Category Archives: recreation

Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon

Mosier Twin Tunnels ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25083); Historic Columbia River Highway ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25089); Mosier, Oregon ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25077). January 17, 2016. Chronicles 22: Life in the Gorge/Columbia River. November-December 2015. Photographs by   Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409
Mosier Twin Tunnels ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25083); Historic Columbia River Highway

Historic Columbia River Highway
Columbia River, State of Oregon, USA

The Historic Columbia River Highway runs along the Columbia River on the Oregon side for approximately 75 miles. It is considered one of the most scenic highways in Oregon and was the first planned scenic roadway in the United States. It begins in Troutdale and ends in The Dalles as a important safe passage being built between 1913 and 1922. Points of interest are the Bridge of the Gods and Cascade Locks. Another area of special interest is where the historic highway runs through Mosier and its preserved tunnels highlighting scenic tour days. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Landmark and is designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It was replaced for logistics, speed, safety, and accessibility with the construction of the Interstate Highway 84 during the 1930’s and 1950’s, falling to be a placade of history maintained by the state of Oregon as Historic Columbia River Highway No. 100 or Route 30 as well as the “Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.” Is was modeled after the great scenic roads of Europe and the project initiated by Sam Hill (local lawyer and entrepreneur) with the assistance of engineer Samuel C. Lancaster. It was envisioned first as a tourist play route for road trips in the Model T absorbing the beauty of the Columbia River and its waterfalls. It blended in as Highway Route 30 when the U.S. Highway system was established in 1926. It was an essential route taking advantage of the lowest crossing of the Cascade Mountains that was carved by the Columbia River during the Cascades mountain uplift providing a safe and economic alternative to the previous dangerous rafting portages used by the Oregon Trail. Originally at this crossing was the Barlow Road in 1846 around the south side of Mount Hood, followed by the Sandy wagon road in the 1870s, and the railway. It was a very difficult highway to create dealing with numerous curves, grades, distance, rockfalls, avalanches, and drops. All the locations with elements of natural beauty and scenic wonder were set as control points along the route to be included.

Mosier, Oregon ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25077). January 17, 2016. Chronicles 22: Life in the Gorge/Columbia River. November-December 2015. Photographs by   Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography.  Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409
Mosier, Oregon ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25077). January 17, 2016. Chronicles 22: Life in the Gorge/Columbia River. November-December 2015. Photographs by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Technogypsie Productions. www.technogypsie.com/photography. Reviews: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. Chronicle tales: http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17409

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Great Sand Dunes National Park

The Great Sand Dunes
* http://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm *

One of my favorite parts of Colorado is its great diversity in the ranges of the Rocky Mountains. One of those hotspots of “oddity” is the vast Sahara-like desert of sand dunes in the San Luis Valley. Of course California, New Mexico, and Arizona has tons of sand dunes – but Colorado’s is very unique, especially at the foot of snow-covered mountain peaks and being the tallest dunes in the United States. This geologic feature extends 5 x 7 miles with a grand height of 700 feet above the valley floor (over 7,600 feet above sea level). As early as 440,000 years ago, the dunes were formed from the Rio Grande River’s and associated tributaries flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over a period of several thousand years, and continually growing today, the westerly winds blow the sand over the Rockies and down along the river flood plain, collecting sand, and depositing them on the east edge of the San Luis Valley before the winds rise up and over the Sangre de Cristo mountain range shaping these huge stable dunes. There are also some parts of the dunes where patches of black sand can be found made up of magnetite deposits as crystalline iron black oxide. Medano Creek winds through the dunes as it is fed by melting snow from the mountains. It extends roughly 10 miles, flowing from spring and early summer from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and disappears into the floor of the valley. An unusual feature of the creek is that it never finds a permanent and stable streambed causing small underwater sand dunes that act like dams are continuously formed and destroyed, causing what seems like “surges” with “waves of water” flowing downstream with intervals of a few seconds to a few minutes, and can appear as large as a foot in height with an appearance of an “ocean wave”. The geological area is known as a “High Desert” with summer temperatures not typical of normal high desert lands, varying from high and low temperatures of exceedly cold nights (even below zero). There are also alpine lakes and tundra in the park, with six peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation, ancient spruces, pine forests, aspens, cottonwoods, grasslands, and wetlands. The park is also notated as being the quietest park in the United States. The park, is managed by the National Park Service, and has been a place of enjoyment under their reigns since November 2000 with over 85,000 acres. In 2004 it became known as the “Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve”. It can be reached west from Mosca along country road 6 North, or from the south along CO road 150. The park hosts a great visitor center, a campground, four wheel drive trails, restrooms, and picnic areas. The park is great for hiking, wading, sand castles, sandbox play, sunbathing, sand sledding, rough play, skimboarding, photoshoots, and ATV sports. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Visited 7/12/2008. 2/16/2017. Review by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Leafworks and Technogypsie Research/Review Services.

Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography
Great Sand Dunes National Park ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=2267); near Alamosa, Colorado. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Come back soon. Article expected to be published by February 20, 2017.

Pagosa Springs, Colorado ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=30437, Southwest Colorado, USA. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Wolf Creek, Colorado

Wolf Creek, Colorado

Come back soon. Article expected to be published by February 20, 2017.

Wolf Creek, Colorado ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=30441) – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken February 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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Gingko Tree Petrified Forest (Washington)

Gingko Tree Petrified Forest ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25979). Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 29, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan  and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Gingko Tree Petrified Forest ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25979). Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 29, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

Gingko Petrified Forest
Vantage, Washington. http://parks.state.wa.us/288/Ginkgo-Petrified-Forest
Article by Thomas Baurley on 12/3/2016 ~

Enroute to a archaeological survey I was doing, we stopped the night at Wanapum State Park only to discover next door was the GIngko Petrified Forest. What a treasure trove lying within the Washington desert for any paleontology enthusiast. The park is approximately 7,470 acres including over 27,000 along the shoreline of the Wanapum Reservoir on the Columbia River. This petrified forest was once a tropical jungle that after cataclystic events became hardened into stone by volcanic activity and lava during the Miocene Period. It is located right off of Interstate 90. We took a hike along the “Trees of Stone” interpretative Trail, just down the road from the interpretive center. You have the option of the longer 2.5 mile loop or a 1.5 mile loop. Dotted along the trail are metal cages containing in situ various tree stumps and logs that were petrified long ago. There are over 22 species of trees that can be found on the paths. The petrified trees were discovered by a highway crew in 1927 led by geologist George F. Beck. In 1938 the Civilian Conservation Corps completed Beck’s excavations, built a museum here, and opening the park to the public. In 1965 it was designated a National Landmark by the National Park Service.
The interpretative center and museum tells the story of the forest, how it was formed, what life was like when it existed and how it is now. During the Miocene of the Neogene period (15.5 Million years ago), this area was a semi-humid jungle that was affected by volcanic fissures and lava flows that once came across the Columbia Plateau. These flows leveled the landscape that once was here, flattened and encased in basalt rock. During the burial, a chemical transformation converted the wood to stone by process of petrification when the minerals and silica from the volcanic ash mixes with ground water, penetrates and soaks into the wood, and mineralized it enough to make it rock. By the end of the last ice age, the catastrophic Missoula Floods around 15,000 BPE, the basalt was eroded and exposed some of the petrified wood. There are over 50 species found within the park including sweetgum, ginkgo, redwood, douglas fir, walnut, spruce, elm, maple, horse chestnut, cottonwood, magnolia, madroe, sassafras, yew, and witch hazel.

The Wanapum peoples lived in this region from the Columbia River to Beverly Gap onwards to the Snake River. They welcomed the white settlers during Lewis and Clark’s expedition. They used the petrified wood for lithic tools, carved petroglyphs in the basalt cliffs, and lived here by fishing or agriculture.

