Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I Thought They Were Supposed To Be Green

We’re back home in Texas but before leaving New Mexico we made one more stop - The UFO Museum in Roswell. 

We visited the museum many years ago.  The museum has changed a lot since our last visit.

Most of the museum is newspaper articles from 1947 when a “weather balloon” crashed at a ranch in Roswell.

There were a few other things to see in the museum.

 Old teletype machine, typewriter, etc.

The difference between a human mandible and an alien mandible - just in case you ever run across a mandible lying around.

Alien autopsy.
Pickled alien.

I thought aliens were supposed to be little green men.  In the UFO Museum, they are tall silver men.  

This was the best display in the museum.  The spaceship spun around and the smoke came down with lots of colored lights.  There was some "creepy" music.

Apparently aliens like Coke too!

Our next volunteer gig is supposed to be at Goose Island State Park in Rockport.  We have contacted the park to see if they can use us to help clean up after hurricane Harvey.  We haven't heard from them yet.

Friday, September 8, 2017

To The Bat Cave!

One night a week there is a guided walk to the bat cave on the El Calderon Loop Trail.  Before getting to the bat cave, our Ranger guide made several stops along the way.

Junction cave is a lava tube created by the lava flows from nearby El Calderon Cinder Cone.  It’s 115,000 years old.  Junction Cave has more cave-adapted species than any other cave in El Malpais.
Junction Cave
By the time we got to the bat cave, the bats were already flying.
 Thousands of Mexican Freetailed Bats. 

Our guide indicated that this cave was a “bachelor pad.”  So far, White-nose-syndrome has not been found in any New Mexico caves. 

We stayed until all the bats had left.

On the way back to the truck we enjoyed a beautiful pink sunset.

We were surprised that it was still light by the time all the bats had left the cave.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Ice Cave

After visiting the volcano we made the short hike to the ice cave. 

The ice cave is located in a collapsed lava tube.  There were several steps to get there.

We saw beautiful colored lichens on the way down.

 This cave is really interesting.  The temperature never gets above 31 degrees!  The floor is approximately 20 feet deep. 

This isn't the type of cave you walk into and explore.  As we were walking down to the plateform the air was getting considerably cooler.  The deepest ice is the oldest and dates back to 1100 AD.  

The green tint is caused by an Arctic algae.

The ice was “harvested” in 30s and 40s to chill the beer that was served in the Saloon of the Ice Cave Trading Post.

The ice cave was a great ending to our day.

Next time:  To The Bat Cave!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fire and Ice

We’re continuing our trip home.  We’ve left Utah and are in Grants, New Mexico.  We have not been here before and there is a lot of exploring to do in this area.

We like to get up early while it’s cool and do our sightseeing.  Unfortunately, we’re finding that the attractions in this area aren’t on our schedule.  Opening at 9:00 a.m. is not an “early” start, in our opinion. 

Our outing this morning was to the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano (Land of Fire and Ice).  We stopped at the 1930’s trading post, paid our $12 and headed out. 

Along the path to the Crater are numerous stopping points. 

Spatter Cone.
Spatter cones are formed when minor vents form in the molten lava.  A surge of hot air rushes through the lava forming surface tubes and minor vents.  When the air breaks through the surface, lava will splash out forming a type of blow hole.

Natural ice box.
In the early days, there was ice present in the bottom of this cave.  It was used as a refrigerator long before electricity was available.

Lava Tubes.
This is part of a collapsed lava tube.  A lava tube is formed when the molten lava pours out of a volcano.  The surface hardens, while below, the lava continues to flow.  The porous lava acts as an insulator and keeps the lava hot beneath the surface.  This creates a pipeline of lava known as a lava tube.
Sink holes.
Sink holes are created when lava tubes collapse.

Anasazi Indian ruins.
Stacks of lava form a wall in front of this small cave.  The insulating properties of the lava made an ideal shelter. 
‘A’a lava.
‘A’a lava is composed of jagged, broken lava produced when the surface of the flow cools and hardens while underlying lava is still in motion.  This region is called El Malpais which is Spanish for “bad lands.”

