Thursday, September 30, 2010

Salinas Missions National Monument

The Spanish built missions in various pueblos throughout New Mexico.

2010 09 30_2010 Fall Trip-25 Salinas Missions_3509

Abo Mission

2010 09 30_2010 Fall Trip-25 Salinas Missions_3523

The walls are 3-4’ thick.2010 09 30_2010 Fall Trip-25 Salinas Missions_3577

Quarai Mission (may be spelled incorrectly).

Stopped for lunch.  We wanted Mexican.  Didn’t taste like the Mexican back home.  Longing for Taco Bell.

Off to the wildlife refuge after supper.

Horses, Donkeys and Mules, Oh My!

2010 09 30_2010 Fall trip-24 Toms Camera_2808

This is a Mammoth Jack at Kiva RV Park

2010 09 30_2010 Fall trip-24 Toms Camera_2800 2010 09 30_2010 Fall trip-24 Toms Camera_2813

2010 09 30_2010 Fall trip-24 Toms Camera_2801

We cut up some apples and tried to give one to each. 

Canyon Breezes

The winds woke me up this morning.  The gusts are shaking the RV.  This morning’s news called them breezes--8-10 mph with gusts of 40 mph.  They say that they are caused by a front passing through the area and expect them to die down throughout the day. I am glad we are not driving the RV this morning.  The front is expected to bring somewhat cooler temperatures.

Today we will be taking the car and heading to the Salinas Pueblo Missions near Mountainair, NM.  Our neighbors here (two couples from Oak Lawn, IL, (also heading to the Balloon Fiesta) at the campground visited the missions yesterday and said they enjoyed their visit. 

Later today we will be topping off the water tank and charging all of our electronics—phones, computer, camera and mp3 player, as we will be dry camping (no water or electric hookups) for four nights beginning Friday.  We will need to run the generator each day to charge up the coach batteries so we will have power for lights, furnace and water pump; the fridge will run on LP.  This will be the longest we have dry camped.

fiestarv.pdf We heard from our friend Bob yesterday and he and Sue are already at the Balloon Fiesta grounds.  Friends Butch and Cindy will be arriving there any time also.  Both couples are staying in another section.  We opted for the VIP Section and will be very close to all the action.  We cannot arrive in our section before noon on Friday.  Mass Ascensions will take place Saturday and Sunday mornings and on those evenings there will be Balloon Glows and AfterGlow Fireworks Show. We are going to have some very unhappy dogs because of the fireworks.  Also we don’t know how they will react to the sound of the balloons.Other events are scheduled.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beautiful Bernardo

2010 09 29_kiva rv park-belen_2799We are at Kiva RV Park in beautiful Bernardo, NM.  They pack at the park.  Yes, pack pistols.  Other than that the park owners rescue horses, donkeys, mules, guinea pigs, goats and rooters. 

The donkeys were on death row.  Some cruel people use the donkeys for roping practice and displace their hips and they are sent to the slaughterhouse.  Unbelievable the ways cruelty  can be inflicted on innocent animals.

2010 09 29_kiva rv park-belen_2794We took the dogs over to see the animals.  Harley was true-to-form afraid of everything.  Quark was interested in all of them.  He was nose to nose with the goats and an rooster.  I was afraid to let him get too close to the horses and donkeys, didn’t want him to get stepped on.

2010 09 29_kiva rv park-belen_2765 Also went today to visit the Harvey House in Belen, NM.  Fred Harvey had a chain of restaurants along the Santa Fe Railroad route from Chicago through the southwest.  Young women were recruited to be Harvey Girls, waitress’ in Harvey’s restaurants.  The was a Judy Garland movie called, “The Harvey Girls.”

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Where’s Walmart

The new Walmart in Truth or Consequences is so new it is off the grid.  We have three GPS’ between us and it wasn’t on any of them.

When we returned from Hillsboro we wanted to do two things: search for the hot springs in  town and find Walmart. 

