Echo Amphitheater

Echo Amphitheater: Mineral or Murder?

Echo Amphitheater: Mineral or Murder?

Echo Amphitheater

Echo Amphitheater, Northern New Mexico

Echo Amphitheater in Northern New Mexico is known for unique echoing auditory properties. We chose it Sunday as the destination point for our drive through the Jemez. The entire drive was breathtaking. As a brief thunderstorm approached, the light on the sandstone cliffs after we rounded Abiquiu Lake was spectacular. So many different layers of colors were visible. On reaching the Amphitheater itself, in shade from clouds overhead, I did not immediately appreciate the colors. They appeared muted.

From the parking lot, a very nice walk leads to the Amphitheater itself.

Echo Amphitheater

Paved Walk To Echo Amphitheater

As we walked in, I was impressed with patterns hollowed out in the sandstone by running water. In addition, I noted small trees growing in cracks, which would, of course, lead to larger cracks and falling rocks over time.

Echo Amphitheater

Water Carved Sandstone Cliffs

Echo Amphitheater

Water Carved Sandstone

Echo Amphitheater

Tree Growing in Crack in Sandstone

At the very end are stairs. At the top of the stairs is a landing on which you stand in front of the center of the Amphitheater. This is the point for the best echoes. Of course we clapped hands, said “Hello,” and a variety of other things. Things really do echo!!!

We photographed the impressive stains running down the sandstone.

Echo Amphitheater

Center of Echo Amphitheater

 Echo Amphitheater

Stains on Left Wall of Echo Amphitheater

Echo Amphitheater

King Douglas Photographing Echo Amphitheater

At the time we were there, I thought the stains were probably from iron carried in running water during storms. Today, however, I decided to see what I could find about minerals that might have caused the stains, whether iron, manganese, or something else or a combination. I easily found an overview of minerals in the region. I took this photograph as we were leaving the site.

Echo Amphitheater

At Echo Amphitheater

I have not yet found a scientific analysis of the mineral(s) streaking the sandstone.

However, I did find an Old West myth in the Atlas Obscura:

According to legend the curved stone cliff wall now known as Echo Amphitheater was the site where a group of Navajo executed a family of settlers. As the story goes, the victims were brought to the top of the cliff and killed, their blood running down the cliff wall and permanently staining it. Possibly in response to this legend another story says that years later a number of Navajo were in turn murdered in the same spot, once again staining the cliff wall with their draining blood. Now the natural echoing caused by the site’s geography is often ascribed to the voices of the unquiet dead.

I guess that can serve as an alternative explanation while I continue to search for a scientific explanation. The fact a story like that never occurred to me when looking at the Amphitheater at the time or the images later confirms the thoughts of a friend that my scientific view of the natural world prevents any possibility of a story telling imagination. 😉


Old West Murders

Old west murders really are not my thing, but seem to be a recurring theme for some reason this spring. I’m still working through all of the things I have found from simply following things out from the DNA test I did just before Christmas. On my father’s mother’s side, one 2nd great grandfather was William Benjamin McKaughan and my 2nd great grandmother was Charlotte Clarenda “Lottie” Spencer (I guess I really am part Irish and part English). They married in Nacogdoches, Texas in 1852. He purchased properties along rivers in Texas, and became a merchant. In the 1860 Federal Census he had significantly more land and personal property than any of my other relatives at that time. Then came the Civil War, and all of my relatives as far as I can determine were Confederates. I’m still working on swallowing that. They had more children after the Civil War ended. He became known in Dallas for business trips he made after the Civil War. Then, on May 5, 1868 he was murdered. The generally accepted story is that one of Charlotte’s brothers (would be a great grand uncle of mine) killed him over a “family matter” (nothing more specified). The Spencer brothers were also merchants, but I do not know if they worked together or were competitors. But I found one website where someone says quite simply, “His wife killed him and her brother took the rap.” I have no idea, but I am trying to find out more. No one in my family talked about that 🙂 )))))))))) It was new to me!

In the 1870 Federal Census Charlotte was still living in Belton, Texas with her younger children. She did not possess William B’s land, but still had a fair amount of personal property. By the 1880 Federal Census she was living with an older daughter as well as some of the younger children in Nacogdoches, Texas. The 1890 Federal Census burned. In the 1900 Federal Census she was living in San Antonio with my great grandmother, Mary Rosella Mckaughan Webb and her third husband, George C Webb, along with two of her grandchildren – my grandmother and great aunt – and also her unmarried younger daughter, “Mattie” McKaughan. Charlotte died in San Antonio in 1902, and is buried in the Confederate Cemetery there.

