Author Archive

Welcome to Colorful Colorado (State #47)

November 22nd, 2009 3 comments

welcome-coloradoYes, *so* colorful.

Colorado’s the only state that I spent no significant time in that I feel like I probably should yet spend time in. FWIW. I hear the mountains in the southwest of the state are worth it is all. And if I want to catch small pox, Boulder’s got a community for that.


Categories: southwest Tags:

Arizona: The Grand Canyon State Welcomes You (Me) (State #46)

November 22nd, 2009 Comments off

welcome-arizonaThe cow-crossing sign was pertinent.

So the only state I spent less time in than Arizona was Colorado (see next post…). Unless my truck breaks down on the 15 between St. George and Mesquite, in which case you can probably throw Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Delaware, and Massachusetts into that bucket as well.


Categories: southwest Tags:

Chaco Canyon Is New Mexico’s Machu Picchu (Day 125)

November 21st, 2009 2 comments

Well basically.

Was gonna make some joke about Count Chocula, but I’m kind of sleepy.

Chaco Canyon is this place in Northwest New Mexico where they have these ruins left by the Chaco people, who abandoned them in like 1200 AD. 2,000-3,000 people lived there. It’s a cool valley. Not sure where they got food. Probably should have read more signs. One cool thing: you get to climb in and around a lot of the buildings. And the one big set of buildings is called Pueblo Bonito, which if I know my Spanish translates to “Tunaville”.

Buildings were kind of the same color as the cliffs behind them, which makes it harder for the photos to convey the grandeur. Tja.

chaco-canyon_single-wallSometimes the buildings stuck up above the cliffs though.

chaco-canyon_ruins-cliffThe color’s a *little* different.

chaco-canyon_interior-wallsSome interior walls!

chaco-canyon_walls-windowWindow and wall.

chaco-canyon_me-doorThey were, apparently, a people small in stature.

chaco-canyon_two-wallsIt’s basically the same ruined walls everywhere there.

chaco-canyon_pueblo-bonitoThen I walked up to the mesa so I could look down on the thing.

chaco-canyon_new-altoThen if you hike a little further, you can see *these* ruined walls.

chaco-canyon_sunset-roadThe road out of town, with sun.

It’s a cool site, seriously. I’d say it’s a little less amazing than Machu Picchu, but it’s big enough and impressive enough to deserve at least the comparison. Supposedly it’s the largest archaeological site in the US, which, yeah, I’d believe (pending a better understanding of the word “site” in this context).

  • It’s a 20-mile dirt road to get there.
  • They close the whole thing down at sunset.
  • The ranger way over-estimates the length of time it takes to go on the hikes.



Slow Day in Santa Fe (Day 124)

November 20th, 2009 Comments off

Slow because of me, not anyone else. Don’t mean to imply it’s a slow town. Slept in, then drove up there. Tried to hit another h*mburger place, but it turns out that the Bobcat Bite is only open Wednesday through Saturday. Oh darn. I got the impression they thought they were doing the world a favor by existing at all.

Santa Fe itself, however, is considerably less self-important.

santa-fe_building-cornerEvery building in town looks like this. Or, at least the corner of every top floor of every building in town. And “town” is pretty narrowly defined as well.

santa-fe_san-miguelTower of San Miguel’s — oldest church in the USA (they say).

santa-fe_san-miguel-frontFull frontal of same.

Highlight of course was hanging out with Ian and Melinda at dinner. Went to Tomasitas for New Mexican food, which was pretty amazing. Not that I have a lot to compare them to, but I’m told the sopapillas there are incredible and I sure didn’t experience anything that would run counter to that claim.

Also: much appreciation to Ian for letting me crash at his killer pad and indulging me in conversations about old MST3Ks, XCom: UFO Defense (the newer, open-source version of which I played at my campsite last night until my batter ran down), and the sticky nature of owning mere licenses to content. Ian, btw, has written the greatest novel ever, which will be coming out in April.


Categories: southwest Tags: , , ,

Buckhorn Burger in San Antonio (New Mexico): #7!

November 20th, 2009 2 comments

I don’t really love hamburgers. Seriously. I thought this list of great hamburgers sounded like an interestingly absurd thing to pursue over time. That’s all. I do not love hamburgers. I don’t find them interesting to talk about or analyze. They’re fine. I’ve eaten 13 of the top 20 hamburgers. If I never get to 14? No. Big. Deal. (To me.) Very over it.

That said:

Apparently there’s a San Antonio in New Mexico also. They have this hamburger there, which is #7 on the GQ list:

IMG00321-20091116-1837Watch it ooze!

As far as the hamburger goes:

  • If you love green chilis, this would be the greatest hamburger ever.
  • If you’re luke-warm on green chilis, is still good although you’re kind of left wondering whether you’d like it better without so many dang chilis in it.

As for the fries:

  • What is it with the stupid “house fries” explosion we’ve seen over the last two years? If one restaurant in 100 sells them, fine, they’re okay at that frequency. When everyone does it, they’re just limp, greasy potato logs. Normal fries, please.

And the service? How about the service?:

  • Got there at 5:30 PM. Place was packed, but I was the only one waiting for a table.
  • Waited to be sat. During the 15 minutes I waited, no one talked to me and the wait staff conspicuously avoided making eye-contact.
  • When the manager came to the waiting area, there were three parties there. He said: “We should have a table ready in a few minutes”. When he recognized there was only one person in my party, he said, “You by yourself? You’re going to have to sit at the bar.” Is it because I’m white?
  • (OTOH, by sitting at the bar, I didn’t have to wait any longer for a table, so I guess it was win-win (except for all the losing).)
  • After placing my order it took 45 minutes to get my food.
  • That’s not an exaggeration: 45 minutes.
  • 45 minutes!

