Tent Rocks National Monument

Last week, I posted a shot of one of the Slot Canyons at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.  We had gone out to see this place as a last-minute addition to our itinerary and didn’t really know what to expect.  Once we got a taste, we had to go back.


On returning for a second visit, we were able to complete the Canyon Trail.  The hike was not super difficult but it did involve a lot of uneven ground with some awkward footing and numerous spots where you had to climb up or over obstacles.  It is a mile and a half to the top but it took us about 2 hours to get up and back.

The tent rocks are the remnants of volcanic deposits that have been worn down by wind and water over million of years into cone-shaped towers that look like teepees.  Some of the rocks have a harder stone “cap rock” balanced on top while with others, the cap has fallen off to leave a pointed peak.


After completing the 630-foot climb to the mesa top,  we could see the top of “tent rock” formations as well as the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia mountains and the Rio Grande Valley.   This was an amazing lesson in how the forces of nature shape our landscape and a great opportunity to view some of New Mexico’s beautiful scenery.  I would recommend a stop here to anyone who is in the Santa Fe or Abuquerque area.


Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
outside Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
10mm @ f/9 – 1/200 sec – ISO 250

#KashaKatuwe #TentRocks #TentRocksNationalMonument #NewMexico #WithMyTamron

Take it Easy

Well, anyone who is a fan of the Eagles would recognize the line –  “Well, I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona“.  This is the corner!

Actually, there isn’t much here to see but it’s one of those places you kind of have to go, just to say you’ve been there.  There is a false storefront painted with the name of the town and a girl (my lord) in a flat-bed Ford.  On the sidewalk, there are two bronze statues.  One is a man standing on the corner with a guitar (perhaps one of the Eagles?) and the other is the likeness of Glenn Frey, one of the writers of the song.

Winslow itself, is one of the many towns that grew up around the famous Route 66 and then seemed to drop off the map when it was bypassed by I-40 in 1977 and the through traffic dried up.  If it had not been for the song referencing this spot, I don’t know that anyone would even remember the town existed.  Such is the fate of many places that are along the old “Mother Road” that was US 66.

Standin’ on the Corner Park
Corner of Kinsley &, East 2nd Streets
Winslow, Arizona

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB 100 tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
18mm @ f/9 – 1/320 sec – ISO 100

#Eagles #TakeItEasy #StandinOnTheCorner #Winslow #Arizona #WithMyTamron

Keeping Watch

If you visit the Grand Canyon and enter from the South, I recommend going the opposite direction of the Visitors Center first.  There seems to have been fewer people who go that way as a first choice and I think there are many more intersting stops along the way.  It’s a fair drive (20 miles) to get to the end of the road to a point known as Desert View.  There you will find spectacular views of the canyon and the painted desert and also be able to see a 70 ft tall tower that overlooks the canyon.

The tower, designed by famed architect Mary Colter, was constructed in 1932.  Built to resemble Pueblo towers found elsewhere in the Southwest, it is intended to blend into the landscape and look as if it is part of the natural setting.  My featured image above, is a view of the tower from Navajo Point, just a little West of Desert View.


Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower
Grand Canyon, Arizona

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB 100 tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
70mm @ f/13 – 1/320 sec – ISO 250

#MaryColter #WatchTower #DesertView #GrandCanyon #Arizona #WithMyTamron

Minor miracles

While in Santa Fe, we just kind of happened into a local legend that was pretty cool.  I was on somewhat of an old church hunt in the area.  We stopped at the Basillica of St Francis of Assisi and then spotted another spire not far away.

Walking over to it, we found the Loretto Chapel, a former Catholic Church which is now a museum and Wedding Chapel.  Looking around, I saw a tree that was festooned with rosary beads.  The image above is a small section of that site.  Then I saw the sign that proclaimed this the home of the “Miraculous Staricase” as seen on Unsolved Mysteries.  Of course, we had to go in!

The legend of the Miraculous Staircase goes like this:

When the Loretto Chapel was completed in 1873, there no stairs to reach the choir loft.  The nuns who ran the church, made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks. After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters’ prayers.


Besides the story of the mysterious carpenter, the staircase itself is considered to be a miracle.  The design and construction are unique and very innovative, especially for the time.  It is built without use of nails, being held together with only wooden pegs and glue.  There is no central support as you normally see with a spiral staircase.  It seems to stand up all on its own.  Besides being a beautiful work of architecture, this appears to be an amazing piece of history and devine intervention.  Miracles abound when you look for them.


Loretto Chapel
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB 100 tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
100mm @ f/5.6 – 1/160 sec – ISO 200

#LorettoChapel #MiraculousStaircase #SantaFe #NewMexico #WithMyTamron

Rufous Hummingbird

When going out West, everything is a little different, even the birds.  I wish I had more time to have spent on birding while visiting because there are lots of interesting things to see.  On a few mornings when we didn’t rush out to get to our next destination, I was able to just sit and watch the birds.  The hummingbirds were plentiful and very active.

