Raven and Chickadee

Navigation Menu

Colorful People & Places: Silver City, NM

Colorful People & Places: Silver City, NM

Posted by on Jun 11, 2016 in Art, Food, Gallery, Hiking, Hot Springs, New Mexico, Travel | 31 comments

As we started our hike up the trail overlooking Silver City, a man appeared on the path, seemingly out of nowhere. He wore a pair of slides reinforced with silver duct tape (incongruous footwear for the rocky trail), a white-and-black straw cowboy hat, and carried a guitar slung around his neck.

“First time here?” he inquired affably. We told him it was our third visit to Silver City, but our first time on the trails above town. “This is one of my favorite places,” he said. “I come here a few times a week to play my guitar in the hills and hunt for amethysts. I’ll show you, if you like.” As we studied the map, he started up the trail, strumming a lovely Spanish tune on his guitar. We followed behind, intrigued by the music and his tale of amethysts.

Sure enough, about a mile up the trail he veered off into the scrub, reached beneath a large sagebrush, and dragged out a heavy maul hidden there. With a few swift blows, he laid open several large rocks, exposing lavender amethyst crystals within. “Take whatever you like,” he offered. Obviously, traveling with a rock collection isn’t practical for our lifestyle, but we couldn’t resist picking up a couple of amethyst chunks.

Silver City is awash with colorful landscapes, art, buildings, and people. The sky is cobalt, the perfect backdrop for the sagebrush and mesquite-covered hills. Vividly painted doors and windows adorn adobe buildings (many in various stages of decrepitude). Home to a disproportionate number of artists and galleries, the town has also somehow become a mecca for foodies—which makes no sense at all, given that it’s a long way from any major or even minor metropolis.

Colorful locals (in addition to our amethyst benefactor) include Jake, the owner and chef at Café 1zero6, who sports full sleeve tattoos, decorates with Buddhist/Hindu/Bollywood flair, and cooks delicious creative fusion cuisine three times a week. We plan our visits to Silver City so that we can be sure to have a meal there (the small restaurant is open only on weekends).

Another evening, we had a most unique dinner at The Curious Kumquat, crafted of local wild foods from the nearby Gila Wilderness. Our six-course tasting menu included artfully presented and delicious offerings made with spring cattails, acorns, watercress, wild mushrooms, amaranth, nettles, and more, along with locally raised meats and vegetables.

In an attempt to balance our eating adventures, we hiked the lovely nearby 3-mile Dragonfly Loop Trail, the trails on Boston Hill above the town, and made a day trip through the Mimbres Valley to the Gila Wilderness to hike to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and to Lightfeather Hot Springs (a three-mile round trip easy hike on the Gila River that involves two river crossings).

It was a relaxing and fun week in Silver City, filled with all kinds of colorful adventures. We’ll be back—there’s always more to explore, and there’s no telling what kinds of unexpected treasures await us on the trail (and in the restaurants).

About the RV Park:

This visit, we stayed at Manzano’s RV Park, just a few miles outside of town. It’s a small, family run park, with large sites and attractive desert landscaping. Full-hookups, excellent free Internet, good Verizon; $30 per night. It’s very “homey,” with a house on the property that serves as the clubhouse/laundry/bathhouse.

