Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Mexico Vacation

Kenny and I took advantage of my fall break from school and went to southern New Mexico from 9/30 - 10/8. It was a fabulous trip! We went to Alamogordo (which means "fat cottonwood"!) and visited White Sands National Monument. We picked a very good year to visit. Thanks to the recent rains from the hurricanes and thunderstorms that area has had over 10" of rain, a lot for there. I documented over 135 different wildflowers on the trip! Many people we talked to said it was the greenest they had seen the desert in years! White Sands is an incredible place to visit with the spectacular dunes, insects, lizards, spiders and of course numerous wildflowers.

We also hiked at 8200' in the Sacramento Mountains above Alamogordo. It was cooler and had very different plants. We especially enjoyed the beautiful golden Quaking Aspens. While we were up there we also visited the National Solar Observatory in the little community of Sunspot.

The next 5 days found us in Las Cruces visiting my cousin Sam and his family. We hiked 10 miles in 2 days in the rugged Organ Mountains there.

We had some very exciting experiences in the mountains. We saw black grasshoppers with red wings, a hawk, and best of all 6 tarantulas! One of the tarantulas climbed up Kenny's pants leg when he tried to corner it with his boot so I could take a close up photo of it! It got a little too close for comfort! :-0

We had lamented all week that we had not seen a snake. As we were driving down a gravel road after our hike at Dripping Springs in the Organ Mountains on our last day, I yelled, "Snake!" Kenny skidded to a stop, right over the snake that was sunning itself in the middle of the road. Fortunately, he didn't hit it. I was glad I had changed my lens on my camera to the telephoto, because as we approached we saw it was a large Western Diamondback Rattlesnake! He was not happy about having been run over by a car and then gawked at by 3 humans (my cousin's daughter, Shelly, was with us too). He rattled his tail at us and reared up into a strike position! Thanks to my 300mm lens, I was able to get some really good photos at a safe distance. Wow! What a fantastic grande finale that was to our trip! :-)