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Wandering New Mexico

Fall of 2013

 

So here we are in Albuquerque, with the two major goals of our trip already accomplished: following Historic US Route 66 and participating in the ABQ Balloon Fiesta.

10 Oct 13: Our week with the Lazy Daze gang at the Balloon Fiesta was up today. We said our farewells and departed the RV park about 0830. Not much of a travel day, as we headed back to Kirtland AFB on the other side of town - 16 miles. On the way back, we stopped for an oil change for the LD. Back at Kirtland, we got a nice site, #16, near the front of the park with a large grassy area beside us.

 

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The weather guessers had been forecasting strong winds for today; in fact the balloons did not launch at dawn. Although it was pretty calm at sunrise, the wind suddenly sprung up by mid-morning. By the time we were settled at Kirtland, the mountains were obscured by the dirt kicked up by the wind. There was a young couple tenting on the grass beside us, for whom the wind became quite a challenge. They had only those short tent stakes, which could not hold the tent dopwn in such strong winds - up to 50 MPH! I took over some much longer stakes, but they decided the best course would be to lower the tent and cover it with a tarp. The actual cold front came through with a few showers, and by late afternoon the winds had subsided. The rain was so dirty from the dust in the air that the front of the LD was covered with brown streaks.

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12 Oct 13: Little did we know that the grassy area beside us was such a popular tenting spot. Last night as we were getting ready for bed, we heard a little noise outside. Peeking out, we saw a sea of tents beside us!

Turns out it was a group of Boy Scouts from Fort Bliss, TX, who had come to visit the Balloon Fiesta. Despite their late arrival last night, they were up at 0300 this morning to get to the Fiesta in time for the morning activities. We never heard a thing. Nice kids - well-behaved and no bother to us at all.

Did some laundry today, dumped our tanks, and got provisions at the Commissary.

14 Oct 13: Are we crazy? This morning we packed up and headed north. We have reservations to ride the Cumbres & Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad on Wednesday. Lows are supposed to be in the 20's and a high of 45 is expected Wednesday. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see some snow along the railroad.

We headed up I-25 from ABQ to Bernalillo, where we turned off onto US-550. With every turn there was a new look to the landscape. Some scenes reminded us of South Dakota's Badlands. At lower right is Cabezon Peak, a volcanic plug 1100' high.

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Just north of Cuba we turned off US-550 to follow NM-112 north. We didn't see much much traffic on this road and eventually we found out why:

Having traveled about 25 miles up the road, we came upon this - the end of pavement and a sign telling us that we had 16 miles of gravel road ahead of us. At least conditions were dry.

Our travails weren't over at the far end of the dirt road; we have to cross a tall dam with restrictions of 30' in length, 10' in width and no more than 5 tons. Oops! Not about to turn around and go all the way back, we made it across the dam.

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Coming from the south via NM-112, it's not really easy to get to Heron Lake State Park; one has continue north a ways to connect to the park road, with still another 10 miles to go back to the southwest. But we did pass through some pretty countryside which reminded us of New England.

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18 Oct 13: What a fantastic time we enjoyed yesterday! A couple of weeks ago we had made reservations to ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, a 50-mile narrow-gauge line along the CO-NM border. Our reservations were for Wednesday, the 16th, and as Wednesday drew closer, the weather forecast was slowly getting worse, calling for snow and rain. So on Tuesday we called and were able to change our trip to Thursday - yesterday. And what a spectacular day it was - yes, it had snowed the day before, leaving a lot of white to contrast with the bright blue sky, green pines and golden foliage. We were enroute to Chama before sunrise yesterday and along the way we caught the sun just hitting the peaks. For more on the train ride, with lots more photos, click here.

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Today we headed south a bit. At left below is the south shoulder of Brazos Peak, where it drops off into the Brazos River valley.  A little further down the road we passed a family compound of trailers, military tents and a decrepid house; out in front was this welcome.

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Coming down out of the Tusas Mountains, we headed out across the broad, flat Rio Grande River valley. Just west of the river we came across a large settlement of earth-friendly homes. Most were relatively simple, built with a large solar wall facing south and with earth piled up against the back. But there were also some rather spectacular houses as well, with all sorts of accoutrements and wild shapes. We finally came across a sign iindicating it was the Earthship Biotecture Project. I'm sure they're all very efficient and the plain ones probably not too costly, but those fancy ones have to be something that the average person cannot afford.