Next Up: A Delightful Visit To Lyman Lake State Park 

Colorful Yankie Street In Silver City, NM

A Colorful Silver City Local

Following The Music

Finding Treasures On The Trail

Cracking Open The Rocks Reveals Amethysts

Our Trail Friend Moves On

View From The Trails Above Silver City

Visitor Center In Silver City

On The Corner Of Yankie Street Arts District

Murals On The Street

Downtown Silver City

El Sol Theatre, Circa 1934

One Of Our Favorite Silver City Restaurants

Cafe One Zero Six

Dinner At The Curious Kumquat

Pickled Cattail Appetizer

Our Favorite Coffee Shop

Tour Of The Gila Bike Race

Speeding By

Cheering On The Cyclists

Wonderful Collection Of Mimbres Pottery Here

On The Dragonfly Trail

I Think I See A Cairn

The Dragonfly Petroglyph

On The Trail Of The Mountain Spirits

First Glimpse Of Gila Cliff Dwellings

Artistic Warning

Painted Redstart With A Bug

Climbing Up Into The Dwellings

Exploring The Cliff Dwellings

Hiking The Middle Fork Of The Gila River

Another River Crossing

Pretty Trail Along The Middle Fork Of The Gila

Natural Hot Pools Along The River

But Only Knee Deep

Enormous Site At Manzanos RV Park

Colorful Yankie Street In Silver City, NM
A Colorful Silver City Local
Following The Music
Finding Treasures On The Trail
Cracking Open The Rocks Reveals Amethysts
Our Trail Friend Moves On
View From The Trails Above Silver City
Visitor Center In Silver City
On The Corner Of Yankie Street Arts District
Murals On The Street
Downtown Silver City
El Sol Theatre, Circa 1934
One Of Our Favorite Silver City Restaurants
Cafe One Zero Six
Dinner At The Curious Kumquat
Pickled Cattail Appetizer
Our Favorite Coffee Shop
Tour Of The Gila Bike Race
Speeding By
Cheering On The Cyclists
Wonderful Collection Of Mimbres Pottery Here
On The Dragonfly Trail
I Think I See A Cairn
The Dragonfly Petroglyph
On The Trail Of The Mountain Spirits
First Glimpse Of Gila Cliff Dwellings
Artistic Warning
Painted Redstart With A Bug
Climbing Up Into The Dwellings
Exploring The Cliff Dwellings
Hiking The Middle Fork Of The Gila River
Another River Crossing
Pretty Trail Along The Middle Fork Of The Gila
Natural Hot Pools Along The River
But Only Knee Deep
Enormous Site At Manzanos RV Park
Colorful Yankie Street In Silver City, NM thumbnail
A Colorful Silver City Local thumbnail
Following The Music thumbnail
Finding Treasures On The Trail thumbnail
Cracking Open The Rocks Reveals Amethysts thumbnail
Our Trail Friend Moves On thumbnail
View From The Trails Above Silver City thumbnail
Visitor Center In Silver City thumbnail
On The Corner Of Yankie Street Arts District thumbnail
Murals On The Street thumbnail
Downtown Silver City thumbnail
El Sol Theatre, Circa 1934 thumbnail
One Of Our Favorite Silver City Restaurants thumbnail
Cafe One Zero Six thumbnail
Dinner At The Curious Kumquat thumbnail
Pickled Cattail Appetizer thumbnail
Our Favorite Coffee Shop thumbnail
Tour Of The Gila Bike Race thumbnail
Speeding By thumbnail
Cheering On The Cyclists thumbnail
Wonderful Collection Of Mimbres Pottery Here thumbnail
On The Dragonfly Trail thumbnail
I Think I See A Cairn thumbnail
The Dragonfly Petroglyph thumbnail
On The Trail Of The Mountain Spirits thumbnail
First Glimpse Of Gila Cliff Dwellings thumbnail
Artistic Warning thumbnail
Painted Redstart With A Bug thumbnail
Climbing Up Into The Dwellings thumbnail
Exploring The Cliff Dwellings thumbnail
Hiking The Middle Fork Of The Gila River thumbnail
Another River Crossing thumbnail
Pretty Trail Along The Middle Fork Of The Gila thumbnail
Natural Hot Pools Along The River thumbnail
But Only Knee Deep thumbnail
Enormous Site At Manzanos RV Park thumbnail

Read More

Enchanting Joshua Tree National Park

Enchanting Joshua Tree National Park

Posted by on Feb 16, 2015 in Arizona, California, Friends, Gallery, Hiking, Hot Springs, Travel | 20 comments

From the lush green hills, shimmering ocean, and charming towns of the central California coast to the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park is 350 miles and a dramatic change in climate, terrain, and culture.

We’ve visited Joshua Tree at least a half-dozen times over the years; it’s an enchanting panorama of enormous boulders rising from the desert floor, unique shaggy Joshua trees, palm oases, and magical golden afternoon light. We wanted to share this special place with our traveling buddies Ted and Katherine, and it was conveniently on our route to southern Arizona.

The only problem is getting there from the coast. Google or Map Quest would take you south on Highway 101 along the coast into the hellacious hornet’s nest of southern California highways before heading inland. Or make a beeline across the mind-numbingly post apocalyptic terrain of Bakersfield. We’ve done both routes, and we’re not eager to repeat either.

