Will and Allison Tame Wild Horses

Feeling the World

Month: October, 2010

Chapter 9: Death Valley

Heat and exertion are synonymous with Death Valley as well as things named after the Devil.  I am referring to points of interest like The Devil’s Golf Course, Devil’s Hole, and The Devil’s Cornfield .  The landscape is stark and harsh; a superlative desert of salt flats, streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and 3 million acres of wilderness.  When entering the park from the most southern entrance and heading to Bad Water, the eye perceives water at the basin of the large valley, but in reality is met with a huge eerie dried up bed of salt.  Bad Water rests at the lowest point in the United States, 282 feet below sea level.

Temperatures in the summer can reach up to 130F.   Believe it or not there are maniacs out there that compete in a race called the Bad Water Ultra Marathon.  This grueling race I first read about in a book by Dean Karnaze called “Ultra Marathon Man”.  This legendary event pits approximately 90 of the world’s toughest athletes—runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers—against one another and the elements. The race covers 135 miles non-stop from Bad Water, to the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous 49 states.  The icing on the cake is that it takes place in July, the height of summer in Death Valley.  Of course we decided to visit Death Valley at the most pleasant time of year, with an average temperature of 72F and slight cloud coverage.  Taking day hikes up the canyons, driving the famous Artist Road, hanging out in front of a campfire, and visiting one of the many points of interest that start with the word devil is actually pleasant in October.

Death Valley Candids

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chapter 8: The Grand Canyon

The following morning we continued driving in heavy rain right into the Far East side of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.  The rain was pouring down and the skies were gray as we decided to forge forward into the park despite our instincts that told us to turn around and head for Las Vegas.  In the end we were a little wet, very cold, but extremely happy with our decision to stay.  We camped for two nights, the weather calmed, and we took an amazing walk along the South canyon rim and hiked deep down into the awesome sight that is the GRAND CANYON!!!!  On our hike had the good fortune of seeing a huge brightly colored complete rainbow framing what can only be described as awe inspiring.  The colors in the Grand Canyon during the fall are like a painters palette; hues of green, red, gray , blue, and orange all mingling and mixing together with perfect harmony.  The skies and canyon stretch as far as the eye can see and dwarf anything man has attempted to make as an expression of God or Ego.  The Grand Canyon is a humbling place to be and it is no wonder that at least 250 people are rescued each year from it.  It captivates and mesmerizes the senses and once you start descending into its grandeur it takes quite a bit of will power to turn around, even when dusk is around the corner, the wind is howling, and drops of rain start to fall on the red earth.    Or in the case of summer, when the sun is scorching, you are out of water, and already feeling fatigued from heat and exertion.

Grand Canyon Candids

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Road thru the Navajo Nation

Chapter 7: Santa Fe, Los Alamos and The Dark Road West.

Did you know Santa Fe has the second largest art market in the USA, New York being numero uno.  Likewise, did you know the Atomic bomb was created less than 100 miles outside of this idealic city in the town of Los Alamos.  Los Alamos has a street named after Oppenheimer the man who invented the atomic bomb and was later quoted saying, “I have become death”.  Yes, we visited both these places during our last day in New Mexico and what a stark contrast they offer for the wayward visitor.   Santa Fe is fairy tale like.  It has a charming central plaza with classic adobe architecture; old cathedrals, art everywhere, and a cool laid back feeling.  The 400 hundred year old town was civilized, authentic, and very unique, a real lady.  Los Alamos has a feeling of dread and sadness that permeates the air.  I wonder why?   In Santa Fe we spent a lazy afternoon having lunch, meandering the streets, sitting in the Plaza and exploring the local vendors hand crafted Native American jewelry before heading in the direction of Los Alamos.  We drove into Los Alamos and tried to drive out as quickly as possible; yearning for brighter horizons and more places that were created with more positive intentions.


Not far outside of Los Alamos is a tiny little highway that beholds some of the most beautiful scenery we had seen on our trip yet. Note, the panoramic picture of the Caldera will shot BEFORE we encountered the most major storm of our trip; black ominous skies, lighting and thunder, and torrential down pours of rain.  We were bare knuckle driving late into the night and were relieved to find an overpriced Motel 6 in the small town of Bloom Field, our last stop in New Mexico.


 

New Mexico Candids

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Albuquerque Popsicles

Who would have guessed you could make a buisness out of popsicles?  They are amazing I might add!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chapter 6: Horses and Chili Peppers/Three days in Albuquerque

Albuquerque has a unique identity and culture.  Where should I begin; adobe homes, hot air balloon festivals, a love for green and red chili sauce, or rodeos?  I will begin with Rodeos.  Horses and Rodeo culture are a passion for a lot of the residents that live in this area.  Todd, my cousins boyfriend  invited us to a rodeo his daughter was competing in on Sunday.  He owns three beautiful horses, Zanzibar, Penny, and Copper which Will had the experience of galloping and jumping over cacti on.  I was actually too intimidated.  After 30 minutes of riding and feeling like I was going to get bucked off and sustain a concussion on a hard dessert rock I nervously asked my cousin to take me home and continue riding with Will and Todd.  Will still has the blister and bruises to prove his command over wild horses; so much for our blog title.  Anyhow, back to Rodeo.  I have never seen so many small children on horses traveling around barrels at such high speeds.  The competition also includes goat tying, which entails slamming small goats to the ground and then tying them up as fast as you can.  We missed the goat tying, which I am grateful for.  I am too sensitive and probably would not have been able to handle children beating up goats. The kids also seemed equally entertained playing in the dirt and tying each other up.   Ultimately it was inspiring to see the relationship that can develop between such large and beautiful animals and human beings of all ages; if only we could treat all animals with the love, care, and respect these kids and their parents had for their horses.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chili grows in abundance in Albuquerque and is a fundamental part of the local cuisine.  Rebecca, my cousin had a garden overgrowing with at least a dozen different varieties of peppers and chilies, which we picked and she made hot delicious sauces and salsas with.  Green and Red Chili sauces are offered at all the local eateries as an option to have on anything at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  There is no lack of vitamin C or heat in the New Mexican diet.  Pork and Posole are also key ingredients in the homemade stews and chili’s of New Mexico. We tested this fare at a quirky restaurant called Cervanteswhere they not only took the excellent food very seriously but also their Halloween decorations.  The place was covered in every inch with gory, ghoulish, and gaudy paraphernalia that would definitely have sent a small child running and screaming.

The Sandia Mountains rest on the east side of Albuquerque and are wonderful place to hike and enjoy sunset.  The town itself is a bit of a wasteland minus a single trendy neighborhood call “Knob Hill”, where we have friends that live and hosted a lovely dinner for us on our last night before heading on to Santa Fe, the place to really admire local architecture and art.


 

A few more images from Oliver Lee State Park in New Mexico!