Archive for the ‘Tom’ Category


Northern CA and Southern ID National Park Units

May 15, 2018

5/1 Tu – left Dayton 6:20a, left Chicago 8:20a, left San Francisco, 11:40a, and arrived Salt Lake City at 2:41p. That’s what you get for using frequent flyer miles! It took 5.5hrs to drive to Winnemucca NV, a long day.

I stopped at the California Trail Interpretive Center (BLM) on I80 outside of Elko NV

5/2 W – it took 7hrs to drive to Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument (BLM and USFS), which is in Mendocino National Forest NW of Sacramento CA. I took Hwy 20 W through Grizzly Canyon and into the NM.

The Cache Creek Wilderness is in the new (2015) National Monument

Starting the Red Bud Trail to Baton Flat and Cache Creek, 5 miles round trip, 1000-foot total gain

The spirts were with me –

Hiked through a beautiful meadow before the trail ascended to a ridge

I was surprised by the number and variety of wild flowers at this time of year

Top of ridge, which way?

View down to Cache Creek

Hiking down to Cache Creek

Baton Flat on Cache Creek

Cache Creek

It’s OK, the little guy can regrow it –

Stayed in an Airbnb in Redding CA


5/3 Th – just W of Redding, I entered the Whiskeytown Unit of the Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area

I started by driving on the east side of the lake to the Camden Water Ditch Trail

I did the 1.1mi loop trail

Camden House

Tower grave site in the Tower House Historic District

El Dorado Mine

Early national park education, the children were really excited – we need more of this!

I next did the short drive and hike to Crystal Creek Falls, it was worth it

Afterward I drove back to the Visitor Center at the SE corner of Whiskeytown Lake

I hiked the Shasta Divide Nature Trail to the lake, 0.5-mile loop

President John F. Kennedy dedicated the Whiskeytown Dam in 1963

It is one of a series of dams and canals that harness the waters of the Sacramento River and its tributaries

However, this development came at a cost

Mt Shasta from an I5 overlook

At one time, this mountain was on my to do list

Mt Shasta from the west

View of Mt Shasta from the North, off US 97, the second pic (sign) shows the location

Read the signs for more information – you can tell I like mountains!

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, just south of the OR border, lots of birds

Arrived at the Butte Valley Fairgrounds Visitor Center and Museum in Tulelake CA at 2:30. The NM Visitor Center here is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day but this museum is open year round.

Some displays in the Museum

I met National Park Ranger Angela here at the museum. Her normal post at this time of year is at Lava Beds National Monument nearby. I had arranged for her to give me a tour of the Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. We examined this display of the Tule Lake Japanese Segregation camp at the museum and then drove to the location of the Segregation Center.

There were 10 Japanese Relocation Centers, “Concentration Camps,” spread mainly across the western U.S. They were in operation during World War II, from 1942 to 1945. I have already visited one of them – Manzanar National Monument, outside of Lone Pine CA (see this blog for May 2016). I will be visiting another on this trip – Minidoka National Monument in ID. There is also a new (not yet open) National Monument in Hawaii – Honouliuli National Monument, that will tell the history of internment, martial law, and the experience of prisoners of war in Hawaii during World War II. These camps were a black mark against the U.S. during this period and it is important that their story be told.

Ranger Angela giving an over view of the Relocation Story from the back of her SUV

The Japanese population at this camp was 18,789 in 1944

The tour here centered around the jail, which was very well constructed by the inmates. As a result, it is still here to help tell the story of this camp.

Legacy of Toshio Kawano

After two hours at the Tule Lake Segregation Center, Ranger Angela agreed to give me an additional tour of Camp Tulelake on the other side of town


Note – Italian and German Prisoners of War were held here from 1944-46

Some of the buildings that are undergoing restoration

It was a 4.5hr drive up US 395 in southern OR to my Airbnb in Hines OR. After 2hrs it turned dark. There is next to nothing on the section of this road from the tiny town of Valley Falls to Riley, 90 miles.  Though traveling at a good clip, I did not pass anyone for an hour and there were fewer than 10 vehicles going the other way.


5/4 F – it took 3hrs to drive to Meridian ID, which is on I84 20 miles S of Boise. From there I turned South to some interesting sites. This sign gives a snapshot of some of the sites – however, be careful, South is to the left on the sign.

My main objective was the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA), which is managed by the BLM

The Kuna Visitor Center was my starting point for a 56-mile drive through the NCA. My first stop is called the Initial Point, because it is the geographic reference point from which the entire state of ID was surveyed (1867). It is a prominent lava butte a mile east of the Swan Falls Road.

