Category: travel

Playing catch-up on the photography challenge. Days 80 to 83.

Well today’s post is actually going to be several posts combined into one to play catch-up on the photography challenge. Since the weather has been rainy, cloudy, and then slightly sunny—our internet/wifi has been the same—down, down, up, down, down, oh you can have access for about three minutes and then down again over the past few days.


This unfortunately is why I didn’t get pictures posted after Tuesday (yes, I could have tried to find the time at work to post—but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that) night. Therefore today’s post is going to be a mix of different things. So let’s get started on the photography challenge catch-up.

The winner for day 80 (Wednesday) is the hummingbird at the back feeder. We usually try to get our hummingbird feeder out in mid-April to feed the hummingbirds as they migrate through—though the ruby-throated hummingbird does summer in Oklahoma. It looks like either it’s a female ruby-throated hummingbird at the feeder, or a young male that hasn’t molted into the bright red throat.

Ruby-throated hummingbird has made an appearance in the backyard.

What are some cool facts about the ruby-throated hummingbird?

This is basically the only hummingbird that is seen in the eastern United States; as it is the only breeding hummingbird east of the Great Plains.

It can beat its wings approximately 53 times a second (that means its beating its wings almost 3200 times a minute).

Due to having extremely short legs, it shuffles along its perch (it doesn’t walk or hop). But it can still scratch its head & neck if needed.

It’s either a female or a very young male–I don’t see the red throat.

It belongs to the order Apodiformes (along with swifts), and the name means “without feet”—mainly because in flight it doesn’t look to have feet.

While they mainly feed at flowers (or feeders that have sugar water), they will occasionally eat small insects as well.

Depending on the number of broods, the female may start building a new nest while still feeding the nestlings in the first nest (as the nest will stretch as the young grow).

They can migrate a long distance (for example from Canada down to Costa Rica), and often fly over the Gulf of Mexico during migration (either way).

It seems to be thirsty today.

As much as I’d love to get a picture of one trying to shuffle along a branch–they usually perch extremely high (sometimes I can get a picture of it sitting on the power lines), but I doubt I’d be able to catch it close to its nest where it’d most likely be shuffling along a branch.

References:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ruby-throated_Hummingbird/overview

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/ruby-throated-hummingbird

The winners for day 81 (Thursday) are the squirrels hanging from the birdfeeders in the backyard.

Someone doesn’t want to hunt for seeds…

So we had to buy a new birdfeeder after the squirrels had chewed a hole in the lid of the one I’d bought a few years earlier from the national wildlife foundation. This is a birdfeeder we have hanging in front of the window in the living room, where the cats can lay on the back of the loveseat and watch the birds, and anyone sitting in the recliner across the room can also watch the birds.

Since we live next to a small creek, and not that far from some wooded areas, we have quite a few squirrels in the neighborhood. These little critters also like to help themselves to the birdseed and bird suets in the backyard, so we try to get the birdfeeders that claim to be “squirrel proof”.

They’re doing an upside down “hug” to stay on the feeder.

Well as you can tell from the picture—the squirrels have figured out how to get around the “squirrel proof” byline and get to the birdseed. This particular feeder is suppose to be weight sensitive—to where if something heavy is on it, the bars slide down and the animal can’t get to the bird seed.

A young raccoon had broken the lid earlier this spring—I’d found the feeder on the ground and the lid pulled off, and since then the squirrels have figured out that if they “hug” the feeder they can distribute their weight and still get to the bird seed.

So yesterday would have been day 82 of the photography challenge. This is the day that I usually try to also share some of the fish pictures I’ve taken over the years–making it a FishyFriday post as well. So in addition to that–it’s also a FlashbackFriday post to one of my trips to the New England Aquarium.

I’ve realized that one thing I should start doing when I go to aquariums/zoos/museums and am taking pictures—I should also try to get pictures of the plaques that state what animals are in the exhibit (or time period if I’m in a museum).  It is quite difficult to google “black and white stripped fish new England aquarium” and actually get a good hit on what that particular fish actually is.

Thankfully, I have managed to identify all three of the fish (though it took quite a bit of time to be able to do so).

A French grunt swimming in the large ocean tank at the New England Aquarium

The yellow-striped fish is actually a French grunt fish (Haemulon flavolineatum). This fish species is actually native to western Atlantic ocean and can be found basically from South Carolina down into the Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean and then downwards towards northern coast of Brazil.

