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Random thoughts and pictures from our travels in a LazyDaze motorhome.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Capulin Volcano NM

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We had spent two days around the rig, so it was time to take a drive. We headed up to Raton and then east to Capulin Volcano National Monument.

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The views here are awesome! It is worth the drive just for the views. This is looking northwest from an elevation of about 7800 feet.

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There is a road that spirals around the volcano to this parking lot on the west side. This is the lower side of the cone. From the lot, you can hike around the rim, and down into the center. This view is looking north.

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A shot of the interior core. Its about 150 feet below the lower rim. This is a cinder cone volcano, exactly like those in Mojave National Preserve, except with vegetation and being older. Cinder cone volcanoes are active for only a short period of time.

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This view is to the west southwest. You can see another cinder cone is left of center. Those distant mountains maybe old volcanoes, but I really do not know. We are close to 8000 feet now. The rock outcropping in the lower right is the rim edge. It is a dang steep slide down.

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Looking to the south is Sierra Grande, the largest shield volcano in the region. Shield volcanoes can be very large. Examples are Mt Kilauea, Stromboli and Etna. Yes, I enjoy volcanoes. Volcanology was a very close second to Meteorology for me.

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On the east rim looking west.

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You get an idea of the terrain curvature here, besides the pretty flowers.

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This view is looking northeast towards the small town of Folsom, which is near center in the picture. Think hard now. Where have you heard about Folsom?

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Another view of Sierra Grande, but with added features. See the dark raised relief or edging near picture center that trails off the left and right? Those are pressure ridges caused by cooling lava flows that have been lifted by hot lava from beneath.

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Jumbled igneous rock as you lower into the core.

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A view of the circular rim from the core, looking up.

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Another shot of the rim. This is déjà vu. This is similar to the inside of a large eyewall inside a hurricane. Except the aircraft is in a 30-40 degree bank and the eye is 8-20 miles across. If most pronounced, it is called stadium effect.

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This is a shot to the north again, mainly to document the nearly stationary cloud structure in the center and upper portions of the image.

Ok, have you figured out the Folsom reference?  Folsom Points were discovered here at the Folsom Site by George McJunkin, an ex-slave after a flash flood that nearly wiped out the town in 1908. He was riding to check damage after the flood and discovered the bones, embedded with points. He was a self-taught naturalist who shocked the archeology world with the discovery. An interesting side note about the flood…the town telephone operator saved many from the flood by forewarning them, losing her life in the process. So now you know about Folsom.

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Here is Capulin viewed from the north. Capulin is Spanish for choke cherry. The volcano was also a landmark for the Santa Fe Trail.

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From a greater distance. I REALLY appreciate the forethought of interested people and government officials to protect this impressive landmark in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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Our stationary cloud. Altostratus lenticularis.

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On the Johnson Plateau along Highway 72 to Raton.

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Most of the pit water holes in the area are dry.

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A scruffy mule deer. Nothing like the 300 pound monster whitetails in Iowa!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maxwell NWR

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Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge has this camping area next to a small lake. It is very quiet with a few fisherman passing by, plus it is free! This was a whim stop on our way to Sugarite Canyon SP near Raton, which is 25 miles up the road.

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The lake. It was fun to watch the various kinds of birds plus the BIG jackrabbits. The wind was continuous during the day however.

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A couple of pit toilets and trash containers, that is it.

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Near dusk over the lake.

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Sunset to the west.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Santa Fe, NM

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We took a drive to Santa Fe to visit the Loretto Chapel specifically but discovered a couple of other unique structures while there. This is the San Miguel Mission, supposedly the oldest church structure in the United States. Built between 1610 and 1626. Some of the walls were actually built in Mexico City. This was located across a small street from where we ate pizza.

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This is the entrance to the Loretto Chapel which contains the famous Miraculous Stair.

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The altar area. This chapel used to be associated with a girls school, but was closed in the late 60s. The diocese was not interested in the structure, so it was opened to public sale. A private family purchased it, and it is know a public museum with an attached inn and spa.

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The spiral staircase. The carpentry work is pretty amazing. The initial construction lacked the hand railing and balustrades!

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Down the street and around the corner is this structure. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

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The altar area.

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A closer view. There was a small instrumental group on the left behind the cross draped with the red cloth rehearsing while we were inside. The organ sounds fantastic.

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A view of the wall in the small wing to the left of the altar.

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Looking from the altar area to the entrance of the cathedral. Impressive.

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The exterior entrance doors. I need a pair for our house.

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An enjoyable afternoon looking at architecture…

Monday, April 18, 2011

Villaneuva SP

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We headed for Villaneuva State Park on Monday, coming in from the south. New Mexico does not recommend tractor trailers on Highway 3 between I-40 and I-25 due to its narrowness and sharp curves in several places. The state park is along the Pecos River, fitted into a narrow strip of ground between 400 foot walls.

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This is the downstream view, with camping on the left.

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There is a two mile loop trail that climbs the left wall in the first picture to the top and brings you back around the downstream corner in the second picture. This view is looking up valley towards the village of Villaneuva. Those stone walls in the foreground are the remains of Spanish construction. Coronado passed through this very location in 1540 as did several other Spanish explorers later in the 1500s.

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Another up valley shot with the meandering Pecos River.

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The view from the top.

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This is looking down valley. The campground is along that row of cottonwoods in the middle of the picture. That distant pointy mountain top is Starvation Peak, 7042 feet.

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A closer view of the campground. There is also a higher elevation campground, which you can see with the structure at left center. You can see the rig in the middle center of the picture. No cell or Internet access here.

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Blooming cactus.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Spruce Creek Loop

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Up from the state park is the USFS campground at Red Canyon. Off the horse campground portion is Spruce Creek Trail. This is about a 1700 foot climb in 3.5 miles to the Crest Trail.

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A view to the northeast of the valley grasslands.

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By 9400 feet we were seeing snow.

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Ah, which way?

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Close to 10,000 feet and looking northwest, on the other side of the range. Albuquerque is a bit farther to the north. Little to no snow at this elevation. A LOT different than the Rockies.

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Another view to the northeast.

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Nearing the bottom of Red Canyon, more rock. The descent through Red Canyon does multiple crossings of a small stream. It is also used by horses.

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A small shelter cave.

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It is fairly dry, but these Virginia Bluebells don’t seem to mind. A nice ending to a 7.5 mile hike.