My Vacation Photos
And Other Interesting Stuff
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Photos from my May/June 2006 trip to Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado

On the road again. I do love driving across this great country of ours. It was another great trip. I once again took the more Northerly rout cutting diagonally across Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, picked up I40 at Memphis and took it West into New Mexico. There were no problems and few delays due to accidents or construction. I was constantly ahead of schedule on this trip. I arrived early at my destination with plenty of extra time to play, and I arrived home early on the way back. It was spring and everything was fresh and green and alive. The countryside was beautiful the whole way there and back. I was particularly struck by the beauty of Oklahoma as I drove across it this time. I was also absolutely floored by the beauty of Colorado. I'd only visited extreme Southern Colorado before. This time I went deep into the heart of the Rockys to Leadville. I had a great time. I panned for gold, visited ghost towns and old mining camps, and just enjoyed the beauty of the High Rockys. It was great. The altitude is a killer though.

As usual, my first destination (after a couple of side-trips while passing through New Mexico) was my property in Arizona. I spent a week camping on the property. My goal on this trip was to find a travel trailer in my price range and have it moved to the property, so I wouldn't have to live in a tent on future visits. No luck though. There were very few used trailers for sale when I was out there. It was the beginning of vacation season, so people were buying up trailers. I'll try again in the Autumn at the end of vacation season when people will hopefully be looking to unload unwanted trailers.

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

A snake in Oklahoma At a rest stop in Oklahoma, I went for a walk to work the kinks out of my legs. I saw this snake slowly climbing up an oak tree at the edge of the woods. I hurried back to my van and dug out my camera. I took a whole sequence of photos as it climbed up the vertical trunk of the tree and then vanished into the green leaves.

My Arizona property This is a view looking East across my almost 40 acre Arizona property toward the distant mountains. I arrived in the rain, but it quit almost immediately and never even threatened to rain again the whole week I was there. Aside from being very windy a couple of days, it was great weather for camping. Dry, not too hot during the day, and not too cold at night.

Me filling potholes in the road Oh the joys of owning remote property. For anyone who thinks my vacations are all rest, relaxation and sight-seeing, well you'd be wrong. My vacations are only about 95% rest, relaxation and sight-seeing. The rest is damn hard work. Here I am filling in the potholes on the "road" leading to my property. It was getting so bad I was afraid I was going to break something on my poor van's suspension. A couple of hours of shovel work made it a lot smoother going. Eventually I am either going to have to buy a 4X4 or pay someone to re-grade the road occasionally. All the doors are open on the van because I have the music cranked up. I like a little music when I am working this hard. The nearest neighbor is over 1/2 a mile away and behind a hill so I'm not too worried about bothering anyone.

Me and the big 17.5 inch Dobsonian Telescope Once again I brought the big 17.5 inch Dobsonian telescope with me. Most of the nights were perfect for observing during the week I was there. A couple of nights the wind was a little too strong to use the big scope. On those nights I would use binoculars or just relax and count meteors. The sky is so dark out there that even with just binoculars there is a lot too see. It's like a whole new sky, even for someone like me who has been an (urban) astronomer his whole life.

An aspen grove in the White Mountains of Arizona One afternoon I wondered up into the White Mountains about 40 miles North of my property. I spent the afternoon hiking, taking pictures and relaxing in the cool alpine heights. I eventually found myself in this lovely aspen grove. It's a lovely spot. I'll be back. Near here a lady Forest Ranger drove up to me while I was shooting pictures and said that she'd just seen a bear not 50 yards away. He disappeared into he woods before she could get her camera out and shoot a picture. I never saw him. I asked her if he looked hungry.

Turquoise Lake, just west of Leadville, CO. After I left Arizona, I went up into Colorado for a few days. I wish I had made more time for Colorado since it was so beautiful and I had so much fun there. Next time I go there I will definitely stay longer. This photo was taken at Turquoise Lake, just west of Leadville, CO. Although it looks as if the snow line is quite a but higher than the 10,000+ foot altitude where I took this photo, it was bloody cold that morning, and there was still unmelted snow in the shaded areas under the trees not far from where I was standing. even though it was early june, the high temperatures never got out of the mid 50s during the day and plunged well below freezing at night. I had to scrape ice off my windshield in the mornings.