They feed primarily on small crustaceans and mollusks that they hunt for during the night. They stay in close proximity to coral reefs (probably to be able to dart to safety to escape predators) while hunting.

Their name comes from the noise they make when they grind their teeth together.

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haemulon_flavolineatum; https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/haemulon-flavolineatum/

A fish that is known by many names: pufferfish, balloonfish, and blowfish

The second fish is the balloonfish. This fish is also known as the pufferfish, blowfish, and bubblefish (just to name a few of the other names).

The habitat of the balloonfish, are the warm shallow coastal waters; more specifically coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds. They stay hidden for the most part during the day—though I’m sure they’ve given plenty of scuba divers and snorkelers a shock if they’re accidentally awoken in their hidey-holes.

They are nocturnal feeders, going after clams, snails, hermit crabs, sea urchins, and other mollusks that dwell on the sea floor.

If something comes upon them (and they think they could be eaten), balloonfish will puff up to almost three times their normal size; this puffing also allows for special scales to stick out, and they then look like a spiked football, which most predators will then leave alone. The bubblefish will then float away, and may wait awhile before releasing the air (or water) to shrink back down to its normal size.

References: https://www.scienceandthesea.org/program/201008/balloon-fish

Honeycomb cowfish swimming in the tank at the aquarium.

The final fish is the honeycomb cowfish. This fish gets its name from the hexagonal scales that cover most of its body.  This is one of the ways that the fish is able to blend in with the coral reefs it calls home, though they are also found in seagrass beds as well.

This fish is found in the western Atlantic (east coast of the United States), the Caribbean, and then down towards Brazil. While it isn’t found in the Gulf of Mexico, it can be found around Florida (mainly on the Atlantic side and the Keys).

They feed on shrimp, algae, and sponges during the day.  Another way that they protect themselves from predators (aside from the hexagonal scale like armor) is the ability to change their color to blend in with their surrounds as well. Once they sense a threat—they can change their colors, and then remain stationary for quite some time.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeycomb_cowfish

Now we’re finally up to today’s photography challenge winner, and it’s one of the hundred or so I took last year on our small vacation down to New Mexico. One of the places that we went to was Carlsbad Cavern National Park.

One of the many formations one can see in the grand cavern at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

. While we only spent a short time in the caves, I managed to get over a hundred pictures of the caves. Because no matter which way you turned, there was a new angle to take a picture, different lighting, and so forth.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the caves, showing the “draperies” of the caves. As one of the signs stated: “Draperies form where water containing dissolved limestone runs down the ceiling leaving traces of calcite. Over hundreds of years, calcite crystals accumulate. When water stops flowing, draperies stop growing.”

The proper name for the draperies is actually “speleothems”. Since we only spent time in a small part of the national park (the main caves and then a small drive through one of the canyons), I’d like to go back at some point—but maybe actually signup for a tour of the inner caves—which is basically a five hour round trip in and out (which is one of the reasons why I didn’t do it last time). I know that I need to be in a little bit better physical (and possibly even mental) state than what I currently am in.

So I’ve managed to catch up on the photography challenge, and hopefully the wifi connection will behave and I won’t have to many other multiple post days. Though while in a slight enforced ban on electronics–I was able to get some other things done (there will be several posts coming over the next few weeks on this)–so that was one small bright spot. Until the next picture–remember to try to find the beauty in the everyday.

No Comments bird watchingNational ParksnaturePhotographytravelZoos/Aquariums

Fishy Friday and Flashback Friday in one: the Moorish idol or the black and white butterfly fish. Photography challenge Day 75

Today’s photograph is also another flashback Friday photo for my trip to Hawaii. One of the things I tried to do on my trip was sit near the water in areas where I could observe fish and other aquatic life. I then tried to zoom in with my camera to get pictures (this was all before I got a digital camera that I could then actually put in the water). So some of the photos came out nice and crisp, and other (like this one) had more of abstract look to them.

It’s either the Moorish idol or a black and white butterflyfish

I thought that the fish in the photo is the Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus)—or a member of the butterfly fishes that also closely resembles it—hard to totally tell from the picture. Anyway—the Moorish idol is a fish that has a wide distribution through the tropical and subtropical waters, especially around reefs and lagoons. But know I think that it is the black and white butterflyfish; these fish are also found throughout the tropical and subtropical waters around reefs.