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Just a mile or two past the Earthship project is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Opened in 1965, the bridge is 564' above the Rio Grande River. It's rather amazing that out in this broad flat valley that such a deep gorge exists. nm2013-045

Passing through Taos, we found some brilliant golden fall colors and we also passed by Kit Carson's home. Further south, near Angel Fire, we had a magnificent view of Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in New Mexico at 13,161 feet.

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I'm intrigued with the picture of Wheeler Peak, for it bears an uncanny resemblance to a scene from my childhood days in New Hampshire: the view of Mount Washington from the Intervale Vista. Although Wheeler Peak is twice as tall, they each have a flat valley in the foreground with some lower hills beyond that.

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Wheeler Peak

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Mount Washington

Our destination for the day was Coyote Creek State Park, about 15 miles south of Angel Fire. NM Route 434 is a paved road running north-south, but there is a stretch of several miles north of the park where it's only about a car and a half wide. Passing approaching vehicles was a challenge. We had planned to stay two nights at Coyote Creek, but it isn't much of a park and I think we'll press on in the morning. Looks like a chilly night ahead, at 2030 the temperature is already at 30 degrees. We decided to put up the blanket for the first time this trip to block off the cab area.

19 Oct 13: OK - we need to get a little further south and a little lower in elevation - kinda chilly up here in the mountains -  22 degrees this morning.

My, my, what a delightful episode we had this morning. With the holiday season not so very far away, we had been talking about eggnog and how much we used to like it. So we decided to see if we could mix up a home-brew version. It's really very simple: you just make sure that you have a brand-new full gallon of milk and a dozen fresh eggs. Then you merely start rolling along a rather hilly, twisting country road. Oh, one more requirement: you need to neglect to be sure the refrigerator door is securely latched. With a little luck, in just a few miles as you snake around one of those corners, the refrigerator door will fly open, allowing the gallon of milk and the dozen eggs to come flying out and smash together on the floor.

All I'm hearing from my copilot is "Oh my God, we have a problem, we have a problem. Oh my God" I pulled over as soon as I could and what a delightful mess we had: milk and broken eggs sloshing all around. See - instant eggnog! What a time cleaning that all up - the milk had splashed everywhere.

So after a stop to get more milk and eggs....and making sure the fridge door was latched....we continued southward through Las Vegas, NM, to Villanueva State Park. A tough day - 83 miles! Villanueva is nice little park located in a small canyon with the Pecos River running through it. It looks like we'll have some nice hiking trails to explore the next few days. There was another Lazy Daze here, some folks we had met at the Balloon Fiesta.

We're glad to have our cell antenna and amplifer - without them we would have no internet or voice connection with the outside world from here or Coyote Creek SP last night. We're also glad to have our Sirius XM satellite radio receiver - we're able to listen to the Red Sox post-season games as well as listen to Washington Journal and other news offerings as we roll merrily along.

23 Oct 13: We've enjoyed four great days at Villanueva SP; the weather was chilly in the morning, but warmed up quickly once the sun appeared. The only problem was that sunrise wasn't until just after 0900, thanks to the high canyon walls. During our stay we hiked along the river a ways, and climbed to the top of the canyon on the Loop Trail. Up near the top of the canyon we passed some old ruins; we later learned in the Visitors Center that it was an old Spanish threshing ring. The grain was tossed into the circle and then horses would go round and round trampling it. There was another trail up the other side of the canyon that we also hiked.

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But it's time to move along. We'll go a little more to the south and a little lower in elevation in search of slightly warmer weather. So it's off to Sumner Lake State Park just north of Fort Sumner. 111 miles today, but we still arrived at just about noon - my kind of day! Plenty of sites to choose from - the campground was empty. We got a nice large, somewhat private site with a view of the lake.

26 Oct 13: As usual, we're getting some nice morning walks in before it gets too warm. Sumner Lake has a short (3/4 mile) nature trail along the lake shore, and there are other dirt roads on which one can roam about. The park allows dispersed camping along the lake shore.

Our beloved Red Sox have made it to the World Series and started off in grand fashion in Game One. Games Two and Three, however, were a different story. Let's hope they can rebound and get back on the winning side in Game Four tomorrow.

27 Oct 13: Happy Birthday, Dad. We still think of you and love you, even though you are no longer with us. Boy, you would have been 101 today!

