Jemez Springs, NM

the beautiful red earth of Jemez Springs, NM

Last night, I ran up to Jemez Springs to check it out – had heard good things about it from Dad. The area is spectacular. The trees are also wonderfully twisty and creepy. Gorgeous textures in the mountains, and the variety of colors in the dirt are remarkable. Being originally from DC/VA, I’d only ever seen red clay before. Now, I have seen red dirt. It’s gorgeous. 🙂

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Sandia Peak, NM

Ran out to take the Sandia Peak Tram all the way up to the top earlier this evening. Dad had told me about it when I first arrived, and I’m really glad I did it. Supposed temp at the top was 45 F, but I only needed a light jacket. Then again, I only roamed around for a little bit and got winded several times, so I’m sure that heated me up. It wasn’t horrendously windy at the top either, which was nice.

The initial plan was to head out to the Petroglyph National Monument, but it CLOSES at 5pm. WTF, natural park people. Seriously. The sun doesn’t start seriously fading until after 7pm at this point.

The area itself is gorgeous, and there are trails nearby in which you can frolic to and fro amongst the varying spiny succulents and rocks. Lots of fun.

Here are the pics.

Just lockin’ down the route here for the coming weekend. I’m figuring I’m going to head out friday night, right after work, down toNRAO to see the Very Large Array in Socorro. Then, saturday, will head over to the Trinity Test site. From there, I’m going to hit the White Sands National Monument, before pressing on to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. I figure I’ll make a run through Roswell on the way back to ABQ.

Better late than never…

It took me FOREVER, for some reason, to get my thoughts down about the trip back from Florida.
After four hot, muggy, wonderful weeks in Florida, I hit the road and began heading back to Texas on March 8th, right after work. I went ahead and took that friday off work, because there were a couple of places in Florida and Louisiana that I still really wanted to visit on the way back.

St. Augustine Lighthouse

I pushed straight through to St. Augustine thursday night because it was a full moon, and I wanted to try to get some pix of the lighthouse with the full moon framed in them. I arrived at the lighthouse shortly after midnight and poked around a little. The lighthouse is gorgeous at night, and the groves of large, gnarled trees around it all seemed to be reaching for the lighthouse with their branches. I walked around a little, getting a few pics and saying hi to the trees, then headed out to the boat landing across the street.
As I walked by, this tiny yappy dog did what it does best, and apparently somebody called the police. Shortly thereafter, a police car drove by and I waved and smiled, and he nodded, driving on as I walked back over to the van. He parked at the end of the parking lot and didn’t leave until I finished programming in my next set of directions to the GPS and headed out.

inside the St. Augustine Lighthouse

I found a truck stop to rest for the night, then headed back to the lighthouse, wanting to get shots of it in the morning light. I also  really wanted to take the tour. Apparently, there’s a choice of tours – you can do your own walkabout, where they give you a little speakerbox that narrates each point on the tour – or you could go in a group. I’m not one for crowded tours, and a TON of older folks were wandering around, having just piled out of two tour buses across the road. It was like being in a surreal version of Cocoon. The climb up the stairs to the top is pretty grueling, but well worth it. The view is spectacular and the breeze is simply fantastic. Below, there’s a tropical hammock that you can walk through, full of beautiful plants and a wide variety of birds. Well worth a visit, IMHO.

Fountain of Youth

I then pressed on to Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth a ways down the road, which was both impressive and anticlimactic. The grounds are completely gorgeous, and the re-enactors are really friendly. The fountain, however, is just a little trickle cordoned off by a rickety looking fence inside a small, dark room. There are two dioramas inside the room – one of the explorer with the locals, and another of a generic local setting with the natives. To the right of the ‘fountain’ are a selection of cups full of water. A friendly park employee urged me to drink. “It’s healthy! Full of minerals!”

It was tasty water, but I still feel 44. Ah, well.

