May 14, 2004 Southwest


Our transmission problems were minor: on a routine maintenance in Houston it had been overfilled with transmission fluid. The Roswell technician drained the excess and we have had no problems since.

Bottomless Lakes State Park was quite nice, though a bit of a misnomer since the lakes actually do have fairly shallow bottoms. We saw red and blue dragonflies there (yellow ones in AZ). We went back to Guadalupe Montains National Park then for a couple of days. Beautiful area--nice hikes and we had that portion (Dog Canyon) of the park to ourselves. On one of our hikes, I saw a brightly and distinctly colored bird (yellow body, black wings, and red head) that I was able to later identify as a male Western Tanager using our field guide. Usually I am never able to find a picture that looks like the bird I've just seen, but this guy could have posed for the picture in the book. When we later stayed at the Gila Cliff Dwellers National Monument, I saw another distinctly colored bird that just didn't quite match the pictures. It had a rust colored breast, with white bars on black wings and a black cap. The closest I could find was a Rufous-sided Towhee, and maybe that's what it was. At any rate this is my usual experience with trying to identify birds.

  

Dog Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

We took the ranger-guided tour of the Gila cliff dwellings and it was quite interesting. Certainly a quite different sort of life than we have today. It is in a beautiful area of New Mexico north of Silver City--the kind of beauty that makes you want to break out singing "America the Beautiful," or at least it makes me feel that way.

  

  

Before going to the Gila Mountains, we passed through White Sands and stayed for a while in City of Rocks State Park. White Sands is an amazing area but the glare is just not comfortable for staying long, not to mention the heat. As we turned a corner, I caught a reflection of sunlight off the sand that temporarily seared my retina, as for 5 to 10 minutes I saw a pink haze over everything. A pretty effect, like looking thru rose-colored glasses, but not one you would want permanently. The claret cup cacti were in bloom there and at City of Rocks--so pretty. We've seen quite a lot of cacti in bloom and I had thought it would be too late: barrel, prickly pear, ocatillo, and amazingly, saguaro. I don't think I had seen saguaro in bloom before. The walking-stick cholla was finished blooming and was forming its yellow fruit. The agave was also past the blooming stage, as was that plant that looks like it but is a lily rather than a cactus--I never remember its name.


Claret cup cactus at White Sands


White Sands National Park, New Mexico

City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico

Southern Arizona was hot, already pushing 100 degrees, so we kept driving to reach cool San Diego, where it was 68 degrees and beautiful, as always. California is truly beautiful. I love the trees and flowers here, and everything is in bloom right now. There is a very pretty tree with purple flowers that I've seen no where else and have no idea what it is called (Roxie, do you know?). When we got to Lara's address, it was a mailbox shop, and her phone had been disconnected. We had just talked to her a week ago and she was expecting us this week, but she hasn't called and no one seems to know where she and Juan are (they evidently moved on Sunday). We did see Justin and Alyssa who are staying with their Aunt Jackie (Juan's sister-in-law). They looked healthy and beautiful. We also had a short visit with Sean.

We are now heading north on Highway 101 enjoying the sea views and not the traffic. Doesn't seem to matter what time one comes thru L.A., there is always bad traffic and it seems to be following us north. Must be because it's the weekend and everyone is going to the beach! We're thinking we may have trouble finding a spot to camp tonight. We'll see.

Love to all,
Margie & Riley


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