Things can only get better! Yesterday we went on a little hike to El Malpais. The last couple of weeks have been crazy with the beginning school and managing to get a bad cold on top of that not to mention two amazing weekends in my new home state of New Mexico.
El Malpais is a National Monument which has some great hiking trails and it is just outside of Grants. Check out the NPS website here: El Malpais- National Park Service.
The wildflowers were blooming! I didn't realize that New Mexico would be so beautiful this time of the year.
It was a beautiful hike.
Caves caused by the lava flows.
So I don't have a lot to say. It was a wonderful day (and weekend) and here are some more images.
I'm not in the mood to rant about politics. Humans are disappointing.
We hiked to the cinder cone. Which was pretty cool! There aren't a lot of ancient volcanoes to see in Oklahoma.
I visited this hiking trail last fall and didn't complete the hike to the cinder cone.
It's never a waste of time when you're out in nature.
The Indian Paintbrush is beautiful to see because it reminds me of spring at home.
On the Plains of San Agustin lies the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the home of " Karl G. Jansky A Very Large Array."
This basin in Catron and Socorro counties in New Mexico is around 55 miles in length and 15 miles in width. The plains are a remnant of a Pleistocene era lake. After driving from where I'm living in Cibola county to the town of Fence Lake we continued to Quemado and across the mountains to the Plains of Agustin.
I think driving into these vast plains between the mountains is as impressive as the dishes. I love landscapes like this, these basins that were carved out millions of years ago by natural geologic forces.
We stopped to take some photos before we arrived and read these signs...
These signs should be when you enter the Plains of Agustin.
Now for the fun stuff....
My sister said I need to change my blog page name to "Expedition Oklahoman" - Not bad.
How they move them further away from each other or closer depending on what part of space they are hearing...
This is how they move them around the rail around the Plains of Agustin
This is amazing, the technology of what it can do. Seeing something that you've only ever seen in the movies. Amazing.
Showing us that there is more out there than our little planet...
So if you happen to be in New Mexico, I suggest stopping by and visiting A Very Large Array
We think our presidential election is so significant...
But if you look at the Milky Way we are nothing in comparison to the big picture.
Just down the road from my new home is El Morro National Monument . My last visit was in 2010 when I went to a workshop at Crow Canyon sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This natural pool provided the run off water so people could stop and rest on their travels and have a drink...and autograph the rock.
So, natural resources are important. Water is extremely important in the American west, which made this a great place to stop and have a drink before getting back on the trail.
Of course it was an inscription rock long before the colonists arrived. The Ancestral Pueblo people were busy inscribing on this rock.
Telling their stories in stone a thousand years ago.
I love the petroglyphs.
If you take the half mile hike to the top of El Morro you can arrive at the ancient village of the Shiwi people. Atsinna.
The Kiva is the church of the pueblo people. A house of prayer.
I've hiked El Morro every week since I've been in New Mexico. This Saturday was particularly pretty.
Of all the things I missed about New Mexico, I missed the sky the most. I am in love with the sky on these days where the clouds dot the dark azure sky.
The passed through here in 1709, the year the little ice age struck Europe.
They came in the 19th century and wrote their names besides the ancient ones, beside the Spaniards and marked their journeys west.
The oldest inscription from Onate, is dated prior to the Mayflower. This history in North America that we often miss in our history books, we forget about the Spanish and the French in North America. We need to remember they were here too.
I like the hike up El Morro, the views are spectacular.
It was a beautiful day.
There is the volcano that I can see from my back yard. This landscape is amazing.
and you can look down on the other side of the mesa.
You can look out and see Highway 53 and in an hour you can be in Arizona.
These stairs carved in the rock to make your hike easier.
Highway 53 and El Morro is kind of out of the way but it is well worth your time if you are in the area.
Inscription Rock, a little place in western New Mexico that documents centuries of travelers who were seeking a new life, or were just continuing to live their lives out on the Colorado Plateau.
I don't even know where to begin with this blog right now. So I'll begin with a summary of the places I've been this year. I won't include my New Mexico trip in March. In May I had the wonderful experience of going to a wedding of a long time friend and meeting up with some of my other awesome friends of the past decade. So I will begin there.
I don't have the Missouri welcome sign because we had tire trouble and had to switch vehicles!
