Science moments

Prismatic bending

Light refraction.

Fern stomata

Fern stomata.

Circulation restricted?

Frost on car window

Apologies for going on about the weather, but today’s highs and lows were about 20°F lower than yesterday’s. Didn’t have frost on the car window yesterday….

Camellia flower drop

Cold snap may have played in this camellia flower drop.

Rusty yardart

Random artsy photo: close-up of rusty yardart.

Rotate 90

Rotate ninety photo: nothing more needs to be said. [Shadow has a lumpiness because I had lifted my hoodie sweatshirt to around my neck; gives me superhero shoulders.]

Title refers to a general lack of intellectual astuteness evidenced lately on this-here blog, and hypothesizes about why.

Perhaps the warming weather trend will provide a boost? On the other hand, we already have more rain this month than the January average, and more is coming this week. Eek!

Please stand by

Bauble bush

I found several homeowners deconstructing last month’s seasonal decorations. But this bauble bush survives intact.

Tree distortion

Of course, we know that month after month is a continuum, but our human brains want to categorize and divide. Perhaps last year was layered and distorted and not straightforward?

Sun bursting through

And this year will be bright and clearly defined?

Time will tell.

Texas hecho

Window dawn light

With a major push of over 740 miles, we “Texas hecho,” that is: we finished with Texas, and are sleeping in Louisiana. ’Bout darned time.

Chisos in mirror

The first photo is of dawn through the Window (formation), Chisos Mountains. The second is intended to illustrate leaving the Chisos Basin.

Border inspection

Ah, yes, toddling down the road in these parts means an interview with Border Inspection personnel. Darned perfunctory quiz this time. He almost forgot to ask if we were US citizens. Don’t think we were stopped for even a minute. A battery of powerful cameras take many photos of vehicle and occupants before you stop—and also of the traffic in the opposite direction. Very creepy. My messy hair and sunglasses are now backed up in databases from Texas to Moscow, I’m hypothesizing.

Sotol n power

Pushing north to get out of the park, then turning east…power generation…Texas is an energy state, but it’s not all petroleum-based energy.

Bison bison

Only bison of the trip.

Auto rack

Auto racks in sunset light somewhere near Waco, I think.

Yawn. Over and out.


Cloud from sun

As we were leaving the dining room, these wispy clouds came in, I think generated by the sun hitting the air. Cool, cool morning. Frost on the windshield cool.

Window trail sign

With a big, hot breakfast on board we headed out down the trail to The Window of last night’s sunset photograph.

Chisos Basin rt N

Here’s the mountain face to our right, to the north, as we began our descent.

Mex jay

Look at that! A Mexican jay.

Chisos basin SW

You can tell it’s chilly…and windy. I have my coat on over three layers and am glad I can stuff my hands in my pockets. Yes, I have on a windproof neck buff, ear band, and a baseball cap—all of them. That’s the left or southwest wall of the Chisos Basin behind me.

Window ahead

That gap is the Window that we’re descending toward. That’s the desiccating blossom stalk of a Havard agave, if I remember right.

Boulder detail

Detail of a boulder we had to go around. It looks different than most of the other rocks around this immediate area.

Bear trio afar

Lookee over there! Way over there, thankfully…long lens…a trio of bears, perhaps a mom and two cubs. They were way up on the slope to our left and pretty far away and not interested in us. Whew.

Window closer

Getting closer to the window. Are those clouds coming in? I promised the Guru we had to go early so we wouldn’t be out in the heat of the day…but where’s the heat???? 😉

Window final

We trekked carefully past a spring and crossed the water several times to work our way down to finally view through the Window! Vista found! Now, time to ascend. Glad it’s cool finally, but not looking forward to headwind through canyon above Window.

Spring water return

Here’s the spring water, and the trail-builders worked hard to make steps in the bedrock to make hikers safer.

Side path window

Took a side path for a short distance for another view out the Window. From here you can hardly tell how deep the canyon is.

Return to basin


RG RB carrizo

We got out just fine, took a lunch break, then headed out in the pickup. Here’s the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo from hear a hot springs. I know this cane as carrizo from my time in Oaxaca. Yes, that’s Mexico on the other side, so let’s all call it carrizo, or car-ee-so.


