El Morro National Monument

It’s about 20 miles from El Malpais to El Morro.  It’s a nice drive along Hwy 53, two-lanes with not much traffic.  We climb a little in elevation and get into some timber. I make a mental note to look for an entry onto BLM land here, and almost as soon as we are in the timber we are heading back down out of it.  Dang!

Entrance Sign With El Morro in the Background

DSC_0032 (1)Informatiave Sign for El Morro
Click the photo to enlarge

El Morro, famous as a wayside and the Blue Pool that provided water to travelers in the 1800s and prior, is an interesting place. Travelers left messages for others on the sandstone cliffs known as Inscription Rock inscribing said messages or just a “I was here” with whatever was available to them: a knife, a stick, perhaps an eating utensil.
Talking with the friendly staff in the visitor’s center I find The Chiweenie Brothers are welcome to take the walking tour with me. Come on Boys let’s check this out!

DSC_0033 (1)El Morro     DSC_0041Path Along the El Morro Loop

DSC_0039The Blue Pool
The Blue Pool, which was destroyed, in a flood if I remember correctly, was repaired then fenced off.  Hard to get a good shot of this amazing water source out in th middle of nowhere.

 

 

DSC_0055Magnificent El Morro

An easy interesting walk, a walk around the rock would be nice, but it’s getting hot.  We continue the loop that takes us back to the visitor’s center. The Boys eagerly jump into the back and slurp up fresh water.  “Refreshed guys? Let’s go check out the campground!”

El Morro National Monument has a small free campground with water, a vault toilet, tables, and fire rings.  The few choice shaded spots are all occupied.  We try staying a bit in one of the sunnier spots but after just a few minutes it is apparent that it will be too hot to stay here long enough for the sun to get low enough to make it bearable.

Sadly, we will not be making the walk around El Morro’s perimeter, and we head back out to Hwy 53 and search for a spot back where the pine trees and juniper make an appearance.  Fortunately we find a lovely well-shaded spot to park for the rest of the day and stay the night here. It’s quiet and peaceful behind a closed gate.

August 23rd — It’s our Vanniversary!! We’ve been traveling for two years, and what a wonderful two years it has been! So many beautiful places, so many wonderful experiences.  And a big THANK YOU to all of you have come along for the ride.  Yes, this is my personal journal of our adventures, but how nice to have you all come along with us. Again, THANK YOU! Hugs, Shawna

El Malpais National Monument

August  22, 2019.  There is not a single soul here except The Chiweenie Brothers and me. I park MissAdventure get The Boys leashed and we head out to walk the trail as far out as we can get before this lovely clear blue cloudless day begins to heat up.

 

DSC_0016 (1)Part of the trail at El Malpais

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The lava caves remind me of the areas around Burney CA in Shasta County and Modoc County.  In an effort to keep white nose-syndrome that affects bats from spreading or being introduced into the caves—which are accessible if one wants to enter them—there is a shoe cleaning station at the beginning of the trail.

There are many caves in this area, and The Chiweenie Brothers and I enjoy our early morning walk although we didn’t make the full loop.  I’d say we walked two miles in before it started heating up to a point where I was feeling decidely uncomfortable and we forego seeing the crater that is farther out.

Interesting area to explore!  It’s early enough that we can travel on Hwy 53 to El Morro.  See you there!  Hugs, Shawna

 

Leaving Cuba NM

Told by the camp hosts, a sweet couple from Georgia, that we can stay as long as we like, reluctantly we have to say goodbye. The solar is acting up again and I need to keep the laptop charged.

After spending a night lower down the mountain in a boondocking site about a couple miles from Rio De Las Vacas we head on down the mountain and hit the library before heading back onto Hwy 550 and head toward Albuquerque.

At Rio Rancho I spy Whataburger.  My favorite burger of all time.  I cannot resist and we stop. DSC_0113Whataburger.Bernalillo NM

Driving through Albuquerque on I-40 is a bit unsettling; I haven’t driven on freeway going through a big city for quite a while and I white-knuckle it all the way through.