Mt. Elbert, one of Colorado's famous Fourteeners. Here I am looking up at Mt. Elbert, one of Colorado's famous Fourteeners. If you look closely in the photo, there is a hiking trail heading up the mountain. I was sorely tempted to go for a hike. Unfortunately, I didn't have time. I'll be back someday though. It looks like really lovely country for a hike. Better pack some bear spray though.

Twin Lakes with Quail Mountain, Mount Hope and Twin Peaks in the background. In this photo I am looking down on the western edge of Twin Lakes with Quail Mountain, Mount Hope and Twin Peaks in the background. I spent a very pleasant afternoon panning for gold on Lake Creek which comes down through the gap in the mountains to the right and feeds the lake. I had a lot of fun panning for gold. I even found some. Not enough to get excited about though. The water in that creek was terribly cold. It had been snow mere minutes before. I got well and truly frozen, but it was a lot of fun.

Hoosier Pass This was the high point of my journey through Colorado, literally. My poor van had problems with the altitude. The road up to the pass didn't seem all that steep, but I could barely make 20 mph up to the pass. I was passing semi trucks that were only going about 10 mph. Must have been the thin air combined with the uphill grade that made it such tough going. At least it was all downhill from here to South Park. (Yes, South Park is a real place, not just an imaginary, cartoon location)



Photos from my Oct 2005 trip to Arizona and New Mexico
via Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma

These twice a year trips out west are becoming a habit. I haven't gotten bored with them yet though. I drove out to my property in Arizona again. This time I took a more Northerly rout than usual. Seeing as how I10 was trashed by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I decided to cut Northwest across Alabama and Mississippi to I40 before turning West. It didn't really add any extra miles to the trip, and it allowed me to see some parts of the country I'd never seen before. Northern Alabama and Mississippi are very pretty. Arkansas is also very nice. Oklahoma is just big and flat, and driving across it the long way takes all day, but at least they have the cheapest gas in the country. There also seemed to be much less traffic congestion on this Northerly rout than there usually is along I10. I may go this way again in the future.

My original plans for this vacation had to change because of the Hurricanes and resulting gas shortages in parts of the country. I wound up leaving later than I had originally planned. Some of the campgrounds I had planned on staying at were closed for the season by the time I got there. Mother Nature closed others with an early snowstorm. More about the snow below. Anyway, in spite of the ever-changing itinerary, I still had a grand time.

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

Escudilla Mountain with aspens ablaze After the long drive across country, it was great to see the blazing aspens of Escudilla Mountain welcoming me home to Arizona. Escudilla Mountain sits on the border between Arizona and New Mexico, and you can see those golden aspens glowing from 50 miles away, easy. I took a back-road, scenic rout into Arizona and wound up driving right past this mountain. What a sight. Several days later I drove back to the mountain (not a terribly long drive from my property) to take some photos and explore the back roads around the mountain. It is very pretty country.

New Campsite Once again I set up camp on my property. This time though I brought a few more comforts along. I brought a canopy frame I made from PVC pipe and my hammock. This year I moved camp to a place more shielded from the wind by the juniper trees. It is really windy out there almost all the time. Once I am living on the property full time, one of my first priorities will be putting up a wind turbine and making some electricity out of all that lovely wind energy. I spent a full week there his time. The weather was great until my last day when it began raining.

17.5 inch Dobsonian Telescope This time I brought my big telescope with me. I just didn't have room for it in the van last time because of all the other equipment and tools I brought. The weather was absolutely perfect for astronomy almost the whole week I was there. I had a blast. This was the first big outing for the telescope after I completed its rebuilding and refinishing. It suffered a little damage on the trip and required some field repairs, but on the whole performed like a champ under that pristine sky. I observed every night from dusk until I was too tired to stand up anymore. Then I sat and watched meteors until heading for bed. The nights were crystal clear and not too cold. Rain hit the last night I was there, but fortunately I had already broken down the scope and stowed it in the van.

The Rio Grande Gorge at White Rock I broke camp and started driving North and East in the rain. The rain broke long enough for me to visit El Morrow National Monument (I highly recommend it if you are in the area). The rain also abated long enough for me to get a look at the Rio Grande gorge from the overlook at White Rock.

