Tag Archives: field trips

New Mexico Bucket List – W ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

Blogging Through The Alphabet W vertical image

There is always one place that pops to mind immediately when I think of anything related to New Mexico with the letter W – White Sands.

I have lots of wonderful memories of time spent at White Sands. I grew up a bit over an hour away and we would go once a year or so, it seems like. White Sands is a National Monument so it is run by the National Park Service. There is plenty to do and see in this large expanse of white sand.

White Sands is located in the southern part of the state, just outside of Alamogordo. The Tularosa Basin is where you find over 275 miles of pure white gypsum sand dunes. The National Monument preserves a portion of this. Much of it is also found as part of the White Sands Missile Range.

If you visit the monument, you can run around the dunes, playing in the sand, sliding down the hills, or jumping off the edge of the highest one you can find. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy the day. If the wind picks up or a rain storm starts coming in, you will probably want to leave since it is not fun to be sand blasted. 🙂 But it is amazing to watch a storm come in over the dunes. Beautiful.

There are some other things you can do – hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, or cycling. Check in with the Ranger Station to find out about all of that.

You might recognize White Sands Missile Range as the place where much missile and rocket tests have been done. Probably the best known of these is the Trinity Site. This is where the first atomic bomb was tested. This was done not quite 3 weeks before an atomic bomb was dropped on Japan during WWII. There is a visitor center at this site and the area is open to the public a couple of times each year.

The WSMR is also a place where many of the rockets designed by Werner Von Braun (the German scientist who had a large role in the space race) were tested. The German scientists were housed close to the Missile Range and they tested many of the V-2 and further advancements.

The White Sands Missile Range was used for many different tests for the military and defense purposes. I can remember many times needing to go to Las Cruces or Albuquerque. To do so from our house, we had to travel through parts of the missile range and we made sure to check on missile testing before we left because it was not unusual for the roads to be closed if there was testing going on.

The other place to visit this week is Wheeler Peak. This is the tallest peak in the state is found up north, close to Taos and Red River. This beautiful peak is found in the Carson National Forest and is open to the public for many different outdoor activities. This peak is at 13, 161 feet above sea level. There is quite a bit of wildlife that you can expect to see while hiking or backpacking in the area.

Named for the man who surveyed the area in the late 1800s, Wheeler Peak is lovely place and great outdoor area. Be sure to take a look at the weather before you head out because the area is in the northern part of the state. This means that you could easily encounter late season storms in the spring or early season storms in the fall. Winter means that you should expect snow to be there but there are winter sports that you can do.

You can also make the Enchanted Circle drive which includes Wheeler Peak. Loads of options for visiting this mountain.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.

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New Mexico Bucket List – V ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

Blogging Through The Alphabet V image

There are some things in New Mexico that seem just, well, strange. As we noted in an earlier post, one of these is volcanoes in New Mexico. The other is what is called the Very Large Array or VLA. Let’s visit the VLA first.

VLA A024,_VLA_Radio_Telescopes,_New_Mexico,_USA,_2001

By Brian W. Schaller – Own work, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30495896

The Very Large Array is an astronomical radio observation station. You will find the VLA about 50 miles west of the city of Socorro, out on the plains. There are 27 of the radio antennas out there, positioned in a large Y shape. Each of the antennas is 82 feet in diameter. The uniqueness of this is that each of the signals is combined to essentially create a single signal from what is the equivalent of a receiver 22 miles by 422 feet.

VLA Karl_G._Jansky_Very_Large_Array_(8279314499)

By BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada – Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25905886

So what does the VLA actually do? From the National Radio Astronomy Observatory site, “Radio astronomy is the study of celestial objects that give off radio waves. With radio astronomy, we study astronomical phenomena that are often invisible or hidden in other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.” The gathered information is used by astronomers around the world.

On northward now to the Valles Caldera National Preserve. I think I may have put park on the image that I made for this week but it is technically a preserve, handled under the National Park Service. This area is located in the north-central part of the state in the Jemez Mountains. The preserve includes most of the caldera created by an eruption many, many years ago. A caldera is formed when the ground collapses into the magma chambers as the magma is erupted in a series of eruptions. (Yellowstone is another example of a caldera.)

The caldera is dormant, though not extinct. According to the NPS site, there are signs of volcanic life including boiling sulphuric acid fumaroles and hot springs. This area is considered one of the world’s best examples of an intact volcanic caldera.