But with the help of a trusty old-school table-sized paper map, Eric created a wonderful route that eased us from the beauty of the coast into the beauty of the desert, meandering along back roads that wind through a landscape of gently rolling hills and farmland. (Should you want to take this route, travel south on 101 from San Luis Obispo to CA 166/Maricopa Highway just north of Santa Maria; travel east for 119 miles and head north on Old River Road; follow Old River Road and CA 223 East/East Bear Mountain Road to Hwy 58 and then on to Tehachapi.)

Here, the highlights of our journey out of California and into Joshua Tree and beyond:

• Tehachapi

At 175 miles from Morro Bay, Tehachapi is the perfect place to pause between California and Arizona. Several years ago we discovered a little RV park at the glider port—it’s blessedly quiet, dark, and just a few miles from town. The sunsets are always impressive. And so is the wind, so don’t even think about unfurling your awning. For $25 a night, you get a spacious, level site; electric/water hookups; nice showers; decent Verizon coverage; and a laundry. The park is just a few miles from town should you choose to explore Tehachapi.

We spent two nights, which gave us time for a relaxing day in the pretty little town. We strolled the streets and visited the Tehachapi Depot Railroad Museum, where we enjoyed a delightful free tour of all things train-related provided by a knowledgeable and kindly docent.

• Joshua Tree National Park

Slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island, stark and stunning Joshua Tree National Park straddles two deserts: the higher and cooler Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert.

It’s a magical landscape of enormous boulders scattered like the playthings of the gods across the desert floor. There are lovely shaggy Joshua trees (a type of yucca), gardens of prickly cholla cacti that appear fuzzy and friendly (but are most definitely not), and hidden palm oases that provide cool refuge.

On all previous trips, we’ve stayed in the park. Most of the campgrounds are first-come, first-served, and offer only dry camping—there’s not even the convenience of central water in most of the campgrounds (you need to fill up your tanks at the entrance stations). We love staying in the park, but found ourselves arriving on Friday afternoon after a 180-mile drive from Tehachapi. One does not successfully compete for campsites at a popular first-come, first-served park on a Friday afternoon, especially one within striking distance of major population centers—Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas are all within a day’s drive of the park.

It’s also trickier when caravanning, because we require not just one, but two campsites. With a bit of research, we found Joshua Tree Lake RV campground, about 10 miles outside of the north entrance of the park. Although we would have preferred staying in the park, this worked out fine—not cheap at $30 per night, but full hook-ups; sandy but spacious sites; showers and laundry; and reasonably quiet after I asked the guys across from us if they would mind turning down the music booming through their outdoor speakers at 10:30 p.m.—rap music blasting from one trailer and the soundtrack from Disney’s “Frozen” competing from the other. The bizarre combination of music made sense after I met the culprits—two single dads camping with their three little girls.

We spent only two nights, but had plenty of time for exploring the north end of the park. We hiked Jumbo Rocks in the late afternoon—the bewitching hour just before sunset when the desert turns to gold. The next morning, we got an early start for a hike on the 49 Palms Oasis trail, a three mile steep round-trip hike leading to a shaded oasis in the otherwise dry, rocky, and cacti-studded terrain. The morning we left, we finished our brief visit to Joshua Tree NP with a meandering drive through the park, stopping to visit the Cholla Cactus Garden along the way. We know that we’ll return to this uniquely beautiful park. Next time, though, we’ll make sure that we’re not arriving on a weekend.

• Tonopah, Arizona

Another of our go-to stopovers in this desolate part of the country is Tonopah, Arizona. At almost 240 miles from Joshua Tree, it’s a longer drive than we prefer, but there’s nothing in between that appeals to us.

The reward at the end of the day is El Dorado Hot Springs, a rustic desert retreat with an assortment of natural hot springs soaking pools. We booked an evening soak in two outdoor private pools with views of the starlit sky—soaking in a tub is a rare treat for those of us who live full-time in our RV’s. We stayed just a couple of miles away at Saddle Mountain RV Park, a nice park with full-hookups, guaranteed gorgeous sunsets, and a bargain at $16 with Passport America.

