Monday, 25 March 2013

In search of…………………

At an elevation of over 7,000ft out on the wide St Augustin plain is The Very Large Array, somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for ages.   Unfortunately each time we’ve been in the area, we've been thwarted by the weather, usually one of New Mexico’s famous dust storms.
This time we made it!
The VLA was built in the 1970’s, and has a small visitor centre.   On arrival you are asked to switch off all electronic equipment as it interferes with the telescopes.   You can however use digital cameras.  

As it was cold and very windy we decided to take the self-guided walking tour first and look around the visitor centre afterwards, so we could thaw out! 

At ⅛th of a mile long the walking tour takes you round part of the site, there are information boards along the way, but most of these were being renewed on our visit. 

The walking tour takes you right under this telescope, which makes you realise just how huge they are, sometimes you can hear the telescope being adjusted. 

The telescopes are moved along railway lines to form different configurations the distance between each telescope allows the scientists to perform different searches. 

The film Contact was filmed here, but computer graphics put many more telescopes on the site and moved Canyon De Chelly from Arizona to New Mexico.
Back in the visitor centre we watched a 9 minute video about the site and then looked at some of the things the VLA has discovered.

This is our view of the array from the road, and yes that was rain coming from those clouds.
It’s an absolutely fascinating place and hopefully we’ll return, preferably on a warmer day! 

Have fun, we are!

Magdalena, New Mexico

It was cool and sunny when we left Kiva RV Park on Saturday, but as we drove along NM 60 the sky turned a little cloudier and, of course, it also turned a little cooler as we climbed higher.
At the historical marker for the Magdalena Fault I got out to take a photograph and it was downright chilly, okay actually it was flippin’ freezing.   The Magdalena Fault is a bench along the Magdalena Mountains dividing the uplifted mountains from the plains below.   At their highest point, South Baldy, the mountains are 10,783ft high. 

This is the view from the historical marker. 

In Magdalena we spied some girls waving signs for a school car wash when we asked we were told they were raising funds for the prom and equipment.   The girls, who were wearing shorts and must’ve been absolutely frozen to death, did a good job and got BT all spiffied up, so we gave them a really good tip.   

After that we stopped at the Bear Mountain Café and Gallery,  

which is also the visitor centre for a lovely lunch, the lemon chess pie and chocolate truffle cheesecake we had for desserts were gorgeous,  another day the diet went out of the window! 

Inside Bear Mountain Café and Gallery.

Have fun, we are!

Red or Green?

Red or green is a question often asked in New Mexico and it means do you want red or green chili?   Our answer is usually whichever is the mildest, but then again what is mild to someone in New Mexico is sometimes what we’d call pretty darn hot!
Hatch is known as the Chili Capital of the World, and is only a short drive from Caballo Lake RV Park.
Established in 1851 as Santa Barbara, Apache raids drove settlers away until 1853 when nearby Fort Thorn was established.   The Fort closed 7 years later and the town was once again abandoned until 1875, when it was reoccupied and renamed in honour of General Edward Hatch the Commander of the New Mexico Military District.
We stopped at some of the stores to look at some Mexican pottery, my friend would love the cheeky geese and I loved the small peacocks, but where on earth do you store them in a fifth wheel?  I thought of mailing them home, but decided it would probably cost an absolute fortune.
Same with this, and somehow I don’t think it would look quite right at home.

More pots and dried chili ristas, these are used for decoration and after lots of washing and soaking can be eaten. 

DB bought a couple of Mexican pots for his outside lights and I bought a pretty spoon rest, 
unusually for me I didn’t check where it was made and would you believe it when we got back, I found a very small ‘made in China’ label underneath.  As DB’s pots really were ‘made in Mexico’ I am never going to hear the end of this! 

Each time we’ve driven through Hatch we’ve driven past a very busy burger & shake place called Sparkys so we thought we’d try there for lunch. 

It’s open five days a week and would you believe it we were there on one of the days it was closed! 

We found a great Mexican/American restaurant just around the corner, sadly I’ve forgotten its name, where DB had a ground beef burrito and I have a ground bean and beef burrito both of which were truly delicious.  Needless to say the diets didn’t do well that day! 

As for the answer to the red of green question?   We have absolutely no idea! 

Have fun, we are!

Caballo Lake, NM

After leaving Deming we drove to El Paso where we got our annual Texas Inspection Certificates before heading on to Caballo Lake RV Park 
A lovely lady called CJ owns the park, all the sites have full hook-ups with 50/30 amp and picnic tables with a view of the lake and the Caballo Mountains behind.   This was the view from our picnic table.

On the other side of the lake a 4WD dirt road runs along the Caballo mountains where prospectors still search for gold.  We thought of taking a drive in that direction, but despite having 4WD we have learned that our truck is sometimes a little too big for these types of roads.

It was bright and sunny the day we arrived, but the next morning was a little more overcast, a sign of the storm that’s arrived this weekend with its strong winds and cooler temperatures. 

A trail that leads down to the lake, which is very low, I’m pretty certain this sign should be in the water as a warning to boaters not on dry land! 

This is the view of the lake looking towards the state park.

As we discovered at Elephant Butte Lake, you can no longer drive over the dam, but we took the road to the other part of the state park along the Rio Grande. The river was very low, after all those John Wayne films when we were kids it’s not how we imagined the Rio Grande would be.
This view of the lake is from the primitive camping area.

