Day 963: Flying Cabezon Peak and Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah WSA

Shabbos here at Cabezon Peak was cold but peaceful.

This morning I launched flight #101 at Cabezon Peak.  The launch at 6,200 feet was a bit challenging, but after a couple attempts I realized that I was applying very slight brake pressure at launch.  At lower altitudes this isn’t a problem, but at high altitudes the wing needs all the help it can get to stay aloft.  Once I realized the problem, I successfully launched:

Day_963_01

I did just barely clear this cholla cactus on takeoff:

Day_963_02

Day_963_03

Day_963_04

My goal was to fly over Cabezon Peak, so I had to climb about 2,500 feet above the ground.  Looking south, Cerro Chato is in the foreground, with Cerro de Santa Clara behind and to the left, and Cerro de Guadalupe behind and to the right:

Day_963_05

Flying over Cerro Chato:

Day_963_06

Getting high:

Day_963_07

Looking down on Cabezon Peak:

Day_963_08

Looking down at Cabezon Peak.  I’m at 8,700 feet above sea level, 2,500 feet above ground level and 1,000 feet above Cabazon Peak:

Day_963_09

I descended as I flew north towards Rio Puerco:

Day_963_10

I flew over the ghost town of Cabezon.  It’s on private property, so the best way to get close is from the air:

Day_963_11

Flying back to the RV:

Day_963_12

Day_963_13

Day_963_15

Day_963_14

It was a bit of a challenge finding a landing zone amongst the shoulder-high cholla cactus:

Day_963_16

Day_963_17

M photographed his R/C car here:

Day_963_18

Trish made another amazing breakfast:

Day_963_19

Day_963_20

Day_963_21

So long, Cabezon Peak:

Day_963_22

We drove back to the highway, then headed North until we reached New Mexico 57, a badly potholed paved road for the first couple of miles, then dirt for the next 13 miles.  Along the way we passed a herd of wild horses:

Day_963_23

After the better part of an hour, we found this great dispersed camping spot on BLM land, adjacent to the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area:

Day_963_25

M photographed his R/C car here.  I wonder how long he will keep this up:

Day_963_26

Barak, my PPG friend from Salton Sea met us here along with his son.  Barak and I both launched what for me was flight #102:

Day_963_27

Day_963_28

Day_963_29

Day_963_30

Day_963_31

Day_963_32

Barak had engine problems so he landed shortly after takeoff:

Day_963_33

Day_963_34

I flew out over the amazing badlands of the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area:

Day_963_35

Day_963_36

It’s hard to see, but there are hundreds of hoodoos in the yellow layer above the black layer:

Day_963_37

Day_963_38

Day_963_39

Day_963_40

Day_963_41

Coming in for a landing:

Day_963_42

Day_963_43

Sunset:

Day_963_44

Day_963_45

Tomorrow we plan to explore Chaco Culture NHP.

See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.

Day 961: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Today started with a photo-worthy breakfast:

Day_961_01

We hitched up and prepared to leave the Camel Rock Casino, where we’ve been parked for a week.  Thanks for hosting us, or, as they say in the Tewa language spoken by the residents of the Tesuque Pueblo, Kuunda:

Day_961_02

After restocking our frozen meat at Trader Joe’s, we drove south to visit Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument:

Day_961_03

Day_961_04

Day_961_05

Day_961_06

Day_961_07

Day_961_08

One of the “tent rocks”:

Day_961_09

Day_961_10

The canyon became a slot canyon:

Day_961_11

Day_961_12

Day_961_13

Day_961_14

Day_961_15

Day_961_16

Day_961_17

Day_961_18

This cave was enlarged by Native Americans hundreds of years ago and still has soot on the ceiling from the original inhabitants:

Day_961_19

Day_961_20

Day_961_21

More tent rock formations.  A boulder or tree protected the soft layer beneath it from erosion while the surrounding material eroded away more quickly:

Day_961_22

Day_961_23

Day_961_24

Day_961_25

The kids completed their Junior Ranger workbooks, but as of now there is no visitor facility where they can be handed in, so we will have to scan them and e-mail them to the BLM field office.

We continued southwest, then northwest.  Driving to our overnight location involved a few miles of dirt road, on which we encountered open range cattle:

Day_961_26

We arrived at our Shabbos dispersed camping location, Cabezon Peak:

Day_961_28

Cabezon Peak stands over 1,000 feet taller than the surrounding terrain.  It is the largest of a family of volcanic plugs in this area:

Day_961_29

Good Shabbos from Cabezon Peak, New Mexico:

Day_961_31

See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.

Day 938: Western NM Aviation Heritage Museum, El Malpais NM and NCA

At the beginning of our trip, one of our readers e-mailed a link to us about the giant concrete arrows that were installed all over the US to aid in air mail navigation in the 1920s (thanks Mrs. S!). Each site consisted of a 51-foot tall lighthouse, an operations shack, and an arrow shaped concrete slab.  These sites were spaced about 10 miles apart from one another so the pilot could find his way along the route.  Thanks to this network of beacon stations, night flying was made possible, halving the time needed for air mail to make its way across the country. 