Next up: Hiking Adventures in Catalina State Park!

Rocks And Magical Light Joshua Tree CA

Tehachapi Depot

At The Tehachapi Railroad Museum

Watching The Trains Go By

Downtown Tehachapi

Tehachapi Water Tower

A Beauty Salon Would Round Out The Offerings

Camping At The Glider Port

Alternative To Camping In The Park

PJ Happy Hour

Aptly Named

Hiking Among Joshua Trees

Late Afternoon On The Trail

Loving Joshua Tree

Squeezing Through The Boulders

Gorgeous Afternoon Light

Fascinating Rock Formations

On The Trail To The Oasis

Eric And Ted On The Trail

Girlfriends In The Desert

Colorful Barrel Cacti

Hillside Of Colorful Cacti

The Palm Oasis

Surprise In The Desert

Relaxing At The Oasis

Really And Truly Don't Touch The Cacti

Caravanning In A Cholla Forest

A Very Prickly Garden

Saddle Mountain RV Park

El Dorado Hot Springs

Private Soaking Tub

Tropical Sunset In Arizona

Rocks And Magical Light Joshua Tree CA
Tehachapi Depot
At The Tehachapi Railroad Museum
Watching The Trains Go By
Downtown Tehachapi
Tehachapi Water Tower
A Beauty Salon Would Round Out The Offerings
Camping At The Glider Port
Alternative To Camping In The Park
PJ Happy Hour
Aptly Named
Hiking Among Joshua Trees
Late Afternoon On The Trail
Loving Joshua Tree
Squeezing Through The Boulders
Gorgeous Afternoon Light
Fascinating Rock Formations
On The Trail To The Oasis
Eric And Ted On The Trail
Girlfriends In The Desert
Colorful Barrel Cacti
Hillside Of Colorful Cacti
The Palm Oasis
Surprise In The Desert
Relaxing At The Oasis
Really And Truly Don't Touch The Cacti
Caravanning In A Cholla Forest
A Very Prickly Garden
Saddle Mountain RV Park
El Dorado Hot Springs
Private Soaking Tub
Tropical Sunset In Arizona
Rocks And Magical Light Joshua Tree CA thumbnail
Tehachapi Depot thumbnail
At The Tehachapi Railroad Museum thumbnail
Watching The Trains Go By thumbnail
Downtown Tehachapi thumbnail
Tehachapi Water Tower thumbnail
A Beauty Salon Would Round Out The Offerings thumbnail
Camping At The Glider Port thumbnail
Alternative To Camping In The Park thumbnail
PJ Happy Hour thumbnail
Aptly Named thumbnail
Hiking Among Joshua Trees thumbnail
Late Afternoon On The Trail thumbnail
Loving Joshua Tree thumbnail
Squeezing Through The Boulders thumbnail
Gorgeous Afternoon Light thumbnail
Fascinating Rock Formations thumbnail
On The Trail To The Oasis thumbnail
Eric And Ted On The Trail thumbnail
Girlfriends In The Desert thumbnail
Colorful Barrel Cacti thumbnail
Hillside Of Colorful Cacti thumbnail
The Palm Oasis thumbnail
Surprise In The Desert thumbnail
Relaxing At The Oasis thumbnail
Really And Truly Don't Touch The Cacti thumbnail
Caravanning In A Cholla Forest thumbnail
A Very Prickly Garden thumbnail
Saddle Mountain RV Park thumbnail
El Dorado Hot Springs thumbnail
Private Soaking Tub thumbnail
Tropical Sunset In Arizona thumbnail

Read More

Soaking In Lava Hot Springs

Soaking In Lava Hot Springs

Posted by on Oct 27, 2013 in Gallery, Hiking, Hot Springs, Idaho | 15 comments

Just 200 miles south of the small town of West Yellowstone is the even smaller town of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho (population 400, one main street). Judging by the appearance of the buildings and the signage, you would think you had been transported back in time to the mid-1960s (not as it occurred in Haight-Ashbury).

