Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Part 3: South by Southwest - Silver City, NM

After leaving White Sands National Monument, we drove to Silver City, New Mexico, where we had a great time with Chuck's cousin, Maggie.

Maggie's adobe-style house was very comfortable.

Having not seen her for a long time, we really enjoyed our visit with Maggie and her furry friends.

This is Maya, a friendly and energetic Australian Shepard.

Buddy is one of the sweetest dogs ever.

Pretty Cassie

And last but not least, Gigi

Silver City has many colorful murals which were made possible by the Youth Mural project. This project pairs local artists with students to make them.

This amazing mural at the Visitor Center was made from glazed tiles.

On our way to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, we drove through the Gila National Forest.

In 1907 President Teddy Roosevelt designated the Gila Cliff Dwellings as one of the first National Monuments.

We hiked the one-mile loop trail through the canyon to the caves.

The five caves were occupied by Mogollon people in the late 13th century.

View looking out from inside one of the caves.

The ranger said it was unusual to see a two-story room in these cliff dwellings.

T-shaped doorways

Lizard sunning near the trail

We had a great time with Maggie and are planning a return visit!

On our trip back home, we encountered a dust storm in western Kansas at sunset.
It wasn't any fun . . .

. . .especially for this driver. Gusty winds flipped the semi. Thankfully, he was not injured.

Quincy said, "It's about time you two got home!"

Great trip!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Part 2: South by Southwest - Carlsbad Caverns to White Sands, NM

On a cold, wet morning with the temperature in the high 30's, we headed to Carlsbad Caverns, located beneath the Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico.

 Carlsbad Caverns were discovered by Jim White, a 16 year old boy, in 1898. The park has more than 110 caves and is one of the deepest and most ornate caves ever found.

 As the elevator was broken, we had to enter through the Natural Entrance, a steep 1.25 mile descent, equivalent  to about 79 stories.

 It took about an hour to walk down to the Big Room.

 The Big Room is an area comparable to 14 football fields. This formation is call the "Hall of Giants"and is the largest formation in the cave.

 "Temple of the Sun" 

 The delicate stalactites in this formation, the "Painted Grotto", are called soda straws and develop where water droplets hang from the ceiling and may develop into large stalactites.

 The formation, "Dolls Theater", consists of soda straws and columns.

 We took a ranger-guided tour of the King's Palace, which was in the deepest portion of the cavern open to the public.

Really enjoyed the tour but it was time to head back to the top.

When we reached the entrance, we were greeted by Mexican free-tailed bats who make their home here.

 Next, we drove about 30 miles south to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

 The Frijole Ranch, built by the Rader Brothers in 1876, was the first permanent home built in the area. The Smith family moved here in 1906 and made a living from truck farming. The nearest market for their produce was a 60 mile wagon trip away.

 We walked to the Manzanita Spring which was a short distance away from the Frijole ranch.

 Manzanita Spring

Very interesting landscape

While in Carlsbad, we had dinner from the La Patrona food truck -- excellent tacos!

 Leaving Carlsbad, we drove through Lincoln National Forest.

 Next, we stopped at White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico.

 The white dunes consist of pure white gypsum and cover 275 square miles.

 We were stopped on Interstate 10 between Deming and Las Cruces, NM, at the Border Patrol inspection station.

But we were waved through and continued on to Silver City, NM.

Coming up next . . . Silver City, NM

Monday, April 11, 2016

Part 1: South by Southwest - Texas Hill Country

We just returned from a 10 day trip to Texas and New Mexico. Lots of photos to share -- bluebonnets, longhorns, food, beautiful countryside, caverns, white sand, cliff dwellings, cousin Maggie and more.

We'll start with the Texas Hill Country where we spent three days in the Fredericksburg area . . .

 Having never seen Texas bluebonnets, our first sighting of a large patch of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush between Llano and Fredericksburg was pretty amazing.

 A few wildflowers were also blooming.

 Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush at Flat Rock Cemetery near Llano, TX

 Cactus, flowers and granite near the entrance to Ink Lake State Park

 We were on Ranch Road 308 and saw lots of bluebonnets, however, we missed a turn to get back to the main highway and had to ask some ranchers for directions.

 Back on a main highway

 Loved those longhorns!

 In the distance is Enchanted Rock, the second-largest granite dome in the country next to Stone Mountain in Georgia.

The beginning of the Summit Trail to Enchanted Rock.

The hike to the summit was a little strenuous but not too bad. At the top we had a great panoramic view of the countryside.

 We stopped at Wildseed Farms located 7 miles east of Fredericksburg. It is the largest working wildflower farm in the nation. We have been buying wildflower seeds from them for several years and were very anxious to visit.

 The red poppies were blooming.

 At one of the wineries we visited, we found these benches made from pickup truck tailgates.

We stopped at Sister Creek Winery, south of Fredericksburg near Sisterdale. The vineyard is housed in an old cotton gin originally built in 1885.

We took a self-guided tour of the winery.

We also visited Becker Vineyards, southeast of Fredericksburg.

Beer samples at Pedernales Brewery. We really enjoyed the Robert Earl Keen Honey Pils.

 This building in Luckenbach, Texas was actually a post office from 1850 to 1971. The front part of the building is a gift shop and the back is a bar.

Free live entertainment performances in the afternoon and evening behind the Post Office.

 The chicken and rooster crowed in time to the music.

 One of our favorite meals in Fredericksburg was at the Herb Farm Restaurant. Chuck had chicken pot pie.

Rita had the farm haus quiche with fresh fruit and salad greens. Both were delicious!

This is the Admiral Nimitz Museum, part of the National Museum of the Pacific War complex. Admiral Nimitz was the commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet during World War II and grew up in Fredericksburg. The building was the old Nimitz Steamboat Hotel, owned and operated by his grandfather.

Statue of Admiral Chester Nimitz

 Oil paintings by Tom Lea were on display at the National Museum of the Pacific War. The title of this painting is "The Marines Call It the 2,000 Yard Stare".

Another Tom Lea's painting, " Sundown on Peleliu"

 We drove the Willow City Loop, a 20-mile paved road through the rugged area of the Hill Country. The boots on the fence are from a Texas cowboy tradition of putting a boot on the fence post every time a horse is broke. Now the boots are put up by tourists.

 Continuing down the road we saw this cactus.

Eight deer ran across the road during our drive.

 Beautiful country!

 Before we left Fredericksburg, we stocked up at the Old German Bakery with some road warrior food -- sausage rolls and apple puffs.

 Love those Texas bluebonnets!

Coming up next - Carlsbad Caverns area