Monday, February 27, 2006

Guadalupe Mountains NP, Texas

Guadalupe Mountains Canpsite
Our campsite was your basic parking lot.
Guadalupe Mountains Beginning Of Hike Guadalupe Mountains McKitrick Canyon Trail
We went down to the visitor center this morning and asked about the best hike to take. We decided to take the McKitrick Canyon Trail. This canyon is said to be the prettiest place in Texas. It is a nice hike but we won't have high expectations for the rest of Texas now. The trail rises only about 400 feet in the 3.2 miles we hiked. We then returned back the same path.
Guadalupe Mountains McKitrick Canyon Trail Stream Crossing Guadalupe Mountains NP, TX Flower
After about a mile on the trail, there are more trees and it gets more green and there is water in the river occasionally. It flows under the rock river bed a lot though. When is on the surface, it is very nice. We even saw some flowers thanks to the butterflies for letting us know where they were, down in the leaf litter.
Guadalupe Mountains NP, TX Pratt Lodge Guadalupe Mountains NP, TX Grotto
We looked at the Pratt Lodge, the home of the man who donated the property for the park. It is a nice rock house with a slate rock roof. We had a nice ham, Munster cheese, and red pepper sandwiches for lunch. I make good sandwiches even if I do have to say so. We enjoyed a rest in Adirondack chairs on the deck at the lodge. We then continued on to the Grotto, a small cave with a bunch of eroded rocks that looks a lot like stalactites, stalagmites and columns,
Guadalupe Mountains NP, TX Hunter's Cabin
We also saw the Hunter's cabin which is where we turned around. From there, the trail does continue on but starts climbing the canyon wall and heads up into the wilderness.
Guadalupe Mountains NP, TX Rainbow Trout Guadalupe Mountains NP, TX Fox Scat
We saw very few critters and few birds were heard. Don't know why because it is a nice area. There are some rainbow trout in one of the ponds. I understand there are no natural breeding trout in Texas except for one location. Is this it? One interesting thing is that the fox evidently travel the trail and there favorite place to poop is on top of big rocks in the middle of the trail. Strange!
Monahan's Sandhills SP, TX
We left about 3:30 and headed East stopping for the night in Monahan Sandhills SP about 30 miles East of Pecos, Texas. There are sand dunes here, a beech in the middle of Texas. Our site has electric and water for $17.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Carlsbad Caverns NP, NM

Mouth of Carlsbad Caverns Carlsbad Caverns Decorations
Carlsbad Caverns Decorations Carlsbad Cleanup
It's been 32 years since I last visited Carlsbad Caverns. This is Lou's first visit. They look pretty much the same to me. We hiked down the original entrance (top left picture) and through the big room. The total distance of a little over two miles took us around three hours. The Big Room is big! This cave isn't as nicely decorated as is Kartchner Caverns in Arizona. The lighting in the cave is rather bland as well. The size of the rooms may affect that. Sorry, my cave pictures rarely turn out well. The person in the bottom right picture is cleaning stuff from the formations on the floor by mirror lake. The debris came from older trail construction. Old formations are being exposed and debris will not end up in mirror lake. This project will take two years and she has been working on it , with volunteers, for 6 months. In the end 20 square feet of the floor will have been cleaned. What a project it will be to try to restore the entire cave?
There are several other cave tour options here that are more like real speleological adventures but we deferred those to possibly another time. Before we went into the cave we had lunch at the restaurant at the visitors center. A very nice lunch.
We continued South on Highway 180 into Texas and stopped for the night at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. $4 for the night with the Golden Access Pass discount.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Roswell, NM, UFO Museum

