Leaving FOR Las Vegas

Friday April 30th We left Stephen’s house in Albuquerque, New Mexico and made Our way to Las Vegas, Nevada… eventually.

Our route

First, We had a date with some more nat’l lands.  3 more, actually.  First on the list was El Malpais.  When We got there, the ranger was extremely friendly.  We talked to her for a few minutes and realized that this was not the coolest place We would see on Our way, but We didn’t have much time for the others so We stamped Our passport book, and hurried to the next site.

Thats El Morro in the background obscured by the snowstorm

It was snowing when We arrived so We weren’t able to climb to the top, but We were able to walk some of the path towards the top.  Surprisingly, it was sunny and almost warm during Our walk, but We could still see the storm dumping snow on the Natl Monument.  The sky was crazy blue just next to the storm:

You'd never know there was a snowstorm just to the left

We came upon a water hole that was very peaceful.  So peaceful in fact that I had to make a video =)

We saw some signatures of previous visitors to this place from long ago and that was pretty cool to see the dates and names of people and groups that had been to this place long before Us.

If you can zoom in, you can see the signature etchings

We walked as far as We could up the trail until it was closed due to snow and went back to the car to continue on to Our next destination, which was in:

Notice the bulletholes...

Our stop in Arizona was:

The forest was basically a 30 mile scenic drive that went through the painted desert to the Rainbow Petrified Forest.  It was beautiful.  There were several scenic overlooks, hiking trails and picnic areas along the way.  I have heard of the “Painted Desert” before, and now I know why people call it by that name…all the mountains and rocks look as if someone painted them.  Some have stripes, some are solid colors but all are strangely beautiful yet odd.  Here are some random pics:

It seemed to go on forever...
The beauty seemed to go on forever

Towards the end of the drive We start seeing petrified wood:

That is petrified wood all over the ground. Looks like rocks!

When We got to the visitor center, there were amazing pieces of petrified wood that looked like fine stone.  I guess it kinda is…

Entrance to the visitor center...these are petrified wood. Looks like stone!

We walked the nature trail there and saw a fallen petrified tree that was huge:

This tree must have been massive!!

I stood by the base of it for comparison:

The base of the tree was taller than me

If you would like to see the rest of Our pictures from the journey to Vegas from ABQ, the album is HERE

After leaving the Petrified Forest, We continued on to Las Vegas.  Of course We crossed the Hoover Dam, but it was dark so I have nothing but this:

Hoover Dam at night

After the dam, there was nothing until We saw this:

Blurry Vegas from afar

While the photo is  blurry (because I forgot to switch the setting on the camera), approaching Vegas at night is nothing short of amazing.  Seeing the glowing city rise up in the middle of a pitch black desert is breathtaking…not just the first time either.  I have seen it many times, and it never fails to catch me off guard.  We arrived in Las Vegas around 1am and were greeted by some of my very good friends Angela and Rylan Helmuth…

The rest, is for another day.

Stay tuned.

Church ruins, fire valley and petroglyphs

Welcome back, friends.  We have been taking it easy in New Mexico.  Kinda.  I have been doing my arabic studies for about 3-5 hours every day and THAT is a chore.  I love it, don’t get me wrong, it’s just mentally draining.  It makes my brain really work, which is awesome, I just haven’t been in school for a while, ya know?  Having Cali here to help me with the arabic is immeasurably valuable.  He is such a great help when it comes to “wtf why (this that the other)”.  He got me a book about the arabic alphabet that is learning me how to write the words I’m learning to say.  AWESOME.  Just sayin’.

Other than arabic, household duties, and driving around We have just been planning what We want to do.  Not like long term or anything, more like next week =)  Cali got His new clothes!!!  He threw out almost all of His clothes and bought robes to wear all the time.  He also got a sleeveless shirt that looks amazing on Him with His robes…read on and you will see Him in them.  He looks awesome.

We actually recently went on a roadtrip.  That Nat’l Park passport book thing I told you about last time helped Us plan a day trip to 5 amazing places.

Our trip Route this time

We got 3 more cancellation stamps in Our passport!!!  We got up at about 7am tuesday morning and started taking showers and packing things for the trip.  Stephen made Us amazing omelettes for breakfast and We were on Our way.  Our first stop of the day was the Quarai Ruins, one of the “Salinas Pueblo Missions“.

The first site of the day.

We pulled up and the parking lot had one car in it.  Not surprised since it was kind of an “out of the way” place.  The car belonged to the nice man working inside the ranger station, who gave Us a brochure and directed Us across the sidewalk path to the “museum” for the ruins.  After stamping a piece of paper because I left Our passport at Stephen’s, We checked it out.

The little museum at the ranger station

When We left the museum, We started on the path to the ruins.  They were nothing less than amazing.

The ruins as you walk up to them on the path

Inside the ruins was a rock covered path going through the labyrinth of rooms.  The church itself had a large sanctuary room

They were soooo big!!

and several smaller rooms for the convents it housed.  Being there was phenomenal.  It was beautiful no matter which way We looked and the colors were such that I had never seen.  We took so many pictures, again there is an album for this trip (THE ALBUM), but you get the idea.

It felt like time travel back

After walking through this ruin and taking pics, We left for the Abo Ruins.

The second Natl site that day
It was beautiful even half broken
It was beautiful, even half broken
Standing tall after hundreds of years.

The Abo ruins, like the Quarai ruins, were red in color and made of pretty much solid rock.  Brick, I guess.  I reflected for a while on what it would have been like to build those giant buildings without all the modern machinery.  As We left, We saw the road We came in on was beautiful as well.

