Thursday, March 26, 2009


To work out the pain from horseback riding yesterday, we and our 3 trusty travel companions set out on a hike! The first leg was only about 1/2 mile, but was very steep and about all the 3 fur balls and I could handle. (John is tireless!) So, we stumbled down and drove to an area that promised a less rigorous trail - 1/2 mile to the trailhead and then a 1.8 loop up and down around. Phew!! Some parts steep, but manageable! Somewhat worrisome were the signs posted everywhere about mountain lion and bear sightings... not just the usual metal posted signs, but xeroxed postings, too. But, we have Tiger, our trusted scout and lookout! No worries! The fur balls kept up pretty well, especially Tiger. The 2 girls got kind of hot and tired toward the end and took breaks...would just sit down in a smidge of shade and not move for a few minutes. They are like walking dust mops! They were filthy and full of dust at trail's end. Tiger had no white on him, only grey. And, the views from every vantage point were spectacular!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I've been nagging at John about this! Well, I finally got to do it! Ouch! What was I thinking?! After driving around the park all day, we went for a 2 hour Sunset Ride. I rode a palomino named Hank who travelled at a speed he determined and John was on Indy, a grey - Indy for Independence, not in spirit, but because he was born on the 4th of July. Now Hank would NOT go very fast no matter how hard I kicked, but he wouldn't let Indy get ahead of him. I finally started slapping him with the reins just to get him to move along. Indy just trotted along behind us. It was interesting! It was fun, but one hour would have been long enough. And, I don't need to do it again. This ole body was not made to do a split across a horse's back and then bounce around. John didn't moan and groan as much as I, but I think feels the same. Cowboys we'll never be!! So, I'll be content to look at the pretty horses from now on.....


Have I used the words awesome, majestic, gorgeous, etc. yet? Gee, I hope not because, if I have, I used them too soon.
The grandeur and majestic and serene beauty of Big Bend is indescribable. Big Bend covers 801,000 acres and is named for the "U-turn" the Rio Grande takes and forms Texas border with Mexico. History says that the Indians believed when the Great Spirit was making the earth he dumped all the leftover rocks on the Big Bend. Home to prehistoric Native Americans at least 10,000 years ago; then tribes of hunter-gathers and Spaniards who enslaved the local tribes. Let's not forget the Apaches and Comanches. Finally the Anglo-Americans moved in and prevailed.

It is spring and the desert is full of blooms! The ocotillo cacti were everywhere with their delicate looking sprays of orange blossoms. Delicate purple hued shrubs hinting at the spring growth. Huge hawks are circling above hunting for rabbits - which are everywhere nibbling away.

We went down to the banks of the Rio Grande which is not very wide at this point and could see where it flooded in 2008 and threatened huge swatches of the park. It is so green there in contrast with the rest of the area. Different flowers, too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


This place is pretty amazing!! We spent over 2 hours in just one section...The Big Room...which is 8.2 acres, 1800 ft. long and 250 wide. The loop around the Big Room is 1 mile. This is all after you take an elevator down 900 feet!! And, dark! The very definition of the word!

The cavern was formed 250-280 million years ago from limestone. And the limestone is home to fossils of ocean plants and animals. This area of New Mexico area once was a coastline like found today along the Florida Keys. It is just awesome! Hard to convey the scope or grandeur of it all. Considering the absolute black, some of these photos are difficult to see. We did not get to the actual "Natural Opening" of the cavern and have put the site on our visit again list. All the different formations have fanciful names...below for instance is "Tiger's Tail".

This one was not named. We gave it our own name....

And, lastly, the view from topside!

Friday, March 20, 2009

At The Ranch

We are at an Escapees Club RV park outside of Roswell enroute to Carlsbad Caverns. We had to stay at Cummins Engine's site in Albuquerque for a night to wait for a recall item be fixed... not a biggy. Something to do with our hitch.
Arrived here after driving 4 hours south past White Sands and Roswell and Valley of Fire, a lava flow landscape. All pretty, but nothing exciting. No aliens, no UFO's, no radioactive weirdos! White Sands/Trinity is the site of the first nuclear explosion in history.... July 16, 1945. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the fathers of the bomb supposedly read a poem from the The Bhagavad-Gita (Sanskrit) at the explosion...
If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky,
That would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...
I am become Death
The shatterer of Worlds.
Trinity's closeness, down the road, from the lava fields of Valley of Fire is all kind of thought provoking. And, right now it is thunder, lightening and rain.... the earth being shattered in a more natural way as opposed to nuclear explosions and volcanic eruptions. Then, toss in the supposed alien landing, etc. of Roswell... somebody play some eerie music, please.
All okay as the area needs it; the RV and car are getting free washes and we are snug inside. The pups aren't too sure about the thunder!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Santa Fe, NM

What a pretty place! Of course, you need to like or at least tolerate the Pueblo style! That's about all there is in Santa Fe. Lots of tourists - everywhere... Lots of traffic on the narrow old roads and difficult to find a place to park. The Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi is under renovation and so is all wrapped up in plastic and scaffolding plus mass was underway. The state run museums on Museum Hill were closed as it was Monday. We took a few pictures there and put the hill on our "next time" list. So, we roamed in the old district looking in shops, taking in the atmosphere. One of our stops was Loretto Chapel with its beautiful staircase supposedly built by a mystery carpenter after the nuns made a novena. He left without asking for payment. It is beautiful! The church is too. As impressive as grand cathedrals are, there is something comforting about small churches. Lots and lots of people everywhere! Lots and lots of beautiful turquoise and silver jewelry!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Old Town Albuquerque

It was a bright sunny day, for most of the day. We took a short trip to the downtown historical area. It is very pretty with a lot of interesting shops and the usual tourist junk. It is centered around a plaza anchored by a pretty and old church, San Felipe De Neri. The church has been in continous service since 1706 and was originally built by Francisican friars. Still in use, it is really pretty and tended to by the attached convent. In pretty good shape, but there are a lot of areas that need work. There is one courtyard in particular that is needy.

