Although it may seem like it, we didn't spend all our time in the car on our recent trip. We were out enjoying what nature had to offer and learning something in the process too.
Like on our visit to the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument just outside of Colorado Springs. We spent a few minutes examining the fossilized remains of leaves and insects captured in lava ages ago and it was fascinating to realize that some of those animals and trees no longer exist in North America but can be found in China and South America.
I was, however, most impressed by the petrified remains of the huge trees found there. I associate giant Sequoia trees with California and had no idea they had once grown in Colorado. Petrified wood fascinates me anyway so it was really cool to see these enormous stumps. There were pieces littering the ground around them and they looked like you should be able to pick them up and throw them in a fire but, of course, they'd never burn since they've turned to stone.
This stump which was 10'-12' high is all that's left of a tree that once stood 230' tall. I know that because it's an earth cache. In order to get credit for the cache, you take your picture in front of the stump and answer a couple of questions about it, in this case the current height and the original height. The guys didn't do a lot of caching but took advantage of those that we right where we were anyway.
The fossils weren't the only relic from the past we visited; Wayne and I stopped at Capulin Volcano National Park on our way home. It was only three miles off the highway as we were traveling through New Mexico so we couldn't resist. Besides, it felt good to get out and stretch our legs a bit.
So good, in fact, that we decided to do the one-mile walk around the rim. As you can see, the path was pretty steep and since we were already at 8,000+ elevation, our sea-level lungs were a bit challenged but that was a good excuse to stop and enjoy the panoramic views. We've stood on the rims of other volcanoes but I think this might be our first time hiking the entire rim.
This picture gives some idea of just how high we climbed as we're about half'way around the trail at this point. You can see the parking lot with our car just to the left of Wayne's head. And you can also see that the views went on forever. They claim you could see parts of four states from there (Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and, of course, New Mexico) as well as the remains of almost 100 other volcanoes.
This was a pretty cool cinder cone...big enough you could imagine it's power but small enough you could take it all in from wherever you were on the rim. There was also a trail right down to the vent but coming out was even steeper than the rim trail. We took a pass on that one.
I love it when there's an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of where we're visiting and exercise our brain cells at the same time. We had two such chances on this trip and we enjoyed them both.