Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Mexico - Southern

New State....New Mexico

It is the fifth largest state in area (behind Alaska, Texas, California and Montana) with less than 2 million people. Our first destination was Las Cruces near the Texas border. It was an accidental find as we had enough driving and happened upon a good KOA with a good view. Not far from a small town; Mesilla, we visited for a day trip. This was a great opportunity to see a plaza, a mission-style church and lots of adobe houses, stores and restaurants. One little restaurant was Little Diner and Tortilla Factory on the border. The menu offered a full gamut of New Mexican cuisine so we sampled gorditas, enchiladas, tacos and great rice. A newspaper clipping on the wall touted the most famous visitor; George W. Bush, when he was Governor of Texas.

The next stop was Alamogordo where we visited White Sands National Monument. The park is 275 sq. miles of white gypsum sand dunes. This was an opportunity to hike on the sand that feels like icing sugar.

The roads are ploughed because winds can blow and cover the surfaces. At one point Don was driving and when he braked he forgot it wasn't snow.

The Alkali Flat Trail was a 7.4 km. loop with a view of White Sands Missile Range in the distance. Occasionally the Park has to close when they are testing experimental weapons and space technology.

Alamogordo also boasts the New Mexico Museum of Space History. We toured the faciliity which was an educational experience of space travel in the past and future exploration. We did find Marc Garnieau's picture hanging in the Space Hall of Fame.

We camped at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park and hiked up Dog Canyon Trail in the Sacramento Mountains. From the top we had a great view of the Tularosa Basin including White Sands National Monument.

The next day we visited Three Rivers Petroglyph Site which has over 21,000 petroglyphs left by the Jornada Mogollon natives over 700 years ago.

We travelled on to camp at The Malpais - Valley of Fires Recreation Area. It is the site of an ancient Indian legend that the "malpi" country was once a "valley of fire". This is true because the black lava covers 125 sq. miles and is more than 160 ft. deep at the

centre. A great paved nature trail gave us opportunity to explore. However, we have learned that weather in this area can change quickly. While hiking we were snowed upon and an hour later the sun was beating down and providing a wonderful warmth.

Off to Albuquerque tomorrow.

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