Thursday, October 25, 2012

Meeting Up With Aliens - In Roswell, NM of course

Roswell, NM and the UFO Research Museum was right on the path to Albuquerque so how could we not stop? It was actually very interesting and there are plenty of unexplained happenings not only relating to the famous 1947 crash reports, but with the strange crop circles and other unexplained happenings. What I found particularly interesting were the testimonies from folks who described being threatened by government agents to shut up about what they had seen. One display on an archaeology project at the site in 2002 sponsored by the Sci-Fi channel and archaeology professors from the University of New Mexico described the participation of the daughter of Major Edwin Easley who responsible for securing the site in 1947. On his death bed he referred to the victims of the crash as "creatures." So is it all a bunch of hokum? Or is there more to learn? Efforts are being made to declassify everything that had to do with the 1947 events. Whatever the truth, it was an interesting way to spend a few hours.

Larry was particularly fascinated by the crop circles. As one website says:
The specific placement of the shapes indicates that, whoever the circlemakers are, they have an intricate knowledge ofEuclidean geometry (the geometry of a flat surface introduced by the mathematician Euclid of Alexandria). 
So that seems to rule out our dumbed down high school students carrying out a hoax in the middle of the night. And if it is a hoax where are the imprecise crop circles that fail to show the precision these show? Strange! Maybe we do have strange visitors sending us messages. (Cue for the Twilight Zone music.)

Aliens on parade.
Crop circle - the precision of these geometric patterns is unexplained.
Descriptions from the 2002 archaeology dig.

What did Nancy Johnston's dad really see?
Will the real aliens please stand up?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Chihauhau Living Desert

One of the two bobcats
Our last adventure in Carlsbad was to visit the Living Desert Museum and Zoo. It was fascinating. While the desert looks so arid with little life, it actually has many more life forms than greener pastures. 

For example, the Chihuahua desert has hundreds of types of grasses, many more than in wetter areas. Fascinating! We enjoyed meandering around the Living Desert and enjoyed our first sight of a roadrunner. We didn't see the cougar, but saw two handsome babcats and some gray wolves. Most of the animals are there because they were rescued. 

One of my favorite displays was the small botanical garden filled with beautiful flowers, cacti, etc. I was amazed at the wide variety of cactus and the wonderful names!

organ pipe cactus - very fitting name I think
This looks like a type of hibiscus. I don't recall its name.

barrel cactus - love the pink spines!

These wild pigs are the same type in a child's story, The Lion's Bed. But I can't remember what they're called. 

This photo was a miracle. The roadrunner never stands still and I had a heck of a time catching him! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Scenic Carlsbad Loop

After our visit down under, we took the scenic loop on top. It was fascinating to think that below us another world existed. I'd rather live on top, though. The nine-mile loop was on a rough road, but it was worth the hour it took to travel around. We ended our day with a delicious dinner at Yellow Brix in Carlsbad which is about fifteen miles north of the caverns.

Carlsbad Caverns - Wow!

We're used to Virginia's caverns which, compared to Carlsbad, are little mole tunnels. The "big room" in Carlsbad could hold 14 football fields. It was huge, but also very lightly lit. I didn't get many good photos. The real adventure was walking down unaccompanied into the cavern. It's about a mile down to the main level and then a one and half mile loop around the big room. Walking into the black hole reminded me of the old movie, Journey to the Center of the Earth, parts of which were filmed in Carlsbad. The rock formations are a lot less colorful than Luray Caverns because the rock is mostly calcite which is grayish white. They don't have the orange and blues from iron and copper. Using the "night scene" setting on the cameral added color that wasn't really there. We spent an enjoyable four hours in the caverns but were glad to come out again into the light. I don't think I'd enjoy being a bat.

Journey to the Center of the earth begins here.

Beautiful formations all the color of the gray rock in the foreground.
The underground rest area reminded me of an airport concourse with souvenir kiosks and food vendors. 
This picture shows a ladder used by the cowboy who discovered the caverns to go into one of the lower rooms. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Two Pictures I Love because of all the Love Bundles Shown!

These two pictures include the grandchildren from from three of our children. I only need photos from the other two to bring an even bigger smile to my face! A big hug to the photographers, daughter Alice and daughter-in-law Martina. Hugs to you both!

Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad

Texas and New Mexico come together in a beautiful part of the country with a tremendous diversity of natural wonders: the Guadalupe Mountains, the Carlsbad Caverns, and the Chihuahuan Living Desert. We spent four days experiencing as much as we could including the 40-year celebration of Guadalupe National Park which offered all kinds of adventures in honor of the day. We took a ride on a replica of Wells Fargo stagecoach. Wow, what a bumpy ride! And we were on an old asphalt road. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it was to be traveling on a dirt road rutted with wagon wheels. Our driver had a little friend riding shotgun and he did a good job. We had no problem with hostile Indians on our ride.

