As winter turned to spring in Albuquerque, my mind started thinking about photographing spring wildflowers. Although the winter had brought some snow and rain to New Mexico, precipitation in early spring had been sparse. Nevertheless, I talked myself into taking a short trip south to Las Cruces where the Organ Mountains have a reputation for a good wildflower show. I also talked Bruce, my photo buddy from San Diego, into meeting me there for a few days of photography. The objective was to find and photograph Mexican Gold Poppies with the Organ Mountains as a backdrop.
In preparation for this short excursion, I had contacted the Las Cruces Chapter of the New Mexico Native Plant Society to obtain current information about the wildflower bloom. One of their members, Gordon Berman, was nice enough to provide me with potential wildflower locations. But he warned that there had not been sufficient spring rain to generate a good bloom and that there was only a sprinkling of poppies scattered along the foothills of the Organ Mountains. His prediction proved correct and Bruce and I were only able find a few small clusters of poppies, but not the fields of flowers I had hoped for.
I suggested to Gordon Berman that it would be nice to meet him in person and we arranged to meet for lunch at La Posta, an old station along the Butterfield stage couch route, converted into a restaurant, in Mesilla, near Las Cruces. Gordon turned out to be quite the expert on native flowers many of which he grew in his yard. He sympathized with us about the lack of poppies and offered to take us to some uncommon cacti that were in bloom along the Dripping Springs Trail in the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks National Monument. That is where we photographed the Chihuahuan Pineapple Cactus and the New Mexico Rainbow Cactus.
During our last photo trip in August, 2022, Bruce and I had some success in photographing the Milky Way. So, on a whim, I checked if it were possible to photography the Milky Way in early April. I did not expect it, but it turned out to be possible during the early morning hours. So, I made arrangements for an early entry permit at White Sands National Park hoping to photograph the Milky Way with the white gypsum dunes in the foreground. We relocated to Alamogordo in order to be closer to the Park. We were up at 4:00 AM, out the door at 4:30 AM and at the Park entrance at 5:00 AM for our early entry. We had scouted photo locations the previous day so we would know where to place our tripods in the dark.
When all was said and done, Bruce and I had a great time. It was a bit disappointing that the Mexican Gold Poppies were scarce, but we had some good practice shooting the night sky. From Alamogordo we both headed home after a brief stop at Bosque del Apache and lunch at the Owl Café in San Antonia.