Tag Archives: New Mexico

Solar Observatory and White Sands Photos

National Solar Observatory

There wasn’t much going on during our visit, it was a Sunday morning, after all. But the buildings were impressive and they let us into a couple of them.  The cool part of this visit is saying that we were there.  Also, some of the views along the way were wonderful.  It was also freezing cold!

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One of the observatories.

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Another observatory.

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Bob at one of the overlooks along the road up the mountain. The Observatory is at the top. See White Sands in the distance?

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Another view of White Sands in the distance.

White Sands National Monument

What a fun place!  It was definitely one of my favorites.  If you ever have a chance, take your kids there.  It is worth a day of your time to expore this amazing natural wonder.  For those who love biology, the native species have evolved to live on the white sand in record time, less than 10,000 years.  Its quite the wonder.

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About the sands. Another interesting fact is how fast the dessert creatures adapted. Spiders, lizards, and other dessert animals have lost their pigment and blend in with the sand, and it all happened over just a few thousand years of evolution. That’s pretty quick.

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Sled marks on the dunes.

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It’s a fine powder. It doesn’t stick or get in your shoes.

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It’s a very beautiful place.

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Bob at the beginning of the boardwalk trail.

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Bob along the boardwalk over the dunes.

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The scenery was very beautiful. I wish the pictures did it justice.

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Little dessert plants living in the sands

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Our car in a sea of white.

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View from the top of one of the dunes.

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A family of sledders. Notice they’re in shorts. It was a beautiful day.

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Many people were sunbathing. It was so strange to see all that white and then see people running around in shorts and swim suits. In my brain, white means snow, so it took a bit to adjust.

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One of the picnic tables.

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I think they’re designed to protect picnickers from the wind.

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One of the dunes. It was a reasonably calm day, so the wind wasn’t a problem for us.

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More of the scenery.

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The sleds at the visitor center that were available for rent.

Carlsbad Cavern Photos

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Love this! I tried to buy a bumper sticker, but they were sold out.

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Along the way, we ran across several Ocotillo plants. They’re indigenous to the American Southwest, and one of my favorites. They’re just so weird–a bunch of stems sticking out of the ground with leaves growing out of the bark. These ocotillos were blooming and they were beautiful.

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Interesting, right?

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This is the entrance to the cave. The amphitheater in the foreground was built for those who want to watch 100,000 bats leave the cave on summer evenings. Apparently, it’s quite a show. However, during our visit, the bats hadn’t returned from their annual migration to Mexico.

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From the amphitheater, there’s a winding path that leads down into the cave. Here’s Bob on that path.

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A view of the path from above. It’s steep. It twists and turns quite a ways.  Here and there are plaques to explain what you see along the way. Mostly, it’s barren rock.

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At the bottom, there’s a gift shop and a restaurant. It’s surreal to all of a sudden come upon these things. At times it’s quite noisy here because the pumps have to bring in water and expel all the waste.  Also, there are generators for the electricity.

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On the tour, we saw many interesting formations. If you come, definitely go for the ranger-led tour. It was fascinating and we saw many things we wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

This formation is called Queens Curtains.

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There were lots of blooming cactus in the area.

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More ocotillo.  Love this stuff.

Carlsbad Cavern

After dropping Abby off at school, we headed West.   We spent another day in Kansas City with the family and got the car serviced.  As much driving as we do, the 5000 mile oil change comes around often.  In fact, after the years of traveling, the dealership in Kansas City knows Bob by name!  We also made a quick stop in Wichita where we visited with Grandma again before meeting Mom, Donna and Bill for dinner. After doing so much research on the family history, I had lots of questions for Donna and she had all the good gossip — even though that gossip was from a generation or two back!


We left Wichita just in time to miss all the tornadoes.  We got all the way to Carlsbad, New Mexico in one day of driving and woke up the next morning to all the news reports.  We were lucky, we didn’t even have much rain during our drive.


Our first official day of vacation we spent at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  It was really interesting.  We chose to walk into the cave from its natural entrance and it was well worth it.  However, we walked down the equivalent of 75 stories in about a 3/4 of a mile.  The path was at a pretty steep angle.  When I was walking, it wasn’t a big deal, but the next morning I could hardly move.  Bob said I looked like Tim Conway’s old man character from the Carol Burnett show.  Once I got going and warmed up, I was ok, but if I sat down for a couple minutes, I had to warm up all over again.  It was ridiculous 🙂


Anyway, the cavern itself was very interesting.  We spent hours down there on the self guided tour and a ranger-lead tour.  We learned quite a bit about the caves, the bats who live in them durig the summer, etc.  We really enjoyed it.  I put the pictures here. We also wanted to see Guadalupe Mountains National Park just over the border in Texas, but the wind was so bad, visibility was down to a block.


In fact, the wind was so bad, we couldn’t really get around. There was so much dust in the air, visibility was low. We went to the Denny’s near our hotel for dinner; going any further was dangerous.  As we walked into the Dennys, there was a notice on the door asking patrons not to ask the staff questions about the “unfortunate event” and that the police investigation was ongoing.  Hmmmmm.  After we ordered, I did a little digging on my iphone and found that a waitress had been murdered there only days before.  It was a horrible story, she was killed at random by a stranger who then shot himself and later died.  I wished I hadn’t looked.

New Mexico–Spring 2012

Over the next month, we’ll be driving from Las Vegas to Boston and back, with many detours along the way. For the first several weeks, we’ll focus on visiting family, but the last week is all for us.

We’ve decided to explore New Mexico. There’s so much to see there–cliff dwellings, famous pie, the National Solar Observatory, among many others. We’re really looking forward to it all.

So follow our blog and take the trip with us 🙂

Bob and Angie