For the last ten years we have traveled to Colorado for the summer. Each year it is the same routine, we pack up and drive a thousand miles in two days. This year we decided to shake up the routine and to visit a few of those places that we drive by every year.
Our first stop was Fritch, Texas, north of Amarillo. Located along the Canadian River that feeds into the ever shrinking Lake Meredith, the high plains area is sparsely populated and provides a variety of areas to explore.
Even the insects appreciate any water source.
Between Fritch and Amarillo lies the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument. The monument protects an area thickly covered with Alibates flint also known as agatized dolomite. On a two hour guided tour we learned that “the quarries were dug by hand 1,000 years ago and that the gathering of flint from the mesa has taken place for 13,000 years.” Our well-informed park guide provided information on the local fauna, formation of the caprock, and the history of the cultures that harvested the flint. The first use of the flint began at least as early as the Clovis Mammoth Hunter period, After our tour we took off to explore the Lake Meredith Recreation Area. The lake is only 1/3 of its original size due to dams being built up-stream. The community is scrambling to provide new trails for horses, ATVs, and hikers in attempt to revitalize the area.While we were hiking we saw thousands of what my husband called “jumbo grasshoppers.” They were at least 2 inches long and bigger around than my thumb.
The Jumbo Grasshopper
When we were leaving the rec area we saw two Vietnamese families collecting the grasshoppers and placing them in large plastic containers. The park staff told us that the grasshoppers are boiled, the legs removed, rolled in cornmeal, and then fried, I’m pretty sure you won’t be reading a blog featuring that delicacy and we won’t be enjoying them for dinner. Yuck!
Our second stop was Clayton Lake State Park in New Mexico. The lake is only 179 acres located 15 miles from Clayton, New Mexico. The lake is home to dinosaur tracks imbedded in rock near the dam spillway. The tracks can easily be viewed from a protective boardwalk. We spent an afternoon driving the back roads and following the Cimarron Cutoff for the Santa Fé Trail.
Santa Fe Trail Marker
While looking at such a dry barren landscape it is hard to imagine traveling this trail and battling all the elements. It took some very close observation to find anything that might live in this inhospitable terrain but we found evidence of inhabitants all over.
Lesser Earless Lizard
Ground Nest of …………….?
We ended our stay with a visit to the Herzetein Memorial Museum in downtown Clayton. A delightful museum, friendly, well organized, and informative. After a quick bite of lunch at the Ecklund Hotel we were back on the road heading north west.