Thursday, 25 June 2009

Wanna come for a ride ?

Thought I'd use some of my vacation piccies to show you where we went and the beauty of this little corner of our planet.

I'll only put small pics in here but if you click they should all get much bigger.

Although it is true that most of this area is classed as is often not what you think of a desert looking like. We spent a huge part of our vacation up in the mountains.

When we take visitors on trips around here the one thing that always stuns them is how green everywhere is. We have many, many forests and mountains here in the southwest...and lots and lots of trees and greenery. Of course a lot of it is unnatural with the assistance of sprinklers etc but that is something you don't want to hear me rant about :-)

We wanted to explore as much of New Mexico as we could so we
flew up the freeway to Vegas for the first night before heading up into Southern Utah.

One of my favorite part of the USA.....I just love driving down roads like this one.

We skipped Bryce Canyon and although we drove through Zion we didn't stop. We visited there less than 2 years ago so decided to head on.

In the Dixie National Forest, just outside of Cedar City, Utah we came across Cedar Breaks National Monument. Right up at the top of the mountains at 10,000 feet. Pretty awesome huh. Although smaller and much less visited than Bryce, it was equally as stunning.

From here we headed back down the mountains, past the Vermilion Cliffs

and into Page, Arizona where we stayed at Lake Powell.

From here we decided to take a trip to see Antelope Canyon. In the back of this pick up truck. Part of the ride was on road but we then had to go off road for about 20 minutes. Rather bone shaking :-)

Antelope Canyon was discovered by a young Navajo girl tending her sheep. It is on tribal land so access is only allowed with a Navajo guide. The Navajo consider it a very spiritual place and as such do not want people just traipsing round it showing no respect.

Apparently it is the most photographed slot canyon in the Southwest. You can see why. It was extremely hard to get a photograph due to the lighting conditions and I am amazed these have come out as good as they have. I had to adjust my ISO setting a lot which is why they appear grainy.

Our Navajo guide was a real darling and told me where to stand and where to point the camera to get the 'National Geographic' shots. Considering I don't have their equipment and was battling against the other tourists in there I am kinda pleased with these.

They do actually offer photographic tours where you can take your tripods, lighting etc....perhaps I'll do that one day.

What I'd really love to do is go there alone with just the Navajo and discover it's true meaning without a bunch of tourists clamoring to take pictures. The guide behind us was playing pipes and I just wanted to boot everyone else out and sit and listen to him play.

From Arizona we headed out into New Mexico. We spent the night in Albuquerque then went back North to Santa Fe and then up the 'hill' to Los Alamos.

Los Alamos is home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory which was founded to undertake the Manhattan project.

To walk the same streets as such minor historical figures as Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and Niels Bohr was humbling to say the least. Even more so for my mad scientist of a husband.

You can't visit the lab obviously but there is an excellent museum there.

This is the view of New Mexico from the top of the hill.

From here we headed back down south to check out Roswell, where even the street lamps were aliens :-)

There was a pretty cool UFO museum there and they had this clock on display which I just loved. Need to catch me some rattlers for the ribs :-)

And then it was further south to check out Carlsbad and the caverns.

Halfway up the mountain there we found a little walk down to an Indian cliff dwelling.

Just had to watch where you were treading :-)

Imagine living here !

And then down into the caverns we went. There is an elevator that takes you down 750 ft and you walk back up.

Again, due to the poor light it was hard to get a really great photo.

The largest cavern here is called The Big Room and at 8.2 acres, is the second largest cavern in the world. It is huge and impossible to show in photos.

New Mexico as seen from the top of Carlsbad.

And coming back down.

From here we weren't sure whether to go to El Paso or back North into Alamogordo. We decided to stick with the nuclear bomb theme and head back north.

Unfortunately, the Trinity site, where the bomb was detonated is only open twice a year to the time is October. We will very likely be making another trip over here to see this.

In the photo below you can just about see the White Sands National Monument on the horizon.

Alamogordo has a pretty impressive Space museum too.

American Avocets and a Black Necked Stilt we just happened upon in a lake by the side of the road. Waders make me smile...their long skinny legs don't look as though they can support them.

We decided to take a drive around the White Sands National Monument. Pretty awesome. Shame the weather wasn't brighter though.

And from here it was really time to start heading back west :-(

We took the scenic route as much as we could though.

