Part 12: Central New Mexico, Roswell and Sangre de Christo Mountains


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The Trip

A number of days of travel are distilled into this set of photos and span most of central New Mexico, Roswell, Villanueva and the Sangre de Christo range. The photos below are what we saw.

When we left Three Rivers, we decided to head up to Alto, NM. The plan was to get a camp at the local RV place that would allow an internet connection and posting of photos. The place was mostly full and it did not have the flavor I wanted, so we headed for the hills. Since we had been out so long, I lost track of what day it was. Sadly, it was Saturday and the area we were in was very popular with the Texans. In the end, we got nearly the last place in the camp, but it worked out OK. Above, Kathleen grabs a beer in preparation for raising the top of the camper. That night, I made fried chicken in the camper and it was awesome. Time consuming, but great. And it rained. And rained. And rained. All night it rained and into the dawn hours. The rain stopped before we planned to leave and no damage was done.

The Sierra Blanca area is quite high -- 12,000 feet at some of the peaks. The range is high enough to make its own weather. Several weeks before we showed up here, there was a set of flash floods that were due to the remains of a tropical storm that came ashore at Brownsville, TX. That storm kicked ass here and caused substantial damage. This little creek is called Rio Bonito and the damage is plain to see. From Sierra Blanca, we headed east to Roswell, NM to see the sights.

There is not much in Roswell, but the locals have made a business out of exploiting the alien UFO sighting thing. It is a crock of course, but it does attract many folks and there were many curios for sale.

Since we were in the area, I visited my alma mater, New Mexico Military Institute. I graduated there in 1971 and just a FEW things have changed since then. One of them is that the Institute allows women in the Corps of Cadets. That is a good thing, I guess. Above is the view looking through the Sally Port entrance to Hagerman Barracks where I spent 3 years of my life.

Been there, done that. These fellows are "walking tours" which is a disciplinary action. A "tour" is 60 minutes of marching around the quadrangle. Wasting your time, basically. Tours can only be done in your spare time which makes them rather painful. Something odd is going on here as these fellows are not even in step. Perhaps cadets these days are less fastidious or perhaps my memory is failing.

This is one of the classroom buildings. I think it is named Wilson Hall. I spent many hours in that building sitting on hard wooden chairs learning "stuff".

The school mascot is the Bronco. A parting shot as we concluded this little trip down memory lane.

From NMMI, we went east to the Bottomless Lakes State Park and spent the night. Kathleen and I went "swimming" in the lake after dark (and a few cocktails) and were admiring the lightning that was happening to the north. When it got closer, we decided it was time to retreat to the camper and it was a good thing. The storm cell came directly over us and it rained harder than I have ever seen. The wind was strong and we discovered that the camper had a few leaking joints.

Bottomless Lakes are so named because they have not fully plumbed the depths of the water. The lake is spring fed and is actually a sink hole into the Permian limestone which is the caprock in the area. There are a number of these lakes along the uplift line visible as the hillside above. Except for the rain and strong winds, the stay was pleasant with nice clean amenities.

I always respect a dirty truck. This fellow had been out using his rig in the mud.

From Roswell, we headed north toward Villanueva State Park. Along the way, we spotted this nice rainbow.

Villanueva was right on the Pecos River and had some nice riverside camp spots.

The Pecos River comes down from the high country in the Sangre de Christo mountains to the east of Santa Fe. The river was red with silt from the recent rains.

Villanueva was on the old conquistador trail. The sign above tells the story.

The recent rains left the grasslands bright green and healthy.

From Villanueva, we headed west toward the Sangre de Christos. Along the way, we passed the Pecos Pueblo ruins that were under restoration so we stopped for a look. Above is the main church that was built by the Spanish after conquering the local tribes.

There were quite a few ruins at Pecos, most from the spanish occupation era.

The church walls were made of adobe brick and very thick.

Some of the original timber is still in place from the 1600s. The flooring is new.

From Pecos, we headed north into the Sangre de Christo toward a campsite called "Iron Gate". Iron Gate is about 9500 feet high and therefore gets a ton of rain (and snow).

The meadows along the trail were verdant green.

The campsite was basic, but we had the whole place to ourselves. There were a few cars parked there, but they belonged to backpackers and we saw no one.

Nothing like a little "dead red" to make the camping experience complete. The steaks looked better than they were; they were rather tough. We bought them at the general store in Pecos and they were likely from local beef.

Next morning brought clear skies. In the distance are the 12,000+ foot peaks of the southern Sangre de Christo mountains.

On our way to Santa Fe, we passed excellent meadows.

There were a lot of summer homes and barns on the path to Iron Gate. Some were quite nice, not like this barn.

We aired down for the road as it was quite rutted and rough. If air down, then air up. Unless you want a blowout. Happily, the mog has an on-board air pump that makes adjusting air pressure possible.

On our way to Santa Fe, we decided to stop at a small place called Lamy. Lamy is an old railroad station and the only Amtrak station in the area.

The area around Lamy was nice. Here, the BNSF tracks head off to the east.

Lamy is a one horse town, literally. Across the street from the station was this nice territorial style house.

I did not expect food service when we decided to go to Lamy. But, when we showed up, we noticed this diner made from an old dining car. The food was great, but the service sucked. Seems that the waitress did not come in that day and there were tons of diners. The folks there worked their asses off trying to make things happen. I gave the waiter a nice tip anyway.

The church in Lamy is falling into disrepair from lack of use.

When we passed through the little hamlet of Galisteo, I spotted this church in good repair as opposed to Lamy.

At the end of the day, we made it to Santa Fe. While cruising main and seeing the plaza area, I noted that the brakes were getting a bit spongy. Later, they fully failed. After a call to my master-mog-mechanic buddy Kai, he determined that the cause was likely contamination in the air brake controller. The contamination was causing the brakes to not fully release and therefore heating the brake fluid until it boiled out of the reservoir. The contamination may be out, or not. I will not know until I use the truck for awhile. I am loathe to start tearing into the brake system while I am on the road. I am not too good at mechanical stuff and the worse case would be that I disassemble the parts and not be able to put it back together.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2008, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.