Great American Southwest Road Trip Pt 5 - Nature

My southwest postings could not be complete without a quick peek at some of the extraordinarily beautiful countryside that we had the joy to pass through.
Even Nevada, which usually seems bleak to me like you just want to drive right through as quickly as possible...well little did I know that Highway 50 across the state of Nevada would be mind-blowingly gorgeous this time of year. The sagebrush blossoms bright yellow all across the land!
Our first sunrise of the trip, the first morning as we drove:

Woke up with the kids in the Utahn ghost town I told you about...Bella showed me her "nature journal" which she made herself. She drew these pictographs into the journal because, she explained, "they're kinda naturey." Thought it would be appropriate to share that here.

One of the many useful and lovely desert plants we encountered; this is mormon tea, aka ephedra. Useful in tonics, poultices, and a cure for the cold or syphillis! Or just have a cup of tea with it.
On out to the stunning red rocks of Arches National Park.
It is like a massive playground of crazy jaggedy rock formations, though don't tell the ranger I called it that!
here's jarom clambering around out by the Windows...

or, as we call them, the can see why...

nothing like being with loved ones out in nature. brings out the best in all.

this little dude blends right in.

the infamous Delicate Arch...this is the kids' third or fourth time hiking to it.
they are champion hikers.
we saw it at sunset. i only brought my small camera so there are much better photos but i couldn't leave it out. so stunning to walk up the other side of the red mountain to come around the bend and see this monstrous beauty out there in the wind and sun.
began the drive across southern colorado...a pretty landscape dotted with little farms.
no wonder the ancient people wanted to live here.
yucca, another plant of many uses. The native ancestors used the fibers for baskets, ropes, mats, sandals, clothing and even sewing needles. The roots are used for soap. The fruit that blooms in the fall is edible, supposedly tasting kind of like a cucumber...later on our trip we saw these blooming great tall pillars of frothy blossoms.
Remnants of a fire inside Mesa Verde. The sky, the sky!
Isis on the road, surrounded by so much beauty. Just like she loves.

If Joey were here, I am sure he could identify these wildflowers. He was alway busting out his field guides to help all of us learn about desert flora.
Bella and Jarom and I poring over....something....
Near Taos we went to the impressive bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge. In this startling landscape, Darin filmed a scene for Epic Dust that involves the children. It was super fun. Amy played their mama of course.
that is one crazy bridge.
and yes it was the site of that scene in Natural Born Killers.
and to be honest, it was making me reealll nervous seeing the kids sitting on this rock jutting out over the edge. not sure if you can tell but that is a gorge that goes straight down a dazzling height of about 600 feet.
the kids were very professional though and no one got hurt. after all, jarom was getting paid $2 to play a young Billy the Kid.
again....southwest skies rock.
my honey and i at one of the most beautiful places of our trip.
and the wonderful thing was that a little later in the afternoon, we followed some sketchy word-of-mouth directions to look for some hot springs down in that very gorge...and lo and behond...after a steep hike down, we found them! it was like christmas we were so excited.
and it was so cool to be coming down into the very gorge we had been at the top of...and to be feeling the storied waters of the epic Rio Grande. That river of borders, dangers, poetry, mystery. To know that it is just a river after all, a beautiful wide sweep of frolicking water, and to be part of it.
best of all was the deliciously warm clear spring!
even as the sun went down and we knew we had to hike back up, no one wanted to get out.

we headed down to southern New Mexico after this...where we began to see lots more cactus life roaming the land. This was a pencil cholla with the fruit forming.
Out in some of the beautiful desert foliage by Carlsbad Caverns. I got in trouble from a ranger for going off the trail, even though I was very careful where I stepped. Sigh. At least I got my photo.
And heading down into the beast's mouth...entering the great cavern by way of the natural entrance.
I couldn't help but imagine over and over again what it would have been like for the first explorers who came walkways, no lighted trail, no information, just deep deep deep, impossibly deep into the earth where another world exists.
Em with stalactites, flowstone, and columns of the great belly of the earth.
The trail switch backs steeply all the way down.
What a great adventure to go down inside on our own feet.
This column looks like a mysterious beast from under the sea.

And back out into the open...sunrise in the Great White Sands.
We thought the sun rose at 6:03 a.m.
Darin and I set our alarm and left the campsite in Alamogordo at 5:30 a.m.
But when we arrived, the gates of White Sands were locked and it was pitch dark...took a minute for us to realize that we must have been an hour behind. We waited bleary eyed in the van with Joey and Em asleep in back, as rangers slowly arrived and finally at 6:45 they opened the gates.
Matt and Amy were now behind us. It was to be our last morning with them as they'd be heading home from here.
Amy jumped out into that landscape and bounded about like a baby deer.
We were all so excited to see a glorious sunrise in such a place.
It was a spiritual experience.
Best of all, it was Matt's birthday!
We had a quick early morning surprise party out on the sands.
Before saying our good byes which was heartbreaking after ten days on the road together!

Our little van group traveled on, of course, and in Tucscon had the luck to see a saguaro forest.
Which is totally trippy if you are from pine and oak forests like we are.
Saguaros are truly amazing trees and seem very wise to me.

And upward through the state of Arizona to the wildly picturesque lands of red rocks near Sedona...
where we hiked in search of a vortex.
and decided that the whole place was a spiritual center, not some point that only a paid guide could take you!

Oh friends, the visions I've seen and the lands I've crossed haunt me!
Thank you for reading all about this trip.
This was officially my final post but I'm sure other tidbits might poke their heads in occasionally.

It's a wonderful world out there indeed.


boots said…
wowsers! what an adventure. i have never been to this part of the country and yurn to go and see the beautiful painted rocks. you look so happy and beautiful in these pictures, i love your outfit with your hubby. girl , you got the life.
Teenysparkles said…
you certainly have beautiful story telling skills Miss! I got anxious looking at the photos with the little kids on the sticking out rock!!!!!! i really enjoyed this series of posts.
Cel said…
That looks amazing! I'm so glad you're sharing this with us, because so much of this I may never have the opportunity to see. It's definitely making me want to travel though, hah.
Hey there,
Awesome posts! The purple flowers you weren't sure about are some form of Lupine, I think. I live in CO and lupine are everywhere. Hope that helps. Did you smell them? They smell amazing!Thanks for sharing your adventures!
bellisimama said…
thanks for sharing. great pictures. i looooooved the nature shots.
Missa said…
The beautiful and dramatic landscape changes have got to be just about the best part of roadtripping through the southwest and you've really captured that in this post!

I am swooning over little Bella with her nature journal :)
anne said…
so beautiful!
love the shots of the rio grande. one of my favorite songs is called rio grande by dave alvin. you can hear it here ( if you're interested.
that area of our country is just so amazing and you got excellent photos lil lady!

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