In addition to the volcanic history found here, there is also plenty of examples of human history. This area was widely used for hunting and gathering lifestyles prior to the agricultural lifestyle that came about. The area has great obsidian deposits and many native cultures treasure the area and its resources. There is also a history here of the Spanish and Mexican settlements in the area, including some important land grants.

Valles Caldera Mountain_Bikers1

mountain bikers at Valles Caldera photo from National Park Service

The park is a beautiful place and there are many activities visitors can participate in. Of course, there is hiking and camping. There is fishing, horseback riding, visiting historic sites, mountain biking, and other activities including ranger-led options.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.

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You can also join us and link up your own Blogging Through The Alphabet Post!! Just be sure to follow these simple rules–

* Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it.
* When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares.
* Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up.
* Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
* If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love.
* The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

New Mexico Bucket List – S ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

Blogging Through The Alphabet S image

Catching up has us moving around the southern and south central part of New Mexico now. Specifically, let’s go to Capitan, home of Smokey Bear.

O Smokey face

If you have read much on the blog, you have figured out that there is some connection for me with Smokey Bear. I grew up in Smokey’s hometown. (I even have a picture of me as a child being held by Smokey Bear. Of course, it is on slides and so not easily accessible right now.) Capitan has a nice museum about Smokey Bear, telling his story and following the time that he has spent as the spokes-bear for the Forest Service.

O praying SmokeyYou probably know his most famous saying “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” Well, they have changed that now but that is the one I grew up with. And it is on just about all of the things I have that feature Smokey. There are parades to celebrate Smokey – the Smokey Bear Stampede – but I don’t recall exactly when that is. I am thinking early May. Any parade in Capitan will generally have Smokey participating.

There is a lot that you can study with Smokey and I highly recommend it. Check out the posts I have done that include Smokey.

Next stop is Sunspot Solar Observatory. To get there, you have to climb high up the mountains of the Lincoln National Forest and wind around the roads above Cloudcroft. But, it is a neat place that provides a great deal of research. It was established in 1947.

The history of how and why Sunspot came to be goes back to World War II. There was so much knowledge gained during the war. Much of it was just beginning to be understood and required more study. One of these things was the connection between the sun and its activity on Earth and things like radio waves. While a solar observatory was in use in Colorado, there were problems with the weather. So the military was brought in as a funding source and they found a new site for a new observatory – Sacramento Peak in southern NM. It was everything they were looking for and so Sunspot came to be. They still study the sun and the activity on the surface of the sun.

Sunspot Visitor Center

I was really interested in space when I was in high school and was able to visit Sunspot for a tour. I wish I remembered more about that visit. I know I found it fascinating and was amazed at how large the telescopes were but I just don’t remember a whole lot of the details. (I do remember that I forgot to call my mom to let her know I had arrived safely. I was tracked down and I will never forget that call to my mom! She probably won’t either.)

You can visit Sunspot and they do have guided tours available. Visit their site to learn more. Oh, and it looks like you should read up on the roads to get there if visiting. There is a warning about following GPS systems for one of the turns! You know, these mountain roads fool GPS systems sometimes.

We are heading back up to the northern part of the state now to find Soda Dam.


Soda Dam is found along the Jemez Mountain Trail. It is a natural dam on the Jemez River. It is created by the minerals in the water that have built up over the years, leaving this unique formation and waterfall. It is supposed to be a short walk away from the highway and worth the stop. It falls under some of the most amazing waterfalls in New Mexico. I do hope to be able to stop there some day.

So many wonderful places! I have even more, at least one of which I thought I had shared with you and haven’t. But my space seems to be getting long! I will share the Santa Fe Children’s Museum soon. That is definitely a wonderful place for the kids to visit. So much opportunity for imagination, creativity, and learning.

Santa Fe itself has some wonderful places to visit. Check out the posts on Palace of the Governors, Meow Wolf, and Loretto Chapel. There are several others that use Santa Fe as a jumping off point. You can do a search of the blog here and find more. There is so much to do in Santa Fe that you can’t help but enjoy yourself.

I think this catches me up to the current week and the current linkup. Whew! That is a lot of places to visit but you can’t say that you don’t have a clue what to do in NM!

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.

