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

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is really a cool town.  First we went to La Fonda Hotel.  My humans stayed there before we ducks were part of the family.  The dining room has window with small window panes.  The individual panes are hand painted with scenes or items from the southwest.

painted windows at La Fonda

Painted windows at La Fonda

I liked them.  La Fonda is the only hotel on the plaza.  The food was good, too.

We walked to Loretto Chapel.

Loretto Chapel is famous in Santa Fe

Loretto Chapel is famous in Santa Fe

This is a beautiful, old Catholic church, and they have a miracle staircase.  When the church was built, the choir area was in a loft.  In many churches the choir members were all men, so no staircase was built.  The men climbed a ladder.  But this church had a women’s choir.  They could not find a carpenter that could build a staircase for them.  Not enough room.  One day a carpenter came to the door and offered to build the staircase.  He used only a hammer, saw and carpenter square.  There are no supports for the staircase, but it works perfectly.

The Miracle Staircase

The Miracle Staircase

When they tried to pay the man, he had disappeared and left no trace of himself.  Wow!  The stairs are beautiful.  So is the chapel.

Loretto Chapel is beautiful

Loretto Chapel is beautiful

Mom paid $3.00 to see this.  I’m glad we went.  You must see this.

Near Loretto Chapel is the Cathedral Basilica to St Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis of Assisi

Cathedral Basilica to St. Francis of Assisi

This old cathedral is the most decorated and elaborate cathedral in Santa Fe.  Go inside, it is magnificent!

Then we walked to Santa Fe Plaza.  People feed the pigeons here.

So many pigeons eating in the plaza

So many pigeons eating in the plaza

Lots of pigeons!  This plaza marks the end of the Santa Fe Trail.  On one side of the plaza is the Palace of the Governors.  On the sidewalk by the Palace, I saw so much silver!  Many Native Americans bring artwork there to sell.

So many pretty things

So many pretty things

I saw so much silver, much with turquoise, so much jewelry and all beautiful.  I saw some moccasins, and Native American pottery.  So many beautiful things.

Most buildings are made with adobe.  I like adobe and have never seen so much of it.  Santa Fe has many art galleries and art stores.  Also several beautiful leather shops.  So many items relating to the southwest.  They reflect the Native American Indian crafts and the crafts of Mexico.  We even saw ristas of red chilis.

Ristas of red chills

Ristas of red chills

When you visit Santa Fe you will love it.  The adobe, the art galleries, the southwest food and the people were so nice.  If you love history, you will be in heaven.  This is just a little of what we saw and did in Santa Fe.  There are entire books written about Santa Fe activities.  Go soon and often!

Las Vegas, New Mexico

Las Vegas, New Mexico is a quiet, historical town.  Not the gambling mecca of Las Vegas, Nevada.  We stayed here, in New Mexico.  I learned more about New Mexico towns and the Mexican influence.

This train engine, built in 1902, was used by the Santa Fe Railroad Company for 51 years.

Love trains

Love trains

It was then given to the city of Las Vegas.  In 1956 it was placed here and the sign says it is on one of the shortest railroads.  I like trains.

The Veterans Park had trees, lots of grass and benches.  This monument is dedicated to all who served, preserving our freedoms.

To the heroes

To the heroes

I, Zeb the duck, like honoring our heroes.

The Mexican heritage of Las Vegas is reflected in the old town plaza.  This is a large plaza, with trees, grass and benches.  We walked to the center of the plaza and the gazebo was very nice.

Gazebos are great

Gazebos are great

Near the gazebo was a plaque about the Santa Fe Trail.  The trail came through Las Vegas.  I saw other sculptures.  This one is by Margarito R. Mondragon and dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrow Parish and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

Sculpture in Las Vegas, NM

Sculpture in Las Vegas, NM

New Mexico Highlands University has been in Las Vegas since 1893.  In 1993 the Centennial Alumni Tower was built.  This tower honors all those that have come through the university in the first 100 years.

New Mexico Highlands Unviersity

New Mexico Highlands University Centennial Alumni Tower

Across from the tower I enjoyed two old churches.  The Methodist Church and St. Paul’s Peace Episcopal – Lutheran Church offer peace and continuity to the city.  For more information on Las Vegas, New Mexico, visit http://www.LasVegasNewMexico.com

While in Las Vegas, we stayed at the #1 Super 8 motel in the World.

WOW!  Best in the World

WOW! Best in the World

This motel was very clean and had colored towels instead of the standard white and lots of food.  The staff treated us like very important and valued friends.  After checking in, we enjoyed the complimentary soup (3 different kinds) and fresh vegetable salad.  Very nice for us after traveling all day.  Breakfast was hot Belgium waffles (in a crock pot so we did not make a mess making them), two hot cereals, cold cereal, sliced fruit, juice, tea and coffee.  The men in the breakfast area offered warm cinnamon rolls (I love these) and eggs either boiled or poached.  These hosts were better than most waiters.  They brought our beverages, cleaned the tables and cooked.  They brought things before we even knew we wanted them.  WOW!  These guys are great.  When you are in Las Vegas stay at this Super 8 Motel.  You will be happy.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, New Mexico

From Raton, New Mexico, we drove west towards Taos.  Angel Fire is a ski resort area with lakes, campgrounds, lodges and year round recreation.  We were here in the summer, so no snow.  It also has Victor Westphall’s tribute to his son, killed in Vietnam in 1968.  The Peace and Brotherhood Chapel opened in 1971.  Originally funded by David Westphall’s life insurance money and funds from Dr. and Mrs. Westphall, the memorial is now New Mexico’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park, and the only park without an admission fee.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, NM

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, NM

The wing shaped chapel and memorial rise in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Path to the chapel

Path to the chapel

Within the building is the chapel, a movie room showing an 88-minute documentary featuring letters from Vietnam.  Also visitors may view mementos from the war years, many donated by veterans and their families.  The memorial garden, outside seating for memorials and even Vietnamese soil from the location David Westphall gave his life for his country, encourage reverence for visitors.  This duck proudly sits at the feet of a soldier writing home.

Soldier with letter

Soldier with letter

Also a helicopter from the war rests on grounds.

From the war

From the war

This memorial is a popular stop for Vietnam veterans Run for the Wall motorcycle trip to Washington D.C. and the Vietnam Memorial wall on Memorial Day.  This is also a place for reflection and healing.  Dr. Westphall, before his death on July 22, 2003, spent much time here talking with visiting veterans.  Many sent follow up letters to him, some of which are on display.

As a Colorado traveling duck, I could sense the serenity of this location.  I certainly recommend a visit to all who served, cared about someone that served, or want to learn more of this part of American history.  Half an hour or half a day, any time in this peaceful location will help answer some questions.   Visit http://www.vietnamveteransmemorial.org.    Please visit this memorial.