West by Southwest

We started talking in the spring about a trip to see Diane, Esther and Richard later in the year. Maybe stop at Mesa Verde on the way out—Carlsbad and Capitol Reef on the way back.  Click on the inset photos to go to that part of the trip.



Great Salt Plains State Park & National Wildlife Refuge

On June 16th, we left, heading for Great Salt Plains State Park and the selenite crystals of the adjoining NWR.

We camped at "Sandy Beach II" campground in the state park. Though there was not much sand, they put on a great sunset/sunrise show.

The next morning, we drove around to the NWR on the other side of the lake to dig for selenite. We had trouble finding any at first, and spent time looking through previous dig site tailings. On our way out, as other people started arriving we figured out the signs on the top of the salt flats to indicate selenite below. We drove from there to a motel in Guymon, OK.

Mesa Verde National Park

After a thorough cleaning of the iron-rich sand of our bodies and a much more restful sleep on a regular mattress (only partially filling the air mattress was a bad idea), we drove on into Colorado and Mesa Verde National Park. We set up our tent in Morefield Campground and toured the park the next day. It was interesting to see the number of roadside natural food stores with the green marijuana leaf symbol. The temps dropped the first night to the low 40s—I was glad Batina insisted on bringing the heavy sleeping bags.


The majority of our tour time was spent at Wetherill Mesa (see map) that we had not visited before. That was a road I won't drive again—you go down a grade of 30° straight for the edge of the cliff, then turning 180°, rounding another hill and doing it again for 8 miles

Phoenix, AZ & Petrified Forest National Park

We spent three nights with Batina's sister, Esther, her husband Frank, her brother Phil and wife Sharon at Esther and Frank's home in Phoenix. We attended their church, shopped at a rock shop and visited the foundry for Arcosanti. Their pool  was wonderful and Frank is quite a gourmet cook. When we left, we stopped at Petrified Forest National Park on the way to Albuquerque. There had been rain in the weeks before we arrived at the park, so the desert was in bloom.


We spent three nights with my brother, Richard. Batina rested Wednesday, while Richard and I went to meet Sarah for breakfast at Tia Betty Blue's. The breakfast burrito was bigger than my head, and Batina and I ate leftovers for the remainder of our stay. He and I went out in the afternoon to visit the NM Natual History Museum. We met with Batina afterwards to eat at WisePies, a chain that combines pizza with a Subway experience. The next day,

we all went to shop in ABQ's old town. Batina and I met Nick and Batina's cousin Jesse for dinner.

Guadalupe Mountains & Carlsbad Caverns

We left Albuquerque Friday morning and drove southeast. We stopped in Roswell to mail alien postcards, camping that night and the next in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. This is one of the more photogenic campgrounds we've stayed in—I won't impose the 200+ photos I shot there on you, but check the pics below! We drove up the next morning to tour Carlsbad Caverns, which does live up to all of its hype. When we arrived there were two other couples in line. When we left the cave, the line extended through the lobby and out the door. Sometimes it pays to camp out and get up with the sun. After another night at GMNP we drove home, stopping in Edmund, OK for a motel (and shower) night.