Snow in the New Mexico mountains I had planned to do some more camping in the Mountains of Northern New Mexico. As I drove though, the rain returned. As I got into the mountains it turned into snow. Then it turned into heavy snow. I was excited to see so much snow. I've been dusted by light snow on several of my vacation trips, but hadn't seen any real accumulation since I lived in Ohio over 20 years ago. Once it started accumulating on the ground and sticking to my van, I had to start taking pictures, thinking how impressed my friends back in Florida would be. Little did I know that this was only the beginning. It snowed for two days and it really began piling up. Driving on those steep, twisting and unplowed mountain roads without snow tires was a bit of a white-knuckle experience. The campgrounds where I had planned to stay were buried. So my plans changed again and it was a motel for me.

Golden aspens in the snow Northern New Mexico rapidly began turning into a winter wonderland. It was beautiful before, but with a blanket of snow on it, it was even more amazingly beautiful. I took lots of photos. It was dark and gray under those snow clouds though, and only a few turned out nice.

Snow covering an empty campground. This is one of the campgrounds where I had planned on staying. I could have had my pick of the sites since all the other campers, (except for a few in RVs, but that's not really camping IMHO), had packed up and left. The snow-free rectangle is where someone's tent had been. The 10 inches of snow must have been a rude awakening for them.

Mountain stream in the snow The snow was actually a blessing. It chased away most of the tourists. These woods had been crawling with people only a few days before. They came from far and wide to see the aspens putting on their Fall show. A little snow was all it took to make them scatter back to wherever they came from. I wasn't deterred though. I had all my winter gear with me and I love any chance to avoid crowds, so I went hiking in the mountains anyway. It was great. The woods are so quiet and peaceful in the snow. The only sounds are the snow crunching under your boots and the little scraping noises made by tiny avalanches of snow from the overloaded boughs of fir trees. Further up the trail I heard a new sound. It was a babbling mountain stream. What a beautiful scene. My photos don't do it justice. I lingered there for a while. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable experience.

Trail in the snow I love hiking in the mountains. It was an even more enjoyable and novel experience to do it in the snow. Several times I'd just see a trail and go hiking up it with no idea where it would lead me. I would pass the last few hearty tourists out photographing aspens and locals out walking their dogs and just kept going. Soon I was all alone.

The end of the trail in the snow I went beyond where the trail of footprints in the snow faded out and I was really on my own, breaking trail in the virgin snow. I wondered wherever the mood took me or wherever something looked interesting. I didn't have to worry about getting lost since I could always follow my own footprints back to the main trail. That's a distinct advantage over wondering randomly around the deep woods without snow on the ground where it's all to easy to get lost.

Golden aspen leaves on fresh snow I found a spot where the pristine snow was covered by golden aspen leaves. I call this photo "Yellow Snow." But this not the kind of yellow snow your father warned you about. This is the good kind of yellow snow.

Looking back at the mountains All too soon it was time to come down out of the mountains and start heading back home. Here I paused on the warm, dry and sunny plains for one last look back at the snow covered mountain playground where I had spent the last few days in utter bliss. The peaks were still covered in clouds heavy with even more snow.

Camel Rock On the way out of New Mexico I passed the very appropriately named Camel Rock. I couldn't help but stop to grab a photo.



Photos from my May 2005 trip to
Arizona, New Mexico and Texas

This trip was a lot different than most of my previous vacation trips. First off, it was different in that I drove out west, rather than flying as usual. I put almost 6000 miles on my poor van, and blew out a tire along the way too. On the whole though, the drive there and back was uneventful and not as difficult or as time consuming as I had feared it would be. This trip was also different in that for the first time in years I wasn't heading out West to look at real estate. Instead I was heading out West to stay on my own real estate! I camped on my own property. It was a blast! I love camping. It's even more fun when you own the campground. I spent almost a week on my property and made a few improvements on it. I did some "cowboy work" like mending fences and installing gates. I cooked over an open fire and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Most of the time the only sounds I heard were the wind in the trees and the birds, including the buzz of humming birds, an added bonus. I love humming birds. I had no idea there were so many in the area when I bought the property. At night the sky was pristine. It is perhaps the darkest sky I have ever seen. At over a mile above sea level and more than 20 miles from the nearest town (which is tiny anyway) light pollution is all but nonexistent. It is an astronomer's idea of heaven.