This guy seemed to be ruling the feeders.  He would zip in and find a perch nearby and then chase off any others who came in to feed.  I am so used to seeing ruby-throated hummers so, it was interesting to see a different type.  The rufous hummingbird also has a ruby-red throat but they are reddish-brown instead of green.  I also noticed that they will fan their tails when hovering.  I couldn’t catch this mid-flight behavior but it was neat to see.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB 100 tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
550mm @ f/9 – 1/400sec – ISO 400

#BirdWatching #birds #RufousHummingbird #Corrales #NewMexico #WithMyTamron

Route 66 remnants

Our trip from Phoenix to Albuquerque included riding along bits and pieces of the famous Route 66.  There are still a fair number of buildings, some abandoned and a few still open, from the days when this was the main road from the mid-west to California.

We spotted these big arrows from the highway and knew this was a required stop.  While there isn’t really anything at this point other than an abandoned gas station/gift shop and the big arrows, it was interesting to see.  Today, the arrows are just kind of advertising for the nearby Twin Arrows Casino but they still make you think of the days when this was part of the great western road-trip that was Route 66.

History of Twin Arrows Trading Post from Wikipedia

The U.S. Highway System established US 66 in 1926. US 66 served as a major path for those who migrated west during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The road supported the economies of the communities through which it passed.

Traffic began to flow through the Twin Arrows area because Route 66 was aligned along the National Old Trails Road. A business named the Canyon Padre Trading Post, named for the gorge that cuts nearby, was established in the late 1940s in Twin Arrows. Business was slow for the store and diner until the owners changed its name to “Twin Arrows Trading Post”, inspired by nearby town of Two Guns and added a service station. Two 25-foot giant arrows which were placed on the property were easily recognized by traveling motorist and the business began to fourish.

The Twin Arrows Trading Post began to fail with the construction of the Interstate 40, because motorists no longer had to take US 66. Business for the Twin Arrows Trading Post began to decline and it was not long before the store/diner/service station/gift shop passed through the hands of various owners. This continued until 1995, when it was finally closed and abandoned. The land where Twin Arrows is located is in the Navajo and Hopi reservations and owned by the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino.

Twin Arrows Trading Post
Route 66
Twin Arrows, Arizona

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB 100 tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
16mm @ f/14 – 1/30 sec – ISO 100

#TwinArrows #Arizona #Route66 #WithMyTamron

Rain in the Canyon

The weather was beautiful for the vast majority of our trip out west but we did see a bit of variety when at the Grand Canyon.  One of the things they tell you is about how the weather can change quickly here.  We were afraid we might get caught in some storms on our visit but were luckily not rained on at all.  It was very cool to watch the storm clouds pass over the opposite side and dump some water over there.

We need to go back soon and explore more of the amazing landscape of the American Southwest.  There were so many places that would have been fun to visit but only so many hours in a vacation.  For every place we stopped, there were many others that we wish we could have seen.  I really don’t understand how people can visit these kind of natural wonders and not be awed.  Nature is so beautiful and surrounds us always.  I’m glad we got the chance to enjoy this area for a while.

Grand Canyon National Park

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB 100 tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
16mm @ f/14 – 1/30 sec – ISO 100

#GrandCanyon #NationalPark #Arizona #rainstorm #WithMyTamron

Oldest Church in the U.S.A.

One of the biggest hopes I had for our trip to New Mexico was to visit some of the old Spanish Mission churches in the area.  There are many of these adobe buildings in  Santa Fe and Taos as well as other areas in the state.  I had the opportunity to visit what is known as “The Oldest Church” in Santa Fe yesterday.  Decided to do this image in a black and white antique style to add to the idea of its age.

San Miguel Chapel is the key site to the Barrio de Analco Historic District. Oral history holds that the barrio was founded by a group of Mexican Indians from Tlaxcala. The adobe church was constructed under the direction of Franciscan friars to serve a small congregation of soldiers, laborers, and Indians who lived in the Analco Barrio. It was partially destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. By the early-eighteenth century, San Miguel had become one of the principal ecclesiastical buildings in the provincial capital. The present building dates from 1710, although it has undergone significant structural changes.

San Miguel Chapel
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
10mm @ f/8.0 – 1/160 sec – ISO 125

#SanMiguelChapel #SantaFe #NewMexico #WithMyTamron

Kasha-Katuwe Slot Canyon

Tent Rocks is very interesting spot about 40 miles from Santa Fe with amazing geological formations.  This image is inside a slot canyon carved through the walls of the volcanic formation that makes up this national monument.  The most impressive feature of the area and its namesake are cone-shaped formations that look like christmas trees made of stone.

I think we will make a second pass at this site since we arrived fairly late and only got to see a small portion of all there is to view here.  Will share more later.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
10mm @ f/9.0 – 1/160 sec – ISO 400

#KashaKatuwe #SlotCanyon #CochitiPueblo #NewMexico #WithMyTamron

Taos Pueblo

The Taos Pueblo is home to the Red Willow people of the Taos Pueblo indians.  These adobe pueblo structures have been inhabited for over 1,000 years by the ancestors of the current residents.

It is amazing to be able to see such an ancient dwelling place that is still in use.  After seeing the cave dwellings at Bandelier National Monumen the previous day, it was a beautiful to see the modern descendants of pueblo people still living here.

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
19mm @ f/9.0 – 1/250 sec – ISO 200

#TaosPueblo #Taos #NewMexico #RedWillow #WorldHeritageSite #NationalHistoricLandmark #WithMyTamron