So long summer ... Hello, Mount Capulin

The summer of 2012 is drawing to a close. It was a hot summer, so I welcome the fall weather that's already trying to overcome the heat. Despite the heat, it was also a good summer. We got a lot of projects done around the house - despite some setbacks - and we were able to take some trips with the kids. This is time we will never regain. Kids grow up so fast. I'm glad for all of the time we've been able to spend with them and look forward to future outings and our daily adventures as well.

Last Sunday, we went to Capulin Volcano National Monument in Northern New Mexico - about three and a half hours from our house in Colorado. We did this as a last hurrah, a farewell to summer, if you will. Here is the crew:

Stephen, John and Tookie
To start, we checked out the visitor's center where they have artifacts from around the area that people can touch. They also have the normal supply of gifts and books. After using Mike's Senior Pass, we began the ascent to the volcano and stopped for a picnic lunch along the way.

On our trips, we have learned to bring a cooler full of water rather than soda pop or other drinks. This keeps all of us hydrated, cuts down on the expense of buying anything on the road and seems to make everyone happy. No one complains about the lack of Kool-Aid or other sugared drinks. We also bring sandwich fixings, chips, fruit and cookies (two packages of Oreos will be wiped out in an afternoon). This saves a ton of money because with all of this good food we won't hit the fast food places. Everyone just grabs another snack if hunger strikes.

After lunch we drove up the two mile drive to the top of Mount Capulin. If you go on a clear day you will see some spectacular views of the valley below, other volcanoes in the field and lava outcroppings. Once we reached the top, the kids took the quarter-mile trail down into the volcano's crater, while Mike and I readied our camera equipment.

After they returned, we hiked around the top of the crater. This is about a mile walk with some of the most spectacular views in the area.

Going Up

Fortunately, there are places to sit.

Visitor's parking lot on edge of crater

On the way down. Whew!
The path is steep but it is well preserved and there are a lot of places to sit. We suggest taking water on the trail because you're at 8,000 feet and the altitude can really sap your energy if you're not careful.

As you look out on the grasslands from the rim of the volcano, it's hard to imagine that this area was once thick with sulfuric smoke and aflame with lava. The sky was periodically brightened with flaming rocks shooting through the sky. These rocks and the flow of lava from the volcanoes formed into mesas and hills. Once outside the national park area, you can find rocks of hardened lava that were formed about 60,000 years ago when Mount Capulin blew its top. Amazing.

Tomorrow, I'll take you on a tour of one of those mesas with pictures from this year and last year. Have a great Monday!