The diet of the butterfly fish varies depending on the species—some eat coral polyps and sea anemones, while others are more omnivorous (which makes them easier to care for in salt water aquariums).

The way the fish mature is unique as well—butterfly fish release their eggs, which float on the currents with plankton until hatching. Then as they mature, the young go through a stage where they are covered in large, bony plates that are shed when they mature.

The Moorish idol is a very difficult fish to try to keep in captivity—mainly due to its diet (it feasts on sponges, coral polyps, tunicates, and various other invertebrates) and the fact that they require very large tanks as well. So that is why butterflyfishes (especially the black and white) are sometimes called the Moorish idol replacements.

I would like to go back to Hawaii and try my hand again at getting pictures of various fish under water, now that I do have a camera that I can stick underwater (at least a few feet).

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorish_idol

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterflyfish

No Comments naturePhotographytravel

Fishy Friday: Another pick from the New England Aquarium & Photography Challenge Day 40

Well this is probably going to be a shortish post mainly because while I have more photos of fish from the New England Aquarium that I will be sharing–the identification of the fish is taking quite a while (it’s hard when you type in a color and hope to see your fish within the first twenty or thirty photos).

Anyway today’s photo winner(s) are the garden eels.

Garden Eels

Garden eels are members of the subfamily Heterocongrinae within the conger eel family Congridae. These eels are found in the warmer oceans (mostly in the Indo-Pacific area, but also in the Caribbean & eastern Pacific).

They are small eels that live burrowed in on the sea floor. Since they live in groups, when they all poke their heads out—they look like plants in a garden—hence the common name: Garden eels. Their coloring varies between species, and the average length is about two feet (twenty four inches). There are also about thirty five different species in two different genera.

Unfortunately it is difficult to tell from the picture what color the garden eels were—but I’m pretty sure that they are the yellow garden eel (Heteroconger luteolus). But when they’re all out and bobbing at the same time—they do look like a garden of eels.

Reference:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterocongrinae

One goal is going to try to figure out what the different fish are in most of the photographs. This is for several reasons: 1–so that I can share them as more than just a pretty picture of a fish, and 2–so that I can also learn something new and share that as well.

No Comments naturePhotographytravel

Fishy Friday: Photography Challenge Day 33. Some favorites from the New England Aquarium

So going with the theme #fishyfriday for today’s photos. Instead of doing the fall back pictures of the algae eaters, I decided to share some of the pictures that I’ve taken at the New England Aquarium. This is one of my favorite places to visit in Boston—no matter how many times you visit—it always seems like there is something new to see. You can spot a different fish, or the octopus or anaconda might actually be moving around.

So today’s cast for #fishyfriday include:

Moray Eel

The moray eel, which was emerging from it’s hiding spot when I walked past one of the windows of the large center tank. These eels can be found in all tropical and subtropical seas, living among the coral reefs and hiding in nooks and crannies. While they look threatening by continuously opening and closing their mouths—they are actually just moving water through their gills (aka they’re just breathing).

If they feel threatened they can bite, so if you are out scuba diving and see one—don’t try to get close for a selfie.

Some other cool facts about moray eels:

They have transparent ribbon-like larvae.
They have a set of jaws located in their throats that thrusts forward to pull prey back into their esophaguses (so I wonder if all the weird aliens have been based off someone watching a moray eel eat?)
They have symbiotic relationships, where cleaner shrimp will clean parasites off of them.
There are about 200 species world wide.
They only appear to be blue or green because of the toxic mucus that they secrete to help navigate through the crevices of the coral reefs.


The second picture is of a ray swimming among the different fish. Now I’m not sure exactly what species of ray this is—but I just love how they seem to “fly” through the water.

Ray swimming through the fishes.

So rays are actually the largest group of cartilaginous fish, with over 600 different species found within 26 different families. Their gills are actually located under their pectoral fins that are fused to their heads. These beautiful creatures live for the most part close to the sea floor, usually within the warmer waters of the tropical and subtropical oceans and seas (though there a handful of species that can live in cooler waters). They diet is as varied as their locations—plankton to snails and clams to the occasional other fish.

The final picture is of a weedy (or common) sea dragon.

The weedy or common seadragon

The weedy sea dragon is a relative of the seahorse. These fish have a reddish color, with small leaf-like appendages (hence the names weedy and leafy sea dragons). The leaf-like appendages provide camouflage as they’re swimming through the seaweed.

