Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Crazy New Mexico "U"
This report goes with the March 1 album I sent you all and believe me--if you look at the New Mexico map you will see that we really did a crazy "U" covering some places we've been before and others new to us as a traveling couple but some of which I saw in 2000 with my sister. Left Socorro at 8 am MST without hooking up with our friend, John. We called him on our second day and he was still in NH--the gov't delayed his departure and he was due to Socorro on the 3rd but we were going to be gone by then. Also a friend in Albuqueque--how do you spell that place???- wanted us to come up but we were already headed to Alamagordo by the time we connected. I hadn't contacted her sooner because I wasn't sure we would go there and didn't want to get her hopes up. As it turned out we didn't like the weather report and headed south out of Santa Rosa so skipped Alb totally. Anyway, we left Socorro and headed south toward Las Cruces on rte 1 which goes by Bosque del Apache--wanted to go in for one last time, but Bill said no--so on we went. I have been reading Bloody ValVerde by John Taylor, who narrated the re-enactment of the battle and in it he says that, besides most of the battlefield being on the Amendaris Ranch, owned by Ted Turner, that the vegetation and the path of the Rio Grande have changed so much that the only thing left is the Mesa del Contadero from which location the points of contact can be assertained. Of course, the battlefield covered several miles N-S along the River and the Mesa--now called Black Mesa is pretty big--even if Ted would let you go out there to try to see what there is to see. Taylor also has a sketch of Fort Craig and a " floorplan" of its layout which is nice--since all that is left are crumbling adobe ruins, which we did not revisit. Instead we continued onward into Nogal Pass and saw the bridge of the Interstate cross it at odd angles to us. In the distance we could make out Elephant Butte which overlooks Elephant Butte Lake--man-made by damming the Rio Grande. We laughed about its lack of resemblance to an elephant and I took many shots trying to find just the one that must have given rise to its name. We were soon to learn we were all wet! And so we rode into Truth or Consequences--in modern fashion reduced to TOC!!! UGH!!!!!! The area is filled with hot springs and had we planned better we would have stayed there a night--since most of the hotels are incredibly reasonable--$40 per night and have hot springs baths! I would have stopped but Bill said no--sometimes he is so spontaneous and other times he gets this bee in his bonnet that we have to move on. I never know which way he's going to go. But we did stop at the Geronimo Springs museum.....OMG! How can I describe her? And why didn't I take a picture? I think I was too overwhelmed!!! This 6 foot blonde about 6 inches wide totally dressed in red--red faux leather pants, red long sleeved jersey blouse, gold wide belt and red stone jewelry greeted us so effusively I almost fell over. Do you remember the receptionist for the dentist on the Bob Newhart Show?? Marcia somebody?? Well, there you are! Don't get me wrong--she was an utterly delightful person--but she was totally insistent that we could NOT see the whole museum in one day and that we simply had to stay overnight at The Firewater Lodge or Blackstone Hotsprings. It was so hard to get loose but we did and enjoyed the museum. We found that Elephant Butte probably was named because of the mastadon and wooly mammoth fossils found there and not some arbitrary viewer's imagination. I thought the split skirt ensemble could very easily be for sale at Banana Republic today as at the turn of the last century. And, though I know there are so many different types of arrowhead and each comes from a different time period and different areas and different peoples, I cannot keep it all straight. But I love the works of art created by people who have searched for, collected and assembled them. The wishing well in another exhibit celebrated the various people who have called Truth or Consequences home--the Apache, followed by Coronado and the Conquistadors, then the miners and today, the ranchers. I found the split willow pre-historic sandals amazing--but the air is so dry here that there is little decay and so they have remained. Bill and I both laughed at the fact that this little boomarang thingie was in the display cabinet and the card said it was used to beat rabbits to death--actually, first they flanked the rabbits, drove them into the middle of their circle and then beat them with this object. HMMMM--who wrote that down in a diary??? Maybe cave drawings! I wish I could be a fly on the wall when the