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You can also join us and link up your own Blogging Through The Alphabet Post!! Just be sure to follow these simple rules–

* Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it.
* When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares.
* Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up.
* Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
* If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love.
* The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

New Mexico Bucket List – R ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

Blogging Through The Alphabet R vertical image

There are a couple of places that you should be aware of for this week’s stops on the New Mexico Bucket List.river-of-lights

First off – River of Lights.

I have shared about the River of Lights before and there are plenty of pictures from that share. Albuquerque has a lovely display and it is something to see. I hope we can make it up there again before too many years go by as it is a stunning display. The River of Lights is open during the holidays, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The specific dates will be available on the website of the Albuquerque BioPark sometime in the fall, I imagine. Right now, the 2018 dates are still up.

There a millions of lights that just flow all over the place. The scenes are set up to inspire wonder and joy and they do just that. It is a great place to visit.

Next up – Rail Runner Express trains.

This is a trip I have not taken yet but sounds like a fun little journey. It is definitely great for commuters but also provides trains to special events through the year. It runs between Belen and Santa Fe. For a reasonable fee (in my opinion), you can get on a train a move between the metropolitan areas without having to do the driving. While it isn’t like driving in Dallas or Austin, it is nice to not have to do the driving if you need to make the commute.

With trains available for some special events, it could be a special activity to get to one of the events. Check the website for more information, schedules, and prices.

And finally – the Rio Grande.

The Rio Grande is the river that flows through New Mexico, from the Colorado border all the way to the southern border with Texas and Mexico. The Rio Grande actually flows all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, forming the border between the US and Mexico. The river is an important waterway and provides irrigation water to many, though drought has made it a much shallower river than it used to be.

The Rio Grande runs through canyons in the northern part of the state that provide some amazing whitewater experiences. If you are a rapids kind of person, there are plenty of commercial enterprises that will take you down the Rio Grade and through the Taos Box (I think that is what that section is called.)

You might also want to go see the Rio Grande Gorge. It is supposed to be a stunning view of the river from the top of the gorge, over 800 feet up. The river cut the gorge through volcanic rock and ash. There is a bridge that you can cross that is only about 650 feet up.

So, a few more things to add to your bucket list for New Mexico. Don’t these just sound like so much fun! Even my list keeps growing.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Blogging Through The Alphabet R image

Please note that the link up is not longer open for adding links but you can still visit to see what other folks shared.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

 Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.

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You can also join us and link up your own Blogging Through The Alphabet Post!! Just be sure to follow these simple rules–

* Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it.
* When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares.
* Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up.
* Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
* If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love.
* The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

New Mexico Bucket List – Q ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

Blogging Through The Alphabet Q vertical image

Up to a hard one – Q. It is always hard. We are going to take a look at Gran Quivira.

What we call Gran Quivira is really the Gran Quivira Ruins. They are a set of partially excavated pueblos in the central part of New Mexico. If you are looking for it on a map, look about 25 miles south of the town of Mountainair. There is a small visitor center and a short trail through the area.

This pueblo was fairly large, considered a city unto itself, prior to Spanish contact in the late 1500s. The Spanish tried to convert the Indians but seem to have somewhat unsuccessful. They added missions, churches, and other buildings to the area. By the mid 1600s, the area was abandoned. This could be due to drought, ambushes by other native groups, and disease. What is left is the ruins of Gran Quivira and the other parts of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.

There are many legends and stories related to the place, including one about Billy the Kid. An example of why these ruins are so important is Mound 7. It has over 225 rooms in it and has been fully excavated. This pueblo shows the importance of the area.

That’s it for Q but see you soon for the next installation.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Blogging Through The Alphabet Q image

Note that the linkup is closed for joining but you can visit to see what others had to share.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.

abcblogging image lg

You can also join us and link up your own Blogging Through The Alphabet Post!! Just be sure to follow these simple rules–

* Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it.
* When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares.
* Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up.
* Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
* If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love.
* The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

New Mexico Bucket List – P ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

Blogging Through The Alphabet P image

I am so far behind! Y’all, summer caught me. I should be on the letter S this week, I think, so I am going to try to catch up. We’ll see. 🙂

P brings up a really fun place in New Mexico – Pie Town.

