Thursday, December 18, 2008


I’m not one of those guys who takes his camera with him everywhere he goes. But I sure wish I would have had my camera with me today (the small grab-shot one that also shoots video). Why, you ask? Coz it’s another one of those days here on The High Plains of New Mexico… which is to say steady wind of 30+ mph and gusts to 60 mph, if you believe The WX Channel. And I do, Gentle Reader… I most certainly DO.

I’ve been putting off the bi-weekly commissary run for a lot longer than I should and this morning I finally decided to get off the dime and head out to the base. I knew we were in for some wind today, but the forecast said it wasn’t gonna hit us until 1300 hrs or thereabouts. Well, my timing sucked. I really, truly intended on getting gone early on this morning but as Fate would have it (read as: I dallied waaay too long over coffee) I didn’t hit the road until 1130. And the front blew in early.

Oh, Goodie.

But… about the camera. Windshield video would have amazed and mystified you, Gentle Reader, had I had the presence of mind to take the camera along with me on the run out to the base and back. The tumbleweeds were just amazing today… literally hundreds of the danged things traveling across the highway at incredible speeds and getting some astounding air from time to time… like 20 feet or more. And there are literally thousands of the danged things stuck in the perimeter fence that encircles Cannon Airplane Patch. About which… I (ahem) shot the breeze briefly with one of the guys here in Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park when I got home and he told me the t-weeds were SO bad they took down a length of the perimeter fence out at the base earlier today. I can believe it. The t-weeds are so thick at some points in the fence that you literally can NOT see through them. That’s a lot of tumbleweeds.

I also thought about going back out after I got home with the express intention of shooting a little bit of video for ya… but I didn’t. It’s just not nice out there at the moment.

A couple of shots of the t-weeds (a) along the back fence and (b) piled up next to my car-hauler. As always, click for larger.

Update: Kris, in comments, sez there's something romantic about tumbleweeds. Indeed. Here's a lil sumthin from my childhood on the subject:

How romantic is that, eh? I'd say "a lot." That's The Sons of the Pioneers singin' and playin' fer yew. They were BIG once upon a time.


  1. I remember when I was living in Dodge City back in 1980....some guy pulled up next to me at a local gas station with Illinois plates. He had a station wagon, adn the back was loaded with Tumble Weeds....I looked at him like WTH? He said he wanted to take them home and use them as decorations for his back yard.

    Go figure! The damn things were dead bushes, and could be found by the thousands in the southwest....This guy wanted to use them for landscape.

  2. Around here we have a type of grass I think that makes something like that but much smaller. My grandmother calls the gypsy devil weeds. Because they are always blowing in her house.

  3. I've never seen them. I know they are "dead bushes" but they is still something interesting and, dare I say it, romantic about them.

  4. Pat: Do a google image search on "tumbleweeds" and you'll see examples of that, and more.

    Ash: The bigger ones are most definitely gypsy devil weeds. One of 'em took out one of my fog lights a couple of years ago. And they're Hell on paint, too.

    Kris: You inspired me to update. There IS something romantic about 'em!

  5. Bec said:

    I always knew tumbleweeds as Russian thistles. Another neat name for them is wind witch. Fascinating plant. They're from Ukraine originally. Canada brought them over during the Depression for cattle feed. Speculation is that the thistle hitched a ride over here with Ukrainian immigrants way back.

    We love the Sons of the Pioneers! Our guys' band sings some of their songs and Jesse knows a lot about their history - he has almost every album available. One of the last members died only last August. Our favorite songs are Timber Trail and Ridin Home but here's one that made me think of you, for some reason, Buck. :)

  6. Many years ago (no, I ain't gonna say how many) Mom and Dad drove out to Washington to pick me up after my discharge from the Navy.
    On one of the side trips while driving across some of these United States, we visited Yellowstone Park (caught the daily limit of trout with no problem).
    On a of the highway was a large sign erected by the Wyoming Highway Department I believe, said:
    "Sagebrush Is Free. Stuff Some In Your Trunk." We kept laughing all the way back to Wisconsin.