Through the Gila National Forest.

And back into the desert. We had to wait for the Santa Fe train to cross the tracks...these things are miles long and don't go fast.

I always know we aren't far from home when we hit the
Mojave National Preserve.

Still a little ways to go though....and all desert.

The road we take here is part of the old Route 66. Such a shame how it has deteriorated since the freeways were built. There are many old motels, stores and gas stations on this route that have been derelict for years :-(

The infamous shoe tree in Amboy, California which has since been joined by a bra and knicker tree. We come through here fairly often and every time I forget to bring a spare pair to hang up

And then we were home :-(

Only until our next trip though...not sure if we'll take the 10 all the way from California to Key West, Florida....which is my choice...or head North up the Pacific Coast Highway though Oregon, Washington and into Canada....Mick's choice.

I have only posted a selection of photos here...if you want to see more please feel free to check out our myspace vacation log.

Well, I hoped you enjoyed your little trip around the Southwest......
normal service will be resumed soon.


  1. I LOVE your photos!!! So beautiful. One of my favorite vacations was with my family traveling down Route 66. If you ever get a chance, seek out the town of Oatman. You can feed a pack of wild donkeys there and see a Clark Gable honeymoon suite (where he acutally did have one of his honeymoons!). We went to Carlsbad too and your pictures came out much better than mine!! The hubs and I need to head out that way again I think! Thanks for sharing the beauty! -ara

  2. Than you Ara...glad you enjoyed them.

    Funny you should mention isn't too far from us here and we often drive the roads around it. I will put a note on the map so we will go through it next time.

    I could weep seeing how the freeways killed these old towns :-(

    And you can see it still happening today...too may downtowns have been overshadowed by the big malls on the edge of town. I want to stay downtown and have a beer with the locals not stay in a Best Western and eat at an Applebees on the outskirts.

    I was especially disappointed there was nowhere to stay like this in would have been fun talking to locals there.

    Carlsbad is breathtaking....impossible to tell it in photos and words but if you've been there you know what I mean.

  3. Fabulous photography. Thank you so much for sharing them with us. The photographs of the Canyons are breath taking.. xxx

  4. Oh wow...what a fantastic trip that surely was...hubby and I are talking about possibly traveling the country in an RV after her retires and the kids are grown. Your part of the country is truly spectacular!!! Thank you for sharing some of the beauty from your travels.

  5. Yes... have you seen the Pixar movie 'Cars'? If you haven't you definitely need to. We saw it right after getting back from our Route 66 trip and it really hit home. Esp after meeting all the great folks in Oatman :) We went through Roswell too at some point just to go and we didn't see any place to stay either.... a lot of towns hardly have a place to eat either!! But the people there are one of a kind!!

  6. Wonderful nature. My Dad and son went to Bryce Canion and Grand Canyon last year, along with some other spots, and they were bewildered by the landscapes. Sooner or later I shall come too.

  7. Delicious pictures Jayne! I feel like I've been in the backseat for a wonderful ride.
    I had no idea Carlsbad Caverns were over eight acres big. Amazing.

  8. Jayne your photos are wonderful, I've really enjoyed loking at them and those canyon shots are spectacular, I can only imagine what it must have been like actually standing there. The caverns look amazing too and I had to laugh at the alien lights in Roswell, I would love to visit there ! looks like you had a great trip :0)
    julie xxx

  9. Glad you are all enjoying them :-) really should do it....get out there...there is beauty hidden all over this country.

    I've not seen Cars....don't have any kids lol.

    It is so sad that these places go to ruin...but everyone is in a rush these days and the freeways let them get there faster so I can see why...shame though.

    I emailed mick about Oatman and he can't believe we went round it all the time...duh.

    Rosanna if you come over we'll take you on a roadtrip. The Grand Canyon is amazing but you need to take a flight over it to see it's full effect.

    I can't believe that I live so close to the GC....for as long on the road as it'd take me to go from England to Scotland now I can see the GC....a lucky girl indeed :-) time you'll really be in my back seat (((())))

    Julie those lights cracked me up. Roswell is such a small town and the tourists that come for the aliens are likely the only think that keeps them alive. So they obviously really play up to it :-)

  10. WOW WOW WOW........I feel like I was right there beside you two....Fantastic shots. You know that I am partial to all that area...desert gal at heart... and you had such a nice blending of terrains... Thanks so much for sharing you lovely trip with us all...
    California to Key West huh...COOL! My Dad's family are some of the first families to inhabit Key West...the Spencers and the Knowles....I still have lots of cousins there....all Conchs!