When I graduated from medical school, my father’s sister gave me a pair of earrings with the hand written note, “Charlotte Spencer McKaughan, mother of Mary R McKaughan.” No explanation beyond that was given, and it was the only time her name was mentioned to me in any way. William Benjamin McKaughan was never mentioned to me, and on old death certificates of various family members, both my grandmother and great aunt gave false information about his name and place of birth (and they didn’t even tell the same lie!). On one my grandmother said there was “no information” on who her aunt’s mother was, which would have been my grandmother’s grandmother, Charlotte Spencer McKaughan. I guess they figured telling different lies would make finding the truth that much more difficult. It was, and I’m still searching.

What happened to the body of William Benjamin McKaughan? I don’t know. He has a cenotaph memorial in Salado Cemetery, Texas.

Salado Cemetery Texas

Salado Cemetery, Texas. Photo by “Longwired” 2005

Forgive the digression…


Back to New Mexico

For those of you who live here, a day trip through Northern New Mexico with Echo Amphitheater as a destination point is fun. Plan many stops along the way for colorful vistas and photographs. See what your imagination tells you. Thanks for coming along with me on this trip.

New Mexico

New Mexico Weekend

New Mexico Weekend

New Mexico: images are better than words. This was a weekend of great company plus beauty, floral on Saturday and landscapes on Sunday.

Saturday was the Fifth Annual Corrales Rose Society Dr. Huey Tour. Time flies!!! You can read about and see Tim Price’s images at his blog, TandL Photos. Days spent with Tim and Laurie in Corrales are always beautiful.

Sunday I had a remarkable day with a photographer friend from Dallas, King Douglas. (Hello to our friends from the old 1X!!!!). Over breakfast we discussed what to do. He pulled out a map and circled a few places. It was clear we were not going to “usual” places. I am so glad. I’m also glad I filled up with gas before I picked him up. We settled on Echo Amphitheater as a destination (photos of that another time). I warned him that I always get rained on in the Jemez, even if there is only one tiny cloud in the sky. The rain came just as we arrived at Echo Amphitheater. It was short-lived, and produced a cool and refreshing afternoon. The magic of the Jemez! We chatted about so many things. And, when we stopped to photograph, I got some tips from a master. What a day!

New Mexico

Abiquiu Lake Looking North. Very Low!

New Mexico

Northern New Mexico. More Colorful than the Painted Desert of Arizona.

New Mexico

More Color, and Look At That Sky!

New Mexico

Abiquiu Lake Looking South, with Georgia O’Keefe’s Pedernal Mountain

Finally, for our mutual friends, King Douglas with his wife’s dog, Cooper, in Echo Amphitheater. Cooper is not only adorable, he is an extremely smart Service Dog. He was a great little companion on the trip.

New Mexico

King Douglas and Cooper in Echo Amphitheater

This weekend was full of great company and visual delights. Thank you for sharing what was a remarkable weekend, even by New Mexico standards!


Spring Color

Spring Color

Spring color is everywhere in Albuquerque. Everything looks so fresh. The roses are a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. Because the weather is not hot yet, the roses haven’t become crispy critters, as they sometimes do. Everything around town seems colorful and clean. Of course, nothing beats a sunrise here! A riot of floral color makes things that much better!

spring color

Miniature Rose ‘Cinnamon Delight’

spring color

Riot of Color with Spring Flowers

spring color

Brilliant Southwestern Sunrise

blazing sunrise

Another Blazing Sunrise

Another Blazing Sunrise

Another blazing sunrise, which have been happening frequently this month.

blazing sunrise

Another Blazing Sunrise

Many of you have seen Tim Price’s recent skies. The skies are ablaze. You can see just a hint of crepuscular rays here… I kept hoping they would fully develop, but they remained a hint only. It did not matter; it was another spectacular New Mexico sky.


2017 Reflections

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Family Genealogy

2017 Reflections

2017 Reflections: how could something that seemed at times to drag on end so quickly? Maybe it was like the brevity of the reflection of the Sandias in the Rio Grande near sunset, on a beautiful day spent with friends Tim and Laurie:

2017 reflections

Sunset Reflections on the Rio Grande

New Year’s Eve also brings my mother’s birthday. Today she turned 98 years old. In December I got a little into genealogy after buying a DNA test kit at a low price on Black Friday. Playing a bit with family trees, I found my mother has a third Great-grandmother who was born in 1782 and lived into 1887. My mother is very competitive, and is determined to outdo this relative in terms of longevity!

