Grackle & Sun

Archive for the tag “traveling”

A Glimpse of the Land of Enchantment

Roadtrip to New Mexico.  The American West has ridiculously huge skies.

aridiculousamountofsky

Hot desert down below; cool mountains above. All redolent with the scent of pine, cedar, juniper, and desert sage. These are the Sandia Mountains. Albuquerque lies below.

sandias

Petroglyphs carved into volcanic basalt.

petroglyphs

Darkling beetles guard the path ass-up. They are also called stink beetles. This is their warning.

darklingbeetle

On the sandstone bluffs at El Malpais.  Ask me about how we got chased by a black bear up here. Yeah. Black bears on bluffs. Big ones. In the desert. Who knew? Not I, said the cat. Very fast runners, black bears.

sandstonebluffs

As far as you can see, below these bluffs, is an ancient lava field.  Much is grown over with the resilient plants and trees that are native here–but not all.  The black basalt peeks through in many large patches.

basaltbelow2

See those two tiny dots below? That’s my son and my husband. Notice I am not there. I am safely on terra mas firma trying not to toss my lunch while I watch in horror and admiration–but mostly horror–as they climb the tallest of the sandstone bluffs they could find.

omg

More sandstone.  From a reasonable vantage point.

elmalpais

La Ventana Natural Arch. My favorite.

laventana

Hiking through the lava fields.

lavafields

The mountains outside Santa Fe.

santafemts

Glorious, glorious place. Had to share. As soon as I finish with some plant id-ing, I’ll post photos of the native flora there. So many beautiful blooming flowers. Next time, I hope to see even more of New Mexico. I am thoroughly enchanted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daytrips: Elephant Rocks

Husband is on vacation, and we’ve been taking day trips out of the city.  Last week we went to Elephant Rocks State Park and Johnson Shut-Ins which are located just outside of Ironton, MO, in one of the most scenic areas of the state.  Nearby is Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri, and the Mark Twain National Forest.  I love the Ozarks.

If one will please allow me a brief moment to both bemoan the fact that my real camera died some time back and also to apologize for the shite quality of my phone camera… (me bemoaning silently)…  Thank you.  I feel a little better now.

Elephant Rocks was the site of two granite quarries in the eighteen and nineteen hundreds, and the evidence of this history is still viewable today in the engravings the quarrymen left in the rocks, the marks from core testing, the shards of granite left in piles, and of course, the quarry now filled with water.   The granite mined from here was sent all over the country for fine building, and much of it can be seen in St. Louis.  The stones that you see in these photos were spared from being quarried because they were exposed, and millennia of weathering made them too soft to use for building.  I’m glad.  It would have been criminal to destroy this amazing geological wonder.  The rocks here date from the pre-cambrian age—some 1.5 million years ago.   Although this land is now a state park, granite mining still continues very close by on adjacent properties.  Here are some photos of Elephant Rocks.  No photos of the Shut-Ins, as it was all swimming and climbing over wet rocks.  Good times.  Enjoy.

Elephant Rocks

Bigger than they look

For scale, Husband is 6’1″.

There are lots of off-the-pathway paths through the nooks and crannies and chinks in the rocks here. You have to be comfortable with both climbing, jumping and squeezing to get around anywhere off the paved trail.

My son, the mountain goat.

The biggest one of all, aptly named Dumbo, is 27 feet tall, 35 feet long and 17 feet wide.  At a weight of 162 pounds per cubic foot, Dumbo tips the scales at a hefty 680 tons.  It looks precariously perched, but it’s not going anywhere.

 

For scale, daughter is 5’3″.

Up high, beautiful view.

Drill marks from the hand-drills used to cut away the stones.

Miners carved their names into the rocks. This is E.W. Taylor.

H. Kaye.

Dan. Hearley.

C. Hay and G.M. Hay and others.

When my husband was a teen, it was common (and cool) for kids to jump into the quarry to swim. That’s not allowed now, go figure. I’ve heard it’s because of the snakes…

Looking into the water-filled quarry.

Elephant Rocks has an amazing crop of interesting lichens and mosses, too.  I find these beautiful and fascinating.

gorgeous lichen

Moss!

Mushroom!

And hiding deep in the woods was the old engine house. We didn’t even know this was here.

The rails for the engine are still there.

Even the trees grow around the granite at Elephant Rocks.

 

Elephant Rocks rocks!

 

The end.

Now go out and see the world!

:D

 

 

 

 

 

 

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