Sunday, April 27, 2008

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Having seen the Durango & Silverton Train ride on several Travel shows, we just had to see it for ourselves. It's an hour's drive east of Cortez, however, they are running on the winter schedule this week, which only goes half way up to Silverton along the Cascade Canyon. I called up to see if we could get tickets for Friday morning and there was no problem. While on the phone with the train station, I inquired if there were any kennels nearby they could recommend. Right away they gave me a number for a couple just outside town that takes in dogs and horses. Sure enough, they had room for Raider for the day at their Wonuka Farm, in fact, they'd even pick him up at the train station so we wouldn't miss our train. That is convenient.

Friday we woke to 24 degrees and a light breeze, but undaunted we all packed up to go to the mountains. As promised by Mrs. Bedford, they were at the train station! Raider nuzzled his way up to her and jumped right into their car in a flash. We on the other hand were like parents dropping off their first born at day care for the first time!

Off to the station, we picked up our tickets at Will Call and started taking photos right away. The steam engine is a Baldwin, for you train buffs, and it still uses coal. The ride goes through the middle of the town of Durango and then you're off along the Animas River. Lots of beautiful farms and ranches along the way, in fact we went by the Wonuka Farm where Raider was staying! Then it starts climbing up the canyon where the river has carved the rocks after years and years of snow run off! The mountains still had a very heavy blanket of snow on them, so there will be lots of white water running down river for some time now.

Anticipating a rugged ride on an old carriage car, we bumped along, rocking back and forth on the narrow gauge rails. There must have been at least 12 cars connected, with a parlor car at the end and a concession car for food and drinks in the middle. There was an open observation car for easier photo shots, which was excellent when we got to the steep cliffs of the gorge. The tracks wrap around the mountain which enabled us to see the engine chugging away, spewing its black smoke! It's a wonder in some places how the tracks stay on the cliff, with all of the landslides nearby!

Around noon we got to a nice place to have lunch and get the train turned around for the return trip. This picnic spot was right on the river with a suspension bridge across to walk over and take pictures. Then promptly at 1:00 it was "All Aboard" and back down the mountain we went. We kept thinking, "How do you slow a long train DOWN HILL?" Top speed is about 18 mph, so we weren't breaking any land speed records, but an enjoyable view down the gorge.

Coming back into town we stopped all kinds of traffic with the multiple train crossings, the town was quite alive compared to the early morning!

Following the very good driving directions, we found our way to the Wonuka Farm and our happy puppy! He was elated to see us but didn't seem traumatized at all by being left there! Besides their own dog, Shadow, the friendly Rottweiller, he was their only canine guest. He must've gotten to run around a lot, because he slept all of the way home back to Cortez. We practically had to wake him up for dinner!

Since Raider was such a happy camper when we picked him up, Kathy promised them a plug on our blog. This is the Wonuka Farm link:

Here is the link to the slide show of our trip on the Durango & Silverton Railroad

The Durango & Silverton Railroad home page: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Bird Note:

The birding has improved a lot here at this park. We now have White Crowned Sparrows, Lessor Goldfinches, House Sparrows and some female Red Winged Blackbirds checking out our feeders. While walking Raider yesterday we spotted a flock of Yellowheaded Blackbirds in the trees near our hosts home and another flock down by the lake next door. It was so windy, of course that the birds were hunkering in the reeds down by the water. I managed to catch one curious Yellowhead pop up. On the lake are dozens of Canada Geese, Buffle-head Ducks, Common Merganzers, Ruddy Ducks and American Coots. Along the shores of the islands are Great Blue Herons,

Red Winged Blackbirds, at least a couple of Killdeer and 5 different species of swallows zooming by: Violet Green, Northern Roughed Wing, Barn, Tree and Bank Swallows. Up on the higher level we keep seeing a rather dark falcon, too small for a Peregrine, possibly a dark morph Kestrel, plus Red Tail Hawks.

Mesa Verde National Park

Tuesday the wind died down so we left the red rocks of Monument Valley behind and traveled northeast up near the Four Corners area. That is where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet. We could see Shiprock, (noted in most of Tony Hillerman’s mysteries), in New Mexico as we were in Utah, crossing the border into Colorado.

We picked the KOA in Cortez, CO since it is closed to Mesa Verde National Park, in fact that is the view we have out the back window! An hour's drive east of here is Durango and we've always wanted to ride the Durango Silverton Train. However, they don't start the summer run to Silverton until May 4th, but they do a half run from Durango up the Cascade Canyon.