Moving time - on to the next stop. Today's destination: Bottomless Lakes State Park near Roswell. Maybe we'll get to see a UFO or ET while in the area.

The trip from Fort Sumner to Roswell was about the most boring 115 miles we've experienced in a long time. About 45 miles is on NM-20, a straight-as-an-arrow road with perhaps two slight curves the entire way. So much for our usual observation of something new around every corner; there were no corners and there was nothing new - flat as a pancake except for the occasional dry wash or arroyo.That's a solitary cow in the middle of the right-hand picture.

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The annoying part was the condition of the road - it was paved, but with a slight washboard texture to it, so that at about 50 mph, we were bouncing around a bit. But as testimony to the famous LD quality, it was pretty quiet inside. We were certainly glad to get to the junction with US-285, a nice, smooth 4-lane into Roswell.

A couple more pix from the passenger's seat:

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For some reason Liz had thought that Roswell was not much more than a wide spot in the road, but it's quite the metropolis, with all the Big Box stores and others that you would find in any good-sized burg. We stopped at Wattaburger for lunch; I hate to say it, but we weren't impressed with their burgers. Sorry, Crash!

The closest we came to seeing ET's were the numerous alien-like creatures holding signs and flags in front of businesses. Green seemed to be the most popular color.

We arrived at Bottomless Lakes SP about 1430 and had no problem getting a site. It looks like we'll have some more good hiking opportunities here.

And what trip would be complete without a picture of our beloved Puddy-Tat?  She's not TOO relaxed, I'd say. shelby131

30 Oct 13: Today was a "work" day - had to take of my End-of-the-Month data run for the Ultimate Campground web site and app. Had that done by noon and then it was time to tackle the smashed grasshoppers on the front of the LD.

We've been at Bottomless Lakes State Park near Roswell for the past four days. It's an interesting place geologically speaking.

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The Bottomless Lakes are a chain of 8 lakes formed by sinkholes and range in depth from 17 to 90 feet. What's really interesting is that the sinkholes occurred along a bluff, so on one side of the lakes are steep cliffs dropping right into the water. A couple of days ago we hiked up along the bluff where we had this panoramic view of Lea Lake, the largest of the eight lakes, with the campground on the far shore.

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A few years ago a nearby marsh was restored, including the digging of this channel from Lea Lake into the marsh.

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The soil here is very salty, and after a rain, the salt remains as a crunchy crust after the water has evaporated.

There's a one-mile trail from the campground back toward the Visitor's Center. It goes along the base of the bluff and takes one by the other lakes. Some, such as Lost Lake, are pretty small and hidden behind trees or hummocks.

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A minor (?) irritant here is the incredible number of flies. They seem to be just the common house-fly, and boy, they swarm around the RV and somehow a fair number of them manage to sneak inside. Liz is having a great time batting at them as we listen to Game Six of the World Series, Sox ahead 5-0.

Update: The Sox won the Series!!!

 

Moving-on time tomorrow - we're heading westward to Valley of Fires near Carrizozo.

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 31 Oct 13: Halloween - an appropriate day to be traveling through Roswell, I guess. Can't say we actually saw any real live aliens, but there was evidence that they must be around, as witnessed by some of the signs we saw. Are they all really green?
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1 Nov 13: Our destination for the day was Valley of Fires Recreation Area just west of Carrizozo. What a beautiful spot it is! The campground sits up on a little ridge in the middle of a 44-mile long, 2-5 miles wide lava flow dating from about 5000 years ago. Mountains all around in the distance and closer by is the jumbled mass of lava. Near the center it's more than 160 feet thick. There is a 3/4 mile trail through the malpais, as it's called; along the way one sees pressure ridges, collapsed lava bubbles, extensive fissures, pits, collapsed lava tubes and rock shelters.

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All that black is once-molten lava.

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Sunset with Sierra Blanca Peak in the distance.

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A tarantula- his legs spanned about 5 inches!

Right: a tall sotol, or "spoonplant". Ranchers used the cabbage-like base of the plant as an emergency ration for livestock during drought conditions.

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We signed up for three nights upon our arrival yesterday, but we're undoubtedly going to extend our stay for several more days.