We really enjoyed our stay at Caballo Lake RV Park and next time we’re in this area we’ll definitely return.

Have fun, we are!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Adobe Deli

We’ve been told about the Adobe Deli in Deming several times, but never quite managed to make it.  Last weekend we finally made it thanks to some lovely people we met.

When we arrived there were very few cars outside and quite honestly had we been on our own I think we’d’ve driven straight past thinking it was part of a ranch or house.

We had been warned how huge the sandwiches are, the warnings are right, they are absolutely huge!

It has a very interesting interior and you’d never think it used to be a school house.
If you go you should be sure and check out the library, there are some very interesting things in there, including this kinda creepy two headed calf

and a neat little rickshaw type bike in the corridor.

Have fun, we are!

Rockhound State Park, Deming, NM

Not far from Deming is Rockhoud State Park, the last time we went it was a very windy day, so we didn’t stay long.
The Big Florida (pronounced Florita) Mountains from the visitor Centre.
This time we returned to hike the Thunder Egg Trail, it’s only a short trail 1.2 miles all the way round.    Before we started up the trail we knew that we weren’t going to be coming back with any amazing specimens as to us one rock is pretty much the same as another. 

The Big Florida Mountains from along the trail.

The trail starts at the day use area and follows a fairly steep trail up the side of the mountain, I’m pretty certain the lovely volunteer in the office told us that you can more or less go anywhere in the park looking for rocks,  but you can’t remove more than 15lbs of rock a day. 

Looking back towards Deming and I10.

 The Little Florida Mountains.

Although it was only a short hike, we enjoyed it and there were some lovely views. 

Have fun, we are!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Tanque Verde Falls

Where Tanque Verde Road ends, Redington Pass continues and winds its way up the side of the mountain, turning from pavement to dirt.
There are a couple of trails heading down to the falls, we found a parking area and headed for one of them.   We had been warned that the falls can be dangerous, the bullet holed, graffiti covered sign didn’t pull any punches with its stark warning that people have been killed or seriously injured.

A little way along the trail we had our first view of the falls, very pretty.

The trail we took is steep with lots of horrible loose gravel the stuff that’s so easy to slide on.

Once at the bottom we couldn’t go far without scrambling across rocks and through water and as our water shoes are at home on the spare bed so I don’t forget to bring them……………

I can quite see why it can be so dangerous down here, on the left of the photograph below, there is a deep hole that you just can’t see until you’re practically in it and just where exactly would you go when those boulders started tumbling around in a flash flood?

There is a small rocky beach on either side of the falls

as the water wends its way through the boulders mini waterfalls are created.

The trail we took turned out to only be a ½ mile round trip and despite being steep, loose gravel it was well worth it and I’m sure we’ll find our way back there one of these days.

Have fun, we are!

Did we take a wrong turn somewhere?

No we didn’t take a wrong turn and end up on a Greek island we really are still in Arizona.   This is part of the Greek Orthodox Monastery near Florence. 

A friend told us it was an interesting place to visit, she was right, however, they do have a strict dress code.   Men are required to wear long sleeves and trousers.   Women are required to cover their arms, legs and head.  My skirt was deemed not long enough so I was loaned one, DB took one look, tried not to laugh, shook his head and asked where my donkey was!   Hmmmmm. 

The tour is self-guided and photographs are allowed of anything except the altars, monks and any guests. 

The first chapel as you walk through the gate.

The beautifully decorated inside, the altar is hidden from view behind the screen.

Beautiful walkways lead from one chapel to another. 

The only seats in the chapels line the walls and are for use by the monks, you are not allowed to sit on them.

The monastery was built from scratch over a 12 year period and has olive groves and citrus orchards and sells, among other things, home grown olives, homemade marmalade and delicious baklava.

It was an interesting and peaceful place to visit.

Have fun, we are!

Snow, lots of Snow!

It’s been a while since we last drove up Mount Lemmon, we stopped at the Babad Do’ag Overlook which has an amazing view across Tucson.

Babad Do’ag (and no, I can’t pronounce it properly) is Tohono O’odham for Frog Mountain and from the valley below the Santa Catalinas look like a giant sleeping frog.   The word Tucson also comes from The Tohono O’odham language and roughly translated means ‘at the foot of the black hill’. 

From there we carried on up the mountain stopping at the Seven Cataracts Overlook.   Quite often the falls are dry, but with all the snow melt water were absolutely pouring down, I think all of the falls are in this photograph.

This is a close up of just one of the falls, lots of ice cold water. 

As we drove higher snow started appearing in the shady spots and we were treated to more views over Tucson, and the snow covered Santa Rita’s in the distance.
As we drove down into Summerhaven snow covered the surrounding mountains
and although we were told that the snow was a bit ‘sticky’ there were plenty of skiers and snow boarders having fun in Ski Valley.

We parked and followed the road further up the mountain, we could see across to Oracle and Biosphere II.

After which we enjoyed a very nice lunch on the sunny terrace of the Sawmill Run in Summerhaven.   As we drove home, we stopped for a few last photographs at Windy Vista, which for once wasn’t windy.

It was nice to drive up the mountain and visit the snow, but even nicer to come down and leave it there!

Have fun, we are!