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February 24, 2006

New Mexico

IMG_3525_editedMesilla is just a couple of miles south of Las Cruces and about 35 miles north of El Paso.  It has some wonderful old adobes surrounding the plaza.  The Spanish style of enclosed courtyards is very much in evidence here.  It was in this town that Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to death in 1881.  Unfortunately, the town allows parking all around the hiatoric old square so any picturesque value is ruined.  We did find some individual houses on side streets that were quite charming,  This whole area is irrigated and agriculture is important.  Chili farms are particularily plentiful.

DSC_0412_editedWe then headed northeast and made camp in Alamagordo. After unhitching, we headed back a bit south to White Sands National Monument.  It’s the source of rare gypsum sands that form snow-white dunes that rise as high as 60 feet about the basin floor.  Rain & melting snow wash tons of gypsym from the surrounding mountains into  Lake Lucero in the southwestern portion of the monument.  The wind dries it and then breaks it down into sand-sized particles which the winds blow into dunes.  We took a ranger guided tour out into the dunes at sunset.  They look and behave exactly like snow.  Below are a couple more pictures.


DSC_0435_editedThe next day we headed up into the mountains to Cloudcroft, a resort at the summit of the Sacremento Mountains.  We talked to one of the residents who said that they usually have about 2 feet of snow at this time of year.  There is none.  The ski resort (it’s the most southerly one in the US) is empty and the cross country ski and snowmobile rental places are closed.  Everyone is worried as the snow is essential to the water supply for this coming year.  We continued 15 miles up to Sunspot and the National Solar Observatory where we took a self guided tour and also had spectacular views of the valley below.  That white in the picture is the north end of White Sands National Monument.

DSC_0440We had to go north about 60 miles from Alamogordo in order to go west across the Tularosa basin as north end of the sand dunes is the White Sands Missel Range.  It’s claim to fame is that it is where the worlds’s first atomic bomb was exploded in July 1945.

On the way we stopped at an interesting petroglyph site.  There are more than 21,000 individual petroglyphs which are believed to  have been inscribed in about A.D. 900–1400.   No – we didn’t see them all!

DSC_0448_editedWe are travelling through wide flat valleys surrounded by quite high mountains.  These are not the rugged solid rock of the Rockies but more like scrub-covered huge piles of rubble. 

We stayed just outside of Truth or Consequences for a couple of nights Feb.10 & 11th.  Truth or Consequences was a radio game show in the 40’s and the town of Hot Springs changed its name in 1950 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the show.  It’s now known locally as T or C. 

Up in Ontario we hear about people going to Florida, Texas, Arizona for the winter.  We don’t hear very often about New Mexico.  I think I know why.  The first night in T or C it was 27F (-3C) and the second night about the same.  We decided it was time to get back to warm so headed out toward Arizona the next day.

Talk to you from there.

Bernie & Ross  

Posted by Ross at February 24, 2006 01:48 PM


Guess I will live through your trips to places I would love to go but probably will never see. We were in a very small area of New Mexico years ago on a car trip back from TN. Anyway, everything looked so very interesting and whoever the photographer is, that person takes incredible pictures. Looking forward to the next episode. Didn't comment on AZ. Sincerely, Bette

Posted by: Bette Andrew at March 22, 2006 12:36 PM