Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Mexico Adventure

City of Rocks State Park, about 30 miles north of Deming, New Mexico is an incredible place.  The theory is that these rocks were thrown about 180 miles from a volcano near Albuquerque.  They are arranged with "strees" between them and camp sites in and among them.  Table mountain mesa lies nearby.  We stayed here Sunday night through Wednesday morning.  You can see "Alfie" in the background.  Distance in this photo is deceiving as we're quite a ways away from the visitor's center in the foreground.

This park was a great jumping off place to travel north to historic Silver City where this mineral was being mined as early as 1804 by the Indians and then by 1870 when the town began.  By 1875, in spite of the crude methods, Silver City mills were producing $16,000 of bullion a week by 1875.  On Monday we drove up there and got a new spark plug for the generator.  Even though Jerry has just replaced it before leaving home, this seemed to do the trick.  We drove north on the Trail of the Mountain Spirits National scenic Byway to Pinos Altos which was founded aboug 1859 when a group of forty-niners drifting home from CA discovered gtold in the area.  Amazing old homes built on the hillsides and in and among the trees. 

On Tuesday, we traveled 3 hours north, through the Gila National Forest, very winding, narrow roads with beautiful scenery, to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.  These cliff dwellings were built by the people of the Mogollon culture who lived therer from the 1280's through the early 1300's.  These Pueblo people built their homes in these natural caves, tilled mesa top and riverside fields with digging sticks and ground corn meal with metate and mano.  They fashioned pottery and cloth, carrying on trade with other Mimbreno communities.  They hunted and gathered wild plants and fruit to supplement their crops of squash, corn and beans.  They were skilled potters, were slight of build and very artistic.  There are 7 natural caves and 5 of them contain the ruins of cliff dwellings - about 42 rooms.

This room had drawings on the inner wall and because it had smoothed walls, is thought to have been a ceremonial room.  A very informative volunteer was on hand to provide some history and point out various areas.

This is a very worthwhile 1 mile trek through the forest but not necessarily for those like me who are afraid of heights, as the ladder you have to climb down from the ruins is kinda scary.  (You can skip this part but why go to the ruins not to see them all.)

After leaving the monument, we traveled south to Doc Campbell's camp where there is a very small, intimate area with three open air hot pools which you can pay to soak in.  They are fairly shallow (about 1-1/2 ' with sand bottoms, surrounded by boulders in the woods next to the Gila River and nestled below huge cliffs.
We met a farmer father and son from Cherokee Co., IA there for a few days escaping the awful weather.  Also a couple with 5 children from the Catskills in NY who sold their 4 bedroom home and are now traveling in their RV around the country, escaping from the rat-race.  She is a college grad with a grad school degree in art therapy and is home-schooling the children ages 11-3.  Charming, darling children!  This was an extremely relaxing area - one we'd like to return to.

Our return trip from Gila Cliff Dwellings was a different route and only took 1-1/2 hrs instead of 3, so we were home by 6:30 PM.  Saw 3 deer on the side of the road on the way...luckily they weren't crossing the road!

Haven't seen any wildlife but did add a "Says Phoebe" bird to my life list. 

It's been great exploring NM for a bit - we've just scratched the surface - there are so many places in this state (and in all others) that we haven't seeen.  Hope to do more.  Off to Tucson!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Whats up next?

Good morning all!  We're still in sunny, warm Texas...just about ready to head west to Arizona.  

We've had a nice week.  Went with Ken and Jan to one of our fave eateries on Tuesday for lunch,  Shade Tree Grill and had their Reuben special...none better except maybe the ones at Belgian Village in Moline, IL.  Finally got the word from the insurance company for the okay to fix the damaged panel above the tires as a result of the blowout in October.  So we packed up Wed. evening and left at 7 AM on Thursday am to travel about an hour down to McQueeney Collision.  They are the ones who repaired our RV about 2-3 years ago after another blowout.  The insurance company had approved their estimate and had good things to say about them, too.  So, the repairs are about done and we hope to leave here soon and get on the road.

We ate dinner last night at Clear Springs Restaurant (about 3 miles south of New Braunfels on Hwy 46.)  Had eaten there in '04 when we were lounging around after our crash and had forgotten about it.

"The Land on which Clear Springs Restaurant now stands was originally surveyed by James Bowie, a hero of the Alamo, in 1825.
Clear Springs Hall and Store was built in 1873 for storing cotton. At the height of cotton production it was normal to see cotton wagons backed up long distances to be weighed. It was also common for the drivers to spend their waiting time shopping and visiting at the Clear Springs Store.
The store and saloon were the only establishments of their kind for several miles. The dance hall, now the restaurant, provided for community gatherings, such as dances, parties, plays, school functions, and political rallies.
The historical Clear Springs Hall and Store now houses Clear Springs Restaurant which has preserved the historical atmosphere of the structure and the memory of the early German community."
They are famous for their catfish and onion rings. (Our order was about 1/3 this size).  They have yummy food and great atmosphere.  It is a huge building but is divided up nicely so you don't feel like it is.  Decorated with red and white and green and white checked tablecloths and great antiques hanging all over.  Great prices, too.  We recommend it highly to anyone traveling in this direction.

Hope you all are doing well.  Give us a hollar and let us know what's been happening in your lives.

Hugs & love to all!  S & J