Friday, March 4
After two days of strenuous hiking at White Sands we decided to take a rest day, and do the laundry. It was a warm, comfortable day to go barefoot in shorts and T-shirt, but in the afternoon the wind picked up, and then we were treated to a New Mexico dust storm. The mountains next to us disappeared from view.
Saturday, March 5
The info we have received is that winds pick up in the afternoon, but if you get out in the morning it is usually OK. So we left around 9am to go into Las Cruces to check out the museums. When we got there, we discovered that Main St. was blocked off to traffic so they could have a craft and farmers market, which they do every Saturday. So we walked through part of the market until we came to the Art Museum, where we saw an exhibit of artworks from area artists. It was a small museum, and hence a small exhibit, but you go to local museums to get some of the local color. Then we walked into the Nature and Science Museum, which was easy because the two buildings were attached. This museum had some neat exhibits, mostly aimed at children. They had fossils and preserved fossil animal tracks from the Permian period, animals from the various desert locales, and some exhibits about astronomy and light.
Then we went for a walk to check out the Railroad Museum. It was housed in the Las Cruces Depot, and they had artifacts from the age of the railroads as well as several model train setups. Then we walked back to check out the Branigan Cultural Center, which is just across a courtyard from the Art museum. We first saw photographs of a charreada, which is a Mexican form of Rodeo, designed to show off the skills of the hacienda hands. Then a very piercing exhibit about the Japanese-American citizens that were put into concentration camps around here during World War II. The government eventually acknowledged that it was wrong to do this, but I hope someday we might realize it is wrong before we do it. But given what we have been doing recently to Mexicans, Asians, and Muslims, I doubt we’ll get there soon.
Sunday, March 6
It looked to be a cool day when we got up, and we didn’t want to do anything outdoors. So we decided to take a day off. Good thing too, because the winds were ferocious. The RV was shaking all afternoon. I’m glad I didn’t have to drive in it.
Monday, March 7
We went to the Dripping Springs Natural Area, which is on BLM land and is also part of the Organ Mountains National Monument. They have a number of nice hiking trails, and we picked one to do. It took us to Fillmore canyon, and at the end was a trickle of water coming down the mountain. When it is the rainy season it is a waterfall, but right now it is dry. We really enjoyed the hike, and we may come back tomorrow to do another trail. Today was cool but not too much wind, and tomorrow is forecast to be the same. That makes for nice hiking.
Tuesday, March 8
It looked like a nice day and not too windy, so we got an early start and went north to the Three Rivers Petroglyphs. This is also in the Tulsarosa Basin, north of Alamogordo, and it is a site of a prehistoric settlement where the inhabitants scratched pictures and designs on the rocks. To see them we took a hike up to the top of a ridge, then along the ridge, which is where most of the best petroglyphs are found. This site is on BLM land, and is a National Monument, so our National Parks pass got us in for free. After viewing the petroglyphs, we took a short walk to an archaeological site that is excavating, and in some cases recreating, the original settlement of the people who created the petroglyphs. That all added up to an active day, so we headed back. And on the way, we of course had to stop at the World’s Largest Pistachio for a photo. Pistachios and pecans seem to be major products of southern New Mexico.
Wednesday, March 9
We went to the El Paso Zoo today. It is a very nice zoo, and also features a Chihuahan Desert botanical garden. It has all of the usual animals, but perhaps a better selection of reptiles and desert-dwellers than in other zoos. We decided not to go back to El Paso, the city traffic is more than we want to deal with, and Las Cruces is much nicer.
Thursday, March 10
Route 70 through White Sands is closed today for missile testing, so we couldn’t go north. But we had trails still to explore back at Dripping Springs, so we headed there. The Dripping Springs Natural Area is inside the Organ Mountains/Desert Peaks National Monument, so again our passes got us in free. We had previously hiked the Fillmore trail to see a trickle of water. But this time we went to see the Dripping Springs itself. The trail is mostly well-graded gravel and goes consistently upwards, which is good because it means the return trip is consistently downwards. We saw a small herd of deer (about 10 animals) just off the side of our path on the way up. The trail also took us to the Van Patten Mountain Camp, now in ruins, and the Boyd Sanitarium, also in ruins. We learned that Boyd rented the land from Van Patten, who once owned most of what is now Las Cruces. But Boyd stopped paying rent, and Van Patten took him to court, and basically lawyers fees bankrupted Van Patten and he died penniless. The Dripping Springs turned out to be just a drain pipe out of an old and now filled in cistern, and the water comes down from the mountain tops. As we returned, a deer crossed the path about 50 feet ahead of us, and stopped to look, which we also did until it took off. Then we saw what we think was the herd from earlier up on the mountain. So that was three deer sightings in one day, not bad. We finished our trip by hiking to the cave on the site. It is not technically a cave, it is a rock overhang, but it is called a cave. A hermit lived there in the 19th century until he was murdered, and the crime was never solved. After making it back, we were pretty tired.
Friday, March 11
The day started with high winds, then rain, which then turned to snow. We were not planning to do anything anyway, but that confirmed that the day would be an off day. We will be leaving the area soon, but we feel we have done what we wanted to do here.
Saturday, March 12
This is an errands day before we leave for Texas tomorrow. Laundry, etc.
Sunday, March 13
Travel day. Pack up everything, hitch up the truck, drive to a new location, then get everything set up again, unpack, and settle in. Travel days are tiring, and don’t leave room for anything else. That is why a wise traveler will plan on staying in one place for a week or so, if not longer. The Loma Paloma park seems very nice, with full hook-ups, level sites, and a social ¨happy hour” every day at 4pm.
Monday, March 14
Well, the Surprise Department showed up today. Our toilet decided to run the water continuously, which is not good. We found an RV Repair place about an hour and a half away, in Alpine, TX, that had the part we needed. So we drove up, and then in discussion with the manager there decided a new toilet with an added shut-off valve would make sense. Since we were headed to Alpine as our next stop anyway, we scheduled the work for next Monday, and they will come to our RV and do the work. By the time we got back and did our shopping the day was shot, basically.
Tuesday, March 15
We visited the local office for the Big Band Ranch State Park and got some information. A permit to enter is $5 per day per person, and it looks like they have a few trails we might like. But it is getting hot early here, so our plan is to get an early start tomorrow and do one of them. Definitely shorts and t-shirts weather here. After lunch we went for a walk to the dike along the Rio Grande. The river is a little bigger here than in Mesilla, but still not that large. And we see no sign of fences, so I don’t know if anyone around here cares about people crossing. The folks at the RV park seem to go to Mexico regularly to shop because it is cheaper there.