Time lapse video of the sunset as seen from my back yard. January 21, 2017. Los Lunas, New Mexico
The last few months have been incredibly abundant but, into every life a season of newness must occur from time to time, and that season is now.
New location, new house filled with new stuff and, last but not least, a bouncing baby new car.
It’s a 2017 Chevrolet Cruze and, while I’ve never had a car this big, this red, or this American before, I have to admit that I am completely smitten with it. Lots of giddy-up and great gas mileage to boot!
Suffice to say, life is good in 2018. 🙂
I got home a little later than I meant to but here is tonight’s sunset.
This first video is from tonight’s sunset.
The others are a mix of sunrises and sunsets. All are shot in the last couple weeks from my yard in Los Lunas with an iPhone 6 SE.
Last night’s sunset. January 8, 2018
Sunset. January 2, 2018
Sunset. December 31, 2017
Sunrise. January 6, 2018
Sunset. January 3, 2018
Sunrise. January 1,2018.
New Mexico. Xavier and I have been here for a little over a month now and all I do is stare at the sky. I have loads of photos, time lapse videos, and wine reviews to get posted but for now I’ll settle for the photos.
All images created with the iPhone 6 SE and Snapseed. Most are shot from my yard.
Our time here in Maryland grows short. Big transactions are taking place and in a few months our new house (from Clayton Homes) will be delivered to this land near the Manzano Mountains in New Mexico.
It is what keeps me going day after day.
I grew up on this land and it’s time to go home and be near my family.
I can’t wait to visit all the local wineries and be able to buy wine at Costco and Trader Joe’s (can’t do that in Maryland). Did you know there is a winery in Albuquerque that has both red and green chili wine?
Most importantly, Xavier and I want an actual home that is not an apartment. We want to have our own space, our own yard, a workshop; our very own hippie homestead with wind turbines, solar panels, and rain collection barrels. (And Wi-Fi… don’t forget the Wi-Fi)
But we want a certain type of lifestyle too. We want to fly light.
That means living with low overhead. Buying a home that is easily affordable instead of barely affordable. We’re minimalist in that regard. We want to spend our money on adventures and experiences instead of on unnecessarily inflated bills.
At first we had planned to buy a tiny house but that proved to be impractical for a whole host of technical reasons, like zoning laws say for instance. As it turned out, it made a whole lot more sense to buy a manufactured home. It’s still small but not so tiny that it has a weed sprayer shower or an electric hotplate for a stove plus I won’t have to be hoisting my dog up a ladder every night when we go to bed.
I really didn’t want to hoist my dog up a ladder.
Anyway, New Mexico awaits, the wheels in the sky are turning and all we have to do is stay the course.
So long Maryland and hello New Mexico!
One of things about abandoned houses that makes them so interesting are the abandoned yards. Unnatural plants fighting for survival while mother nature encroaches. No one comes from the house to save them. Order is restored.
On February 19th, Xavier and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary by visiting Orchid Cellar Meadery & Winery for a tasting followed by a drive around Harper’s Ferry to look for cool abandoned houses and later in the evening we had an outstanding dinner at Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge in Germantown.
Mead is a peculiar substance that lays somewhere on the spectrum between wine and bourbon. It is made from honey and generally weighs in at around 17% alcohol. A little bit of Meade goes a long way.
Orchid Cellar Meadery & Winery charges only $7 for a general tasting and they let you keep the glass!
On the menu is an impressive selection of handcrafted Mead, wine, and honey wine. I can guarantee that you won’t be tasting anything like this anywhere else.
The honey brings a unique flavor that may seem foreign at first but it doesn’t take long to go from, “Oh, this is different.” to “Why is my glass empty?!?!”
For more information on the finer points of Mead and how it differs from wine, I highly recommend reading their FAQ page.
This wonderfully decrepit barn is just down the road from Orchid Cellar.
Venturing across the river into Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, we found several terrific specimens of abandoned house.
When I lived in New Mexico, I would never be satisfied with photographing abandoned houses from the side of the road. I would be all up in there, risking my life climbing stairs that would were barely standing and tromping over dead animals and piles of rat poo to take a good look around and to get the best photos.
In this part of the country, many of these houses are inhabited by vagrants and/or surrounded by No Trespassing signs and, more often than not, there is an overly protective neighbor within eye shot who has already written down your license plate number. Ergo, it is necessary to exhibit a bit more restraint when photographing abandoned houses in the east.
This house is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I stayed at the fence but I could totally see some awesome stuff through that broken window. Sadly, no way to get the shot from so far away.