We had a very good rain last night at Valley Of Fires. First rain around here for over 150 days.
Roswell UFO Museum Roswell UFO Museum
We headed East toward Roswell. We spent the afternoon looking around the UFO Museum. I'm still unconvinced. It looked like they are reading a lot into iffy and non evidence. Lou, on the other hand thinks there must be something to it.
Seems odd to me that all pictures are questionable. If extraterrestrials did exist, they would have sent in the exterminators to rid the universe of earthlings long ago.
We continued down the road toward Carlsbad stopping for the night at Brantley Lake State Park about 20 miles from Carlsbad. We've been trying to be settled before it gets dark. Maybe we're learning. Our site with electric and water is $14. While the area is rather barren, we are camped overlooking the lake.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Valley Of Fires, NM

We stopped at Valley Of Fires Recreation Area near Carrizozo, NM. They have a very nice campground.
Valley Of Fires NM Campsite
There are sites with Electric and water for $18 a night ($9 with the Golden Access Pass). There are some nice views from the campsites.
Valley Of Fires NM Valley Of Fires NM
Valley Of Fires NM Valley Of Fires NM
We hiked the 2/3 mile interpretive trail around on the lava flow next the the campground. This lava flow is the youngest in the continental states being only about 1500 years old. Even though it is so young, it has an amazing amount of plant life all over the rocks and in most every crevis.
It's overcast this evening and may even rain tonight and is much cooler that it has been recently.

Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, NM

Three Rivers Petroglyph Site NM, Alien? Three Rivers Petroglyph Site NM
Three Rivers Petroglyph Site NM Sheep With Two Arrows Three Rivers Petroglyph Site NM Big Horn Sheep
We stopped at Three Rivers Petroglyph Site.
There are many petroglyphs and some are very detailed unlike most we've seen. The top left image looks a little like a space alien. We are near Roswell? The top right looks a little like a smurf? Note the bottom right image even has the fur coat and has curved legs indicating a running animal.
Lou thinks she has the meaning figured out. They're like a note on the refrigerator, a shopping list, a note to hubby, "pick up a sheep on the way home". Could be?
This is a good stop for a short visit to the petroglyphs and/or to the old village site. We didn't look at the village.
What may be of more interest is that you can camp here as well. There is a campground about 10 miles further up the road that leads from Hwy 54 to the site. We didn't go on back to see it but you can also camp right at the petroglyph site as well. There are a couple of sites with electric and water that are $10/night. If you pay the day use fee, you can also stay the night at the other sites. All fees are halved if you have a Golden Access Pass, which Lou does. In fact, the day use fee is waived with the pass so you can stay here for free for up to seven days. There is no dump but there is a free dump at the visitor center in Alamogordo.
It was too early in the day to consider stopping so we headed on. We'll remember this site for a future longer stay.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Oliver Lee State Park, NM

Wednesday: Oliver Lee SP NM Campsite
We left Las Cruces early and headed toward Oliver Lee State Park campground. A nice park with electric and water hookups for $14. Good view of the valley. We were in before 8:30 am and had a nice breakfast after setup.
We went by the visitor center here at the park and learned about the park's namesake Oliver Lee. He was a rancher in the valley. He was accused of murder and Marshal Pat Garret (of Billy the Kid fame) tried to arrest him. He and his posse didn't succeed and left without him after a standoff of several days. He was later a state senator. Interesting man.
White Sands NM White Sands NM
We went to the White Sands National Monument this afternoon. It may look like snow but it's really gypsum sand.
White Sands NM Ranger John
We went on an interpretive walk with Ranger John. It was very informative about the unusual Eco-system here. It ended at sunset (picture below).
White Sands NM Buried Cottonwood Tree
A buried cottonwood tree. The tree is about 40 feet tall but only about 6 feet is above the dune.
White Sands NM Sunset
A nice sunset over White Sands.
Cloudcroft NM Hotel Cloudcroft NM Big Top
Thursday: We drove up to Cloudscroft, a high mountain village above Alamogordo.
Above left is a picture of a hotel in Cloudcroft. They were getting ready to raise a big tent (right) in preparation for a Mardi Gras celebration.
Cloudcroft NM Nancy Nice The Cat Cloudcroft NM Lodge Tower View
We looked in the local hardware store and met Nancy Nice the cat. A very friendly cat. She looks a lot like our Mr Milo and is about the same age. It was nice to get a dose of cat. We miss Mr Milo.
Above right is a view toward Alamogordo from the "Lodge" tower. You can get a great 360 degree view here from the very top of the mountain.
We also looked around Ruidoso Downs and the town of Ruidoso. There are three Indian casinos in this area. We stopped at Inn of the Mountain Gods and at Ruidoso Downs casinos. Inn Of The Mountain Gods is nice, by a lake and much like an old time mountain lodge built in a modern way. It is a ways out of town. Ruidoso Downs is a dump.
Oliver Lee SP NM Dog Canyon Trail Oliver Lee SP NM Dog Canyon Trail
Oliver Lee SP NM Dog Canyon Trail Oliver Lee SP NM Dog Canyon Trail Swept Down In Creek
Friday: We hiked the short interpretive trail up Dog Canyon this morning before we left. It's amazing what a different environment exists in these canyons where there is water.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Kartchner Caverns, Az