Wednesday we went up to Mesa Verde National Park. For Kathy it was like stepping into one of her dad's paintings! It is quite a scenic drive up the mountain, with switchbacks in the road, something Colorado is noted for. It is so steep and narrow no trailers are allowed up it. The scenic overlooks were like being in a plane looking down on the farms of Cortez and Mancos. First thing on the agenda was to get to the Visitor's Center and get tickets for the Cliff Palace tour with a ranger. That was at 1:00, it was 11:30, time enough to have a nice lunch at the grille down near the cliff dwellings. It was such a nice sunny day we sat outside to eat lunch and enjoy the fresh air. By 12:30 we no longer needed the sweatshirts it was so warm.

Driving over to the area of Cliff Palace we got our first glimpse of the canyons where all of the villages were built. To our delight White-throated Swifts were zooming around the overlook onto the palace, the fly like bats! A bus pulled up with about 55 passengers for the tour, plus the dozen or so already waiting. We were worried when at least 45 of them were 6th graders, but they turned out to be very interested and well versed on the cliff dwellings. In fact, at several times during the tour Ranger Jose said they asked very smart questions.

The trail down to the palace is down a series of very steep stairs, and a ladder up to the main level. We had been warned there would be several ladder climbing situations. This ladder was made of very chunky wood rungs and a bit polished from countless other feet climbing it. Then all of a sudden, you're there, walking right up to the well preserved ruins of the Anasazi Puebloan Indians. They even had a spring that ran (and still runs to this day!) in the back corner of the complex. Some of the original beams are still visible, which is amazing in the fact that they left in around 1245 AD. The beams are almost a thousand years old!

Whenever you say the words “cliff dwellings” I think most people get a picture in their minds of the Cliff Palace here at Mesa Verde.
This park has been on my list of must see National Parks for as long as I can remember, no doubt from some picture I saw in a National Geographic as a kid. Mesa Verde has over 4,000 archeological sites and 600 cliff buildings. The area has been occupied since about 600 AD, but the cliff dwellings were only used from about 1,000 AD to 1300 AD. Although the builders of the various cliff dwellings throughout the Southwest have been know as the Anasazi, the new correct turn is “Ancestral Pueblo people”. At its peak they estimate about 5,000 people were living on the mesa both in cliff houses and stone houses built on the top of the mesa and that there may have been another 30,000 people living in the surrounding area. These people are part of the same culture that built the cliff house down in Arizona and New Mexico. For some unknown reason all of these site were abandoned about 1300 AD. The current theory is that there was a prolonged drought in the area.

Mesa Verde has been a National Park for over 100 years. That coupled with the difficulties of actually getting down the cliffs to the ruins has meant that they are mostly in pretty good condition. Today all access to the cliff dwellings is on ranger led hikes only and access still evolves walking some very steep steps and climbing ladders. The ranger led trips are no doubt necessary to protect the sites, but our group of 60 seemed too big. The ranger said that he has done summer trips of 80 people. The Mesa Verde plateau is at about 7,000 feet so, there is still snow in some areas. The park opens in sections, part is open now, part will open this week and a third part won’t open until Memorial Day weekend. As usual we stopped at every overview and road side exhibit that we saw.

Between the two of us we took 160 pictures while at Mesa Verde. Here is the link to the edited slide show of our visit: Our trip to Mesa Verde National Park

Here is the link to Mesa Verde National Park: Mesa Verde National Park

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Valley of the Gods - Mexican Hat - Goosenecks

One of the real nice things about this life style is things you find out about along the way. As Kathy wrote in the previous blog entry, Steve and Vicki told us about an area 20 miles up the road called “The Valley of the Gods”. It is billed as a Monument Valley without the crowds. It has a 17 mile dirt road with just spectacular scenery. We brought Raider and stopped along the way to let him run in the desert without his lead. He was running and having a great time. Later we stopped at an overlook on the road and had a picnic. We didn't see another car in either direction during our picnic. The weather was about 70F with a light wind. Valley of the Gods.jpgValley of the Gods.jpg

On the way to Valley of the Gods we went by Mexican Hat. As you can see in the picture the rock formation looks like an upside down sombrero

Steve and Vicki also told us about Goosenecks State Park and that fellow MOCers Robbie and Alice were boondocking (camping without any hookups) there. So after “The Valley of the Gods” we stopped at Gooseneck State Park to visit. We hadn’t seen Robbie and Alice since we boondocked at Quartzsite. Steve and Vickie were also visiting. So the 6 of us spent most of the afternoon sitting around talking about fulltiming.