We pass through many small towns of this vintage in our journeys. What sets Lava Hot Springs apart is the fabulous centerpiece of hot springs pools that dominate the downtown. Honestly, I don’t understand why this little town hasn’t become a world-class resort. These are the most beautiful, pristine, well-cared-for developed hot springs we’ve encountered anywhere. There are five pools, ranging from 98 degrees to a scalding 110 degrees. Crystal clear hot water continually flows through the pools from the springs, eliminating the need for chemicals. Two of the large pools have pea-gravel bottoms that feel wonderful to walk on, massaging your feet with each step. There’s a huge immaculate changing room with heated floors. The outdoor sidewalks are even heated. The landscaping is lovely. And the cost? Eight dollars for an all-day pass, with the pools open from 9 a.m. until 10 or 11 at night.

You can guess how we spent our three days in Lava Hot Springs. We stayed right across the street at the Lava Spa Motel and RV Resort, where we strolled to the hot pools at least twice a day. Our other daily activity consisted of hiking straight up the hill above our campsite into the fall foliage.

(A word of advice: If you’re coming here, bring your own food and wine. The wine selection is atrocious, as you can see in the photo. The grocery store is only marginally better than the one in West Yellowstone, which had absolutely nothing that we wanted to buy. Fortunately, we had stocked up as we passed through Pocatello.)

Lava Hot Springs

Motel And RV Park

Unintentional Retro

Another Retro Sign

Campsite On The River

One Of Several Hot Springs Motels

Downtown Sculpture

The Hot Springs

Hot Springs From Above

Hike Along The River

Autumn Color On The Hillside

Local Wine Selection

Lava Hot Springs
Motel And RV Park
Unintentional Retro
Another Retro Sign
Campsite On The River
One Of Several Hot Springs Motels
Downtown Sculpture
The Hot Springs
Hot Springs From Above
Hike Along The River
Autumn Color On The Hillside
Local Wine Selection
Lava Hot Springs  thumbnail
Motel And RV Park  thumbnail
Unintentional Retro  thumbnail
Another Retro Sign  thumbnail
Campsite On The River  thumbnail
One Of Several Hot Springs Motels  thumbnail
Downtown Sculpture  thumbnail
The Hot Springs  thumbnail
Hot Springs From Above  thumbnail
Hike Along The River  thumbnail
Autumn Color On The Hillside  thumbnail
Local Wine Selection  thumbnail

Read More

Yellowstone, Part I

Yellowstone, Part I

Posted by on Oct 17, 2013 in Gallery, Hiking, Hot Springs, Montana, National Parks, Travel |

We arrived in Yellowstone National Park with the intention of spending about three days. Eight days later, we weren’t quite ready to leave. However, the government sent us on our way when they shut the gates to the park on October 1st. According to the stone arch that we drove through every day to enter the park, Yellowstone was created “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” But we won’t dwell on the insane shenanigans of our government officials here. Instead, we’re going to focus on how absolutely spectacular Yellowstone is, and we’re going to do our best to share our experience with you.

Which is impossible. I just want to say at the outset that trying to capture Yellowstone in photographs is challenging, to say the least. There’s just so much that doesn’t fit into the photo frame. Nothing quite prepares one for the vastness that is Yellowstone. And the diversity of landscape. And the wildlife. And the crazy weather. We learned that we definitely could not trust the weather forecasts for Yellowstone. They are always wrong. It’s not their fault. Yellowstone is just not to be tamed.

We experienced rain, sun, snow, sleet, hail, and torrential winds, sometimes all in one day. But we decided to not let any of it stop us.

The main park road is laid out somewhat like a figure eight, with a main entrance at the north (near the town of Gardiner, Montana) and another main entrance at the west (near the town of West Yellowstone, Montana). We started our adventure at the north entrance, choosing to stay in an RV park in Gardiner because a snowstorm was forecast, and we didn’t want to be stuck in a park campground with no electricity or water. It was a good decision. The nearest campground in the park (Mammoth) was crowded and sandwiched between two busy roads. In contrast, our RV park campsite was right on the river, peaceful, and convenient. We ended up staying six nights, extending our stay every afternoon when we returned from exploring and realized that we weren’t done yet.

