What was going to be a simple walk through Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, located on the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, became, instead, a walk that presented three challenges for us.
The drive to the park led us through neighborhood streets and down a street with a "No Outlet" sign on the corner and a driveway into the park's parking lot. After picking up a map of some of the trails through the park, we set out for the River Loop Trail, one of the two trails that led into the cottonwood forest (or Bosque) from the visitor center.
We soon faced our first challenge. The metal beams arranged in an "X" fashion appeared to block the trail. However, behind the shrub in the center of the photo (above) was a space that provided easy access to the trail. A challenge easily overcome.
We had come to the park to catch a glimpse of the colors of Fall. We have missed the panorama of brilliant reds, oranges, and gold of New England, Route 6 across the northern part of Pennsylvania, and the drive along highway 32 north of New Hope, PA.
The second challenge presented to us on this walk was to find some showy examples of Fall in the Southwest.
We were late in the season, so many of the trees had already lost many of their leaves, and even those that remained had lost their color.
However, the challenge was there.
We continued on the River Loop.
We came upon this grouping of muted colors, but one additional contribution from Nature was needed.
Sunlight. Brilliant sunlight.
We continued along the trail. We couldn't look for the classic panoramic Fall scenes to photograph, so we sought out the small scenes that had blasts of color.
After completing the River Loop Trail, we took a turn and joined the Bosque Loop Trail.
On a couple of occasions, our walk was supplemented with the sounds of the sand hill cranes. These early arrivals of the wintering cranes presented a welcome sound for the neighborhood residents.
Their arrival presented a third challenge for us--photograph the sandhill cranes.
The Rio Grande Nature Center overlooks a thriving pond that attracts a variety of wildlife, including Canada geese, sandhill cranes (four are shown in the photo above), several species of ducks, and coyote.
To the north of the Nature Center, visitors can observe wildlife enjoying the Candelaria Farm Wetland Preserve. The Wetland is part of an ongoing effort to restore lost habitat in the Rio Grande floodplain.
We were pleased to have seen a few cranes and thought that the challenges presented to us had been met.