2017 reflections

My Mom on Her 98th Birthday

DNA is interesting. I’ll spend time in 2018 figuring out how I’m “49% Irish-Scotch-Welsh-British” when I thought for sure I was 75% German. At the moment I have 465 “matches”of fourth cousins or closer (I don’t know who all these people are!). Additionally, two of those are third cousins I feel like I should have known but even my mother had not heard of. DNA does not lie!

Reflections on Roses: In 2017 The ARS Board of Directors, approved Rules and Guidelines for Judging Rose Photography. I have posted a series of PowerPoint Presentations for this at Southwest Desert Gardening. The series is also posted at rose.org That was a nine-year commitment, much of it spent swimming upstream! Was it worth it? I’m still reflecting on that.

Photography in 2017: I exhibited locally this year, at ANMPAS in April, the Corrales Fine Arts Show in October 2017, and Shades of Gray in December 2017.

I did a couple of series as well. “Insects amongst the Flowers: A Microcosm of Life, Work, and Death” was a lot of fun! (Click on the link to see the series.)

As always, Light was a favorite subject. Crepuscular rays continue to fascinate me. Here is a slideshow of crepuscular rays in 2017:

If you would prefer to just look at the images, you may view the gallery here.

The last moon of 2017, not quite full, gives of hint of the beauty to come in 2018!

2017 reflections

Last Moon of 2017

Tomorrow, January 1, 2018 the moon will be a full super moon. Even more exciting is the Super Blood Red Blue Moon that will occur on January 31. Here in Albuquerque, totality will occur in very early morning and in a part of the sky for which I do not have a clear view. I’m going to spend some time figuring out how can get a good view and stay relatively warm. 🙂 )))))))))) (The Blood Red Moon of 2015 was at a convenient time, and I could sit on my back porch eating strawberries and drinking tea while photographing it. Not this next one…)

As 2017 fades away, 2018 promises much to enjoy.

Finally, I would like to thank Oli Robbins for a very kind biographical narrative in the Sandoval Signpost. It was a great end to 2017.

Wishing each of you an enjoyable, calm, peaceful New Year, full of joy. ~ Susan

Hover Fly

Sunday Musings

Sunday Musings

Sunday Musings: return to Standard Time, Marigold Parades past, the fascinating world of insects… First of all, today marks the return to Standard Time in the US. Although it is not quite so awful now that I am retired, I remember the long winter months of driving home in the dark at 5:00pm. Because daylight hours are already shorter, the long nights seem even longer. Regular readers here know I am a lover of light. So, the fall time change is not something I welcome. People ask why the Winter Solstice is not my least favorite day of the year. That is simple: the next day, the hours of daylight start to increase. But, enough of that…

The Marigold Parade

More Sunday musings: Albuquerque’s Marigold Parade tends to fall on the same day as the change to Standard Time. Now there is more than a bit of brightness. The South Valley has managed, so far, to keep it as its own. While some photographers focus on the wonderfully painted faces, I have always found the cultural statements especially fascinating. To me, the 2012 and 2013 parades were especially vibrant and creative. In contrast, the overall political mood just before the 2016 election dampened, in my opinion, the Marigold Parade. I have not publicly shown any of my images from last year. Here are a few “postcards” from previous Marigold Parades. To see large views, first click on the image. Then, on the new page, click on the dimensions shown, and you will see a detailed image.

Ofrenda (“altar”) at the West Side Community Center. I especially love the Sandia Casino bingo marker!

sunday musings marigold parade


In the park before the start of the parade:

sunday usings marigold parade

Muertos y Marigolds

Painted Faces and Lowriders

sunday musings marigold parade

Painted Faces and Lowriders

Painted Faces, Low Riders, Ofrendas

sunday musings marigold parade

Marigold Parade Potpourri

I think every New Mexico parade has lowriders – “low and slow for show.” The Marigold Parade certainly features them.