One other way this vacation was different was that I didn't take a whole lot of photos on this trip. I snapped a few here and there, but not my usual hundreds. I did a lot of things like exploring ghost towns, trying my hand at gold prospecting, exploring the country around my property and meandering through the mountains of three states, that somehow just didn't make it into my camera. I guess I was just too busy having fun to think about grabbing the camera and documenting what I was doing. This was probably my most fun vacation ever. I can't wait to go again. See photos below.

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

Here is a photo of my property. It's huge! At just shy of 40 acres, it is immense. It is covered with grass and juniper trees. The grass has greened up nicely now that the drought is over in Arizona. After being fenced off from the surrounding cattle grazing land for a couple of years, the grass is coming back nicely.

Here is another photo of the property. It just seems to go on forever. I actually managed to get lost on it once, and couldn't find my campsite for a while. Those little bush-like things are actually huge juniper trees. There are open areas and areas with lots of trees. There are also a couple of hills with nice views of the surrounding country from the top.

Another view of the property. The property is so big and in some areas the juniper trees are so dense that it is possible to actually get lost.

Yet another view of the property. Off in the distance is one of the hills on the property. The top of one of them, with their commanding views of the surrounding countryside, would make a nice site for a cabin in the future.

Here is the campsite I set up. I found a sandy area without too much grass (so I could have a campfire without worrying about it getting out of control) and pitched the tent in the shade of one of the immense juniper trees. I had a great time camping here. This was one of several sandy areas on the property. I don't know what caused them to be so barren. Maybe these areas just haven't recovered from past over-grazing yet. I bought some native grass seed and scattered it around several of the bare areas. It will be interesting to see how well it has filled in by my next trip out there.

One of the main things I wanted to accomplish on this trip was build a gate into the property. Before I had to remove a section of the barbed wire fence to get in and out. That got old real fast. Now I have a nice new gate. This is one of the reasons I drove out this time instead of flying. I brought all sorts of tools with me so I could do work on the property.

It got hot a couple of days while I was camped out there. They had an unprecedented spring heat wave. Fortunately at the elevation of my property it is not nearly as hot as places like Phoenix. Still, the temperature touched 90 in the afternoons a couple of times. After a morning of hard work mending fences, I decided to drive up into the White Mountains about 40 miles away and chill out in their alpine heights during the heat of the afternoon. There was still snow on the ground in lots of areas.

After camping for nearly a week on my property I decided I needed to get back to civilization and clean up a little. So I headed to Prescott for a couple of days. A shave, a hot shower, a coin laundry and a soft bed made me feel like a new man. When in Prescott you must go see the Granite Dells. (You just must. It's like a law.) I've been there before, but I never get tired of the amazing landscape. I also did a little gold prospecting along Lynx Creek outside of town. It was loads of fun. No gold found though. Oh well, it was still fun.

On the drive back to Florida I stopped in Texas for a couple of days and did some more camping and sight-seeing. Here is a picture of El Capitan in the Guadalupe Mountains of Texas. I always find the Guadalupes awe inspiring. I camped in the nearby Davis Mountains in the Excellent Davis Mountains State Park. Highly recommended. Unfortunately I have no pictures from there.



Photos from my Oct. 2004 trip to

At last! The great land hunt has come to an end. On this trip I finally found just the right piece of property. I made the owners an offer (several thousand below what they were asking) and they accepted it. The property is 37+ acres in size and located about 8 miles outside of Concho, AZ. Concho though is a town in name only. It is really nothing more than a wide spot in the road. The nearest town that rates the name is Snowflake, Az, which is about 22 miles away. Snowflake is so small though that it doesn't even have a traffic light. The property is remote, but access is fairly easy. The neighbors are few and far between. The land is about 5700 feet above sea level, so the climate is cooler and wetter than the desert, but not as bitterly cold as in the higher mountains. The night sky is pristine. It is as dark as I have seen it anywhere in the West, with the possible exception of deep in the Colorado Rockies. It is going to be a great little get-away spot for me to vacation on and set up an observatory on. My plans are to eventually build a small cabin on the property and spend about a month a year out there. Long term, I see the property as an investment which will hopefully appreciate in value faster than the funds in my 401K have been lately. In the very long term, I may eventually build a house on the property and spend my retirement there. As usual, I also found time to bum around AZ taking lots of photos of the scenic beauty. See photos below.

