Photography . . . Travel . . .

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Few New Images of Connor, Malayan Tiger at the San Diego Zoo

Connor got to hang out in the large enclosure last Saturday, and the morning sun was in just the right spot for photos.

He was getting pretty excited about playing with this big piece of log.

Click here to see a few more images of Connor, the older Malayan Tiger at the San Diego Zoo, from Saturday, Dec 26.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Some New Pictures of Cinta, Malayan Tiger at the San Diego Zoo

Here are a few new pictures of Cinta, one of the almost two year old Malayan Tigers at the San Diego Zoo.

Click here to see a few more images of Cinta, one of the Malayan Tigers at the San Diego Zoo.

The Very Large Array

One of the high points of our New Mexico road trip was a stop at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, otherwise known as The Very Large Array.

The Very Large Array, one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories, consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. Each antenna is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter. The data from the antennas is combined electronically to give the resolution of an antenna 36km (22 miles) across, with the sensitivity of a dish 130 meters (422 feet) in diameter.  Whoever named this was not kidding.  Also, it's no accident that it is located truly in the middle of nowhere.

The VLA offers a self-guided walking tour that gets you fairly close to at least one of the 82' diameter antennas.  We were particularly lucky I think in that not only did we have really nice late afternoon light, but the antennas were configured fairly close together, and we even got to see them move in sync from one direction to another.  Even in the close configuration I had a tough time trying to get all of the antennas into one image.  At their widest configuration, which produces a diameter of just over 22 miles, it would have been almost impossible.

In addition to the 27 active antennas, they do keep a spare so that they can rotate them out for maintenance and not have to shut the facility down.

The Very Large Array is definitely worth the drive to see.  If you would like to know more about the VLA, they have a great video narrated by Jodie Foster.

Click here to see a few more images from the Very Large Array.

More New Mexico Road Trip - December 2015

Before we left Santa Fe to head south, we took a little detour up to the base of the Santa Fe Ski Area at 10,300' to check out the views.  Apparently the aspen trees showed up after a big fire in the late 1800's. 

About halfway between Santa Fe and Las Cruces we turned west onto US 60 at Socorro to visit the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array.  I'll put up a separate blog post for that.

In Las Cruces we spent more of our time in the little village of Mesilla.  We had dinner at the Double Eagle, which is housed in an old adobe that dates back to the mid-1800's, and is said to be haunted by two ghosts.  

We didn't see the ghosts, even though we went back the next morning to get more pictures.  Apparently the ghosts of Armando and Inez, who died in the room pictured below, are said to be quite friendly and playful.  

The town plaza was decorated with luminarias.

Our last stop in Mesilla was the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, where we took a little walk to stretch our legs before the drive to Tucson.  This is New Mexico's newest State Park, and they've done a very nice job setting this up.

Anyone who has driven the Interstate highways of the US Southwest will remember the many signs touting the next upcoming gas station / gift shop / tourist trap.  One that I remembered from trips to Texas in the mid-1970's was The Thing.  For many miles before you get to it there are signs proclaiming that you have to see it.  I saw it in the 1970's at some point, but didn't remember much.  We just had to stop and see what it was.

After you pay $1.00 each for a ticket, you pass through a ratty little door at the back of the shop, and head through a series of old, dusty sheds with old, dusty stuff on display.  Follow the yellow footprints.

Eventually, in the third shed, you get to The Thing.

I would hate to spoil the surprise for anyone, so I won't show what's inside the case.  In fact, I don't even have the photo in the gallery linked at the end of this post.  If anyone really has to know what The Thing looks like, and doesn't feel like driving out I-10 in Arizona to just before the New Mexico border, send me an email.

One of our last stops was in Gila Bend to refuel.  We saw some dinosaurs.

Click here to see a few more images from various spots we stopped along the way, including a lot more from Mesilla.  There are other links at the end of the other blog posts about this road trip.

Monday, December 21, 2015

New Mexico Road Trip - December 2015

We recently completed a week-long road to Arizona and New Mexico.  Along the way we stayed overnight in Phoenix, Albuquerque, Santa Fe (3 nights), Las Cruces and Tucson.  All in over the course of 8 days we logged just over 2,140 miles in the Xterra, and went from below sea level to up over 10,300 feet.  We spent more time on the Interstate highways than we normally do on our trips, but we did manage to get onto some lesser traveled roads for at least part of the trip.

The main focus of our trip was New Mexico, but to get there from San Diego you need to cross Arizona.  We spent our first night in Phoenix, and then drove northeast, up to 7,500' along the Mogollon Rim and then dropped down to a stop at Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert before pulling into Albuquerque for the night.

The Painted Desert Inn, which dates back to the 1920's, is now a historic landmark museum and visitor center.

On our way from Albuquerque to Santa Fe we stopped in a little town called Cerrillos.  In its day Cerrillos was quite a wealthy mining town, but almost everyone left when the mines stopped producing.  Several western movies have been filmed there in more recent years.

We toured the local "mining museum", and stopped into the little church, where we got a good restaurant recommendation for Taos from the parish priest. 

In Santa Fe we toured a few churches, and the museums up on Museum Hill, but mostly we just wandered around and admired the scenery and architecture.

The late afternoon sunlight coming through the stained glass windows of the St. Francis Cathedral projected some beautiful colors onto the walls and columns.

We took our time driving the High Road to Taos, and spent a few hours in the little village of Chimayo on the way.  Heather and I stopped in Chimayo during a drive around New Mexico in 1994, but we almost didn't recognize it this time, as the complex has grown so much. It now gets over 300,000 visitors a year, and is considered one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage centers in the United States.

Luckily we were traveling off season, so it was a quiet and peaceful place to spend a couple of hours.  

We lit a couple of candles, and moved on towards Taos.  The Carson National Forest has some great views, and we found a forest service road to wander off for a bit.

There wasn't really all that much to do in Taos, so after lunch at Doc Martin's (the place recommended by the priest in Cerrillos, and very good by the way) we drove out to see the bridge across the Rio Grande River Gorge.  The steel arch bridge was completed in 1965.

We walked across the bridge and back just before sunset.  It was cold and windy, but the views are great; it's about 650' from the center of the bridge down to the bottom of the Gorge.  If you've watched any recent episodes of Expedition Unknown on the Travel Channel, it's the bridge that the host is standing on in the opening credits.

Click here to see more images from Petrified Forest National Park.
Click here to see more images from Chimayo.
Click here to see more images from around Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.

About Me

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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All of the content and images on this site (c) Frank B. Baiamonte. If you would like to use any of these images please contact me via email at to discuss terms of usage. Note that images from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are not available for commercial usage. You can also see more on my Instagram page @frankbaiamonte.

Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.