Di

24

Jan

2017

USA - New Mexico - Land of Enchantment

We cross the state border from Arizona to New Mexico and drive mile after mile over endless highways. The state has a lot of interesting spots and we want to visit some of them in the next weeks. 

We skip the area where the first atomic bomb was tested in 1945 and better look to the world’s largest radio telescope. The site is well known from the movie “Contact” with Jodi Foster. On 365 days per year they look and listen into space and the data is provided to scientists all over the world. It`s a good recommendation for all who like starship enterprise and want to know what`s going on in Galaxies which are millions of lightyears away from us.  

Before we stop for the night in the National Forest we pass Pie Town. As the name says the small village is known for its apple pies with green Chili and served with vanilla ice-cream. In the small café, we feel like in the past century. Also, we are a bit irritated that the service carries a gun in an open holster. However, at least it motivates us to not start a discussion about the bill.

On the next day, we stop for lunch in the small town of San Antonio and visit the Owl Pub. They serve the best Chili Burger in an environment of the sixtieth.

A few miles further are the Apache Wildlife Refuge where thousands of Cranach’s and wild gooses spend the winter until it gets warm again in the north. So, this seems to be a similar approach as we do. A 14-mile loop road leads thru the park and can be done with any car. 

After this we must speed-up so that we arrive at our destination “The Valley of Fires” before it gets dark. This area is not to be mixed up with the Valley of Fire close to Las Vegas. Here we make a break for two days and use the time to stroll thru the interesting lava landscape.  

We continue our journey and make a short walk thru the rocky landscape at the Three Rivers Petroglyphs. More than 21.000 drawings from birds, insects, animals, plants and geometrical figures are on the rocks in this area. Honestly, we must say that we have not looked to all of them….

Via Alamogordo we go to the White Sands National Monument. Already from a distance of 20 miles we see the white gypsum clouds squirreled around from the wind.  We spend the night at the Holloman lake and enjoy a fantastic sunset. On the next Morning, we first drive 30 miles to the South and visit the Missile Range Museum where all rockets which were developed since the second world war are shown. From Patriot to Pershing and Tomahawk, you can see everything which brings death and destruction. 

After this we drive back and visit the White Sands National Monument. The snow-white dune landscape is made from gypsum and the wind has formed up to 15-meter-high dunes who constantly change face. An 8-mile-long loop road leads thru the area and everywhere are picnic places from where you can explore the surrounding. We stay there until sunset and then drive back to our overnight location at Holloman lake. 

In Alamogordo we visit Felizitas & Peter who we both know from Germany. They moved to the US in 2013 for a five-year assignment and Peter works at the Holloman airbase. We have a lot to talk about and spend a few nice evenings together.

In between we go to the Space History Museum in town where the development of the space era is illustrated with models and original pieces. Outside you also see a few rockets from the early days. 

We pass El Paso and drive to the Guadeloupe Mountain National Park close to the border to Texas. The park is not much developed but the Pine Campground is at a very nice location. After it rained cats and dogs in the evening together with ice cold wind we have a blue sky in the morning. This motivates us for a nice hike to Devils Hall. 

A few miles away are the Carlsberg Caverns the largest accessible caves on earth. We select the 2.5 hours’ tour which starts at the natural entrance and goes in serpentines down to 250m. The first half of the cave is 1.5 miles long and leads into several rooms with heights up to 100 meters. It you are in a hurry you can also take the elevator down and do only the Big Room tour. We only took the Elevator back up. From spring to October over 400.000 bats live in the cave and every evening when it gets dark they go hunting and over 6000 per minute leave the entrance. Must be an awesome spectacle. Unfortunately, the bats spend the winter in Mexico and we could not see this major highlight. 

We now move on to Texas and go in the Big Bend National Park which is the most southern NP in the USA. We look forward to a beautiful landscape and a lot of nice hikes. But this is then part of the next blog. Until then enjoy reading and watching the pictures. 

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