Monday, December 25, 2006
First stop was a dirt road in the west district of Saguaro NP. Although we had seen primarily the same thing the day before, we concentrated more on birds this morning and taking turns walking Jenna down the dirt road.
But even though we were concentrating on the birds, I still snapped off the cactus photo. I particularly enjoyed this one.
Afterwards, we were going to walk around the Arizona Sonoran Museum, however, there was a sign that said no dog left unattended. We were going to risk it, but the old man security guard had seen the dog. We walked down to the entrance just to look and decided against risking it. The security guy had followed us back to the vehicle, but didn't stop. As we went to leave, I stopped to do something and parked across several parking spaces to fix something. The security guard stopped and watched us. He then paralleled us until we turned to leave. We both wanted to turn again and make circles so he would get nervous, but we didn't. He watched us leave the area.
Defeated there, we headed north towards Phoenix, but decided to find some more ruins. I have to say I have been disappointed with the park units we have visited in Arizona because each one had a city surrounding it. I'm spoiled in Utah. Casa Grande Ruins had a Wal-mart across the street. However, Jenna was pretty excited that she was allowed to go out near the ruin and even walk straight through the visitor center. We were so suprised that I took a photo of her and Murray in the visitor center.
We finally arrived in Phoenix just in time to head over to a sister's house for grub and a game of 20 Questions. If you see one, this one bought in Kohls, pick one up because you will be amazed. It is an electronic game and you think of something, it asks the questions, and then guesses your answer. We stumped it several times, but it did come up with platypus.
I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and enjoy the rest of the year.
More photos here
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Today we went to another National Park, which pisses off the dog. We were quite upset that they don't ever have to wear winter uniforms. Those in the park service understand that statement. And I have realized that I have become spoiled during this trip. Yes, yes, I know I already am, but being at Chaco all by ourselves really spoiled me today.
We arrived at Saguaro today to a bus full of people. The visitor center was packed, the sidewalks were packed, and they were walking over everything. I stamped my NPS passport, Murray grabbed a map and guide, and we got the heck out of there. But the bus was not the only people. There was another group in a white SUV. They pulled up and about 10 people piled out of the vehicle. It was like clowns coming out of a VW. They were loud and I was crying CHACO CHACO.
We traveled along the 8 mile road, stopping where people weren't, and driving by other pullouts where people were. There were numerous places I wanted to stop and take a photo, but I didn't want to be like the visitors I constantly yell at or kindly ask to move at the other park.
We attempted to do some birding. But the only types of birds we saw today were Silhouette Birds. You probably won't find those in a typical bird book, but birders will understand what kind of birds those are.
When we stopped to take this photo of this dead cactus, which was a little down from the car, we left Jenna in the vehicle. Sometimes when we leave her in the vehicle, she climbs into the back where luggage is piled to the top of the backseat and waits patiently for us. I often wish I could hear what she is thinking. I know most of it is cuss words and why aren't you taking me. She eventually gets over it I hope!
I asked the nice park ranger what the quickest way would be if we were heading to Phoenix. He told me to go back out to I-10. Of course, he told me to take a certain road, but upon leaving the park, we saw a sign that said I-10 left. So we followed it. As the road wound east, we wanted to head west, we laughed. And heck, if we would have followed the other way, we wouldn't have seen the deer cross the road. We've been in this situation a couple of times as well and since we are on a vacation, we don't give a shit. Actually, we pretend we are in the Amazing Race game and everyone else is behind us. HA HA.
We finally found our hotel, checked in, actually declared Jenna this time, and went to the Texas Roadhouse to eat dinner. Funny thing is they don't have any in Texas. It was one of the best meals I have had in a long time. They had awesome bread with honey butter, great pina coladas, the steak was done right, and the shrimp was delicious. And of course Jenna loved the leftovers.
Tomorrow we head to the big city, but not after visiting some other places. We'll be hanging with family and friends for the Christmas holidays. Every one have a great one!
more photos as always
Friday, December 22, 2006
We went to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. We went mostly for the birding, however, we did get to see a deer and then it disappeared. In its place were five coyotes. And they say that coyotes don't hunt in packs anymore. HA!
Jenna kind of enjoyed the park as well because to our surprise the lady at the gate told us the dog could be out, but had to be on a leash. So she was allowed to get out some places. Her first adventure was out on a boardwalk and she was quite intrigued with the coots and other birds in the water. At the places where we did not let her out, she enjoyed pouting.
When we first arrived at the boardwalk, we spooked a coot from under the boardwalk and it flew for a little while. Then it thought it was landing on water, but slid on its ass across the ice. It was one of the funniest things I have seen.
