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New Mexico surge


Social distancing at Ft. Union. My walk back to the housing area (rooftops on the left). (Click on photos to enlarge)

It’s been a busy week since I last posted to the blog. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued strict restrictions due to a surge in COVID-19 cases from last Monday until Nov. 30. People are ordered to stay at home except for essential activities. Non-essential businesses have to stop in-person services and essential businesses are to limit their capacity. The state has travel restriction if you enter New Mexico. There has been a mask mandate for anywhere outside your home. In announcing the restrictions, she said, “Make plans for a different kind of Thanksgiving – one without non-household members.”

The numbers are not high by New York standards but the total population is not large so the rate of infection is high for many counties. Fortunately I’m in Mora County, which is 1,934 square miles, population 4,881. They reported 2 cases on Friday.

The Ft. Union park is still open but the visitors center is closed. Brochures are out on a table at the entrance and the trail through the fort is self-guiding. The rangers are good about wearing masks in their offices and around the housing area. It is strange to be isolated out here and seeing occasional news reports.

From what I’ve seen, people seem to be taking this seriously. I went shopping this past Thursday in Las Vegas and the Lowe’s grocery store had many signs at the door an inside instructing shoppers to social distance. They say keep 2 carts apart – roughly six feet. Lots of markings on the floor at the checkout for where to stand and where not to stand. At Semilla Natural Food the precautions were the similar.

For me, it’s pretty low risk at the park. Walking to the visitors center I might see one of the maintenance rangers in his truck drive by. Sometimes there are no visitors in the parking area or park. I did talk in the offices with rangers Mary and BJ yesterday about doing a video interview for their social media as a substitute for the program I usually do as artist-in-residence. And they nicely invited me to the Thanksgiving dinner here in the housing area. If the weather is warm, we’ll eat outside. If it is cold we’ll get our plates and return to our apartments. I just ordered a pie from Pedro’s Bakery in Las Vegas and will report after I pick it up.

The moon has been in a very beautiful crescent phase, getting larger every day this week. I’ve been out every night, sometimes late. I’ve been working on some different ideas about photos and also making some time lapse videos. During these few days, the moon lights up the landscape without washing out the stars. Soon the moon will be too bright, but the last few days have been productive.

Lowe’s signs inside the grocery store.
Beautiful two-day old moon setting. Earthshine can be seen here, a phenomenon observed and described by Leonardo da Vinci. Sunlight reflects off the Earth which then illuminates the night side of the moon (the non-crescent part).
Wagon wheel in the corral lit by the moon.
The International Space Station flies over one of the chimney remnants Friday evening. The 3-minute exposure depicts the station as a streak going through the plane of our galaxy.
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