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REMEMBER THE ALAMO - Monday, November 15, 2004

I wake to a mild, foggy morning in San Antonio, TX. Today will be both a tour and drive day for me. First on my agenda is a short ride to downtown San Antonio where I'll find The Alamo, the former mission and fortress compound that was the focal point in the famous Battle of the Alamo in 1836.

Upon arrival, I immediately set to task and tour the complex, spending a little more than an hour milling about the place. Unfortunately, cameras aren't allowed within the church or exhibit areas, so, my photo opportunities are strictly limited to the structure and surrounding grounds. Regardless, even the outside sights are interesting enough to make my visit worthwhile.

After my tour, I put rubber to the road and drive through a good portion of Central Texas. Traveling more than 350 miles in both fog and rain, I reach Pecos, TX where I decide to overnight. I wanted to overnight in Carlsbad, NM, however, I'm just too tired to go on.

I spend a little time travel writing before turning in for the evening. Tomorrow I have plans to drive north to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico where I'll tour the caves there.

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VISITING CARLSBAD CAVERNS - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Today promises to be an interesting one, I'll be spending a good portion of my day deep underground investigating the offerings of Carlsbad Caverns. I've visited the caverns before, way back, when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. However, now as an adult, I suspect my experience will be altogether different. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I wake in Pecos, Texas to an overcast sky. After a quick breakfast I head due north out of Texas and into northeastern New Mexico, destination Carlsbad Caverns National Park. On the way I drive through desert that's received a bit of rain, as attested to by a swollen waterway. Additionally, I pass by fields upon fields of oil pumping derricks, all working away in an effort to pull from the ground small quantities of black crude that'll, no doubt, help fuel the American economy.

Nearing Carlsbad Caverns I pick up a cowboy hitchhiker named Loren. From his troublemaker days as a young brawler, to his courageous and crazy bull riding rodeo ways, he proves to be an interesting character indeed. I go out of my way to drive him to Carlsbad, New Mexico, afterwhich, I head to the park, where I first tour its above ground offerings, followed by a unique and fascinating undergound tour that takes me deep underground on footpaths that run for miles.

After completing my tour, I head back into Carlsbad, New Mexico, where I run into Joe, a handicapped and homeless man. After aiding Joe with a ride and a little money, I retire at the local Wal-Mart, where I fix dinner, then partake in a bit of travel writing before retiring for the night.

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ALIEN ENCOUNTERS - Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I receive a small scare when I wake, my camera's not working for some reason. Come to find out, after a bit of trial and error, it proves to be a bit too cold out for its liking, a little warm-up via the van heater heals things up just nice.

Today I plan to visit Roswell, New Mexico, the famous Alien Mecca of the World by some standards. There you'll find the International UFO Museum and Research Center, a special place that strives to enlighten the general public with displays that stretch one's imagination concerning all things alien and just plain weird.

From the Wal-Mart parking lot in Carlsbad, New Mexico to begin my trek northward to Roswell. On the way I get a taste of just how arid this region is, lots of scrub plants and plenty of exposed soil. Not really very interesting to look at, actually. Things turn around, however, when I roll into Roswell. The museum proves to be an interesting venue indeed. I spend a whopping 4 hours there, milling around and absorbing all that it has to offer.

At days end I find myself all museumed out and hitting the road to Taos, New Mexico. I drive into the night, missing out on some good pretty scenery, a judgement based stictly on the fact that I gained mucho elevation during my trip. Oh well, you have to drive sometime to get from point A to point B. Once I arrive at point B (Taos), I settle into the local Wal-Mart there, taking in dinner then hitting the hay.

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ROMPING AROUND NORTHERN NEW MEXICO - Thursday, November 18, 2004

I wake to a cold morning, a bit colder than I'd like. But it's mid-November, after all, and one can't really complain when it's sunny out. And sunny it is! Time for a bike ride! Yup, that's how it works, I decide what to do on a moments notice, a nice perk when you're traveling solo. After some research, the Rio Grande del Rancho is the bike trail I choose, an easy little ride. I need to avoid challenge today, I haven't ridden my bike in a while and am feeling rather sluggish and out of shape.

A short drive from Taos takes me to the bike trail head. Once on the bike, I quickly discover just how fit I really am. Damn, I'm in terrible shape, as proved by my heavy breathing the very first 100 yards of the trail, it just about kills me. Fortunately, the trails gets easier and I quickly aclimate to the high elevation. All in all the bike ride kinda sucks, but I do manage to run across a mini garbage dump along side the trail. Sweet!

After the ride I clean up then drive to San Francisco de Asis Church nearby, an old mission church that is famous in both paintings and photos. The church is very well maintained but no photos are allowed inside so my tour is confined to its outside offerings.

Once the church tour winds down I high-tail it through Taos to Taos Pueblo, wanting to get a quick looksee in before dusk. Unfortunately, time and light are not on my side, I end up shelving a tour of the ancient pueblo until tomorrow. I head back to Taos to catch the movie Ray. Good flick. After the movie I turn in and pray for another sunny day. Slightly warmer temps would be nice too. Am I asking too much?

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BIRTHDAY IN TAOS - Friday, November 19, 2004

Once a year a signature day rolls around. Catching some off guard but ensnaring all, for better or for worse, that annual day is one's birthday. Today I'm 40 years old, a milestone of sorts, the age when you realize you've probably consumed more than half your life. Depressing? Sorta, but at least I'm on the road, what a great way to celebrate one's remaining life!

Today I have my sights set on touring both the city of Taos, New Mexico and Taos Pueblo, a timeless Indian community located on the outskirts of Taos. According to plan, I tour Taos, taking in all the art and culture it can dish out. Sufficiently satiated with my Taos experience, I turn all attention to Taos Pueblo, a fascinating place, actually. In the process of touring I learn a boat load of facts and figures about an ancient way of life and at tour's tail end make the acquaintance of a sweet elderly Indian woman who sells me jewelry, bread, and speaks of earlier times when she was a young woman.

Winding down from a full day of touring I jump in the van and head due north out of New Mexico and into Colorado, home state of my good buddy Paul. I drive into the night to the southern suburbs of Denver, where I meet not only him but the first snow of my trip. Yuck! I spend some time catching up with Paul before turning in for the night.

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HANGING WITH PAUL - Saturday, November 20, 2004

I spend the entire day and evening hanging around with my friend Paul. I haven't seen him in quite a while, so it's time well spent. After a crisis intervention with my van in the morning, the day's events progress to poking some fun at home shopping, followed by dinner and a nice evening of winding down with beers and billards.

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ARTS & CRAFTS - Sunday, November 21, 2004

Another lazy day here in Denver. Today's highlights include meeting Paul's folks, some oohing and ahhing at his Mom's arts and crafts, filling up with dinner at a greasy buffet, then capping things off with a little work on the website.

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Gold Nugget, National Miners Hall of Fame and Museum, Leadville, CO
Old Faithful Area, Yellowstone
Houston Control Center, Circa 1970s, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
Sculpted Corn Field, Carr Valley, WI
Nightime Snowstorm Aftermath, Avon, CO
Glacier National Park
Rose Parade, Pasadena, CA
The Badlands, SD
Sunset at Grand Canyon, AZ
Hiking to Mount Marcy, Adirondack State Park
Big Sheep, Indian Petroglyph, Moab, UT
Old Faithful Area, Yellowstone
Grand Teton Range, WY
Lake Pend Oreille, ID