Great Sand Dunes National Park

IMG_1295Sand, and lots of it! The amount of sand here at Great Sand Dunes National Park is really hard to comprehend, that is until you start hiking these monstrous sand hills! First glimpse of them from afar as your driving towards them, you think to yourself, “we’re getting close”! But then you keep driving and driving and driving! Standing 700ft above the San Luis Valley floor, these are the tallest sand dunes in North America. Southwest winds have blown for tens of thousands of years creating a dune field that lies against the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.IMG_1300 (2)

 

IMG_1326

IMG_1329

Once on the dunes, you realize how steep and tall they really are.

IMG_4254 (2)

That’s Lori, trekking her way up!

IMG_4251 (2)

IMG_4245

A view from the top, looking south

IMG_4253

This photo shows the power of the wind

IMG_4236 (2)

IMG_4263

We had a great day here. After a really tough hike to the top we emptied the sand from our boots and enjoyed a yummy sand flavored picnic lunch, with a bit of sand in our eyes and ears and nose and mouth and …

Angel Fire, N.M.

We had a great time here at Angel Fire RV Resort. The resort is top-notch with upscale amenities.  IMG_4172

Our week-long stay included some pretty intense weather. Snow and wind, with gusts up to 60 mph. Fun, fun, fun while riding the storm out. IMG_4177

It melted fast and soon the sun came out!

 

IMG_1207

We practically had the whole place to ourselves.

The legend behind the name Angel Fire comes from the Ute Indians. During autumnal celebrations to the Great Spirit, they witnessed a strange and mysterious red/ orange flickering glow in the northern sky. The elders exclaimed, “it is an omen – the fire gods – blessing our annual celebration. Thereafter, whenever the rosy glow was seen, it was called “fire of the gods”. We witnessed the glow first hand!IMG_1188

So long New Mexico! Our journey continues north, leading us to Colorful Colorado!

Taos N.M./ Taos Pueblo

If you’ve never been to Taos, you really need to check out this town. Taos history runs deep, with its name meaning “place of willows.” Taos is known for its art colony that began in 1899. The galleries and shops reflect that. Other interesting places are Taos Pueblo, Bent Street, The Plaza, Kit Carson House, and Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. We also visited San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, which was the subject of paintings by Georgia O’ Keeffe and photography by Ansel Adams.

IMG_1092

Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.

IMG_1115

These family owned apartment-like adobe structures are passed down from one generation to the next.

Taos Pueblo is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. It is a very spiritual place that was incredible to experience. The 30 minute tour gave us only a glimpse into the lives and history of these fascinating people.

IMG_1101 (2)

San Geronimo Church @ Taos Pueblo

With no modern plumbing or electricity, they truly live off the land. The crystal clear stream running through the community, fed from a sacred lake atop the mountain, is their main source of water.

IMG_1138

Red River Creek aka Rio Pueblo de Taos

Taos Pueblo is a Sovereign Nation, maintaining stability and longevity for over 1000 years.IMG_1130

IMG_4125

IMG_1112 (3)

San Geronimo Church

 

IMG_1111

A Horno, used for baked goods, is fueled by cedar wood.

Santa Fe/ Bandelier National Monument/ Los Alamos N.M.

We camped at Juniper Campground in Bandelier National Monument for 7 days.

First thing, we took a trip for the day to Santa Fe, had lunch and walked around town. There were lots of shops and galleries, but the cool thing was locals had their wears to sell right on the sidewalk in the town square.

IMG_0991 (2)Discovering the old churches in Santa Fe is always fun. Especially when its the oldest church in the U.S.

IMG_1013

IMG_0999

The Loretto Chapel has a staircase located inside that is considered miraculous because of its design, type of wood, and who actually built it. It rises 20ft making two full turns while having no center support. It has NO NAILS. The exact type wood used is of unknown origin. A mysterious man showed up in 1879 after the nuns prayed for nine days. He worked in seclusion, using only a few hand tools, then disappeared without learning his identity. Hmmmm!IMG_1002

Here’s a few more photos of Santa Fe.

Bandelier National Monument is located 48 miles northwest of Santa Fe. It is home to many archeological sites once inhabited by Ancestral Pueblo people. Homes, kivas, and petroglyphs are scattered throughout the canyon. A volcano once erupted near here leaving huge ash flows, some thousands of feet thick, that formed the canyon walls. They used the canyon walls as homes, carving out rooms into the soft walls. IMG_0884

IMG_0935

Ancestral Pueblo people also built houses right on the canyon floor. This village included 40 rooms.

Bandelier National Monument only has 3 miles of roads, but boasts over 70 miles of trails! This made for some epic hiking.

The ruins here are amazing. We came back to explore for a second day. IMG_0953

You can stand inside the ruins (sort of). They must have been really little people, because the rooms were really SMALL!

