Archive for the ‘New Mexico’ Category

Another Side Trip – To The Old West

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Click for Ruidoso, New Mexico Forecast

We had been looking forward to a visit from our Arizona friends, Karen and Roland.  They had just returned from Europe and upon their return, headed out on the 400 mile journey to Ruidoso.

During their brief visit, we decided to take a side trip through historic Lincoln County, NM and the towns of Capitan, NM and Lincoln, NM.   But first, breakfast.  We highly recommend the Cornerstone Bakery in Ruidoso.  They have a wide range of great tasting breakfasts on their menu.  Parking a large pickup in their lot can be a problem because they are quite busy.



Our first “stop” was the town of Capitan, best known for being the birthplace of Smokey the Bear.


A vote was taken in the car and the decision not to tour the Smokey Bear Museum prevailed.  I’m certain that it would have been fascinating.  So, off to the town of Lincoln we headed.

Lincoln is an extremely well preserved old west town and famous for several of its residents and the Lincoln County War.  The war was a skirmish over control of the dry goods and cattle industries in the area.  Merchant LG Murphy and cattleman John Chisum were key players.  The war claimed a total of 22 killed and 9 wounded.

The appointment of Pat Garrett was named county sheriff.    He and his men hunted down and dispatched participants in the skirmish.  The famous outlaw, Billy the Kid was one of these participants and was killed by Garrett in July of 1881.

The buildings in the area were quite interesting.  The wide range of construction techniques is amazing.  Here is the Torreon tower that was used as defense against the Apache Indians.


Karen, coming around the building, helps give perspective to the tower size.


Looking at the inside, it was pretty tight living conditions.  It also seems that if the Indians were patient, the place would be a death trap.

Other stick and mud structures, called jacals, were used by early settlers in Lincoln.



Some structures were a combination of adobe and rock.  Not all of these structures have held up to the elements.


On the other hand, many of the adobe buildings remain in pretty good shape.


Real estate opportunities abound.  How about this fine structure.


The town has several signs describing historical events.  The author of these signs apparently didn’t have the best grasp of the English language, but he had a knack for turning a phrase.  I especially like, the one where Mr. Ollinger  “rushed to his death at the hands of William H. Bonney”.  (William Bonney is the real name of Billy the Kid)


A more modern side note involves the Columbus Rock.


The 567 crew members of the SS Columbus, a German ocean liner, were detained at nearby Fort Stanton after they scuttled their ship to keep it from falling in the hands of the British in 1939.  As a token of appreciation to the residents of Lincoln, the crew carved this rock and presented it to the town.

It seems like all of the little towns along the way are home to one famous artist or another.  They are designated by “loops” that take you to their galleries.  Our journey continued with a stop at the Peter Hurd Gallery in San Patricio, NM.  Hurd is famous for his official portrait of Lyndon Johnson.


Except for the Christmas lights that remain on the eaves, it is an unremarkable gallery.  The artwork inside, however, was spectacular.  There were paintings and prints by Hurd and his wife Henriette Wyeth along with paintings by several members of the Hurd family and related Wyeth family.


When we arrived, artist Michael Hurd, Peter’s son, and his wife were moving several paintings to a van to take to the Inn of the Gods for a showing.  It was kind of like having our own personal moving art show.   We got a nice view as they were spirited out the door.

An avid polo fan, Peter built a polo field in his front yard.


His residence was on the far side of the field.

We finished the journey by grabbing a nice lunch at Elena’s Place, a Mexican Restaurant in Ruidoso.   The food was quite good.  Perhaps a little spicy for some, but we enjoyed it.

A Side Trip To Albuquerque and Santa Fe

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

We decided to take a little side trip to Santa Fe, NM.  We were invited to a pool party in Albuquerque so we decided to combine the trips over a weekend.  The trip from southwest NM to the northwest corner was quite interesting.  Along Hwy 54 we came across massive lava flows.  It is part of the Valley of Fires Recreation Area.


The land is pretty flat with some hilly interruptions.  Basically the high plains, about 5500 feet altitude.

The swim party was nice, about sixty new friends welcomed us.  After a Saturday night in a hotel in Albuquerque, it was off to one of our favorite cities. Santa Fe.  We visited Santa Fe a couple of years ago and made a journal entry that can be found at

This was an extremely short visit to Santa Fe.  First stop was the historic La Fonda Hotel for their Fiesta Mexican Brunch.  We found the food to be a touch spicier than our typical Tex-Mex and our local South Texas tortillas to be  better for some reason, probably the frying method.

