Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We were out by the pool, surrounded by palm trees and flowers when I spotted one of the locals!
Lake Jackson Gecko
At The Museum
We took the tribe to one of the local museums so that they could show us the big Jade Ship
3 foot Tall Jade Ship
The twins birthday was coming up, so for their big surprise, their parents had arranged for horseback riding at the home of friends on the morning of Memorial Day.  I'm glad I wasn't in the room when Em heard about it.  Her shriek of joy was loud enough to break all the windows in the house!
Emily Is Excited

Elizabeth is Excited Too

Ethan Is Next

Seth Cowboy

Kaylee Loves the Horse

Emily Goes Solo

Elizabeth Goes Solo, Too

Mom Gets Her Turn

Dad Looks Good on a Horse

Grampa Ken is Last
 I do believe that everyone involved had a good time.  I haven't been up on a horse for forty years, but it's kind of like riding a bicycle, you get right back into it again.  From the expressions on the faces of the crew, they looked like they were enjoying themselves.  They even got to feed the horses some green apples, which was too scary for the little ones, but they put out hay for the ones inside the fence.  We had to cut off the hay supply or they would have emptied the hay shed.

Cowboys and Cowgirls Ready to Ride
They next day Ann and Ken went down to one of the local nature observatories to see if they could add to their bird sightings, but it was close to noon before we got there.  The birds were a lot smarter, they were in the shade (92 degrees/95% humidity) so we took some flower pictures.  The orchid was a rare find, but I understand there are many varieties that grow in the wetlands. Hi Barb and Claire, this one is for you!
Orchids in the Swamp
This Passion Flower was near the visitors' center, but was so spectacular I just had to have a picture.
Passion Flower 3.5" Across

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Carlsbad Cactus

Sorry for the delay, we have gotten emails wondering if we had fallen off the edge of the earth, but we have been having so much fun with the grandchildren that we got behind with the blog.  The desert just explodes with flowers after a rain, and you can see the old buds on the cactus were about to dry up when it rained and it bloomed overnight. 
Ann and Ken at Carlsbad
 We made it to Carlsbad caverns, it was bright sunshine outside, but way darker inside, as you can see from the gift/snack shop photo.
Carlsbad Gift and Snack Shop
 I took 170 pictures in the 2-1/2 hours we were in the cave, and finally decided to leave when my hands got so cold I was uncomfortable--I must have been getting used to the heat outside. :-)
Doll Theatre at Carlsbad

Soda-straw Ceiling at Carlsbad
 The ceilings in the grottos were just covered with tiny soda-straw stalactites (they are hollow).  I couldn't get a picture of the great room--not enough light, since it is 7 football fields long--stupendous scale.
Carlsbad Columns
 Ann liked this one, since the columns had stretched floor to ceiling, probably about 100' high at this point.
Stone Curtains--Carlsbad
 Some of the formations were shaped like curtains of stone, formed by water coming down from a fissure or crack in the ceiling.
 Speaking of ceilings, here's just one photo of a place where it was close enough for the flash to work.

One more flower shot, in purple for all you Husky Fans!
While we were in Ozona, TX, Ann got this great shot of a Bullock's Oriole--just brilliant yellow.
And last of all the friendliest cat we have met so far.  It was hard to get a picture, since she kept rubbing around our legs and would not hold still except when she was getting petted, and then would wiggle away and come back for more rubbing.  We met her in Wimberley, TX, just west of Austin. 

Next segment will have pictures from Lake Jackson, TX.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We drove south toward Alamagordo, but stopped to visit the Petroglyphs National Monument.  We were used to seeing petroglypys on sandstone walls, but these were all over a rock hillside--amazing.  I took about 140 pix, and we only stopped at three of eleven sites.  The thunderstorm was threatening, and we were on an exposed hill.
Petroglyphs 1

Petroglyphs 2

Petroglyphs 3
 We stayed the night in Alamagordo and drove to White Sands National Park.  The sand is really white.  It rained hard the night before, about 1.25" and this dry playa had water in it--that's not a mirage.
Playa at White Sands
Ann took this picture of a yucca in full bloom, with a sand dune behind it--looks like a studio shot with a white sheet. 
Soap Tree Yucca in front of White Sand dune
The rabbit bolted up the sand dune, but the bobcat caught up with him before he reached the top.
End of Story

Dad at White Sands

Mom at White Sands
 We drove the rest of the way to White Sands Missile Range, but were told at the gate that we couldn't take pictures.  There are displays of all the major missiles which have been tested at the range, beginning in 1940, and included the developmental work on the Manhattan Project and Trinity Site testing. Mom bought a postcard with a half dozen of the missiles on it, probably about 10% of those on display.

We are headed for Carlsbad Caverns tomorrow, don't know if we will get there in time to see them, maybe do the cave on Friday. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

We got as far as Tuba City AZ and spent the night.  We drove through Monument Valley where all the westerns were filmed.  They would have to edit out all the power lines to the homes if they shot there these days.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

Canyon DeChelly

White House Canyon De Chelly

Spider Rock--Spider Woman taught Dineh to Weave

Next stop was Canyon De Chelly (deshay) which, unlike Mesa Verde is still being used by the Navajo Nation.  The Dineh have farms in the bottom of all the canyons, sharing the ruins on an everyday basis.  The drive along the South Rim was great, lots of wildflowers, and the lookouts were easy walks down from each parking lot.  It might have been better to do this before Mesa Verde, since you can't go into the ruins here without a Native American guide.  The Navajo Nation controls all the access rather than the national park service.  It was still very interesting.

Ann in Four States

Ken in Four States

We stopped at Four Corners for pictures--it's more for the experience than the view--trust me.  The monument is the only thing there.  We decided to come back to Cortez because the campground here has the best showers and the most grass of any of the places we stopped.  When we get to Texas I will have to give everything in the camper, inside and out, a good cleaning--dust, dust, dust, and grit!

We drove out to Shiprock on Saturday.  Ann wanted to see it up close and personal after over-flying it at 30,000 feet so many times.  We got within a couple of miles, but the road to the rock is 4WD quality so we decided to use the long lens instead.  It is part of a volcanic upthrust in the middle of all the sandstone pillars--very interesting.  Sunday we went to Church again in Cortez, three weeks from the first time we were here.  It was fun--they told us one more time and we would have a calling. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Grand Canyon at evening Mather Point
Grand Canyon as light fades Mather Point
Grand Canyon Grandmother
The wind was blowing!
California Condor in flight
Grand Canyon Sunset
Grand Canyon Sunset 2
Grand Canyon Sunset 3
Ann before the cliff
Grand Canyon the next morning
Condors 16 & 22
Condor 13
Ken at the South Rim

Condor watchers

Ann at the South Rim
We spent an evening and a day at the Grand Canyon, so far the highlight of our trip.  The canyon was a fantasy at sunset, and we got pictures of the California Condors in the skyglow.  While Ann was trying to get a little closer to the edge to get the pictures, she "did a Becky," turned her ankle, fell 2 feet down the cliff and bruised her dignity.  You will note that in the next day's picture she is using her walking stick and I'm carrying her purse.  The last pix shows her without her stick and doing fine.

The next morning we went further down the canyon rim and stopped at a point where the condors roost and nest. 

We drove through Monument Valley, and stayed at Chinle last night.  We will make our way to Canyon DeChelly, and will be doing the rim drive on both sides today, heading for Four Corners, and possibly Shiprock, NM by evening, depending on how many side trips or stops we make.  The wild flowers are in bloom, masses of yucca, paintbrush, and cacti, with carpets of tiny white and blue flowers in some areas.