It is a short hike up to a small concrete observation platform

New USGS benchmark

Old USGS benchmark on a rock nearby

These guys, prairie dogs, are all over the place

My next stop was Celebration Park on the Snake River, “Idaho’s Only Archaeological Park.” Note the Petroglyphs on the rock on the left –

I did a short hike on the Petroglyphs Trail and then headed for the Guffey Railroad Bridge

It was built in 1897 to carry trains loaded with gold and silver ore from Silver City. However, by the time it was completed the mines had played out and the RR ended up carrying sheep and cattle.

My next stop was the Dedication Point (1971) overlook on the Snake River. I only saw a few birds today and was unable to get any good photos.

View looking West down the Snake River Canyon

View looking East up the Snake River Canyon

These signs describe the formation of the Snake River Canyon – it was formed by the “Bonneville Flood” some 15,000 year ago. It has been categorized as one of the largest floods on Earth and lasted 8 weeks! It is estimated that the wall of water was up to 300 feet high and traveled at 70-100mph! It deposited large rounded boulders on the rim, now called “melon gravel.” Many of the petroglyphs in this area were made on these boulders.

My last stop was at the Swan Falls Dam and Historic District

The dam was completed in 1901 and was the first dam on the Snake River. This sign describes the four phases of construction from 1901 to 1913.

Boarding House and Village, far removed from “civilization”

Dam from downstream

I attempted to drive the 4WD road from the dam South, however, I almost got stuck “in the middle of no-where” with my rental car. So, I turned around, went back to I84 and stayed the night in the Mountain Home Inn.


5/5 Sat – 1hr to Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument

On Bell Rapids Road (Oregon Trail) headed for the Snake River Overlook

Signs at Snake River Overlook

The park road follows the Oregon Trail route from the Snake River Overlook to the Oregon Trail Overlook. The Emigrant Trail was a three-mile parallel trail that permitted more traffic going up (600 feet) the difficult stretch from the Snake River to the Desert Plateau. This was one of the most difficult segments of the Oregon Trail.

View east down to the Snake River from the Oregon Trail Overlook. The Oregon Trail came up the same way the road does. The Emigrant Trail can be seen on the right.

This photo is looking west to the Oregon Trail Overlook. You can see the final steep stretch of the Oregon Trail in the middle of the picture going up to the Overlook. You can see the wheel ruts.

Magnify to read about The Great Westward Migration

I hiked the 0.5-mile trail to a prominent overlook and then hiked about 1.5 miles on the Emigrant Trail. Afterward, I headed back to the town of Hagerman to see the Hagerman Fossil Beds NM Visitor Center.

Horses here BEFORE the Spanish

How about Camels –

Small but nice Visitor Center, watched an interesting video

It was only an hour drive to get to Minidoka National Historic Site, it was also known as Hunt Camp ID

Camp Entrance

Remains of Reception Building on the Twin Falls North Side Canal of Clover Creek

I had planned my trip so that I would get there for a two-hour ranger tour at 12:30. I arrived a bit early, so was able to complete my own tour in less time, therefore making it possible for me to visit Craters of the Moon before it got dark. I did this 1.6-mile trail.

Visitor Center

To understand the story, read the next four displays

Map Describing Camp


Minidoka NHS became a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience in 2015

I averaged under 18mph driving the 21-mile gravel road to Bear Trap Cave in Craters of the Moon National Monument. I visited the original NPS monument in 1966 and this time was going into the newer (2000) National Preserve part of the monument that is managed by the BLM. The area is called the Great Rift. With limited information, I didn’t know if I could get to or find Bear Trap Cave, or what I would do when I got there.  Whiskey Butte –

Entering the National Preserve, from the map I have, it looks like the NPS manages the lava flows and the BLM manages everything around the lava flows.

I found it – Bear Trap Cave!

It is an opening into a Lave Tube. The ceiling fell in creating this opening.  It has been traced for 15 miles.

It was a rock scramble getting down to the “cave” entrance – watch out for snakes! The sign was an Eagle Scout project of Sheldon Wright. Being alone, I felt I was on a real adventure. At the same time it impressed on me that I had to be careful

I put on my head lamp and was able to carefully work my way a quarter mile into the tube  There was graffiti in there – If I remember right, a boy had spray painted in big letters “Angel, will you go to the prom with me?” A real “downer” when I saw it in the light of my head lamp.

