Friday, May 13, 2011

Guadalupe Mountains. Crossing Las Cruces Off the List

[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 7 of our road trip. 

Tuesday, 9 march 10 

From Carlsbad, we left Tuesday morning for Las Cruces via the Guadalupe Mountains and El Paso. Highways 180/62 west. Stopped at McKittrick Canyon, called the "prettiest place in Texas," primarily because it is a wet microclimate in the middle of the Chihuahan Desert. There's even a tree that resides there that is generally considered to be a rainforest tree - the Texas madrone. Alas, one can only see the canyon after a four-mile hike, which went beyond the time and scope of our visit on this day. Also, there was a pretty direct warning re: mountain lions in the areas: Do not hike alone.
We next stopped in Salt Flat, home of the El Paso Salt War of the 1870s. A really ugly episode with relevance today to human conflict over natural resources. The only remaining activity in Salt Flat is the Salt Flat Cafe, where we lunched. Picturesque in a 1950s way, there was a cat on the metal roof, a Greyhound sign on the side of the building, some flown-fur on the stoop by the front door (presumably a product of said cat's recent kills), and yellow flowers on a friendly ground cover beneath the cafe windows. Very flat environs, but mountain views at 360 degrees view. This cafe has been open 80 years. Photos of the owner's "daddy," who was a deputy sheriff in them there parts. Carol had tamales; I had huevos rancheros.
Took a loop around El Paso, the outer-outer skirts of which had a third-world ambiance, with a mad mixture of abandoned buildings, tire businesses, lonely trailers, vast empty lots, then repeat. Some intriguing goings-on on the 375 Loop. For one, there's this immense - I mean COLOSSAL - construction project going on, which seems to be comprised of myriad apartment buildings, brand new. Or myriad Fairfield Inns. Who knows? I realized later there's a military base (Fort Bliss) nearby, so maybe there's a connection there.  Unfortunately, we swung past the Border Patrol Museum so fast, we didn't have time to stop in, and besides, we weren't quite positive we were still on the right road. As we continued along this loop, we encountered the Franklin Mountains .... very scenic.  Then up to Las Cruces, which was our intended stop for several days. 
Despite being on multiple "best" lists since 2000 or so, we were not only unimpressed, we were annoyed. The biggest fault was that the only thing the Las Cruces tourist map and reality had in common was that they did, indeed, have the same street names on them. The fact that there was no useful directional or location relevance between the two made for a maddening experience. So we left and headed toward Alamogordo.
Drove through the White Sands Missile Range, past the White Sands National Monument, and into Alamogordo. Which has an orderly, attractive, and more relaxing layout. We liked the look/feel of the Classic Inn and loved the price (at barely $40). Alas, its wireless proved too unreliable, so we moved out Wednesday morning. 
One of us was a little cranky on this day. OK, both of us were a little cranky today, but at generally different times. Carol made us both a bloody mary in the evening, and that helped immensely. 
Weather - Gloriously sunny and mild.
When I read Mzuri's detailed account of what we did (accomplished) each day it becomes even more memorable for me.  I anticipate copying all of our several trip accounts and responses (really witty) and keeping them for posterity.  It is so gratifying to me that my children remember those little occasions in which I was featured, some of which were really terrifying experiences for me.  Particularly that time in Lost Creek at Paul's farm when I cowered behind a dilapidated century-old corn crib with a huge, really large group of cows threatening us. I remember releasing a child or two at a time to run to the safety of the farmhouse before finally darting forth myself to safety.  Some of you haven't mentioned the time I fell out of the rotten deer stand to fall on my back and looking up to see three or four very young children looking down at me.  My main concern was they would tell Ron.  As I lay there I remember telling them not to ask if I were hurt.  Those were the days, weren't they, and very special to me.  It pleases me that family humor has gestated after all the years over those occasions.  Shouldn't bloody mary be capitalized?

Credit: My Family Circus


Really enjoyed Mom's side of the cattle story.  Made me laugh to remember.  I do not believe I was with her on the deer stand (should I use debacle or adventure?  hmmm) adventure.  Though I do recall her telling me "don't ask if I'm hurt".
and yes, I do believe Bloody Mary is capitalized.  though I don't think vodka is....except in the minds of those on this trip.  perhaps it is even all caps. 

From Trailerhood:  
I hope you two are taking loads of pictures. I would love to get a peek at the Guadelup Mts.  

From Carol: 
Luke, thanks for your comments - we did think of you when we toured these moutnains which seemshould be filled with some important geologic and/or medical qualities since they don't appear to be worth anything much. I will admist Mzuri found them beautiful while I kept looking for some life - even a bird if not a jack rabbit. I will admit my geologic ignorance is showing. When we found a place called the most beautiful place in Texas it became obvious the beauty could only be found by a walking tour of about 4 miles to reach the special valley wherein even maple trees were apparent. This was due to a water way holding various chemical entitities that fed the flora. Mountain lions and rattle snakes also resided there. We did not atte pt the walking trek however. Yes, Mzuri is taking lots of pictures. By the way, the place is called McKittrick Canyon.

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