The birding was mostly a vehicle tour with Murray saying stop, back up, etc. He was the spotter and then I would stop, get out, slam the door, and the bird would fly off so I couldn't get the photograph. But I did get some photos...
We drove on to another town today and found our same chain hotel. Tomorrow we head for Arizona. We are still looking for warmth.
The wildlife: 5 coyotes, 1 deer, northern shoveler, bufflehead, kestrel, snow geese, merlin, northern harrier, hooded mengauser, northern pintail, sandhill crane, says phoebe, killdeer, northern flicker, gadwall, coopers hawk, golden eagle, bald eagle, ring necked duck, ring-necked pheasant, widgeon, sandpiper, marsh wren, pied bill grebe, green winged teal, and others we didn't identify.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
In the park service, the crowd is small and you usually know or someone else knows someone else and so on. And of course I knew someone from here who I used to work with. At Aztec, one of the workers knew someone I currently work with. Geez, it is a small work community.
I've seen a lot of ruins, but nothing like these. Each time I raised my camera to take the photo the guy with the walking stick would walk in front of my photo. He did it about 5 times. Unbelievable.
Unlike Chaco where we had the entire park to ourselves because it was so damn cold, we had to share the park today. The snow was so bad there yesterday they had shut down the park. Like at Chaco, my camera fell again and this time instead of the mud got a little damaged (ladder photo). No biggie though. Friends ask why I leave on the plastic cover on the LCD screen. Now you know.
We finally finished up the hike and Jenna was quite excited because she is getting sick of being left in the vehicle. We drove into Los Alamos. We aren't glowing. We went to the Museum so we could learn more about how and why and everything else we did and didn't want to know about the A-Bomb. Then we went to a historical diner. Finally back at the vehicle, Jenna was ready to kill us even more. We found a road off the highway and took her for a much needed walk and run. Plus, part of her dinner was my pork chop so I think we appeased her. Tomorrow we are going to try to find something strictly for her.
Not sure where tomorrow will lead us but it will be down I-25 hopefully to warmth! Happy Holidays!
Our first unscheduled stop was a casino. We only dropped 20 of Murray's money. And I have decided that I couldn't live in a gambling city because I would have a problem with gambling.
We arrived in Farmington NM sometime that day and drove straight to Aztec Ruin National Monument (http://www.nps.gov/azru/) QUIZ: What is the difference between a National Park and National Monument (Parkies can't answer). Of course the lady working there knew people we knew. (Green Hornet-you took her over EH)
We stayed that night in Farmington. While staying in the La Quinta because that is our choice hotel, I received an email from some "old" camp hosts from Arches. (And I don't mean OLD). How about past. That is better. Mike said something about Farmington and I said oh shit, they live in Farmington. So I sent a message in hopes he would get it before we left. Then we went next door and had one of the greatest drinks I have ever had. Raspberry Liqueur, Kahlua, half&half-shaken over the rocks with a splash of Sprite. YUMMIE!!!!!!! The next morning Mike called and we met up for breakfast and coffee. Then we headed onto Chaco.
Driving down 550 the road was ok. Not much snow left over and not slippery. We turned onto a paved county road and then onto the dirt road. About 20 miles of dirt road to reach Chaco. Mike had told me about the washboard, but thought they might be ok because of the snow. NOPE MIKE...they are still there and still crappy. But we made it. And saw two coyotes on the way. We pulled into the parking lot and were the only ones there. It was windy and freezing ass cold, but we endured. We had the entire park to ourselves. Jenna (the dog) didn't like it much because she didn't get to go on a lot of the trails.
But it was really nice to have an entire park to ourselves. And I am sure the area looks completely different without snow. And just a note...it is always important to actually take the trail guide so when you come to the numbers you know what you are looking for or at. At #8, we searched and searched and then when we read the trail guide at the end of the trail, it said nothing was there.
We left Chaco after freezing most of the tour of the park. We stopped at a large pull out to eat lunch in the vehicle and let Jenna run. After about 10 minutes she came back to the vehicle. We aren't sure if it was because she was freezing or could smell the sandwiches. We turned back onto 550 and headed south towards I-25. And here came the snow. The Rocket (my vehicle) made it through without one slip or slide. One vehicle used me the entire time...each time I pulled out to pass, he was right behind me. Little did he know that a female was driving. HAHA.
We found our La Quinta in Santa Fe right near a mall, which was nice so I could get a stocking cap since I can't find mine. Today, the roads are icy, but we are still heading north towards Bandelier. Until then...keep warm...
As always more photos