archeologists find all the shells we've brought back from Maine and scattered around the gardens--an ancient sea covered Post Mills and large animals with beaks and opposible thumbs pecked and pulled open the soft bodied creatures for food--or maybe fertilizer! Another small exhibit dealt with Geronimo --interestingly his grandchildren and great grandchildren--Geronimos --still live here. Yet, a whole room, was devoted to Ralph Edwards--I guess this town was originally known as Hot Springs but the townsfolk loved his show so much they changed its name!! He had no connection to the town but once informed of their devotion he arranged a festival each year, which he attended with many celebrities of the day--quite an excitement for this dusty old town. Today it is the home of the artsy denizens such as The Lady in Red, bistros, boutiques and springs and JIMMY!! As I was checking out of the gift shop he attached himself--I must look so approachable. He told me his whole life story but there were so many discrepancies who knows what was fact and what was delusion--his father owned Mayflower shipping and was a multimillionaire and sent him to channel his angry fighting ways by training in martial arts--but then this was after he went to jail for fighting and he just got out. BTW, his father died when he was 10 and he was raised by his grandfather. He's divorced because after 20+ years his wife started to physically abuse him and he couldn't fight back because his hands are fighting weapons--he is a disabled warrior since one arm is obviously damaged. So you see what I mean. He is a kind soul though and it was hard to ignore him. I have his address and will send him a copy of his picture to give to a lady of his aquaintance. Though we were hungry and had planned on eating in town we were so battered we just bought gas and beat feet south. To Hatch the Chili Capital of the world--restaurant?? oh, no! Lunchtime, convenience store with a Subway and a grill and the high school next door---kids everywhere--chips and sodas flying out the door--or a Subway sub and soda. We opted for grilled hamburg translucent patties and grabbed two spicy V-8's out of the trunk. I did buy a couple Mexican cookies --hecho en Mexico! Back onto the road and in the distance a double row of mountains. Las Cruces coming up and the 190 degree turn through the San Augustin Pass. Becky, back in Socorro had said that in the East you can't tell that you are going up,nor that you are coming down--she is , for the most part, correct. Smuggler's Notch, Mt Washington, Middlebury Notch maybe exceptions--but what always amazes me here in the west is the basin that stretches for miles in every direction when you descend. Here one enters the Tularosa Basin and the home of the Alamagordo Missile Training Site and the Alamagordo White Sands National Monument! Just before the National Monument we passed through the Border Patrol station where a young Hispanic agent asked us merely if we were both US Citizens. And as we pulled out--and this is for you, Amy, and for you, Glen, should you miss our old stomping grounds--they are hiring!!! LOL And then we were in the mystical white sands--oh, how I love them--I never tire of this place--they have moonlight walks and it was a full moon--Bill nixed! Also, in season, not now--a ranger takes tours out to the drybed lake from which all this sand is spreading--covering everything in its path. I love the picnic tables--they look like fishing shanties to me on a frozen lake--or those Egyptian one-sailed boats--D?--plying along the Nile. This is my third visit--no Roadrunner on the car this year--but it looks different every time. So pristine and beautiful. It is a good thing we stopped because the Park was to be closed the next day and parts of the next three days--missile testing--now there is something that would be interesting to see! Went to the hotel and were given a suite that was like a little apartment--I would have stayed for days! An upgrade and cost us only $86.15 total! We have noticed that hotel rates have increased by about $10-12 a night this year but gas is still cheaper than home and we are averaging 34.5 miles a gallon.. It dipped from 35/gal when we started using the A/C!!! Also I've accumulated over 90,000 points for motels so we will start to use them for our stays--they will still give us upgrades if available but no points accrue for points used nights--which makes sense. Depending on where we are a stay will take from 8000-16000 points. Still, it is a savings. Well, now I'll go review Tuesdays adventures and send a missive on them followed by today's pretty same old , same old. Not much today in geographic variety or characters!! But not boring--there is always something to enjoy!! Til, then, enjoy!!!