Nearby is the Wanapum campground for visitors to stay and be able to explore the ground over the course of a few days. Near the Interpretive center is a Gem shop where visitors can buy souvenirs and stones for their collections. There is collecting permitted on Saddle Mountain 14 miles away where collectors can gather up to 25 pounds a day or 250 pounds a year for personal use.

Walnut ( http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=11050). Gingko Tree Petrified Forest ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25979). Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 29, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan  and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Walnut ( http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=11050). Gingko Tree Petrified Forest ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25979). Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 29, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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Mount Rainier

Life in the Gorge: Chronicle 22 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  The Gorge/Columbia River, Oregon-Washington. Photos taken March 19, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17903.  Hood River: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=23683; The Dalles:  http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=24107; White Salmon:  http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=23677; Husum: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25039; Portland:  http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=281.  To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Life in the Gorge: Chronicle 22 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. The Gorge/Columbia River, Oregon-Washington. Photos taken March 19, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=17903. Hood River: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=23683; The Dalles: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=24107; White Salmon: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=23677; Husum: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25039; Portland: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=281. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

Mount Rainier, Washington

One of the largest mountains in North America, Mount Rainier, otherwise known as Mount Tacoma is the highest mountain in the Cascade Range and is an active strato-volcano, also being one of the most dangerous volcanoes in existence. Because of its threat, it is listed on the Decade Volcano list as one of the world’s most dangerous threats. The amount of glacial ice on the volcano could produce massive lahars when she erupts that could destroy the entire Puyallup River valley and destroy Seattle. It is located only 54 miles south-southeast of Seattle that hosts over 3.7 million inhabitants in its area. Mythically, Rainier was known by local tribes as the Goddess “Talol” (Tahoma/Tacoma) as the “Mother of Waters” or “Larger than Mount Baker”. “Rainier” was given by the adventurer navigator George Vancouver to honor his friend Rear Admiral Peter Rainier and was listed on the Lewis & Clark expedition map as “Mt. Regniere”. A national park was established to encompass it as a forest reserve. She can be seen as far away as Corvallis Oregon or Victoria British Columbia on a clear day. There are over 26 major glaciers and 36 square miles of permanent snowfields / glaciers atop Mount Rainier and is the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. The summit hosts two volcanic craters, each over 1,000 feet in diameter with the larger east one overlapping the west crater. The craters are free of snow and ice due to the geo-thermal heat coming from within the volcano, forming the world’s largest volcanic glacier cave network within the ice-filled craters and hosting over 2 miles of passages. Mount Rainier start the heads of the Carbon, Mowich, Nisqually, Cowlitz, and Puyallup fed from the glaciers, while other fed glaciers create the White River. Most empty into Puget Sound and the Columbia River. There are three major summits atop Mount Rainier, most notably Columbia Crest, Point Success, and Success Cleaver. The mountain is made up of lava flows, debris flows, and pyroclastic ejecta and flows from past eruptions. The earliest deposits are over 840,000 yeaers old with the current cone being over 500,000 years old. Most of the geological composition is andesite. Past lahars and lava flows had reached Puget Sound in the the past as recent as 5,000 years ago during a major collapse. Her most recent eruptions were between 1820 and 1854, though eruptive activity took place also in 1858, 1870, 1879, 1882, and 1894. She is ready for a major eruption anytime now. She is part of the eastern rim of the Pacific Ring of Fire, nestled with other active volcanoes in the east such as Mount Shasta, Lassen Peak, Crater Lake, Three Sisters, Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, Glacier Peak, Mount Baker, Mount Cayley, Garibaldi, Silverthrone, and Mount Meager. Rainier has up to 5 earthquakes recorded monthly near its summit with swarms of 5-10 shallow earthquakes taking place every 2-3 days from time to time below the summit.

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Soap Lake, Washington

Soap Lake ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25717), Washington. Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 29, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Soap Lake ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25717), Washington.

Soap Lake, Washington
~ 47°23′18″N 119°29′15″W (47.388341, -119.487611) ~

Both a small town and a natural phenomena of a magical healing lake, “Soap Lake” was called “Smokiam” by the Native Americans as “Healing Waters”. It is a soft mineral lake in between Ephrata and Coulee. It is located in Grant County Washington. The abundant mineral within the waters is what is referred to as “washing soda” giving it a suds-like, slippery film feel. The minerals are alkaline which kills most bacteria it comes in contact with without damaging the animal or human the bacteria is living on, and when the tissues repairs itself the massive layers and deposits of mineralization will occur. The lake is very popular as a healing cure for Burgeger and Reynaud’s disease because it opens the capillary and extremity circulation of those affected by it. There are over 20 alkaline mineral salts found in Soap Lake, and is why many gather mud from the bottom of the lake to spread across their bodies for its natural healing effect. The mud sucks out toxins, moisture, and oils from the skin, giving it ability to heal. Combined with sunshine from the desert, it has been known to control psoriasis. The minerals found in Soap Lake are Sodium, Bicarbonate, Sulfate, Carbonate, Chloride, Potassium, Organic Nitrogen, Fluoride, Ortho-Phosphate, Nitrate, Calcium, Magnesium, and less than .01 percent of Iron, Aluminum, Copper, Rubidium, Lithium, Strontium, Barium, Chromium, Lead, Manganese, Titanium, Vanadium, and Boron. The waters have been rumored to cause relief with rheumatoid arthritis, beurgers disease, eczema, psoriasis, raynaud’s syndrom, and paralysis.

This lake is one of its only kinds in the world, and no other lake has been found as such in the world. It drew large crowds of visitors back in the 1920’s. The U.S. military sent young men to Soap Lake to help arrest symptoms of the debilitating disease known as Buergers Disease. Some bathe in hot baths using the water at 104 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes, once a day. For capillary dilation, others take 108 degree fahrenheit hot baths for 20 minutes a day. Others just swim in the lake for their skin. Others use the mud combined with the sun for sun tanning while others take mud baths. There are some that even believe in drinking it, but never taking more than 2 ounces four times daily. This however is not recommended. The first layer of the lake has approximately 81 feet of mineral water, the second level is mud-like and consists of a stronger mineral composition with concentrations of unusual substances and microbes. It has been stated that these layers have not mixed for thousands of years, creating the rare condition called meromictic. There are only 11 meromictic lakes in the U.S.

The town has just over 1,500 residents (2010 census). Through the years it has become a busy resort and health spa, had grown to four hotels and various rooming houses making the waters known. It also became a touristy social center with celebrations, festivals, socials, and gatherings held often. This ended around the Depression as a drought hit the lake, dwindling the tourist trade and visitors. When the Grand Coulee Dam was built, new irrigation canals were built, and brought life back into the area. From the 1900’s to the 1940’s, numerous sanitariums were built on the shores to help attract and cure visitors.

Soap Lake ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25717); Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 22, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Soap Lake ( http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=25717); Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 22, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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Olympic National Forest

Sol Duc Hotsprings and Campground (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26101). Olympic National Forest and Park: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26099. Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 26, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Sol Duc Hotsprings and Campground (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26101). Olympic National Forest and Park: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26099.

Olympic National Forest
Washington

One of my favorite forests next the the Redwoods is the Olympic National Forest especially the Olympic National Park. However, when I visited in March 2016, it just wasn’t the same. It seemed not in the glorious state I remember. Perhaps it was the wildfires in 2015 that battered it down. Nonetheless, a must visit location for anyone wanting to experience “America”. The Olympic National Forest is located on the Olympic Peninsula, west of Seattle Washington. The park consists of 628,115 acres of preserved rain forest and surrounds the Olympic National Park and its associated mountain range. The landscape varies depending on where in the forest you are, from beaches, salt water fjords, mountain peaks, and of course rain forest (temperate). The forest receives approximately 220 inches of rain each year. It was created as a Olympic Forest Reserve in 1897, then re-named the “Olympic National Forest” in 1907. The extent of its old growth is estimated to be around 266,000 acres (1993 study).