All afternoon the wind got stronger and stronger. When we left them about 6 PM the wind was howling and the temperature was 78.

The wind continues to blow pretty hard so we have decided to have a day or two of cleaning and projects. You would not believe how fine the red dust is here and how it gets everywhere.

Click here to see the slide show of our visit:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Monument Valley

Today’s entry written by Kathy:

I can't believe we're here in Monument Valley. I've only dreamed about coming here for over 36 years after Grant did a photography tour here in 1972!! GORGEOUS Country with all of the buttes and red/orange sand. The main place to stay is at Gouldings, which started out as a Trading Post in 1924. When John Ford found out about the wonderful scenery here for filming westerns, the lodge became quite famous with all of the movie stars staying here. Now it is a huge hotel, restaurant, gift shop and the trading post is a museum to the film industry. Plus the RV Park is a part of the lodge, and just up the canyon behind it. This is a very scenic park, it has the "IT Factor" for sure! It is so quiet without any highways or railroad tracks for miles! Since it is a canyon, we can't use our Verizon Air Card for the computers. However, the wifi is very fast and inexpensive! We can see the antenna up on top of the butte near us! :-)
It had been a very long and harrowing day getting here, so we opted to have dinner back at the lodge. The restaurant sits up high overlooking the valley and the meal was delicious. Our first taste of indian Fry Bread. It was very light, almost a pastry batter, and tasty. Dinner with a Million Dollar view, what could you ask for?!

Since Monument Valley is on Navajo land it's not a national park, you are only allowed in with a guide.Through the Lodge, we arranged to go on the 3 1/2 hour Native American Guided Tour of the valley on Thursday. The fee is $50 per person, pricey but a priceless adventure. Rosie our tour guide was a kick, with a funny sense of humor! She even shuttled us at the campground and then picked up the rest of her customers at the hotel. It's a dually pickup with a custom made bed that seats at least 24, with a plastic wind screen all around. Were we glad it did! The temps were in the low 40's at 8:45 with the wind howling around us, but it was warm inside. The roads inside the reservation are not paved. Grant was glad it was not his truck going up and down the washboard, sand laden road! She navigated the potholes like a mountain goat, so no spine adjustments were needed afterward! We had several stops for photo ops and just to "ooh and awww" the place. There are several arches in there with some incredible rock formations. She gave us a history of the area, which was really fascinating. This land had been held by the Navajos since the 1200's, one of the few Native American people to keep their land!
At one point we came up the hill and were about to go down the other side, when Rosie said, "Are your eyes closed?! Mine are!" I'm sitting up front on the far right side, so I'm beyond where the cab door is, I can't see the bottom of the hill! Kawabunga!! After a couple of hours of bumping around I asked her, "are there any rest room stops in the near future?!" She said with a grin, "they're everywhere, just pull up behind a bush or a boulder!" Navajo humor! A few minutes later we came to a rest area with Porta Potties and several of us were greatly relieved! :-)
We stopped at a hogan for various Navajo culture demonstrations. The inside of the hogan looked larger than the outside with some intricate woodwork to frame it, the outside being mud. Lucy, a sweet grandmotherly Navajo, gave us a demonstration on Navajo rug weaving, corn milling and then asked for a volunteer in the crowd for a demonstration on maintaining long hair. Nobody raised their hands, since most of the ladies had short hair. So I kind of pulled my hair out of the headband and asked, "me?" She used a comb, made of thick fibers and proceeded to weave it into a bun with some yarn. Perfect, now my hair won't be blowing all over the place all day!
It was an exciting tour, I never dreamed we'd get to see so much!

Our campground has 4 other Montanas here. We recognized one Montana, owned by a couple we met back in January at the Quartzsite MOC Rally, Steve and Vicki. Apparently they had come by while we were gone and left a note to say "Howdy". After the tour we stopped by their beautiful 3400 model to say "Hi". We had a nice chat comparing notes as to where we all had been since January. They told us about several side trips from here, among them Goosenecks and Valley of the Gods State Parks. So maybe we'll be here a few more days to see more sights!
There's so much snow up north, nothing wrong with a couple of days lingering here!

