Saturday, September 27, 2008

Las Cruces area

September 25

Continued south. We drove on NM Hwy 185 to Las Cruces. Along the way we passed lots of fields of chili peppers, some corn & pecan orchards. This area, the town of Hatch in particular, bills itself as the chili pepper capital of the US. The land around here is all irrigated by the Rio Grande River and the different dams & impoundments. With this much agricultural runoff there’s no telling what sort of chemicals are in the water. Las Cruces is the second largest city in NM after Albuquerque. It has all the big box stores, traffic, etc. We picked up our mail at the Post Office. Suzanne & Martha Harris had sent accumulated mail to us General Delivery. Next time I’ll pick a smaller, rural post office. The line to pick up the mail was very long. Went grocery shopping, did our laundry and stopped at Lowe’s to buy a new Bar-B-Que grill. Our old one died. A very productive day. About 4:00 we went to the Leasburg Dam State Park Campground. Got the very last spot with electric service. The afternoon temp. is in the mid-80’so a/c is nice. Took a short walk after dinner through the cactus garden. Some of the plants were labeled; very informative. Wish more places did that. On Friday we just hung around. Took some walks, read our books. I went through the action items in the mail we recently received. We would have a difficult time travelling were it not for Suzanne forwarding our mail and the Verizon internet access. I renewed the registration on one of the cars, got Carol signed up for Medicare Part D, verified her new insurance coverage and cancelled the old. All without mailing anything.
Saturday morning. Off to the 28th Annual Whole Enchilada Fiesta. Found a good parking place near where the parade was forming up. A very typical, small town parade. There were marching bands, horses, beauty queens, school groups, ROTC groups, car clubs, on & on. Things don’t get much more typical American than this. We thoroughly enjoyed it. After the parade we went to the Fiesta. During our travels, we have found local fairs, festivals, etc., to be a great way to really get to see the “natives”. It’s a sad sign of our times, but as people entered the fiesta the police were using a metal detector searching for weapons. Based on the fiesta, I would guess Las Cruces is overwhelmingly Mexican. A lot of the signs on the booths were in Spanish only. We ate ourselves silly. The standard burritos (very hot) and something new to us called a chichuron burrito. Chichuron is refried beans and deep fried pork rinds mixed together. Sounds gross but we’re going to look for it again while in NM. We both enjoyed it. It was you typical fair with a Mexican accent. The foods were primarily Mexican, the things for sale, the entertainment, etc. A wonderful experience.
After the fiesta, we drove to the White Sands National Monument. It’s at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert. 275 square miles of great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand. The largest gypsum dune field in the world.
Late in the day we went to the Oliver Lee State Park for the night. Took a nice walk through the cactus garden. Must have been 50 types of desert plants all labeled. Now we only wish we could remember the names.
Another wonderful day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Elephant Butte Lake State Park

September 17 through 21

We’re enjoying Elephant Butte Lake SP so much, we’ve decided to stay for a few more days. Two couples in a travel trailer pulled intro the area last night. Brought their jet skis. Nice people but they have a large construction quality generator they run most all day and into the evening. Very noisy. Another couple camping in the same area live right in town. They set up their trailer here and use it often. The woman had a series of three strokes 13 years ago. Her initial medical issues were much like Carols. Over time, she has gotten back the use of her arm & leg. Interestingly enough, her ability to read has never come back. She can’t read anything, even a simply text, without getting a headache. Said her short term memory and memory for names is still very poor. Carol has the very same memory issues. Her recovery story was quite encouraging.
While walking Gopher near the camper this morning, I saw someone down the beach with two Australian Shepherds. We walked down to say hello. The dogs, Harley & Sky, had a wonderful time racing all around. The women is from Ruidoso, NM and is camping in the regular part of the campground. Her name is Bridgett; she is originally from Germany. She walked down later in the day and visited with us for a while. She’s probably in her 70’s. Her husband died while in the Army. He was 24. She’s never remarried.
18th: The neighbor with the noisy generator left today. I was talking to the other neighbor, the folks that live around here. They said tomorrow, Friday, lots of people would be coming in for the weekend. Since the sites are not reserveable, they suggested we do our grocery shopping today rather than leaving the site opened on Friday. A new Wal-Mart opened three weeks ago. She said that was, by far, the best grocery store around here. Off we went, once again, to Wal-Mart, We really wish we could find alternatives but they are really lacking in the very rural communities. Asked if there was a bakery in town. Nope; no bakery either.
On Friday night a big storm came through. Sand blowing everywhere, white caps on the lake, thunder, lightning & rain. Gopher doesn't like the thunder. She got in bed with Carol.
By Saturday, the place was full. Most every waterfront space was taken. Lots of families, jet skies, boats, etc. We took a nice long walk up to the park entry. Watched a group of people were flying model airplanes. There was a guy flying an ultra-light and another sail-boarding.
On Sunday we walked to the marina. Bridgette stopped for a visit in the afternoon. People are packing up to leave. By tomorrow we’ll have the place to ourselves again.
Monday morning. As expected the place is empty. It's us, one couple tenting and the neighbors who live in town. Bridgit, and the dogs, walked down to say goodbye

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