When my youngest son was two and we lived in the shadow of this mesa he called it "Home, home Zuni."
My first full year teaching was in this ancient pueblo. I didn't know a lot about the southwest until I moved to Zuni. It was a learning experience, personal and culturally. I loved the heritage my students had and how their history went so far back on this continent that they emerged from it and found the middle place. I love the Zuni mountains they are striking on the landscape. My students are in their mid-twenties now, I still think about them and that year in New Mexico.
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 have returned to New Mexico. I had an opportunity presented to me that I couldn't turn down. I've been here nearly a month now and am slightly settled in. Here are some images from my initial drive out on September, 24th. I lived in New Mexico in 2003-04. I took my first teaching position in The Pueblo of Zuni. That year had an incredible impact of my understanding of the world and people. It was the impetus for my fascination with Native culture and heritage and it's importance..
I probably should have stayed home a few more days and got over my cold. But I left the day after I finished my last day of notice on my Oklahoma job. I made it to New Mexico fairly early but New Mexico is a large state (the sixth largest), I had a few more hours to go. I was doubting my decision but I know that I can do anything for a year (or two). I also know there are a lot of places I want to see in the Southwest and work on my photography portfolio and this is an excellent time in my life to do it.
This is El Morro... the closest National Monument to my new home.
As I returned to familiar scenery and a landscape of my past.... I was longing for Oklahoma and my family. But I was also curious about this new school and new students, and schedule. I also feel that I'm in a position where I'm treated as a professional which I never felt working for large school systems. I am in a state that values the fact that I've valued my education and the pay represents that.
The grandeur of nature and the signatures of the people who traveled through in the past at El Morro. This is an amazing landscape. I understand the inspiration New Mexico provided for artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe. But I've got a lot more images and perhaps I'll begin working on my blog more often now.
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.
So, I went to Wamego in June. Wamego is a small town in Kansas which has a pretty cool park. It also has a Wizard of Oz Museum that I didn't go to but there is always next year.
These photos were taken in June. I have had an incredibly stressful two weeks. School has started and I am glad. Waiting on a job to start over a period of three months is a stressful feeling, yet it is the same job I have always had so it really was not worth the anxiety.
I am sitting here listening to the new Rob Thomas album. Which came out on the first day of my new classes which seems to hold some significant meaning to me, but I don't write about everything on here. I don't even publish my posts to social media anymore. But let's talk about Wamego.
Wamego's success as a community can be attributed to many factors: strategic location, proximity to larger urban areas, and the quality of its citizens who have been dedicated to pursuits of a cultural and qualitative nature.
Our beautiful scenery and rich agricultural land are a legacy of the area's geologic history - the glaciated region of Kansas. Native Americans used the Kansas River as an area of settlement and avenue of transportation long before whites entered the area. The entire Kansas River Valley was home to the Konza tribe until the 1840's. Beginning in the 1840's major portions of the Pottawatomie Tribe occupied the area just to the east of Wamego. The names of our city and county are derived from the Pottawatomie Tribe. History of Wamego
Here is a little more history of Wamego from Wamego
In 1863 the Kansas Pacific Railroad began building the main line for passengers and freight bound westward across the plains. Seizing this opportunity, The Wamego Town Company founded and laid out a new town site - Wamego - along the proposed rail in 1866. Wamego was later incorporated in 1868.
The founders offered the railroad land and cash to locate the Kansas Pacific division headquarters in the town for a minimum of 20 years. A station, roundhouse, and shops evolved, which employed a considerable number of people. For a time, Wamego served as the rail yard for the larger town of Louisville four miles north, which was situated on the Oregon Trail. This situation soon changed, as did transportation techniques. By 1874 Wamego had 28 businesses as opposed to the 6 in Louisville. In 1890 the Kansas Pacific moved the division headquarters to Junction City.
I am a history teacher. I'm finally teaching History (without all the extra government paperwork a caseload brings). After two weeks of training I still feel that what makes a good teacher is not two weeks of pedagogy and going over test results before the beginning of the school year. I think education is about knowledge. It's so deceptively simple that it has been made complicated by those who profit from the industry.
What did I learn when I went to Wamego. I learned that it was a railroad town built near a river. This tells me a lot about the success of a town. Humanity doesn't change, it is and always has been dependent upon resources.
