Snowbirding

Winter getaway ideas


Lost in the City of Rocks

New Mexico’s City of Rocks State Park sounds vaguely interesting.  Not true; it’s a Don’t-Miss! Ancient volcanic showers of pumice and ash melded into a slab of rock that then eroded into a labyrinth of channels like streets and allies, tunnels, and caves. Many of the passages called to my inner child. If only my knees weren’t so cranky, I’d crawl in and explore. I longed for a few grandkids to help me enjoy it vicariously. In the distance an evocative peak invited a creatively framed photo, preferably involving a hoodoo. Sure enough, as we left the “city” I spotted […]


Tucson RRRocks!..?

I love rocks. I’m not a geologist or much of an investor, but I seldom discourage my inner child from hauling home earthly finds. Strange then that after less than an hour of perusing acres and acres of magnificent specimens at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, I wanted out…now. I can’t say exactly what caused me to react that way except it was too much. Months later I wonder if my distress came from seeing dazzling masterpieces, miraculously forged over millions of years, so crammed together as to become commonplace. Oh look, another massive treasure crystal extravaganza, yawn. Some […]


Trailside Shopping Ops

Cottonwood campground in Big Bend National Park, Texas, has many usual campground attractions and way more.  We watched coyotes trot casually across our backyard.  Roadrunners scurried a few steps, cranked their tails up and down, scurried, cranked, scurried, cranked. Then a neighbor alerted us of spectacular nature trail sunsets–and shopping.  Not just any shopping, illicit border infiltration shopping! Before we got to the nature trail to peruse the wares, we discovered another shopping outlet on a scenic overlook.  As we took in the view, Steve noticed a man across the Rio Grande who climbed into a boat and rowed our […]


Rowboat to Mexico

Red flags lofted at the suggestion of a side trip to Mexico, so I asked the Information Desk staffer in Big Bend National Park. “You are safer here than in your home town,” she claimed.  (Apparently she considers the Mexican village of Boquillas part of Big Bend.) The next surprise was the Port of Entry, a nice official building on a dirt path leading to the Rio Grande River–no road, no bridge, no Immigration officials, just a friendly Parks employee who prompted us to check and see if our passports were expired or we’d picked up another family member’s by […]


Hi Jolly Who?

A sign pointing the way to Hi Jolly Monument caught my eye in Quartzsite, Arizona, so I checked Google and found that yes, I wanted to see Hi Jolly Monument.  Hi Jolly, AKA Hadji Ali, was a camel driver recruited from Syria to help run Jefferson Davis’ experimental transportation project.  Who knew that the US imported 74 camels to haul freight across the “Great American Desert in the 1850s?” If only the Civil War hadn’t trampled the effort, the Southwest might be crawling with camels today, and camels are cool! At least some of the Corps’ camels were freed to […]


How Do These Holes Happen?

I hadn’t expected anything like this when we hiked to one of the highlights recommended in Big Bend National Park.  Tinaja is Spanish for pond, so I’d assumed oasis which would naturally be a big draw in arid Big Bend.  The formations were even cooler though, especially when a fox trotted into the canyon and left a deposit in my path.  (Apparently he was delivering a message: get outta my yard!) On seeing the tinajas, the holes’ symmetry made me wonder if people had somehow bored them.  But who would have taken so much trouble, and why? A month later […]


Javelina Tough

A prickly pear with scalloped notches made me wonder if desert critters manage to eat around the thorns.  I know cactus is nourishing because my great-grandfather sometimes resorted to feeding his cattle by burning thorns off.  Rabbits, I hear, do eat around the thorns, but Javelina munch thorns and all–without wincing. Javelinas are peccaries, not pigs.  They’re named for javelins because their canines are that sharp.  They also smell like skunks.  Fortunately they don’t generally mess with people unless a mother thinks she needs to defend her young.  They feel differently about dogs. All in all, I was happy to […]


Midnight Raid

Camped along the Rio Grande in Big Bend Ranch State Park, we were pretty much alone in the campground and miles from most everybody.  The night was dark and chilly, so when I heard a clank very near the camper, I stayed in bed and listened rather than leave my warm covers to peer into darkness.  After a bit there was ticking on roof followed by a trill that made me think of a cricket though it was clearly not a cricket. Then there were sprinkles on roof.  Had the ticking only been raindrops?  What could the trill have been?  […]


Ocotillo Tricks

Ocotillo always reminds me of the Penitentes (a Catholic sect in the Southwest) who beat their own backs with thorny ocotillo branches with every step as they journeyed to a shrine. It’s not ocotillo’s fault that men come up with crazy ideas. Like cactus most other desert bushes, ocotillo needs thorns to survive. Ocotillo also grows showy flowers and small green leaves when water is available. During droughts the bush sacrifices its leaves and stands there looking deader than a crispy roadkill pancake until the rains come and life is good. I don’t know if ocotillo has some meaning in […]