Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Desert Botanical Garden

One of the reasons we love spending our winters in Arizona is because we love the desert and the plants that grow here.  Saturday we visited the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden.  In addition to the plants, we saw the art exhibit, Wild Rising, by Cracking Art.  The large plastic figures sure are colorful, but we weren't at all sure they enhanced the desert.  But here are a few photos of the displays.

Some coyotes, maybe?

Very large rabbits

Birds and their eggs


 Meerkats.  They are near the Chihuly glass plants from a previous year's art focus.

Frogs overhead

And, finally, what we came to see.  Many of the barrel cactus plants were blooming.

Look at this young cactus, maybe a saguaro, with babies.  This is how some cactus spread.

The patterns and textures of cactus plants is interesting.

This is a crested cactus.  The spreading growth at the top is attractive, but it is also something like a cancer growing on the plant.

Cholla cactus.  Some of these are referred to as teddy bear cactus.

Organ pipe cactus.  There is a national monument dedicated to this cactus in southwest Arizona.

I love the shape of agave plants.

This barrel cactus has had a baby.

Yellow squash blossoms are pretty.

We also saw how some of the native Americans--Apache and Akimel O'Odham--lived in this hostile environment.

This is one of their corrals, made with desert plants.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Santa Fe, Then Home

We have been busy settling in at our winter home in Gold Canyon so I haven't posted a blog for quite a while.  Our last major stop before coming here was in  Santa Fe, one of our favorite cities.

This fellow marks the entrance to Burro Alley, a narrow street lined with shops.

This is another narrow street, or alley, with shops and a restaurant.

The covered sidewalk along the side of the Governor''s Palace has long been where native American artists have offered their wares.  Many of them were selling jewelry.

I love the building style in Santa Fe.

Many of the sidewalks are covered, providing some shade for both pedestrians and the shops in the buildings.


The metal backs on several benches on the square are ornate, though not necessarily comfortable.

This small patio has displays from the surrounding shops.  They sure provide lots of decoration.

We did lots of shopping--or at least looking--but no buying during our visit to Santa Fe.  We enjoy the sights and sounds of the downtown area but we have been to Santa Fe and Taos numerous times over the years.  And we could buy many of the same things in Arizona, if we were interested. 

After a couple of hours on the Plaza, we went grocery shopping and returned to the RV.  The next day it was on to Holbrook, then the B-Line highway to Gold Canyon.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Steam Train on the Cumbres and Toltec Line

Today we went on another trip ride--the Cumbres and Toltec train.  We took the train from Chama to Osier, where we had lunch, then back to Chama.  Here we are in front of the train in Osier.

This is our train.

The interior of the old coach passenger car--before any passengers took their seats.

The train was pulled uphill by a double header--2 engines and tenders to pull all the passengers uphill.

Lots to green forest, rather than the burned trees we saw on the train over LaVeta Pass.

At Osier we were served lunch.  We both had meatloaf.  The other entree choice was turkey.

Anyone who really appreciates steam trains wants to stand out on the open platforms at the end of each car.  John is one of those people.  On our trip downhill to Chama from Osier, he watched the tender being filled with water.  The man doing the filling was really disgusted when the automatic shutoff that should stop the water flow when the tank is full didn't work.  The top of the tender was covered with water.

There are mountains and lots of open fields along the route.

This is a view of double header.

We hoped to see some fall color in the aspen forests along the route. Unfortunately, the change had not really begun, just a little yellow so far.

Another view from the train.

Two pop-cars follow the train to put out any fires started by the cinders from the steam train.

We came to Cumbres Pass before lunch at Osier.  This is the restored station at the top of the pass.

Not all the trees along the route were green.  Here you can see a lot of beetle-kill conifer trees, a problem in the Colorado and New Mexico mountains, caused by the pine bark beetle.

This is a view of the water tank and building where we had our lunch at Osier.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Riding the Train to LaVeta

Monday we rode the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad out of Alamosa to LaVeta and over LaVeta pass.  We have been on this train several times in the past and always enjoy it.

We had first class tickets in a dome car so we had a good view of the surrounding area.

It may be September but we didn't see fall colors of yellow, orange and red.  Everything was black and white.  Last summer the Spring Creek Fire, which started near Fort Garland, burned over 100,000 acres between June 27 and September 10.  The scenery along our train route was mainly black and white.

There were distant views of the nearby mountain ranges.

But mainly, we saw the contrast of black and white in the burned-out forest.  The patterns were so sad, but also beautiful in their own right.

Just look at all these dead trees! So Sad

It is amazing where trees can grow.


There were numerous overturned grain cars along the route.  There have been several derailments on this stretch and often the cars are just pushed off the track and down the slope from the track.  Crews come in and salvage what parts they can.

More contrasts of black and white.

There were two stops for photo shoots.  Everyone who wanted to take pictures got off the train, which then backed up before driving by so we could take pictures.

One of the cars on the train was the owners' car.  It was at the rear of the train going up to LaVeta.  It gave us a view of what private rail cars were like during the last century.

We saw glass insulators on old electric poles.

This is the train station in LaVeta.  You can see we were190 miles, by rail, from  Denver.

We had one meal on the train, eggs benedict.  While we explored LaVeta, we bought sandwiches at the deli counter in Charlies, the LaVeta grocery store.  We ate them near the end of the trip serving as our dinner.

We have one more train ride scheduled this week, on the Cumbres and Toltec out of Chama, New Mexico.  Can you tell we are train buffs?  On Monday's trip we took nearly 200 photos during the day.  Wonder how many we will take on Thursday?