Craters of the Moon

So happy to get to this beautiful, unique part of the country this year! Truly one of the most divergent areas to visit in Idaho, if not in the United States.

Big Craters area

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve encompasses the entire Great Rift volcanic rift zone.” “It contains a huge concentration of volcanic land forms and structures along the more than 50-mile zone of fractures and eruptions.”

View north over the North Crater and Serrate Flows
View north over the Serrate and North Crater Flows
North Crater Flow
North Crater Flow

“The protected area’s features are volcanic and represent one of the best-preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States.” wiki

Most of the trees that grow in the area are either Juniper or limber pine which, “…is named for the flexibility of its branches that can literally be tied in a knot.” NPS

Because of many issues currently threatening these pines, the ecological health of the limber pines are monitored for mountain pine beetles, mistletoe, and white pine blister rust.

Nearby to the west is a protected area between Craters of the Moon National Monument and the Pioneer Mountains. We unfortunately didn’t see them, but this is one of the longest migration routes for pronghorn, wolverine and sage-grouse. Nature Conservancy

We were very lucky to visit during wild flower season and were able to see some very unique flowers in bloom. “The ability to grow in this harsh environment means overcoming a lack of moisture, meager soil, and surface temperatures that exceed 150 degrees Fahrenheit” NPS

Sitting in the The Great Rift and the Snake River Plain (which “…stretches about 400 miles (640 km) westward from northwest of the state of Wyoming to the Idaho-Oregon border.”), this area’s environment is so unique and is surrounded by a gorgeous an amazing backdrop. wiki

Lost River Range
Lost River Range
North Crater Trail
North Crater Trail and Pioneer Mountains
Broken Top, Alpine Bitterbrush, and Juniper trunk
Broken Top, Alpine Bitter, and Juniper trunk

Visit the the park website to learn more.

If you have any questions about our experiences, don’t hesitate to ask 🌎

Great Salt Lake

I’m feeling thankful 🙏 to visit another area that I remember visiting as a child – but only vaguely since I was so young at the time.

I recall it being much, much bigger than the more recent visit; with water spanning as far as I could see in areas. But the current low waters made for a very different and fascinating experience. In fact, the Spiral Jetty earthwork/land-art isn’t even visible if the water is above about 4.2k feet (above sea level).

With the low levels, being able to walk out on the shores was very bizarre. The salty banks are sloppy, slick and sinking under foot in some spots. The heat seemed to permeate from the ooilitic sand reflecting the hot sun. But this didn’t stop some beach goers from setting up out near where the slop ended and the water began.

Its salty yet serene beauty made for an almost unearthly experience. 🌜🌎🌛

Rozel Point peninsula
Redish halophilic bacteria
Salt hole and tumbleweed 👁
Spiral Jetty
Salty tumbleweed
Beach geese
Distant lake mountains
Beach goers
Spiral Jetty

Colorado National Monument

I thought often about coming here when I was much younger than now. I remembered the idea of the geography and geology, the sight of the structures, the cliffs, the overall beauty.

This trip brought all of its beauty back in full force. The spring weather made for a cooler – almost muggy – experience; and after the rain and hail broke, and when the sun started to set…

All was right in the world. 💕 So happy to visit again.

North view over Grand Valley
Distant “Book Cliffs” & Mt. Garfield
Coke Ovens against Artists Point backdrop
Kissing Couple (L) and Grand Mesa? backdrop
Fruita, Colorado
Back side of Pipe Organs
Monument Canyon, Grand Valley and Sentinel Spire
Cold Shivers Point and Grand Valley

Colorado National Monument

Cedar Waxwings

I’m so happy to have these Cedar Waxwings visiting our back yard! The first time I saw them, there were only a few in one of our trees (that’s when I captured the last picture below). Today, I heard a bit of of commotion, looked out the window, and found them hunkering down in the snow flurries along with a flock of robins.