The La Fonda is a fantastic building.   This is the parking garage end of the building.


The front desk is an amazing bit of wood work.


Another wall in the lobby. The old lobby furniture is extremely comfortable.


After lunch it was off to the central square where the Indians gather to sell their jewelry.


It appears that the prices have increased by a huge margin over our short two year absence.


We found jewelry prices to be better in the stores.

Finally we walked past the fabulous Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.   Click on the photo of the sign to enlarge.


Our visit came on a Sunday and the church was quite a busy place.


The other fantastic church in town is the Loretto Chapel that we wrote about in our earlier post.

We drove back to Ruidoso by a more direct route, abut 200 miles.  This was a very relaxing and entertaining weekend.

Escape From The Heat

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Click for Ruidoso, New Mexico Forecast

After leaving Carlsbad, we headed a little further west and into the mountains where we settled for a time in Ruidoso, NM, some 7,000 feet above our normal sea level.  We parked ourselves at the Twin Spruce RV Park, surrounded by mountains and located on Hwy 70 on the southwest corner of town.  The park is run by a really nice family.  Breakfasts are provided daily, they have a pool, WiFi, and numerous other amenities.

Afternoon rain and fog cooled things off.   Things steamed up by 6:00 PM.


Ruidoso is a mecca for shoppers interested in all things Native American, including large carved wooden objects, especially bears.  The traffic on weekends and “rush” hour is terrible.  They are overrun with pedestrian traffic on weekends.    Take a look at the Ruidoso Web-cam.  It is quite a good one.


For AT&T users, if you stand near the corner of the Dodge dealership parking lot at the corner of Hwy 70 and Mescalero Rd. you may get a signal.   Try standing on one foot if you have difficulty.

Ruidoso Downs is a horse race track that is just southeast of town, also on Hwy 70.   We’re still waiting for our horse to cross the finish line.


On the other end of the gambling spectrum, The Inn of the Mountain Gods is a casino and resort located on the Mescalero-Apache reservation just east of Ruidoso.  The slot machines were much friendlier to our finances.   Headliners at the resort include stars like the Temptations, Merle Haggard, and Vince Gill.


There is a lake and a beautiful golf course on the property.


Ruidoso is a retirement and vacation area with homes a little on the pricey side.  Rio Ruidoso is the river that runs through town and a few years ago floods knocked out some of the small bridges and flooded many of the homes built in the valley.


It is very picturesque.


Many homeowners along the river maintain a fairly nice lifestyle.


This is a beautiful area with moderate temperatures.  Rick isn’t a big fan of the altitude.

Wow, That’s A Big Hole

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Click for Carlsbad, New Mexico Forecast

Next stop, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, near Carlsbad New Mexico.  We stayed at the Carlsbad RV Park, about 15 miles away from the caverns.  It is a nice facility.  Since this is the desert, you might expect that excess rain is not handled well.  We found this to be the case.  It had been raining quite a bit and the pull-through sites  were extremely muddy.  We moved to one of the newer back-in sites that were well drained and graveled.  For big rigs, I wouldn’t recommend any of the parks that are closer the the caverns.

The drive to the National Park entrance was fairly flat on a nice road.  Of course, some road construction was underway.  Once you enter the Park, you begin a windy vertical trip to the top of the mountain, where you find the Carlsbad Caverns Visitor Center.

Looking down on the road.


At the visitors center


You can see from this photo how high the cave entrance is over the surrounding plains below.


We made two trips to the Caverns.  We made our first trip before dusk after we were settle at the RV park.  The object of this visit was to visit the cave entrance to learn about the bats that reside in the cave and to observe their daily exit in search of food.


An amphitheater is provided for this function and takes place every evening when lightning is not present.  Like clockwork, the bats begin to circle and spiral out of the cave at dusk.


Our second trip to the Caverns was the next morning to tour the caves.  There are two ways to tour Carlsbad Caverns.  The first is to walk the path down into the mouth of the cave and wind your way to the heart of the unending display of nature’s finest.  Having made this trek several years ago, we opted for the 750-foot elevator ride down to the same area.

Since we forgot to bring the good camera, our photos don’t do justice to the place.  You’ll have to go see the Caverns for yourselves.  We’ll only give you a few.  This type of stalactite is called a lion’s tail.


