Friday, October 17, 2008

Capulin National Monument

On Friday, September 26, we left Denver for the two-day drive to Austin, Texas, for a friend’s wedding. We had an uneventful drive south through Colorado on I-25. As we turned east in New Mexico, we started seeing signs for Capulin Volcano National Monument. We’d never heard of Capulin Volcano before, but we’d been driving for a while and decided we’d stop to check it out and stretch our legs.

Northeast New Mexico was fairly flat, except for a few volcanic peaks of the Raton-Clayton volcanic field sticking up, one of which is the extinct cinder cone, Capulin. We made a quick stop at the visitors center, which was swarming with a busload of kids from Texas who were visiting the volcano. Then we drove the short road to the top of the volcano. From there, we walked the one-mile trail around the rim of the volcano.

Here’s a look at the highest point of the volcano rim.

IMG_5991 by PunIntented
The hike offered expansive views in all directions, since there weren’t many other mountains to block the view.

IMG_9642 by PunIntented
IMG_9638 by PunIntented
IMG_9637 by PunIntented
We also got a view of the Sierra Grande, which is the largest of the Raton-Clayton volcanoes.

IMG_9633 by PunIntented
As we hiked, it got cloudier and cloudier. This tree looked cool set against the clouds.

IMG_5993 by PunIntented
After our quick stop at Capulin, we were back on our way to Amarillo, Texas, where we’d stay for the night. Our brief stay in Amarillo was unexciting except for a trip to a very tasty Tex-Mex place named Taco Garcia. We both miss Tex-Mex and hadn’t had good Tex-Mex since our last trip to Texas for a wedding, so we were quite pleased. We spent the rest of the night watching the first presidential debate.

In the morning, we were back on our way to Austin. Anyone who’s ever driven across Texas knows that it’s horribly boring, no matter what direction you come from. Driving more than 700 miles across I-10 is hours of agony, and driving south through Amarillo is really not much better. It’s just hours and hours of flat nothingness.

We arrived in Austin just before dinner to find that the campground where we’d planned to stay was only available to registered divers by reservation. Ugh! You’d think that they might have told us that when we’d called a couple of weeks before to inquire about their camping. After some driving around, we found another campground on Lake Travis that was sub-optimally located but would work. It was a long day, but we’d made it to Austin.

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