The ancients shaped late 19th century Wamego. These statues went to the World's Fair in Chicago, which I've read was grand.
I wish a town near where I lived had a park like this. This was a beautiful park. I love NE Kansas.
I want to start running again. It is the best way to deal with stress.
I left the big park which was filled with people enjoying it. The swimming park was blasting music and filled with teenagers, a small prairie town like the one I grew up in.
The railroad was big in these little Kansas towns but we are relatively close to Abilene and the end of the line for the cattle trails.
My next stop was to check out the river.
My trip to Kansas was odd, I (of course - got sick) then it was so hot for a few days but by the time we went to Nebraska we hit the cool and rainy weather. This day was hot. I also was off on the length of our stay so I didn't get to return to Wamego.
Saturday was a busier day than I planned on it being. I met a bride and then headed off with my friend on a brief road trip (across the state).
We went and visited some of my cousins and then we had a little time to kill. So we stopped at Pine Creek Lake and I took some photos and the child had time to play.
I had the beginnings of what I thought was a headache and I was wrong. It was a toothache, which progressively got worse as the day went on, but wasn't that bad before I got home.
She enjoyed herself.
We stopped at a couple of cemeteries on the way out. These are always interesting because they are near where most of my family is from. It is interesting having a friend whose family is from the same area that all of my relatives and ancestors are from. She's probably my long lost Chahta cousin.
We didn't stay long at this cemetery the rednecks nearby were shooting, it was nearly dark and we witnessed an owl. Gunshots and owls together, I don't think are good omens.
By the time I was almost home I had to stop and photograph the Milky Way. It was beautiful. This was between Davis and Velma.
So, Hutchinson Kansas doesn't look like much. It's actually a pretty cool town. Last Saturday we went to the Strataca which is a museum, but not an ordinary museum it's 650 feet underground in a salt mine.
This is the ONLY place in this country where you can tour a real salt mine. It is the only time I've been 650 underground and my first experience in a mine. Now, I don't like elevators (which you go down on) and I do not like enclosed places, but when you enter and watch the initial safety video they put you at ease.
So we enter the museum and wait for our turn to ride the elevator down. We were in Manhattan Kansas last weekend but this is the only place I took photos. We (my oldest son and I managed to get a stomach bug while we were there). But this place is highly recommended for your vacation trips. Spring Break I had a bit of the Facebook envy with so many people traveling to interesting and fun places and I was stuck at home. My fate seems to be trips to the Great Plains, but I actually enjoy it. It's rarely as hot and never as crowded as some overly promoted tourist trap.
So this is during the minute and a half 650 elevator ride. It really wasn't bad. The guides talked the whole way down.
So here we are 650 underground in a mine. The temperature is a steady 68 degrees is what they told us. It is incredibly dry and you can taste the salt in the air, after a couple of hours down there I felt dehydrated. So there will be a lot of pics on this post.
Museums are filled with information and I can photograph the information and read more as I edit. It is interesting how the Permian world shapes Oklahoma's landscape, yet in Kansas you still find the remnants of the Permian Sea. Now, we have our own salt deposits from this sea in Oklahoma - a couple of hours north near Jet Oklahoma you can dig for crystals on the "Great Salt Plains."
Salt, the only rock that we eat. It is so important, yet we don't put a lot of thought into it.
So what kind of activity on the ancient earth caused a 400 feet deep salt deposit. It kind of blows your mind to think that the earth has changed so much.
This huge salt block is one of the things on display. But of course the walls, ceiling and floor are also made of salt.
So after the Permian period and the mass extinction, dinosaurs and the earth making it to the present eon.... salt was eventually discovered and mined in this town on the plains. The Carey Salt Mine was formed.
Now we move to the twentieth century...
You can see how salt causes the artifacts to rust.
How would you like to ride to your job on this?
See the reflectors on the ceiling?
I think museums like this are just as important as art museums. This museum pairs natural history with an education about how things work, our infrastructure. It is also featured on an episode of Modern Marvels and Dirty Jobs. But you can't get a good grasp on how the world works until you experience things like this.
More mining artifacts.
So, one of my favorite parts of the mine was the tractor (which I wasn't expecting to see 650 feet underground).