After setting up camp, we took off for our first exploration of Yellowstone. The helpful volunteers at the Yellowstone Information Center in Gardiner advised us to drive the Lamar Valley before the impending snowstorm. The Lamar Valley is known for wildlife sightings: We put bison, elk, pronghorn, grizzly bears, and wolves on our wish list. Heeding the advice of the rangers, we also bought an enormous canister of bear spray. And we were tutored in exactly how to use it: If a bear makes a threatening move, aim the spray toward the ground and give the bear a warning blast (make sure you’re not downwind of the spray). If the bear keeps coming, unleash the remainder of the pepper spray into his face. Other instructions—don’t run, and don’t scream. Which is exactly the opposite of what every cell of your being is programmed to do.

Things have changed dramatically in Yellowstone since the last time I visited. It was 1961, I was 7 years old, and our family was on a cross-country road trip in our VW bug. My most vivid memory from that trip is of feeding the bears. We rolled up slices of bread in the windows of our VW, and the black bears would lumber up to the car and snatch the bread from the window. It was thrilling! The rangers at that time displayed a laissez-faire attitude toward the interaction of people and wildlife. But at some point in the ensuing decades, it became obvious that feeding the bears wasn’t such a great idea. I think it was when the bears figured out that they could just break into cars and tents and take whatever they wanted.

Since that time, grizzly bears have also made a comeback in Yellowstone. That, combined with stories of more aggressive black bear behavior, and the fact that fall is the time when bears are ravenously foraging for food before they go into hibernation, encouraged us to fork over $45 for the bear spray.

The entire time we were in Yellowstone, we didn’t leave the truck without Eric strapping on the big red canister of bear spray (the rangers cautioned us to wear the canister at all times on a belt or shoulder harness). We also talked and sang on every hike, because bears don’t like to be surprised. I like to converse while we’re hiking, admiring the beauty of the landscape, naming the plants, spotting birds and animals along the way. But it was exhausting even for me to keep up constant chatter. As for Eric, after a hike to Beaver Ponds just above the Mammoth area (where bears had been spotted and so we talked and sang the entire way), I told him he talked more on that hike than in 16 years of our previous hiking together. We decided then that we weren’t doing any more hiking in forested areas where we couldn’t see what was around us.

Here, the first half of our adventure in Yellowstone:

Day 1: Drove through golden Lamar Valley along the winding Lamar River with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. It was a gorgeous drive, and almost right away we saw bison. In fact, as we attempted a short hike to Wraith Falls, we were blocked by bison on the trail, and decided to turn around and give them the right-of-way. We also saw an enormous herd of elk in the little enclave of Mammoth Springs—one bull, and at least 15 females. He was busy the entire time we were at Yellowstone bugling and charging vehicles and people. There were several rangers on duty at all times trying to keep insane people from getting too close. When I mentioned to one ranger that it must be a pain trying to keep people from doing stupid things, he remarked, “If I had my way, I’d let people do what they want. If they want to be nominated for a Darwin Award, let ‘em at it!”

Day 2: Mammoth Hot Springs is just a few miles inside the north entrance to Yellowstone. It’s a 300-foot brilliant white travertine mound, encircled in clouds of steam from the various pools that cascade down the sides. A couple of miles of boardwalks, connected by steep stairs, meander around the pools. We walked the boardwalks, enjoying the cascading springs and the views from high above of the lodge below.

Late in the afternoon, we hiked a half-mile trail in heavy fog to soak in natural hot pools, at the sweet spot where the Boiling River meets the ice-cold Gardiner River (just inside the park boundary). We lucked out in that most people were apparently deterred by the weather, and there was only one other couple at the pools. Wading about 50-feet over slippery rocks in the knee-deep, swirling, freezing river to reach the hot pools was challenging, but soaking in the pools, mist rising around us, was magical.

Day 3: Stormy and cold! In the afternoon it cleared enough for us to hike the Beaver Ponds trail, a 5-mile hike above Mammoth Hot Springs. This was the hike that convinced us we weren’t going to hike any more trails at Yellowstone that involved densely forested areas (and potential encounters with bears).

Day 4: We drove about 20 miles to Norris Geyser Basin, one of the most active geyser areas in the park. I browsed the little museum at the entrance to the boardwalk, and saw an image of the molten lava that bubbles beneath all of Yellowstone. It’s a bit unsettling to realize that Yellowstone is one of the largest super volcanoes in the world, and that at some point, it’s going to erupt again (the last time was about 650,000 years ago). But I was relieved to find out that officials have an evacuation plan just in case things heat up. (I’m sure that’s going to go smoothly.)