Sunday Musings marigold parade

Ubiquitous Lowriders

Political Statements

Sunday Musings marigold parade

Marigold Parade and Politics

Kids and Families Are Active Participants

sunday musings and marigold parade

Marigold Parade and Families

I did a series of Kindle ebooks about Albuquerque’s Marigold Parade and Dia de los Muertos obsrvances. These are at Amazon:

The Joys of Macro Photography

Another Sunday musings macro photography is fun. This summer I worked a bit more with macro photography. I have a few images that surprised me. You have already seen the hover fly. Although I did not know what it was at the time, I was pleased with the image from the time I first saw it on the computer. In real life, I could not tell what was going on. For all intents and purposes, it appeared the insect was making love to the flower. I took around 20 images, and this is the only one that clearly shows what was going on. The hover fly was gathering nectar from a tubule of the Mexican Sunflower. It was stabilizing the tubule with its front appendages, and drinking the nectar through its specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

Hover Fly

Hover Fly on Mexican Sunflower. Note the specialized “suctorial proboscis.”

I was very happy late last week when CanonUSA on Twitter tweeted

Canon USA Imaging


We’re happy also! We love the detail! This photo has been selected as #CanonFavPic

This image has definitely been added to my portfolio.

Enough musing, time to get to work. I hope you are enjoying your weekend, and that we all get through winter and standard time without too much major depression. 😐


Uniquely New Mexico

Uniquely New Mexico: Spirits of the Old Adobes

Uniquely New Mexico: old adobes, week of many observances across cultures of visiting spirits, and especially of Day of the Dead with Albuquerque’s – so far, not commercialized – Marigold Parade, Muertos y Marigolds. Several years ago, during more than one “photographic excursion,” Tim Price and I photographed a lot of old adobes, and Laurie sketched them. Those images sat around for a while, as did some images from a couple of Marigold Parades. I don’t remember exactly when I decided to make some composites. I do remember I had a lot of fun playing. My son really likes the series, so I decided to revive a few of the images. The Gallery, Spirits of the Old Adobes, is at my portfolio site. This seemed an appropriate week to share the images.

uniquely new mexico


(Click to enlarge image.)


Feeling Winter

Feeling Winter

Feeling winter? The weather in Albuquerque is still that beautiful autumn weather those of us who live here love so much. But, a change – hopefully brief – is coming. You know, the cold wind and significant drop in temperature. We know we are very lucky here. Even in the midst of true Winter, we will have sunny and often warm days. But I tend to turn inward in winter. I can feel winter coming.

feeling winter

New Mexico Autumn (Click to Enlarge)

Others’ Thoughts on Feeling Winter

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“But if I was still alive, I’d have a damned fine day despite the rain, despite the depression, think of something you like doing and do it!…As for me, if I was still alive, I’d have a great cup of coffee, a nice breakfast, then I’d take a drive, walk around, smoke a cigar, eye the pretty ladies…hmmm, nice lunch, yes sir! Read a good book and listen to music, maybe hang out with friends, watch some baseball on TV, love good conversation…and maybe end the night with a little romance. You know what I mean? Live, live everyday, every night, then when you get over here on the ghosty side, you’ll say like me, hey, I did pretty damned good. I hardly moped around at all. I enjoyed my precious human life to the full! Yes sir, I sucked the marrow outta them ribs! ~ Jim Stallings, If I Was Still Alive

For me, I have stockpiled what seem like endless photographs I can edit, maybe composite, play with through the cold and dark days of winter. And before Winter truly sets in, I have more photography to get done.

Finally, make the most of your day!

New Mexico

Uniquely New Mexico

Uniquely New Mexico: Spectacular Skies and Hot Air Balloons 🙂

Uniquely New Mexico: so many things! All of you know how much I love so many things about New Mexico. Just because wanted to, I took a few minutes to unwind with new software, my kind of sunrise, and a perfect New Mexico balloon. I think of the D H Lawrence quote almost every time I see a sunrise here with clouds.

uniquely New Mexico

The Unique Beauty of New Mexico

I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had. It certainly changed me forever. . . . the moment I saw the brilliant, proud morning shine high up over the deserts of Santa Fe, something stood still in my soul, and I started to attend. . . . In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly and the old world gave way to a new.

There are all kinds of beauty in the world, thank God, though ugliness is homogeneous. . . . But for a greatness of beauty I have never experienced anything like New Mexico.

Wishing you a spectacular day wherever you are.

2015 fine arts show

29th Old Church Fine Arts Show

The Corrales Visual Arts Council holds Fine Arts Show each year during Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta. The show is held in the Old San Ysidro Church, particularly beautiful in autumn. The show opens after the morning’s balloon events, and closes in time for you to make it to the evening’s balloon events.