Sunday, May 15, 2011

Alamogordo - White Sands, Walmart, and Lent-Edible Capybara

White Sands, Alamogordo, New Mexico

[2010 Out West Road Trip.  Travels with Carol.]

In March 2010, my mother, Carol, and I took a road trip from Missouri to New Mexico, in search of sun and warmth. Here is Day 9 of our road trip. 

Thursday, 11 march 10  

White Sands, Alamogordo, New Mexico

In the morning, we sauntered over to the hotel lobby to take in the complimentary breakfast, which was not bad. Also in the breakfast room was a tiny Indian (from India) woman who I'm guessing is the matriarch of the owner family. I first saw her in the lobby on the day we checked in. After breakfast is completed, she seems to move her position to a chair in the lobby where she avidly watches the goings-on at the reservation desk.
White Sands, Alamogordo, New Mexico

After breakfast, on this beautifully sunny day, we drove out to White Sands National Monument, the world's largest gypsum sand dune field. We walked along a boardwalk "interdune" trail and drove the scenic dune drive. The starkness of the pure white dune against the blue sky is stunning, as you can see from these photos taken by other visitors. 
White Sands, Alamogordo, New Mexico

After, we had lunch at Margo's, where Carol had grilled trout and I had a guacamole salad. We then took in the Alamogordo Zoo, set in the middle of the city on pretty park grounds. It was the first zoo west of the Mississippi and is the smallest zoo member of the national zoo accreditation organization. Visiting here made for a very pleasant walk. We learned that one can eat capybara, the world's largest rodent, during Lent. 
White Sands, Alamogordo, New Mexico

We spent the rest of the afternoon checking out neighborhoods to see what kind of town Alamogordo is. We found one neighborhood, which is just outside of town, in which the large adobe houses sit in completely naturalized surroundings of juniper bushes, etc., and which were beautiful. These were, in my opinion, "ooh and ahh" beautiful.  It looked like they sat on 1/2 acre or more lots. Another neighborhood, connected to the small golf course, had pretty adobe houses, too, but they were very close together, though with attractive xeriscapeyards that looked pretty expensive. Looking these houses up later online, these ran about $350k. More modest neighborhoods (OK, very "transitional" neighborhoods) had small adobe houses in need of rehab in the 50k range. Small being about 1000 sq. feet.
White Sands, Alamogordo, New Mexico

We also drove up to an Alamogordo park, the Desert Foothills Park. I walked along a really pretty, meandering paved trail for awhile while Carol read in the car. 
Alamogordo is about the size of Jefferson City. Ooh, on looking it up, I see there was a book burning incident in 2001. 
White Sands, Alamogordo, New Mexico
The reason South Americans felt eating capybara was OK for Lent is because it is considered an aquatic animal.  These fine distinctions occur frequently in religion and I, myself, am inclined to take advantage from time to time especially during inclement weather and very cold Sunday mornings.  The trout at lunch was excellent.  Today we will revert to our own sandwich makings, leaving this interesting town for Silver City to view the pueblos.  Added to my stash of books by purchasing a favorite of June's, Willa Cather's Death Comes to the Archbishop.  When Shilo Girl, Stormy, June and I went to Dauphin Island she read exerpts of particularly fine passages.  Found this copy in the White Sands information shop.  Also picked up a couple of mystery books at the local Walmart, my criteria being less than six dollars - prices jumping from six to eight.  Can see why now.  Mostly read in the evenings -  scenery spectacular and still looking for the elusive jack rabbit, mule deer, bird or jet plane from my window as Mzuri drives.   My editor tells me I am incorrect about making our own lunches today.  Reminding me we are lunching at Chope's which she tells me is a legendary place specializing in some unpronouncable ethnic dish.  Maybe they have trout although I can't imagine where it comes from in this arid climate (mine even had the tails on). 

White Sands, Alamogordo, New Mexico


I am enjoying your travel log immensely.  However, I continue to be disturbed by the Wal-Mart chronicles.  I wonder if all the effort to see local flora and fauna has to be balanced out by an excursion into the homogenized atmosphere of this corporate giant.  Or is the umbilical cord just too strong?  Or, how about this imagery?  I imagine Wal-Mart as a gigantic squid perched in Arkansas with tentacles reaching out to every corner of your journey.

One day Wal-Mart will be accorded the same respect as Sears and Roebuck.  What would life for a rural kid be like without the Sears catalog each winter, serving as both entertainment and toilet paper.  I, for one, love Wal-Mart.  One may camp in their well-lit parking lot (called "boondocking" as featured on NPR) without being hassled by The Man and then run in at dawn to use their bathroom, buy a doughnut, get a haircut, and check out the Today Show in the automotive waiting room.  It's like visiting family.  By the way, did you know that most of the large department stores were founded in the midwest? Target, Walmart, Sears, Kresge(Kmart), Penneys, Macy's (Denver, not NY), even Bass Pro and Cabelas.  Don't know why, it's just true.

Kudos to both Shilo Girl and Holstein Boy for their perceptive spin on the Walmart saga M and I seem to be frequenting so frequently - mostly it is because we buy culinary provisions there and as we move further into what is called Old West Country we are concerned there will be no shopping places in the outposts.  This is not to be considered some sort of justification since I also love Walmart and when they start up with a medical clinic probably will check in there as I do with my visual needs now, not to mention my hair.
Capybara at Alamogordo Zoo, Alamogordo, New Mexico


What  a hoot! 

Pretty soon Wal-Mart will be considered the new mega-church and communities of parishioners will surround every Wal-Mart. All non-believers and other believers will be run out of its jurisdiction. Just imagine, you would never need to leave your little community. You will have everything you need: spiritual nourishment, food, clothing, entertainment, doctors, hair salons, spas and coming soon restaurants, bars, and clubs! Woohoo!  

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