A 4 mile round-trip hike brought us to an incredible waterfall.IMG_0982

 Los Alamos is known as the birthplace of the atomic bomb. The Dept. of Defense set up shop here in this remote location to work on The Manhattan Project. We all know what the outcome of that was. Lots of information about the project is here at The Bradbury Science Museum.

IMG_4090

We really enjoyed our time here in the Santa Fe area. There’s so much to see and do here that the week seemed to fly by. We are headed to Taos and Angel Fire N.M. area next. Stay tuned and thanks for following!!!!!! We enjoy sharing our travels with all of you, hope you enjoy our pictures and posts.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM.

Created as a National Monument in 1923, Carlsbad Cavern is an amazing cave system that we walked through. A beautiful steep paved path leads you through some of the most spectacular cave formations. The Big Room ( the fifth largest cave chamber in North America ) is 400 ft long, 625 ft wide and 255 ft high! The easy 1.5 mile loop through the room led us to the cafeteria where we had lunch 800ft below the surface of the earth!

IMG_4008

Unfortunately, the elevators were broken the day we visited, so not only did we have to hike DOWN, but had to hike back UP !

 

IMG_4018 (2)

The natural entrance to the cavern.

 

While staying in the Carlsbad KOA Campground, we were close enough for a day trip to Sitting Bull Falls. Evidence suggests that this canyon oasis was occupied over 10,000 years ago by the Apache Indians.

IMG_4044

We spent the afternoon relaxing by the peaceful waterfall, reading a book and eating lunch while having the whole place to ourselves.

If your wondering if we jumped in and swam, no we did not. The natural spring water from where the falls are fed is REALLY cold!

A Look Back/ Our 1st Year !

It’s hard to believe its been a year! One year of traveling and exploring the United States and Canada. Between the awesome scenery and meeting new friends along the way, we have certainly enjoyed ourselves. What was best about the first year? EVERYTHING! So here is a breakdown of the Top Five most awesome adventures :                                  Alaska, Canadian Rockies, Oregon Coast, Montana, and winter in Arizona.

 

IMG_6960 (2)

View going to Valdez, AK.

 

 

While in Alaska, we visited Denali National Park. The hikes that we went on were epic! Some of these hikes involved switchbacks, elevation rises of 1200 ft, and rock climbing. Some were very hard and some were really easy….. including a very easy WALK to the visitors center. As we walked, talking about how fun and beautiful a park it was, we stumbled upon a mama moose and her two babies! She saw us, we didn’t see her! Needless to say, you don’t get between a mama moose and her babies. Well, we did and what a price we paid! She charged at us full on, ears back, teeth out, ready to KILL us both! Lori, the smart one, darted off to the safety of the large pine trees, while I tried to out-run the pissed off animal. Running, I looked back to see if she gave up, but the mama moose was INCHES from my left shoulder, ready to bite my neck and kill me. I dove into a ditch, rolled into a ball and screamed! She stopped and returned to Lori and continued the attack! Lori skillfully used the trees as a shield and was able to escape the wrath of the mama moose! She returned to her babies and walked gently off into the woods. We, on the other hand, found ourselves shaking, scrapped and battered, thinking WTF just happened! Lesson learned!  Always be aware of your surroundings, especially on an easy, flat path that leads to the Denali Visitors Center!

The Canadian Rockies are absolutely beautiful. We loved the many glaciers and waterfalls this incredible country has to offer. Drinking pure, crystal clear water flowing from a glacier will forever be in our memories.

 

IMG_0958

Canadian Rockies. One of the most beautiful places on Earth.

 

 

The Oregon Coast has the most amazing rock formations and sunsets! Lori and I loved walking the beaches and watching the whales. Camping in some of the many state parks  along the Oregon coast let us experience coastal forest hikes like no other!

 

IMG_1717

Oregon Coast/ Cape Blanco

 

Spending time in beautiful Montana included hanging out with family and riding 4 wheelers. Rafting down the river and fishing was fun too! We totally get why they call it Big Sky!

 

IMG_1282

Montana landscapes never get old!

 

Spending the winter in Arizona kept us warm and sunny. We LOVED the mild weather in the desert. After spending 4 months in the deserts of Arizona, we saw only 1 snake! And it wasn’t even a rattlesnake. We met a lot of nice people who we call our friends now, which is why we love living the way we do. And the sunsets aren’t bad either!

 

IMG_0269

Sunset in Tucson AZ

 

 

IMG_0258 (2)

Sunset in Benson AZ

 

We’ve been out traveling for a year now, living in about 400 sq ft , making memories that will last a lifetime. How much longer will we be doing this? Who knows, only time will tell, but in the meantime we have the whole country as our backyard.

thEE7AQQM6

STAY TUNED !!!!!!!   Thanks for following !