Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Goosenecks of the San Juan River


On our way to Cedar Mesa in southern Utah in April, Mike Scudday and I made a brief stop at Goosenecks State Park.  We arrived there early in the evening.  The panoramic photo above shows the major portion of the twists and turns of the San Juan River which can be viewed from the park.  If you click on the photo, you should get a better look at the amazing scenery.  On the horizon in the center of the photo, you can barely spot a few Monument Valley rock formations.

Looking down to the river, we could see that a party with what appeared to be three rafts and an inflatable kayak had pulled over on a sandy bank to pitch their tents and set up camp for the night.  You can spot them at the edge of the sunlight on the river.  

Near the horizon, and to the left of center, is Alhambra Rock.  This volcanic feature is about four miles to the south of the park, and about 2.4 miles to the southwest of Mexican Hat, Utah.


Thursday, November 17, 2016


Keeping Austin Weird - Part 2

 Some more photos from the Graffiti Park last weekend


Tuesday, November 15, 2016



Keeping Austin Weird

These photos were taken this past weekend at the Graffiti Park at Castle Hill, which is officially known as the HOPE Outdoor Gallery.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chaco Canyon - Day One

As noted in my previous post, Mike Scudday and I made a quick overnight visit to Chaco Culture National Historic Park on our way to Utah this past spring.  In recognition of its rich archeological resources, the park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.  The park's significance is based on its approximately 4,000 prehistoric and historic archaeological sites, representing more than 10,000 years of human cultural history in Chaco Canyon.  Among these are Chaco “great houses” -- the largest, best preserved, and most complex prehistoric architectural structures in North America.  Sixteen great houses are interpreted within the park.  In addition, Chaco Canyon was the center of a regional system of communities.  These were linked by prehistoric road and trade networks throughout the San Juan Basin.

The park is accessed from US 550 via 8 miles of paved road followed by 13 miles of dirt road passing through BLM and Navajo lands.  Fortunately, the Bundy clan was nowhere to be seen.

Mike expertly guided his trusty steed over the rough dirt roads.

As we entered the park around mid-afternoon, we were greeted by Fajada Butte, which reaches an elevation of 6,623 feet.  After checking in at the park headquarters and obtaining a campsite, we headed out to explore some of the archeological sites.

Hungo Pavi

The first site we explored was Hungo Pavi.  This is an unex- cavated Chacoan great house containing over 150 rooms, a great kiva, and an enclosed plaza.  It is located at the mouth of Mockingbird Canyon.  The north roomblock includes three rows of rooms and stood at least three stories tall along the rear wall, dropping to a single story along the plaza. Construction occurred in two primary periods, the first between the late 900s and the early 1000s. The second building episode is dated to the mid-11th century, and added the eastern and western wings, upper stories to the main roomblock, and the row of rooms on the south side that enclosed the plaza.

The back (north) wall of the great house.  It would have been three stories tall at the time the canyon was abandoned by the ancient ones.

Tour guide Mike at the site, with Fajada Butte in the background.

Chacoans carved a wide, steep stairway into the cliff face behind and to the right (east) of the great house, as indicated by the crudely-drawn red arrow in the photo above (and seen more clearly if you click on the photo).  These steps provided access from the canyon floor to the mesa top, where they connected with an elaborate prehistoric road system.

Coming attractions:  In future posts, I will cover another great house, Chetro Ketl, and then the spectacular Pueblo Bonito.  So stay tuned.

Note:  Click on any of the photos to see a slide show of larger versions of the photos.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Sunlight

On the way to our backpacking adventure in Utah's Cedar Mesa, Mike Scudday and I made a slight detour over to Chaco Culture National Historic Park.  The park is located in northwestern New Mexico.  We arrived there late in the afternoon on April 18.  After a too-brief tour of some of the amazing Anasazi ruins in Chaco Canyon, we camped for the night in the park.  Here are two photos of that evening's sunset, as viewed from the campground.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wednesday Wildlife

Mike Scudday and I hiked, camped, and backpacked on Cedar Mesa in southern Utah in April. On our first full day (April 20) in the area, we hiked down Kane Gulch to explore Junction Ruin.  On our way back to Kane Gulch Ranger Station, some movement in the brush next to the trail caught my attention.  It was a small rabbit, probably a desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii).  I only had time to squeeze off one quick shot with my camera before it disappeared.

Friday, October 21, 2016


Rio Chama - Aragon Rapid

Having a layover day at the Aragon Campsite on September 2 afforded us not only the opportunity to hike up to the canyon rim, but also to test our paddling skills in unloaded boats.