  7. Yup, Russian Thistle. When I lived out in Pahrump and was commuting to Vegas, I saw some big-ass tumble weeds, the size of refrigerators some of them! Scary, when they seem to come out of nowhere and attack your car! I love how they've become this symbol of the Old West, when, like Bec said, they're not even native to the area.

  8. Hey Buck - we get tumble weeds here on the East Coast too! Got em rolling all over here on the base when the wind blows!

  9. Most of the time tumbleweeds can be dangersous - they blow into the paths of cars who swerve to miss them. I have seen them do damage to a car when lodged up under the car. Basically they are a pain in the bottom. Tumbleweeds can make pretty good Christmas trees if you spray paint them - Us Texans make do with whatever is handy.

  10. Always loved that song. Tumbleweeds are so central to much entertainment - in cartoons, as comic devices; to show desolation or a ghost town without lots of explanation in a drama; etc.

    We never get 'em up this way, of course. What we get is what we're expecting today - a foot of snow.

    I'll take the tumbleweeds, thanks.

  11. Bec sez: We love the Sons of the Pioneers!

    I grew up with 'em, Bec. Dad was a big fan, Mom not so much. She liked them but was more into the crooners and Big Bands. And that song you linked! Was it the "now I'm feeble and broken with age" line that made ya think of me? (just kiddin', LOL!) Imagine... if you will... Mom, Dad, and the very young me in our old Hudson, barreling down the road and singing along to that song on the crackly AM radio... it happened. More than a few times. ;-)

    Cat sez: On a of the highway was a large sign erected by the Wyoming Highway Department...

    That's great! Too bad ya don't see things like that any longer.

    Christina: While there weren't any really big ones on the road yesterday there were some large enough to make me swerve. As Lou mentions, they CAN do serious damage to your car.

    Alison: I never saw 'em when I lived back East... but I don't doubt you!

    Lou: re: tumbleweed Christmas trees... if you do that google image search you'll see several pics of "Christmas trees."

    Jim: Agreed on the foot of snow vs. tumbleweeds. You don't have to shovel tumbleweeds. You use a pitchfork. ;-)

  12. Bec said:

    Was it the "now I'm feeble and broken with age" line that made ya think of me?
    No, just the wild livin' part! :)

    My parents love the Sons of the Pioneers, too. They even heard them perform once in Miles City, Montana (which is where my parents met). And my dad's hero was Roy Rogers when he was growing up.

    I started our own family tradition way back of playing their album "Cool Water" on summer camping trips whenever our family ventured into the Virgin River Gorge to Utah (just up the road from you, Christina!) - and then again at the state line of Idaho/Wyoming. Ah, those were the days...
    (You managed to combine my two passions in one post, Buck. All things lead to Wyoming and Russia - however vague the mentions might be.)

    I can vividly imagine your family belting out that song, BTW!

  13. Tumbleweeds are an ugly plant and it looks like miserable weather in your neck of the woods. I think I would have stayed holed up as long as I wasn't out of peanut butter, smokes and beer.

    Next time take the video, I would have enjoyed seeing those tumbleweeds flying across the ground. I bet your running commentary would have been good too.

  14. Blogger ate my comment yesterday! LOL!

    I have often wondered if I could make a killing on Ebay selling large tumbleweeds with Christmas lights on them, call them New Mexico Christmas trees. haha!

  15. Beautiful photo, Bec.

    re: All things lead to Wyoming and Russia - however vague the mentions might be.

    I've kinda-sorta noticed that, ya know. ;-)

    And I still owe ya an essay or three on my trips to Moscow... lo, these many (2?) years.

    Daphne sez: Next time take the video, I would have enjoyed seeing those tumbleweeds flying across the ground. I bet your running commentary would have been good too.

    I really considered going back out yesterday, Daphne, coz the combination of wind and a bumper tumbleweed crop was quite unlike anything I've seen in my six years here. Missed opportunities, and all that...

    Jenny: I'm betting you WOULD make a fortune with NM Christmas Trees! The only issue I see is packing and shipping 'em. That could be a bit tricky.


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