Hoh Rainforerst (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26103) - Olympic National Forest and Park: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26099. Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 26, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit  http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007.   To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews.  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com - by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
Hoh Rainforerst (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26103) – Olympic National Forest and Park: http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=26099. Northern Exposure: Chronicle 24 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf, Lady Etain, and Prince Cian. Adventures in Washington. Photos taken March 26, 2016. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=20007. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan, Eadaoin Bineid and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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White Sands National Monument

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White Sands National Monument
* Alamogordo, New Mexico * www.nps.gov/whsa/ *

A childhood tromping ground for me with memories of hikes, sliding down cardboard boxes and skis, White Sands was our favorite desert. Rolling hills of white gypsum sand was our concept of a desert as kids. The Monument is located 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo, New Mexico. It resides at an elevation of 4,235 feet above sea level and is a 275 mile field of white gypsum crystal sand.

The first known humans to investigate the sand beds were the Mescalero Apache who lived in the area. The first official exploration was by the U.S. Army in 1849 C.E. The first Euro-Americans to explore the sands were Hispanic families farming in the area around 1861 C.E. (Common Era) inhabiting Tularosa (1861) and La Luz (1863). IT was already as early as 1898 C.E. when thoughts were discussed about turning White Sands into a National Park, originally proposed as Mescalero National Park as a game hunting preserve. This was not successful as the idea conflicted ethically with the National Park Service mission which does not preserve sites for hunting. It wasn’t until 1933 when President Hoover created the White Sands National Monument. The Monument however is completely surrounded by military installations such as the White Sands Missile Range and the Holloman Air Force Base. Relations between the government agencies haven’t always gone well as over 131,000 errant missiles have fallen into the National Park property destroying some of the areas for visitors and fly-overs by the air force base have disturbed animal life and the serene tranquility of the monument. It was proposed to be part of the World Heritage Sites in 2008, but shot down by U.S. Representative Stevan Pearce who believed such listing would endanger use by military installations in the near future. This caused a lot of controversy in the surrounding are with resulting petitions signed, passing Ordinance 07-05 purporting to make it illegal to become a World Heritage Site. In 2008 the Commission had a Attorney demand that the Secretary of the Interior remove it from the Tentative World Heritage Site list.

White sands is unique in that gypsum is rarely found in the form of sand because of it being water-soluble as rains would normally dissolve it and carry it out to sea. But since the Tularosa Basin is enclosed, there is no outlet to the sea trapping it in the basin, with water sinking into the ground forming shallow pools that eventually dry out creating selenite crystal, or flowing out south into the Hueco Basin. These crystals can grow upwards in length of 3 feet. Weathering and erosion usually pulverize them back into the sand thereby creating the white dunes which constantly change shape moving downwind. Many different forms of dunes can be found in the park – including domes, transverse, barchan, and parabolic dunes. These sands never heat up like the quartz-based sand crystals so can safely always be walked on with bare feet even in the hottest weather months. The park is open annually, except twice a week for 1-2 hours during missile testing by neighboring bases for safety reasons. The Trinity site, where the world’s first atom bomb was detonated, can be found in the northernmost boundaries of the White Sands Missile Range.

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Montezuma Castle

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Montezuma Castle National Monument
* Camp Verde, Arizona * http://www.nps.gov/moca/index.htm *

Thanks to the Antiquities Act of 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt celebrated it by naming and declaring four National Monuments as having such historic and cultural significance, one of these was Montezuma castle – one of the best preserved examples of cliff dwellings in the country. This 45-50 room Sinagua pueblo ruin sheltered into a natural alcove in a cliff face overlooking Beaver Creek for 400 years is a phenomenal work of art. It was excavated in 1933, and although little artifacts remained, the architecture alone made it shine above others. Early visitors were allowed entrance into the castle by climbing a series of ladders up the limestone cliffs, but due to damages from tourism, it was closed off in 1951. The park consists of over 826 protected acres at the intersection of the Colorado Plateau, Colorado Basin, and Colorado Range. The park attracts over 350,000 visitors a year and is open 7 days a week from 8 am until 5 pm, except being closed for Christmas. The National Park Service has a wonderful museum below at the gate covering the history of the Sinagua and how the cliff dwellings were constructed, displays some of the artifacts recovered, tools used for life, and presents a gift shop for tourists.

The dwellings were first built and used by the Sinagua culture, a pre-Columbian peoples who were distinctly related to the Hohokam who once lived along the valley floor. The cliff dwelling is 5 stores in height and took over five centuries to construct. The construct is stone and mortar buildings with 20 rooms that could have housed upwards of 50 people. Carved into a limestone high cliff, the natural alcove shades the room from sun and rain. It took much skill to create this masterpiece, had an incredibly defensive standpoint, and was difficult to climb up into even with the ladders. There is evidence in another cliff wall that a earlier larger dwelling, but nothing remains of it. Original artifacts remaining were minimal as the area had been highly looted through the ages. It was occupied from 1100 C.E. to 1425 C.E. with its flourishing peak around 1300 C.E. Many tribes trace their roots to this pueblo, including several Hopi clans. This makes the Castle a pilgrimage point for the Hopi and other tribes who conduct religious ceremonies at this place. The first Euro-American contact was in the 1860s which gave it the name “Montezuma Castle” a big misnomer as the Aztec Emperor of Mexico never had anything to do with this community. In fact, it was built and abandoned at least 100 years long before he was ever born. The area was briefly abandoned due to volcanic ash that came from the Sunset Crater Volcano, and its likely the sediment from that ash aided with Sinagua agricultural success. During this brief flash of history, they lived on the hills nearby, then in 1125 re-settled in the Verde Vally and re-cycled the irrigation systems set up by their ancestors the Hohokam. They evacuated the area for an unknown as of yet reason around 1425 C.E. Theories for this ranged from droughts, clashes with the Yavapai people who moved into the Valley, and/or warfare.

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“Timeless Beauty: Montezuma castle invites us to pause in wonder at the ingenuity of the people who began building it over 700 years ago. Ancestors of today’s Puebloan peoples built and occupied the Castle. We can only speculate why they chose to build here and how they lived in this magnificent cliff dwelling. Both Montezuma and Castle are misnomers. In the 1800s European Americans were fascinated with Inca, May, and Aztec civilizations and gave southwestern sites exotic names, in this case for Emperor Montezuma II – who lived long after the Castle was constructed. The Yayapai call this place the home of the protectors of the Yavapai. The Hopi refer to it as both Sakataka, place where the step ladders are going up and Wupat’pela for long high walls. Due to looting, by the early 1900s much of what the Castle’s residents left behind was gone. Damage to the building increased as visitors climbed ladders to walk through the rooms. Now this dwelling is only accessed for inspection, maintenance, and research.” ~ marker, Montezuma Castle, NM.

“Creating a home: To construct their cliff home, residents made use of a naturally eroded alcove and fit 20 rooms into the shape of its contours. Why build a home in a cliff face? There are many possibilities: proximity to water and farmland, to stay above floods, or for protection, the view, or the southern exposure that afforded winter solar heat and summer shade. A ready-made shelter also meant fewer walls and roofs to construct for housing, storage, workspace, customs, and rituals. To organize and partition the alcove space, builders created walls with river cobbles and limestone held together with mud mortar. Mud plaster covered and sealed the walls. For roof beams and floors between multi-storied rooms, they mostly used local sycamore along with some alder and ash, but also carried in fir and pine from a distance. The original roof beams protruding from the wall to the right of the tower and the large beam ending in the wall above the tower provide a sense of scale – the castle is not as high up or as large as it might appear. Each group living in the Castle likely had their own room, with roughly 140 square feet (13 sq. meters) or about 17.5 feet by 8 feet (5.3 m x 2.4 m) on average. Ceilings were at about 5 feet (1.5 meters). Peep holes and doorways provided light in the morning and early afternoon, but rooms were dark in the late afternoon and evening. Women or children likely did the plastering including annual patching of exterior walls that eroded easily – their hand prints are still visible in the plaster today.” ~ marker, Montezuma Castle, NM.