As always it was a windy day with a lot of dust in the air however, here is the URL for the slide show of our visit:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments

The weather here in Flagstaff has gotten better every day we have been here. Sunday night’s low was above freezing and yesterday’s high was 72; even the wind was just a light breeze today. If the weather gets any better we will be calling a realtor. :-) (Just kidding). While we were in Wupatki National Monument which is at about 5,000 feet elevation we saw the thermometer hit 81. However last night the low was in the 40s but, the wind was so strong that it shook the trailer and knocked down the satellite dish. In all of the wind we have had since we got the satellite dish it has never fallen before.

About twenty miles north of Flagstaff are two National Monuments Sunset Crater and Wupatki, today we went to see them. Our streak of dog friendly parks has been broken, both national monuments say that dogs are not permitted in buildings or on trails and that they shouldn’t be left in cars. In reality they aren’t all that people friendly either because they also prohibit any off trail or back country travel as well. Poor Raider had to stay and guard the trailer. Fortunately, we weren’t that far away and he had both Fantastic Fans running to keep him cool.

Sunset Crater National Monument

Sunset Crater is a giant cinder cone volcano that was born in a series of eruptions sometime between 1040 and 1100. It is one of about 600 volcanoes in this area. They do have a nice trail through a lava flow and cinder field, but the actual Sunset Crater Cinder Cone has been closed to hiking for the past 30 years. This was due to eroding the crater from foot traffic all over the sides. In the lava flows and cinder fields archeologist have found the remains of pit houses build by the Sinagua – Pueblo people.

Here is the URL to their web site:

Here is the URL for the slide show of our visit:

Wupatki National Monuments

Wupatki National Monument contains several ruins sites from the Sinagua – Pueblo culture. All of these sites date from after 1140 when Sunset Crater last erupted. The belief is that the people living near Sunset Crater moved further south to Walnut Canyon National Monument area or north to the Wupatki National Monument area. Although called Wupatki National Monument there are several other sites beyond the actual Wupatki Pueblo. Wuaptki Pueblo was a 100-room pueblo with a community room and ballcourt. As many as 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo, the largest building for at least fifty miles. Within a day's walk, a population of several thousand surrounded Wupatki. Unlike the cliff dwellings we saw at Walnut Canyon and at Montezuma’s Castle the structures at Wupatki were all built of stone and set in very prominent spots.

Here is the URL to their web site:

Here is the URL for the slide show of our visit:

Bird note:

I realized that I haven’t written much about birding as of late and I guess it is because we are always birding no matter where we go or what we are doing. We seldom go anywhere without our binoculars. Here is a list of some of the year birds we have seen over the past two weeks: Broad-winged Hawk, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Prairie Falcon, Horned Lark, Rock Wren, Sage Thrasher, Pygmy Nuthatch, Loggerhead Shrike, Steller's Jay, Western Scrub-Jay, Black-and-white Warbler, Harris’s Hawk and Pine Siskin. We are currently at 151 birds for this year’s bird list.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Meteor Crater – Walnut Canyon – Sedona – Montezuma’s Castle National Monument - Lowell Observatory Again

Flagstaff maybe the busiest we have been since we started on the road. It is hard to be so busy and keep the blog up to date, but there are just so many things to see in this area.

Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater is to quote their web site “The first proven, best-preserved meteor crater on earth”, it is that. A meteor crashed here 50,000 years ago and has remained remarkably intact. The crater is 4,000 feet across and 550 feet deep. Right after the impact it was probably twice as deep, but 50,000 years of erosion have filled in a bit. It is still very impressive. The meteor is believed to have been 150 feet across, weighed roughly 300,000 tons, and was traveling at a speed of 28,600 miles per hour at impact.

One of the things that makes Meteor Crater unique is that is it NOT a park or national monument, it is privately owned. The Barringer family has owned the site for over 100 years and the family still runs the Meteor Crater Visitor Center. The cost to view the crater is $15.00 per person. As one guy said “that’s a lot of money to look at a hole in the ground”. As you know Kathy and I are amateur astronomers and we enjoyed the visit very much, but if you aren’t interested in astronomy you may not think it worth the money. However, where else are you going to get a chance to see preserved meteor crater. Here is the URL to their web site: .

Here is the URL for the slide show of our visit:

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument is one of those things that you just happen to stumble upon. As we were driving back from Meteor Crater to Flagstaff we saw a sign for Walnut Canyon National Monument next exit, so we went to see what it was.

