Saturday, March 30, 2013

Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park

Today Noelle, Sierra, Parker and I set out to explore our new home area a little bit more. We visited the Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park in Limestone, Tennessee. There is not a whole lot at this park. There is a swimming pool, campground, and a few short trails. There is also a small cabin that represents the type of home that Crockett would have been born in on the Tennessee frontier.
The cabin is set along the banks of the Nolichucky River and there is a nice monument marking the site of Davy Crockett's birth. As a matter of fact, there are actually two of them. There is the modern one that was installed in the 1960s
and an older one (actually the engraved footstone of the original cabin).
Both were interesting.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cherokee National Forest: Margarette Falls

Today Noelle, Sierra, Parker and I got out for our first hike in the Greeneville area. It was a pleasant drive to the trailhead in the Cherokee National Forest. We arrived at the trailhead, got the backpack ready and headed off.
The hike started on an old gravel road.
Eventually we left the old road and started off on a muddy footpath. The trail paralleled a cascading creek with lots of views of tumbling water.
Eventually we crossed the creek on a footbridge
and later crossed the creek again on some slippery stepping stones.
Shortly after crossing the creek for the second time we found ourselves at the impressive Margarette Falls.
We took a family photo at the falls and then started to make our way back to the trailhead. The hike back to the car was all downhill and so was very easy, except for the slippery mud. As we made our way back to the old road section of our hike we ran into a pair of hikers and their dog. The lady in the group informed us that she worked for the chamber of commerce and she took a photo of us hiking to use on their website. After only 2 days in town it looks like we're going to be helping to sell Greeneville to visitors!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Last night Sierra, Noelle and I stayed in Little Rock, Arkansas. This morning we woke up, packed, ate breakfast and headed a few blocks east to the Central High School National Historic Site. I had been there before back in 2006, but for Noelle and Sierra it was a first visit. The visitor center, which was new since my last visit, contained a lot of interesting exhibits about civil rights and the Little Rock Nine, the first group of African American students to attend the school. These black students faced an incredible amount of hatred and hardships in attending the formerly all-white school.

After checking out the exhibits, we headed outside for a look at the school itself
and a small memorial park located across the street from the visitor center.
After leaving Little Rock it was a long, painful drive to Memphis and eventually Nashville. Traffic was at a standstill on Interstate 40. it took about 2 hours to travel 4 miles. When we finally got to Memphis we had a delicious early dinner at Corky's before moving east to Nashville.   

Monday, March 25, 2013

President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home NHS

Noelle, Sierra and I are on the road, headed to our new home in Greeneville, Tennessee. Last night we stayed in Weatherford, Texas and this morning we drove into Arkansas where we stopped in Hope
for a visit at the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site.
This visit is particularly interesting given that Clinton is the only other president to be impeached besides Andrew Johnson, whose home I am headed to for my new job. We toured the visitor center before going on a tour of the actual home.
None of the furnishings are original, but are period pieces similar to what would have been in the home when Clinton was a boy. I think Sierra enjoyed seeing Bill's playpen.
The one item in the home that actually belonged to Clinton was this book.
After touring the site we headed back to the car to hit the road again. We made an interesting wildlife discovery before we left though: a red headed woodpecker.
It was my first time seeing this species. Interesting that while National Park Service sites are often great places to see wildlife, we often overlook historic sites as wildlife viewing areas.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Goodbye Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The movers moved most of our stuff yesterday, but had just a few things to pack up this morning. They were finished by 9:30 leaving us with a whole day and nothing in the house to do or sit on. We decided to make one last trip up to the caverns to say goodbye to the cave and, more importantly, our good friends there.
The trip through the cavern was nice. We carried Sierra in the backpack and she really seemed to enjoy riding in it.
We first took the elevator into the Big Room where we walked the entire loop.
We stopped for a few photos along the way.
After the Big Room and a stop in the Underground Rest Area we proceeded to hike up the Main Corridor. Sierra was in really good spirits until we reached Devil's Den. She then started to get fussy and tired. We hiked up rather quickly and returned to the Ranger Roost to say our last goodbyes before heading back to our empty house.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Moving On

Noelle, Sierra, Parker and I are getting ready to move on yet again. This time we are headed to Greeneville, Tennessee where I've gotten a job at Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. While there are certainly some aspects of Carlsbad that we will miss (the great friends that we've made here) we are excited to be headed east and closer to our families. Noelle and I visited Andrew Johnson NHS before and I remember thinking that Greeneville seemed like a pleasant town. Here are some other reasons why we are excited about Greeneville:

You can see we've got a lot to do in our new home. I can't even list it all here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Organ Needle

This morning I woke up early and met friends Lee and Annie for the long drive to Las Cruces and the Organ Mountains. Today was the long-awaited attempt at the summit of the highest point in the Organ Mountain range: Organ Needle. We stopped at the Chevron station for coffee and breakfast burritos and then headed southwest into El Paso before returning to New Mexico at Anthony.

Once in Las Cruces we headed east to Baylor Canyon Road We parked at the junction of the Baylor Canyon Road and the Modoc mine road turnoff.
This was as far as Annie's car would take us, so we set off on foot at about 10:45. The hiking started off fairly easy with a nice gently ascending road that led up to the base of the mountains. Eventually we passed the Modoc Mine and the road turned into a trail. The hike on the trail was still fairly easy until we reached the Yellow Rocks.
At the Yellow Rocks the climbing began in earnest.

From the Yellow Rocks it was a steep climb up to the Gray Emminence.
We followed the relatively well-defined user trail around the Gray Emminence to a saddle commonly referred to as the Juniper Saddle. At this point Annie decided that she did not feel up to ascending any further. She told Lee and I that she would rest in the sun while we attempted to ascend to the summit. Lee and I bid Annie farewell and started climbing up a slick granite surface. We could look back and see Annie making her way over to her own summit, a small rock outcrop on the other side of the saddle.
Eventually Lee and I entered Dark Canyon. We found some scattered ice and snow in the cold, shady canyon and ate a snack in a sunny spot near the top of it.

Once we had ascended to the top of the canyon, we descended a bit on the east side of the mountain and then ascended a short class 3 pitch to a small ridge which led to the summit. We each took turns standing on the small summit block and took some photographs.
We found an old wooden sign with some names carved into it along with the years 1935-6.
After a short time on the windy summit we retired to a more sheltered spot among the rocks and signed the summit register.
After signing the register we started on our descent. Since the trails were full of loose rocks and scree we decided it would be best to spread out a bit to prevent the higher hiker kicking rocks down onto the lower one. This plan worked well and we made fairly quick time back to the saddle where we were reunited with Annie. After a short rest at the saddle we were ready to continue our descent. Again, we left plenty of space between ourselves to avoid kicking rocks onto each other. The loose scree of the trail made descent difficult and at one point I fell hard directly onto my right arm. The fall took me by surprise and I let out a groan that I've never heard myself make before. I initially thought that my arm might be broken, but after a minute I found I could move it pretty well. It turned out just a bit bruised, swollen and scratched.

While my fall turned out to not be a big deal, about five minutes after my fall, Annie twisted her knee. This turned out to be serious as she could not put much weight on it. We were only about half way down the rough, scree-filled trail and carrying Annie down would have been difficult, if not impossible. Luckily she was able to slowly make her way down on her own power. Still it was a slow process and Annie was forced to basically crawl backwards down the steepest, slipperiest sections of trail.
Luckily when we reached the Yellow Rocks the hiking got considerably less difficult and Annie was able to walk upright.
We continued on down the mountain at a slow pace and made it back to the car just before sunset.