Our goal is El Malpais National Monument.  Driving through Grants I spot a laundromat and pull in.  Hefting the laundry bag up a little higher on my hip I trudge into the building grateful it is cooler inside and get the washing machines going.  While my clothes do the hokey pokey I go back out in the very warm sunshine and walk The Chiweenie Brothers until I think it’s time to to remove the clothes from the machine.

Turns out to be good timing. I remove the clean clothes and put them in the dryer.  Not going to air dry this time around as I plan on staying at the Joe Skeen Campground tonight.  It’s a free campground I am told, but if it’s privately owned wouldn’t feel comfortable hanging the wash outside.

As I close the door on the dryer I attempt to put my coins in. It won’t take them and I glance at the LED and it looks funny.  Staring at it a few seconds I realize it says free.  Really?  Can’t be.  But it is.  Free today! How nice! The load begins to tumble, and it’s back out to get The Chiweenie Brothers out of the van as we wait for the load to finish.

Once the clothes are dried we catch Hwy 53 toward El Malpais looking for the campground.  I don’t find it so we continue on.  Finding the road into Malpais I discover we must walk to see any of the caves.  It’s too hot for that, so back out on the highway we go and begin looking for a place to stay.  BLM land abounds here behind fences.  Gates allow entry with signs asking to keep them closed.

Driving down the volcanic rock road in search of a spot to park for the night the road begins to look a bit sketchy.  I turn around and find a spot behind a big  juniper tree.  This will do, we aren’t even going to set up camp it’s just a place to park for some shut eye. There’s a few cow pats around.  That explains keeping the gates closed!

Moring comes early. It’s get dressed, walk The Chiweenie Brothers a bit, then jump in the driver’s seat.  We head back to El Malpais National Monument and take a nice long walk.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hugs, Shawnai

Aztec Ruins, Aztec NM

August 8 – 11, 2019.  Leaving Navajo Lake State Park we take Hwy 527 back out to Hwy 64. Winding our way along the two-lane highway passing opposing traffic consisting of at least 100 white work trucks making their way east hauling various items: Tanks of some kind of liquid, various types of small equipment, spare tires. Because of the small oil wells and a Conoco storage facility we pass I am guessing these vehicles are on their way to do something related to the oil industry.

Enjoying our early morning drive, we soon come to Hwy 550.  It’s our intention to head up to Durango, Colorado for supplies, but first a stop in Aztec NM for a bite to eat, a walk for the boys, and time outside the library where I get some blogging done, a request sent for mail forwarding, and some bills paid while internet is available.

I love the libraries where their internet is available right in the parking lot.  Makes it so much easier to get done what needs to be done and not have to worry about The Boys. The Chiweenie Brothers are spoiled.  

Once all the “To-Do’s” are taken care of we head out only to spot a sign for The Aztec Ruins National Monument.  This is something I want to see. I motor into their parking lot, and fortunately there is a huge shade tree with no one parked under it. With the windows down a bit I know The Chiweenie Brothers will be fine while I take a look see.

First, however, a short walkabout for them; they have been so patient waiting for me to get that to-do list taken care of. It’s a lovely walk through the native plants botanical gardens, The Boys enjoying sniff and hike time.  Okay guys, back in the van, you can’t go into the ruins, so be good and take a nap.

Barking their fool heads off as I dare to leave them behind, I wait just outside the entrance to the visitor’s center until they settle down.  Once I am out of site they are quiet, giving up the attempt to convince me they need to go with me.

A short orientation before the guided tour begins I learn that the Aztec Indians (who are from Mexico) did not build these ruins, it was the ancestral Pubelo people who lived here centuries before the Aztec empire prospered.  Inspired by popular histories about Cortez’s conquest of Mexico, and thinking that the Aztec built these structures, Anglo settlers name the place Aztec, and it was never changed.