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This a photo taken from the land I bought on this trip. It is a 37+ acre parcel in (very) rural Apache County Arizona. It is covered with native grasses and shrubs, has numerous juniper trees scattered across the property and great views of the surrounding hills and mesas in all directions. It's going to be a great place to get away from it all for a few weeks every year.

This a photo was taken in the Four Peaks Wilderness NE of Phoenix, Az. I drove the Jeep I rented over very rough dirt roads almost up to the very base of the peaks. It was a very pleasant day out in the desert. A cold front had come through the day before and the temp was only in the low 80s (that's cold for the Phoenix area). I had a lot of fun in that Jeep. After getting stuck on my last trip out West, this time I decided to rent a vehicle that could go anywhere. In two weeks I took it over rocks, sand, mud and roads that were barely better than cattle trails. Nothing stopped it.

One cold, cloudy, rainy day in Flagstaff, I got the idea that it might be snowing up in the mountains. I couldn't see the mountains through the clouds, but I figured it had to be cold enough at higher elevations for it to be snowing. So I drove up into the mountains just for the fun of it to see. Sure enough, it was snowing. I hadn't seen snow falling in about 22 years, since I lived in Ohio. I just got a light dusting of it that melted almost immediately, but the higher peaks got covered. It was very pretty.

While up in the mountains, the rain/snow clouds began to break and a shaft of sunlight illuminated a hillside covered with golden aspen trees. It was quite a sight.

This photo was taken on the same rainy/snowy day as the above two. it was taken in Locket Meadow, a high alpine meadow in the inner basin of the San Francisco Peaks. I have always wanted to see Locket Meadow, but the road has always been closed every time I was in the area. This time I managed to make it out there a week before the Forest Service was scheduled to close the road for the winter. It is a very pretty spot.

This is another photo taken at Locket Meadow, but on a clear day. The aspens were in full fall color in and around the meadow. I spent several very pleasant hours there and walked clear around the meadow, taking lots of photos as I went.

This is another photo taken at Locket Meadow. It is very moving for a person from the flatlands like me to find himself surrounded on all sides by high mountain peaks.

This is yet another photo taken at Locket Meadow. I wondered off into the woods at the edge of the meadow, sat on a log for a while, and just contemplated the aspens.

Once again I made a side trip to Sedona. I always seem to wind up back in the red rock country at least once on every trip to Arizona. I spent a full day there this time. I hiked in Oak Creek Canyon, hiked into the Secret Mountain Wilderness, did some shopping in town, took lots of photos, and had a grand time.

Another photo taken in the red rock country near Sedona.

This photo was taken from a scenic overlook looking deep into the Secret Mountain Wilderness.



Photos from my May 2004 trip to
Arizona and New Mexico

The great land hunt goes on. Once again much of this trip was dedicated to looking at land I might be interested in buying. I looked at Tierra Verde Ranchettes and Pine Meadows Ranch West of Grants New Mexico. It was nice looking land, but very remote and the roads were bad (especially bad in Tierra Verde Ranchettes). I also looked at Elk Valley Ranch and Woodland Valley Ranch north of St. Johns Arizona. Both had nice properties, but both were also located next to big, ugly power plants. I also investigated Chevelon Canyon Ranch and River Meadows Ranch North of Heber Arizona. Chevelon Canyon Ranch was just too remote. It's more than 20 miles away from the nearest paved road. Who wants to eat dust and bounce over rocks and potholes for 40 miles just to go to the store? River Meadows was less remote, but most of the available parcels were either utterly barren of vegetation, too rocky or too steeply sloped for my liking. So the hunt will continue next time I get out there. With the land search being a bust, I had to fall back on recreating. The rest of my trip was spent hiking, relaxing and simply enjoying the scenery. Here are some photos.

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This is a photo of La Ventana Arch. It is located in the El Malpais National Conservation Area, a fascinating region of extinct volcanos and extensive lava flows preserved for posterity by the National Park Service.

