Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Utah

When we first visited Utah, it seemed as though every which way we turned we found another national park. Heck, I had never even heard of Canyonlands National Park, and suddenly there we were, completely taken in by its beauty. We've returned a few times, once to visit Antelope Island on Great Salt Lake. Virtually nothing lives in that lake, we were told. It's much too saline for fish. The only life seems to be tiny shrimp that are noticeable for the odor of their tiny little carcasses and the tiny bugs they attract.
On Antelope Island, Salt Lake, Utah
where the antelope play
But wait, don't let that stop you. A causeway connects the mainland to the island, where antelope and buffalo abound. If you ever have the chance to visit Utah, for goodness' sake do it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Taos, New Mexico

San Francisco de Asis, near Taos

A lovely, quirky little town north of Santa Fe. Images of the San Francisco de Asis church have been captured on canvas by Georgia O'Keeffe, on film by Ansel Adams, and on digital cameras by thousands of people like me. It dates from the late 1700s. If you visit Santa Fe, try to make time for Taos and the Taos Pueblo, a community said to have been occupied for over 1,000 years.

Curio shop, Taos

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Shiprock

Any fan of the wonderful Tony Hillerman novels has read about Shiprock, the majestic rock formation that stands out in northwestern New Mexico near the Four Corners of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. It is a holy place for the Navajo, who don't want people to get too close to it. Listen closely to the wind, and perhaps you will hear the spirits of Tony Hillerman and his detectives Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn wandering across the desert landscape.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Rio Grande Gorge

If you follow the Rio Grande southward, it changes dramatically. The Rio Grand Gorge is near Taos and has carved a path through rock that's hundreds of feet deep.  The Gorge Bridge is nearly 600 feet above the river.  But we folks are thirsty in the Southwest. We dam up the river at Elephant Butte and Caballo Lake, we drain it off, and we drink it up. The river depends heavily on Rocky Mountain snowmelt, so when the snows don't come, the water flow is greatly lessened. By the time you reach my home city of Las Cruces over 200 miles to the south, the water can be completely gone. You can walk across a dry river bank without wetting the soles of your shoes.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quebec

We visited Quebec several times and have always loved the place. Montmorency Falls lies on the north side of the Saint Lawrence River just across from Quebec City. There is a lower, more modern part of the city, while the walled upper part, Haute Ville, is centuries old and was a battle site in the French and Indian War. The building is the elegant hotel Chateau Frontenac, which oversees a boardwalk and the river.

Chateau Frontenac Montmorency Falls

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Pompey's Pillar National Monument

We had never heard of Pompey's Pillar National Monument, which sits alongside the Yellowstone River in Montana, until our visit to the area last year. Carved on the side are Native American petroglyphs and the signature of explorer William Clark. I walked to the 150-foot summit using the stairway you see in the photo. Although I saw some of the carvings, the lighting didn't lend itself to decent photos.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Organ Mountains

The Organ Mountains are a rugged, gorgeous mountain range separating Las Cruces, New Mexico from the White Sands Missile Range. Wikipedia says it's 85 miles long, though I would not have guessed it was nearly that long. Anyway, it provides a perfect backdrop for the city. When we were new here and still trying to find our way around, we always knew we could get home by heading toward the mountains.