MAY, 2016, TRIP TO THE SOUTHWEST
I guess I started the APRS mapping after this trip. Here is the trip itinerary from my spreadsheet:
New Brighton SB 5/5/2016 133 miles
Burbank 5/6/2016 326
Joshua Tree NP 5/8/2016 155
Saguaro NP 5/11/2016 390
Carlsbad 5/14/2016 470
Albuquerque 5/18/2016 311
Mesa Verde NP 5/20/2016 255
Canyon de Chelly NM 5/23/2016 151
Grand Canyon NP 5/24/2016 221
Bakersfield CA 5/28/2016 520
home 5/29/2016 322
We had heard from a number of people about Sedona, Arizona, so we decided to take a day and drive there. I had a feeling that there was a lot of red rock formations, but that was all I knew.
We started driving south from Flagstaff and were driving along fairly interesting forests and then we hit the top of Oak Creek Canyon. Wow is all I can say after spiraling down through the top of the canyon to the floor, then driving down toward the town of Sedona. I wish I had a photo of that area, but I was just too busy driving and gawking.
Grand Canyon National Park
There's a good reason it's called the Grand Canyon. It is really grand. The canyon is really unbelievably large. We approached the park from the east, and drove through the Little Canyon area on the way. It's pretty large and spectacular. And then you get to the Grand Canyon. You just have to stop and gawk. It is so large, wide and deep.
We learned about the layers of rock and how the Colorado River just kept eating through the rock as the ground rose around it. That's nice to learn but it is just so LARGE it is really difficult to say anything else about it.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly reminds me of the Grand Canyon in some ways. When you go to the canyon, you drive across the desert and it seems like you are on this large plain. Then suddenly, there is a canyon and the world just drops away.
People have lived in Canyon de Chelly for thousands of years, and still live there. Since the canyon includes people's homes, you can't just wander through it. If you want to go into the actual canyon, you must hire a local guide. Since we had just half a day to see it, we decided to take the South Rim Drive.
While we were at Mesa Verde National Park, we drove there through Durango, CO. We had taken the Durango & Silverton Railroad twice before, most recently 29 years ago. Can it really have been that long ago?
Mesa Verde National Park
In the southwest United Stated, there are lots of places where you can see ruins of ancient people's dwellings. Mesa Verde National Park holds, for me, a unique position in these. You can see many ruins, and can actually walk through some of them, including dwellings on flat ground and in the side of cliffs.
Mesa Verde is on a mesa, of course, and is at the side of a valley. Across the valley, we saw several mountain ranges with snow covered peaks.
Aztec Ruins National Monument
On our way from Albuquerque to Mesa Verde National Park, we needed a place to stop for lunch. In looking at the map, we saw several possible small towns on the way. But then we spotted Aztec, NM, and Aztec Ruins National Monument just on the north side of the town, so we decided to go there and hope they had a picnic area.
They had a picnic area and a lot more.
On our way from Carlsbad Caverns National Park to Mesa Verde National Park, we spent a few days in Albuquerque, NM. This was partly because we needed time to do some laundry but also because Jennifer's cousin, Brent, lives there and we wanted to see him, which we did. We had a great visit to his home and had time to catch up on our respective lives.
We found there are lots of things to do in the Albuquerque area.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
After leaving Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we drove toward Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It has no campgrounds, but there is one in Whites City, right at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns NP. The reviews were not good but we decided that it was so close that we would try it. It worked out fine. It was not a 5 star place but it was adequate, with full hookups. The shower and toilet was a single room for both uses but it was clean.
We drove into Carlsbad Caverns NP and went to the visitor center. They confirmed that the elevator was still broken but we could walk in the natural entrance, about 1.25 miles, then through the caverns, another 1.25 miles, then out the natural entrance. So we planned to do that the next day.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
We drove from Las Cruces to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, knowing next to nothing about it. We didn't learn very much. When we arrived, we learned that there was a wildfire (called the Coyote fire) and most of the park was closed. The area right around the visitor center and several nearby trails were open but that was it.
Retirement is great. We bought a travel trailer and are exploring National Parks. (Actually, we bought one and sold it and bought a second one better suited to us. It happens...) And I have time to do some woodworking projects and things around the house. And now I have gotten interested in ham radio so there goes any free time.