Anyway. Decent burger. Avoid Mondays. Won’t be going back.


PS, I like pizza a lot better than I like hamburgers. I don’t necessarily want to talk about pizza, either, though, or compile a list of great pizzas. Food: a means to an end. For me.

Blue Skies, White Sands , and Not a Mushroom Cloud in Sight (Day 123)

November 19th, 2009 Comments off

They’re all basically the same photo. Most of them were taken from the “trail” that goes out to the alkali lake bed, which is why they have all the footprints and trail markers in them.

(And if you click on the photo, you’ll get a full-size version.)

It was as serene as it was surreal. The starkness of the sand was — stark. It seemed like it’d be a pretty bad place to get lost.

And, unfortunately, they weren’t testing any missiles. And I wasn’t there on one of the two days a year that they give tours of the Trinity test site. I did, however, get to see a few F-22s and Luftwaffe Tornadoes circling around, though.


12 Majestic Lies! (Day 122, Part 2)

November 17th, 2009 5 comments

If there was ever a town that rues the box office failure of the second X-Files movie, it’s Roswell, N.M. Obviously. OTOH, if David Duchovney ever needs a free drink, I’m guessing there are some folks there willing to chip in. Oh well.

Went here:

roswell_museum-exteriorFolks are lined up for miles to get in!

Yeah, I dunno. I didn’t take a lot of photos inside. Sadly. Mostly, it was temporary plywood walls with text-heavy documents and news clippings posted to them. A lot more reading than I had in mind for myself on a windy afternoon. But I appreciated the scientific deference that the curators exhibited in the displays as exemplified by words such as “some believe” and “may have been”. And clearly I should have taken a photo of the crash site diorama.

But they had artwork like this:

roswell_museum-artAnd nicely displayed I might add.

Most of the artwork just made me yearn to play XCom: UFO Defense, though. I know: it wouldn’t feel the same as it did in the old days.

The museum is also trying to build a new facility. They have the land just a few blocks further up Roswell Main Street (which may not actually be called Main Street — but it should be). It looks ambitious, like the kind of project that never gets past the artist’s rendering stage. Sadly.

roswell_touch-alien-headNo explanation necessary.

I think the fact that the Air Force offered three different explanations at three different times empirically proves that a UFO crashed near Roswell in 1947. Meanwhile, I just gotta keep hoping that UFO: Alien Invasion is indeed an appropriate successor to the original XCOM.

Keep watching the stars skies!


Carlsbad Caverns Is the Only Cave You Need (Day 122)

November 17th, 2009 Comments off

Here’s what sets Carlsbad Caverns apart:

  1. The caverns are, you know, cavernous. The underground spaces are gigantic. You expect to see rope bridges and dwarf miners in there.
  2. Tons of formations. Literally! But there are also a lot of them — more than in other caves.

I imagine the bats also set CC apart, but given that I didn’t go in summer or October, the heck with ’em. (Although I really like bats and feel like I have to go back again some time when they’re performing.)

(Because they eat their body weight in mosquitoes *every night*!)

(Plus they have sonar.)

At any rate, CC puts the other caves I’ve been to to shame. They seem wholly superfluous after Carlsbad.

And while Carlsbad with its self-guided tour would be the perfect cave for bringing your tripod and getting great photos, I don’t have a tripod with me, so my photos from inside the cave don’t do anything to show off its bigness and grandeur. OTOH, I’m guessing someone somewhere has posted some good photos on the In-ter-net.

carlsbad-caverns_entranceDescent into darkness.

carlsbad-caverns_meEvidence that I was there.


carlsbad-caverns_pillarsSee the water drips down and leaves a deposit behind and…

carlsbad-caverns_stalactitesReally, we’re just lucky water allows us to share the planet with it.

carlsbad-caverns_ladderAccording to the placard, climbing down the 200-foot rope ladder made some of the original researchers uneasy.

carlsbad-caverns_prisonWhere they keep visitors who touch rocks inside the cave prior to interrogation.

carlsbad-caverns_gift-shopIt’s like aliens landed inside the cave and set up a gift shop.

Self-guided tours are the best ever, btw. You go at your own pace and don’t have to feign interest when another guide tells you about how amazing rocks are. Echt stark.


(New Mexico?) (State #45)

November 17th, 2009 Comments off

Another state without a welcome sign. The only way I knew I was entering New Mexico (aside from having recently looked at a map) was from seeing the backside of the Texas “welcome” sign on the other side of the highway. Of course, I didn’t get a Texas welcome sign when I entered Texas. I’m starting to wonder if it’s just me who’s unwelcome in all these states.

welcome-new-mexicoOr maybe this *is* the welcome sign.

I’ve been sure not to improperly dispose of any 300-dollar bills while in New Mexico. So far.


Categories: southwest Tags:

I Slept at Guadalupe Mountain (Sort Of)!

November 17th, 2009 3 comments

It’s the highest peak in all of Texas.

guadalupe-mtn10,000-some odd feet. I didn’t climb it.

guadalupe-mtn-sunsetSunset from the campground.

I think Guadalupe Mountain is probably best known for being an NPS campground pretty near Carlsbad Caverns. And the campground was really just a parking lot — charmless, but flat. And about 2 AM the wind started howling. At 5, I gave up on sleeping and pulled up stakes. Not literally — I slept in the back of the truck. Then I drove to Carlsbad and got a sausage egg McMuffin. Are you supposed to capitalize “sausage egg”?

And FWIW, I don’t think the government uses consistent criteria to determine which areas should be “National Parks”. Guadalupe Mountain, Carlsbad Caverns, and probably Mammoth Cave should all be National Monuments, not Parks. At least according to their stated criteria. Oh well.


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