Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Last days of the journey

OK.  The bags are unpacked, the laundry is all done,  two weeks' worth of emails read, if not answered, and I've finally gotten around to looking at the photos of our last day on this amazing journey.

Our first stop was the town of Window Rock, the home of the Navajo Nation's government.  This nifty rock isn't one of the biggest we've seen but it sure has loomed large in our reading.  Some of us were keen to go back and re-enjoy those Tony Hillerman novels now that we had a picture of what the place - and the surrounding area - looked like.

We went on to El Morro (which means 'bluff' or 'headland') and found this one of the most interesting places.  There's a great diversity of plant and animal life here.  We saw things we'd seen nowhere else and some readers may not enjoy all the photos today.  It was a nature tour, though, and we were glad to have found  them.

At the end of the path above, there is a big surprise.  A deep pool surrounded with bulrushes and home to at least one tiger salamander.  This pool is created completely by runoff from rain and snow-melt - there is no spring here. 

We met a tarantula wasp who was in the process of hunting down a big woolly caterpillar.  It was fascinating to see how it could pick up the stunned animal which was much bigger than itself and drag it off.  Sort of of like a log loader, it straddled the caterpillar and held it up while walking.  Their name comes from the fact that they hunt tarantulas which are pretty big spiders! That caterpillar is about 2.5 inches long.

The historic significance of this site are the many inscriptions on the rock face.  It seems that everyone who passed by added to the writings on the wall.  This is a message left by a Spanish explorer in the 1500's.  Unlike today's graffiti artists, these writers left their names for us.  Many settlers and railway workers also left their mark as they travelled though.  It's like a timeline of the waves of people who braved the desert for their various reasons. 

The flowers were many and varied.  I took lots of flower shots here.  This is the scarlet bugler...

And this is what we call Spiderwort (tradescantia) which we planted in our garden at home -  intentionally.  I was surprised to see it all around our picnic area.  A little research tells me that it is a native plant to this area.  Lucky folks to have such a pretty bloomer in their landscape.

On our way back along the path, a shout went up ahead that there was a rattlesnake on the trail.  Since we weren't too sure exactly where the snake was, we crept gingerly by the open land to our left.  But, all the hue and cry had driven poor rattler under a tree.  He was frightened and kept warning everyone off with furious rattling.  I'd never heard this sound before - it's pretty loud. 

The trip is now almost a dream.  We travelled with some wonderful and interesting people and learned lots about the history, culture and natural beauties of these deserts and canyons.   We have over 1000 photos to edit and I'm sure they will pop up here over the next while. 


Rudee said...

What a fantabulous trip! I could have done without seeing the trantula wasp. Kind of creepy, yet, all the same, intriguing.

Welcome home! I look forward to seeing more photos.

Lindy MacDuff said...

This was a wonderful photojournal of your holiday and like a trip back home for me. :-) Thank you for sharing all these gorgeous photos and all the details. I hope you enjoyed it enough that you would return again.


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