Walnut Canyon National Monument is a very steep canyon that is the site of cliff dwellings from about 1300 AD. These used to be referred to as Anasazi ruins but now they have several names. The name Anasazi is apparently Navaho for “ancient enemy”. The Hopi refer to these people as Hisatsinom, meaning "People of the past." The early Spanish explorers called them Sinagua, for “without water”. It is currently believed that these Native Americans are the ancestors of today’s Hopis and Zunis. A Park Volunteer that we talked with explained that the cliff dwelling walls stood for over 800 years. Apparently back in the late 1800s and early 1900s collectors started dynamiting the walls so they would have more light for collecting artifacts.

Here is the URL for Walnut Canyon National Monument:

Here is the URL for the slide show of our visit:

You will notice that in the pictures of both Meteor Crater and Walnut Canyon it looks nice and clear. What you can’t see is that the wind is blowing very hard and it is cold!

Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona

For as long as I can remember I heard people say “you really must see Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona”. So we went to see the area; it truly is a beautiful area. We started by driving down the canyon and then into Sedona. Oak Creek Canyon is a very deep canyon with lots of trees, as you begin to approach Sedona the rocks turn a very vibrant red. The town of Sedona is surrounded by cliffs of green junipers and red rocks it is very picturesque. Sedona is an upscale expensive tourist town that currently has its main street torn up from one end to the other. It has everything a tourist could need like T-shirt shops and Ice Cream stores (Why is it that tourist’s biggest needs are t-shirts and ice cream?), but it also had many galleries and hotels.

Here is the URL for the slide show of our visit:

Montezuma’s Castle National Monument

Just down the road from Sedona is Montezuma’s Castle National Monument. This National Monument is the most dog friendly place we have come across. They allow dogs on all trails! Even the Ranger walked up to us and asked if she could pet Raider!

This is another incident of misunderstanding the Native names. The soldiers that came through this area thought the castle was built by the Aztec’s for the Emperor Montezuma after the fall of Mexico City to Cortez. However, the Aztecs never came this far north and the castle had been abandoned hundreds years before Cortez conquered the Aztecs. The monument has two distinct areas, one is Montezuma’s Well. Montezuma Well is a limestone sink formed long ago by the collapse of an immense underground cavern. Over one and a half million gallons of water a day flow continuously from the spring at the bottom of the well. There are the remains of several cliff dwellings and pueblos in this area and a beautiful stream.

The second part of Montezuma’s Castle National Monument is the castle itself about 11 miles downstream from Montezuma’s Well. This is the best preserved and by far the biggest cliff dwelling we have seen so far. The castle is a 20 room, 5 story structure built 70 feet above the valley floor. All of these structures were built and then abandoned during the 1100 – 1300s by the Anasazi, Hisatsinom, Sinagua people. The real question is why? Why did they abandon these sites after centuries of occupation? Clearly here at Montezuma’s Castle National Monument it wasn’t due to a lack of water with a spring producing one and half million gallons of water a day. So far no one has come up with an explanation.

Here is the URL for Montezuma’s Castle National Monument:

Here is the URL for the slide show of our visit:

This was the first day we had temperatures in the 70s in months. Of course, we were about 3500 feet lower than Flagstaff.

Lowell Observatory Again

A few days ago I wrote about our visit to the Lowell Observatory. This is a very historic spot for astronomy and we got to see the historic telescopes and equipment that had been used there over the years. The Observatory also has evening visits where you can actually look through some of the telescopes. How could anyone pass up on a chance to actually look through a 102 year old telescope that is still one of the finest refractor telescopes ever made? So we went to one of the evening visits and got to look through the 24 inch Alvan Clark telescope built in 1896, which Percival Lowell used and a 16 inch telescope built in 1963. Unfortunately it wasn’t a good night for observing because there was a quarter moon out, that makes the sky too bright and the wind as always was blowing. Although it was only blowing about 14 miles per hour, a windy night makes the images in the telescope dance and twinkle. So we got a dancing twinkling view of Saturn through the 25 inch telescope. The rings and the divisions between the rings were visible. Through the 16 inch telescope we had a washed out view of M3 a globular star cluster.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Snow – Petrified Forrest – Lowell Observatory – Grand Canyon

Snow – Petrified Forrest – Lowell Observatory – Grand Canyon

We are in Flagstaff Arizona and it is snowing. By their standards it is nothing but to us it is big deal.

This seems like a good day to get caught up with the blog.

One of the things I have been working on is finding a better way to do photos. Bolgspot which I use for the blog is difficult and time consuming to upload very many photos. It took 3 hours to upload the 20 pictures that are in the Carlsbad Revisited blog entry. I have been researching other methods and for now at least I will be using PhotoBucket to do photo albums. If you click on the links you can see the albums or run the slide show. I haven’t mastered PhotoBucket yet so the pictures may not be in sequence, but. with time I should be able to edit, organize and caption the pictures.