“Cycles of Care: Around the year 1400 C.E. people began leaving their homes here. Five hundred years later, its walls were still largely intact. The builders chose their home site wisely, taking advantage of the shelter that a natural alcove provided. The majority of what you see today is original, and the Castle is thought to be one of the best preserved sites from the period, likely due to its inaccessibility. Hopi and other Native consultants say dwellings like this were meant to recycle back to earth after the people left. However, in 1906 the Castle became a national monument to be managed for present and future generations. A variety of preservation treatments were applied to help withstand hundreds of thousands of visitors and keep the walls standing. Whenever possible, archaeologists attempt to match today’s treatment more closely with the original materials and building details, applying the minimum necessary to protect the integrity of the structure. ” ~ marker, Montezuma Castle, NM.

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Montezuma Well

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Montezuma Well
* Montezuma Well and Montezuma Castle, Arizona *

One of my favorite wells in America, this Native American sacred site is phenomenal and full of mystery! When driving up to the Well, just north of Montezuma Castle, its a small 1/3 mile hike up a short hill to a naturally occurring spring in a sink hole thriving for hundreds if not thousands of years in the desert. Over the top of the sink hole is a series of empty cliff dwellings, caves, and ruins of stone pueblos from peoples who used to live at the sacred spring. It was formed by an enormous limestone cavern collapsing into the spring forming the sinkhole that you see here. From prehistoric cultures to a 14th century farm, the ruins on this National Park property is enticing on their own with the magical spring as icing on the cake. This natural oasis is like none other as a natural well with a never-ending supply of water for a region where water is very scarce. The waters in this spring well up from deep underground caverns and flow constantly out into the sinkhole and down through the boulders into the nearby river. The sinkhole measures approximately 368 feet across and 55 to 120 feet deep with an elevation of 3,618 feet above sea level. The well’s spring water trickles down through the limestone boulders into Beaver Creek, the sacred outlet being a spring hole under the boulders from the sinkhole and is most likely the the revered sacred outlet of the spring.

Over 15 million gallons (57 million liters) springing forth from these primordial origins. The geology of the area is very unique providing refuge to various species of animals, plants, and creatures that are found no where else in the world. This contributes to the sacredness it possesses to early peopling in the area, especially those living at Montezuma Castle cliff dwellings. The name “Montezuma” is a misnomer, as he most likely never visited nor knew of this place. The Hopi called it “Yuvukva” meaning “sunken spring” or “Tawapa” meaning “sun spring”. The Yavapai called it “Ah-hah gkith-gygy-vah” meaning “broken water”. The Western Apache called it “Tu sitch’iL meaning “Water breaks open”. The spring and sinkhole is embedded into emergence mythologies and is a place of origins to many tribes. The communities that settled here were able to exist here for several centuries. No one is sure of why these people left, but it could have been a build-up of low-level arsenic found in the waters affecting their health over time. The Dwellings date from the 1100’s of the Common Era (C.E) through 1400 C.E. when large networks of pueblo-communities set up their villages in the Verde Valley especially at Sacred Mountain and Montezuma Castle.

The two peoples that lived in this area well recorded were the Hohokam and the Sinagua. The first settlers were believed to be the Hohokan, a Pima word for “all used up”. They lived in pit houses made of sticks, poles, and mud irrigating crops of beans, corn, and squash. The second peoples were the Sinagua. Sinagua means “without water” in Spanish, and may have related to the disappearance of the people when droughts hit the area. The Sinagua created the cliff dwellings and pueblos upwards of 55 rooms in the area. They primarily farmed the area as well as some hunting. They were master craftspeople creating tools, manos, metates, ornaments, and garments. Natives first occupied the area around 2,000 years ago – along the Verde River and Beaver Creek. The peoples went through waves of occupations and disappeared almost as quickly as overnight. Archaeologists pondered the reason for this, from low levels of arsenic in the waters making them ill over time, drought, exhausted soil, diseases, wars with marauding tribes coming into the area, or viral outbreaks. No one knows for sure, but when they left, they left the dwellings in the same condition as they had inhabited them.

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This sink hole has been a mystery to everyone who has encountered it. Science today is still stumped about its complexities – its depth, its source, and its constant flow. It is considered quite miraculous. The Yavapai and Apache peoples believe that once something emerges from its vents at the bottom of the well, it can never return. Oral traditions tell of the spirit of a great water serpent that still lives here called “Ah-hah bavilwaja” or “water monster”. That has been true, even to science. Even when a regional drought is taking effect on the area, a sweet 1.6 million gallons flow through its main vents every day at a fairly regular consistency and nearly constant 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius). Science thinks they might have an idea where the water originated and is constantly investigating with National Park Service dive teams. 55 feet deep, fluidized fine sand boiling up in swirling cascading mounds creating the mirage of a false bottom as the vents are another 65 feet deeper making measuring its depth difficult. They tried to put research equipment in and just as the legend dictates, could never get them in, they would always be pushed out. Specialists of all kinds have come to study the well through the years. The geology of the well tells its formation was between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago from precipitation atop the Mogollan Rim peculating down through hundreds of yards of rock, basalt flows, Coconino sandstone, Supal Group, Hermit Shales and others until it reached the relatively permeable Red wall Limestone beneath trickling towards the Spring that is Montezuma Well. The waters and soils combined with an underground dike of volcanic basalt forcing it back to the surface after its ten-millennium journey. Geological patterns and ripples of travertine just 1/3 of a mile around the spring are remains of another massive dome created by yet an older spring than the existing one in Montezuma Well. There are no fish within these waters, just thousands of freshwater leeches and is home to creatures found nowhere else on the planet. Since there are high levels of dissolved carbon dioxide – 80 times higher than any other lake, life is impossible for the fish, amphibians, and aquatic insects to settle here. The well is home to only 5 living species with the leeches being the top of the food chain. These are (1) Endemic leeches, (2) amphipods, (3) snails, (4) diatoms, and (5) water scorpions. The amphipods risk going to the surface to feed on microscopic algae trying to escape the leeches during the late afternoon sunlight. Once darkness folds, the leeches rise and feast on them. Migrating ducks, native sonoran mud turtles, and muskrats often come in and swim the waters on occasion as well. Around the edge of the spring is quite a varied assortment of plant and animal live. The plant life include the One seed Juniper, Arizona Sycamore, Arizona Walnut, Acacia, Velvet Mesquite, Velvet Ash, Joint-fir, Ephedra plant, Cliff-rose, Brittle bush, Salt Bush, Creosote Bush, Desert Broom, Spanish Dagger, Indian paintbrush, gray thistle, hedgehog cactus, gray thistle, pale evening prim rose, penstemon, prickle poppy, prickly pear, jimsonweed, milkvetch, yellow columbine, maidenhair spleenwort, and Globemallow. Animal life include deer, raven, american wigeons, coots, cinnamon teal, canadian geese, gadwalls, ruddy ducks, mallards, robin, roadrunner, red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, american kestrel, belted kingfisher, gamble’s quail, cardinal, canyon wren, black phoebe, gila woodpecker, great blue heron, lesser goldfinch, mourning doves, red-shafted flicker, gopher snakes, bull snacks, rattlesnakes, collared lizard, horned toad, cottontail rabbit, javelina, skunks, arizona gray fox, porcupine, beaver, chipmunk, cottontail rabbit, and jackrabbits.

While Native Americans inhabited this region for hundreds if not thousands of years, the first white explorer to come to the well was the Spanish explorer Antonio de Espejo during his 1583 expedition. He basically described the Montezuma casle and well site in his journal as an abandoned pueblo with a ditch running from a nearby pond. Early settlers believed the cliff dwellings belonged to the Aztec emperor Montezuma which gave root to the naming misnomer. The castle was actually home to the Sinagua Indians and deserted a century before Montezuma was even born.

