Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck Take a Road Trip to an Ice Cave and Volcano

Road trip!   We love road trips.   I, Zeb the Duck and Soapy Smith Duck are in the car, waiting for our moms.   Like many road trips, there is no rigid schedule.   We are not sure where we are going or when we will return.   Heading in the general direction of the Grand Canyon, but wanting to see things much different also, from Denver we head south on I-25.   Along the way we see several pronghorn, or American antelope.

Pronghorn or American antelope

We often just call these animals antelope.   They are the second fastest animal in the world, behind the cheetah.   Of course, they are the fastest animal in North America.   These animals appear so delicate and graceful.   We love them.   In Albuquerque we leave I-25, heading west on I-40.   This is still rather high in elevation and somewhat mountainous, so the heat is not a problem.   We are near Grants, New Mexico.   Let’s go to the ice cave.   We were here in March 2016, but we want to see it again.  The ice cave is located on the Continental Divide.

Inside we pay our fee, get our map and look at the museum stuff.

There are several dormant volcanos in this area of New Mexico, and the ice cave is inside a partially collapsed  lava tube.   As we walk to the cave, we admire this old, twisted tree.

Ducks sitting on twisted tree with old lava behind and to the right.

And we rest for a moment here.   Ducks have short legs you know.   Last year we showed you some of the things along the way, so we won’t repeat it.   Now, down 70 stairs to the ice cave.

Down the stairs to the ice cave.  And still more stairs!

Photos are difficult here for mom, but this ice is deep and old.

This is really old ice

The temperature dropped as we reached the bottom of the stairs.   There are two levels to see the ice, probably less than 10 feet apart, but the lower level is much colder.   This ice is about 20 feet deep.   The blue-green tint is from the natural Arctic algae.  The oldest ice is on the bottom, and is from 1100 A.D.  That is old!  New ice is added each year from rain and melting snow.   We love icicles.

Permanent icicles

Especially in the summer.   I don’t remember this sign from last year, but it explains a little about the ice never melting.   The temperature here on the ice never gets above freezing.

Inside a lava tube this ice does not melt

The lava tube is partially collapsed, so we can see outside.   We like this place.   If we are in the area again, we will probably stop again.   March 2016 was colder and windy when we were here, so we did not hike to the top of Bandera Volcano.   But today is nicer, so up the hill we go. We pass this lava formation.

Lava Arch

Continue climbing on the path, we reach the top of Bandera Volcano.

At the top looking into Banderas Volcano

The elevation here is 8,122 feet.   This volcano erupted about 10,000 years ago.   The crater is well preserved.

Looking into Banderas Volcano

It is about 1,400 feet wide and 800 feet deep.   This is considered a fragile environment as rocks and other items slide into the crater.   On mom’s phone it indicates we climbed 18 flights of stairs to reach the top of the volcano.   The path was gentle so we enjoyed the climb.   Back down near the tourist store, I liked this cactus growing by the old shed.

Cactus near old shed

And look at this gas pump.

Old gas pump. They sure look different now.

Today’s gas stations and gas pumps certainly look different.   This is great place to hike and see different things.   For more information visit http://www.IceCaves.com  We think you would enjoy stopping here when you are in the area.  We continue driving west on I-40.   Stay with us to see where we stop next.

 

 

 

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An Ice Cave in New Mexico with Zeb, Soapy Smith and JB Duck

We are going inside a 10,000 year old lava tube to see an ice cave.   Wow!   We have never done anything like this.   Grants, New Mexico is a few miles south of I-40, and home to the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano.

Here we are at the entrance to the ice cave and Bandera volcano.

Here we are at the entrance to the ice cave and Bandera volcano.

We are in the West Central Zuni Mountain Range, on the continental divide.   First we stop at the Ice Cave Trading Post.

The Ice Cave Trading Post

The Ice Cave Trading Post

This is a combination museum, gift shop, information station and where we pay and register to visit the ice cave.   The artifacts and ancient pottery on display are 800-1,200 year old.   This is privately owned property, so we are happy they let tourists visit the ice cave.   The Bandera Volcano erupted about 10,000 years ago, creating lava tubes, leaving volcanic rock and making conditions right for the ice cave.   We are following an ancient lava trail to the ice cave.   This lava rock was tossed all over the ground.

