Saturday, April 25, 2009

April 24, 2009

Side trip day.  This was a long one.  Over 90 miles one way.  The first 50 miles was flat and level.  Then things got interesting.  Forty four miles of narrow, twisty, up and down road with no breaks. There is another way that is easier but longer and the last 20 miles are the same either way.  Worth the trip!

Lots of hiking and backpacking in the surrounding area.  The cliff dwellings are outstanding.  Some of the best preserved in existence.   Will not try to describe it all.  Will post a few pictures here and others on the web.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

April 24, 2009

Sad Day

Sue’s sister, Judy, passed away early this morning.  Today was her 63rd birthday.  She battled the most aggressive form of brain cancer for several years and actually surpassed the odds of survival but eventually the tumor overcame all attempts to control it.  She was quite a lady.  She had a quiet inner strength, compassion, and love of life that gave extraordinary love and support to her family and joy and friendship to all who knew her.  She will be dearly missed by many.


We drove to Deming NM today stopping along the way to visit Guadalupe Mountains NP.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 23, 2009

Carlsbad Caverns

We took three tours today.  In the morning we went on a ranger led tour into an area called Left Hand Tunnel.  Small tour size, only 15 people. This area is pretty much undeveloped.  Trail is dirt and sides of trail are marked by orange tape on the ground.  No pavement of hand rails.  Also no lights.  We carried candle lanterns.  DSC07810 The idea is to give an experience similar to early cave explorers.  Surprising what one candle can do in total darkness.  At one spot we blew out the candles and the ranger gave a talk in total darkness.  Really neat ranger.  Very knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about caves and teaching.  Very fun tour. 

Pool at end of Left Hand Tunnel.  Striped tape means DANGER

20090423-2 Pool at end of Left Hand Tunnel

After that we ate lunch back on top at picnic tables over looking the valley to the east.

Guadelupe Mountains

20090423-8 Guadalupe Mountains

Virga over valley.


After lunch we took the cave entrance tour down into the main room at the base of the elevators.  About a mile and a half long and mostly down (760 feet).  Would not want to do it on ladders made of sticks and wire and would definitely not want to go up the way we came as early explorers and, later, visitors did. 

Viewing area for evening bat flight. 20090423-14 Bat watching ampatheater

Cave entrance.

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Going into cave.


In cave looking out.

 20090423-18 Inside looking out

Cave explorer.

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That tour took a little over an hour and after about a 30 minute break we took last tour for day.  This was the King’s Palace tour.  Much larger group, fifty people or more.  No handrails but paved all the way.  This area has more cave formations.  Another knowledgeable and enthusiastic ranger.

Bashful elephants

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Some cave furniture.  Much more on web album.

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We took four tours here.  Two come with admission price and are self led.  Two others were ranger led and had additional charge.  There are other tours, some of which actually involve hands and knees exploring.  I would recommend any and all tours that one could do.  It is an amazing place and they have done all they can to give visitors the maximum experience.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April 22, 2009

Carlsbad and the Caverns

Headed east over the Sacramento Mountains.  Sign at start of road said that road climbed 3500 feet in 16 miles.  Road started up and never even dipped for 16 miles.  Summit was nearly 9000 ft.  Carbus just chugged right up.  Other side was steady down for about 20 miles. Then level high desert the rest of the way to Carlsbad.  Made reservation on the way by cell phone.  Got last spot.  The Verizon plan has worked well so far.  Digital too.  I am writing this using cell modem because WIFI in this park is next to worthless. 

After checking in and setting up we drove to Carlsbad Caverns.  They now have three self led tours as well as several ranger guided tours.  We signed up for two ranger led tours for tomorrow and then took elevator down to cavern and did 1 1/2 mile self led tour of ‘Big Room’.  Very well done.  Paved path with railings the entire way.  Low level lighting to show off formations and give enough light to walk safely.  Flash photography allowed.  We took over 300 pictures today.  Had to come back and recharge batteries for tomorrow.

Here are a few shots.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 21, 2009

Leaving The Rally

Yesterday was the last day of The Rally.  We went to one seminar on Picasa.  We have to teach ourselves to be comfortable with this program.  It is very powerful and easy to use once one is familiar with it.  After that Sue went to the WIFI hot spot and downloaded a bunch of embroidery files and I took one last pass through the venders.  Then we came back to Carbus and packed up to leave the next day.

The entertainment for the evening was Papa Do Run Run.  A 50s and 60s Beach Boy style group.  Some members had affiliation with Beach Boys.

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This morning we left the Balloon Park about 7:45am.  It wasn’t a madhouse but there was a steady stream of RVs leaving.  We headed about 30 miles and then southeast to visit a couple of ruins sites in the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.  Pretty amazing.  Same idea as the California missions only earlier and in the high desert and much of the surrounding villages are visible due to stone construction.  These churches were not small.  The two we saw would rival those of the missions.

These are the ruins of the mission at Abo.  This church had a choir loft and a bell tower.

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These are some shots of the Gran Quivira ruins.  The pictures are mostly of village ruins.  The bottom picture is of the ‘Old Church’.  Another one built several decades later was twice as large and quite tall.  I think Sue has pictures of it.  I will try to get some.

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A tree grows in Brooklyn.

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We continued on to Alamagordo to a very nice RV park called Boot Hill.  Very nice and helpful owners and staff and clean and fresh park.  Almost hated to use our Passport America discount.  :)  Would not mind staying here again and seeing some of the area.

Tomorrow, White Sands and on to Carlsbad.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 19, 2009

Balloon Museum and Old Albuquerque

Today was free admission at the balloon museum.  Gotta go.  We were very impressed.  Glad we went and would pay to go again.  Extensive displays on all aspects of ballooning, many of them hands on.  Gondolas from several record setting ballooning events on display including first successful trans-atlantic flight and a couple others I can’t recall.  Very spartan and many were open to the elements.

  DSC00870 DSC00868 The building itself is amazing and it must be something to be here during the fiesta in October.


Except for the shadows this looks pretty impressive.



We then went to the rally to see if we had won any drawings.  Nope.  There was to be a Boy Scout reception.  I signed in but there was not much going on so we left.

We bought a stepstool and an attachment for the TV antenna to improve digital reception.

Had to visit Old Albuquerque since we were here.  Lots of adobe buildings for several blocks around a central square.  Buildings filled with upscale shops.  Little more comfortable layout than Santa Fe but also much the same.

Church on plaza.



Gunfight in Old Albuquerque



The evening entertainment was The Osmond Brothers.  Great!