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Tortolita canyon trail #54 and Nogal Trail 48

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Nogal Trail #48 to Tortolita Canyon Trail #54
* Sierra Blanca, Ruidoso, New Mexico, USA *

On November 2013 we went for a hike along Nogal Canyon Trail #48 to the peak overlooking the Valley of Fire on the Tortolita Canyon Trail #54 to spread the ashes of our family. If you’d like to read the Chronicles of that adventure, go here: . Tortolita Canyon Trail #54 is 9 miles long and begins off of Forest Road 400 through Private Land ending at the Crest Trail (T25). Its a popular trail for horseback riding and hiking. It’s a light hike. Midway along this trail it meets the 1 1/2 mile long Nogal Trail that rises gradually 600 feet in elevation. The trails’ highest point is 9,000 feet above sea level and is a very pleasant hike, moderately-used, with a gentle gradual incline at the base of Nogal Peak. The Nogal trail ends at Tortolita Trail and starts at the downfall shamble of a abandoned gold mine (which was flooded when we visited). Tortolita Trail follows the steep west faced slope of Nogal Peak towards the head of Nogal canyon, climbing above Dry Gulch and extending to the old trailhead in Nogal Canyon. It is not well used or maintained, thereby sometimes hard to follow. At this intersection, appears to be an archaeological site labelled PH 1 (or could represent Post Hole 1 atop the peak) just off center of the intersection of these two trails. It appears to be that of an old mine as rock piles abound and a deep cut in the peak looks mined.

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Wisteria Campground (Pomeroy, Ohio)

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Wisteria Campground
* Pomeroy, Ohio * http://www.wisteria.org/ * * info@wisteria.org * 740-742-4302 *

I remember the first time I ventured into the fabled lands of Wisteria. That was for Pagan Spirit Gathering held by Circle Sanctuary back in 2002. Alas, Pagan Spirit Gathering is no longer held here. But just as Starwood was akin to Brushwood, Starwood is now held (and for quite some time) at Wisteria. Wisteria is a great place for nature lovers, naturalists, Pagans, earth spiritualists, and alternative campers. It is also a fabulous site for festivals and events as acclaimed by the infamous festivals held on its grounds. It is a great place for large gatherings or small get-togethers, weddings, music festivals, and spiritual events. They are equipt to handle small groups of just a handful upwards of several thousand participants. Wisteria is set with a grand stage, bonfire circle, hiking trails, a faerie shrine, sacred sites, stone circle, an ancestor mound, a turtle mound, sweat lodge, workshop sites, the permanent setting of Caffeina’s Cosmic Cafe Restaurant and Coffee House, The Green Man Tavern, a swimming pond, a merchant loop, a playground, shower house, and wifi. Groups can rent space in the campground or hold private camping events. Wisteria is managed by itself as well as services of the site to make it an easier place to hold events by organizers. Wisterians are open-minded, professional, and very experienced with events large or small. They will custom tailor their event services to the festival organizer’s needs.

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Cave of the Winds (Niagara Falls, NY)

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Cave of the Winds
* Goat Island * Niagara Falls State Park, New York *

Not to be confused with Cave of the Winds in Colorado, the Cave of the Winds Niagara was a natural cave that ran behind Bridal Veil Falls in the Niagara Falls State Park on the U.S.A. side of the Niagara River. It ran roughly 130 feet deep and was discovered in 1834. It was originally called “Aolus’ Cave” named as such in tribute to the Greek God of the Winds. Tours began in 1841 taking people down within for a view of the falls from beneath. Unfortunately in 1920 a rock fall made the actual cave no longer safe to go within. Tours began again in 1924 bringing visitors to the foot of the falls, but does not go behind it. There are points along the decks and walk ways where tropical storm-like conditions can be felt with winds upwards of 70 mph raging under the falls. The cave eventually eroded away by rockfalls finally in 1954 and the name of the attraction as a “cave” is more a “underlook” and “overlook” depending on your viewing platform. The platforms are removed every winter to avoid damage by ice fall, and are not bolted into the rocks, but rather wedged into the crevices.

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Niagara River

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Niagara River

A massive river that flows between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie for approximately 35 miles in length. It is home to the famous “Niagara Falls” both on the U.S. and Canadian sides. It is dotted with falls, whirlpools, and rapids along its course. There are also several islands along the run of the river: The two largest and most popular are the Navy Island and the Grand Island. Other popular ones include Goat Island, Luna Island, and Squaw Island. The river forms the border between Ontario, Canada and New York, USA. Many legends amiss around the river, as does its name origin. An Iroquois belief is it was named after a branch of the Neutral Confederacy called the “Niagagarega” in the late 17th century. Others state it was named after the Iroquois village “Ongniaahra” or “point of land cut in two”. Today the river is dotted with, especially within the Falls area, hydroelectric power stations. The two most famous of which is the Sir Adam Beck Hydro-electric Power Station in Canada and the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant in the U.S.A. It was America’s first waterway to harness large scale hydro-electricity. Ships coming down the Niagara River use the Welland Canal of the Saint Lawrence Seaway to bypass the Falls. The Falls drop over 325 feet along its gorge fallway. It has two tributaries – the Welland River and Tonawanda Creek which were adapted into Canals for ship traffic such as the Erie Canal and the Welland Canal. The first European exploits of the area begin in the 17th century with French explorer Father Louis Hennepin published in the 1698 “A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America”. Some of the first railways built in America were built along this river, including the inclined wooden tramway built by John Montresor in 1764 called “The Cradles” and “The Old Lewiston Incline”. The River has seen its share of battles and wars, including ones between Fort Niagara (U.S.) and Ft. George (Canada) during the French and Indian War, American Revolution, Battle of Queenston Heights, and War of 1812. It was also very important during the American Civil War as a point where slaves crossed via the Underground Railway to Canada.

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Brushwood Folklore Center (Sherman, New York)

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Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

Brushwood Folklore Center
* http://www.brushwood.com/ * * 8881 Bailey Hill Rd. * Sherman New York * 14781 * 716-761-6750 * camp@brushwood.com *

One of my favorite campsites and festival grounds is Brushwood Folklore Center, nestled in upstate New York. A rustic wooded retreat on over 180 wooded acres outside of Sherman, New York in rural Chautauqua County. A clothing optional campground and resort focused on creativity, community, and spirituality. A great place to relax, become one with nature or with others, or to be part of the fabulous festivals held year round including bonfires, drumming, dancing, swimming, and soaking in the hot tub. The grounds are full of lots of temples, sanctuaries, altars, and sacred spaces where various groups host numerous rites and rituals every year. Family and community run since 1970, Brushwood is a family and community oriented campground.

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Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

The campgrounds have seasonal campground sites, co-ed showers, flush toilets, a swimming pool, and two hot tubs. There are three covered pavilions near main camping, lots of outdoor space for workshops, lectures, ceremonies, and performances. An heated indoor lodge for year-round use and heated indoor sleeping areas for over a dozen visitors. Camping fees are only $10 /night (2013 rates) with day passes at $6/day until 6 pm. The heated indoor lodging (dorm-style trailer) is $15/night – all per person. On occasion, potluck dinners are held to promote opportunities for community to meet and share meals together. Home to numerous annual festivals, some of the famous festivals like Starwood in the past, now Summerstar, Sirius Rising, Wellspring, and many other events each year. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

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Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, New York

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Columbia Canal (Columbia, SC)

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Columbia Canal
* Columbia Riverfront Park * Columbia * South Carolina * National Register of Historic Places, No. 79002392 *

