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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Beginning of a New Mexico Sojourn

Saturday found us headed toward New Mexico through West Texas, which is truly oil country. It is here that are found Midland and Odessa, two of the more well-known oil cities, though we did not go through them this year. We started the day, cold and rainy and worked our way through LaMesa, home to the Golden Tornadoes and Seminole, which was a town that served as the gateway to Texas cotton fields. When I saw the first gin sign I thought, well, no junipers around, must be a cotton gin. Only a few minutes earlier I'd asked Bill what he thought would be planted in  the fields, some of which were groomed and awaiting seed or seedlings. He thought perhaps sorghum but the gin and, then, some fields with leftover last year's crop answered the question. Somehow, I've never associated West Texas with those cottonfields back home when I was just a little baby and my Momma rocked me in my cradle!  LOL

At Hobbs we entered New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment. It really is a magical place. We have been all over it except the mountains around Taos--the weather is always treacherous there when we come out. I do think that I may have Bill convinced to do a Fall trip next. I have my fingers and toes crossed.

I have sent a NM map as a separate picture for those of you who are geographically interested in seeing where we roamed. If you have followed us in other years, you also will have a chance to see where we've gone before.  As I'd mentioned before I somehow have managed to leave the maps for this whole area of the country at home. As a result we are always on the lookout for an outlet for the State's official transportation map. In Hobbs, as it had been in Texas, the chamber of commerce was once more the place to go.

I don't remember the towns being so competitive with the beauty and size of their welcome signs last year. They may have done this in 2010--the centennial year--when we were detained in Oklahoma and stopped our Westward path. Last year we were on Interstates quite often because we entered through Colorado and through heavy snows.

By the time we reached Livingston the temperature had dropped to 32 and the rain turned to dry snow. By the time we reached Tatum we  were quite cold and hungry and decided to stop at Tiny's. I ordered what was listed as a steak sandwich on Texas toast. I was tricked--Chicken Fried Cube Steak drowned in pallid white milk gravy!!! How Betsy laughed when I told her. I mentioned the gravy and she replied knowingly--that's how it's served. It is just as gross as I'd always thought and is right up there with biscuits and gravy as two of the most abominable economical American gastronomic inventions. They go down hard and then sit in the bottom of your stomach like a pile of lead.  Just AWFUL!!!!!

The street signs in Tatum are beautiful--I couldn't get them all. The fellow across the street made some of them--he also owns Tiny's. He was gone to lunch--but WAS NOT at Tiny's--and would not be back until 2ish. It was only about 1230 so we couldn't wait. I've marked it as a place to which to return--I love the iron sculptures and have just the log wall on which to place it.  It would look nice with Katie's structural steel Life Is Good.

And so we moved on along the long empty road of the LLano Estacado. Though the activity has changed a great deal and the wild life has been seriously depleted and fences and roads erected, I could not help but believe that the area's appearance hasn't changed terribly much.  Between the weather and unchanging landscape the ride was almost hypnotic.

And then we were passed by a truck which passed the car in front of us. Another car passed us and the fellow in front and pulled in behind the truck. It was interesting to watch the oreo sandwich before us as the flashing lights came on and the truck was pulled over. That'll teach him to drive about 90 on a road posted 75! Exciting! Easily amused at times on these long stretches.

This is the first time we've approached Roswell in this direction but it was so cold and miserable we just didn't feel like taking the time to check out the bottomless lakes. At our motel the brochures for the park showed some lovely blue lakes beneath equally heavenly skies. Not today!

A few miles outside Roswell, however, we thought the Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge might have a few cranes and ducks and herons to admire. On such a cold wintry day the two guides were thrilled to see us. Most every bird has headed North but the ranger focused a telescope on a red tailed hawk who was hunting from a tree right outside the visitors' center.  I went out on the deck to take his picture--the wind was just howling and blowing me and the camera around. When using a telephoto lens any movement is magnified, which is why the shot where he is looking at me is blurry and he is almost out of the frame. Once he'd decided I wasn't a threat--just one of those dumb bird-watching types,I couldn't get him to look at me again!

 We decided to take the 7 mile drive despite the lack of numerous birds. There is something very restful on these refuges and after a somewhat difficult day it was a perfect way to de-stress

Went back by the Pecan orchard we'd passed on the way in--here were saplings. Seems it takes a really long time for a pecan tree to mature and bear a crop. Not sure how long--need to research that.

Downtown Roswell is just so touristy--a Space Alien Museum and RESEARCH CENTER!!!!! is probably the most prominent in an old movie theatre. There are so many more gift shops, artifact stores etc. We just try to ignore it all and move out of the center of town, past the beautiful courthouse and out to the more sedate and sensible outskirts.  The motel, here, is the only one that provides complimentary water. Probably should have worried that aliens had spiked it with something but banished such thoughts from my mind and drank a bottle.  Feel fine, so far, three days later.

We went to eat right next door at Tia Juana's Mexican Cafe. Lovely patio on which to eat but not in 32 degrees. Just loved the migrant worker truck in the parking lot. We gringos entered and loved Tia's picture on her menu--as well as the play on the name of the cafe. Brandon, our bartender, recommended Chile Verde so that is what we ordered with a side of Charro Beans. Delicious. Dos Equis on tap and a perfect meal. Brandon moved down from Santa Fe. The topic at the bar as we arrived was the NFL destination of Peyton--after resolving that issue--LOL we talked of snowfall, Taos and Santa Fe in winter, snowboarding and Brandon's goal of becoming a chef since he prefers cooking to all restaurant jobs followed by bartending. He is quite personable and apparently liked us too since he gave us four beers free. Bill always gives a big tip in cases like that---he is always an excellent tipper but ups it--says he'd rather pay the worker than the house. LOL  We then made our way the long distance home to the Comfort Inn and a bit of TV before bed.

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