Working my way back out of the cave


Desert marker

I believe this is a Long-billed Curlew. I also saw a large elk but was unable to get a photo

I stayed off the beaten path in an Airbnb in Burley ID (2 nights)


5/6 Sun – I started at the City of Rocks National Reserve Visitor Center in Almo ID at 8am when they opened

Excellent reference for my day’s activities. This was the most enjoyable day of my trip – this place is amazing! With all my stops and hikes, it took me all day to cover the 25-mile loop road.

My first stop was the Circle Creek Overlook, where I did the 1.2-mile Geological Interpretive Trail


All kinds of interesting geological features and flowers as well!

The near vertical cracks are called “Joints” and are great for climbing

Climbed a rock to get a photo of the Circle Creek Basin

“Veins” – in this case, quartz intrusions into cracks

Yes, it’s called a Window

A Pickelhaube


Circle Creek Ranch

Chicken Rock on the north side of the road

Camp Rock on the south side of the road – emigrants wrote their names and dates using axle grease

Profile of man’s face with the words “wife wanted”

Nests on Camp Rock

View west from Camp Rock on the California Trail, a 2,000-mile trail from Kansas City to Sacramento. “Ho for California” Free Land/Gold – many routes, cut-offs and branches, a major route was through the City of Rocks. It is estimated that 250,000 migrants followed this route. At first, 1843-1882, they were after land. Then, in 1849, the motivation was GOLD. There were few wagon trains on the trail after 1869 (transcontinental railroad).

Kaiser’s Helmet – Picklehaube on top

Treasure Rock – stage coach robbery loot buried here in 1878, I didn’t find any

Looking north into Circle Creek Basin, many emigrants camped here

Devil’s Bedstead

Register Rock, more emigrant signatures

Nice profile

Pinnacle Pass

Twin Sisters in center, left sister made up of rock from the Green Creek Complex, right sister made up of Almo Pluton, at 638 feet, they are the most prominent features in the reserve.

View of Twin Sisters from the south

Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company stagecoach line on the Kelton Road, which was on the Salt Lake Alternate Trail to the City of Rocks

Granite Pass, 6 miles away, was the next obstacle on the California Trail. If you were standing here in 1848, you would be standing in Oregon looking into Mexico!


Quenched my thirst at the Emery Pass Picnic Area

This is an amazing rock-climbing area

Bath Rock Climbing Area – there are panholes full of water on top

Climbers on the west side of Bath Rock

Climbers on Creekside Towers

On the extended 1.7-mile Creekside Towers Trail

Climber topping out on the Anteater

Everywhere you look, excellent rock climbing

The Incisor, also known as Morning Glory Spire

I love ravens, “Once upon a midnight dreary . . . “

Backside (eastside) of Creekside Towers

What a wonderful hike this was –

I would reserve campsite, #37 or #38 near Window Arch

Window Arch is one of the most popular features of the Reserve

Alright, I’m not done yet. I still have to hike around Elephant Rock

Base of Elephant Rock – these are called a Tafoni, weathering creates small hollows on joint surfaces.  The hollows gradually enlarge through the creation of a sheltered micro-climate that facilitates the accumulation of salt.  Salt is a corrosive agent that expands when dry and breaks apart the granitic minerals.  The salt is transported by wind and rain from the Great Salt Lake basin 30 miles away.

I call this Frog (or Toad) Rock

Here are a couple of colorful pictures, before I head back to my Airbnb (but NO breakfast) in Burley ID


5/7 M – 3hrs to Salt Lake City airport, left at 11:58am, left Denver at 5:50pm, arrived home at midnight



Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial, Dayton OH

April 29, 2018

4/27 FPaul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial, part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Brad joined me this morning and we arrived a half hour before the home opened for tours. I had previously visited all of the other areas of the park in and around Dayton – Wright Cycle Company, Wright Company Factory, Wright Brothers Aviation Center, Hawthorn Hill, and Huffman Prairie Flying Field and Interpretive Center. So, now I’ve completed the whole enchilada. Of course, if you are in the area, you should visit the U.S. Air Force Museum as well.

Increase the size of this pic to read

Some information from the Visitor Center

Dunbar went to Central HS with Orville and was friends with the Wright Brothers

We had an interesting tour of the Dunbar home. Unfortunately for us, Dunbar died of TB at age 34.

It was a short drive over to the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and Aviation Trail Visitor Center

The Aviation Trail Parachute Museum is located on the second floor of the Aviation Trail Visitor Center

Right next door is the Wright Cycle Company – part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park



Belize – Sun/Sand/Dive/Snorkel/Kayak

March 16, 2018

2/27 Tu – Delta to Belize City stayed at the D’Nest Inn B&B

Manatee in canal


2/28 W – Taxi to downtown dock by Ramada Princess Casino

Walked a couple of miles along the waterfront and then returned to the dock. We were told we would be leaving at 1pm, however, not surprisingly, we didn’t leave until 2:30.