Scattered lava rocks

Scattered lava rocks

Along the way, we are enthralled by these ancient twisted trees.

Ancient twisted tree

Ancient twisted tree

This hole in the ground, insulated by lava rock, served as a natural underground refrigerator, before electricity was available here.

Natural underground refrigerator

Natural underground refrigerator

The native American Indians occupied this land for years.   This cave entrance in the back of the photo, is really an entrance to a lava tube.

Native American Indians used the lava tube like a cave.

Native American Indians used the lava tube like a cave.

Continuing along the lava trail, we go down 3 flights of open stairs for a total of 69 steps.   We are going into the partially destroyed lava tube.

Lave tube with top collapsed. Stair railing on the left

Lave tube with top collapsed. Stair railing on the left

We will never be completely underground and in the dark, as the top of the lava tube is partially collapsed.   We are almost at the ice cave.   This sign explains what we are seeing.   The temperature on the ice never exceeds 31 degrees F.

Why does it stay frozen?

Why does it stay frozen?

And it gets hot here in the New Mexico desert during the summer.   This is the ice of the ice cave.

Ice is very old and never gets above freezing.

Ice is very old and never gets above freezing.

We are here, but mom could not get good photos of us and the ice.

Soapy and JB Duck at the Ice Cave

Soapy and JB Duck at the Ice Cave

The ice shows blue and green colors, reflected from the sun.

Colors reflect on ice and on rocks

Colors reflect on ice and on rocks

This is the first time we were in a lava tube and this is our first ice cave.   Leaving the ice cave, we appreciated the red bark on these trees.

Love the red bark on this tree

Love the red bark on this tree

We hope you will visit an ice cave soon.   It is really interesting to see.   When you come here, you can also walk to the top of the volcano.   It was very windy when we were there and we have seen volcanos, so we did not walk to the top this time.   Maybe next time if it is not so windy.   This is the last stop on our desert road trip.   We really enjoyed all the places we visited and the things we saw.   We hope  you also enjoyed seeing this part of the United States with us.

Roswell, New Mexico

Zeb, the Duck here.  Mom and I went to Roswell, New Mexico.  Roswell is a nice town, pretty far from everything but mom did not tell me everything.  There might be aliens in Roswell.

Many people in Roswell believe that the morning of July 4, 1947 one or more alien spacecraft crashed here near Roswell.  It was a rainy morning, so visibility was low.  Many people believe one or more UFOs crashed that morning and that some aliens died in the crash.

Aliens

Aliens

The United States government removed the debris and the official story was that one or more weather balloons crashed.  To this day, there is no agreement about what happened in July 1947.  As a duck, I have no idea what happened, but I believe everything is possible.

In Roswell we toured the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

International UFO Museum and Research Center

International UFO Museum and Research Center

I liked the museum.  There was a lot of material to read and also a display of aliens with lights that flashed.  I, Zeb the Duck like to see different things and this museum had different things.

Aliens?

Aliens?

In one room mom found this statement from a former United States astronaut.  He seems pretty sure that UFOs did crash in Roswell.

Did UFOs crash in 1947?

Did UFOs crash in 1947?

Visit www.roswellufomuseum.com for more information about this museum.

Many businesses in Roswell have signs and merchandise relating to UFOs.  Even McDonald’s has a green alien on their sign.

McDonald's and aliens

McDonald’s and aliens

I like the idea of aliens visiting Roswell.

Even though a big part of Roswell’s identity involves aliens, I want to be sure that you know Roswell is a real town with schools, hospitals, theaters, parks and all the things other cities have.  I hope you visit Roswell and tell me what you think about the aliens.  Were they there?  Are they still there?  What do you think, or do you even care about an event 66 years ago?  I love to hear from humans.

Roswell is on highway 285 about 100 miles north of the Texas state line.  For more information visit www.seeroswell.com

Capulin Volcano National Monument

A dormant volcano?  Wow!  I, Zeb the duck, was in a dormant volcano in New Mexico.  Mom and I visited Capulin Volcano National Monument in northeastern New Mexico.

Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

President Wilson declared Capulin Volcano a National Monument in 1916.

Capulin Volcano erupted 60,000 years ago.  Mammoths roamed these plains in those days.  The eruption of this volcano defines the landscape of northeastern New Mexico.  The flat-topped mesas are ancient lava flows.  The mountains are cinder cones, shield volcanoes, tuff rings and volcanic domes.

Landscape defined by volcanic eruption

Landscape defined by volcanic eruption

I learned so much reading the signs at the monument.

Mom and I drove to the top of the volcano and hiked part of the Crater Rim Trail.  The trail is about one mile long and the views of the volcano are great.  We hiked into the volcano also.

Capulin Volcano, New Mexico

Capulin Volcano, New Mexico

Homer Farr was custodian of the volcano for 32 years.  This sign explains many things he did for the national monument.  Sounds like a lot of work; he must have been very dedicated.

Homer Farr

Homer Farr

Of course, the main attraction here is the dormant volcano, but there are many wild animals here also.  Black bear and cougars hunt within the parks boundaries.  Many mule deer live here and some antelope and elk pass through the park.  Desert plants such as cacti grow here since the annual rainfall is about 15 inches.

Cactus in dormant volcano

Cactus in dormant volcano

The solidago capulinensis is a species of Goldenrod that cannot be found growing wild anywhere but the slopes of Capulin Volcano.

Capulin Volcano is the meeting place for the prairies of the Great Plains and the forests of the Rocky Mountains making it home to the state grass of New Mexico, Blue Grama grass and the state tree, the pinon pine.

Some safety walls are built from lava rock and cement.

Zeb the duck on lava and cement wall

Zeb the duck on lava and cement wall

At the Visitors Center I sat on this huge piece of lava rock.

Zeb the duck on lava rock at Visitors Center

Zeb the duck on lava rock at Visitors Center

Capulin Volcano National Monument is about 30 miles east of Raton, New Mexico or 58 miles west of Clayton, New Mexico on US 64 and 87.  I liked the volcano and I think you would too.  The geology is interesting and the hiking and views are wonderful.  For more information, visit www.nps.gov/cavo

Fort Union National Monument

I, Zeb the Duck, visited an old fort.  I went with mom and my Alaska uncle.  Located in New Mexico, Fort Union is well marked and a fascinating place.

Fort Union, NM with my Alaska uncle

Fort Union, NM with my Alaska uncle

The park rangers told us there were 3 separate forts built on this location.  The adobe ruins of the last fort and the accompanying information signs showed the officers areas, the supply areas, the animal areas and so much more.

The first Fort Union was to protect the Santa Fe Trail.  The second was to establish a Federal presence in the territory.  The third Fort Union was a Union response to the Confederate invasion.  Everyone that is interested in Civil War history should visit Fort Union.

Ruins of Fort Union.  Two previous forts were closer to mountains.

Ruins of Fort Union. Two previous forts were closer to mountains.

The Santa Fe Trail went to Fort Union.

Santa Fe Trail goes to Fort Union, NM

Santa Fe Trail goes to Fort Union, NM

We saw the ruts from the wagon traffic.  This third fort was a large supply facility for the southwest.  At one time about 5,000 soldiers lived here.

We saw the adobe ruins as we followed the trail and read the informational signs.

Adobe remains of officers quarters

Adobe remains of officers quarters

We were warned to stay on the paved walkway and to watch for rattlesnakes.  It was a sunny day.  Guess that is good for us but the snakes also like the sunshine.  We did watch but did not see any snakes.

The National Park Service tells us some amazing facts.  As I said, Fort Union provided supplies to many establishments in the southwest.  In 1868, 44 tons of bacon was brought to Fort Union in 22 wagons.  That’s a lot of bacon!

Waiting for supplies

Waiting for supplies

Also, Fort Union had the premier hospital in the region with 6 wards and 36 beds.  You could get treatment and care for 50 cents per day!

