There is a nice cross in front of the church.

July 17, 2014
by David Ryan
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Wandering East of Albuquerque

Earlier this week, the dogs and I took a drive to the other side of the mountains east of Albuquerque to hike on a trail in the Manzano Mountains that we hadn’t walked on for a while. Our route took us through several land grant communities that have their roots back to the days when this part of the country was held by Mexico.

The land was granted in the 1830s and 1840s as a buffer against potential encroachment from Texas and the United States. When the communities were settled, their economy was based upon raising sheep.

Being far away from the Rio Grande and isolated on the other side of the mountains, they would have been in constant danger from raids by hostile Plains Indians. It would have been a very tough life. Many descendants of the original settlers still live in the area today.

Even though the communities are less than fifty miles from Albuquerque, there is still a sense of isolation and of it being a different place. Once past the outskirts of Albuquerque the first community on our route was Escobosa. Other than a highway sign and a small church, there is not much to identify Escobosa as a settlement.

San Ysidro Church in Escobosa

San Ysidro Church in Escobosa

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After a brief walk, we're now following an active acequia. Without the ditch we would be walking through a barren desert.

June 29, 2014
by David Ryan
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Ditch Wandering from a Co-Housing Community

For the past week and a half, my wife Claudia and I have been moving into a brand new co-housing community not too far from the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. In addition to simplifying our lives by living with less space in a different type of community, I must admit that one of my motivations for moving to our new home was to be closer to the Rio Grande’s amazing network of acequias.

Acequias are small community-run irrigation ditches. The acequias in the Albuquerque area were updated several decades ago and are now managed by the Middle Rio Grande Conservation District. The Spanish brought acequias to New Mexico over 300 years ago and New Mexico is one of the few places in the country where you can find them.

As natural corridors, acequias are incredible places to wander. In fact, many of the posts in this blog mention them. Needless to say, we have been taking advantage of the cool morning temperatures to check out the acequias near our home.

Here are some pictures of what we have discovered so far.

Here's our townhome in the community.

Here’s our townhome within the community.

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Here's Dan Koeppel telling us something the neighborhood.

June 8, 2014
by David Ryan
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Wandering with the Big Parade in Los Angeles

One week ago I finally made it to the Big Parade in Los Angeles. The Big Parade is a public stairway walk, now in its sixth year, conceived and organized by the writer Dan Koeppel. I first learned about the Big Parade and the whole notion of public stairways in an article that Dan wrote for the September 2010 issue of Backpacker Magazine.

Within two weeks of reading the article I was on my way to Los Angeles to spend my entire time in town walking around neighborhoods and climbing stairways. It was and still is one of the best trips that I have ever taken.

What makes the stairways so appealing for wandering is that they were built for people traveling on foot. They provide short cuts and allow you to go where a car cannot go. And when you wander on foot you have given yourself the opportunity to be right here, right now. When you do that you can see all that is around you and see that it is all wonderful as you explore new neighborhoods.

Dan developed the Big Parade to share the stairways with people who may not know about them. Going on the Big Parade is good way to learn where they’re located and to get started. Once you know that they’re there, you can then go out and start wandering on your own.

If you live in Los Angeles I suggest that you get a copy of Finding Los Angeles by Foot: Stairstreet, Bridge, Pathway and Lane by Bob Inman. The book is indispensable for the walker as it covers every neighborhood of Los Angeles that has a way to get around on foot. The book is available at Amazon.

Rather than keep talking about the Big Parade, let me show you some of what we saw along the way.

Day One of the Big Parade began in downtown LA and worked its way to Echo Park. Here we are climbing up a stairway in Echo Park.

Day One of the Big Parade began in downtown LA and worked its way to Echo Park. Here we are climbing up a stairway in Echo Park.

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