"If one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better."
– Jane Austen
The above quote has nothing to do with anything we did this week. I am just a HUGE Jane Austen fan and wanted to share.
Okay, Hello from Deming, New Mexico.
What a fun week we had and lots of adventures. It all started on our drive over from Lakewood, across the San Andres mountains, through Cloudcroft where we saw snow and our first long-distance view of White Sands. We both decided that we didn't miss the snow at all and how amazing it is that you can go from total dry bones desert to pine-covered mountains with snow in just a few miles (of mostly elevation, to be sure, but what a drastic change).
We made a stop at White Sands National Monument and what a beautiful place that was - - it looks like snow but it is really finely ground gypsum which was the bottom of a sea bed that was in this part of the world some 250 million years ago. The winds out in this area blow and drift this sand into huge mounds and it was a blast seeing kids sledding down the sides of them. It was like having your winter fix but the temperature was 68 degrees and sunny. We parked Big Red next to one of them so you could see how big they are. Aren't they cool?
Our next adventure was traveling down to Puerto Palomas, Mexico. We were told by some people at the Lakewood RV park we had just left that you could get optical and dental work done very cheaply here, and since Steve broke his glasses and was using a back-up scratched pair (sounds like our grandson Darius), we decided to head down and check it out. What a great time we had. First, the entire process - - eye exam to glasses - - only took 2 hours. In the meantime, we shopped at The Pink Store and had lunch at the restaurant that is part of the complex. We listened to live music and ate some absolutely fabulous Mexican food, and even met and spent time with the owners - - Sergio and Ivonne Romero. They were lovely people and tried to convince us to move to Las Cruces. If you are in the southwest New Mexico area, I highly recommend heading to Palomas for a visit to The Pink Store and our new friends Sergio and Ivonne. Check out their website: www.thepinkstoremexico.com.
Next, we headed to the Gila Cliff Dwellings which is a place that I have always wanted to see. These cliff homes were built by the Mogollon Indians around 1270 A.D. and were inhabited for only 30 years. According to the ranger, they estimated that 40 people lived within the walls of these caves. They farmed the valley below for corn, beans, and squash and supplemented their diet with the local berries as well as the deer in the area. There was a severe drought which is one of the theories as to why they only remained here 30 years - - they had used up all the natural resource and had to move on. The caves were ransacked between the early 1600's when the Spanish began to settle in the area, and the late 1800's when our government decided to make it a National Park. They were able to find some artifacts which helped explain how they lived and farmed and what each of the caves was used for. Apparently, these Mogollon Indians were expert ladder builders which they would have to be because some of the rooms in these caves did not have doors - - like the grainery. They purposely made their storehouses something that would have to be reached from the outside of the cave and accessible only by very long ladders. And, based on the pictographs present, they used them to leave additional clues near the ceilings of these very high caves. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting this site.
The Gila National Forest, where the cliffs are located, are also very interesting. Geronimo was born in the 1820's at the mouth of the Gila River, not far from the cliff dwellings. There is a scenic drive called "Trail of the Mountain Spirits" that takes you from Silver City, NM passed Fort Bayard and the Santa Rita Open Pit Copper Mine (which was enormous and very interesting to see), through the Gila National Forest which boasts the most interesting rock formations, passed Lake Roberts (a high elevation lake in the mountains) and then to the Cliff Dwellings. What a lovely drive that was. We saw snow again, and thankfully just blew right passed it. There is also a hot springs and an old mining town from the 1860's called Pinos Altos that is fun to see. The drive, including the visit to the cliff dwellings, is an all-day thing, but very much worth your time.
Our next adventure was to the City of Rocks State Park which was a total surprise and one we thoroughly enjoyed. These rocks are the aftermath of a volcanic eruption that was estimated to be 1,000 times greater than Mount St. Helens. They are basically lava drippings that landed and cooled into cool shapes and Steve and I had a blast climbing all over the rocks. We also did some geocaching which was fun, but I almost died again. Of course, I am exaggerating! But in the process of looking for one cache, I walked right into a thorn bush and, because I was wearing capri pants (yes, it was that warm), my legs got all scratched up and bloody. Not a pretty sight!!!!
On the way home, we headed out Green Leaf Mine Road to do some rockhounding. This mine was built to harvest the flourite in the area, which is what we were rockhounding for, as well as carnelian. To get there we had to take this very long dirt road back behind someone's ranch. It was a very beautiful drive to be back in the open desert like that. We also stopped to see some pictographs that were left behind by the Indians in this region. Not much is known about this old mine or the pictographs, so I cannot give you more information, but it was fun to see. There is even an old gravesite right near the mine's opening. I am sure there is a good story there, but what it is, we will never know.
Lastly, we experienced something totally new and not so wonderful. Let me say that the desert is a beautiful place in its own way. The cactus are diverse and interesting. There are mountains everywhere and the wide-open spaces allow you to see 30-40 miles in the distance. With a sky that huge, the sunrises and sunsets are unmatched. But the lack of humidity has an unbelievable affect on your body - - my skin is absorbing lotion by the gallon and our sinuses just burn from the dryness. And, then there's the "mother nature" affect of sandstorms. This past Saturday, we had winds of 50 mph with gusts even larger than that which caused us to have an unbelievable dust storm. I have never seen anything like it and, quite honestly, didn't care for it. The dirt was so high in the air that the bottom of the clouds were brown. The blowing sand was so thick, you couldn't see very far in front of you. And when it all settled down, everything was covered in dirt. Not so much fun peeps! It must be a frequent happening because there were roads in the area that had signs warning of low visibility due to sandstorms. It was interesting to see, but i wouldn't want to have to deal with that very often. We tried to capture it in pictures but they really don't do it justice because you would need the "before and after" shots to be able to tell how much visibility had diminished. Needless to say, it was a dirty mess!!
Alrighty, today is moving day. We are headed to Benson, Arizona to visit some friends, to see Tombstone and visit the Sagauro National Park and its towering cacti. FUN!!! Weather is expected to be in the upper 60's. Nice!