2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2757 We found one of the hot springs.  Like all the hot springs Riverbend is privately owned.  The manager actually let us come in and look around.   They have two hot springs on the property.  In the public area there are five pools.  The hottest comes right from the spring and the other four are fed from that.  The water temperature right from the spring is 108 and less from pool to pool.  You can spend one hour in the public spring for $10 per person.  They also have three private, clothing optional pools, each in a private outdoor room.  These go for $15 per person.  All the spring pools are free of charge to motel guests.

As we were leaving the hot springs Sherry spotted a coyote on the river bank.  We stopped the car and in true tourist form snapped a few pics.2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2758

There were also catfish in the river making odd sucking sounds at the water’s surface.

The search for Walmart continued.  I stopped to ask someone for directions.  When his sentence ended with, “you can’t miss it,” I knew we were in trouble.  Sure enough, never did find the Walmart this go-round.

When we returned to the RVs, we took naps.  Later we decided to try again.  I had looked the Walmart up online and got the address, so we were set.  With this new information the trip there and back was easy.

Adventures in Hillsboro

We decided to stay another night in Elephant Butte.  We wanted to tour a little town called Hillsboro.  The drive was more scenic than yesterday.  We were further into the mountains and the mountains actually had trees on them.

When we arrived in Hillsboro nothing was open.  We were too early.  So we headed to the next town, Kingston.  As it turned out we blinked and missed the town.  As we continued past the town we saw a sign for a cemetery but missed it.  We turned around when we realized that the cluster of building we saw was in fact Kingston.  This gave us the opportunity to visit the cemetery after all.  There was a style leading into the cemetery which had barbed wire across the front.  It seemed that it was within rangeland.  I wish I would have thought to get a shot of the style.

2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2712

It was hard to know just how many graves were in the cemetery as it was over grown.  2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2716 This is the grave of a Mexican and Civil War Veteran.

As we returned to Hillsboro we stopped at a rock shop.  I asked if they any jewelry making tools.  Stacy was willing to sell us a set of her own personal tools.  We declined the offer but bought crimps, crimp covers and beading wire. 

2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2745 Stacy recommended the bacon mushroom cheeseburger at the General Store Cafe for lunch.  So we headed there.  When we arrived there were four people in the place.  As it turned out the key to eating here was to make reservations and place your order at the same time.  Tom was getting frustrated with the hour-long wait.  The cook and waitress were the only staff.  

2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2756 Our burgers finally arrived and were great.  Jim and Sherry wanted to try the Bumbleberry pie, but getting the waitress’ attention was impossible.  Jim finally went to the counter, she walked past him several times before she acknowledged him.2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2746Getting to pay for it all was another thing.  The picture below says it all.2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2754

As it turns out there weren’t any other business open in town.  2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2755

Making Our Way to Albuquerque

We are working our way north towards the Balloon Festival.  We traveled about 80 miles from Las Cruses to Elephant Butte.  Lakeside RV Park is beautiful.  When we pulled in the pea gravel, which covers the park was raked smooth.  We are in the native garden section with large pull through sites.  The sites are defined with rocks as the entire park is comprised of pea gravel. 

2010 09 27_Elephant Butte-Toms Camera_2698 2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2708 After settling in and having a bite to eat we headed to Chloride, a “ghost town.”  This was an 80 mile round trip.  The road took us up, down and around the hills west of Truth or Consequences, NM.  Chloride was a silver mining boom town.  At it’s peak 2-3,000 people lived there, today there are 9 permanent residents. There were only three buildings open for viewing.  The gallery was one of the nine former saloon and dance hall, the museum which was a general store and a cabin that was move to the site.  Other  old buildings in town could be seen from the road.2010 09 27_Elephant Butte-Chloride_2670 The museum building was purchased by the couple whose daughter currently runs the museum and gallery.  When they purchased it, it was a time capsule.  The building had been closed up for some time and had become a home for rats and bats.  It was completely full of store merchandise just as it was left when the store closed.  Everything had to been cleaned of years of dirt. 