This photo was taken at Kendrick Park North of Flagstaff, Az. A young aspen tree growing near the ruins of an old homestead with the San Francisco Peaks in the background. What a great place this must have been for the pioneers to live.

This is another photo taken at Kendrick Park. A lone juniper tree in a grassy alpine meadow with Kendrick Mountain in the background.

This photo was taken on a hike off the Schultz Pass Road in the San Francisco Peaks wilderness. I found a placid mountain lake in the forest and stopped to snap some photos.

While I was in New Mexico looking at land, I took a side trip to Chaco Canyon. I have been there before, and it is one of my favorite spots in the Southwest. This is a view of the Kin Kletso ruins as seen from the cliffs above.

This is a photo of the ruins of Pueblo Bonito as seen from the cliffs above it. Pueblo Bonito was a huge building when it was new about 700 years ago. Only about the central third of the building is seen in this photo. It's a difficult climb to get up and down the cliffs. I hurt my hip on the way back down. It was a minor injury, but it was making walking difficult, so I had to cut my exploration of the ruins short. I have no doubt I will be back again.

On my last full day in Arizona before flying back home, I stopped by the Pima Air Museum. Among the hundreds (thousands?) of planes there is this SR71 Black Bird. I spent a very pleasant day exploring the museum. I got a little sunburned, but it was worth it.

On my land hunt I took a lot of back roads. Some of them were kind of scary. I even got stuck once. It took me about two hours to unstick myself. I had to do it myself since I was out of cell phone range and I hadn't seen anyone else for hours on the road. I did have a great deal of fun though. I do love to explore. I saw a lot of really pretty country. So even though I didn't find a suitable piece of land on this trip, I still had a good time.



Photos from my October 2003 trip to
Tennessee and North Carolina

In Florida, where I live, the seasons don't really change much. It is hot, humid and rainy most of the year. Everything is always green. The leaves don't really change. It never snows. If you blink you could miss Spring. Every once in a while I just need to go experience a season other than our perpetual Summer. I especially like to travel during the Autumn when in most places the leaves are changing and there is a nice, crisp chill in the air, but it isn't really cold yet. This year I wanted to go back to the Smoky Mountains for a few days to get my Autumn fix. Unfortunately the Smokey's were wall to wall people. Everybody East of the Mississippi seems to have had the same idea. I hate dealing with crowds and traffic jams on vacation. So after only one day in the Smoky's I headed off to less popular (but just as pretty) areas.

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

This photo was taken from top of the observation tower at Look Rock on the Foothills Parkway in Tennessee. Off in the distance are the high peaks of the Smoky Mountains. Between where I am and the mountains is the wrinkled foothills country. I call this photo "Wrinkles." This is one of my favorite spots.

One of the uncrowded and off the beaten path spots I have found in Tennessee is Frozen Head State Park. It is never crowded and has some great hiking trails. This is a picture of a little waterfall along one of those trails. I found Frozen Head State Park on a previous visit to TN when the Smokys also turned out to be too crowded for my liking.

Not far from Frozen Head State Park is the Obed Wild and Scenic River. This is another beautiful spot that gets overlooked by the tourists. There are lots of hiking trails and great scenery. I found this area on the same previous trip that I found Frozen Head. I always make a point of returning here when I am in the area.

This photo was taken from high atop a bluff looking down on the Obed River gorge. There is a lot to do along the river. There is hiking, rock climbing, rafting, and my favorite, photography.

On this trip I found a new place to beat the crowds. This is a photo of Norris Dam, one of the many dams in the Tennessee Valley Project. All the wooded land beyond the dam in this photo (and much more) is part of Norris Dam State Park. Though this is apparently a very popular park during the Summer months, it was all but deserted when I was there.

Here is one of the many deer I saw while in Norris Dam State Park. The wild life was really out in force, probably because people were scarce.

Due to the timing of this trip, I missed the peak of the Fall colors in most places. But driving around on the back roads I still managed to find places that weren't quite done yet and got my fill of the colors. In this photo I am just wandering back roads in an area of TN full of tiny coal mining towns. The scenery around every bend of the twisty little roads is almost always awesome.