Boarding “Evita” Captain Reves boat that took us to Long Caye. Reves in stern, Nidia (cook) on left, Helen in hat, and LeRoy (worker) in bow. Reves added 4 people to our boat who were workers at another resort on the island. It was a rough ride as we bounced across the open “Blues.”

After 1.5hrs our outboard motor went kaput and we were stranded about 20min from Long Caye. Luckily, there was one more boat going to Long Caye and it was a half hour behind us. They towed us in to the dock.


Calypso Beach Retreat

Our room, we were the only guests for the week, Wednesday to Wednesday

Helen cleaning the kitchen – it was a mess!

Getting to know LeRoy and Nidia, a game of Aces to Kings. Rum and Coke, cards, and Farkle every night.

Our Island, Long Caye, is on Lighthouse Reef Atoll, which is on the most Eastern (outer) section of the Belize Reef System. Note on the map the nearby location of Half Moon Caye and the “Blue Hole”

3/1 Th – Breakfast, first morning, Nidia prepared three excellent Belizian meals a day

Since our boat broke down, we joined an Itza dive trip to Half Moon Caye Natural Monument ($20 fee) with Captain Elvis

Helen dove while I snorkeled

We then stopped on Half Moon Caye for a picnic lunch

While others went on an afternoon dive, Maurio from Itza diving, walked with us to the rookery on the west side of the island

This is the nesting ground for the rare red-footed booby bird – there are about 4,000 on the island!

Red-footed Booby chicks

View from the top of a viewing tower

Frigate birds have a characteristic split tail

Male Frigate, about half way into blowing up it’s gular sac – hey girls, here I am

Close to full gular sac – takes almost 2 minutes

When we returned to our dock on Long Caye, we found some local fishermen cleaning their fish and conch


3/2 F – We went out with Elvis from Itza for a morning dive at the famous Blue Hole Natural Monument ($80 fee), it was only 20 minutes away.

I had seen pictures from the air and thought that the rim of the Hole was above water (Belize Tourism photo). It was not, the rim (1000 feet diameter) was about 3 feet underwater.  Was it high tide?  Have sea levels increased due to Global Warming?

Jacques Cousteau brought his ship the Calypso here in 1971 to chart its depths. He used dynamite to increase the size of the natural entrance so his ship could get in – can you imagine doing that today?! Cousteau rated the Blue Hole as one of the top five SCUBA diving sites in the world.

Helen had trouble descending yesterday, so she asked for more weight today. The divers left the boat first and started on what was to be a deep (~132 feet) dive to the stalactites. Shortly afterward, I began to snorkel. When I looked back at the boat twenty minutes later, I was surprised that Helen was back on board. I went back to see what had happened. I found that she had not filled her BC with air before she started to descend (too rapidly). She thought one of the crew had done it like they had the previous day. As she quickly descended (recall she had also asked for more weight!), she could not clear her ears and started to go into panic mode. Maurio noticed what was happening and brought her back up to the surface. She then joined us on our snorkel. On the way back to the dock she mentioned that her ear was really bothering her.

After lunch, LeRoy, Nidia, Helen and I went line fishing off a small dock on the west side of the island. LeRoy caught a small Grout but that was it –

But we did see several “rays” off the dock

We had to leave because Helen’s ear was bothering her. She took a nap, but it didn’t help. After dinner (pork chops), I gave her an Aleve and we taught LeRoy and Nidia how to play Farkle. There was a beautiful full moon that evening.


3/3 Sa – discovered blood on Helen’s pillow this morning. So, there is some damage to her ear. We canceled her dive to the “Aquarium” for today. After breakfast, LeRoy walked us to the empty “Crocodile House,” so named because one lives there!

There was a kayak there; which I was able to take out and paddle to the south end of the island. Helen returned to the Calypso to rest. We had taco salad for lunch and then walked the beach areas nearby. We decided that Helen would not do any more diving/snorkeling on this trip; she had damaged her inner ear. It was a big disappointment since this trip was specifically planned so she could do those activities.

We walked to the west side of the island for sunset and then returned for a Belizian fried chicken dinner. We met Miles and Alyssa and their 3 children from Winston Salem NC (Wake Forest U) at Itza this evening. Helen taught the kids how to play solitaire and Farkle.


