Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: Visions of heat and sun

Last year Dale bought a coffee table book called Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks, by photographer QT Luong.  It basically chronicles the photographer’s long love affair with our national parks.   It took Luong over 20 years and dozens of trips, all of them self-financed, but he visited and photographed all 59 parks, and the book’s 500+ photos showcase just how extraordinary the United States is, both in the diversity of ecosystems and landscapes as well as the vast national parks system that makes the U.S. unique. Continue reading “Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: Visions of heat and sun”

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico: How to be a respectful visitor to a Native American community

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Taos Pueblo (Source: Wikipedia, public domain)

 

When faced with a culture that is different from our own, sometimes we humans are uncertain how to respond and might act kinda inappropriately.

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Random things to do in and around Taos, New Mexico

 

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San Francisco de Asis Church

We spent a few days sightseeing in Taos, a tiny town with a fascinating mix of cultures–Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo, not to mention the influence of artists and free thinkers who have made their residence here for over 100 years.  For such a little town, there’s a lot going on.

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What’s it like to camp full-time?

One month in: Random thoughts about the camping life

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“So… can I return to using porta-potties and baby wipes after two weeks’ of indoor plumbing?”

“Will we be OK with going back to an air mattress again?”

These were questions that we’d been bracing ourselves for.

I mean, I hog the sheets and Dale tends to take up more than half the bed, issues that become more pronounced when you’re sleeping on an air mattress more appropriate for a large child than two adults.

But we’d adapted, you know?  We were sleeping well, and I’ve mostly gotten over my squeamishness about using public bathrooms.   We’d made some good progress.

But, after four weeks of camping, we’ve now moved indoors for side trips to Las Vegas, Idaho, Portland, and Seattle.  These were planned stops and we knew this time was coming, but we had to wonder–would our return to the civilized world for two weeks thwart our desire to go back to the nomadic life?

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Ft. Davis: Texas’ frontier army post

A surprisingly moving visit to this little historical site

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We came to Ft. Davis army post expecting to spend an hour tops. We’d been there years ago and remembered it as being a dry, dusty little place, your average 19th century army fort, with a small cluster of buildings and an American flag flying out front.  A museum in the visitors center orients you to the history; from there you can wander the grounds and inspect the handful of buildings that have been restored, and, if you don’t put this place into its proper historical context, you may forget it as soon as you leave it.

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Fort Davis, Texas: The mind-bending McDonald Observatory

 

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The view from Mt. Locke

“I am made of the dust of the stars, and the oceans flow in my veins.”  —Rush, “Presto”

 

One of the best observatories in the world is McDonald Observatory, run by the University of Texas at Austin, my alma mater (hook ‘em!).  It’s situated on a few mountain tops in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.  McDonald Observatory is a mind-bending place to visit–-so many great minds accumulated in one place, researching our vast universe, completing all that advanced math….

This was our third trip to the observatory, and as always, it was overwhelming, but in a good way.

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“Enjoy being smelly!” My niece asks questions about the camping life

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Lacey and I, in Madrid last year

 

“I read the blog post yesterday; loved it!   I have two very important questions related to that…”

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First stop on the road trip: the Davis Mountains

First stop: Davis Mountains (JULY 7-10)

View of the Indian Lodge and Davis Mountains State Park
View of the Indian Lodge and Davis Mountains State Park, taken from a vantage point during one of our hikes

The Davis Mountains hold a special place in our hearts.  Roughly equidistant between Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks, the Davis Mountains are situated in the huge, sparsely-populated area of deep west Texas.  We came out here many times in our 20’s and early 30’s.  The first time we visited, several years before we we were even married, it was with Dale’s parents, and we returned numerous times after that, mostly to camp.

Our return this year was our first visit in probably fifteen years, and I have no idea why we ever stopped coming.

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