Traveling the west, enjoying the scenery

This is a creative blog, even if I rarely post much beyond sewing.  However, I just returned from a month-long road trip with DH, the 8yo, and the dog.  It was something I would do with my family growing up, though then we usually camped.  Here are some of my pictures (no more than one per location) from the trip.  Where did we go?  The western United States (not the mid, nor the far, but the mountain west).  All pictures taken with an iPhone 10.

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I took this from a moving car, along I-10, in the Florida panhandle.  It’s not the most picturesque of photos, but shows the power of nature.  This is roughly 30 miles from the coast, and shows the destructive power of Hurricane Matthew.  Nearly one year later, they are still making repairs to the infrastructure.  The picture does not convey the devastation – miles upon miles.

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We were playing a guessing game with friends on Facebook – where are we?  Santa Fe, New Mexico.  This is East Palace Avenue, just off the Plaza, and is filled with unique shops and restaurants. It’s also where one of the secret offices for the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos.  Buildings on this street date (originally, I don’t think any of these are that old) to 1692.  The buildings today, mixing architectural styles, are uneven, sloping, and beautiful with amazing interior courtyards (especially Sena Plaza). We’ve been to Santa Fe so many times, we mainly went to eat, drink and buy art.

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The pueblo remains at Bandelier National Monument outside Los Alamos, NM.  The ancestral Pueblo Indians lived here around 1150 CE to 1550 CE.  They carved homes into the volcanic tuff – cliff homes.  This picture is of Tyuonyi which was once two stories tall with over 400 rooms. It was mainly used for storing food.

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Okay.  There is just no way to show the majesty of Great Sand Dunes National Park, in southern Colorado.  I can’t do it!  Just go. We’ve been 4 times now.  This year, we climbed to the top of the first ridge.  When the 8yo was only one, we tried climbing with him on my back.  I didn’t make it, and I was in better shape then.  We made it this time, and the views are glorious, but I couldn’t capture it. These are the tallest sand dunes in North America, and cover 30 sq miles.  Medano Creek (foreground) is usually dry this time of year, but was still running from heavy winter snows.

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Jewel Cave (original cave) National Monument, South Dakota.  I couldn’t get any good pictures inside the cave.  We opted for the lantern tour of the original entrance to the cave.  Everyone carried an old fashioned oil lantern for lighting to experience the cave (mostly) in a vintage way.  It was loads of fun, but I didn’t manage any good photos.  This isn’t the cave itself, but a shelter cave on the nearby Hell Canyon hike.

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Badlands National Park in South Dakota is another one of those impossible to capture locations – at least not in one photo. And the park changes depending on where you are.  This is on a “non-trail” off shoot of the Notch Trail.  This park offers views of prairie, eroded buttes, bison, prairie dogs, fossils and more.

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Close Encounters?  Nah, just Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming.  It’s a sacred place to the Native Americans there, but an American mistranslated the name and it stuck. It’s really a variation on Bear’s Lodge.  This is really an impressive work of natural art.  It’s far larger than you would think!

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We were huge fans of HBO’s series, Deadwood, so a stop in the town of Deadwood, SD, was in order.  A whole lot of casinos.  We didn’t like the movie finale. We learned the entire town burned down in 1879, and most of the residents left.  We thought that would be a better ending – everyone watching the fire, and saying, “Well, time to make a fresh start elsewhere.”

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We made the obligatory stop at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  We didn’t stay long.  The work is impressive, of course, but we had seen so much natural beauty that it paled in comparison.  We visited at 730am, and missed the crowds (but the sun really washes out Thomas Jefferson).

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We discovered Custer State Park (South Dakota) too late to really explore it.  Amazing park, with so much to do.  See those crevices at the end of the lake? There is a hiking trail that snakes between two of the rocks, and down a gulch.  Strenuous, but awesome.

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The “jail” at Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming.  Fort Laramie played an important role in the westward expansion of America via the Oregon Trail.  Treaties with Native Americans, later ignored/violated by the Americans, were also established here. The fort was originally established by two French fur traders (one named La Ramee).  The transcontinental railroad, and the end of the Great Sioux Wars, brought an end to the fort.  It was closed, and the remaining administrative duties were moved to Fort Robinson, in nearby Nebraska.

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We did more, and saw more, and spent time with family as well.  On the way home, we stopped for the night in Saint Louis, to see Gateway Arch National Park.  It was way more beautiful than I expected – I walked the dog around it at sunrise and sunset and saw it in many different lights.

Well, the new job essentially started today.  Not sure when I will sew, but I hope to.  I need to finish some work tonight, and turn in.

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