This photo was taken from high on the Cherohala Skyway looking down on lower mountain slopes. Though many of the trees have already dropped their leaves, there was still plenty of color to be seen. The Skyway is always one of my favorite drives. This time I had it mostly to myself. There were very few other people driving the road.



Photos from my May 2003 trip to

This was more of a working vacation than a resting one. After vacationing in Arizona for over a decade now, I have decided that I want to eventually live there. So much of this trip was spent trying to decide exactly where I'd like to live and looking at property I may be interested in buying. There was lots of driving out into the boondocks to look at parcels and much listening to various real estate agents talk up the virtues of their listings. However I did manage to find time to have some fun during the 2 1/2 weeks I was there. One thing I find fun is taking pictures.

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

This is one piece of property I looked at just for the fun of it. It was really way out of my price range but it was pretty and the drive out there was challenging, so I took a look anyway. It costs over $100,000 per acre to get this sort of view out your living room window, and you'd have to buy a lot of acres. Sigh.

This is more typical of the sort of property I was seriously interested in. This parcel had lots of promise at first. It is remote, yet easy to get to. It has nice tree cover (lots of junipers and pinions). Being far from civilization it has nice dark skies that are great for an astronomer like me. The trees screen it from neighbors. Very reasonable price. Fantastic! Done deal, right? Wrong. I found out the water table is at 2300 feet, well beyond the depth it is possible to drill a well to. I'd have to haul water 40 miles (one way) to live there. Thanks but no thanks.

I traveled a lot of dirt roads and looked at a lot of property. Unfortunately, none of it was quite right. Oh well. The search goes on. I am scouring the Internet looking for promising properties and will probably be heading back to Arizona in the spring of 2004 to look them over.

Even though I didn't find what I was looking for in the land department, I still had a good time. I always do in Arizona. See below.

I spent a very pleasant afternoon hiking in Oak Creek Canyon. It was Spring and everything was amazingly green and fresh and beautiful, and it really smelled nice too. There was not another human to be seen anywhere. My only companions were birds and chipmunks. The only sounds were birds chirping, water running in the creek and the wind in the trees. This is just the sort of thing I like to do in a vacation, really get away from it all. It was one of my nicest hikes ever. The photo doesn't begin to do it justice.

Later I wondered down through Sedona and the Red Rock Country. This is one of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen. Lots of other people seem to feel that way too, so unfortunately it is getting really built up as "arty" types from California flock in by the thousands. The expansion since the first time I was there about 10 years ago is quite staggering. In most areas the city extends right to the very edge of the National Forest boundry (which is behind me in this photo). Sedona is rapidly turning into just another generic urban area, but with a really great skyline.

This is a photo of Bell Rock, one of the better known landmarks in the Sedona Area. All though it looks like I am in the wilderness here, the hustle and bustle of "civilization" begins only about 150 yards to the left of where I was standing.

While traveling through the Navajo Indian Reservation, I happened upon this outcrop of fractured sandstone at the edge of the Little Colorado River Gorge. If you look closely you can see ripple marks preserved in the rock. The ripples were formed when the sediments that eventually became this rock were deposited in a stream or lake many millions of years ago. There were layer after layer of ripples, each only a fraction of an inch thick. The sandstone deposit was hundreds of feet thick. How many rain storms and flash floods did it take to deposit all that material? You can really feel the age of the Earth in a place like this.

Not far away from the above site, the ancient ancestors of the Navajo built huge stone structures out of the same sandstone. This is the ruins of one of them. It is called Wukoki Pueblo. That's what it is called today anyway. We don't know what name the builders had for it. In its day it was the size of a respectable apartment building.

I looked at several properties that were in the area of the Petrified Forest National Park. I took a day off from my property search and spent it exploring the park. I'd been there once before many years ago, but was only able to stay for a few hours. This time I explored it in depth. It is an amazing place full of wonders. Unfortunately it was a very cloudy and dark day on this trip and few of my photos turned out nice.

This amazing landscape is known as the Granite Dells. It is just outside Prescott (the locals pronounce it "Preskitt"). Prescott is a neat little town, and it is surrounded by some really pretty country.



