Friday March 13,2015 Quality Inn Room 122 Santa Rosa, New Mexico
A little hard getting up this morning—this West and Daylight Savings Time have been playing havoc with our internal clocks. We were in NM when it jumped ahead, but then we went to Az which didn’t jump ahead but California did. So California and Arizona were both three hours different than home, but then we returned to New Mexico yesterday and lost an hour. It will be worse tomorrow when we lose yet another hour. Then we should settle down for a bit before losing the last hour that will bring us back to EST.
So, anyway, I finally rolled out of bed around 8 and managed to get to breakfast fifteen minutes before it ended. We’d decided yesterday that we would cross over to Carrizozo and head up to Vaughn and on to Santa Rosa today. Tomorrow we will continue to Tucumcari and up to Clayton before going into Oklahoma—going to Guymon to see if Eddie is still running his steakhouse and also to find our favorite jerky store on the way.
This is our first trip to Santa Rosa and Tucumcari since our third trip, although we left New Mexico through Clayton two years ago. Got there by way of Santa Fe. Since we wouldn’t be driving a long distance today we decided to make one last trip this year to the Bosque.
We came to Socorro three times this year and I’m beginning to feel like this little area with K-Bob’s and the Exxon station on the corner is almost home. As we traveled Rt 1 between San Antonio and the Refuge we came upon a group of mule deer with a male escort.
Today’s trip to the Bosque was not disappointing but it was different—the hello and good-bye herons were no where to be seen, the hawk’s population has diminished, the snow geese and sand cranes are all gone, including the straggler of a week or so ago. We didn’t see the javelina at all and the trees are beginning to leaf out. There are a few remaining Canada geese and as we drove over a newly opened road we could hear their strident discussion of whether to leave now or stay a few more days. I distinctly heard one goose exclaim that there was still snow on the ground up north and a few more days wouldn’t hurt. Another raised his voice over hers and said if they waited it would be in the low 80’s by the time they reached Nebraska and the rest of the trip would be hell. Another guy opened and flapped his wings as if to imply cooling off—the speaker, noticing, informed him that showing his pits wasn’t going to do much cooling. Don’t know how they voted but in another part of the refuge we found scattered pairs feeding and bathing and seemingly content to remain.
In the area where hello heron usually held court we came across a beautiful hawk dining on his recently captured rodent’'. Though he was aware of us, he kept a close eye as he continued to eat. It wasn’t until a Texas truck came up rapidly that he decided it was getting too crowded and off he flew with the little bit left. We came to the distant fields that once were full of snow geese, Canada geese and the original group of deer we saw on our first visit this year. None of them were there so we took another spur that has been opened to an area recently flooded—a big lake has been formed and it was filled with ducks and in the far distance the aforementioned debating geese, not visible but definitely audible.
Each time we are in the Refuge I find something else new and today the forms of the trees caught my eye. Mostly cottonwood and some quite old and twisted. I think I noticed them more this time since there wasn’t the wildlife—though today there was a snowy egret and two cormorants who were having an amorous rendez-vous. He had been displaying as we arrived but moved over to another branch and decided to preen rather than have their intimate moment observed.
Usually I am sad to leave the Refuge but today it somehow seemed right—the birds have headed north and I took it as a sign that it is time for us to think about doing the same. One of the Rangers in the Petrified Forest was from Nebraska and he told us his family had said about 75000 sand cranes had already arrived there. He said once they all migrate to the summer grounds the number will exceed 235000.( BTW, the Ranger is Organ Pipe was Jimmie Pond from Texas)
When we had lunch with Jim Rader the other day we mentioned Carrizozo to him and he asked what Carrizozo was. It is one of those crossroad places in New Mexico. When you arrive at the traffic light form Socorro you can go straight ahead over Capitan to Lincoln and on to Roswell, or turn right and go to Tularosa, Alamogordo, Las Cruces and El Paso, go back to Socorro and on to Arizona or turn left and go to Vaughn, another crossroads.
We’d done three of the four choices already this trip so it was to the left and Vaughn. The route follows the Union Pacific north-south line. There are a couple of old mining ghost towns in the mountains along the way but we’ve learned by trying to go to several that the roads are not truly passable for the fancy cars we drive—well maybe not that fancy but lower slung and two wheel drive than is very sensible to travel unmaintained old mining roads.It seems the road we were traveling is being widened into a four lane road—I hate it—but it was still beautiful.
The clouds were incredible today—I love the sky and clouds as those of you who have traveled with us before know. One of our favorite classes was one on meteorology that Bill and I took at NH Community College. It was taught by an Army Major from CRREL—Major Quilliam, second in command. Those cute little cumulus clouds are the precursors of an impending front. I felt like we were driving under and alongside a little alien army of white puffy spacecraft. As they moved forward they began to overtake each other and a traffic jam formed. The vehicles in the back started to overtake the forward guard and meld with them. As they plowed into each other the forward motion slowed and they began to rise up higher forming the beginning of thunderheads. We could see vega streams in the distance where the excess water of the combining and rising clouds was forced out of them and the wind began to rise.
Soon we were in Vaughn, where the Union Pacific and Fred Harvey had built a beautiful railroad station and one of the biggest and fanciest of Harvey Houses. I’m not sure the depot is the original and the Harvey House is long gone. The empty old motels and restaurants speak to the time when this was a major hub of rail and truck traffic and tourist as well. The BNSF line crosses the UP here, headed from Roswell to Belen in the West. Even though the days of stopovers has passed there are still five roads radiating out from the town. Here one can choose to return to Carrizozo, go west to Belen south of Albuquerque,go southeast to Roswell, or east to Clovis or, as we did, go north to =Santa Rosa ( and connect with I 40 or old 66, which it has covered. Along the whole route from Carrizozo to Santa Rosa we passed through four towns, three barely there and one a shell of former glory.
Santa Rosa is itself, in town center, pretty much a ghost town too, having died with the death of 66. But the eastern end of town is built up with new motels if not new restaurants and we pulled into the Quality Inn—same rating as the Comfort--$20 cheaper and right across the road! Bill walked over to the Mexican restaurant but I felt like a tuna sandwich which I mixed up and used to fill a pita bread. A glass of Cab and some pistachio cookies and I am all set.
Bill is watching the Providence/Villanova game so will read USA Today until Blue Bloods. Soon we will be in Oklahoma hopefully savoring a truly excellent steak, with compliments from Eddie—otherwise, if he retired and closed it may be Pizza Hut order in. Until tomorrow, take care –The Two Traveling Peas