: 5.6
Elevation range: Start at 1204' to peak at 1724'
Significance: just to the southwest of Fayetteville, close network of trails for mountainbikers and hikers.  Great photographic opportunities after heavy rain, when green and yellow lichen and fungi stick out.

Fayetteville, AR never got the snow that blew north across Missouri overnight.  Instead I endured a cold, steady rain.  My 85-mile drive into town took me most of the night, as I kept stopping every ten miles to rest, then fall asleep and not get up again until my cold feet woke me up.  At least traffic on I-49 is much less congested than on I-44 into Oklahoma. I made it to Fayetteville at sunrise, and saw the day begin at Bolder Coffeeshop, a hip coffee joint on a hill outside the University of Arkansas.  I never got to explore the historic downtown area; that will have to wait until my next visit.

The rain had stopped as I was ready to leave and continue on to Fort Smith, prompting me to take advantage of hiking in the Kessler Mountain Regional Park outside of town.  Alltrails lists this as a network of mountainbike trails around Mount Kessler, a forested hilltop with radio towers on top.  I chose this area to hike as it was along my route of travel.  Mount Kessler is a ridge with a dominant north-south trail network and part of the regional park complex.

I lucked out with this gem of a trail.  I pulled into a large parking lot next to a soccer and baseball field.  Basketball courts, restrooms and a large playground are also included.  There is some construction equipment along the hillside, either because of a landslide or because of recent construction.  I parked near the Mount Kessler sign and took off right behind another man also determined to head up the hill.  I ended up following him for most of the way.

The rain had stopped, but I was now in a cold fog which got denser the higher I got.  I was on the Terrapin Station trail which followed the east side of the hill, then it intersected with the Trent Trail on the north end.  There are other trails here and all are well-marked with poles.  Additional colored symbols on these poles indicate the difficulty of the trails.  I didn't understand the various symbols and just wanted to head on uphill.

I quickly lost the man in front of me as we neared the top.  We took separate trails here.  The fog was very dense now, but the fog also emphasized the colors of the lichen.  Water was gushing down every crevice, forming pools near the trail that I'm sure are not always there.  Once I looped around the north end and ended up on the Eggbeater trail (what kind of name is that for a trail?) I was away from traffic noise from the city and now in solitude. It felt like a wilderness forest. I saw unique rock formations everywhere!  Slippery leaves and large roots make the trails a real challenge (despite the easy grade), but there were no mountainbikers out this morning after the steady rain.

I wanted to reach the peak and followed whatever trail to get there.  I ended up at a gated radio tower on the south end of the mountain, but then saw the man from earlier and caught up to him.  He was Bill, retired Navy, who moved here to Fayetteville 22 years ago.  He loves hiking like I do and gave me other tips for local hikes, all which I would have to explore another time.  He likes the Mount Kessler park.  "The city got a lot of money from the Walton foundation to build these trails" he added. We walked together for a short distance before I continued back down on the Trent trail and he continued north on the Serpatine trail.

My feet were wet from all the rain and I took a while to change into cleaner clothes once I got back to my Honda.  The Honda CR-V has held up nicely on this roadtrip, but I discovered that it is smaller than my Ford Escape, and harder to get dressed in!  Luckily I knew where my dry Cloats hiking boots were.

I had spent an exciting 2:30 hours in this park.  The rain had stopped and the sky had cleared yet the ground was still very drenched, but I knew I had to drive on.  Heading south to Fayetteville instead of west toward Tulsa last night meant I was now an hour and 60 miles off my route of travel and couldn't afford to dawdle long.  The drive farther along on I-49 into Fort Smith is a scenic drive over tall bridges and deep canyons before the land flattens out to what is now Fort Smith, the old frontier town developed as a guard town against the various Southeastern Indian tribes forced to make Oklahoma their home.  It lies on the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers. 

The fort is now an historic site managed by the National Park Service.  I have been here before and walked the trails along the river, which I did once again for another 1.2 miles of urban walking.  Oklahoma doesn't have much to offer hikers in the winter and I delayed entering Oklahoma for as long as I could.  Once I did drive into the state, it was a clear shot west on I-40.  The cheapest gas along my entire route of travel was in Shawnee, OK, where a gallon of regular unleaded was $1.61.

I didn't stop to walk around until I made it to Amarillo, where I stopped in the Long Wooden Spoon brewery for a Green Chile ale and Hefeweizen.  The owner recognized me from my July visit although we both forgot each other's names.  "Two more brewpubs have opened up in town since you were here" he told me. I will have to explore those on my next visit, as I like the quiet ambiance of this little brewery, I like the owners, and I like the beer.