 

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4 Nov 13: Yes we did - yesterday we extended our stay another 4 days.....and may well do that again. This place is absolutely awesome and ranks among our Top Five favorite  campgrounds. The view in any direction is incredible and we're blessed with breath-taking sunrises and sunsets. We've walked the trail through the lava field several times and each time we spot something new,

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Sunrise

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Sunset

 6 Nov 13: Yesterday was a very interesting weather day - there had been thunderstorms overnight and through the day it had been on the mostly cloudy side. The constantly-changing clouds and sunlight created an intriguing scene. Around midday another round of thunderstorms rolled through, gracing us with a rainbow. The left end appeared to be so very close - I wanted to go see if that proverbial pot of gold was really there. With brilliant blue skies today, we spotted some snow up near the summit of 12,000' Sierra Blanca Peak off to our southeast.

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10 Nov 13: Two days ago we actually left the campground for the day, having decided that we really needed to get out and see some of the local area. Our first destination was the former mining village of White Oaks, about 12 miles northeast of Carrizozo. When you Google "White Oaks NM" the returns all say it's a ghost town - not so; there seem to be a decent number of inhabitamts. Apparently it's become home to a number of artists and artisans. For instance it's the home of Moondance goats milk soap.

White Oaks was once the second-largest city in NM, but the railroad passed it by, and thus its decline.

The congregation of the White Oaks Church can't be too large - they all fit into a nicely-converted tool shed complete with a belfry on the roof.

The building below was Brown's Store, built in 1883. Long abandoned and in terrible condition, it was bought by the Bowen Ranch family of El Paso and is being restored.

Below it is the Hoyle House, built in 1893 at a cost of $40,000.

At bottom right is the former Watson-Lund Law Office. It's now a weekend destination, the "No Scum Allowed" Saloon.

 

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Leaving White Oaks, we retraced our steps to Carrizozo, population 1000. After a tasty lunch at the 4 Winds Restaurant, we did a little exploring of historic 12th Street, once the center of town. Hollywood is well aware of Carrizozo's character and several films have shot here, among them "The Book of Eli" with Denzel Washington. We visited several gallerys, including one managed by a woman from Chile, Pia. We had quite a chat with her, as it came out that she had had a stroke about 20 years ago at the age of 40. Being a painter and sculptor with a paralyzed right side was unacceptable and somehow she fought her way back to full mobility. This is of interest because of our son Geoff's strokes, also at about age 40, with have left him unable to continue with his painting. She urged us to tell him to fight, fight, and fight some more to overcome his problems. That purple building is the gallery that she manages.

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The trio of Wetmore  buildings was built in 1916 by Ira Wetmore. The far-left building was a lodging house and eventually became known as the El Cibola Hotel. The center building was Western Motors, Inc, later a Ford dealership. At the right was the Carrizozo Theater, a typical western opera house with an orchestra pit and dancing girls. It was converted to a movie theater in 1918, the Crystal Theater. Upgraded yet again for "talkies", it became the Lyric Theater. Try as I might, I could not find any information about the building on the right.

Our time at Valley of Fires has come to an end - time to move on tomorrow. Hmmm, wonder what's next? Stay tuned.

12 Nov 13: What can I say? I'm exhausted after yesterday's grueling drive from Valley of Fires down to Three Rivers Petrogylph Site. Thirty-five miles can really do a job on you! <VBG> We were all set up at our campsite by 1000L. This is primarily a picnic site, but there are two RV sites with hookups and several tent sites. 

A thousand years ago, this was the site of an indian community. Some remains of the village can be found just a very short walk from the campground. I guess you can guess which of these two ruins is the older:

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The village was down on flat ground in the valley, but the artisans among its inhabitants went up a nearby ridge to do their artwork on the dark rocks that abound up there. Supposedly there are more 21,000 individual rock carvings to be found in the area. They range from the simple to rather complex depictions of animals and humans.

Here we are partway up the hill, looking back down along the trail to the campground at the bottom of the ridge. In the background is 12,000' Sierra Blanca Peak.

 

Here are just a few of the many petroglyphs we saw.

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three rivers petro18 We found several situations like this; I'm hoping that it is only the result of natural erosion and cracking of the rock, but I suspect it may be handiwork of vandals.

We continue to enjoy delightful weather - cool mornings, but bright sunny days with comfortable temperatures. Too bad it couldn't last longer - we'll soon be forced further south.

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18 Nov 13: We've been at Holloman AFB near Alamogordo, NM, since last Wednesday.  You may recall the stealth fighters that the AF used in the Gulf Wars - the F-117 Nighthawk was based at Holloman from 1992 to 2008 when the fleet was retired. 