2010 09 27_Elephant Butte-Chloride_2672 This family is single-handedly trying to restore and maintain buildings and keep the history alive. 

The museum’s owners knew a couple of local old-timers personally.  The story of Cassie Hobbs was a gem and is one that I will remember.

Cassie had not lived with a roof over her head until she was 14.  Until then her family kept on the move, traveling by covered wagon.

At 16, she married Earl Hobbs a cowboy, who had trouble holding a job.  He would come home and tell Cassie he was fired and to pack up.  She would put their meager possessions into burlap bags and they would leave.  Eventually they settled in Chloride. 

2010 09 27_Elephant Butte-Chloride_Cassie Hobbs 1 Cassie is a classic example of a pioneer woman.  She was uneducated and had few skills when she was married.  She taught herself everything.  On display were examples of her handiwork.  Dress, shoes, handbag, furniture and copper work. Each place Cassie’s family lived she would make willow furniture and when they set up housekeeping in Chloride she made a houseful of wooden furniture with only a hammer, axe, saw and jack-knife in a workshop she called a doodle-dum.

2010 09 27_Elephant Butte-Chloride_Cassie hobbs doodle dum

Cassie’s Doodle-Dum

I wish the folks good luck with their efforts to preserve Chloride’s history.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Las Cruses and Alamogordo

Las Cruses was not on our original itinerary but with omitting Carlsbad, this became one of our stops.  Las Cruses is probably the most lush city we have seen for some time.

It took us only about an 1.5 hours to get to Las Cruses from Deming, so we got set up and it was off to the “Whole Enchilada Fiesta.”  We did not get to see the worlds largest enchilada being made but it was a good time with good food.  there were three music stages, vendor booths as well as booths from local organizations. A parade took place before we arrived.  There were also 5 and 10 K runs, horseshoe tournament and a carnival.  

2010 09 25_LV Deming-Las Cruses Whole Enchilada_2611

The Festival was different, the Mexican influence was prominent.  We were able to sample foods we have not been exposed to.  One booth had varieties of drinks made from fresh fruit including one drink made from rice, cinnamon and fruit, called horchata.  It was delicious.  They also have spiral-cut fried potatoes and the whole gamut of Mexican fare.

2010 09 25_LV Deming-Las Cruses Whole Enchilada_2615

Vendor row with the "Organ Peaks” in the background.

The vendor booths carried items unique to this part of the country.  Spanish-style little girls’ dresses, religious articles, southwestern-style wall hangings and gemstone and inlaid shell and silver jewelry.

The weather was hot again.  I don’t know how the vendors could stand cooking in their booths.

The following day we went on a road trip from Las Cruses to Alamogordo, about 68 miles one way.    Planned stops White Sands National Monument and pistachios.

The highway to Alamogordo takes you through the White Sands Missile Range.  This road may be closed for one to two hours a couple of times a week due to testing on the range.  We did not experience road closures, though. 

White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and created the world's largest gypsum dune field along with the plants and animals that have adapted to this constantly changing environment.

2010 09 26_Las Cruses-Alamogordo_2637

In places the dunes are used for sledding and the gift shop sold disk sleds. There are marked trails into the dunes. What struck me most was how it resembled snow.  The roads are plowed to keep the dunes at bay. 

2010 09 26_Las Cruses-Alamogordo_2644 There are portions of the dunes that have more vegetation.  The more vegetation the less  drifting occurs.   2010 09 26_Las Cruses-Alamogordo_2626

Our next stop was Alamogordo.  We are looking for a winery/pistachio store.  We actually stopped at two stores.  We were able to sample wine and pistachios in a variety of flavors, cinnamon, red or green chili, garlic and the old standby roasted with salt.