3/4 Su – A student/faculty group from Wake Forest came in last night and this morning we learned that Miles had organized a Spring Break course for the students. He invited us to join them on their large boat as they dove and explored Light House Reef Atoll. We said, perhaps tomorrow. Note their boat at the end of the dock.

Reves motor was now fixed, so we decided to request a short fishing trip to give him some business. We were asked if Nidia and LeRoy could come along, of course, we said yes.

We went out to the “Aquarium” about a half mile from the dock.  Everyone caught lots of fish

We felt guilty catching many of these beautiful reef fish and Helen insisted that they throw back three large Queen Trigger fish. After about an hour, we were ready to come in.  Reves, LeRoy, and Nidia wanted to continue fishing.  Being agreeable people, that is what we did and continued fishing for another three hours!  Though I must admit that after the first three hours it was quite uncomfortable, we were out four!  I caught 9 fish, Helen caught 7 and the five of us combined caught about 50!  That evening, we each ate one of the Dogfish and the rest of our fish were given to Reves. He gives them to family and sells them for additional income.


3/5 M – Went out to the “Aquarium” with the Wake Forest group this morning. I was able to snorkel for about an hour. Usually, I’m the one who is taking the pictures!

Meanwhile, Helen hob-knobbed on the boat

After Barracuda tacos for lunch, we had a lazy afternoon. I enjoyed sitting on the top of the tower in front of our building, writing notes, reading from the New Age of Adventure book by National Geographic that I had recently purchased on Amazon, and sipping a cold beer. The Calypso Beach Retreat tower is the highest point on the island.

I sat on my thatch covered perch reading or looking out at the activity on the dock or out on the water. It was fascinating to watch the frigates, pelicans, and osprey soar on the air currents and then drop almost vertically into the Ocean, often coming up with a fish. When we walked the beach in the evening, we discovered some large pieces of bamboo which we brought back and asked LeRoy to cut into nine-foot lengths.


3/6 Tu – Went out with the Wake Forest group again today. We returned to Half Moon Caye Natural Monument

While the students toured the island and snorkeled, we expanded on the exploration we did on our first visit

We did join the class lecture on the Loggerhead, Green, and Hawksbill Turtles, all endangered species, that nest on the south side of the island.

After a BBQ chicken lunch, we toured the Belize Audubon Visitor Center

The island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The one on the right is the Red-footed Booby, note the sand floor

Local aquatic life

Blue Hole

In the afternoon, we walked the north side of the island

Then examined the remains of a lighthouse that Tropical Storm Matthew toppled into the sea in 2010. The steel tower on the left now has the operational beacon.

I then snorkeled around the dock and Helen searched for shells until the students returned from their afternoon dive

After we returned to Long Caye, I went to see Jim (owner of Itza) and Elvis to discuss the problem that occurred during Helen’s Blue Hole dive. It was agreed that there were some irregularities on their part but in the last analysis it was Helen’s responsibility as a certified diver to check all her equipment and follow all safety procedures. They did not charge us for her dive that day.

LeRoy did a nice job cutting and smoothing the bamboo poles we gave him. We took them down to the sand area in front of the Itza resort to teach Miles and Alyssa’s children – Nora, Wren and John how to do Tinikling. Tinikling is a traditional Philippine stick dance. After awhile the college students joined in and it was a fun time.


3/7 W – Our last morning on Long Caye

We had Helen’s scones and coffee for breakfast, packed, tipped all the helpers, and were in Reves boat at 7am. The ocean was calm this morning, so the two-hour boat ride to Belize City went smoothly. LeRoy, Reves, and Nidia with the fish they caught. They will sell the bigger ones and share the rest with family.

Mark from D’Nest picked us up for the trip to the airport. Our Delta flight left at 1pm, we had a 4hr lay-over in Atlanta, and were home at midnight.


Winter Trip, CA to Home – Part 2

February 28, 2018

2/1 Th – Breakfast at the Waterfront Restaurant – San Diego’s Oldest Tavern.

Ferry to Coronado Island, note the seal on the buoy

We rented bikes and rode to the Hotel del Coronado

Returning to San Diego, aircraft carrier USS Midway, now a Museum

Helen at National Salute to Bob Hope and Military

Lunch at Fish Market Restaurant across from USS Midway

I was able to tour the new USS Omaha, two days before it was officially commissioned

It is a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), #12

It is a multi-purpose, fast (40 knots), shallow water, trimaran

Possible uses – interdiction of pirates and drug smugglers in addition to transport of special forces

Santa Fe Railroad Station

Statue made up of letters/figures from different languages

Went back to Balboa Park for the evening, started with drinks at Panama 66, toured the Sculpture Garden and then walked the El Prado – Plaza de Panama

“Supermoon” (also a Blue Moon) above Helen’s head!

