Saturday, April 7, 2012

Valley of Fires

Sunday morning I came to a small debate. It was Palm Sunday. Did I want to hang around Holloman AFB a little bit longer and attend chapel?

In the end I decided to just head home. Might as well get the day behind us and home early enough for the kids to play with daddy!

I think we were checked out of the TLF by 9:30. We gassed up. Got snacks. And then started our trek back to Albuquerque. This was not going to be a hard drive like when we came down though.

About an hour into the drive we arrived at the Valley of Fires. I had seen this place when we came down and I was determined to check it out. It was a simple park area where people could camp and there was a very small visitor's center where a VERY old man was very kind and helpful to us. People are even allowed to hike all over these old lava flows.

Turns out, this valley (thousands of years ago) used to have very thin earth crust. So some vents opened up and allowed a lot of lava to quickly flow out and cover the ground. It was so cool to see the ridges from the flows and how much there was to it! The area is all black and you could see it from quite a distance coming up to it. Only really hardy plants are able to grow in the cracks of this rough terrain.

that is Little Black Dome in the distance where it is believed was the source of the last large lava flow in the area

The Valley of Fires had a 3/4 mile paved nature walk through part of the lava flows with information stops throughout. I jumped at the opportunity. Get in close. Let the kids run around. Enjoy the sunshine.

We sunscreen up and sauntered to the beginning. It was windy that day so I didn't do that great of a job applying my own spray on sunscreen. I learned later that the wind took most of it before it ever hit my skin so I ended up with a slight sunburn on my shoulders/chest/back of neck. Oh, and the wind was too strong that it kept blowing off the kids' hats.
Lana walking on some old lava
taking a break
So we walked. Will and Lana really loved it. There were maybe 5 other people we saw out there the whole time. I allowed the kids a lot of freedom and they could run to the next "green sign" that had the information on it. One of the early signs told us about the lizards in the area; non-venomous but aggressive if cornered and bites can hurt. In order for the kids to better stay on the path I told them the lizards would bite them if they got off. Worked like a charm.

look closely and you can see the ridges from when it was flowing liquid

I know my face looks kind of red, but I actually was NOT sunburned on my face
I think their favorite parts of the walk were near the end when they sat on a bench under a juniper tree and then a bit later when they were throwing small pebbles/rocks at a large wall of lava rock and watching them tumble down.

under the juniper tree

at the wall of lava
We got back to the visitor's center, did the bathroom stuff, and ate lunch in the car. From there we kept going.

as we were leaving... just surrounded by this black land
Lana fell asleep shortly after we started on the road. I saw a neat roadside rock shop so Will and I got out. He was more interested in their cat. They sold Trinitite there but for $30 for a piece smaller than my thumbnail I passed. Oh, and we didn't stay there long. The owners had VERY rough language talking with other customers and I didn't need Will around that (Lana was sleeping with the door open just across from me).

If you didn't know by my mention of Trinitite, we were somewhat close to the Trinity Test Site (and White Sands Missile Range), where the testing of the first nuclear bomb was done. The site is open twice a year; the first Saturdays in April and October. Thing is, there is still radiation there and an hour exposure provides a dose of radiation equal to what an adult gets naturally in a day. I would like to see it, but this Saturday when it is open is the day before Easter. On top of that I probably would not feel comfortable exposing my very small children to the radiation.

We had just under 2 hours left of our drive and it went by fairly quickly. We passed the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and new we were close. Then we crested a hill and I see the view of downtown. Home was mere minutes away.

We arrived to a clean home and the kids were excited to play with daddy. He even messed around with them so I could get a bit of a nap in. Turns out I spent over 13 hours of driving alone over 3 days. Not too bad.

I'm kind of proud of myself for taking on this adventure alone. It's just one of those things where I wanted to go see these places, I only had this one weekend available, nobody was able to come with me so I conquered it by myself.

This trip created some good memories and I'm so happy I could share it with my kids.


1 comment:

  1. That is so cool! I've never seen anything like that before.

    Also, I nominated you for an award today!!! Come check it out here:
    If you don't do awards that's ok. I just wanted to pick some new people and let you know!