Since we don’t typically see them around here, I feel especially lucky to have them coming by to hang out in the trees out back! I assume they’re migrating… Do you know more about these birds? I’ve been learning more from these sites:

Cedar Waxwings 02
Cedar waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
Cedar Waxwings 03
Bombycilla comes from the Ancient Greek bombux, “silk” and the Modern Latin cilla, “tail”; this is a direct translation of the German Seidenschwanz, “silk-tail”, and refers to the silky-soft plumage of these birds. The specific cedrorum is Latin for “of the cedars”. WIKI
Cedar Waxwings 04
“Part of waxwing family of passerine birds”(or perching birds or songbirds)
Cedar Waxwings 05
“Outside the breeding season, cedar waxwings often feed in large flocks numbering hundreds of birds.”
“When a male waxwing sets out in search of a mate, it often carries a berry – passed to a female bird in an effort to impress her.” Check out more information HERE
Cedar Waxwings 01
“Spiritualists believe waxwings to be a symbol of selfless generosity.” – James Common

I hope they happen by again tomorrow! Here’s to more backyard birding! 🐦🔭🏡

Is the Blue Jay your totem?

Associated symbolism:

A blue jay animal totem flies into your life to teach the importance of using your intelligence to learn quickly and being able to adapt to any situation. It has a passion for investigating, thus utilizing adaptive skills and constantly learning new ideas and concepts. It allows us to access memories that we have long forgotten and shows how to adopt them into our awareness. – Leah M Bostwick
https://www.sunsigns.org/blue-jay-animal-totem-symbolism-meanings/

Blue Jay I  (Cyanocitta cristata)

It typically gleans food from trees, shrubs, and the ground, though it sometimes hawks insects from the air. #wiki

Blue Jay II (Cyanocitta cristata)

The blue jay is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to North America #wiki

Blue Jay III (Cyanocitta cristata)

Like other corvids, they may learn to mimic human speech. Blue jays can also copy the cries of local hawks so well that it is sometimes difficult to tell which it is #wiki

Never really thought about it before, but with traits like as talkative, socially vigilant, resourceful, trustworthy, curious, diligent and intelligent… I think the Blue Jay would be an admirable animal totem.

What’s your animal totem?

Bandelier National Monument

If you’re ever near Los Alamos, New Mexico, stop in and visit Bandelier National Monument in the beautiful Frijoles Canyon.

The monument preserves the homes and territory of the Ancestral Puebloans of a later era in the Southwest. Most of the pueblo structures date to two eras, dating between 1150 and 1600 AD.” #wiki

Though there are over 70 miles of hiking trails, when we visited some years back, we visited only the Main Loop trail to see and tour the interesting cliff dwellings and the ruins of Tyuonyi (chew-OHN-yee) pueblo.

More info on the monument and park here:
History & Culture – Bandelier National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

View of Tyuonyi pueblo ruins

View of Tyuonyi pueblo ruins

Pictograh and Viga holes

Pictograh and viga holes used to hold the dwellings’ supports

Frijoles Canyon

Frijoles Canyon view from inside a cavate

Inside the Came room

Inside the Came room (a.k.a. cavate)

Volcanic Tuff cliff

Volcanic Tuff cliff formed from the Jemez Volcano over one million years ago

Inside the Cavate

Inside the cacate – plastered walls and smoked ceilings.

Volcanic Tuff cliffs

Volcanic Tuff cliffs

Tree Cholla cactus

Cylindropuntia imbricata (Tree Cholla) cactus in front of Alcove House

More info on the monument and park here:
History & Culture – Bandelier National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

Huaca Pucllana

This was such a neat place to see right in the center of Lima, Miraflores. “possibly from Quechua wak’a a local shrine to a protector deity, a sacred place, sacred, pukllana game” #wiki. It’s very well preserved but there is also work being done to restore parts of the pyramid that do need repaired. Pre-Inca temple approx 400 AD, made of millions of clay/adobe bricks. There is a small portion of the grounds dedicated to a garden and pens for a few resident chickens, guinea pigs and of course llamas and alpacas.