Other facts about the weedy sea dragon:
It is found solely in the waters off of Australia—specifically around New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania.
Like the seahorse—the male cares for the developing young. He carries the eggs until they hatch (~1 month), and the young are independent at birth. It takes a little over 2 years before sea dragons reach sexual maturity.
Mating in captivity is rare—though there are several aquariums around the world that have been able to successful bred the weedy sea dragon.

There are several threats to the weedy sea dragon (though it’s listed as least concern on the endangered species list):
Habitat loss and degradation and pollution are the biggest threats to the sea dragons. They live in seagrass beds, and don’t “migrate” far from what they’re use to, and therefore if seagrass beds start to decline, so will their populations.

References: Copying & pasting the links below with take you to webpages outside of my blog. I do not endorse any of them—they’re just various pages that I found information on the fish that I decided to share pictures of. By acknowledging their pages—I’m acknowledging that there is still things for me to learn about the creatures that inhabit the oceans.

https://www.britannica.com/animal/moray-eel
https://www.sportdiver.com/photos/species-moray-eel
http://murexdive.com/moray-eels-facts/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batoidea
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_seadragon

No Comments naturePhotographytravel

Photography Challenge: Throwback Thursday Edition–Trip to the British Museum

One of the many things to see in the British Museum.

Well I decided that today’s picture was going to be in the throwback edition. Looking through my photos, I decided that I wanted to remember my brief trip to London and the surrounding area that I took almost a year and a half ago.

This trip was during the time that I was job searching (as I’d been laid off from my job in August of 2017 due to budget issues), and I decided that I needed a break from things. I made it a two for one trip–I was going to try to network (there was a career event that I registered for) and also treat it as a mini vacation at the same time. So this was a whirlwind trip, where I left the US on Monday, landed in London on Tuesday, did the networking event on Wednesday and then spent the next three days sighting seeing as much as possible.

Going to London was my second trip abroad (first was in college for a forestry class & we went to Honduras), and my second large solo vacation as well (my first large solo vacation was going to Hawaii after passing my PhD proposal exam in grad school).

I loved the British Museum, & I know for a fact that I didn’t see everything in the museum either. So, hey–one reason to go back, I need to see the other half of the museum. I’m pretty sure that I missed the portions on Asia. But I love going to museums, zoos, aquariums–places that one can learn, and the exhibits while they might not “change”, the second time seeing them you see things in a different light or notice something that you didn’t see before.

It has also reminded me that it’s been awhile since I took a “big” trip, so maybe that is something that I should slowly start planning for in the fall. There are quite a few different places that I would like to travel & see–Australia, Scotland, Italy, and Finland just to name a few countries. Will just have to see what the year brings and maybe–just maybe there will be another trip abroad later this year.

No Comments Photographytravel

Wacky Wednesday Photo Challenge: Throwback to the octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus

So today’s picture is an older picture, but one that I don’t think I’ve shared on the blog yet–it was one of the many pictures that I took out in Boston back in October.

So the New England Aquarium is now home to two giant Pacific octopus, and when I was there in October, they were actually moving around.

I can understand why these giant animals can be the villains of horror stories set at sea. They are huge, but also quite beautiful to look at.

I think it was looking at me.

These guys are found on around the northern Pacific seas–so around Washington, Oregon, northern California, British Columbia, Alaska, Russia, Japan, and the Korean peninsula. Since they are “giants” they can also range up to sixteen feet in length, and weigh up to 110 pounds.

I always say that there are animals that I would love to see in the wild: zebras, giraffes, cheetahs (so basically going on a safari), but I’m not sure how I’d handle seeing one of these in the wild.

One thing I do want to do–go see other aquariums. Since there is such a variety of sea life, I always enjoy looking at the different little exhibits and learning a little more on the life in the sea.

No Comments naturePhotographytravel

Day 1 of Mental health/networking break: Travel from OK to MA

So yesterday marked the first day of my mental health/networking break in the Boston area. The day was spent traveling—I got up at the early, early hour of basically 3:30am and got to the airport by 4:15 and was through security and sitting at the terminal by 4:40—a full forty minutes before boarding was going to start. Both flights ended up being full, so I checked my duffle bag (with the hopes that it would make it to Boston on time—and it did).

Today was the first time that I’ve flown into Atlanta, Georgia (nice airport for the little that I saw of it—luckily I didn’t have to go to far for the connection to Boston).