This was a four day trip - not a lot of time for play but we did get a day's sightseeing in! I also finally visited Cahokia near St. Louis.
We stayed the night in Evansville, Indiana and stopped to see the Angel Mound site in the morning.
This is as we were coming into Louisville, Kentucky. Saturday morning we did some sightseeing in Louisville! This was on May 13th.
No Tennessee signs here either, but we drove through on that very long day home to Oklahoma so we could both go to work on Monday.
So fast forward just a few weeks later to June (not even a month later). My Sister and I embarked on our Great Northern Journey. Again, no signs from Kansas but we were there.
On this wonderful day we exited Northern South Dakota near Belle Fourche.
And cut across Wyoming on our way to Montana...
Montana has been on my "list" for a long time! I've been to all the states in the continental west. That day we visited The Little Bighorn Battlefield, The Devil's Tower in Wyoming and stayed the night in Spearfish South, Dakota before visiting The Badlands.
Just one more...After this vacation I returned home for a few weeks before my sister and I left to visit Colorado to attend the Sting/Peter Gabriel Rock, Paper, Scissors Tour at The Pepsi Center in Denver.
We had an adventure in Colorful Colorado and drove up Pikes Peak! So there are many photos to come but this was the easiest way to explain my absence from this blog.
So we did a super quick trip to New Mexico over Spring Break - and by quick I mean like 36 hours quick. We drove to New Mexico on a Thursday evening and home on a Friday night, but we still went to a place we have never been before but always heard about. So I spent the day looking at the weather and checking different state parks and places within four or five hour drives that we could go to but since it was St. Patricks Day I also knew that I really didn't want to be in downtown Dallas or Tulsa that night. After watching the weather Carlsbad was our destination of choice, my husband's suggestion and it was a good one.
We left the house at four thirty or so and made it to Carlsbad around midnight. Of course New Mexico is in Mountain Time so I'm not really sure what time it was by the time we arrived.
I haven't been to New Mexico since 2010!!! When I went to a National Endowment for the Humanities workshop up in Colorado at Mesa Verde. It has been a long time and I love New Mexico it is one of my favorite places. I can't believe it has been six years since I've been out there already.
So we make it to Hobbs and I get to drive from Hobbs to Carlsbad. Which was a decent little drive. We arrived at the hotel and went to bed for some much needed rest after our 463 mile drive.
It's pretty flat until you get to the mountains, and you only get to the mountains near the caverns.
So you drive up the mountain and eventually arrive at the visitors center.
It was incredibly windy when we got to the top of the mountain to go into the visitors center for our self guided cave tour.
This is probably a REALLY, REALLY GOOD IDEA. If you are in horrible shape and don't like walking uphill this is not the national park for you. Also, small children, good luck with that. If you want to carry them and hope they aren't scared of dark places. I consider myself in "decent" shape and this cave hike kicked my butt. It takes three to four hours and the hike back out is brutal and uphill. The hike down isn't too bad, but it is one of the most incredible places that I've ever been to.
They weren't kidding.
As you enter it is truly other worldly. I used a tripod and a 15-30 2.8 lens on a Canon 6D, I still struggled to get the shots that I wanted out of these caves. Of course it was so packed with tourists it is truly difficult to enjoy America's National Parks sometimes because they are always relatively crowded.
Now for the pictures inside the caverns.
I hope to have some more time at home now which will allow me to catch up on everything that I'm behind on.
I can't even caption these photos because they do not do it justice. It is a place that you can only imagine if you see it and experience it. A photo does nothing to help you understand the vastness.
I'm trying to show you the images that are in focus more but I felt like I was battling shooting in this not quite dark situation on crowded pathways.
We hiked a total of two miles in the caverns but four round trip and that is all underground. It is impressive. I can't explain or tell you what it is like. You need to go see it for yourself.
These were all shot at 15mm, ultra wide but you really can't tell can you?
See the trail going through the bottom of this room.
So it was time to hike out and I didn't take any photos on our brutal hike out. Mainly because the 15 year old decided we should "jog" out, or walk very quickly. It didn't bother me to leave because I really don't like enclosed places that much! But I was definitely sore the rest of the weekend.
Just beautiful. Other worldly.
And as today is Easter, this photo is symbolic to me because it reminds me of so many Native American emergence stories of how they came out of the middle place. Emerging from the cave just as we as humans emerge into this world from the womb. I sure was glad to see the light and go back to the outer parts of this earth.
