Monday, October 08, 2012

Southwest Trip

DH and I went on a driving trip for our anniversary this year. We toured the Southwest.We left really early on Saturday morning. By the time we got to Baker, it was daylight and lo and behold, the desert was GREEN due to some rain we had a week earlier.


Stayed in Nevada for a couple of days then headed to Arizona. We crossed over Hoover Dam. Though I have been there several times, its still awesome and huge!

Then on to the old Route 66, heading for New Mexico for the tour of  Spaceport America.

We stopped to change drivers in this wee little spot on the map - Grasshopper Junction - where I got a quick shot of this handsome fella!

Our major goal for the trip was to take a tour of the Spaceport America outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  The Spaceport has not quite opened for business but they allow a tour company access.

This is the highly polished glass windows of the terminal building. You can just see us reflected in the glass as I took the picture. (We are the couple on the left). On the lower floor is the waiting area for family and friends of the astronauts. On the top floor is the prep area for the astronauts  -  they come a few days ahead of time to get ready for the space shot. Behind the waiting area is the hanger which stores the spaceship and its launch vehicle.

This is looking at the hanger/terminal building from the operations center. Those dark panels are the doors to the hanger part.

This is out on the runway. Probably the ONLY time I will be on that runway...unless I should happen to run into a couple of spare millions and could sign up for one of the flights. (They start at $200,000! Lets see, that would be at least $400,000 for the both of us...um..not happening anytime soon! But we can dream!)

DH looking out of the top floor of the operations center. The white smear in the distance is the runway.

Here is the window he was looking out of from the other side!

This is an aerial shot (from a news service - not my picture!) showing the terminal/hanger building. The operations center is off to the left of this picture.

One of the other features interesting features near Truth or Consequences is Elephant Butte Dam. It was built before Hoover Dam and at the time, was the largest dam in the USA.

Elephant Butte Reservoir..the water level is way down due to the lack of rainfall.

We headed to White Sands after the Spaceport. One of the interesting sights was a two humped camel in a trailer - this is not the actual camel we saw, but it looks kinda like him..the camel looked like he was having the time of his life, rolling down the highway. I was driving or I would have snapped a picture.

This is the center at White Sands. I love the pueblo styling and the color.

A picture taken near White Sands.

This is the lake at the Inn of the Mountain Gods. We got there after dark and were hoping to stay there. Went up to the front desk to ask if they had a room and were told no, but that not all the guests had checked in yet - check back with them in an hour - maybe they would have a cancellation. So..in an hour, we went back up to the desk and a guy tapped DH on the shoulder. Said he had heard us inquire about a room when we were there an hour ago...and that he had one he was going to give up - he had asked for an adjoining set of rooms but what he got were rooms that were on opposite sides of the hall..he really didn't want his young daughter to stay across the hall! So they were going to get a rollaway for her and if we wanted, we could have the room! So...we got the room..thanks to an alert and generous guy.

Next morning we toured the lake and then headed for Roswell..and the famous alien landing!

Here I am looking at one of the tourist trap gift shops - this one has a depiction of the alien ship's crash landing, complete with flashing red lights. The McDonald's in Roswell is themed after the alien ship as well.

We drove up to Gallup next, with Four Corners and Monument Valley as the next destinations. This is Shiprock on the way to Four Corners.

Four Corners...with little booths all around in each of the four states - New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah..Since its on an Indian Reservation, the booths were staffed by Indians of various local tribes. Some of them were really interesting to listen to. We watched a lady that made sand paintings using rocks she ground up from her backyard. Turquoise for the blue, sulpher for the yellow, quartz for the white, coal for the black. She would paint a thin line of white glue on a tile, then shake some of the rock dust onto it and would make wonderful pictures. At the end she coats them with an acrylic to keep the sand set.
Another couple were making the most intricate carvings on clay pots. The wife used a sharp tool to inscribe the clay and he added the colors once it was fired. They really were wonderful (but really expensive!) The guy told us about a scenic way to get to Monument Valley - it was thru some really desolate areas.

The hills turned RED once we got into Utah. I couldn't stop to get one shot that I really wanted as the road turned into a completely red valley. It was so peaceful and quiet, and hardly any traffic. (Which could have been a bad thing (see the end of the post) but it turned out ok - our Guardian Angel was watching over us!)

Monument Valley.

Another view of Monument Valley.

After we left Monument Valley, we headed to Sedona. I had heard it was beautiful and the drive down into Sedona from Flagstaff was so gorgeous. This is Bell Mountain in Sedona. We decided not to stay in Sedona because of the cicadas...they made such a racket that I don't know if we would have slept! It sounded like some weird kind of motor, humming away at max volume! Some day we will come back and we plan on climbing Bell Mountain to see if there really is any truth to the stories of it being an energy vortex.

The hills were still red outside of Sedona.

The setting sun thru the clouds.

It was a good trip. The day after we got home, we went to start the car and OMG, the battery was dead. It had hiccupped a couple of times on the trip but always started the engine...So we put the charger on the battery and the next morning we headed for Sears to get the battery replaced (It was time anyway) Thank goodness we didn't get stuck out there in the middle of one of the nowheres we were in on the trip!

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