                 Souvenirs from Atlanta

I did buy two little souvenirs—a magnet for the fridge, and then a quirky little shot glass. I was very lucky with both flights, that I didn’t have a center seat; I had a window seat from Tulsa to Atlanta, and then an isle seat from Atlanta to Boston. Also with the trip from Atlanta to Boston, I can now say that I’ve flown over most of the upper east coast to get to Boston. The most trying time was waiting to get off the planes (both seats were in the back of the plane), especially in Boston. I think that from the time the plane landed to when I grabbed something to eat it was an hour (that’s how long it took to get off the plane, get to baggage claim, get on the bus to the T stop, get my ticket, get into Boston, and then find something to eat). So I’m currently not that hungry as I’m sitting in my hotel room writing this.

So once I got to North Station to connect to the commuter rail to get out to Salem I noticed that my cell phone had basically died—which meant that I didn’t have my map to pull up to find my way to the hotel (needless to say I did walk probably a quarter of a mile in the wrong direction before asking for directions). Steps are better than yesterday—but still below my average goal (but that is just the way it’s going to be for the current weekend).

So—finally made it to the hotel, and it is a very nice one at that (though missing a few things—namely a microwave in the room (I can do with taking showers since there are no tubs). Since I was late on booking my rooms for this trip, I was very lucky that I was able to find a room for two nights, and decided that I would stay in “The Hotel Salem”. This is a very nice posh hotel basically right in the middle of anything one wants to do in Salem (in terms of sightseeing). There is even a restaurant connect to the hotel, which makes it very easy to go and order an sandwich and take it back to the room (only to find out that the door lock batteries died and you now get to use an actual key to get into your room). Their sandwiches are superb—I ordered the roasted turkey and it was more than enough as it also came with an order of fries. I now have half a sandwich to eat later this week at some point (luckily the room does have a refrigerator so that is where the sandwich is [and hopefully if I don’t eat it tomorrow—I won’t forget it when I check out on Tuesday]).

             Looking down from the loft

Tomorrow’s plans are just sightseeing around Salem, relaxing, and all the other fun stuff one does on a mental health break.

No Comments careerPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmenttravel

Start of Mini Vacation and Networking Trip

Well it’s the start to my mini mental health break & networking week out in the Boston area. While it’s been a rough couple of months (due to issues at work), it has been a very hellish two weeks (post coming later) and this is a much-needed break.

One of the problems about trying to fly long distance from Oklahoma is that you either need to stay at the airport the night before (because really—who wants to try to drive to the airport at one or two in the morning???) or arrive at your destination extremely late. Therefore I’m spending the night at the Clarion Inn at Tulsa International Airport so that I can make my early morning flight. This will be the first time that I fly into Atlanta, so I’m thinking of possibly getting a small souvenir at the airport (I’ll have a little over 2 hour layover—plenty of time to find something [plus coffee & food]), since who knows when I’ll be passing through the state of Georgia again (also the first time to fly Delta).

Then tomorrow I’ll be back in the Boston area, in October—therefore that means some time spent up in Salem (because one cannot be in the state without trying to make it to Salem in October). This is part of my mental health break—having a hotel room for two nights, and then spending basically a day touring around the city (or a small area on foot), and trying out one or two new restaurants while I’m there.

Then Tuesday will be back into to Boston, and heading to the hotel and maybe meeting up a friend for dinner. Then spending some time looking into the companies that are going to be at the networking event the next day. Wednesday will be spent at a seminar in the morning, then probably around the Harvard/Kendal Square areas for the afternoon to be local for the networking event.

Thursday will be another mental health break—probably doing the Freedom Trail, maybe going to the aquarium, or a tour of the harbor again (basically being outside and playing with my camera).

Friday will be hopefully going to a science symposium (and being able to check my luggage, since I’ll be switching hotels), and then after it is over—going back to the North End to grab something to eat for dinner, and then catching a cab to the hotel near the airport.

Saturday will be another long day—early morning flight (refer back to the top for why it is a pain to travel to or from Oklahoma) to be home by the early afternoon.

Then depending on how this goes, I’ll probably try to make it to a national conference in the spring, along with maybe networking events in large cities that are a little closer to travel too.

No Comments Personal Developmentprofessional developmenttravel

Happy Summer Solstice (Short Post)

So today is the summer solstice—or for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere—the “first” day of summer. Though since I’m no longer in school and I don’t have any kids, other than knowing it’s the longest day of the year it just felt like any other day.