Saw the “Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde at the Old Globe Theater


2/2 F – Again, had breakfast at the Waterfront, bought one for a homeless woman as well, and then drove to the Cabrillo National Monument – see other pics from May 2015

Nice model of San Diego area showing location of monument

Monument with Old Point Loma Lighthouse in background

Model of lighthouse and pics from inside

Ships, Boats, Submarine passing Point Loma

Crashing waves at Tidepool Access area – did enjoyable hike here

After lunch, drove to Kate’s house in LA; walked to Casita del Campo for dinner, then Kate treated us to a performance of the Musical “Aladdin” at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre


2/3 Sa – thrift store shopping, lunch (tacos) on Sunset Blvd, put base on front porch bench, walked Bennett and dinner at home


2/4 Su – church, breakfast at Millie’s, SuperBowl Party at Kate’s friends in Santa Monica

2/5 M – 4hrs to Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument 20 miles north of the Las Vegas strip. This is a new (2014) BLM NM.

Archaeologists have removed mammoth, lion and camel fossils from this area.

We like Tootsie Pops – always take water!

To be honest, there is not much there.

I would not recommend going until they have a Visitor Center.

Stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in Mesquite NV, prime rib dinner for two at Virgin River Casino ($18.13)


2/6 Tu – Approaching Gold Butte National Monument

4WD needed on all side roads

Gold Butte was designated a BLM National Monument in December 2016 by President Obama. The Trump administration is currently attempting to reduce its size, like it did for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante NMs in Utah in 2017.

Cliven Bundy has a ranch just north of the NM. He grazed his cattle on the BLM land long before it was a NM without paying grazing fees. This led to the “Bundy Standoff” in 2014. He refused to pay over one million in back fees for grazing on federal land, so the BLM started rounding up his cattle. Protestors, some armed, blocked the removal. The Sheriff and BLM Director agreed to release the cattle to de-escalate the standoff. This issue has still not been resolved. Bundy and his sons were also involved in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff in OR in 2016, where they were arrested.

According to Wikipedia – “On January 8, 2018, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro in Las Vegas dismissed with prejudice the criminal charges against Cliven Bundy, his sons Ammon and Ryan, and co-defendant Ryan Payne regarding the standoff. Cliven and Ammon Bundy, and their supporters, have claimed that the federal government lacks the authority to manage public lands. These arguments have been repeatedly rejected by legal scholars and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court; the property clause of the United States Constitution grants plenary authority to Congress to manage federal property, including land.”

This is the entrance to the Bundy Ranch

Gold Butte was the highlight of our five-week road trip. The rugged desert landscape, mountains, sandstone formations, historic sites, “rock art” petroglyphs, etc. were wonderful! This area needs to be preserved and protected!

Entering the Monument

Approaching the “Falling Man Rock Art Site”

We hiked/climbed about 2 miles through and around this site. I wonder why this formation is called “Rabbit Ears?”

Calvin’s Rock


Arch and Pillar

Climbing up to the “Tunnel”

Crawling through

Coming out the other side

Hiking along cliff

“Falling Man”

Lots of climbing around

The term “Tank” refers to a depression in the rock that collects water

Interesting striations

“Flowing Stone”

Wall – rock art, petroglyphs

Newspaper Rock from above

Newspaper Rock from below

Ancient Sand Painting

Shaded lunch stop

Took a very rough “short-cut” track over to Whitney Pocket

Greyish-Brown sandstone

Original dam was built by Whitney himself


8 more miles of 4WDriving got us to Mud Wash Dunes, Helen cross-stitched in the SUV as I hike out to and through the dunes



I then did a short hike in “Little Finland”

Decided to take the main dirt track another 8 miles round-trip to “Devil’s Throat,” it wasn’t worth it

The roof of a large cave collapsed producing this large hole. It was entirely fenced off for safety because the edge is unstable. Therefore, you could not get close enough to look inside.


One of Cliven Bundy’s cattle?


2/7 W – Stopped at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge along US 93 on our way to Basin and Range National Monument (2hrs) north of Vegas.  Unfortunately, the Visitor Center was closed.

Most of this new (2015) NM looks like this. However, the monument is huge (708,000 acres) and has many areas that are unique and interesting. This is another NM that the Trump administration is reviewing with the objective of reducing its size.