After Evy and Benz had made two practice runs through the rapid, they kindly offered to let me take Evy's place in the bow of their well-trained vessel.  I jumped at the opportunity.  But first I donned my dorky helmet, just in case.  In the photo above, Benz and I have skirted a mostly-submerged boulder and are lining up for the meat of the rapid.

 All hands on deck!

 That's a smile, not a grimace.

As documented in these photos by Larry Grona, we emerged (mostly) unscathed.  Actually, the hard part was the many times we carried our boats from the end of the rapid back up to where we launched.

Note:  Click on any photo to switch to a full-screen slide show.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Rio Chama - The Adventure Begins (Part II)


The Magnificent Ten pose for the camera before heading into the (not exactly) unknown wilderness on August 31.  Will they ever be seen again?

Our first campsite, as viewed the next morning.  We pitched our tents a short distance downstream from the hot springs, which provided a toasty respite after sunset the night before.  Unfortunately, the fabled water nymphs did not make their appearance at the baths.

After breakfast, six of us (Evy is behind the camera) hiked up to the top of the canyon behind our camp.  In the background, you can spot the river back upstream.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday Wildlife

Nature isn't always peaceful.

While in Chicago in August for a nephew's wedding, Kathy and I visited the Art Institute of Chicago, the second largest art museum in the country.  The painting above is Hogs Killing a Snake, a 1930 work by American artist John Steuart Curry.

Note:  Click on the image for a larger view. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Rio Chama - The Adventure Begins

The day before our August 31 launch, Kathy and Henry work on the assembly of the cataraft that will carry them down the river.  Kelly relaxes.

And they're off!

Note:  Thanks to Larry Grona for the photos.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Aragon Rapid Redux


On their third practice run together, Benz and Evy attacked the meat of the rapid directly.  No more fancy spin moves above the rapid this time.  They guided the canoe straight into the hole created by the angry currents.


Evy even caught a little air as they exited the hole unscathed.  Bravo!

Note:  Click on any photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wednesday Wildlife

Our trip to Chicago for my nephew's wedding proved that, even in a large city, there are opportunities to observe wildlife. 

We first met Sue, the largest, most complete (more than 90%), and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever found, at the wedding reception at the Field Museum in Chicago. Sue roamed North America about 67 million years ago, and was discovered in 1990 at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in western South Dakota.

We returned to the museum the next day during daylight hours to get a better look at this imposing figure.

Because of its weight, the original skull is exhibited separately.

A skull of a different sort was on exhibit at the Chicago Institute of Art.  This is Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue, painted by Georgia O'Keeffe in 1931.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Was I Dreaming?


 This is what I awoke to the other morning ...

... or was it really this?

These two competing visions of my life are displayed at the Chicago Institute of Art.  My lovely (and, hopefully, forgiving) wife and I spent many hours there on August 25.  The first painting is Antonio Mancini's Resting, from 1887.  The second is Jupiter Rebuked by Venus, produced by Abraham Janssens around 1612.  Someone remind me which of these more accurately depicts my world.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sunday Sunlight

Chicago Sunset


We were in the Windy City for nephew Collins Ward's September 27 wedding.  The reception was held in the fabulous Field Museum.  As we entered the museum following cocktails on the grounds, we were treated to views of the city's skyline at sunset.

To the east was Lake Michigan.

A different kind of sunset was displayed in the Chicago Institute of Art.  This is RenĂ© Magritte's The Banquet, painted in 1938.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Rio Chama - Aragon Rapid

Evy and Benz made three "practice" runs through the rapid on the afternoon of our layover day at Aragon Campsite.  Actually, they were just out to have fun.  On their first try, they did an almost 180-degree spin move in the eddy just above the rapid to briefly face upstream before quickly reversing to face forward again (I could almost hear each of them saying "I meant to do that"), then ran cleanly through on the quieter right side of the rapid, as shown above.

On their second run, Evy and Benz wowed the onlookers by executing a full 360-degree spin move just above the rapid (see above).  At the last second, they then avoided the "meat" of the rapid by slipping their canoe just to the right of the submerged boulder on the right side of the rapid, before pulling hard over to the shore, as shown below.

So what did they do on their third run?  Well, given the title of this blog post, I can't show you that now.  But stay tuned!

Note:  Click on a photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday Wildlife

A female common merganser (Mergus merganser) swam quickly towards the shore as Kathy and I floated past it on the Rio Chama on September 3.  Trying to guide the cataraft and handle my camera at the same time meant I had to settle for a less-than-clear photograph.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016



Rio Chama - Aragon Rapid


Are we having fun yet?

Kelly made a trial run with an empty kayak through Aragon Rapid on September 2.  Just to be sure, he did it three times.