So what is the summer solstice? It’s the day of the year when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer (for those of us in the central time zone—it was roughly 5:07 this morning [I personally slept through it]). The reason why the first day of summer varies year to year, is because as the world continues it’s orbit around the sun, it will vary a little, which is why the first day of summer is between the 20th & 22nd of June [same reason why the winter solstice varies between the 21st and the 23rd of December].

Sunny day at Stonehenge

One thing that I wish is that I’d thought of taking time off around the solstice and going back to Stonehenge—it looks like it’s the only day (though they may allow people close to the stones for the winter solstice) that you can get up close to the monument. I think that it would have been extremely magical to be standing closer to the monument at the time that the sun rose—when I went last year it was in the fall and later in the day.

As time continues to tick by, I need to focus on determining what I’m passionate about (or at least enjoy doing on a day to day basis) when it comes to science and research. There are areas that I know I’m weak in that I need to start strengthening–but there are certain things in all areas that I need to start strengthening. So the first order of business for the first few days of summer is to determine (make a list) of the high priorities and then determine the plan to get there.

No Comments AstrologyPhotographytravel

Day trip to Carlsbad Caverns

Spent several hours at Carlsbad Caverns yesterday.  With getting into the caverns there are two ways of doing it–the elevator (which will take you down the 750 feet into the heart of the caverns), or you can walk in. The walk in is a little over a mile of winding down into the caves through the natural entrance of the cave (which has a small amphitheater in front of it, as this is also where the bats fly out come night fall). We walked in through the natural entrance, which was winding down through the caves and seeing numerous different formations. Then once we were in the main cavern–it was about another mile and a half path around that room.

Rock Formation that looks like an animal

One of the formations looked like either a rabid mole, or some other type of animal. Or at least I’m seeing something’s fangs and claws in the rock formation.

Ceiling within the caves

There were numerous people who were hiking quickly through the cave, if to say “I hiked through the caverns”. Having this mentality had them missing a lot of scenery–such as the ceiling. You could stop just about anywhere in the cavern and look up at the ceiling and see the spectacular formations hanging from the ceilings.

Popcorn column

There were also numerous columns that looked like they were covered in an almost popcorn like mosaic. There were columns that looked similar, but there were also columns that looked nice and sharp, but others were smooth and round.

Old man sitting

Then there was this structure that looked either like an old man sitting or an rocky “groot”.

The hike throughout the main cavern was almost unearthly, there were different formations throughout the entire the cave. There were also little pools of water throughout the cavern, and water dripping off the ceiling (no guano droppings in the main cavern), and then there were deep pits and pools that if you looked down–all you will see is pitch black (I tried to take a picture, and it is all black–because you can’t see the bottom, and there is no light to illuminate the bottom).

There are numerous things that one can do at the park. There is of course the main cavern, that you can walk through at your own pace (which you can enter through either the elevator or walking in through the natural entrance). There are also guided tours that you can sign up for. I’d though of doing one–but with going on the weekend there are only two that are offered–and you have to be there at least thirty minutes before the tour is suppose to happen. I didn’t make it on one–because (1) I was walking through the main cavern, and (2) didn’t know how long the tour would last (they last basically about 5 1/2 hours). So now that I know the time frame for doing an guided tour, next time I come–I may try to get on a guided tour and see some of the other caverns that you can’t see on your own.

Other things include going on the loop drive. This is an nine and a half mile drive (Walnut Canyon Desert Drive) that takes you through the mountains. We didn’t see any wildlife (though there was the telltale sound of a rattlesnake at the rattlesnake canyon overlook). There were flowers and numerous other things flowering, and towering mesas (or small mountains). We saw swallows, and the occasional insect buzzing through quickly (I think there were one or two small butterflies).

There were hiking paths, throughout the area (but with the temperatures and the fact that one of the paths was called rattlesnake canyon trail–I didn’t try to hike any of them this time around). There was another drive that one could do–you had to leave the park, drive south a little, and then get on an unpaved trail to the slaughter canyon cave (and there were two hiking trails that headed off from there)–we didn’t do this one–again, something to try to do next time down to the caverns.

The park is something that one can be done within a day (if you just do the main cavern and maybe the walnut canyon desert drive). I’d like to try an hike on one of the trails (but would need to make sure that I had everything one would need to for hiking through a desert/arid area).

Loved the park, and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a national park to visit, and one especially if you enjoy an geological unique area.

No Comments Photographytravel