Interlaced within the heart of Columbia, South Carolina is a series of canals built in the early 1800’s by indentured Irishmen formed to provide direct water routes between the uplands and the lowlands along the fall line. Utilizing the Congaree River and Broad Rivers, it centers in the Columbia Riverfront Park where the canal is used to generate hydro-electrical power for South Carolina Electric and Gas company. Officially built in 1820 as a means for navigation and transportation along the rapids of the Broad River and Saluda river where they merge together to create the Congaree River. The canal was built in a natural ravine that existed between the city and the rivers, beginning between Lumber street (Calhoun street) and Richland street. It followed the Congaree for approximately 3 miles ending across from Granby Landing just north of the railroad bridges. Completed in 1824 it was 12 feet wide and 2.5 feet deep north of Senate street, and 18 feet wide and 4 feet deep south of there with a 8 foot wide towpath on either side. It had 4 lifting locks and a guard lock for the 34 ft descent of the river with a diversion dam across the Broad River to allow access from the Saluda Canal. Three waste tiers were built to prevent the canal from flooding, and this all linked into a separate canal called the Bull Sluice just north on the Broad River which had its own lock. By 1840 the state decided to drop its subsidy of the canal, and with the introduction of the 1842 railroads, its use declined. During the Civil war its hydro-electrical power was used to make gunpowder as well as for a grist mill run by the state penitentiary as well as a saw mill. By 1888 it was re-designed into a industrial power supply – revisions starting at Gervais street and extending 3 1/2 miles north along the Congaree and Broad Rivers, 150 feet wide and 10 feet deep with a new diversion dam, entry lock, and waste weir. In full use by 1891. Columbia Mill depended on it for textile production and was then utilized by the Columbia Hydro Plant built at its southern end producing power for the city, street railway system, and local industry.

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Congaree River, Columbia, South Carolina

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Congaree River
Columbia, South Carolina

Through the heart of Columbia, South Carolina runs a short but wide river called the “Congaree”. Flowing for approximately 47 miles, it was an important river in South Carolina and civil war history. It serves as the final outlet channel for the entire Lower Saluda and Broad river water sheds, before they merge with the Wateree River north of Lake Marion where they turn into the the majestic Santee River. This river is formed in Columbia where the Saluda and Broad rivers meet near the Piedmont fall line, and is usedd as county boundary lines for Richland, Lexington, and Calhoun counties. It is a very navigable river along a great length of it where its high water level allows barge traffic coming upstream from Charleston through the Santee and Cooper Lakes. It flows through the Congaree National Park where boat recreationists, canoes, and kayakers enjoy navigating its river streams and swamps. The River shed is popular for boating, biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, botany, and bird watching.

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Santeetlah Lake, NC

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Santeetlah Lake
Santeetlah Lake

Near the historic Smokey Mountains, in Graham County, North Carolina, is a small town built along the shores of Lake Santeetlah. The town and lake share the name. Boasting a population of approximately 67 (census 2000), the town has approximately 200 residences. Santeetlah is located approximately 6 miles north of Robbinsville and only 15 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The lake is surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. The area is a resort community. Established in 1989 as “Santeetlah”, it was changed to “Lake Santeetlah” in 1999. Originally hunting grounds by various Native American tribes, the area was settled very late by westerners. The area was one of the last sections of the eastern United States to be settled by Europeans. A Detroit native named Kenneth S. Keyes, Sr. found the area and exchanged with the Forest service some land he had held for the area and this was then built into the town of Lake Santeetlah. The originally called the property “Thunderbird Estates” with a dream of building a large hotel complex in the area. He never built, and in 1958 he sold the property to another Florida land developer, and from there it went through a couple of exchanges. By the early 1960’s – Smoky Mountain Resorts built a lodge and some cabins here offering much recreation for those seeking a vacation escape. Always short on funding, the resort fell through various ups and downs, until 1971 when it was sold to W. Bennett Collette. Battles, disputes, and law suits flooded the area over a variety of grievances by owners and residents, becoming resolved by the late 1990’s. The lake is popular by outdoor recreationists who fish bass, walleye, crappie, lake trout, and bream in its waters. The Marina on the lake is the only full-serviced marina on a lake that has 76 miles of shoreline. Around the lake is home to over 200 miles of hiking trails, and area known for swimming, camping, hiking, boating, and picnicking.

Smokey Mountains, North Carolina, USA

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Fontana Village Resort

Fontana Village Resort
Fontana Village Resort

Fontana Village Resort
* http://www.fontanavillage.com/ * Fontana Village Resort | 300 Woods Road P.O. Box 68 | Fontana Dam, North Carolina 28733 * Phone: 828.498.2211 *

We were seeking an escape to the mountains and while this time of year the blue ridge parkway had segments shut down, we ventured via main roads to the Smoky Mountains National Park. On advise from a co-worker, we settled in on the “Fontana Village Resort” which was running a special lodging rate, and decided to check it out. We checked into the “Willow cabins”. Nothing more than manufactured houses in cabin style, with a porch and rocking chairs, a nice living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom … we settled in for the afternoon. Check-in was easy, and it was peaceful and quiet for the stay. The resort was pretty empty, as winter was upon us as well as the holidays calling others to family gatherings. Still there were families out venturing to collect firewood. Our cabin however did not have a fire place. no phone, just basic tv. While it didn’t advertise a wifi signal, one drifted in and out sporadically for us to stay in touch with the outside world. Given it was winter, the resort had many of its facilities shut down … including the convenience store (only open 9 am til 1 pm – and we arrived at 4 pm), grocery store, and other restaurants except for the main lodge. Closest grocery run was a town 30 minutes drive each way. With the rain that hovered over us, we couldn’t participate in many of the outdoor activities the resort offers – but it looked like a great array of choices to choose from. We just enjoyed the solitude. We’d stay again for sure. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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Fontana Lake (Smokey Mountains, North Carolina)

Fontana Lake
* Smokey Mountains National Park, Fontana Dam, North Carolina *

Named after the Italian word for “fountain”, Fontana Lake is named after the flooded town of Fontana, which was the Smokey Mountains infamous lumber and copper-mining hub back in the day at the mouth of Eagle Creek. Now a reservoir contained by Fontana Dam on the Little Tennessee River. The lake creates the southern boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, separating it from the Nantahala National Forest. The depth, length, and width of the lake varies with the seasons and flood controls by the dam, but at its greatest containment measures approximately 17 miles long with a maximum elevation of approximately 1,710 feet above sea level. The lake is measured as being over 10,230 acres. The lake houses many inlets, coves, and islands formed from former mountain peaks from when it was land, especially by the eastern edge. Many hiking trails weave their ways around the lake, and the lake itself gives access to some of the more remote areas of the National Park. The apalachian trail crosses the top of the dam. Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the eastern U.S., is a hydro-electric dam along the Little Tennessee River that manages the lake and its levels. This was built in the 1940’s.

Cheoah Lake/River/Dam, Fontana Dam, NC

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Congaree National Park (Columbia, South Carolina)

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Congaree National Park
100 National Park Road, Hopkins, SC 29061 * Phone: (803) 783-4241 * (outside of Columbia, South Carolina) * http://www.nps.gov/cong/ *

One of the natural attractions to Columbia, South Carolina is the infamous Congaree National Park which preserves the largest tract of old growth bottom land hardwood forest that remains left in the United States. The Park is nicknamed the “Home of Champions” for its age-old hardwood trees. The park offers views of an astonishing bio-diversity along the waters from the Congaree river and the Wateree rivers throughout their flood plains. The park consists of just over 26,500 acres of national park designated as such since 2003 for some of the tallest trees leftin the Eastern United States. The Congaree river flows through the park which is dotted with wooden walkways for hikers, bird watchers, and nature enthusiasts to come enjoy the woodlands and not get mucked up in the swamps and to protect the environment which is 57 percent designated wilderness area. The Park declares itself a National Designated Wilderness Area, an International Biosphere Reserve, National Natural Landmark, and a Globally Important Bird area. The park offers primitive campsites (for free), hiking trails, canoeing, kayaking, and bird watching activities. The park is inhabited by numerous wildlife ranging from a variety of fish such as bowfin, largemouth bass, panfish, and catfish onwards to alligators, snakes, feral dogs, coyotes, armadillos, turkeys, bobcat, deer, feral pigs, turtles, opossum, raccoon, and a plethera of different bird species. The Park is notable for its Bald Cypress, the tallest/largest Loblolly Pines alive today, and hardwood tree spectrum. Some of its more famous hiking trails are the Weston Lake Loop Trail (4.6 miles), Oakridge Trail (7.5 miles), King Snake Trail (11.1 miles), and the Bluff Trail (.7 miles). The Park is home to the Harry Hampton Visitor’s Center, elevated 2.4 miles of boarded walkways, and a 20 mile long marked canoe trail.