This house, on the other hand, had no fence and was conveniently missing the front door. There was a No Trespassing sign nailed to a tree but I didn’t actually go inside and was speedy like The Flash so no photographers were shot during the creation of these images.
Everyone knows it’s bad feng shui for the front door to open onto a staircase and the maleficence oozing from the walls of this house will condensate on your face if you stand there too long. Whatever is in the room at the top of the stairs is just barely contained behind that sorry excuse for a door. Trust me, I know about these things.
Three ways not to get away with murder.
- Ensure that you are the beneficiary of the victim’s life insurance policy.
- Drug victim before drowning them in the bathtub. Wait two hours then call 911.
- Marry jail bait girlfriend less than a week later.
Xavier and I watch Forensic Files while enjoying our wine in the evenings. It is our new favorite show and from it we have learned some valuable tips such as: killing someone for life insurance money is a bad plan and that most murders can be avoided simply by getting divorced.
Why is divorce so expensive? Because it’s worth it.
Xavier brought home this bottle of Ravens Wood Merlot as a surprise and, it was indeed surprising.
I had never tried a Merlot because for some reason I thought I wouldn’t like it. Somewhere along the way someone probably told me that they didn’t like Merlot and I just took their word for it.
Ever find yourself in possession of an opinion that is completely unsubstantiated? You know, something along the lines of believing the Earth to be flat or that Jesus rode a pet dinosaur? Yeah, it’s just like that.
So he brings home this bottle of Merlot that I think I won’t like but agree to try anyway and, low-and-behold, turns out to be completely delicious!
Merlot is the proverbial garlic and Corn-Nuts of wine in the sense that if you have some, your date better have some too. This is a thick and juicy dark red wine, smooth and positively decadent, and it actually does taste just a very tiny bit like black olives. I found myself greedily slurping it down like eating grape jelly straight from the jar with a spoon BUT, and pay close attention to this part, it turned the entire inside of my mouth purple.
Not realizing that such a thing would occur, you could imagine my surprise when I went to brush my teeth and found myself looking like Danny DeVito in Batman Returns.
Dude, nothing says “Kiss Me”, like penguin mouth.
Now, this purple teeth business, I don’t mean to portray it as a deterrent but just some useful information for deciding when and where to enjoy a fine bottle of Merlot.
I say at home and preferably in the dark.
NOT in the car on the way to a first date.
My recommendation: Just like not wanting to be featured in an episode of Forensic Files, exercise a bit of discretion before uncorking the plan and everything will be just fine.
Elk Run is much smaller than the previous two wineries Xavier and I have visited. It is privately owned and operated and the owners live in a normal house at the other end of the driveway. The tasting room is unpretentious in every way; small and cozy and inhabited by an elderly gray cat.
On the surface nothing is fancy.
Until they pour the wine.
Thriving on a diet of magic dirt and unicorn tears, these are some exuberantly happy grapes. “That is fer-damn delicious.”, I said to Xavier while tasting the Cabernet Franc and the bartender let out a little involuntary snort.
We did the general tasting, which is six pre-selected wines for $6 per person.
The thing about a wine tasting is that it seems like just a few harmless sips but by the 6th taste the grapes have started talking and I ordered a glass of Cabernet Franc while engaging our friendly bartender in what she must have thought was a ridiculous conversation comparing the economic efficiency of a custom built tiny house VS. buying a less tiny manufactured home and tested her vast knowledge of viniculture with thoughtful and intelligent questions such as “How long does a grape vine live?”
Of the six wines that were served, there were three that I was particularly taken with: Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc and Sweet Katherine. I could be perfectly happy drinking those three wines for the rest of forever but, if I had to pick just one, it would be the Cabernet Franc.
Made with grapes grown in their Cold Friday Vineyard, the Cabernet Franc is a tall glass of deep red silk. Identifying all the subtle flavors could take time, lasting well into the dark hours of the night, so I recommend saving this bottle for an evening when you’ve got nowhere to be and can sleep-in the next morning.
They say the Cabernet Franc tastes of German Chocolate cake, ripe olives and black pepper, which I absolutely don’t recommend eating on the same plate, but when the subtleties of the flavors come together in the alchemy of a wine barrel the end result is impressive to say the least.
My recommendation: Have another glass. 🙂
On the way to Elk Run, we drove through Libertytown; home of many photo-worthy abandoned houses. A word to wise, be mindful of barriers like fences and No Trespassing signs. Gun-happy residents are often living nearby.