Into New Mexico

Monday, February 21

A travel day. We started by threading a needle to get the RV out of the space we were in. A car was parked (where it was not supposed to be) on one side, and a concrete barrier was on the other side. But we managed to back in the truck, hook her up, and get the RV out without any problems. Then it was off to Deming, NM for the Sunrise RV Park. As we traveled we could see a gradual change in the vegetation. Saguaro cactuses are no longer seen, but Yuccas are now common. Deming is very near the edge of the Chihuahan Desert, the other major desert type (with the Sonoran) in this part of the world. And it is very windy. We knew we were in for it when the signs along I-10 warned about the possible dust storms we might go through. Winds here get up to 40-50 mph with some regularity, and the winds howled all afternoon and evening.

Tuesday, February 22

We found a little gem in Deming, a local museum with a wonderful and varied collection. Some of it was old West, a lot of it was the Mimbres Indians, and some of it was military from the area. They had a fantastic collection of dolls, and a nice bunch of quilts. Some of the Mimbres bowls had holes in the bottom, and we were told that these bowls were put over the head of a deceased person, and the holes were made to let the soul get out. You never know what you will find in a local museum.

The other bit of fun today is that we found water under the sink area, which is never a good thing. After a lot of diagnosing, we figured out it was the spray hose that was leaking from the head. We never use it, so we just pulled the hose out and put the spray head under the dish drainer in the side sink. That will stop the problem for now, and we can put this on our General RV list for repairs when we get back to Michigan.

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Wednesday, February 23

We got out by 9 because we were told that the wind is not so bad in the early morning. We went to City of Rocks State  Park, and saw some fantastic rock formations. They were caused by a volcanic eruptions millions of years ago that was estimated to be 1,000 times as powerful as Mount St. Helens. The ash compressed into rock called tuff, and then cracks formed ,erosion took place, and now these beautiful formations are the result. But the wind picked up continually while we were there, so we came back after traversing the main rocks. On the way back we had tumbleweeds blowing across the road like a herd of small animals, and passed through some dust clouds. When we got back to the RV, we got an emergency notification on our phones of high winds, and soon the RV itself was rocking in the winds. Then we got a second notification extending the wind warning for another 3 hours. I hope our next stop is less windy.

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Thursday, February 24

Woke up to another very windy day in Deming, but we packed up and hit the road to Anthony, NM, where we are staying at the Road Host RV Park. This puts us in a convenient spot between Las Cruces, NM and El Paso, TX, and we will be here for nearly three weeks. We should find time to check out some interesting things in this area. It is pretty windy right now in this park, and tonight the temperature will drop below freezing. But then it is forecast to go up into very warm territory, so I may get a chance to use some sun screen. That is a lot better than the Winter Weather Advisory notices I see for back in Michigan.

Friday, February 25

Today was cool and overcast, so we opted for going indoors. We went to the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, which was devoted to exhibits and artifacts from the various local Native American populations. They started with the Paleo-Indian populations of 12,000 years ago, right up to the present day. We had a good time there. After a few hours in this museum, we went literally next door to the Border Patrol Museum. We probably wouldn’t have made a trip for this one, but since we were there we looked in for about one hour or so. Then it was back to the RV. One thing we found interesting is that El Paso has mountains inside the city, which we had not expected, but then again as we travel the Southwest we find it is very mountainous, but unlike in Colorado or New England, the mountains are kind of plopped down in flat plains. I recall learning at Chiricuaha that the natives called these mountains ̈ Islands in the Sky¨, which does kind of fit.

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Saturday, February 26

Today is another “taking care of business” day. We did laundry in the morning, then after lunch picked up my prescriptions at Walgreens and refilled an empty propane tank. After that, we relaxed for a bit before taking a walk out behind the RV park.

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Sunday, February 27

We went to Mesilla, an older town outside Las Cruces. We learned a little of the history. The bulk of New Mexico, Arizona, and California were taken from Mexico in the Mexican-American war in 1846. The border at that time ran just south of Las Cruces, and a lot of the Mexican people in the area did not want to be in the United States so they went over the border and founded Mesilla. Then in the Gadsden Purchase (1853) a trip of land along the border was bought by the United States, and Mesilla was in that strip. So they ended up in the United States anyway. Mesilla was a larger town than Las Cruces until about 1900, when Las Cruces started to overtake it. We went into the historic section of Mesilla to do a little sightseeing, and found a craft market in the town square. But before doing all of that, we went to Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. There we met with a very friendly park ranger who told us all about the area and the wildlife. We had seen a very small bit of water, barely more than a creek, and he told us that it was the Rio Grande! Apparently the flow varies on different parts of the river, and also varies with the seasons, so it can be more impressive in other times and places. He also explained that towns along the river discharge treated sewage into the river, and it did smell bad, so I would not go into the river if given the choice.

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Monday, February 28

Today was overcast and cool, and my knee was hurting a little, so we took the day off to relax.

Tuesday, March 1

We set out to go to a hiking trail in a park in El Paso, but had trouble finding it. When we finally did find it (we think) it looked more like a vacant lot than a park. So we decided to give it up as a bad bet, and went to the Centennial Museum on the UTEP campus which was very close. It had a very eclectic collection. We started by looking at paintings done by Mexican (or maybe Mexican-American) artists that focused on the plight of immigrants. Then we went upstairs to look at minerals, fossils, rooms about the animal life, and so on. Like I said, eclectic. Then we checked out the Chihuahan Desert garden outside, which was very nice. The Chihuahan Desert has different plants from the Sonoran Desert. The Sonoran Desert is characterized  by the Saguaro Cactus, but the characteristic plant in the Chihuahan Desert seems to be the Yucca. So the day did not turn out the way we had planned, but it was a good day.

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Wednesday, March 2

Today we decided to check out the White Sands National Monument. It is north of LasCruces, about an hour from where we are staying. We stopped at a roadside overlook at the top of the San Augustin Pass over the Organ Mountains, where a Nike missile is set up. The National Monument is within the White Sands Missile Range, and we were told that the Monument would be closed on March 10 because they will be closing the area for a missile test. At the Visitor Center we watched a movie about how the sand dunes were created, how the wildlife lives there, and so on. The area is inside the Tularosa Basin, which is a low point without any drainage. So when the rains come, they dissolve Calcite from the mountain rocks, and this flows down to the bottom. Then the water evaporates and Calcite crystals form. Then the wind blows the crystals around, and breaks them down into very fine white sand which accumulates into dunes. We hiked a few trails, but hiking on sand dunes is very taxing so we had to call it day.

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Thursday, March 3

We never got to the most impressive dunes yesterday, so we went back. We saw the white dunes stretch out all around us as we hiked the Alkali Flats trail. We never got to the end because it was a 5 mile trail up and down sand dunes, but we hiked in for a bit, then turned around. It is a fantastic experience to be out on those dunes. It really looks like snow when you are looking around, so that it feels like you are in a frozen field, except I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. These two days were not to be missed at all, and if you get to New Mexico you really need to check this out.

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