Fort Union is located in Watrous, New Mexico, on I-25.  The National Monument is about 20 miles north of Las Vegas, New Mexico and about 100 miles south of the Colorado state line.  The exit is well marked and Fort Union is easy to find.  Visit it and you will have a couple enjoyable hours.  The area has so much vacant land that I could imagine living here 150 years ago.

Visit Fort Union National Monument

Visit Fort Union National Monument

When you visit Fort Union National Monument I hope you watch the film at the Visitors Center.  And don’t miss the gift shop.   For more information visit www.nps.gov

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, New Mexico is surrounded by White Sands Missile Range.  Sometimes the monument is closed during missile range tests.  The monument closed right after we left.

White Sands National Monument has giant sand dunes.

White Sand in New Mexico

White Sand in New Mexico

The sand is primarily from gypsum.  This sand is fairly rare because gypsum dissolves in water, but there is no water here.  The sand is very white and beautiful.

I, Zeb the Duck, rode around the dunes with mom.  There are picnic tables, and many places to hike and climb the dunes.

Great place for a picnic

Great place for a picnic

We walked through the sand and up the hills.  It was fun.

Humans can even get round sleds and ride down the dunes.

So much fun!

So much fun!

Oh, to be a human kid.  These white sand dunes are great.

Mom took some pictures of the sand, most with me in it.  This one shows the ripples in the sand from the wind.

Wind ridges in the sand

Wind ridges in the sand

The hills and edges of the sand dunes do shift from the wind.  Several people were climbing sand and taking lots of pictures.

So much white sand

So much white sand

There is sand everywhere, but how much sand is really there?  If you dig at the shallow part, you will still be digging sand for more than 30 feet.   A sign said there is enough sand to fill 45 million boxcars.  That makes a train long enough to circle the earth, at the equator, 25 times.  That is a lot of sand!!

The sign at the visitor’s center said there were bleached earless lizards here.

Didn't see this animal

Didn’t see this animal

We did not see any, but they may have seen us.

This is one of my favorite photos.

White sand, blue sky, Zeb the Duck and the moon

White sand, blue sky, Zeb the Duck and the moon

The sand dunes with a moon still visible and, of course, with me, Zeb, are all together in this photo.

White Sands National Monument in New Mexico is great.  I hope you visit it soon.  See www.nps.gov/whsa for more information.

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Such a long name for a town.  Seems it is often called T or C.  That is much easier, especially for road signs.  How did this town get that name??  In 1950 Ralph Edwards was the host of a radio quiz show called Truth or Consequences.  He said he would air the program from the first town to change its name to the radio show name.  This town in New Mexico won.  Ralph Edwards visited this city the first weekend of May for the next fifty years.

This first weekend of May became a huge event called Fiesta.  There was a beauty contest, a parade and a stage show.  This celebration still happens the first weekend of May.  Some times the parade features local celebrities such as the Hatch Chili Queen.  I want to go!  I want to see the Hatch Chili Queen!

Before driving around in T or C, we drove through Elephant Butte and to Elephant Butte Lake State Park.

New Mexico State Park

New Mexico State Park

The park has New Mexico’s largest and most popular lake.

Largest New Mexico lake.  Ducks love water!

Largest New Mexico lake. Ducks love water!

You can camp, boat, water ski, swim, fish and go hiking.  What a great place.

In T or C, the McDonald’s had an outside playground.

Let's play!

Let’s play!

Does this mean they don’t get snow and ice here??  I like that idea.  As we drove through town, even the storage towers are decorated.

Art is everywhere in New Mexico

Art is everywhere in New Mexico

Love this art.  We stopped at the T or C Veteran’s Memorial and Museum.

Great memorial to our heroes

Great memorial to our heroes

This memorial honors all veterans and also honors fallen firefighters and fallen police officers.

Markers for fallen police and fallen firefighters

Markers for fallen police and fallen firefighters

I like towns that remember those that protect them and their freedom.  This is a great sign.  Designed for sun to show message on rock.

Great design for this sign

Great design for this sign

Honor the great people!

About the name of this city.  It had been called Hot Springs.  There are many natural hot springs in the area.  Hot springs are another reason I like T or C.  For more information, see www.torcchamber.com