Home of a variety of plants and animals. Some researched/photographed by us as follows:

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Bottomless Lakes State Park (Roswell, NM)

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Bottomless Lakes State Park
* Roswell, New Mexico, USA *

Our swimming hole playground while living in Roswell, New Mexico – Bottomless Lakes provided much cooling off during the hot and dry summers of the desert. Only Fifteen miles from Roswell, the Lakes are Located along the Pecos River, and are a series of natural caves and sinkholes forming lakes used for recreation. The parks were established in 1933 and was the first State Park composed in New Mexico. There are nine small deep lakes along the escarpment of the Pecos River Valley that represents the remains of an ancient limestone reef. Caves formed within this limestone and eventually collapsed via erosion creating sinkholes or “cenotes” as round circular lakes or swimming holes. One of the largest lakes is Lea Lake and Lazy Lagoon, providing a large sandy shoreline that outdoor recreational visitors can use for picnicking, camping, outdoor sports, and swimming. Lazy Lagoon is the largest of the lakes and spans over 26 acres as a single lake but is made up of three interconnected sink holes. The lagoon is level with the salt flats which gives it an appearance of being very shallow, where in contrast, it is actually quite deep – over 90 feet deep. As opposed to the old days, Lea Lake is the only lake in which swimming is allowed, due to accidents that occurred in the others, especially Devil’s Inkwell.

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The shallowest is Pasture Lake with a depth of 18 feet and a surface of .76 acres. The deepest are Lea Lake (90 feet deep – only one that allows swimming) and Lazy Lagoon (90 feet/ 26 acres). The smallest of the lakes, is the darkest, known for its color, steep sides, and algae growth, called “the Devil’s Inkwell” and is approximately .36 of an acre. Figure 8 Lake is actually two lakes separated by a thin beach that seasonally gets covered making it look like one lake at times. The circular shapes connecting create the figure 8 symbol. Cottonwood Lake is 30 feet deep, and Mirror Lake at 50 feet. The Lakes are fed by underground streams and aquifers perculating through the rocks up into the catchment holes. The lakes are home to various endangered species and all of the park’s lakes are protected. The four known endangered species found at the park are the Cricket Frog, Eastern Barking Frog, Rainwater Killifish, and the Pecos Pupfish. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. ~ Thomas Baurley and Leaf McGowan.

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Charleston Municipal Marina

Charleston Municipal Marina

* http://www.charlestoncitymarina.com/ * 17 Lookwood Drive * Charleston, South Carolina *
(843) 577-7702 *

One of several, this beautiful marina is stocked full of boats, visitors, and harbourers. The floating docks look quite popular, even though we didn’t venture out on it, just sat on the bench after a nice seafood dining experience at the marina’s restaurant. At the heart of the network for the three main rivers connecting Charleston to the Atlantic Ocean, it appeared to be quite a hotspot, and walking distance from historic downtown. This beauty is located on the Atlantic Intra-coastal Waterway along mile marker 469.5 featuring over 19,000 feet of linear dock space with over 40 acres of water. State of the art facilities, amenities, and docking support. The Mega-dock extends over 1,500 feet and is the longest free standing floating fuel dock in the Southeastern United States. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

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Busras Luggage Storage (Dublin)

Busras Locker Storage – Dublin
* Busras * 1 Store Street * Dublin, Ireland *

With terrorism paranoia on the rampage in this world, one of the biggest side effects is the diminishing options for storing your luggage when travelling, especially as a backpacker. (Though internet cafes and hostels pick up some of that slack) Luckily, if you’re a backpacker in Dublin, there is a centrally located locker depot in the Busras station in the heart of Dublin with decent rates. Its only a few minutes away from O’Connolly Street. Storage lockers are in the basement.

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An Irish Life ~ The River Liffey

River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland.
River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland.

The River Liffey

~ Dublin, Ireland

Through he heart of Dublin runs the River Liffey. “Liffey” means “An Life” in Irish. Connecting to the Liffey is the River Dodder, River Poddle, and River Camac. From the Liffey comes most of Dublin’s water supply as well as most of its water recreational activities. It was first named “An Ruirthech” which meant “the fast runner”. “Liphe” was the name of the plain that it ran through, but was later simply absorbed as the River’s name itself going from “Abhainn na Life” to its anglicized version as the “River Liffey”. The River begins in the Liffey Head Bog that rests between the Kippure and Tonduff in the Wicklow Mountains being fed by main springs and streamlets. It flows approximately 78 miles through Dublin, Wicklow, and Kildare counties until it pours out into the Irish Sea where Dublin Bay is located. Networked from the Liffey is a series of smaller streams, rivers, and Canals – these are known as the Ballylow Brook, Brittas River, Athdown Brook, Shankill River, Woodend Brook, Lemonstown Stream, Kilculen Stream, Pinkeen Stream, Painestown River, Rye Water, Griffeen River, Phoenix Park streams, Glenaulin Stream, Creosote Stream, River Camac, Colman’s Brook, Bradoge River, River Poddle, Stein River, River Dodder, River Tolka, and the King’s River.

River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland
River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland

Three hydroelectric reservoirs feed off the Liffey at Poulaphouca, Golden Falls, and Leixlip. The Liffey was the main entranceway into taking of Ireland by the Vikings, used for trade and raids. It is connected to the River Shannon via the Grand Canal and the Royal Canal. Sixty percent of the Liffey’s flow goes for drinking water and utilized by industry, and makes it way back into the Liffey after purification in wastewater treatment plants. The river is also very popular for recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, canoeing, boating, and viewing. The first stone bridge built to cross the Liffey was the “Bridge of Dublin” where the current Fr. Matthew Bridge is now located and was built in 1428 by the Dominicans. It held four arches with numerous buildings such as a bakehouse, an inn, a chapel, and other shops that overall replaced the Dubhghalls wooden bridge that once existed on the same spot. When the 17th century came along, four new bridges were added from 1670-1684 such as the Barrack/Bloody Bridge (Rory O’ More Bridge), Essex or Grattan Bridge, Ormond or O’Donovan Rosssa Bridge, and the Arran bridge. The Oldest was the Mellows or Queens Bridge (1764) along the site of the Arran Bridge that had been destroyed by floods in 1763. The first Iron bridge to be constructed was the Ha’penny Bridge in 1816. The Samuel Beckett Bridge was constructed in 2009 as a suspension bridge with a swivel to allow river traffic through. Along the Northern Bank (west to east) are the Bridgewater, Wolfe Tone, Sarsfield, Ellis, Arran, Inns, Ormond Upper, Ormond Lower, Bachelors Walk, Eden, Custom House, and North Wall Quays. From the Southern bank, (west to east) are the Victoria, Usher’s Island, Usher’s, Merchants, Wood, Essex, Wellington, Crampton, Aston, Burgh, George’s, City, sir John Rogerson’s, and Great Britain Quays.

River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland.
River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland.

    Bibliography/References:
  • Byrne, F.J. 1973 “Irish Kings and High Kings”. Dublin, Ireland.
  • Phillips, M.; Hamilton, A. 2003 “Project History of Dublin’s River Liffey Bridges: Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers”. Bridge Engineering 156: Issue BE4.
  • Wikipedia: The Free Online Encyclopedia. “The River Liffey”. Website visited April 2012.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Liffey.

