Wednesday, April 4, 2007

SouthEastern New Mexico

So here we are in the Valley of Fires. This first shot shows Cholula Red from the paved walkway that winds through a small part of the lava flow.

As always, remember that you can click on any photo for a larger sized view of the pictures. Most of them look considerably better at a larger size.

Yesterday, we decided to take a morning walk, and what a delight it was. While I always think of lava as hard and unforgiving, here in the desert, it provides an almost perfect place for plants to thrive.

The way it works is, over time, dirt is deposited in the crevices of the lava. Eventually, the soil builds up so that when a seed is deposited (either from bird droppings or wind) it takes hold. During the day, the lava heats up and retains the heat on into the night, providing a perfect medium to supports plant life.

Consequently, the lava is flooded with life and it is a beautiful sight to behold.

Pretty cool, huh?

While we see yuccas all through the desert, they just seem to take on a whole other appearance when they are showcased against the black lava here at the Valley of Fires.

There are several kinds of flows in these beds since the magma came up from vents in the ground rather that spewing from a peak. This vent flow causes a variety of lava formations including pressure ridges, lava tubes and bubbles, both intact and collapsed. This shot is the mouth of a cave where they say there are bat colonies at certain times of the year.

There are also many junipers on the flow, including one that is said to be more than four hundred years old. I liked this shot because it shows the flatness of the region.

This last shot shows some of the large blocks that are scattered throughout the flow. After the lava cools, other magma would come along and push the already cooled blocks to the surface.

After our walk, we decided to take a drive.

Carrizozo is just five miles down the road from our campground. Situated in the Lincoln County area where the Lincoln County Wars disrupted life in the late 1800s, it's rich with history.

As we were looking around downtown Carrizozo, we spied this display. For years, I've collected bowling balls, using them for various yard decorations, so needless to say, this yard was right up my alley (pun intended).

After driving around Carrizozo, we took a drive up to White Oaks. It's a small town located higher up in the hills, with quite a history. When gold was discovered in the 1870s, the town thrived, but like so many towns here in the west, when the mines played out, it became a shell of its' former self.

While it still retains many of its former structures, it is by no means a metropolis, but is certainly worth a visit.

They still have a beautiful old schoolhouse, built in 1895. It contains four school rooms and is a lovely old structure with many intricate details. I really liked the stonework, with components such as this.

This home, known as the Gumm House is of particular historical interest. The story goes that Pat Garrett was in this very home, arranging to purchase lumber for a scaffolding to hang Billy the Kid when the famous outlaw made his escape from the Lincoln County Jail.

After White Oaks we went over to Capitan to see the Smokey Bear Park.

Now, I've aways been a Smokey fan, ever since I was a child. I loved the story of the small cub clinging to a tree top in the midst of a raging forest fire, who wouldn't?

So can you imagine my surprise when I learned that Smokey was originally a product of the WWII propaganda machine? He was thought up during the war as an icon to remind folks to be careful with fire as our forests were crucial to the war effort. Now I'm not complaining about that, it's just that I was pretty disillusioned with the real story.

I related my disappointment to my friend Joanne who told me "I don't know how to break this to you Kate, but there's no Easter Bunny either".

Oh well, such is life.

I was impressed with this little harness which was worn by MY Smokey when he was first discovered. Look what a tiny thing he was!

And this shot shows where my Smokey is buried.

As we left Smokey Bear Park I was amused to see this sign at the restaurant right across the street. Apparently they haven't gotten Smokey's message.

After all our adventures yesterday, today we chose to stay around the rig and do chores we've been postponing.

I fixed my broken wind chime so it will be available for use for another year or two. I also cleaned up the wiring in my entertainment center (which took quite a while, believe me, but how nice it feels to have it done).

And finally, I discovered that Garmin has FINALLY come out with Mac software to update the Firmware and Points of Interest database in our GPS. This is a big deal, since we've been carrying a Windows laptop just for this purpose.

We use the GPS so frequently we can hardly remember what we did before we had one.

I find lazy days such as this so wonderful, I just love being retired.

Our life is good.

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