Toledo, Spain

Stop #16:

We started our trip to Toledo in Castile– La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote.  You will see the windmills in the photos below.  In Toledo, everything seems to be about El Greco’s paintings.  But driving into Toledo is a wonderful experience, with views of the walls, fortress, churches visible for miles.

Toledo sits on a rocky mount with steep hills, and is surrounded on three sides by the Tagus River. The original Alcázar dates from 192 BC and was built by the Romans.  It has been updated since then by the Visigoths and the Moors.

Highlights include:

  • Alcázar- with four columns and visible in many photos below.
  • Cathedral – Most of the building dates to the early 15th century; it features a depiction of Mary presenting her robe to Ildefonsus, Toledo’s patron saint, archbishop of the city in the 7th century. This Cathedral was inspired by Chartres and other Gothic cathedrals in France.  In the middle of the ambulatory is an exemplary baroque “illusionism” by Narciso Tomé known as the Transparente, a blend of painting, stucco, and sculpture. The Cathedral has several El Grecos.
  • Puente de Alcántara. Roman in origin, this is the city’s oldest bridge. Next to it is a heavily restored castle built after the Christian capture of 1085 . We took many photos from the other side of this bridge.
  • Puente de San Martín. This pedestrian bridge on the western side of Toledo is where we took some of the night photos.

Thanks to Fodor’s Travel Guides, Trip Advisor, and Wikipedia for the great lessons that helped me to plan and summarize this trip.

Castle Gardens

This was a neat little surprise!

We followed the signs to Castle Gardens and, little did we know we would encounter a whole bunch of sheep! I love how much the black sheep stood out among all the rest of them.

After we drove for a bit longer, we ended up in another spot where there were very interesting rock formations lit by the warm sun.

Watch for snakes!

City of Rocks NRES

If you know some rock climbers, this is the place for them!

What seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere, the rock formations are crazy incredible out here. You have to look quite hard, but if you see a little black dot on the rocks in some of these pictures, that’s likely a hiker trying to make it to the top.

We saw this park close to sunset which made for some really nice shadows on the rocks…

Joshua Tree NP

I don’t know whether this should be called Joshua Tree National Park or Crazy Beautiful Rock Formations National Park.  No matter what, this place is unlike any other.  Joshua Trees are finicky and grow only in certain climates.  But these rock formations are quite a backdrop for such rare trees.

Antelope Canyon and Page Arizona

These are some of my all-time favorite pictures.  What a great setting for interesting patters, rock formations, etc.  We hiked through slot canyons to get some of these pictures.

Antelope Canyon is the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest. It is located on Navajo land near Page, Arizona. Antelope Canyon includes two separate, photogenic slot canyon sections, referred to individually as Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack; and Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew.

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tsé bighánílíní, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.”

Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone,primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways are eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic ‘flowing’ shapes in the rock.

Great Basin NP

We drove Route 50 to get to Great Basin.  The Nevada portion crosses the center of state and was named The Loneliest Road in America by Life magazine in July 1986.  While we drove on it, we never passed another car, nor did we have any behind us.  Our trip started with an excursion to a Triolbite Quarry, where we dug through stones to find the 30 million year old trilobites!  We continued on to the park and spent some time exploring Lehman Caves.  We saw some wild horses when we drove away from the park and ended in Cathedral Rock State Park (which looked like another planet with the crazy formations).

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