Photos from my October 2002 trip to
New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

I took my new digital camera on this trip and gave it a real workout. All these photos were taken with the digital camera. I also have some actual film shot on this trip, but it hasn't been scanned yet. This is only a small sampling of the photos taken on this trip. I have hundreds more archived on CDROM.

Click on the photos to see larger versions.

High in the White Mountains of Arizona the aspen trees were turning gold. I took piles of photos of aspens. These are just a small sample.

Here is another golden aspen against a clear, blue Arizona sky.

The aspens in their Autumn colors broke up the solid green of the forests and veined the mountain slopes in gold.

This is a photo of the rugged Mogollon Mountains as seen from Aldo Leopold Vista in New Mexico. This is perhaps the finest vista in the Southwestern US and one of my favorite spots.

Here we see the Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico. These are caves where Mogollon indians lived over 700 years ago. The structures they built are still remarkably preserved.

Here is another view of the Gila Cliff Dwellings showing three of the caves. This and the photo above were taken during the hike up to the caves (Steep and strenuous for someone who has lived at sea level most of his life and is carrying a few extra pounds).

This is a view inside one of the caves. The Mogollon Indians built two and three story structures inside the caves over 700 years ago. They have survived in remarkably good condition due to being mostly protected from the weather inside the caves and being 2.5 hours way from the nearest town via a rugged road through uninhabited mountains. Though the Park Service has done some reconstruction and stabilization to make the area safe for tourist traffic.

My interest in archeology also took me to the Thee Rivers Petroglyphs site in New Mexico. Here on a rugged hill composed of piles of volcanic rocks, the ancient Jornada Mogollon Indians created over 21,000 works of rock art. You are rewarded for climbing the hill and scrambling over the boulders by being surrounded by amazing works of ancient art. In some places nearly every surface is covered with artwork. I have hundreds of photos of this site.

Here is one of the larger and better known petroglyphs. It is of a bird with something (a lizard?) in its beak.

Some of the petroglyphs here are a thousand years old. The variety of images pecked into the rocks is amazing. There are animals, faces like this one, masks, demon like figures, sunbursts, geometric designs and abstract works. The more you look, the more you find.

This is one of the most famous and most reproduced petroglyphs at the site. It is a highly stylized big horn sheep pierced by three arrows. This fellow obviously was dinner.

Here on a single rock we see a Kachina figure, a sunburst and an owl mask. You have to wonder what it all means and what was so special about this particular place that led the Indians to so cover it with artwork?

On a cloudy, rainy day I got this shot of the clouds rolling over the mountains near Fort Davis Texas.

This is a tarantula spider I came across on a hike in Big Bend National Park. It is a good three inches across. I saw hundreds of tarantulas in West Texas (many smashed on the roads). It must have been tarantula season or something since I have never seen any before on previous trips to West Texas.

This is another photo taken in Big Bend. The "little" notch in the long mountain in the background is Santa Elena Canyon as seen from about 20 miles away. The walls of the canyon are 1500 feet tall. The Rio Grande River carved its way through the mountain to make the canyon.

Another view of Santa Elena Canyon from much closer.

This photo was taken right at the mouth of the canyon. I had planned to hike into the canyon but the Park Service had closed the trail due to the danger of flash floods from all the rain that had fallen during the time I was there. Some people ventured out onto the flood plain anyway.

Here you see the high peaks of the Chisos Mountains nearly lost in early morning rain clouds. This photo was taken on the desert floor in Big Bend looking up at the Mountains. Compare it with the next photo taken later in the day from high atop those mountains.

This photo was taken in the inner basin high up in the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park. It is a far different world than the desert below. At this altitude the weather is cooler and wetter and the mountains are thickly forested. Inside the basin you are closely surrounded on all sides by the high, craggy peaks of the Chisos Mountains. The effect is visually stunning and photos don't do it justice. Only in one spot through a gap in the mountains can you peer into the far distance and see down to the desert far below you. This spot is known as "The Window."

Click here to see photos from previous vacation trips.

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All photos on this page are © Copyright 2002-2010 Michael Davis, All rights reserved.
These photos may not be used for any commercial purpose without my consent. That includes
using them in your Ebay land auctions instead of pictures of the property you are really
selling (Didn't think I'd catch you, did you?).