27 October 2011

Rockin' & Rollin' in New Mexico

It is Wednesday PM and weather is changing from the bright, warm sunny days to a colder version.  We are leaving Friday if we survive tonight.  Wind is blowing like a hurricane to bring in the cold front.  This is the same weather system that dropped  12 inches of snow around Denver.  We expect the mountains around ABQ will be white in the AM, but we just hope we will still be right side up!  I am about to get sea sick we are rocking so much.  Haven't rocked this much since I was on a dive boat in the Keys with 6 ft waves!!
The steel forest on Sandia Peak, east of ABQ
We have enjoyed our stay here.  I especially like coming back to Kirtland AFB as this is where the Gospel according to St Nuke was written and while I was in the USAF came here a number of times to see the Word!!

We have seen a different Fall Color show here.  Many of the trees are evergreens, but the others turn a brilliant gold hue.  Most of the trees that are not on the mountains are along the river and streams.  You get a little elevation and you can spot the streams and rivers because they are swaths of green (with gold in the autumn) amid the brown of the plains!
Fall colors in NM!
 If the wheels are still on the ground after this weather passes we are heading south toward El Paso for a week or so.  Will probably stop at Las Cruces and/or Alamogordo for a few days and then at the FamCamp at Fort Bliss, an Army base near El Paso.  When we are through there we will move on west to Tucson, AZ and then north a ways to Sedona where we will spend T-day week with some AF friends that live there. 

Always at home, no matter where we are!!

23 October 2011

Beyond Yellowstone

It was getting cold and wet at Yellowstone and we had been hitting the tourist circuit pretty heavy for most of a week and we felt it was time to move on.  So much more to see and do at Yellowstone, but couldn't do it all in one visit even if we stayed another week or so!

So we checked the weather and headed south toward Salt Lake City.  Road was good and we passed thru Idaho Falls and caught I-15 SB toward Salt Lake City. BJ took over a good part of the driving that day and I enjoyed the sights (or rather the inside of my tired eyelids) most of the way.   At the UT state line we stopped as usual at the welcome center to collect info.  About 35 miles later we arrived at Hill AFB in Ogden UT just north of Salt Lake City.  The base had a nice FamCamp and had FHU on the end of the row.

Weather was bright, sunny and warm and stayed that way for the entire duration of the visit.  For a day or two we just relaxed and caught up on administrative duties.  We reformatted BJ's laptop back to original condition trying to eliminate a pesky blue screen of death that has been a persistent problem.  I started and restarted the blog entry for Yellowstone and was really frustrated with my inability to describe such a wondrous place.  I spent better part of one day replacing the vacuum breaker value on the commode.  I will not bore you with the gruesome details of that day!!

We found Ogden to be a large and prosperous town that was neat and clean and well organized.  Hill AFB was a large depot level base charged with doing depot level maintenance on several weapon systems for the US Air Force.  The Minuteman ICBM, the C-130, and the F-16 most notably.  It also is the single point manager for conventional munitions in the Air Force and because of that I was TDY there several times over my career in the USAF.  But, I don't remember much about the area, I came in, I did my work, and then left!  Wow, did I miss a neat place to be.

We spent one afternoon at a Harvest Festival in downtown Ogdon.  Lots of family activity with kids in abundance.  

Simulated snow, aka suds!

A fun bus at Harvest Fest!

The fun school bus!!

Also, there was a program where businesses sponsored life size horse statutes as a fundraiser.

Ogden and the base are sandwiched between the mountains to the east and the Great Salt Lake to the west.  From the lake shore the terrain gradually slopes to the base of the mountains, about 10 miles away.  In the Great Salt Lake west of Ogden there is Antelope Island State Park. 

Ogden and the bedroom communities around it fill the space.  Salt Lake City is about 25 miles south and we had planned to visit there, but stayed busy in Ogden and only saw Salt Lake City from the interstate when we left headed further south. 

On the mountain on Antelope Island St Park

Namesake of Antelope Island

More on Antelope Island State Park in the next post!  It is a beautiful, very large, island in the northern end of Great Salt Lake!

Always at home, no matter where we are!!

16 October 2011

Our Bucket List is Done

For this year and now we are on vacation!!

Yea, I know I am 6 weeks behind on the blog.  There is only Antelope Island, UT; Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, North Rim of Grand Canyon and that is only the main stops.  There were so many other places we found along the way that were so unique and interesting. 

We are in NM at a beautiful and remote Army Corp of Engineer park between Albuquerque and Sana Fe, New Mexico.  We will move on to the Famcamp at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque in a few days and be there for a week or so.  Then we will move south in NM with a stop at Holloman AFB Famcamp in Alamogordo, NM.  After that we will move west to AZ where we will be through Dec and most of Jan.

In the meantime, I will get to work on my backlog of blog entries!!  Below is a few shots of our short stay at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon!

Always at home, no matter where we are!!

11 October 2011

Yellowstone, Yellowstone and Yellowstone

At the high pass between the East Entrance and Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone National Park has been our greatly anticipated destination since leaving the Keys in mid-March this year.  At last we arrived there in mid-September.  The pioneers got there faster than we did!  But, I doubt they enjoyed it more than us!  We decided to stay at a National Forest Service Campground in West Yellowstone MT.  Since we were coming in from Cody, WY about 50 miles east of Yellowstone our first contact with the park was taking the road from the east entrance to the west entrance.  West Yellowstone, MT is less than a mile outside the west entrance and has been a main entry point for many years.  Union Pacific for many years ran a train to West Yellowstone and had facilities there for tourist to use.  The train no longer runs, but they left an interesting museum in town.  The main industry is supporting Yellowstone tourist.  

I have been working on this blog entry for several weeks and keep restarting it.  Finally, I came to the realization that words are not adequate to describe Yellowstone, a unique and wondrous place that has no equal in the world according to many official studies.  There are places with any one or maybe two of the attributes of Yellowstone, but no place with all the numerous attributes of Yellowstone in one place as Yellowstone does!

The main road in Yellowstone is like two circles stacked on each other with a common road shared in the middle.  When we entered from the east heading west we went across the middle route east to west.  Each day after that we took different segment of the road.  We realized quickly that there was not enough time for us to do all we wanted to so our daily trips were just an exercise of prioritizing what we could see and do this trip and what would be saved for another one! 

On the premise  that a picture is worth a thousand words I am providing many thousands of words following.  However, pictures still do not do justice to the uniqueness of Yellowstone, let alone the majesty and beauty.  

Our welcoming committee shortly after our arrival!
Gibbons Falls

The salts from Monmouth Springs in Yellowstone are lethal to plants!
Some of the many, many boiling springs in Yellowstone!

That is not snow - it is the salts from Monmouth Springs.  Taken from meadow below the springs!

Rooseveldt Arch at the northern entrance to Yellowstone
Chapel at the Monmouth Visitors Center

Notice the clear water - how about a warm (hot) water dive!!

How about a hot mud pack?
A colorful caldron
Waiting for Old Faithful

Old Faithful!