Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Visit to City of Rocks State Park

Have you ever seen a little piece of nature that seems completely different from the area around it? Maybe a fern-filled grotto around a spring in the desert? Or a wildflower meadow in the center of a dense forest? Enchanted places?

Not far from Silver City, New Mexico, we found such a place in City of Rocks State Park. In the middle of a rolling grassy plain, an ancient volcano left behind a core of hard rock that had eroded and weathered into what looks like a city on the hill. 


It's easy to imagine a thriving city, magically turned to stone. Like all cities, it has streets and alleys, windows and doors.

It's nicely landscaped, with wildflowers, 
live oaks, and desert plants.

Rock City has quite a few permanent residents, although they are a little camera shy.

Weathered rocks are a little like cloud formations, stimulating the imagination. If I stare at them for very long, I begin to see things there. Like stone castles…

Giant toadstools,

and petrified monsters.

The best part of this park is that the campsites are nestled right into the rocks, making visitors a part of this enchanted city. And right in the middle, under the wide-open sky, are a small observatory and meeting circle where they offer occasional programs on astronomy.

So, if you ever find yourself in western New Mexico (The Land of Enchantment), you might want to take time to explore this odd little park, and see what enchantments you find there. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

More Favorite Words

Last month I talked about a few of my favorite words (Collecting Words) but that's only the beginning.  Word collecting is great, because words are not only free, they don't have to be dusted. The ones I like best are words that invoke a special meaning and also dance off the tongue. How about these?


Not a near miss, not even a nice try, but a huge, total, spectacular failure. A fiasco. The debacle might well have been caused by someone's ...


Mischief, or maybe something more nefarious. Secret, dishonest manipulations. And can't you just hear the Irish accent?


Like a blueberry, but a bigger, sweeter, wilder version. In my mind, huckleberries are always connected to a special camping trip to Montana. Also slang for "the man you're looking for." The one who can get the job done. "I'm your huckleberry."

Mosquitos and No-see-ums

Be honest. Don't you feel itchy just hearing the names of the buzzing little biological instruments of torture?


Floating in the air, but it implies that the rise was unexpected, maybe miraculous. 


Lots of these around, always trying to stir up the crowd, to drive a wedge between groups of people. Sometimes it's for a greater good, and sometimes just to make themselves important. Rabble-rabble-rabble. 


The lowdown, the rumor, the truth behind the official story. Did you know this derives from a nautical term for the water cask, so in effect, it has the same meaning as the water cooler does in office slang? 


A big deal that really isn't. Lots of public excitement and confusion, but in the grand scheme of things, nothing all that important. A hullabaloo. 

Your turn. I know I can't be the only one who collects odd words. Share your favorites. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Floating the Kenai

Last week, my husband decided to go fishing, and invited me along. At first I declined, looking forward to a full day of writing. But the weather forecast said it would be a beautiful day, rare in September. The Kenai River draws visitors from all over the world. How could I pass up the opportunity? 

It was the right decision. Just on the drive down, we saw four swans in Potter's Marsh and a couple of dozen belugas in Turnagain Arm. Once we reached the Kenai Peninsula, we had to brake to avoid a bull moose that ran across the road.

The Kenai River itself is beautiful, with just enough glacial silt from feeder creeks to give the river a slightly milky turquoise color. The water ran high, and the fishing wasn't good. My husband only hooked some spent cohos and one small trout. The pair of bald eagles watching him seemed disappointed, too. I guess they were hoping for the castoffs. 

Personally, the lack of fish didn't bother me at all. We already have more fish in the freezer than I care to eat. But it was a perfect float, a reminder of how lucky I am to live in Alaska. And the writing was still waiting the next day.