Monday, October 31, 2016

Alamogordo, New Mexico

October 24 - 26, 2016:

A calm clear travel day on route 70 to Tularosa and then south on route 54 to Alamogordo, New Mexico.  It was a weird ride as I didn’t make one stop, very unusual for me.  It’s a scenic ride passing Ruidoso, Ruidoso Downs, the Mescalero Apache reservation and Tularosa but not many places to pull over along the highway or easily detour to.  We arrived at the Eddington RV Park where we had a reservation at noon time.  This is a odd campground, kind of a parking lot with full hookups and a few folksy touches such as a small library shack with coffee maker, a small pond stocked with fish, a small shower room, laundry and good WiFi.  Last but not least they accept Passport America and are convenient to everything Alamogordo has to offer.

The cute pond, stocked with fish, at the campground

The Windmill out front

We spent some time here previously, March 31 - April 7, 2015, staying at another RV Campground a short distance away and found Alamogordo fairly dumpy, but it is close to the White Sands National Monument and there was just no way around it.  Alamogordo wasn’t always so dumpy, when it was less populated, before the outward sprawl, when the hotels, restaurants and businesses were in the old downtown area it was kind of nice.  Aside from the appearance, there are many attractions in Alamogordo.  There is a beautiful old building on the corner of 10th and New York Ave where the “Shroud of the Turin Exhibit and Museum” is located, no idea why this is here in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  There is a wonderful Founders Park area with beautiful historic tile murals and sculpture pieces on early settlers, Indian, Anglo and Hispanic.  If you love history, this area is amazing with several old towns established back in Spanish and Mexican days and as always the raiding Mescalero Apaches. 

View of 10th Avenue not too exciting

Founders Park mural is great

As is the Airborne Monument across the street

Don't know what to make of the Shroud of Turin Museum

Sadly, Mission Billiards appears to be closed

 I am most happy to see that the beautiful old Plaza building, built in 1937, which had been vacant and neglected for many years was finally renovated into a home for the Tularosa Basin Museum of History.  There was much controversy concerning this, CVS wanted to buy the building so they could tear it down for a new CVS Pharmacy and parking lot.  I guess they wanted to compete with the Walgreens Pharmacy across the street.  It seems there was quite a battle over this, but the preservationist won out and the renovated building is a beauty.  The museum is staffed by volunteers, very friendly and the museum collection was way beyond expectations, it’s inspirational !

The Plaza Cafe and service Station opened in 1938

Plaza now, far superior to any CVS Pharmacy

Beautiful John Deere Wagon

Indian artifacts in the museum

WPA diorama made for White Sands National Monument
grand opening celebration

Painting of the "ghost" Lady of the White Sands

Alamogordo is "Arrows to Rockets" according to this novelty

Painting depicting the route of the Alamogordo-Sacramento
Mountain Railroad, known as the "Cloud Climbing Railroad"

from Alamogordo to Cloudcroft

Some of us may have ridden Trigger in days past

Very inspirational

A treasure of old Atari games was discovered in the Alamogordo
landfill that were sold on E-bay for $ 107,000.00 in 2014

I always return to the beautiful Alamogordo County Building with it’s fabulous Peter Hurd WPA murals painted in 1940.  Also across the street is the Flickinger Center for Performing Arts, but I have never been here when a show is scheduled.  The New Mexico Museum of Space History is also excellent, great things in aviation and space exploration have happened here.

Historic and Beautiful

Peter Hurd Murals painted on entrance

I am a little upset that the old vintage cars and trucks that I saw at the “North 54 Garage” on my last visit now appear gone, but I’m hopeful they were sold to someone who will preserve them or do something with them.  They were just slowly rotting away before.

We go the White Sands National Monument and it is as good as we remember.  It's a sunny day, near 80 degrees, but there is a breeze.  We go for a partial hike on the Alkali Flat Trail which isn't so bad if you pick your route to avoid going straight up the steep areas.  The White Sands National Monument is the largest Gypsum Sand dune area in the World.  The Gypsum is pure white, cool to the touch, blindingly bright and easy to walk on.  The sand crust most areas supports your weight, so you don't sink in.  There are many unique plants and wildlife that have adapted to life in these hostile conditions. 

The Visitors Center built in 1938 by the WPA

It's a 8 mile road, paved about half way, into the dunes

Many warnings as you head onto the dunes trail, for good
reason, a foreign couple died on this hike this year

Starting on the trail with the San Andres Mountains in the distance

Twinkles in the lead

The patterns in the sand

The dunes move and change shape continuously

You need to follow the trail markers, you don't want to lose you're
bearings out here, especially in the heat of the day

The plant roots hold these sand columns together after the
dune has moved away

Much vegetation in places

Yucca Plants thrive here

Had to stop and admire this view

It's also a short but very steep and beautiful ride from Alamogordo at 4,334 feet to Cloudcroft, New Mexico at 8,600, we went part way on this ride.  