Not sure what they call this one.


Depending upon how rainy the season is determines whether there is much growth activity taking place.  This structure was covered with water.


The pool below the structure was collecting the drips.


The formations varied in size from these very small stalactites……….


to massive columns formed after centuries of deposits.


Discovered in 1898 by 16 year old Jim White, Carlsbad Caverns have been explored ever since.  I can’t imagine myself exploring the caves with only a kerosene lantern for light, no paths and only a good memory to help find a way back to the exit.  Jim White’s story is fascinating.

If you’re in the area, this is a DON’T MISS destination.

Santa Fe, Bandelier and Taos

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

On our fast paced journey east toward Texas, we stopped and visited Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.  These are two of our favorite towns.


Santa Fe occupied by the Pueblo Indians from the year 1050 until 1607 and was established as a town by the Spanish in 1610.  It is the oldest capital city in North America.  You can read more about the history of Santa Fe at:

If you’re looking for things Southwest, this is the place to come.  The square is filled with shops loaded with beautiful art, jewelry, furnishings, and clothing.  Local Indians line the square to sell their arts and crafts.


The La Fonda Hotel is a good place to stop for a drink or at least to look around.  The bar is very comfortable and, oh yes, quite expensive.


Santa Fe is famous for its doors.  As a matter of fact, there are merchants in Santa Fe that sell nothing but doors.  This photo shows some of the painted glass-work that can be found on doors at the La Fonda Restaurant.


The Loretto Chapel is another must see location in Santa Fe.


Inside the chapel there is a mysterious spiral staircase that makes two full revolutions and has no visible means of support.  It was also built without the use of nails.  Information on the legend of the staircase can be found at:


When heading north from Santa Fe you’ll come across Camel Rock.


Camel Rock seems to have become another excuse for a casino.  Casinos litter the landscape north of Santa Fe.


About 30 miles north of Santa Fe, near Los Alamos, you will find the Bandelier Monument.  If you do nothing else on your visit to Santa Fe, this is a must stop at least once in your life.  For about 10,000 years, the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians made dwellings in the cliffs and built ceremonial structures in the surrounding wilderness.  Don’t miss it.


Gotta watch that first step.


More information about the Bandelier National Monument can be found at:


Tinka’s cousin, Steve, has been living in the Taos area for over 20 years.  So, with only a couple of days notice, we  descended upon Steve for a visit of this beautiful location.  This worked out well, because, unknown to us, some years back Steve had been a tour guide in the area.

There are basically two ways to get from Santa Fe to Taos.  The low road, which follows along the Rio Grande River, is the most direct route.


I don’t think that this much water ever makes it to the Texas and the Mexican border.  This is the road that we took on our way to Taos.

The other route is the high road, which reaches altitudes of 9500 feet.  We chose this one for our return trip.  Yep, that’s snow, you know, the stuff we have been trying to avoid for 6 months.


Back in 1772, the San Francisco de Asis Mission was built in Taos.


The mission is made of adobe and the walls are several feet thick and was used as a defensible location when the community came under attack in less friendly times.

Adobe structures require annual maintenance to keep them from becoming a pile of mud and straw.  Each summer the building must be resurfaced with new mud.  This is a shot of the corner of the mission.  You can see the straw showing through to the surface.


A building across the street has not had the tender loving care granted to the mission.


I guess they have a law requiring adobe style design because that is all that can be found throughout most of New Mexico.  Newer adobe style buildings have modern surfaces that don’t require the annual mud resurfacing.


Dennis Hopper, who fell in love with the area while filming the movie Easy Rider, bought the house shown above.  It is now a bed and breakfast.  As you can see by this photo of Tinka and Steve, some of the doors inside the B&B are a little small for Rick.


Just outside of Taos is a bridge across the Rio Grande Gorge.  The bridge is 650 feet above the river below. (Click on Photo for Panoramic Shot.)


Looking up the gorge from the bridge is a fantastic view. (Click on Photo for Panoramic Shot.)


The Taos Pueblo is an Indian community that has been continually occupied for over 1000 years.  It is one highlight that we didn’t have time to visit.  We’ll make sure that we go there on our next visit.

We want to thank Steve for taking time to show us around.  On our next trip, we’d like him to bring along his neighbor Julia Roberts.  We’ll spring for lunch.