It's not a particularly inviting campground, but it has given us a chance to get caught up on laundry and do some re-supplying of food. Oh, and the price isn't too shabby - $90 a week.

Today we ventured down to White Sands National Monument for the day. A fascinating place. Behind the sign you can see the leading edge of the sand dunes.

The white sand is really gypsum that has washed down from the surrounding mountains over the ages. The water evaporates, leaving crystals which the wind then breaks down by rolling them along. The smaller pieces then begin to pile up as dunes. Some are as high as sixty feet and they move forward at an average rate of 15 feet per year.

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Nature has adapted very well to the constantly-shifting sands. Despite the sand, there is water just a few feet below the surface. The cottonwood tree at left has been nearly buried by a moving dune, but it can live with just a few leaves above the sand. As the dune moves past the tree will recover its full foliage.

The hummock (below left) is the result of the plant's root anchoring the sand together. As the dune moves on by, it leaves a pedestal with the bush on top.

The soaptree yucca (below) will grow its top higher and higher to stay above the encroaching dune. But after the dune has passed, the yucca cannot hold itself upright, falls over and dies.

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Becaue of the ever-changing sands, the Park Service has to plow the road occasionally. We passed a large grader that had been out working to keep the road clear. Sure looks like snow, doesn't it? The Visitor's Center rents plastic discs that one can use to slide down the dunes.

We stayed in the park until sunset. Off in the distance (70 miles) is Sierra Blanca Peak, which we've been in sight of for the past couple of weeks. A few days ago we had some rain in Alamogordo, but it was snow up near the 12,000' summit.

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20 Nov 13: Time to move on after a week at Holloman AFB. Just a few miles down the road, we came to a roadblock.

US-70 was closed temporarily because of a missile launch at White Sands Missile Range. The officer that stopped us said it would be about 20 minutes. He was right on the money - we saw the smoke from the missile as it went up (if you look very closely, you can see the smoke in the picture below), and a few minutes later we were allowed to proceed.

Further down the road, we passed a small observatory atop a knoll. It's roof was open and I suspect it housed a tracking telescope/camera to record the launch and flight of the missile.

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The Organ Mountains form a dramatic backdrop to the main base at White Sands Missile Range. This range is much more "craggy" and rugged than other mountains in the area.

Off to the right of the Organ Mountains is San Augustin Pass - a long steady uphill climb. At the top one is treated to a panoramic view of Las Cruces and the Rio Grande River valley.

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The day's destination was Leasburg Dam SP a few miles north of Las Cruces. We were there by lunchtime and had no problem getting a site. We sure like the ease of travel out here compared to back east in terms of finding campsites - reservations are not at all necessary.

22 Nov 13: We're settled in at Elephant Butte Lake State Park near Truth or Consequences through Thanksgiving week. We got here yesterday morning after a night's stay at Leasburg Dam SP. Some other Lazy Daze folks are here and we'll be getting together for Thanksgiving Dinner at the Elephant Butte Inn. We managed to snag a great site here, # 79 - it's an end site, up on the hill with a great view of the lake.

What a change in the weather! We had been enjoying some very pleasant temperatures and lots of sunshine lately - no more! Yesterday afetrnoon it was 68 degrees; today at 0920 as I post this, it's 36 degrees and the wind is really blowing - 40 mph. The forecast says we might even see some snow flakes mixed in with the rain over the weekend.

29 Nov 13: The forecast was correct last weekend - we did get about three inches of snow. Of course it didn't stick around too long, but it has been a bit cooler - not eaxctly good "sitting-out" weather. But we have had some beautiful sunrises, and on these chilly mornings, there is steam fog rising off the warmer-than-air water.

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Thanksgiving Dinner was most pleasant - there were seven Lazy Dazers present; great fellowship and great food. Servings were huge, so we were able to bring home some turkey for another meal or two.

3 Dec 13: We awoke Sunday morning (two days ago) and we both had the same thought: after 10 days at Elephant Butte it was time for a change. So off we went, heading southwestward to Deming, NM, and Rockhound SP. We had never been there and heard it was a neat place, so why not check it out? After a drive of 105 miles, we arrived there just after noon. Being the final day of the long Thanksgiving weekend, the park had been full, but some folks had already left and others were about to. As we drove slowly around checking out the available sites, two different campers stopped us to say that they were leaving soon and their site would be available. We originally signed up for just two nights, but we really like the park, so this morning we decided to stay through the rest of the week and depart on Sunday. There are some good hiking trails here and lots to see. And maybe we'll even find some interesting rocks: Rockhound is one of only two state parks in the country that allow visitors to look for and take home rocks and minerals, such as agate, opal, chalcedony, jasper, geodes and thundereggs, to name a few.