Highlights of this very interesting tour:

  • Life span for the people who settled here from the late 1000s to the late 1200s averaged only 30 years of age.
  •  Timbers for building this ancient city were hauled from 80 miles away without the use of draft animals.  Think about that!
  • Rock for building was brought in, by hand, from 30 miles away.
  • Not all of the ruins here have been excavated.  There are many more in this area, but will be left unearthed, because what is excavated needs to be maintained.
  •  The West Ruin is the largest of the houses and had at least 500 rooms that rose to three stories.  It was a public building akin to our modern public buldings like civic centers or places of worship.  Excavation revealed original roofs with centuries old wood and vast desposits of well-preserved artifacts.
  • Archaeologists believe once the Pueblo people got their community built and they had “more time on their hands”, they began the art of decorating their pottery, and beautiful pottery it is. Ancient “interior decorating”.
  •  The Pueblo people made blankets from turkey feathers.

I took many photos here, which I haven’t found, but you can learn more about and see some photos of this wonderful national treasure HERE.

If you are ever in this part of New Mexico, this is a must see!! Admission is FREE and so is the guided tour.  Don’t miss it!

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel, and for being so patient with this mess of losing my photographs.  Hugs, Shawna

The Painted Hills

It’s Thursday, July 19th, and  we are up early and ready to rock and roll.  I packed up before bed last night after a couple of gals pulled into the campground in a small gold passenger car, threw up a tent, and proceeded to build a huge campfire.  From my perspective it looked like the flames were four feet high.  The wind usually comes up in the evening here at Barnhouse, so it had me a bit worried.  No harm getting ready to roll just in case.  To their credit they stayed right with the fire until it burned down a little and didn’t throw any more wood on it. 

The boys fed and out for a quick potty run, I get the big green machine on the road.  The morning air is nice and cool and we take our sweet time wending our way down the mountain.

The boys are suddenly on high alert when they notice a herd of antelope crossing the road ahead of us.  I slow down from a meander to a crawl and get as close as I dare to get a photo.

DSC_0022 (2)Antelope on road into our Barnhouse CampAs we gain Hwy 26 the plan is to take in the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. I spot this old barn along the way.

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These hills are fascinating and beautiful.

DSC_0068Painted Hills

Once we are finished drinking in the odd, stark but colorful Painted Hills we head west again on Hwy 26 and go through Prineville purchasing gas here.  Almost $100 to fill up!! Welcome to the west coast.  Just prior to landing in Redmond, I get this shot of The Sisters through the trees only because there was a place to pull over.  Most two lane roads are not conducive to photography for lack of sufficient places large enough to get off the road, but I was lucky with this one.

DSC_0073 Sisters Mtns

And I wasn’t about to pass up stopping to photograph this gorgeous old building when a parking spot right by it called my name. Of course it was too close to get the whole beautiful building in the shot, but I will take what I can get.

DSC_0072In Redmond, OR   Then we make a dog park stop.  The Redmond dog park is one of the cleanest dog parks we’ve been in.  I was a bit weary and didn’t bother bringing the camera in with us, but the boys had a marvelous time!

With no place found to stop for the night we head on to Madras. I have enough time to do laundry and get ice and then we’re back on the road heading to the rest area just north of here.  It’s in a construction zone and they worked far into the night, but a place to park is a place to park, and I am grateful I didn’t have to drive on in search of a camp.  AND, I found out who discovered Mt. Shasta.  Say what? One finds this out in Oregon?  Yep.

DSC_0075Sign at the rest area

Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel! Hugs, Shawna

 

 

Cokeville, Wyoming and Fossil Butte National Monument

We leave Evanston late in the morning, May 23rd, and head north on Wyoming’s HIGHWAY 89! It is a toss-up as to whether to go 189 or 89 ending up in Kemmerer or Cokeville. Considering we drove through Kemmerer late last summer — the mother store of JCPenney Company is located there along with James Cash Penney’s modest home, AND a dog park—I choose to head toward Cokeville, a name that for some reason sticks in my mind.
It’s still early in the day when we arrive at the junction the turn to the left to go to Cokeville, or turn right to go to Kemmerer. I want to see Fossil Butte National Monument so we hang a right and while the boys wait in the van (there’s that abuse again!) I enter the building along with two busloads of school kids to look at the impressive display of fossils.