Fountain of Youth

Afterwards, realizing that I hadn’t eaten yet that morning, I headed over to a little supposedly haunted inn that was serving breakfast. Not only was the food delicious, I ended up striking up a conversation with a guy that was disappointed that I was only passing through – he’d wanted to take me to dinner and have his wife meet me. I found out as we exchanged business cards that he was a hypnotherapist. Interesting guy. I love serendipitous conversations. It’s really one of my favorite things in life.

Florida Caverns State Park – Marianna, FL

After that, I headed straight for Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, FL. The park itself is gorgeous, but I never did get to see the cave. Apparently, there’s a rule/law/bullshit excuse stating that, in florida, if there’s only one person interested in a tour of the caves, the guide can’t take them. If there had been ONE OTHER PERSON iterested in going on the last tour of the day with me, I would’ve gotten to do the tour. I’m still irritated as hell about that. I didn’t venture out and about in the park too much since it was muggy, overcast and the mosquitos were COMPLETELY overbearing and ridiculous. Even thorugh Deep Woods off and garlic pills. I love nature, but at some point it gets to be enough. And seriously – mosquitos… what purpose do they serve? Other than spreading disease? Oh, how I hate them.

Outside the National Hansen’s Disease Museum/National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana

Then it was a quick dash through downtown New Orleans before pressing on to the National Hansen’s Disease Museum/National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana. It’s located in Building 12 of the Carville Historic District, 5445 Point Clair Road, Carville. Very splendidly put together and lovingly presented, the Museum’s intent is to “preserve and interpret the medical and cultural artifacts of the Carville Historic District and to promote the understanding, identification and treatment of Hansen’s Disease”. HIGHLY recommended. It was a very moving collection of displays.

The Myrtles Plantation – St. Francisville, Louisiana

I then drove out to the Myrtles Plantation, and must say I found the grounds more appealing than the buildings themselves. I didn’t get any overwhelming feelings of a presence until I stood in front of the painting of this young girl. According to the tour guide, the artist had started painting while she was still alive, but she died before he had a chance to finish it – so they propped her up so he could do the rest of the work. There was something very compelling about the image. It’s stayed with me since my visit. The grounds are completely gorgeous. I walked around entranced, taking as many pictures as I could. Ah, spanish moss. Is there anything you can’t do?

The Myrtles Plantation – St. Francisville, Louisiana

From there, it was pretty much a straight shot back to Texas.
GOOD trip.

On the road again…

This weekend I’ll be heading down to the Trinity Test site, where the first atomic bomb was tested at 5:29:45 a.m. Mountain War Time on July 16, 1945. Apparently it’s only open to the public two times a year – the first saturday in April (YAY) and the first saturday in October. I’ll then be driving down to check out White Sands. Then, instead of going through the nine hells that would be presented by driving in and out of Mexico to get to Carlsbad Caverns, I’ll be going back north, then over to Roswell, then down to Carlsbad. I am HUGELY EXCITED about getting to check out the Trinity Test site. It is serendipitous that I’m here when it’s open to the public. 😀

Downtime

I’m going to be staying with family in Texas for two weeks, then will continue my journey on to Albequerque, NM. where I will be in residence/running around for about four weeks.

Here are the places that I’m hoping to visit while I’m there:

Carrie Tingly Children’s Hospital
Abandoned Insane Asylum – Edith Blvd NE & Osuna Rd NE
Old Honeywell building on Bluewater
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
St. James Hotel – room 18 – said to be haunted by a male spirit that apparently is so violent, the room is padlocked and nobody is allowed in.
Dawson Cemetery – Elks Lodge 300 South 2nd Street, Raton, NM – worst two mine collapses in history, killing over 300 men.
Holy Cross Sanatorium – Deming, NM
Urraca Mesa
Bandelier National Monument – Los Alamos, NM
Chaco Culture National Historic Park – Nageezi, NM
Spaceport America– Las Cruces, NM
Capulin Volcano National Monument, NM
Roswell, NM
White Sands, NM