2010 09 26_Las Cruses-Alamogordo_2649

After a long day, we got home and had steaks on the grill with baked potatoes and salad.  Afterwards we sat outside and enjoyed some cooler weather.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Hunt for Prickly Pear

2010 09 28_Hillsboro T or C MN_2740 Sherry and I headed to a farmer’s market in Deming before we left town.  It was very small, only five or six vendors but they had some interesting stuff.  There were boiled peanuts, tiger melons, Chinese figs, various types of hot peppers, pears, tomatoes and so on.  I bought a bag of the peanuts and a tiger melon, Sherry bought a tiger melon and pears.  We were hoping that someone would have prickly pear fruit but there were none.  A man heard our request and he told us to follow him and he would show us where to pick them for free.  So we followed him to a nearby athletic field where cactus plants were growing in profusion.

The prickly pear fruits could be had for the picking.  That was the problem . . .  You see, the name prickly pear was not given in jest.  Every part of the plant is really prickly.  The kind of prickly that is much like getting fiberglass in you. Now that we were face-to-face with hundreds of the plump fruits, how were we going to pick them.  We were told tongs would work well but we just didn’t have any tongs in the car, go figure.  So a brief search turned up Tom’s Thinsulate gloves.  They worked like a charm.  Tom may never be able to use the gloves again, though.    Sherry had a bag in her pocket (a must for any responsible dog owner).  We picked around 20. 

Now back to the RV to burn the pricklies off.  This time, using tongs, Sherry passed all sides of each fruit over the gas burner in the RV and I took each one and scraped all sides to clean away the stumps the were left after burning.

Sherry had been told on another trip that you can eat the skin and the seeds.  I peeled one and ate it with the seeds which had the feel of gravel in your mouth.  So I decided not only to peel them but to remove the seeds.

We had supper together tonight and we had both the prickly pear fruit and the tiger melon with supper.

Plans Change

We wanted to stop at Shakespeare, a ghost town but discovered it was only open two days a week and not the day we would be passing through.  The other “ghost town,” we were told, was not really a ghost town.  So scratch that one.  Gila Cliff dwelling would have been 86 miles one-way from Deming and while, I’m sure, they were worth seeing, we did visit Walnut Canyon which seems to have had very similar ruins.  We nixed Rockhound State Park due to the heat.  We knew we wouldn’t be able to stand digging for gems in the heat.

This morning we reviewed our travel plans from Deming to Carlsbad.  One road from Deming/Las Cruses is desolate and the heat is expected to be excessive again.  Also, while the road is a federal highway it is a blue line not a red line (red lines are better than blue lines), so we didn’t know the condition of the road.  Our handy book, Mountain Directory West: For Truckers, RV and Motorhome Drivers,” states Hwy 62/180 is desert area and the eastbound climb can be difficult in the hot Texas Summer.  I realize that Wednesday was the first day of fall but the word has not gotten down here yet.

The book also states that the second choice, Hwy 82 and Cloudcroft Pass, was a very treacherous mountain road.    That westbound there is a 4315’ drop in elevation in 16 miles. Which means eastbound there is a rise of the same.  Again it is a blue line on the map and the map also indicates a number of switchbacks.

Because of all of the above, we have scratched Carlsbad Caverns from our trip.  We are disappointed but safety first.

Tucson, AZ to Deming, NM

2010 09 24_d-m afb-road to deming_2570 None of us have been to this part of the country before, so it is all new to us.  There is some nice scenery—rocks and mountains, but it is mostly desolate. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Touring Tucson

2010 09 24_d-m afb-road to deming_2566

Our Davis Monthan AFB campsites.

One full day in Tucson and too many things to see.  We were going to split up boys/girls and tour separately, but decided to stay together in the morning and the boys could go to the Pima Air & Space Museum in the afternoon.

The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum first before it got too hot. This museum is a zoo and arboretum of Sonoran Desert flora and fauna.  Our guide Pat has been volunteering as a docent for 30 years.  She was excellent.

