Thursday, April 7, 2011

A View from a Volcano

On Monday evening we pulled into the little town of Raton, NM and this is the first sign I saw:

Not quite sure I believed my eyes, and we DID drive past it going about 45 mph, I said to Jim, "What was that, a mountain lion?"

"No," he replied, "a bear."

Oh. I feel SO much better.

But not to worry. Nary a bear wandered across the street at that particular site, nor in our campground. Let me clarify that remark. At least I didn't HEAR one in our campground!

We had to grab a few groceries and there was an Asian buffet near by so we grabbed dinner there first. The grocery store had slim pickings so we only bought some necessities and then went home.

Tuesday morning we decided to visit Capulin Volcano National Monument which is located about 35 miles east of the town of Raton. We made it a quick visit because then we drove on to Denver, CO.

This is the volcano from about 10 miles away.

We turned down a side road and encountered cows crossing the road. I like the "No Passing Zone" sign by the cows!

The sign at the entrance.

We saw a handful of mule deer on the road leading to the Visitors Center.

We stopped in the center and watched a 10 minute movie on volcanoes. There is a $5 charge (per carload) entrance fee, but since this is a National park, we got in for free with Jim's Golden Age Pass (a deal at a one time fee of $10 once you turn 60!)

According to the National Park Service's website, Capulin Volcano is approximately 4 miles in circumference at the base with a crater diameter of 1450 feet and an elevation of 8182 feet at the highest point. There is a two-mile paved road to the top of the volcano, and a paved path along the rim and into the crater.

Here are a couple of photos of the road up the volcano.

The views were just stunning from here. It almost reminded me of pictures of the moon's surface.

Capulin volcano has held it's original shape so well due to the wonderful ecosystem it has. Seeds from trees, plants and grasses were either blown onto the volcano or dropped there by animals. The plant life protects the dirt and rock from blowing too much in the wind. Look how these trees are clinging to the slanted surface.
Or this one on the edge.

We finally made it to the top. This is the paved path around the rim of the volcano.

We only walked a little bit of it because a) we were huffing and puffing and it seemed like the walkway was straight up. I think the altitude had something to do with it. and b) Jim's back was hurting him so I made that big sacrifice, ahem, to turn around and go back to the truck. *wink*

Here are the views from up at the top.

two of the many volcanoes in the area
Laughlin Peak
Laughlin Peak through the zoom lens
This is looking down inside the Capulin volcano.

On the way back to the main road we saw horses grazing on the side of the road.

I spied this old farm house. Doesn't it look like it was set down in the middle of this field?

We headed back to town so we could hook up the trailer and get on the road. We passed this shop on the way in. Anybody read the book, "Needful Things" by Stephen King?

Our drive into Denver was uneventful, but since we didn't get on the road till about noon, it got us into town right at rush hour. Jim is a very patient driver, which is great, driving that big rig around, especially in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

It's funny what you notice when you're not moving. Like look at these beautiful concrete walls that ran along the highway.

Gorgeous, right? How about this one?

Look at this sculpture. Doesn't it look like it's made out of Jenga blocks?

Denver skyline.

We met our nephew, Rob, for dinner at an Italian restaurant. It was great to see him.

We are now in Nebraska, ready to drive the Sandhill Scenic Byway (Highway 2). Stay tuned.


becky said...

you guys are really putting in some miles! How nice of them to put some art along those walls for the gridlocked traveler. Have fun, Pat!

Brian Miller said...

ooo...nice wall art....and neat on the volcano...would like to visit one, but not when it explodes you know...

Bonnie said...

You are a wonderful tour guide Pat. That really was a 'view from the edge'. :-)

Eva Gallant said...

Your photos are wonderful...especially love the one taken of the mountain with a zoom lens.

Country Gal said...

Love your photos, looks like you guys are having a great trip. Have a great day !

Bossy Betty said...

Love these adventures!

Lynda said...

Okay - - - when studying geography over FORTY years ago, how did I miss the fact that the continental U.S. had volcanoes? I am so glad I have you to supplement my education. West of the Mississippi is definitely a lot different than our side.
Those concrete walls are beautiful. So sorry you were moving slowly but look what we would have missed if you were zooming along!

Ed said...

Ha. Yeah, bears are much safer than mountain lions. lol

Geez, volcanos in New Mexico. Who would have thunk it.

Lynda said...

And as I was going to sleep last night, I thought, "Duh to me. I did know about one volcano west of the Mississippi. It was called Mt. St. Helen's!"

Carletta said...

We climbed Diamond Head years ago and I was huffing and puffing then so I'm pretty sure I would have turned around as well. :)
You see so much of this wonderful country. I love how you share the un-tourist things with us like the cows and horses and that highway wall. It's gorgeous.
Jenga blocks is a perfect description of the sculpute.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

stunning photos. I think I might have to paint one with your permission, of course.
Hey...isn't that the house Dorothy and Toto lived in....?