With a lot of little shops built around little plazas, there's a lot to see. LOTS of BEAUTIFUL silver and turquoise jewelry. But, John doesn't want to put a 2nd mortgage on the RV! Grump! So, we bought an Albuquerque Xmas ornament, had coffee and a pastry.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Petroglyph National Monument

Our national system of "monuments" is a true treasure...striving to maintain a link to our past, not as a nation, but as a continent. This park is no exception. We had been to a petroglyph park in Utah, state run not federal. It was fascinating. There the various petroglyphs told stories, showed maps... each etching connected to the other. Not here! On the site of 5 dormant volcanoes, encompassing over 7244 acres, 17 miles and over 20,000 carved images, Petroglyph National Monument is "monumental" in scope and history. The park is a bowl surrounded (basalt escarpment) and peppered with all sizes of black, basalt rocks. At first look, it doesn't look like much. You just need to start walking and really looking. The drawings are scattered here and there. Various upheavels have scattered the rocks everywhere. There is no way to show it. Its wonder is found in just walking in the park! Don't mean to wax philosophical, but some places just lend themselves to it.

Distant view of a petroglyph........................... Doesn't look like much, does it?
Now a view of the same rock...close and both sides. Look close. (Double click on the photo.) There are drawings on both visible sides.
The ground is littered with rocks that have just cascaded down the sides of the escarpment. We just kept hollering to one another, "Look, over there!" The area has been inhabited by and the etchings were done by a variety of peoples over a very long span of time. From 3000 BC to 500 AD, hunter-gatherers; 700 to 1300 AD by Anasazi farmers; and, after that, Spanish sheperds. And now just a sampling of the drawings we found.

All in all, one of those places that sneaks up on you! Just think... you are looking are looking at a drawing from 5000 years agoo!! Sticky notes won't make it that long. Also had a thought about a book I read years ago, "Chariot of the Gods" about alien space travelors back in ancient times. The book referenced drawings like some of these found all over South America and linked them to ones in the Middle East. Some do look like spacemen!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque NM

We're at Kirtland AFB and will be for about a week. The plan is to use this as home base for daily trips. Scratch today's plan as it is raining. So, we're snuggled in. It is pretty cool out, but spring is showing its face. Lots of pretty white and pink flowered trees in bloom or ready to burst open. Spotted some forsythia bushes starting to show their yellow flowers and tulip leaves are coming up all around. I missed all these living in Palm Desert. Back in the DC area this was my favorite time of year.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Meteor Crater


This past Tuesday we left the Grand Canyon and went to Meteor Crater RV Park. We spent a couple of hours up at the crater. This place is amazing! It looks like a lunar landscape and was used by NASA for Apollo astronauts to practice walking on the moon. It is 2.4 miles across and 550 feet deep. That means it is 60 stories down!! That means, if the Washington Monument were placed at the bottom of the crater, the top would be at eye level! The blurb says it is big enough to have 20 football games going at the same time with 2 million people viewing them from the sloped sides of the crater. A meteor about 150 across travelling about 26,000 miles per hour over 50,000 years ago struck the earth and WHAM!! The force of the collision was bigger than 20 million tons of TNT!! For years crater was thought to have been formed by a volcano. One guy persisted for 26 years to prove otherwise. The wind was howling at 50mph. The path around the rim was closed off. It was a challenge just walking from the parking lot, up the stairs and across the courtyard to the museum and observation areas!
Yes, that is a real space capsule! It is situated in the courtyard and it is sooo small. Can you imagine being in that hurtling back into Earth's atmosphere and splashing down into the ocean? Not me!! I don't do roller coasters or ferris wheels either!

Here's John standing in front of a diorama showing what it looks like to stand at the bottom of the crater. That building way in back of him is the one you can barely make out in the first crater photo.

And, just think, meteors are whizzing by Earth right now! There is a whole field of science that watches them and plots their courses. Just like California waiting for "The Big One", these scientists are waiting for another meteor to strike. Makes you feel secure, doesn't it?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Grand Canyon

There is nothing we can say to describe this place. It is simply too beautiful for words. It is the definition of awesome. Between the two of us, we took probably 75 pictures. No, I'm not going to post them all! Just a few... If you've visited the great cathedrals of the world (The Vatican, Notre Dame, Washington National, St. John's), but not been here, you've missed God's cathedral! Can't be topped!

We rode the various park shuttles early in the day, but treated ourselves to the Sunset Tour. It was worth it! The sunset did not cooperate, but we saw beautiful vistas and learned a lot from our tour guide. And, saw mule deer and big horn sheep! The majority of the original buildings at the park were designed by Mary Coulter who worked for Fred Harvey who built, owned and operated many hotels along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad line, including the one at the park. (Remember the movie with Judy Garland, THE HARVEY GIRLS? Same Harvey.) She used the local stones and Indian styles as inspiration. She designed the buildings to look as if they had been there a long time. Her fireplaces are just amazing! The one at Bright Angel Lodge is built in layers correctly reflecting the various layers of stone in the canyon. She even designed ashtrays to reflect the local Indian culture!

Just a few pictures of the Colorado River to close... keep in mind while looking at these photos that the Colorado is about 300 feet across (2 football fields) and is about 1 mile down! Scale is key!