On Day 106, we found our first navigation beacon site, and on Day 200 we found our second site.  Today we visited the Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum, which hosts a restored navigation beacon site.  The authentic generator shack and light tower were brought here from two different beacon locations, and placed on this recreated concrete navigation arrow:

Day_938_01

Day_938_02

Day_938_03

One side of the shack’s roof is painted with the beacon number, which usually corresponds to the distance, in tens of miles, from the beginning of the route:

Day_938_04

The other side of the roof shows the route name, in this case Los Angeles to Albuquerque:

Day_938_05

During the day, the pilot would use the arrow to adjust his heading to the next beacon station as he flew over:

Day_938_06

Day_938_07

The inside of the shack has been converted into a museum describing the history of these beacon stations:

Day_938_08

Day_938_09

Day_938_10

Day_938_11

A scale model of a beacon station:

Day_938_12

This rotating signal light is two feet across and is illuminated by a 1,000 watt bulb.  A spring loaded mechanism automatically switches to a backup bulb when the primary bulb fails:

Day_938_13

A model of the Ford Trimotor, the 747 of its day, used by Transcontinental Air Transport to transport passengers and air mail along the route.  It was a TAT-piloted Trimotor that crashed near here into Mount Taylor in 1929, the first plane crash on a regular commercial land route:

Day_938_14

This display shows concrete arrows that still exist:

Day_938_15

Transporting and restoring the shack and tower:

Day_938_16

In an adjacent communications building, I noticed a license plate fragment was used to patch a hole in the floor:

Day_938_17

Eventually concrete arrows were phased out in favor of elevated steel arrows, as the latter could not be buried under snow:

Day_938_18

We next visited the visitor center for El Malpais National Monument:

Day_938_19

Day_938_20

The kids completed their Junior Ranger workbooks and received their badges:

Day_938_21

Day_938_22

Day_938_23

We drove south to visit locations in El Malpais National Monument.  We also visited the visitor center for the BLM’s El Malpais National Conservation Area which is adjacent to the National Monument:

Day_938_24

We visited the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook:

Day_938_25

Day_938_26

Day_938_27

Day_938_28

Day_938_29

Day_938_30

Day_938_31

Day_938_32

Day_938_33

Day_938_34

Day_938_35

B photographed this caterpillar:

Day_938_36

Next we hiked out to La Ventana Natural Arch:

Day_938_37

Day_938_38

Day_938_39

Our last stop was the Lava Falls area, where the trail took us out onto the lava flows that are the primary feature of El Malpais National Monument:

Day_938_40

The kids found icicles handing under a shaded shelf in the lava flow:

Day_938_41

Day_938_42

Day_938_43

Day_938_44

Day_938_45

Day_938_46

Day_938_47

We continued south and east to overnight on BLM land next to the Very Large Array, which we plan to visit tomorrow.

See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.

Day 933: Flying and Biking Concho

This morning I drove out to the “neighborhood” where we checked out property yesterday, hoping to fly.  At 6,400 feet, the air is pretty thin, and with hardly any wind I had a hard time launching.  After six failed launches, I finally launched flight #96, but only after running for what seemed like forever, at one point gaining a few inches of altitude and then settling back down to continue running.  Once I did takeoff, the rate of climb was very low even with the engine screaming at maximum power. 

By the time I successfully launched, it was coming up on three hours after sunrise, which is the end of the safe flying window due to the potential for thermals.  The air was a little bumpy and seemed OK, but I played it safe and landed after just a few minutes.  The whole point was to see what it might be like to fly from land we might buy here, so it was worth the effort:

Day_932_01

Day_932_02

Trish did some blow art today:

Day_932_04

Day_932_03

Day_932_05

B tried it as well:

Day_932_06

Day_932_07

I went for a ride this afternoon, breathing hard in this oxygen-poor air:

Day_932_08

Good Shabbos from Concho, Arizona!

Day 932: Land for Sale in Show Low and Concho

We awoke to a beautiful morning at our dispersed camping location near Show Low, Arizona:

Day_931_01

So many channels and nothing is on:

Day_931_02

The reason we came up this way was to look at cheap lots for sale in this area which we could use as a summer getaway from Phoenix.  At 6,400 to 7,000 feet above sea level, this area is only three hours from Phoenix but is 20 degrees cooler.  We looked at this one acre lot that backs onto a lake:

Day_931_03

We continued up the road to Concho, Arizona, where we set up at this Arizona Game and Fish Department free campground on Concho Lake:

Day_931_04

We really liked this area, where there are hundreds on one-acre lots for sale.  Not many takers so far:

Day_931_05

Day_931_06

I don’t know when the “neighborhood” was platted, but the ancient street signs are still here:

Day_931_07

Back at the campground, we walked the 50 feet down to the lake:

Day_931_08

Day_931_09

Tonight, M was on dinner duty.  It turns out that with supervision, he can make a good dinner:

Day_931_10

Day_931_11

See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.