After about a half mile hike we arrived at the crater.  
This volcano is a cinder cone.  The volcano began as the earth started to swell.  Eventually a crack broke open and high pressure lava began spraying out.  The molten rock hardened in mid air and fell back down to the ground as cinders.  As the eruption continued the cinder cone got larger and larger.

The Bandera Crater is the largest volcano in the region.  It erupted around 10,000 years ago.  There were two stages of eruption.  First the cinder cone developed, then a massive lava flow broke out the side.  The molten lava reached temperatures above 2,000 degrees.  The lava flow is nearly 23 miles long.  At the end of the eruption the lava fell back down the main vent making the bottom of the cone deeper than the outside lava flow.  This crater is nearly 1,400 feet wide at the top and roughly 800 feet deep.
The crater is slowly filling up as cinders and rocks fall down into it.

Next time:  Aaaaah, the ice cave.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Canyonlands National Park

After visiting Newspaper Rock (previous blog) we made our way to Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands is huge, at almost 340,000 acres. There are several sections, and we visited "The Needles" area in the southeastern part of the park.

This is the Needles Range that gives this section of the park its name. As the sandstone erodes it forms amazing pillars and spires.

As we drove into the park we passed Sixshooter Peak.

A little further on we saw Wooden Shoe Arch.

There were heat warnings up for the park (after all, it is still August!!) and we decided to hike the shorter Slickrock Trail so we'd be out before things really heated up. That turned out to be a smart decision as it is really exposed out on the trails!

Slickrock refers to the bare rock that forms much of the landscape in Canyonlands. It is fairly smooth and can be slippery in places.

The Slickrock Trail is about 2.2 miles long and has several viewpoints along the way. An interpretive booklet describes how the landscape is shaped by water, wind and ice. The resulting area is harsh, but beautiful.
By far the most common wildlife was lizards. This Plateau Side-Blotched Lizard had some subtle blue spotting on it.

As we made our way around the trail we continued to find amazing views and landscapes.

The views continued even after we'd left the park and were headed back to our trailer. We plan to return to the area and do more exploring, but probably not in the middle of the summer!!


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Reading the Newspaper

As we continue to drift south toward Texas, we have the choice of staying in familiar areas or finding new places. Coming from the Provo area, we decided to bypass Moab and continue on to the (much) lesser known town of Monticello, Utah. At an elevation of 7000 feet it is 3000 feet higher than Moab and about 12 degrees cooler, which was welcome in August.

We stayed at a small RV park, and when I mentioned to the owner that we'd be headed to Canyonlands National Park in the morning he asked if we knew about the "back way". We didn't, and he described a route that passes through some beautiful country and avoids construction on the main highway.
The back way took us up to 8500 feet, and gave us wonderful views of the valley below. We were the only people on this road, so had plenty of time to stop for birds and animals.

This coyote was curious enough to stop for a picture.

We saw several hawks along the way, including this Cooper's Hawk.

As we started to descend, we got better looks at the amazing terrain of the Canyonlands. Eventually we dropped down onto the plains, and towards our first scheduled stop, Newspaper Rock.

This State Archaeological Site is located in the base of a small canyon that has been used for centuries by area travelers. According to the interpretive panel it is not known if the figures on the rock represent storytelling, doodling, magic, ancient graffiti, or something else, but it was certainly interesting to see the variety of figures.

The main area was about 12' high and 40' long, but we did see figures either carved or drawn onto other areas of the rock as well.

Here are some of the figures. Can you decipher them??

Next: Slickrock Foot Trail


Monday, August 28, 2017

Oh Hell No!

After Twin Falls, Idaho, we headed to Provo, Utah. 
We’re only spending a couple of nights here but wanted to get out and see the area.

We took a trip to Bridal Veil Falls.  The falls are 607 feet up and very pretty.  Even this late in the season there was a lot of water flowing.
There is a fish pond at the trailhead where you can buy fish food from a quarter machine.  Mark threw in some fish food but didn’t get any hits.  We didn’t see any fish in the pond. 
There used to be a tram located near the trailhead that took people up to a restaurant located on the cliffs above the falls. An avalanche destroyed the tram in 1996 and a fire burned down most of the restaurant in 2008. 

Did you recognize the title of the blog?  If you didn't, you are not a Sharknado fan! 

There is a trail going up the side of the waterfall.
No way was I going up that trail!