Miasma: mi⋅as⋅ma – noun, plural -mas, -ma⋅ta. 1. Noxious exhalations from putrescent organic matter; poisonous effluvia or germs polluting the atmosphere.

We decided on late Friday or early Saturday that this past weekend was the one to escape the city, with its polluted air full of State Fair stench, fall "enchantment" and just too strong breeze. Sunday morning we sent out a trial balloon in the form of a family jaunt down to the Manzanos. Would the fabled bigtooth red maples of Fourth of July Canyon be in their peak glory?

We packed a day’s worth of snacks and water, along with the family mutt, and headed out at a good early hour of 10am.

On the drive in on Forest Road 55 (turning at the church in Tajique), we were hit with a stark and beautiful hillside full of charred ponderosa pine trunks. When the mountain is cleared of the trees by that “works-in-mysterious-ways” otherwise fecund Mother Nature, one can really see the lay of the land, the slope of the terrain, and an ever rare glimpse of the understorey-- bright green in the shining sun, with wild flowers strewn about. On this, our 6th or 7th trip out there, it really was new. Even though we didn't see her.

Another new element in this particular trip was the chance sighting of what I think was a Black Bear, even though it was a golden medium brown, not even approaching a darkness that most of the pictures of Black Bears seem to have. Oh, now I get it... Also, in my obsessive web searching I did find this, which is pretty cool even though it's from 2003. Most exciting was the fact that our 5–year-old daughter saw it, even though she was in the back seat.

Here are a couple of pics of what we saw when we got there. I would estimate that it was just pre-peak in terms of foliage, and that this upcoming weekend will be a treat to behold.

Even though there were a bunch on the ground in a few places, I think the best viewing days are still ahead.

Afterwards, we ventured another 5 or so miles south, past Torreon, to an off-the-beaten-path destination that caters to corporate retreats, team building events, and sports teams in need of a country-fied training site. Manzano Mountain Retreat has a giant swimming pool, full size soccer field, 30-foot climbing wall, and most importantly for those of us who value Fall as the greatest gift the seasons bestow—a country farm stand selling apples and cider.

Simply called “Apple Store”, it features two things- apples and cider. On this trip we bought a pre-bagged peck of Jonalicious for $13.50 and a nice small selection of Ozark Golds for $1.50/lb. [Here's a really cool ripening schedule.] Add in a gallon of cider featuring a combo of three varieties (the combination changes all the time…) and the sum total was $21.00. Bring cash or checks- they don’t accept credit cards.

In typical New Mexico fashion, there is no real permanent, professional signage out there, just look for a white sign on the West side of Highway 55 with the painted apple on it that says “Apples and Cider”. It’s County road A003, if memory serves (yep). Once you've turned onto A-003, you'll travel a short awhile on this paved road with homes spread out on each side, and then there will be a sharp turn to the right and dip where a gullywasher has filled the road with dirt and rocks, you’re doing all right and it's just around the next bend to the left. If memory serves...

Free samples of cider await you.

Views: 4

Comment by cathyray on September 30, 2009 at 9:13am
sounds like fun
Comment by abqmom on September 30, 2009 at 9:23am
thanks for the tips and pictures Mass!!! we will head out there this weekend...
Comment by W.Hughes Antonio on September 30, 2009 at 10:27am
Great post- apple stands + colored leaves= fall. Nice.
Comment by Ron Da Bomb on September 30, 2009 at 1:32pm
Absolutely my favorite time of the year...
Comment by Emily on September 30, 2009 at 2:44pm
It was a Cinnamon Bear (not kidding). It's a subspecies of black bear, only it's not black. I saw one in the Sandias last summer and researched it because I thought we only had "black" bears here and this one was decidedly brown.
Comment by cc on October 4, 2009 at 10:46am
Thanks for this!!! Love the apple chart - what a biz - the Apple Store.

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