Our first stop was in the White River Narrows Archeological District.

We did several short hikes to rock art locations. The first one was a rake-like design with serpentine and vertical lines below. Archeologists believe this represents a game drive fence used in the canyon narrows.

We followed a very nice BLM pamphlet describing the rock art in this area

Carl Williams, 1926, added his name

Ancient Art of Native Americans going back 4,000 years

Mountains just west of the Narrows in the Weepah Spring Wilderness

Entering the “Valley of Faces” Canyon, parked the SUV and hiked about 1.5 miles through the canyon on a cool but comfortable morning. This is a two-way track!

Every where you looked you could find fanciful character on or in the rock – Stegosaurus

Stone Finger or ?

Stone Cathedral


Cool rock formation and balanced rocks

Do you see any faces?

Rams Head

Baby on a rock

We then drove to the Mt Irish Archaeological Area in the NM

A Mt. Irish BLM Rock Art Guide helped us locate petroglyphs. There were about 80 rock art panels at this site (IV) alone.

This site (V) had 68 rock panels

Site VI had 129 panels!


“Back Window Art”

NV SR375 is known as the Extraterrestrial Highway. The top-secret Area 51 base is near the highway. Many travelers have reported UFO observations and other strange alien activity along this road.

Returned to Las Vegas and got half-price tickets for the “Legends in Concert” show at the Flamingo

There were tributes to Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Sting, and Elvis

We learned from Kate that Tami and Bill were in Las Vegas the same evening and were able to meet them in front of the Paris Casino across from the Bellagio

After the concert we rode the world’s largest observation wheel – the “High Roller”

It is 520 feet in diameter and takes one hour for one time around

Each of the 28 cars (pods) can carry 40 passengers – we only had four on ours

Great 360-degree views


2/8 Th – We had to return to Mesquite NV to retrieve our pillows and Helen’s stitching scissors from the Holiday Inn where we stayed two days earlier. As a result, we drove through southern Utah on our way to Flagstaff AZ. Stopped briefly at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Visitor Center on US 89, it was closed. Trump reduced this NM to about half its original size in February of 2018. I hope our legal system rejects this unprecedented move.

Made a couple of stops in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Glenn Canyon Dam forms Lake Powell

We walked across the dam where I took this picture of the Colorado River proceeding down stream

View of Wahweap Marina where Stacy and I rented a boat for our exploration of Glen Canyon and cruise to Rainbow Bridge NM in 1987

Dinosaur Tracks at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center

Continued South on US 89 toward Flagstaff. Helen bought a nickel silver Navajo bracelet from an old Navajo woman sitting along the road. We arrived at our Airbnb about 6pm.


2/9 F – Flagstaff – Met with a realtor and toured 3 houses. Decided that this was not the right place for us, at least right now. I did a nice hike in the foothills just north of the city while Helen was baking scones with Kyrie. We had a fun game of Farkle with our hosts Chris and Kyrie that evening.


2/10 Sa – 2.5hr to Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site,

Stacy and I visited here in 1987 on her 15-year-old Road Trip

It still serves as a Trading Post in that Navajo sell their crafts here

Hubbell – Don Lorenzo to local Hispanics and Naakaii Sani (Old Mexican) or Nak’ee sinili (Eyeglasses) to Navajo started trading here in 1876. He married Lena Rubi three years later and they had four children. In 1967 the wife of their youngest son sold the Trading Post and ranch to the National Park Service.

Navajo Churro Sheep

Visitor Center tells the Hubbell story

Guest Hogan, Hubbell Hill (in the background) is on the Navajo reservation. Hubbell, his wife, and his best friend Bi’lii Lani (Chief Many Horses) are buried on top.

View of the Trading Post and ranch from the top of Hubbell Hill. I am currently exploring the possibility of a coordinated effort between the park and the Navajo Nation to put a trail in from the Visitor Center to the top of the hill. I believe this would be a wonderful addition to the park. It would add a physical activity opportunity for visitors as well as providing a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.