Pie Town sign

No really! Pie Town is located off in the remote parts of southwestern NM. It is a fabulous stop for those that are riding or hiking the Great Divide Trail, which run along the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. It is also a fun place to go just because you are seriously craving the best pie anywhere. There is, according to internet legend, a local joke that when they are describing how to get to Pie Town, the locals say “3.14 miles from the middle of nowhere.”

a patch that reads

The legend says that Pie Town is named such because long ago a local started making and selling dried apple pies to those who managed to locate the small little pioneer town on their way through.

Nita, who owns the Toaster House, at the Pie-O-Neer cafe making sure dad was able to taste the famous pie.

Nita, who owns the Toaster House, at the Pie-O-Neer cafe making sure dad was able to taste the famous pie.

My dad was one of those who stopped in Pie Town on his way through on his bicycle while riding the Great Divide. He definitely had good things to say about the pie. The Pie-O-Neer is one of the best places around for pie. The service is amazing. The Pie-O-Neer was closed when Dad got there but he was staying at fun place called the Toaster House.

Nita, who owns the Toaster House, went to the Pie-O-Neer and was able to get him pie and ice cream. Now how is that for taking care of folks!

Kathy, owner of Pie-O-Neer, serving up pie and ice cream, even though they were closed when dad rode through there on the Great Divide ride.

Kathy, owner of Pie-O-Neer, serving up pie and ice cream, even though they were closed when dad rode through there on the Great Divide ride.

If you are craving pie, Pie Town, NM is the place to go. If you go the 2nd Saturday in September, you will find yourself in the pie festival. Now what could be better?

If you want to read a couple of other blogs from folks who have been to Pie Town, check out Road Unraveled and Serious Eats.

Pecos Wilderness Area is another beautiful, wild place to visit in NM. Located inside the Santa Fe National Forest, the Pecos Wilderness is a popular place for backpacking, hiking, and equestrian trails. It is managed by the Forest Service.

The terrain varies greatly. It includes mountains, canyons, mesa tops, forests, and rugged rocky areas above the timberline. It is beautiful. Be prepared if you go, taking the necessary precautions as it is a wilderness area. But it is beautiful and worth the time.

If you are looking for a museum on NM history, you need to visit Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe. Constructed in the early 17th century as Spain’s seat of power in the area, this museum chronicles the history of the state and the region. It was designated as a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1960 and an American Treasure in 1999. The adobe structure is the oldest continuously occupied public structure in the US, according to some reports.

There are plenty of collections in the building to keep you occupied for a while. The museum covers a long time period and has many interesting pieces. The exhibits do change so check the website to see what is there at the time you wish to visit.

I found an interesting note that says that during his time as governor, Lew Wallace wrote some of the final scenes of Ben Hur in the Palace of the Governors. It was during the Lincoln County War and he took refuge in his writing. He evidentally used one of the safest rooms in the palace, with the thickest adobe walls, fearing bullets as repercussions from the war and the things going on with Billy the Kid. Whether that is true or not, I have no idea but it is interesting to think on. ( Since this part came from Wikipedia, who knows if it is true.)

Please note that according to the website at the time of this writing, the Palace of the Governors is closed for renovations but put it on your list for later. It is a really neat place to visit.

Hope you got some interesting ideas of places to visit. I will return soon with the next installment of the New Mexico Bucket List.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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Note that the link up is closed for joining but you can still visit to see what others had to share.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Each week we will be linking up with the hosts of Blogging Through the Alphabet. Please visit some of these other blogs to get things like book lists, vegan recipes, and wonderful places to visit, just to name the topics I can think of off the top of my head.

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You can also join us and link up your own Blogging Through The Alphabet Post!! Just be sure to follow these simple rules–

* Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it.
* When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares.
* Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up.
* Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
* If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love.
* The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

Finding Art – Waco Mural Hunt

Waco Mural Hunt finds

I know that the word art evokes different thoughts for different people. But we got to have a fun art day a couple of days ago when my niece was here. She loves artwork of all sorts and found a listing of the murals around Waco. I had totally forgotten about the murals so we had never gone mural hunting. My niece picked out several she wanted to go see and we went on a trek. Some of them were walking distance from each other. Many were not. Take a look at what we found.

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We sure did have fun looking for these murals. Some of the murals were just fantastic. Some I did not care for. Some we didn’t have the ability to stop and get a picture of.

Do you have murals in your area? They sure do showcase some amazing talents, don’t they?

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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