Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Touring New Mexico With Friends From New York During A Fabulous Fall Season

I've been touring northern New Mexico with long-time friends Jim and Roz Butler. Roz is the great-grand-daughter of Martha Summerhayes who wrote a classic southwestern book called "Vanished Arizona." (The book chronicles the adventures of Martha as she followed her husband who was assigned by the US Army for duty in the Apache Campaign. Well written and engaging the story also tells about the birth of Roz's grandfather, Harry Summerhayes, who purportedly was the first anglo baby born in the Arizona Territory). Anyway, I met Roz and Jim while sailing around an iceberg off the coast of Greenland in 1991. We've completed at least seven trips in the southwest since then.

The Sandia Mountains rise to the east on the skyline above Albuquerque


Our first excursion was up the tram to the top of the mountain

We had dinner on the mountains crest at the High Finance Restaurant. Notice the deck overlooking the valley of the Rio Grande. And the tilted limestone in the background. The mountains are composed of granite but are capped with limestone deposited in a sea about 300 million years ago.

Have you ever wondered where those red and yellow rays come from on the Arizona state flag? At sunset on top of the Sandia Mountains, we observed the atmospheric phenomena that inspired the design of that flag.

Roz and Jim were interested in learning more about the native cultures in New Mexico

Here they are in front of the entrance; new since my last visit here some 10 years ago

We were treated to a dance by some tribal members from the Acoma Pueblo

Close-up of dancer

We walked around the Old Town Plaza where I photographed the fa├žade of the San Francisco de Neri church, built in 1706. Look at that blue sky in the background!

Leaving Albuquerque, we drove on old US Highway 66 and the New Mexico State Route 14, also called the Turquoise Trail. Here is the church in the little town of Golden.

Madrid (pronuounced MAH-drid by the locals) is a funky old mining town that has been revived by hippies. It is now a tourist destination for visitors to Santa Fe.

You've heard of "heavy metal" rock bands. Well, here is a guitar player in a "sheet metal" band.

The next town on the Turquoise Trail is Cerrillos. It is more Hispanic in character than Madrid and this is the church there.

A dead cottonwood tree made into a shrine in Cerrillos

Sunday afternoon on the corner of First and Main in Cerrillos

Cerrillos is famous for its turquoise mines, which are now depleted. In fact, prehistoric people mined the blue gemstone here. The turquoise was formed by a volcanic event that occurred about 30 million years ago. Hot magma forced its way upwards through flat-lying sediments, deforming them and leaving minerals. This view is of the upturned strata that encircle the Cerrillos intrusion. Awesome!

A scene towards the north (Santa Fe) from Highway 14, late afternoon, October 25.

We woke up to a dusting of autumn snow on October 26!

The entrance to the hotel I stayed at after the snow

Apache Spirit dancer in the snow, Hotel Santa Fe

The sun came out and illuminated this cottonwood tree. The colors are at their golden peak in Santa Fe right now.

I gave a lecture to over 100 people at the Hotel Santa Fe as part of the "Southwestern Seminars" program. "Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau" was well received by the folks who attended.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Selected as a 2010-2011 "Road Scholars" Speaker by the Arizona Humanities Council

On September 28 of this year, I received word that I have been chosen by the Arizona Humanities Council as a participant in the Road Scholars Speakers Bureau. What an honor for me to be chosen as a scientist and speaker available to give presentations about my work to so many deserving organizations. The program begins in January, 2010. I have been asked to prepare up to four lectures that can be given to many different types of audiences including scientists, service organizations, school groups, and lay people of all types. With the budget crisis looming over the state I was surprised to hear that our legislature didn't "de-fund" such a worthwhile program.

I will give lectures in four topic areas: 1) Ancient Landscapes of the American Southwest; 2) Carving Grand Canyon: Evidence, Theories, and Mystery; 3) Antarctica: From Tourism to It's Role in the Climate Change Debate; and 4) Sedona Through Time. All of my lectures will be given as Power Point presentations and will include book signings at the end of the events.

If you belong to an organization here in Arizona and would like to schedule me for a talk to your group, see the criteria here.