Driving along, making our way back to the turn that will take us back into the Chisos Basin for the night, we found this coyote by the road.

Goodnight CG

I’ll take this as a goodnight from our patron peak, Casa Grande, right above our modest room. I’m sure all the rooms here are modest. The bling is in the views. And the critter sightings.

Wild lands (mostly)

Open bean cafe

We stayed in an end-of-the-road town, too small to have chain motels, and I supposed that’s why the one we stayed in, clean and maintained, offered no breakfast. So we went down the street, and enjoyed a hot breakfast at a little café. We learned from observing the men who came in that the proper greeting is, “Buenos días, how are you?” and that it’s possible to wrangle 157 horses before breakfast. I don’t know how big the crew was doing that.

Jesus wedding gown

We ventured into the local grocery store for a few supplies. We skipped the many institutional sized cans of food (pozole, anyone) and Mexican brand cookies, and even these Jesus candles. Looks to me like he’s modeling a wedding dress, but I probably don’t understand this imagery.

Colt n mom

Then we began moseying downriver, following the Rio Grande toward its mouth far away. We passed a large state park (miles) and some ranches. Found this mostly grown colt and perhaps mom getting their breakfast.

RG n mountains

That’s the Rio Grande, or the Río Bravo to people living on the other side, in México. As in: “I can see Mexico from my pickup.”

Church n sun

Took the old road for a stretch, going through surprisingly still active dispersed communities. This church was hanging on, but the second one in this area was decrepit and unused.

RGRSP hoodoos

Hoodoos overlooking the RG/RB. (From a pano, if it looks a bit distorted.)

Sta elena cnyn

Finally, we crossed into Big Bend National Park, and our first stop is this dramatic canyon, named for Santa Elena. Last time we were here, the water was much lower, and we walked into the cleft. Computational photography means detail is visible in the dark canyon faces.

Mules ears formations

Meet Mules Ears. There’s a trail going over to it, but we were content to look from here.

Olive tinted formation

These olive tinted layers caught my eye.

Sotol stand

This spot is called Sotol Overlook. These are sotol plants, pronounced soh-tohl, but the Guru says they are so-tall. 😉

Deerly walking

I walked up the hill from our room and heard noise in the brush to my left, looked, and: wow! two deer grazing. I froze and prepared to photograph. They were unconcerned. I got this shot when the second one crossed the street, looking down at the Guru sitting in the porch-shade (difficult to see).

Golden hr

Golden hour on the rocks above the lodge.

Window sunset

Sunset through the formation called The Window.

Scale can be elusive

Galisteo Basin

We departed early, heading south through the Galisteo Basin. Cool archaeology is here, but we didn’t stop.

Trains crossing

We spotted trains crossing—enough train action here to merit the two levels of tracks….

Cowboy faceoff

Strange giant cowboy cut-out face-off or smack-down.

WhitesCity sample

At the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns park, there’s a multifaceted business called White’s City, a commercial undertaking with many buildings that seeks to get money out of your pocket and into theirs. Look at the critter-statues…bison, alien, etc., and a big USA flag flapping above.

Lacet in space

Road to the visitor center…hairpin turn that looks like it may hang in space. Turns out it’s on solid ground, however.


We took the sissy elevator entrance. The elevator has a top and a bottom stop, nothing in between. And the distance is measured in feet. We dropped smoothly several hundred feet. The walking tour is of the Big Room. It goes on and on. And on and on.

First view

First view. Shiny handrails are on both sides of the paved path.

Space cavern

Handrails left. This is a big space. Even standing there it is difficult to grasp the size of the open space around you.

Big view

More big stalactites, stalagmites and perhaps speleothems.

Big decorations

I was fascinated by this well-decorated passage to…dunno where.

Green pool

I was also fascinated by the few pools of water we could see. This one had drips falling into it, making the “wrinkles” in the water.