Fry bread lunch in Ganado, ate in the SUV because of a wind/dust storm

Gave and Indian hitch-hiker a ride on our way to the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Albuquerque NM


2/11 Su – It took 1.5hrs to get to Abo – the first mission we visited in Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

We arrived at 8:30am, so were able to do the 1-mile trail before the Visitor Contact Station opened

This was the coldest morning of our trip since we left MO – 32 degrees

Mission San Gregorio de Abo (1622 – 1628)

Kiva – note the snow on the sign

Stopped in the monument Visitor Center in Mountainair, where Helen bought some nice earrings

Then turned south for 25 miles to the Gran Quivira Pueblo

Gran Quivira was once called Las Humanas

We walked the 1-mile loop through the ruins

Kiva on left was used for “Underground Worship”

Remnants of Indian Pueblo (1100-1600) in foreground, last church and convent in distance

Info –

Headed north to the Quarai Pueblo outside of Punta de Agua

Interesting model

We walked the loop trail through the ruins

Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion de Cuarac church and convent (1622-1678)

9609.1, 9604, 9606, 9608

We also hiked the Spanish Corral 1 mile loop trail

Visitors to the pueblo in 1900

On our way to Santa Fe

Very nice Airbnb house in downtown Santa Fe

When we can, we have been watching the Winter Olympics from PyeongChang South Korea



Dinner with Jane and Terry at il Piatto Italian Farmhouse Kitchen restaurant in Santa Fe


2/12 M – Los Alamos is 1hr NW of Santa Fe – this is the eastern entrance to the city

Manhattan National Historical Park Visitor Center

There are three Manhattan NHP sites: 1) Los Alamos NM, 2) Hanford WA, and 3) Oak Ridge TN

After listening to the ranger talk we explored the city. The Oppenheimer & Groves Sculptures are nearby

The Fuller Lodge was built in 1928 as the dining hall for the Los Alamos Ranch School

We walked “Bathtub Row” and toured the Hans Bethe House – home to Nobel Prize winners Edwin McMillan (chemist) and Hans Bethe (physicist)

The house contains the Harold Agnew Cold War Gallery

Nuclear tests by country from 1945-1998 – 2,053!!!

We had lunch with our old friends from the U of Maryland, Morrie and Cheryl, and then toured the Bradbury Science Museum

The museum presents the history of Los Alamos National Laboratory including its role in the creation of the nuclear devices exploded over Japan in 1945

Had dinner with Sylvia and Mike at the El Nido restaurant north of Santa Fe


2/13 Tu – it only took 45min to drive to the Glorieta Pass Unit of Pecos National Historical Park

What the sign does not state – is that the Confederates were also trying to take the U.S. Mint in Denver. That would have had a major impact on the Civil War. So, though small, this battle was VERY important. Glorieta Pass is on the Santa Fe Trail; it provides passage through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The Pecos NHP Visitor Center is near the Pecos Pueblo

We hiked the 1.25-mile loop trail

Reconstructed Kiva

The Pecos Pueblo was strategically located for trade and access to water

In the 1500s, Pecos Pueblo was the richest and most powerful in what is now New Mexico


We stopped at Kozlowski’s/Forked Lightning Ranch and Stage Station and then proceeded to Fort Union National Monument. Can you see Fort Union in the distance? Blow-up Pic


Visitor Center – history leading up to the first Fort Union in 1851

The fort was established to protect the Santa Fe Trail (SFT)

It was located on the Mountain Branch and just off the Cimarron Branch of the SFT

We were given a personal ranger tour of the grounds

Fort Union was a supply depot for forts in the New Mexico Territory and in its heyday was the largest military base in 500 miles. This is the view from the north – blow it up to see more detail

View from the south, represents fort in 1866 immediately following the Civil War

One corner of the reconstructed walls

Elevation marker 1867

War Department Marker 1871

Santa Fe Trail at Fort Union

Trade Site to the North and East of Fort Union – Blow-up for more detail

Trade Sites to the West

Pronghorn Antelope


2/14 W – Ash Wednesday, received our ashes at Our Lady of Guadalupe and St Patrick’s Church (what a combination!), breakfast downtown, and then drove 20min to Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Short hike to fort, it was 8am, and it was not open

Charles and William Bent, along with Ceran St. Vrain, established their “fort,” first called Fort William, on the north side of the Arkansas River in 1833. Mexico was then on the south side of the river!  Open for better view –

Some of the trail was flooded, so we were only able to hike about a mile loop

When we returned to the fort, it was open

They have done an excellent reproduction of the fort, these were the trade rooms


This was a guest room that is now called the Susan Magoffin’s Quarters. She was the wife of a prosperous trader and one of only a few white women who visited the fort. She suffered a miscarriage and stayed 12 days.

The blacksmith and carpenter shops are still used to create wagons and objects for the fort

The fort was on the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail (SFT) and was a cultural crossroads for trappers, hunters, traders, Indians, and Mexicans. The SFT connected with the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail (Royal Road) at Santa Fe, which extended trade deep into Mexico.

Second level of Bent’s Old Fort, one of the corner gun posts