November 15, 2015
by David Ryan
Last month after visiting Chaco Canyon (click here to read an earlier blog post on Chaco Canyon), a neighbor asked me if I had visited the badland area just north of Chaco. I had been to the Bisti Badlands in northwestern New Mexico (click here to read a blog post about Bisti) but had never been to any badlands immediately north of Chaco.
Obviously I was very curious and checked the Internet for information on badlands near Chaco Canyon. There I found information on Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wilderness Study Area less than seven miles from Pueblo Bonito in the heart of Chaco Canyon.
On Saturday the dogs and I finally got the chance to drive out to Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah. The temperature was around 60, it was sunny, and there was no wind. To make the day even better the dirt roads leading out to the area were in excellent shape. You couldn’t ask for a better day to go wandering.
Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah is in the heart of Navajo Country. There were only a few homes scattered in the area, and we saw only one car as we drove in. There was no sign along the road welcoming us to the area or an official place to park the car. And we couldn’t see the badlands from the road. The only indication that there might be something worth checking out was a narrow Wilderness Area boundary marker near the side of the road.
As you can see there’s not much traffic. Chaco Canyon is beyond the ridge you can see in the distance.
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October 24, 2015
by David Ryan
On August 21, 2017, a total eclipse of the sun will cross the 48 States for the first time since February 26, 1979. A total eclipse is truly a special event and is worth every effort on your part to see. I have been fortunate enough to have viewed three total eclipses of the sun and two annular eclipses. All five were great, but for me the three total eclipses were life changing!
For my first eclipse, my daughter Jennifer and I drove with a friend of mine and his two kids to Manitoba, Canada for the 1979 eclipse. We watched the eclipse from the middle of a frozen lake north of Winnipeg. It was cold but the skies were clear and we had an unobstructed view.
There were many other people near us and several of them were setting up very expensive telescopes and camera gear. The energy was amazing. Complete strangers invited us to look through their telescopes to check out the progress of the eclipse and to see all the spots on the sun. Had one of us accidentally knocked over one of their scopes, I am sure the repair costs would have been in the hundreds of dollars.
It was as if we were all colleagues sharing a rare and special event together. It was a relaxed community without a hint of competition or one-upmanship.
As the moon covered more and more of the sun, the sky and air began to change. The light was turning to an indigo blue and the animals began to act strange. Birds were returning their roosts. Dogs sensed something was different and were not sure of what to do.
As it got darker, everyone hushed and began to pay attention. The moon’s shadow was racing towards us at over 1000 miles per hour from the southwest. It was like an incredibly dark cloud swallowing up the light. In the sky we could see the last glimmer of sunlight shining through the gaps of a mountain range on the moon. It was like a string of beads in the sky. (This phenomenon happens to be called “Bailey’s beads.”) It was fantastic!
Then totality! It was as if someone turned off the lights. It was an eerie darkness. There was still light in the far off distance. But above us the stars were out; the corona of the sun was shimmering in all directions from the eclipsed sun; red flares from solar prominences were shooting into the sky. It was unbelievable!
On the ground it was complete pandemonium! All of us were taken over by forces beyond our control. We were all jumping up and down; hollering and screaming “oh my god, I can’t believe this”; clapping; and whooping it up. Continue Reading →
October 2, 2015
by David Ryan
Last month the dogs and I wandered into Navajo Country to attend the monthly rug auction at Crownpoint in northwestern New Mexico. Rather than rush to the auction and back, we gave ourselves the day to see what we could see.
The first things we saw when we got off the Interstate were the colorful flowers decorating the cemetery in the small settlement of Thoreau. I love visiting cemeteries as they vary so much and can tell so much about the community they serve.
As you can see this is a very new site and the flowers are still very fresh.
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