Winds here

We elevatored back to the surface, had a snack from our abundant food stores in the cab, and headed south-ish below the Guadalupe Mountains. Signs every few miles warned us about the wind. It was always there this afternoon, and for maybe fifty it was straight at us, spoiling our mileage.

Blimp d border

We crossed into Texas and had this confirmation that we were approaching the US–Mexico border. We frequently hear about walls, but these things are perhaps far more effective. When airborne.

Cochineal dinner

We had a fancy dinner way out in the relative boonies, very delicious, at Cochineal in Marfa. I had a pricey and yummy steak, and the Guru had schnitzel. With veg for both of us. Recommended.


Cliff n jemez river

Our first big adventure was to drive into—and out of—an extinct volcano.

Soda dam jemez

We followed the Jemez River up. It’s in the previous shot, too. Between the river and the road is a ridge locally called soda dam. Long gone hot springs created the deposit, layer upon layer.

Caldera crest ish

This is approximately the crest of the caldera rim. It’s not edgy and distinct. We were glad it was warm and sunny, and the crud on the road was melting, even in the shadows.

Caldera interior

This is the Valle Grande of the caldera. It’s huge. You are looking at no more than a “corner” of the interior. All those ridges across the VG are on the floor of the caldera. Huge.

Toward r grande valley

Descending toward Los Alamos (the willows) on the other outer flank, we could see the mountains on the other side of the Rio Grande Valley. Such landscapes!

Cliff above Tsankawi

Outside the lava territory of the volcano-lands, we saw different kinds of rock and landforms. That is the extent of my geology knowledge on this. 😇

Sunset adobe

Our second big adventure was to walk downtown for a fancy dinner, just as the sunset was glowing over the rooftops in the neighborhood…very soon to fade.

Plaza lights

The plaza trees are festooned with lights. And the moon was up.

Elk tenderloin

Food porn. I had elk tenderloin with mushroom sauce and veggies. Perfection.

Plaza lights later

Plaza lights as we traced our steps homeward, after full dark.

Dark computational

Highly computational photo. Stunning.

And the super-great adventure? Thirty years since our wedding. 🥂🍾 😃

You first

Joads of junque

We joined the highway hoards returning to their nests after holiday adventures (eating, shopping, hopefully laughing), and found these junque-laden Joads on the move. The retired schoolbus was packed and the maroon crossover(?) seemed the spriteliest vehicle of the bunch by far.

Bayou bridges

Note in this snap and the previous one that the traffic was heavier in the other direction. For something like 50 miles of interstate it must have averaged about 30mph. We only had momentary slow-downs in comparison. Don’t know the temporary migration patterns that would produce this differential.

Pier to land

We stopped in Pascagoula to stretch our legs at a park across from this pier. I surmise that all had been rebuilt after Katrina (now way back) in 2005.

Bollard top

The park had a shallow wading pool with misters that could have been no more than ankle deep on a toddler when activated. Off to the side was a sign: “Please rub top of bollard to activate.” The Guru looked at it and said, “You first.”

Nets n floats

We looked for a seafood place along the Gulf. The first choice was up on super tall pillars with a great view, but closed for cleanup (not cleaning). Ooops. But it was next to a marina full of working boats with nets not crab/lobster pots, which of course was very interesting.

White cap

We continued along the shore and found this place, not up on pillars, but still with a fine view of the water from the dining room.

Computational sunset

These nifty new phones/cameras are wonderful. These are the colors of the sunset. Ignore the insect blotches, plz.

Wall of foam

Deciding that it’d be wiser to get a needed car wash before we got to the desert, we went through the Wall of Foam (blue sign), and got the worst of the accumulated gunk (nastiness of oak residue was particularly worrisome on the hood) removed.

Computational bridge

There wasn’t any other traffic on the old US highway we took instead of the interstate parallel to the shore, and the Guru stopped so I could nudge the phone/camera into the land of computational photography. It was darned dark out, but it captured the bridge superstructure as well as a few stars in the night sky. Oh, boy, we’ll have fun experimenting this whole trip!

Grooving on autumnal


Asters are so autumnal.

Rock plant art

Especially aesthetic autumnal.

Warning: change is coming to our weather overnight!