Route 82 into Lincoln National Forest

Great mountain views

 Next stop is Las Cruces, New Mexico in time for the Day of the Dead festival,

Twinkles and Slick

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Roswell, New Mexico

October 20 - 23, 2016:

The drive from Fort Sumner on route 20 south for about 50 miles was one of the most barren rides ever.  It was all ranch land, cattle country, as far as the eye could see, except for one building still standing at the site of the ghost town of Dunlap, New Mexico.  We then took route 285 south to Roswell, which seemed like a metropolis compared to the places we have been lately.  In downtown Roswell, across from the UFO Museum, we take route 380 east to the Bottomless Lakes State Park.  There are many open first come first served campsites with electric and water with picnic table and ramada, a dump station and decent working WiFi ! 

All that's left of Dunlap, New Mexico

Roswell greeting tiles at Main Street park in Roswell

Bottomless Lake State Park was the first New Mexico State Park build in 1933 by the CCC.  It is very popular in the summer with a swimming and beach area.  It has a observation Tower, now closed and a large picnic pavilion area.

View of Lake Lea campground at Bottomless Lakes State Park from roadside overlook

Tiles of Bottomless Lake at Main Street park in Roswell

CCC built observation tower at campground

Beach area at Lea Lake

View of Lea lake from the back side

The Bottomless Lakes are unique, we haven’t seen anything quite like this before.  There are eight Lakes of various sizes which are not really Lakes, but sink holes called Cenotes with depths ranging from 30 feet to 90 feet. They have formed here in a line along a rocky escarpment composed of deposits of Limestone, Gypsum, Sandstone, Siltstone and Shale.  Over the eons movement of underground water dissolved the Limestone forming underground caves and erosion from above weakened the cave roofs causing them to collapse.  The resulting holes being lower than the water table filled with water from the underground aquifer.  There are also vast flat salt flats in the valley areas, and seasonal wetlands, that are now protected as wildlife preserves. 

This one area of rocks was very colorful, I'm wondering
if it had been spray painted

The Limestone and Gypsum is weird stuff

A flooded salt flat area

The Lake water is a clear deep blue color

That reflects nicely

Much vegetation growing underwater

A tree cut at waters edge has turned white with a gypsum coating

These cliff edges are treacherous

Colorful rock layers 

The early cowboys who came here during the cattle drives on the nearby Goodnight-Loving Trail threw weighted ropes into the lakes trying to gauge their depth.  As they couldn’t reach lake bottom with their ropes, they named them the “Bottomless Lakes” and the name stuck. 

The city of Roswell is about 12 miles from the campground and the major attraction is the UFO Museum.  I thought it provided a pretty good argument for some form of US government conspiracy to hide something.  On the other hand, many of the actual UFO sightings and photos are pretty sketchy and hard to believe.  Then again, the air force pilot and crew visual sightings while flying are hard to ignore. 

Do you believe ?

It appears the aliens have already been corrupted by humans ?

Big attraction in Roswell

Newspaper headlines were sensational

The spaceship has landed

A whole new movie industry developed as a result

I like the title 

Afterwards we stopped for lunch at the nearby Big D’s Downtown Dive which really is not a dive at all, just a catchy name for a restaurant.  They do have a unique menu, the food is good and they are very popular.  That's a working concept !

The name is memorable

Downtown Roswell doesn’t seem to have much going for it except for the UFO business.  The rest of the town is mostly one long stretched out unattractive strip Mall.  Exceptions are the huge New Mexico Military Institute and the beautiful old Court House.  The tallest building in Roswell is a toss up between the Court House and this huge old grain storage tank.  There are also two impressive statues of Sheriff Pat Garrett (the man who killed Billy the Kid) and John Chisum (Cattle king of the Pecos).  It is strange how these two people figure into the legend of Billy the Kid.

Welcome to Roswell display outside of town is really well done

It appears this old gas station has been saved

Building near the UFO Museum is decorated with several good murals

A jazz festival going on in front of the Court House

Another UFO attraction and souvenir shop

The old grain elevator with huge storage tank, that has great
potential in the hands of a creative person, but most likely
will be torn down

Statue of Pat Garrett at rear entrance to the Court House

Tree of Life sculpture at Roswell library

Another interesting UFO Mural in Roswell

Statue of Cattle baron John Chisum  in park across from Court House

Fat's Burrito's Shop

John Chisum did much to promote the cattle industry and the economy of the area, but he was one of the Cattle Barons and as such was an enemy of the dissident types like Billy the Kid who were causing trouble for him.  This conflict between the cattle barons and the poor ranchers culminating in the Lincoln County War with Billy the Kid on the side of the poor ranchers. By some accounts, John Chisum motivated Pat Garrett to become a sheriff whose primary function was to get Billy the Kid and his associates, which he achieved.  

We took a ride about 12 miles away to Dixon, New Mexico. It was much larger than expected although not much to see and do.  The most interesting thing for me was this incredible auto junk yard just outside of town.  Afterwards, we stop at a local favorite, the Cowboy Cafe, for breakfast which was a little too intimate for me, but the food was excellent. 

Old adobe Diamond Auto Parts building is covered in old hubcaps

In the yard are hundreds of rusty classics

The cowboy Cafe is another classic

Next stop is Alamogordo, New Mexico,
Twinkles and Slick