A better plan is to just not think about the fact that you’re walking above an active volcano. Norris Geyser Basin was our favorite of the geyser areas—dozens of varied hot pools, geysers, mud pots, and steam vents; all simultaneously bubbling, gurgling, popping, and whistling. Great clouds of sulfurous steam surrounded us as we walked the couple of miles of boardwalks. It was like strolling through a beautiful version of hell.

Yellowstone, Part I

Gateway To North Yellowstone

Yellowstone RV Park, Gardiner

Yellowstone Park Info In Gardiner

Post Office In Mammoth Hot Springs

With His Harem In Mammoth Village

Lamar Valley Drive

The Wolf Watchers

Bison On The Trail

Enormous And Shaggy

More Wolf Watchers

Sunset Lamar Valley

Mammoth Hot Springs Near Entrance To Boardwalk

The Boardwalk Around Mammoth Hot Springs

On The Boardwalk At Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs Village

Palette Spring

Canary Spring

Do Not Approach If Hungry

On The Trail To The Soaking Pools

First View Of The Soaking Pools

The Boiling River

To The Soaking Pools

Fleece Vest And A Towel

Packing Bear Spray

How Things Used To Be

Approaching Norris Geyser Basin

Entrance To Norris Geyser Basin-CCC Structure

Norris Geyser Basin

On The Boardwalk Norris Geyser Basin

Steambath In The Norris Geyser Basin

Geyser Spouting

Porcelain Springs

Bubbling Hot Spring

Geysers And Hot Pools Everywhere

Gorgeous Colloidal Pool

Colorful Heat Loving Microorganisms

Illustration From The Museum-This Is What Lies Beneath Yellowstone!

Up To No Good On Top Of Our Kayak

Yellowstone, Part I
Gateway To North Yellowstone
Yellowstone RV Park, Gardiner
Yellowstone Park Info In Gardiner
Post Office In Mammoth Hot Springs
With His Harem In Mammoth Village
Lamar Valley Drive
The Wolf Watchers
Bison On The Trail
Enormous And Shaggy
More Wolf Watchers
Sunset Lamar Valley
Mammoth Hot Springs Near Entrance To Boardwalk
The Boardwalk Around Mammoth Hot Springs
On The Boardwalk At Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs Village
Palette Spring
Canary Spring
Do Not Approach If Hungry
On The Trail To The Soaking Pools
First View Of The Soaking Pools
The Boiling River
To The Soaking Pools
Fleece Vest And A Towel
Packing Bear Spray
How Things Used To Be
Approaching Norris Geyser Basin
Entrance To Norris Geyser Basin-CCC Structure
Norris Geyser Basin
On The Boardwalk Norris Geyser Basin
Steambath In The Norris Geyser Basin
Geyser Spouting
Porcelain Springs
Bubbling Hot Spring
Geysers And Hot Pools Everywhere
Gorgeous Colloidal Pool
Colorful Heat Loving Microorganisms
Illustration From The Museum-This Is What Lies Beneath Yellowstone!
Up To No Good On Top Of Our Kayak
Yellowstone, Part I  thumbnail
Gateway To North Yellowstone  thumbnail
Yellowstone RV Park, Gardiner thumbnail
Yellowstone Park Info In Gardiner thumbnail
Post Office In Mammoth Hot Springs  thumbnail
With His Harem In Mammoth Village thumbnail
Lamar Valley Drive  thumbnail
The Wolf Watchers  thumbnail
Bison On The Trail  thumbnail
Enormous And Shaggy thumbnail
More Wolf Watchers  thumbnail
Sunset Lamar Valley  thumbnail
Mammoth Hot Springs Near Entrance To Boardwalk  thumbnail
The Boardwalk Around Mammoth Hot Springs  thumbnail
On The Boardwalk At Mammoth Hot Springs  thumbnail
Mammoth Hot Springs Village  thumbnail
Palette Spring  thumbnail
Canary Spring  thumbnail
Do Not Approach If Hungry   thumbnail
On The Trail To The Soaking Pools  thumbnail
First View Of The Soaking Pools  thumbnail
The Boiling River  thumbnail
To The Soaking Pools  thumbnail
Fleece Vest And A Towel  thumbnail
Packing Bear Spray  thumbnail
How Things Used To Be thumbnail
Approaching Norris Geyser Basin thumbnail
Entrance To Norris Geyser Basin-CCC Structure  thumbnail
Norris Geyser Basin  thumbnail
On The Boardwalk Norris Geyser Basin  thumbnail
Steambath In The Norris Geyser Basin  thumbnail
Geyser Spouting  thumbnail
Porcelain Springs  thumbnail
Bubbling Hot Spring  thumbnail
Geysers And Hot Pools Everywhere  thumbnail
Gorgeous Colloidal Pool  thumbnail
Colorful Heat Loving Microorganisms  thumbnail
Illustration From The Museum-This Is What Lies Beneath Yellowstone!  thumbnail
Up To No Good On Top Of Our Kayak  thumbnail