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The display is well worth the stop, but I decline the five mile loop drive through the area. It has a—GULP—17% grade to deal with. NO! Just no. It looks so benign, but I am not going to question it.  NO WAY! DSC_0001 (2)

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I consider going on into Kemmerer (Fossil Butte N.M. is on a connecting road that links 189 and 89) to let the boys run through the dog park, but decide not to burn the gas and put the extra miles on the van. They’ll get an extra long walk this evening.

We travel back toward the junction and head to Cokeville, a tiny town of about 500 plus residents. We go through some lovely ranching area, and make a quick stop at the Cokeville Wildlife Refuge. A walk out where there is a bench and a lovely view provides me with this great photo opportunity. Unbelievably, I hear the mournful cries of the rare
BOVINE!!!

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What the … ??? *laughing* Not a bird in sight!! Information at the kiosk says the refuge has partnered with some of the ranchers in the area to make the refuge benefit not only wildlife but the livestock of the area as well. The ranchers provide water and plant various grasses that supposedly provides the area with what the wildlife needs to thrive.

Leaving the refuge I begin looking in earnest for the city park in Cokeville where one is allowed to “camp” for two nights. It’s pretty easy to find, the town being so small. It’s right in the town proper, right along—and I do mean right alongside—the very busy rail road tracks. I had intended on spending two nights, but I think one is all we will be able to handle.

The town’s people are very friendly and I did purchase a few items as a thank you for their hospitality, but we leave early the next morning.

I find a spot to stop alongside the highway to make lunch,

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and I pull out the copy of the booklet on what to see and do in Southwest Wyoming I picked up at the visitor’s center in Evanston to read while I eat.

As I thumb through it I come to a very small article on Cokeville. Among this tiny town’s claim to fame is the informal title of “Sheep Capitol of the World” from around 1918 when the industry peaked here with the addition of railroad access, the robbery of the State Bank of Cokeville by the Whitney Brothers, early female political activism when a woman, Ethel Huckvale Stoner, was elected more than 80 years ago (elected to what it doesn’t say!). Cokeville is also known for a miracle that happened in 1986 when a duo consisting of two terrorists trying to blow up the elementary school with classes still in session ended up blowing up just themselves. THAT’S IT! This is why Cokeville rings a bell. I read the book several years ago, Witness to Miracles: The Cokeville Elementary School Bombing giving firsthand accounts of most of the residents who were involved in this terrible attempt to kill children and adults here. I will have to reread it, because most of it I can’t remember.
Hugs, Shawna

Wupatki National Monument

April 18, 2018. It’s a gorgeous morning, and I can’t believe the sleep I got last night! Not a single sound in our camp. We were totally alone and the stars were particularly bright.  

We  head out to visit the different areas where Wupatki Pueblo ruins can be seen.

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We start with the Wupatki National Monument Visitor’s Center, the hub of it all where visitors get the brochures and all the info about this beautiful place.

Wupatki Pueblo was built and occupied during the 1100s and abandoned after a nearby volcano erupted and forced them to vacate the high desert land they had cultivated for 400 years.

Their homes were built with stones cemented with clay and entrance was gained through the roofs made with wooden support beams, support poles, and covered by shakes, grass and clay or adobe. The rock and mortar are still here today, however the roofs are long gone due to rot and scavenging by those needing the wood

We motor back down to the Citadel Pueblo. As I grab the camera (which focuses, after being dropped, some of the time … there’s a lot of fiddling) and leave the boys in the van with the windows partly down I hear howls of protest. Geez, can’t even get a bit of time to myself! Poor spoiled babies.

Are these awesome or what? I am fascinated with these ruins, and the thought crosses my mind that Arizona has so much to offer.

Hopping back in the van I fire her up and we head to the Lomaki Ruins

If I have the opportunity to come this way again I will take the road to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument coming out of Flagstaff and do the loop which will only add 15 miles to our northerly trip and will be able to take in both Sunset Crater and Wupatki.
Now it’s decision time. Go? Stay? I opt to head out. The predicted wind doesn’t seem like it’s going to be much of a problem … Ha!

Thanks for stopping by 2Dogs! We’re having a blast and I hope you are enjoying coming along for the adventure. Hugs, Shawna