Grand Canyon Memorial

April 20-25, 2017

We remembered Dennis' father by repeating a family train trip to the Grand Canyon we took with him three years ago.

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Easter Sunday at Madera Canyon

April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday in Madera Canyon! The air was filled with sweet/sad Mexican folk songs and the scent of roasting cabrita. We stopped briefly at the Gift Shop, where an elegant trogon — my first — appeared out of nowhere, and vanished just as suddenly. Since every legal parking spot was taken, we opted to explore a delightful area nearby, where we were entertained by sex-crazed Arizona toads at a hidden waterfall.

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The Plains of San Agustin, Valley of Fires and the Trinity Nuclear Site

March 30-April 2, 2017

I read maps like some people read books, so my eye was immediately drawn to a large open plain just north of the Gila Wilderness. The Plains of San Agustin stretch for about 50 miles, with a width varying from 5 to 15 miles. Within this area lie, according to one observer, "all things strange and wonderful".

The high-altitude basin was created by a Pleistocene lake that occupied the area between 11,000 and 23,000 years ago. At the height of the Ice Age, the lake was more than 250 feet deep. As the ice melted, the lake level dropped precipitiously and by the time humans occupied the area 13,000 years ago, the lake had been replaced by several seasonal playas.

Beginning in the 1940s, archaeological excavation of a series of caves along the shore of the former lake provided some of the earliest evidence of the cultivation of crops including maize, squash, beans, sunflowers and other edible wild plants.

Nearby Pelona Mountain is also the site of a theoretical alien landing. In 1947, a local farmer reportedly found bodies of four aliens near a crashed flying saucer, and according to local legend, the area was cordoned off and the military escorted everyone off the site after warning them not to talk about it.

Enhancing the other-worldy nature of the San Agustin Plains is the remarkable presence of the Very Large Array (VLA), a collection of 27 radio telescopesthat are used to observe both radio waves and light waves emitted by distant celestial objects.

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Red Knolls and Bonita Creek

March 3-5, 2017

Off the beaten path in eastern Arizona, searching for the Seven Cities of Cibola and settling for a remote and wild river.

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Supersitions with Water!

Charlebois Loop,February 4-5, 2017

This loop kicked our butts 12 years ago — Just long enough to forget how hard it was. Besides our age, a big difference was that generous winter rains meant there was water everywhere, with many stream crossings, pools and, yes, the first swim of the year!

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Yosemite in Winter

January 20-25, 2017

I can't believe it's been six years since I went cross-country skiing! When Josh and Carole mentioned a winter trip to Yosemite, we leapt at the chance!

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Winter Wanderland

South Central New Mexico, December 27, 2016 - January 1, 2017

On a cross-country road trip with my friend Susan and a moving van, we passed through the town of Carrizozo, an old railroad town at the tip of the towering Sacramento Mountains. The late afternoon light cast enchanting shadows on the slopes of the mountain. Nearby, I learned, was a fairly recent lava flow 40 miles long, as well as the reknowned Three Rivers Petroglyphs Site. I vowed to return for further exploration.

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