  11. Jayne those pictures are wonderful, you lucky thing. Perhaps you could do one trip one time and the other the next. My Dad lives in Washington State, its beautiful there. I love mountains.
    Glad you had a nice time.
    Debie xxx

  12. Thank you for sharing your vacation. The pictures are beautiful and you took me on a lovely journey. We never travel out of the province and now since our car is now in the scrap yard, we don't go any where so it was nice to travel with you.

  13. Great photos - seems like you are a landscape painter at heart?

  14. You did all that in a week!!! Amazing views, wonderful caverns, I certainly wouldnt want to come back to reality, what a wonderous holiday Jayne!! Kate xx

  15. wonderfull paces! and wonderfull pictures, too :O)

  16. Thanks....glad you like them. I am always wary about posting non mini stuff....especially holiday pics...don't want to see like old Aunt Ethel :-)

    Jodi...I am a desert gal too....I can't imagine living anywhere else now. We were only up river from you on the last night.

    I had to google conchs :-)

    the 2 biggest skydiving centers in the US are in California and Florida and Mick jumped and worked at both so has done the Ca to Fl many times which is why he wants to go North.

    Debie..Washington does look lovely and it is the mountains that draw me there....those and Seattle.

    Doreen...glad I could give you a virtual roadtrip. We want to tour Canada the same way one day too. probably recognize a lot of the places as well. What an interesting theory about me...never thought about that before but I think you may be right.

    Yup...just a is all pretty close to us. Going to the grand canyon for me would be like you visiting Edinburgh :-) We average about 300 miles a day on our trips.

    Glad you liked them Marina.

  17. I am so homesick right now. Thanks for the vicarious trip back. If we're ever there at the same time, I'll take you sledding down the dunes. We surf down them too, but sledding is a bit safer. ;-)

    Oh and two of my sisters were born in Roswell. Whenever they are being illogical I wold always tell Mom it was her fault for being around the aliens. Not nice I know, but it was always said with tongue firmly in cheek. ;-)

  18. LOl...that's what sisters do though :-)

    The weather wasn't that nice while we were at the dunes else we'd have climbed them to...there were only 2 or 3 cars there.

    Check out the myspace pics or I've also put them on'll see a lot more of your home.

  19. Beautiful pictures!!! I had to come back to look when I had more time. I do not travel much- have only been a few places, but I really love to see the pictures when someone else travels around. I went with my husband once on a business trip and we went from Seattle to Lewiston ID. Driving down into Lewiston nearly scared me to death- the edge of the road was so close to my side of the car and then dropping down, down, down. I think if I moved there I would spend the first 6 months traveling that road at 20 miles an hour!

  20. Oh you could have come on one of our many road trips when we lived just down the road from weekend we decided to go to New December :-)

    Roads like that are scary...I am not so bad in the car but when I'm on the back of the motorbike it freaks me out big time. First time mick took me up Big bear mountain here I didn't open my eyes till we reached the top lol.

  21. You know Jayne, I just went to the Steve McCurry exhibition today (Afghan girl on National Geographic) and I had goosebumps looking at his pics. So this is like my 2nd treat on the same day! My housemate loves caves and the ones you took are just breathtaking. Those pictures at white sands, you make everything look like sculptures. Did you bring a whole suitcase worth of camera equipment? lol. If I ever do a road trip in the US, Route 66 is it. Always always wanted to do that but this is 2nd best. Also, to have been where the Manhattan Project happened! Historical moment. And now I can tell everyone, Roswell is so alien crazy they have Ridley Scott's version for lamp-post! Thank you!

  22. Oh boy Sans....Steve McCurry....that is my all time favorite photo ever. I used to have it on my wall and it scared my Son half to death...he was maybe 6 or 7 at the time.

    So....I put it on the stairs so he wouldn't get up and go downstairs at night when he was supposed to be in bed :-)

    I am very envious you went to see his work.

    I didn't make it look like sculptures....that is what it is like....all I did was take a photo.

    I have a fairly simple and cheapish camera to be honest...just get lucky from time to time :-)

    I do need to upgrade to an SLR but need to go to college to learn how to use one first.


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