Read More

A Gem In The Nevada Desert

A Gem In The Nevada Desert

Posted by on Sep 8, 2012 in Birding, Gallery, Hot Springs, Nevada, Travel | 0 comments

Iused to hate driving through Nevada, dreading the hundreds of miles of dusty, scrubby terrain that seemed to stretch interminably in every direction. But I’ve come to appreciate the great expanses, the peacefulness, and the quiet beauty of the landscape. I’ve discovered that if you dig a bit beneath the surface, Nevada reveals her hidden treasures—and I don’t mean the ubiquitous slot machines and casinos.

Traveling along Highway 140 on our way from Goose Lake to Winnemucca, we discovered one such gem yesterday. It was pure happenstance, as so often occurs when there’s a bit of spaciousness in our journeys.

We pulled off the road for a quick rest stop, where there happened to be a kiosk for the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. Eric picked up a brochure, and looking at the map, we were intrigued by a small photo of the Virgin Valley Campground and hot springs. At only a few miles away, it was worth checking out.

Forty-five minutes later, we had set up camp at this beautiful, peaceful, remote wildlife refuge campground, replete with a warm spring natural pool and showers. And it was free! For this, we’re happy to pay taxes.

We spent a leisurely afternoon driving several miles up the road where a handful of rugged souls have staked out mining claims. Opal mining is popular here, and we stopped at a little homestead that advertised a free rock garden tour. We were treated to a deluxe tour of rocks mined in the area—feldspar, obsidian, and dozens of others—and saw opals mined on the property that were worth thousands, stored in little glass jars. Best of all, we got a glimpse into life on a high desert mining claim. All water has to be hauled in, the nearest town for supplies is more than two hours away, and the temperature regularly exceeds 100 degrees in the summer. Pat, our friendly tour guide, told us that her husband hauled in all of the soft sand for her garden pathways that makes it possible for her to go barefoot in the Nevada desert.

Heading back to our campground, we encountered wild burros, swam in the warm springs pond, and had close encounters with several elusive American bitterns, which spend most of their time fishing in the pond. Dinner for us was grilled lamb meatballs with mint-cilantro yogurt, quinoa tabbouleh, and arugula salad. So relaxing, in the middle of nowhere, and such a beautiful surprise.

A Gem In The Nevada Desert

Unexpected Oasis

Jewel Like Dragonfly

A Bit Dusty But Perfect

View Toward Pond

Wild Burro

The Rock Garden Tour

Life On A Mining Claim

Close Encounter With A Bittern

Jackrabbit

Late Afternoon Swim

A Gem In The Nevada Desert
Unexpected Oasis
Jewel Like Dragonfly
A Bit Dusty But Perfect
View Toward Pond
Wild Burro
The Rock Garden Tour
Life On A Mining Claim
Close Encounter With A Bittern
Jackrabbit
Late Afternoon Swim
A Gem In The Nevada Desert thumbnail
Unexpected Oasis thumbnail
Jewel Like Dragonfly thumbnail
A Bit Dusty But Perfect thumbnail
View Toward Pond thumbnail
Wild Burro thumbnail
The Rock Garden Tour thumbnail
Life On A Mining Claim thumbnail
Close Encounter With A Bittern thumbnail
Jackrabbit thumbnail
Late Afternoon Swim thumbnail

Read More