So here it is... Voyager * Yes! Like Star Trek. I mean who hasn't watched all the Star Trek Voyager episodes at least twice? I like Star Trek, I've watched Star Trek of some sort my entire life.
I've also been around a lot of antique tractors! So here you go. This is awesome.
This is just too interesting... so here is more.
I'm going to have to break this post up into two separate posts.
Have you read enough about the tractor in the salt mine?
Anyways so back to some more interesting stuff 650 feet below Kansas.
The earth movers, the salt shakers...
You also go on guided tours once you're in the mine. This is what a collapsed ceiling looks like.
So I'm about to end this post and will continue it tomorrow. This is one of the neatest places in Kansas! To be continued!
So, while my oldest was learning to parallel park (I know, I know, I could teach her but everyone who rides with me is terrified). She terrifies me when she's driving and I can't handle it very well. My anxiety does not make for a good drivers education teacher. But there you again train travelin'...
So the boy and I were waiting on the action figure museum to open. But, fortunately we didn't have to be bored we could go in the old Santa Fe depot and check out that museum.
Anyways here is a train. I assume people like rail photography for the aesthetics of the lines the same as liking a nice photograph of a empty highway or light trails or a barbed wire fence. Plus they're easy to shoot. I guess that's why portrait photographers like to get run over on the tracks and people want their photos done on the rails - which is dangerous. This train was going fast... like really fast. Okay, enough with that, next up the museum...
The teen wasn't overly interested in this museum.
I love these displays filled with tiny remnants of the past...
The past is what it should be the past. Just a memory to forget, or remember depending on the lessons that it teaches us.
There are things in everyone's past that need to be forgotten, yet if we forget for too long are we doomed to repeat history.
We hang on to the past; good and bad. Often only the bad memories remain- because those cause the most emotion. But, with photography and much of what ends up in museums, the physical remnants are usually positive.
I would SO love this to use with infant photography. So cool.
This is a neat museum, worth stopping to experience the local history. There are a lot of little museums like this. Down the road in the town of Davis you can find a similar museum (which I have photos of and I don't think I ever posted or processed).
My inner history teacher loves these old maps.
Fonts! Fonts were important back in the day too!
Here is Mr. Garvin of Garvin County. It's so weird to think of a person as being the reason behind a place name. Of course, these places always had a name, but the settlers came in and renamed these places.
I photographed this in 2013. What I find the most interesting is how differently I edit.
And this is true, and I like the memorials all around the park. Did you see my previous post about The Heartland Flyer- we have decided that we need to take the train to Fort Worth soon and have that experience!
But if you're in Pauls Valley, go ahead and take a few minutes to stop and explore the history at the Santa Fe Depot Museum and then head over to the Toy Action Figure Museum (which is really neat).
Gross Nebraska is a little town in Boyd County. Kind of like Monowi (also same county), Boyd County is known for it's small towns.
It's always funny looking up these tiny villages in the county where I spent my childhood. There are plenty of blogs of people who drive through out of curiosity. Gross Nebraska was founded in 1893 by homesteader Ben Gross and family. This is another small town that died when the railroad failed to go through, it did at one time have a population of 600.
See the deer?
In 1965 the Gross School district became part of the Spencer District; which would be where I attended school from K-9. So as much as there isn't much here now, stop and read about what it used to be: History of Gross Nebraska
So, I got a pressure cooker for Christmas. I'm now mastering the art of cooking quickly; I'm not as afraid of blowing up the kitchen now. I probably should be. <--I posted this and was told that this statement was kind of random. I'm sure it is. But, the soup I made for dinner was nice.
So there is a park in a town with the population of two, and a swimming pool in a town with the population of 500. Nebraska treats their children right. Now what is going on in our small towns where we can't make our parks and have pools in Oklahoma? It's a shame.
Save often! My internet froze as I was working on this post and fortunately I had just saved. I believe this is the business establishment, and they do have a Facebook Page.
I handed over my other camera to my friend and she took a few shots of me shooting.
It was a good day! We haven't met in person since Summer of 2008 and that summer she was pregnant the first time I drove through and had a new baby the next time so this visit was much more fun. The time before that I was up for her wedding. We had a great visit. Oh Monowi is another town that is frequently blogged about for it's distinct lack of population. Here is what Yahoo has to say about these small towns. Go Here and Double The Population...