2010 09 23_Tucson_2518

2010 09 23_Tucson_2542

 2010 09 23_Tucson_2519

Next it was on to the Titan Missile Museum.  Here you tour the last remaining Titan Missile silo.  As a result of the arms agreement with the USSR, all the Titan silos were destroyed except this one which was permanently disarmed and disabled.  The Titan rockets, you may remember, were used in the Gemini flights. 

2010 09 23_Tucson_2548The tour at ground-level explained fuel, rocket engines, and security.  Below the tour took us to the control room where a mock firing took place.  We also toured the silo where an actual Titan rocket was in place. 2010 09 23_Tucson_2550

2010 09 23_Tucson_2556

  Titan rocket in the silo.

The guys had a good time at the Pima Air & Space Museum but the heat got to them.  There were hangers for some displays but much of it was outside.  The tram stopped at 1 p.m. so they had to walk to most of the displays. 

2010 09 23_2010 09 23 Tucson Toms camera_2587

2010 09 23_2010 09 23 Tucson Toms camera_2595

2010 09 23_2010 09 23 Tucson Toms camera_2589

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Cloudy Day

We got little sleep last night.  I woke up to noises coming from Jim and Sherry’s RV.  I peeked out the window not knowing what to expect and discovered Jim removing stuff from one of his storage compartments.

A faucet had accidentally been left on and the gray water holding tank had filled up and overflowed at the lowest point, the shower.  Beside having water inside, the water had found it’s way into the above mentioned storage area and every thing was soaked. 

Well I woke Tom up and we went outside to help.  We used a sponge to soak up the water and spread the wet items on the camping rug so the wet items could not pick up the sand and dirt from the ground. 

Well, we did what we could and went to bed.  Not long afterwards it began to rain.(When we laid the items out the full moon was shining and only a few clouds drifted by.)  So now the only partially wet items were completely wet.   

The rain had stopped by morning and we moved the rug with the wet items into the sun to dry a little.  We realized after a while that these things would not dry before we had to go so everything was packed away and drying would need to wait.

Some campground photos:

2010 09 22_Camp Verde to Tucson_2493

Our campsites and the wet items on the rug.

2010 09 22_Camp Verde to Tucson_2496

The one of the prickly pear cactus’ mentioned in the last post.  I looked up prickly pear on the internet and found that some varieties have hairless pads and can reach 6 ft. tall.  Varieties also hybridize easily so it is sometimes difficult to identify the species.2010 09 22_Camp Verde to Tucson_2497

There was a clubhouse and an activity center.  The pool and whirlpool were at the clubhouse.  The evening we were there they had bingo.  2010 09 22_Camp Verde to Tucson_2498

Loved this cactus.  It reminded me of Tolkien's Ents, a fictional race of beings that look like trees.

It was a later start this morning--11:15, 9:15 Arizona time. (We have not adjusted to the two-hour time change.) The 211 miles from Camp Verde to Davis-Monthan AFB, where we are staying as Jim and Sherry’s guests took four hours and 45 minutes.  Mountain driving, heat and heavy Phoenix traffic made the ride very stressful and long.2010 09 22_Camp Verde to Tucson_2506

Here is a picture of Jim and Sherry’s RV just about to go around the bend.

The “I” corridor through Phoenix was well maintained. Also homes and businesses along the way were attractive for the most part.2010 09 22_Camp Verde to Tucson_2513

The “I” in Phoenix

We decided to stay at the AFB two nights and skip Tombstone.  We will split up-boys and girls.  The boys will tour the Pima Air  & Space Museum and the girls will tour the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and maybe Biosphere 2 if time permits.

The Agave Gulch FamCamp is beautifully maintained and has full hookups, WiFi and a really nice, enclosed dog park with agility equipment.  The dogs had a blast last evening being able to run and explore.  Quark even remembered some of his agility training.  If Harley would get over his fear of Romeo (Romeo is rambunctious), they could really have some fun.  They are a good match speed-wise.