New Mexico True Quarai Mission Ruins

New Mexico True Quarai Mission Ruins

I have spent a lot of time in Torrance County, New Mexico lately, mostly out at rural land properties.  Recently, I had time to do a little exploring and I saw that Quarai Mission Ruins were on the way to a land photo shoot.  Near the town of Mountainair, and part of Salina Pueblo Missions National Monument, the Quaria Mission Ruins remain the most intact.  Approaching them on foot from the small parking lot, visitor center and museum, one does not expect the towering opening once passing through its main doorway.  I marveled at all the stones and was told by the ranger on duty they were not quarried, there were enough just lying around on the ground to make that great structure!  

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Rainbow Springs Zoo Haikyo Ruins

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/4th tripod mounted

A recent trip to Rainbow Springs proved to be very fun, and also very fruitful for photography (waterfall, landscapes).  The most unexpected find of the day was a zoo haikyo.  In our excitement to go swim in the cool waters of the spring and escape the monumental Florida heat, we totally missed the posters at the entrance showing the history or the springs.  Now they exist only as a swimming hole and a gift shop.  However, when the springs first opened in 1934 it was an entertainment complex as well, complete with a monorail and the aforementioned zoo!  All of that closed in 1973.  We saw no trace of a monorail, not that we knew to look for one at a time.  The zoo haikyo was baffling to us as well, since we were just walking through the forest looking for the waterfalls, and all of a sudden cages and iron bars.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/4th tripod mountedAt first it was even hard to tell the place was a zoo.  Around a corner a small sign saying this place was a zoo confirmed it.  I do not think many modern zoos construct the cages out of such natural elements like stone as they did in 1934, but then again, not that I frequent zoos as I view them as prisons, but I guess modern zoos have mostly done away with barred cages or confined areas.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1/5th tripod mountedThankfully these cages will house no more animals, and have not for a long, long time.  So long in fact that tall trees have sprouted right in front of a former viewing area.  As one often wonders with haikyo, why were these structures even left behind?  Could not the stones walls be used for something else?  Perhaps the owners wanted to preserve the historical heritage of the springs.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/8 ISO 200 1/2 tripod mountedBeyond the regular cages, further into the woods, things got a bit creepy, if not scary.  I of course, having an active imagination, believe in monsters, and if it were not for some companions with me to go in first, I do not know if I would have squeezed through the outer fencing and walls to enter the above dark, dilapidated structure.  The 1/2 second exposure makes things look a good bit brighter than they were, and on top of that mosquitoes and horse flies were swarming around.  I tried to sacrifice my body to get some shots, but I did rush nevertheless.  

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/11 ISO 200 1.6 seconds tripod mountedNow, it is darn useful to explore haikyo when some of your companions are civil engineers!  For example, he told me that the brighter stuff on the ground in the photo above, which kind of looks like light green moss, is actually asbestos!  I really wanted to get a photograph of this, and had to really sacrifice the body as we were swarmed with insects, to get the shot I wanted I had to shorten the tripod to just two feet off the ground, and to expose things the camera need 1.6 seconds, a seeming eternity to hold perfectly still while holding the shutter down and you dare not look down at what is biting your ankles.

Despite all that, it was really fun and definitely a cherry on top of one of my best days back in Florida.  Plus, my civil engineer friend has now caught the haikyo bug and wants to go out exploring more soon.  His wife is also one and has to inspect places deep in the countryside and has found haikyo for us to check out next.  I will wear pants for sure and long sleeves too!