After we left Albuquerque

After we left Albuquerque we drove 233 miles into a head wind (naturally) to Holbrook, Arizona. It is about 20 mile west of Petrified Forest National Park. There isn’t any camping in Petrified Forest National Park, the choices are few and old in Holbrook so we picked the one furthest from I – 40. As you can see by the pictures the spaces are very close together.

Petrified Forest National Park

Neither Kathy nor I had been to Petrified Forest National Park since we were young children moving west with our families, so after more than 40 years we were anxious to see the park. When we arrived at the park we found that we had left Kathy’s camera back at the trailer so we stopped at the visitor center and bought a disposable camera. Petrified Forest National Park is the most dog friendly park we have ever been to. In most parks dogs are not allowed on the trails, however at Petrified Forest dogs are allowed on all maintained trails. The road through Park is 28 miles long so the three of us (Raider included) stopped at every turn out and walked every trail from the north to the south end of the park. Although we hiked 6 miles and spent all day in the park we ran out of time and energy, we didn’t get to do the last trail. Since we just weren’t sure of the quality of the disposable camera we came back the next day and the three of us stopped at every turn out and walked every trail from the south to the north end of the park again. Including the trail we had missed the day before.

At this URL you can see a slideshow of the pictures that Kathy took with both her Canon and the disposable camera.

An added bonus to visiting Petrified Forest National Park was to meet bloggers Bob and Linda from the Because We Can blog:

They have been on the road for just over two years and I have been following their blog all of that time. Over the two years we have occasionally exchanged emails. Bob and Linda have done a number of volunteer positions in their travels and have returned to Petrified Forest National Park for a second year. It was great to meet them in real life and to learn more about their experiences as volunteers. Kathy and I hope to do some volunteering in a park or wildlife refuge somewhere in our future. It is always a little strange to meet bloggers that you have been following, as they are meeting people they don’t know and haven’t seen while I am meeting people that I have seen in 100s of pictures and I know everything that they have done for the past two years.

After two days of hiking all three of us needed a rest day and then we had a day to take care of laundry and groceries.


After Holbrook we drove into a head wind (naturally) to Flagstaff, Arizona. Kathy and I think we have only had 2 non-windy days in the past 3 months. The RV Park is very nice and has just opened for the season. There are 50 sites, but only 6 or 7 have been in use on any night. Flagstaff is at 7,000 feet and the nights have been at or below freezing.

Lowell Observatory

One of the very special things here in Flagstaff is the Lowell Observatory. The Lowell Observatory was built in 1894 by Percival Lowell and has always been and continues to be a private family owned Observatory. In 1896 Lowell had a 24 inch refracting telescope installed (the largest of its time) for his study of Mars. Over the next 23 years of his life Lowell produced drawings of the canals of Mars, wrote books and lectured all over the world about the canals of Mars. He spoke of the advanced civilizations that lived there. Of course, he was wrong but, he didn’t live long enough to find that out. Lowell also predicted that there was another planet beyond Neptune. The Observatory had another telescope built to look for a 9th planet. In 1930 Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planet Pluto (now dwarf planet) here at the Lowell Observatory. We went on the absolute best observatory tour ever and got to see both of these historic telescopes. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring the camera so we didn’t get any pictures!

Grand Canyon

I had last been to Grand Canyon National Park in 1972 and Kathy hadn’t been there since 1965, it has been very high on our list of things to see in Arizona. It also turns out that Grand Canyon is dog friendly; they allow dogs on all trails above the canyon. So the three of us started at the Watchtower at the east end of the south rim and then stopped at all of the overlooks until we got to the west end of the south rim. The day was sunny at first then turned to gray and threatening rain later in the day, so the colors were muted. The canyon was very green with all of the new growth. I was shocked at how crowded it was near Mather Point and the visitor center considering it was a Tuesday in April on a cold windy day. We also picked up a few new year birds: White-throated Swift, Mountain Chickadee and Violet-green Swallow.

This is the URL for the slideshow of the pictures Kathy took while we were at Grand Canyon. Please have a look.

I think that brings us up to date with what we have been up to. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that during all of this it has been WINDY!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

No Blog Entry for Over a Week!

Too busy to write; I will try to catch up sometime this week. We are currently in Flagstaff Arizona.