On July 31st my daughter and I went to Hot Springs. We got to Arkansas a day earlier than we usually do and decided to take a vacation day sight seeing. I hope next summer we can do even more of this.
What was my prior knowledge of Hot Springs Arkansas before going there? Not much, I knew there were hot springs, I didn't know why. I knew that it was a popular tourist spot and I also knew it wasn't too horribly far from the family place but we had never been there.
The water out of Hot Springs average 143 degrees f. and people have been drawn to the springs for hundreds (and likely thousands) of years. The water that come from the springs are over four thousand years old (well obviously all water is "old" it's just not something we think about). In 1832 under the Jackson administration the government set aside four sections of land to "reserve" them for the people. In 1877 the government took control over the springs and approved the private bathhouses which you will see some more photos of.
In 1921 Hot Springs National Park was established.
Bathhouse Row is an interesting area. I believe one bathhouse is still in operation. By the 1960s many of the bathouses had closed their doors and fell into disrepair. By 2004 the park began renovating the buildings to help economically revitalize the area.
The water is hot!
These photos are more of a documentary style and of a tourist nature. Not my best shots, but I wasn't trying very hard.
Some images of Bathhouse Row
I hope to add enough historical information to educate you about your visit to Hot Springs or any other unusual places I've been to. I need to start working on educational power points, which was my original plan when I began visiting historical places.
I will do another post about the bathhouse museum we toured in Hot Springs.
This has a beautiful design.
Now if you actually want a real bath in Hot Springs the Buckstaff is the operational bathhouse there.
What can I say about my June trip to Kansas and Nebraska? I enjoyed it. But, it wasn't that great for photography this year (not like last year). It was extremely hot in Kansas and then in Nebraska it was rainy, oh and I was sick and my schedule was a day off.
And after a month of tornado warnings and watches, we ended up in a thunderstorm watch. So we went out to the lake and watched it for a few minutes.
I'm not a storm chaser. Oh did I mention all the rain we got yesterday? It's nice we didn't have any flooding in our spare room and our new patio drained all the water the way it should go.
I keep looking through my Nebraska pictures and they are beautiful in a different way but they are still moody and gray and not beautiful summer days on the Great Plains.
But I went to places I've never visited and explored a portion of Nebraska and Colorado that I've never been to. It was a worthwhile trip. I did think we were leaving on Wednesday and we left for Nebraska on Tuesday. I also didn't get any spectacular Great Plains astrophotography, but maybe next time. We will just file these images under "Kansas" and go from there.
Royal Nebraska is probably not the first place you think of when you want to go view the bones of ancient camels, rhinoceros, and horses but, Royal Nebraska is where you come to find America's Pompeii. So, mass extinction is probably not at the top of your list to think about today. But, it was a reality in our very long geologic history on this third rock from the sun. So before I go into more detail here is a visual for you to contemplate before I show images on the drive to Ashfall. Ashfall is a site that caused a mass extinction in what will become Nebraska. Please take a few minutes to find some more educational materials on the official site: About Ashfall through the University of Nebraska.
So if you are a fossil obsessed person or you love to learn about volcanoes and mass extinctions this is the place for you. But, a warning you better be ready to drive through a beautiful swath of NE Nebraska farmland.
Close to "home" we were pulling in the local radio station. But we were almost to Ashfall.
This will probably be a very long post with lots of images (which is why I didn't get these up earlier). Ashfall was our main destination on our trip to Nebraska. We did stop at Neligh Mills right before we made it to Ashfall.
So up the hill to the Ashfall beds. I find it interesting that places look different than you think they will. I like to do a lot of research before I visit a new place, I don't think I spent a lot of time looking up Ashfall. I was sick the week I went to Kansas and Nebraska. This was the first day I was feeling better, which was good because we did a lot of driving. The night before we ended up in Lincoln and it was the night the big storm of 2014 went through Nebraska, the clouds were pretty wicked in Lincoln.
I love this landscape, it is beautiful. This is what I see when I think of Nebraska.
So here is the barn that houses the mass grave. The horses that went extinct, the rhinos, the mammoths. All of these animals that died out. Mass extinctions are no joke.
Yes, what were all these creatures doing in Nebraska?