On Tuesday, we took a trip to two really interesting places: Three Rivers Petroglyph Site and White Sands National Park. The experience was well worth the ~6 hours we spent on the bus getting there and back, even if I didn’t make any of the progress on problem sets I promised myself I would during the ride.
We arrived at the petroglyph site around 2 or 3, and took a hike down a trail basically lined with these ancient drawings. It’s insane to think that this art is more than twice as old as the United States as a country. At least most of it is. There were a few cases where that definitely wasn’t the case. Unless the natives were using Arabic numerals 600 years ago, the perfect “37” we saw scratched in a similar style was definitely newer. Despite this occasional vandalism along the trail, there are apparently over 20,000 authentic, identifiable figures scattered around the site.
Left: a petroglyph depicting some kind of animal. Right: White Sands seen from the glyph site
When we reached the end of the path, the peak of a tall, steep hill, we had an odd surprise waiting for us. Half of the summit was surrounded by a dense cloud of flies. And these weren’t some tiny gnats. They were full housefly-sized insects by the thousands or maybe even tens of thousands, pouring in and out of a crack in the rock. We still don’t know why they were there, because nobody wanted to get close enough to find out, but it has to be one of the strangest experiences I’ve had here.
I’m sure tons of other people will write about how fun and beautiful White Sands was, so I don’t want to beat the dead horse too much by talking about that. Instead, I’ll talk about another weird thing that happened as we were getting ready to head back home. As we were reluctantly trudging back to the bus, a few buggies with sirens blaring drove into the other side of the parking lot. None of us took much notice, because the parking lot was big, and we were busy making the most of our last few minutes in the park. Then, as a few of us were heading to the outhouse, (generally a good policy before a 3 hour bus ride) a man riding an ATV screamed out of the lot and into the desert, coming within ten feet of our little bathroom group. It was followed closely by a police van and the caravan of dune buggies. So, not only did we get to see an amazing national park, we got to see a police chase straight out of an action movie. All in all, a pretty fun, eventful, and odd day.
Some other cool photos from the trip. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the ATV chase