The road as We were leaving
The road as We were leaving

We had Our atlas, of course, but We also ran Our navigation on Our phone to be sure.  When We left the Abo ruins, We checked the gps map to get on the way to the Gran Quivira ruins.  This, is what my phone said:

gps showed nothing except for "you are blue dot going this way..."

Nothing.  Nothing is what my phone said, except for making Our blue dot with an arrow move along an unknown invisible path toward some nothing…when actually We were headed to one of my favorite stops of the day.

3rd stop of the day.
3rd stop of the day!

From the parking lot, We could see the ruins on a hill lookin’ all majestic.  One of the first things We noticed about these ruins is their color.  While the other two were red, these were a beautiful white/grey.  Not like a white that looked dirty, but like real white, with grey dirt and stone.

On Our way up to the ranger station We caught Our first glimpse

Every direction We looked the scenery just went on forever.

Did I mention it was VERY windy that day?

My dress kept getting blown up!!

Cali looked so pretty in this environment with His new clothes.  (not that He doesnt always =))

He's so pretty

Before We left, I had to grab an amazing picture opportunity…

Cali standing on top of the ruins. One of a series.

We took the opportunity to picnic at the tables before leaving this place.  It really was an awesome feeling there…peaceful.

Before I go on, I will tell on myself for a second.  If you noticed a smudge on the right side of the pictures, starting after Our first stop, its because I totally got my fingerprints all over the camera lens after cleaning it that morning.  I did it not long after We started so almost all of the pictures We took have smudges.  Awesome.  Oops =)

After leaving the Gran Quivira ruins, We drove out to the Valley of Fires.  If you dont know what that is, and I didn’t until then, please click the link.  Basically, it is a field of cooled lava that stretches for about 44 miles, or about 135 square miles of surface area.  From far away you can tell when you are getting close by looking at the black band cutting through the scenery.

4th stop
4th stop

Before We started on the “nature trail” We were advised to be very careful when venturing out on to the lava off the trail due to it being like broken glass if you fall.  BROKEN GLASS!  Im wearing a dress and flip flops…call me a daredevil.

Lava field

In that one you can see the walking path winding through it.  It made me think about the people who had to actually make the walking path.  It was very unforgiving and uneven ground.

The explanation of the Valley

If you click the picture, you’ll be able to read the explanation of the lava.  None of the pictures or stories do it justice…the lava field was an amazing site to see.  There were cracks and depressions, and cave like structures and giant mounds.  The plants growing there were so hearty and tough.  I kept thinking about what it would be like to survive there.  What if I had to hike through it to get somewhere else.  The rattlesnake warnings and perfect scorpion habitats were enough to be scary but added to the “broken glass” of the ground and the fact that every plant there had sharp things on it made me anxious about being alone there at night.  Good thing that wasn’t about to happen!!

Imagine hiking across this!!
Imagine hiking across this!!
One of my fave pics from this stop. A juniper tree and a crack.

Of course We did get off the trail for a bit.  Mostly just for a few pictures.  Stepping into the cracks was super scary since there could be any number of creepy crawly things inside!!

One of the more shallow, yet still creepy, cracks

There were also many scenic stops along the road outside of the recreation area that captured Our attention, but werent captured on film so you’ll have to go yourself!  One sight We did happen to see on the way to 3 rivers was a dust storm at White Sands.  3 Rivers is not very far from the White Sands Natl Monument and due to the windy conditions you could see the sandstorm from miles away.  A crap picture, but here it is:

Through the windhsield
Through the windshield

Our last stop that day was 3 Rivers Petroglyphs.

Last stop
2 signs??

I didn’t happen to be familiar with petroglyphs until this trip.  Basically, they are etchings on rocks.  This collection is one of the biggest in the southwest and is one of the few that lets you mingle with them and walk among them to look closely.  As you may imagine, that has invited dumbasses to deface them, but for the most part, they were very well taken care of.  Please see the album for some amazing pictures of the petroglyphs at 3 rivers.  THE ALBUM

Our "designated path". FML

The, ahem, “path” that We were supposed to stick to kind of disappeared ever so often and We had to go on the path of least resistance sometimes.  No problem, except hiking in flip flops isn’t something I will making into a habit.  I didn’t think about the “off road walking” We would be doing all day, I was thinking about being comfy =)  Ps, a “WINDY” day-according to the desert news people-means that you should NOT venture out into very dusty wide open spaces.  Unless you just don’t give a WHAT =)

See the thorns on that plant right in front?!
In the background is the welcome center about a half mile back

We got in the car at the petroglyphs and We were supposed to drive to Roswell to check out the aliens and stuff, but…decided We had had a long day already and headed back to ‘Burque.

I started writing arabic.  Its damn exciting.  The letters I had a problem recognizing and pronouncing are becoming more and more clear.  Sometimes it seems like I study all day.  Aside from cooking amazing meals and driving to far away places, We just take it easy.  I clean alot, We go to Barnes and Noble pretty often to look at books about New Mexico or Nevada (Our next state), We hang out together and enjoy it.  Still doing the pilates…I hurt my tailbone doing it the other day.  As most of you probably know already, I broke my tailbone almost 2 years ago and it just hasn’t been right ever since.  It protested my ab workout the other day.  Not fun at all.  I found my desire to smoke cigarettes again.  I still don’t smoke at all like I used to, but I have found that I so still like to smoke…and when I don’t have any (like now) I don’t like it.

One love

Stay tuned.