The campground is nestled up against the western slope of the Little Florida Mountains, affording great views to the south through northwest. Although the morning sun is a little late to appear at the campground, it does strike Dragon Ridge off to our south. At sunset, one begins to see the lights of Deming, about 10 miles to the northwest.

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rockhound29 One of the more interesting variety of cacti found here is the fishhook barrel cactus, scientifically the Ferocactus wislizeni. Its needles are shaped like fishhooks and are amazingly sharp. It is also known as the compass barrel cactus because they tend to lean toward the sun (southward). Its life cycle is 50-100 years!

9 Dec 13: This is our last night in New Mexico - on into Texas tomorrow. We've been in NM for almost three months and have covered the state from north to south. But unfortunately winter is approaching with colder and colder temperatures, so we'll move on in search of warmer climes.

We left Rockhound SP yesterday morning and made the 44-mile trek south to Pancho Villa SP in Columbus, NM. Seeing that Pancho Villa is the southern-most park in NM, we had thought it might be fairly busy, but that wasn't the case.  We found very few campers here and had no problem at all finding a site. Actually, it wouldn't really matter what site one selected - they are all pretty much the same. We're not sure what draws people to camp here for any length of time - it's not on a lake or river or near the mountains. But that being said, there is some interesting history here and I learned some things about the US Army.

On 9 March 1916 Pancho Villa and his gang of 400-500 bandits staged a night raid on the town, surprising both the townspeople and the soldiers at Camp Furlong (now the site of the state park). Ten civilians and 8 soldiers died in the skirmish, which outraged the US. The very next day President Wilson ordered Gen J. J. Pershing to pursue Villa in Mexico.

The park office houses a small museum dealing with the raid and Camp Furlong.

There were a lot of "firsts" involved in Pershing's pursuit: It marked the first time that mechanized vehicles were used in combat by the Army. Fifty trucks were purchased from the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company in Wisconsin, which were shipped by railroad post-haste to Columbus in a week. The trucks were taken off the railroad cars and were loaded with gear and on their way into Mexico within 48 hours. The Army's first operational grease rack still exists in the park, along with several old buildings of the camp. pancho villa34
pancho villa15 The first armored vehicle, the forerunner of the tank, was used by Pershing. He also had 50 Dodge Brothers touring cars that the staff used as they trailed Villa.
Another first was the use of aircraft in combat. The Army Air Force had eight Curtiss JN-3 biplanes - that was the entire inventory in the Army, and all eight were sent to Columbus, where the Army set up its first combat airfield. The aircraft didn't fare too well - they were under-powered and could only fly low, where they were easy targets for gunfire. They were soon replaced with more-powerful aircraft. pancho villa35
pancho villa33 And just outside the park is another museum, that of the Columbus Historical Society. It's housed in the Columbus railroad depot, built in 1902 by the El Paso & Southwestern RR, later absorbed into the Southern Pacific RR. The last train passed through Columbus in 1961 and the tracks were torn up a few years later. The station fell into disrepair until a few years ago when the historical society assumed ownership and restored it. It houses lots of artifacts dealing with the town's history, especially the Pancho Villa raid.

10 Dec 13: While we were visiting the historical society mueum yesterday, we heard the sirens of an ambulance, which soon appeared coming north from the border crossing into Mexico. The docent at the museum explained that that happens quite frequently, sometimes more than once in a day. It seems that pregnant Mexican women come across the border just as they're about to go into labor. When it starts, they call for an ambulance which takes them to the nearest hospital in Deming, where their newborn baby becomes a US citizen!

Our route eastward from Columbus was NM-9, which parallels the US-Mexico border, in some cases only a few hundred yards from it. We could easily the fence marking the border and we spotted lots of Border Patrol vehicles. Most were driving very slowly along the wide shoulder on the south side of the highway. One vehicle we saw was towing a large tractor tire behind it; we eventually surmised the purpose was make it easier for later patrols to look for footprints.

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tx2013-001 So long, New Mexico. Weve had a great time wandering the state this fall, but now it's time to move on. Next on our itinerary: the Lone Star State.