Jeannie Johnson Tall Sailing Ship & Museum; River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland.
Jeannie Johnson Tall Sailing Ship & Museum; River Liffey, Dublin, Ireland.

Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via Technogypsie.com at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Restaurants, Businesses, Bands, Performances, Venues, and Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

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Tuggeranong Homestead


Tuggeranong Homestead

* Tuggeranong, Canberra,
Australia Capital Territory, Australia * http://www.tuggeranonghomestead.com.au/ *

My last day in Tuggeranong just outside of Canberra, before packing up for the plane to Brisbane, we ventured down the street to get a peek at the Tuggeranong Homestead. Unfortunately, due to being Easter weekend, I didn’t get a chance to visit this heritage property of the Australian Capital Territory. My host tells me its interesting. It is an extensive, heritage-listed rural property that is commonly used for events, concerts, outings, weddings, and conferences. It is set in the Australian bush with a country-side ambiance for the events held there. It featueres a full commercial kitchen, homestead rooms, outbuildings, outdoor spaces, and catering. The first landowners of Tuggeranong was Peter Murdoch, the aide-de-camp of Thomas Brisbane, who was given 2,000 acres in 1827. After he left, John McLaren from Glasgow settled this land in 1828 calling it “Janevale” as a cattle station managed by William Wright. The property was sold in 1835 to Thomas Macquoid, Sheriff of the Supreme Court. After his death, it was sold to Andrew Cunningham of Lanyon, also from Scotland in 1845 wherre he raised sheep. After his death in 1887, it was passed on to his sons James and Andrew Jackson Cunningham. The first homestead on this land was known as the “Waniassa House”, originally built by the Macquoids from 1836 to 1841. At this time, it consisted of 5 rooms. James Cunningham expanded and re-built the homestead in 1908 where it carried the name of “Tuggeranong Homestead” and is the current building that exists today. Through history it was expanded on upwards 23 rooms, a underground cellar, acetylene gas, electric bells throughout the buildings, hot and cold water running through. It became a center for social and sporting activities in the area. After Andrew Cunningham’s death in 1913, the family relocated to Lanyon, and the property was taken over by the Commonwealth Government to be used as a military arsenal. After this, it was abandoned in 1919, later to be taken over by the staff of war historian Charles Bean who used the property in the research for his books of the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. It was then leased and farmed by Timothy McCormack from 1927-1976. Much of the original property was taken over by Canberra suburbs, but the homestead and site today took 65 acres under preservation.


Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via Technogypsie.com at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Restaurants, Businesses, Bands, Performances, Venues, and Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

These reviews are done by the writer at no payment unless it is a requested review and the costs for travel, service, and lodging was covered – in which case, expenditure reimbursement will not affect review rating or content. If you enjoy this review and want to see more, why not buy our reviewer a drink to motivate them to write more? or help cover the costs they went through to do this review?






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Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, ACT, Australia

Tidbinbilla Nature reserve
* Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre, Paddy’s River Rd, * Canberra, Australia Capital Territory, Australia * (02) 6205 1233 * http://www.tidbinbilla.com.au/ *

Venturing south just 40 minutes from Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory is a beautiful nature reserve called “Tinbinbilla”. Named after the aboriginal word “Jedbinbilla” for a “place where boys become men” and “Birrigai” meaning “to laugh”. It is a valley with deep Eucalyptus forests lies nestled between the Tidbinbilla and Gibraltar Mountain ranges of the Northern Australian Alps housing numerous critters and flora. Here you can find over 164 bird species, mammals, and reptiles such as the wallabies, emu, cockatoos, mountain duck, corroboree frogs, parrots, wombats, echidnas, koala, platypus, and kangaroos. As you enter the park, a greeting pay station and visitor center awaits a brief introduction to the park and its facilities. The park has forests, woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, and sub-alpine slopes. Hiking and bicycling trails abound as well as picnic areas, wildlife petting areas, and playgrounds for kids. The area is rich with Aboriginal history as was once an area where boys became men during their puberty rites. The park houses the Birrigai Rockshelte where 20,000 years ago the Ngunawal people lived. This was a meeting place for the Ngarigo, Wolgalu, Gundungurra, Yuin, and Wiradjuri clans for intiations, marriages, trading, and other ceremonies. The Bogong Rocks are where tribes came to harvest bogong moths to roast as a delicacy as well as to hold ceremonies by walking around the mountain. Today some native clans still gather for celebrations here. Once white settlers came to the area in the 1800’s, homesteads were built in the area, of whose ruins you can now see at the Rock Valley Heritage Site, Church Rock Heritage Loop, or the Nil Desperandum Homestead along the river.

The park encompasses over 52 kilometers of terrain. In 1939 a Koala sanctuary was built as well in the area. The reserve has become a leader in wildlife reproductive biology with state of the art facilities, a veterinary surgery and animal breeding center. The park often holds bushwalks. The park is also across the street from the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex part of NASA’s Deep Space Network. Since 2008, Tinbinbilla has become part of the Australian National Heritage List.

I found the park very relaxing and breathtaking for an outdoor escape from busy Canberra. Hiking with my friend through the nature trails, the wetlands, and the preserves provided many opportunities for wildlife viewing. Definitely a place I’ll be back to on my next trip to Australia. Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5. Visited 04/24/11. Review by Thomas Baurley.

Bibliography/Recommended Readings:

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Gibraltar Falls, ACT, Australia

Gibraltar Falls
* Corin Road * Namadgi National Park * +61 02 6207 2900 * Canberra, Australia Capital Territory, Australia *

One of the first waterfalls that I had a chance to see in Australia as accompanied by my travel mate Bluey Bee Fabbo. A nice calm overcast day, we ventured outskirts of Canberra to find this charming little falls which is pretty close to the city. Easy to find, one drives out of Canberra southwest 45 kilomenters, along highway 5 – “Tidbinbilla Road”, roughly a half hour drive turning off at the sign pointing the way to the Falls within the Gibraltar Creek Pine Forest south off Corin Road. Park and take the well-marked footpath down to the falls. With warnings of steep cliffs abound, we kept to the trail, until the end of the path dictated (as everyone else was venturing over) to experience the waters ourselves. Now, being a world traveller and having seen some of the best falls around the world, I wasn’t that impressed. It also seems probable that the falls are more spectacular after a good hearty rainfall, even though it has been deemed the largest waterfall in the ACT. The falls cascade 50 meters down into a 800 meter granite walled gorge feeding the headwaters of Gibraltar Creek.

Historically, the falls and area was of special interest to the Australian Aborigine. Archaeological finds have shown habitation patterns near the falls including rockshelters, axes, lithics, and grinding grooves. The area was first settled by white westerners in the 1890’s. The first recorded white settlers were the Woods family who named the area “Gibraltar Creek”. It wasn’t until the 1960’s with the establishment of a station for the Corin Dam Road that the location found much foot traffic. Environmentally, the falls are home to a rare species of dragonfly called the Waterfall Redspot.

Atop in the parking lot are restrooms, picnic tables, shelters, amenities, first aid equipment, and gas barbeque grills. There are more picnic tables and areas, as well as camping, further into the woods reserves. The footpath takes one to a couple lookouts for viewing the falls, though the best way to photograph the falls is to wander off path (not recommended but seems something that everyone who visits does).

I found the waterfall quaint, and would be a picnic spot I would frequent often if I lived in Canberra. Rating: 2 stars out of 5. Visited/Reviewed by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan with Bluey Bee Fabbo on April 25, 2011.

For more information, recommended readings, and photographs ~
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Red Hill Lookout

Red Hill Lookout
* Red Hill Drive
Red Hill * Canberra, Australia Capital Territory, * 2603 * Australia * +61 02 6297 4949 *

If you take the main road from the city center, you can climb up Red Hill onto a lookout that gives you great panoramas of the national icons located within Canberra. The nature park that this lookout is part of, gives great views of the tree-line, the city center, Parliament, the Embassies, and most of Canberra.

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