Kartchner Caverns SP, Az
Sunrise at our campsite.
We took the Rotunda/Throne Room Cave Tour this morning. This cave is pristine. It only opened for tours in 1999 and they seem to have the impact of visitors minimized appropriately. Even so, it is an excellent tour with possibly the best decoration condition of any cave I've ever seen. Unfortunately, nothing can be taken in to the cave, including cameras, so no pictures. Here is a nice like to the Friends of Kartchner Cave website with a good presentation on the cave.
After the tour we headed out and stopped somewhere a ways East of Benson, Az to see the "Thing". There is a small cheap museum at a gift shop / Dairy Queen that has a "mummy" called the Thing. It's worth the $1 and provides a good stretch.
We continued on to Las Cruces, Nm stopping for the night at Wally World (Walmart's).
We had a very nice dinner at the barBQ restaurant next door.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Bisbee, Arizona

We moved to Kartchner Caverns SP in Benson Az. We have reservations for a cave tour tomorrow morning.
Bisbee Az Bisbee Az
After settling in we drove down to Bisbee to look around. Old Town Bisbee is very nice. Probably the best condition old west town we've seen. The usual antique stores but there are a lot of stores showing locally produced art as well.
Bisbee Az Firehouse 1 Bisbee Az firehouse 2
One of the reasons to travel is to try to find the ideal place to settle down away from the big cities and likely away from California. Bisbee looks nice. We found two potential new houses. They include nice RV garages. They're old fire houses. Hmmm.
Bisbee Az Copper Mine Pit Bisbee Az mouse on cat on dog
There is an open pit copper mine, now closed, right in the middle of Bisbee.
Now the picture on the right shows something you don't see often. A mouse riding on the back of a cat riding on the back of a dog. They seem to get along well!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tucson, Arizona

We left Apache Junction (Lost Dutchman SP) and headed South toward Tucson on Highway 79.
We checked in to the Trav-Tel RV park in Tucson and then headed out to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, about 10 miles West. This is a wonderful place combining both an arboretum and a zoo of sorts with desert creatures on display. The hummingbird aviary is wonderful. We also liked the havalina (sort of a little pig).
We only had about 2 hours there, which is the minimum time recommended to see everything. We'll have to return sometime when we have a full day to spend.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Nice cats.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Th bear was enjoying a nice bath. On the right the havalina herd.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
These ground hogs had a nice home. The display areas were quite natural looking and looked comfortable.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
A deer on the left above was eating the most foul smelling blossoms from the trees. The picture on the right shows the look over the display areas. You can;t see that there are animal display areas hidden in the landscape.
Today is the first time we've had hookups since before Christmas. The solar panels have been doing quite well taking care of most of the power needs. We've been using about 150 ampere hours per day and restoring it most days with only solar.