The weather was less than ideal, foggy and misty. We hoped to see Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan, the two highest peaks in the area, but the entire mountain was fogged in. About the only views we had were a few hundred yards from the Smith Spring trail, a loop that started and ended at the Smith Ranch.

We enjoyed the trail passing through a dry desert until we came to the spring, halfway around the trail. What an oasis that must have been for the Indians and the settlers in this arid place! Instead of cactus and scrub brush, there were numerous trees including some I'd never seen before, Madrone. with colorful pinkish bark and red berries. We hung around the spring for awhile resting and enjoying the change in scenery. Then off we went to complete the loop ending on a stretch of paved road that was wheelchair accessible.

Back at the Smith Ranch a group was singing and dancing -- explaining all of their instruments. The two young girls dancing actually are part of the percussion group, keeping the time of the music. What a fun way to keep the beat. We enjoyed watching and I was toe-tapping along with the dancers.

Our fun day ended with dinner at the "best Mexican restaurant" in Carlsbad, NM, Rojas! I agree with the little guy in the picture. Yum!

San Angelo, Texas - Halfway to Carlsbad

Sometimes you choose a place by its location and that's how we ended up in San Angelo. It's just about halfway to Carlsbad. And it's an interesting little place to visit. The town was named for both the founder's wife and St. Angela Merici. (Tell me this country has no Christian roots!)

North of town was San Angelo State Park which was great for camping. We had a view of the twin peaks which became a landmark as we traveled back and forth from the park to the town.

Among the sights are one of the best preserved forts in the country with quite a history in the Indian wars, abundant murals, and sheep mascots around town. The river walk is also being worked on with all kinds of funky art along the paved trail. We met one of the artists responsible for the mosaics covering cars and benches. There is a large art center and thousands of visitors were invited to add a piece of colored glass to the murals. We had a delicious anniversary dinner at Miss Hattie's which operated as a brothel until the Texas Rangers shut it down in 1946 - a lovely place with a tin ceiling and brick walls and lots of mirrors, brocades, and atmosphere. We got quite a taste of the old west. Here are a few photos from the fort.

One of my favorite stops was the International Water Lily Garden. What a photo op! Dozens of species were blooming. The lily festival was in September and I can just imagine how lovely that must have been!

Our two-day stop in San Angelo was certainly worth it including a beautiful sunset to send us on our way!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Favorite Sights of Austin: the Grandkids and their Folks, of Course!

Our newest grandbaby with his mommy and big sis.
Taking the plunge.
Daddy is the man in her life!
A pretty princess who is also an expert salad maker and cookie helper!
Is that a fish? Yes, it's the colorful cookie eater.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hot Springs, Arkansas - what a great small town!

Sunday in Hot Springs a week ago was delightful. We went to Mass at historic St. Mary's, a lovely little church. We were pleased to find another faithful Mass with no liturgical nonsense. The Church had a beautiful stained glass window in the back in lovely pastel colors. I particularly liked a statue of St. Ann with Mary who was holding a scroll. St. Ann appears to be instructing her -- perhaps reading a hard word or explaining a doctrine from the Torah. It seemed like the perfect statue for home schooling moms who are  teaching their young ones to read.

It was pouring rain and thundering when we arrived, but, by the time Mass was over, it was just drizzling. We drove to the main street to find a place for breakfast and ended up at a little cafe Southern Living says has "the best breakfast." It was sweet with wooden walls and a decor I'll call country eclectic. We ate a leisurely breakfast and then went off exploring the town.

We visited a small antique shop and met a man who was transplanted from the D.C. area (McClean, VA). He used to manage the theatrical productions at Carter Barron and, when their funding went south he took a job at a theatre in Memphis with a more generous budget. After he retired he moved to Hot Springs where his dad was living and running the shop and took over. He had two statues of the archangels Michael and Raphael that I took a fancy to. (See here.) I especially liked Raphael's fish. The dealer said most people don't know who he is.

We had a delightful conversation and I marveled, once again, at how small the world is. We once met a friend of Larry's cousin from high school in Wheeling waiting tables at a restaurant in Ponchatoula, LA. I'm serious!

After visiting the Hot Springs visitor center (It used to be a bath house and operates as a museum now.) we decided to take a dip in the public pools ourselves. There were four pools, each at a different temperature 92, 98, 102, and 104. The hottest was too hot for me! I got in and lasted about thirty seconds. We spent a pleasant hour and half there before heading to Lowes to get some items for Larry to repair the cable that connects the trailer lights to the car. Two hundred miles of dragging on the asphalt is not much good for rubber-wrapped wires.

And now a few random pictures from our enjoyable days at Lake Catherine and Hot Springs.

Only one of the old buildings on bath house row still operates as a bath house. This had shops on the first floor. 

This building houses and art gallery.

This is one of the old showers. But it looks like a torture chamber!

How would you like to be closed up in this steam cabinet?

One of the wall sculptures decorating the buildings

This sea god reminded me of my dad in his later life. Very distinguished!