Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014-31 Alamogordo to Las Cruces New Mexico


Alamogordo New Mexico (continued)
Las Cruses

The mystery of the tapping sound.

Don’t you just love it when you solve a problem.  Maybe one that’s been persistent for quite some time.  Well I had one of those moments today.  Ever since I purchased my new camper, which I am still smitten with, I’ve had an annoying problem.  A rattle would appear in one of the walls directly behind the lounge chair I sit in.

It only occurred during windy days and then not all the time.  It sounded like a piece of metal, maybe one of the aluminum framing members inside the wall was loose and would rattle.  Very annoying.  I would check inside and outside and listen to the walls, putting my ear as close as I could to try and determine where the sound was actually coming from.

Was it high up near the ceiling?  Was it half way down?  No, I think it’s on this wall.  No, it’s definitely on the other wall.  I just couldn’t figure out exactly where the sound was coming from.  I was debating about drilling holes in the wall to pump in foam insulation figuring that would stop any rattle.  I contacted Open Range, the manufacturer, to find out what could be done.  After all, if I brought it in to be fixed and it wasn’t windy out, no rattling sound would appear.  They provided some ideas as to what could be done but still no real solution.

Well, today, I took one more walk around the outside of the camper as a breeze kicked in, the license plate at the back of the camper made a little noise.  Hardly what I was hearing inside the camper.  But I thought, what the heck, let me tape it down and go back inside to see if that helped any.  As it turned out, the license plate though it caused just a simple little tapping noise outside, was being amplified and reverberating throughout the sidewalls of the camper, making for a loud annoying rattle inside almost as if it were a tuning fork.

Problem solved.  From a little tinkle of metal on the outside of the camper, the sound had been amplified throughout the inside of the camper.  By securing the license plate firmly, the problem, as simple as it was to fix, had been bugging me for well over a year.  That was perhaps the longest detective work in the history of detecting and I have no doubt I would have failed as Sherlock Holmes Mr. Watson.  But the problem was solved and I’m a really happy camper this evening. Ahh the joys of silence.

Oliver Lee Ranch

our small tour party

reconstructed from a state of ruins

called the broken wheel pattern, from original Lee Ranch

the adobe stable ruins

The next day, here at Oliver Lee State park, I took a tour of the Oliver Lee Ranch house.  Before we started, I had talked to one of the two seasonal workers.  He told me that the seasonals get paid $8 an hour and the full time workers earn about $10 an hour.  Not a lot of pay for working in New Mexico’s state parks.  It’s a shame too because so many of the workers are really passionate about their jobs.  Our tour guide has been working for years trying to acquire the right furnishings for the Oliver Lee House as it was empty and in disrepair when the state took over the ranch.  We drove down off of the high ridge where the campsites and park office are, through the scrub land, to the ranch itself which is on the low broad plain where Lee had his main cattle ranch.  The house is made of adobe and the walls are two feet thick.  As the rancher became more wealthy, wood floors were added, a pitched wood and metal roof added and the interior walls would have been plastered and painted or wallpaper added.  Each of the rooms has a corner fireplace.  Each fire box is very small as wood would have been hard to come by for burning in the fireplaces.  Large front and back porches are reminiscent of ones found in southern Louisiana where the parents had grown up.  Always interesting to hear about the history of the early settlers of the area.  The house was also used in the making of a Disney film which will go unnamed because it was such a bad film both production wise and the story line was very much not politically correct for today’s audiences or perhaps even when it first came out.  The  tour made for a great way to spend an afternoon in the park.

I stopped in Alamogordo’s Tularosa Basin Museum today and learned about the U.S. flag they have hanging at the entrance to the museum. It was created in Jan. 1912 with 47 stars as that was the year New Mexico became a state.  The only other one in existence that is known about is the one in Santa Fe, New Mexico’s state capital.  The flag was only valid for one month as Arizona became the 48th state a month later in Feb 1912.

Note:  I was updating my blog the other day and noticed I’d just completed my 400th blog report. Wow, what an accomplishment over the past 10 years.  I know that’s an awful lot of reports and hope you’ve enjoyed some of them.  The Roving Reports get an average of 125 up to 225 hits per day and over 5,000 per month.

On my last day in the Alamogordo area I once again visited the White Sands Monument, a part of our National Parks system.  The white sands are actually made out of gypsum, having been washed down off of the surrounding mountains over millions of years, they were deposited in a lake bed.  As the lake dried up, the winds picked up the sands and created the dunes that we enjoy today.  A beautiful adobe style visitor center and cabins are up front.  Picnic areas can be found near the end of the road leading into the dunes.  Kids like to slide down the dunes, though don’t expect much in the way of a quick sliding experience as the sand is not very slippery.

Visitor Center

Visitor Center

driving tour of White Sands

picnic area near far end of driving tour

with a high water table, the recent rains remain for days

My next stop will be in Las Cruces New Mexico.
Distance traveled:  80 miles

I arrived at Leasburg State Park to find out all the sites with electric and water were filled, both the first come first served and the reservation sites.  Fortunately, they have 4 sites designated overflow camping and I was able to get a spot there.  It will be kind of fun being un-plugged for a couple of days until I can get into a site with water and electric.  The temperature is in the mid 80’s and 56 at night.  Open the windows and let the breeze come on in.  By the way, I picked up my mail today and in it my LED light replacements were in the package.  So I’ve been able to replace all the halogen lights with LED lights, making the whole camper LED energy efficient. I will mention they are not as bright as the halogen bulbs were, but they'll do.

Ft Selden is right down the street from the state park so after a nice breakfast at a new restraurant right across the street from the state park, I went over to the fort for a visit.  It’s labeled a State Monument, but the current Governor renamed the state monuments “State Historical Sites”.  Great going governor, you’ve made some big changes in the state.  Fort Selden is an adobe fort which was used to protect the new settlers coming into the area from the Apache Indians.  When the fort was finally decommissioned, the roof, windows and doors were all removed and moved to another fort.  Adobe being made of mud doesn’t last long without a good roof over it, so it’s pretty much deteriorated over the past 100 years.  The most famous inhabitants of the fort were the Arthur MacArthur family.  You might know Douglas Mac Arthur.  Fort Selden had a black troop also known as “Buffalo Soldiers” and a couple white army troops.

If you like to go to used book stores, there’s a huge one in Las Cruces called COAS books.  I spent a little time there today and will surely go back and spend more time later this week.  It’s all fairly well organized but fun to just start browsing the isles for that treasured book(s) you just have to have.

I’ll be in the Las Cruces area for the next week exploring the area.

more photos on PICASA

Saturday, October 18, 2014

2014-30 Roswell to Alamogordo New Mexico

an old hunting camp next to the state park

Roswell New Mexico

Campground:  Bottomless Lakes State Park.  Water/Elect. 50 amp.  Free wi-fi.  8 over the air tv channels.  Cost:  after paying the $225 yearly camping fee, I’ve counted the 20+ days that basically uses that fee.  I’m now paying $4 a night only for the electric.  My camping in NM state parks is now free except for that electric fee.

Campground:  Oliver Lee State Park.  Water/Elect. 30 amp.  Cost: $4.00

Distance Traveled:  103 miles

Well that was an interesting drive along New Mexico 20.  A rough two lane road through 49 miles of prairie grass ranch land.  I passed two cars the whole distance as I bounced along this remote route before finally hitting hwy 285 a 4 lane smoothly paved road leading into Roswell.

sinkholes formed along the canyon walls

I’m staying at the Bottomless Lakes State Park, the first state park in New Mexico.  When cowboys first came through the area, they tied their lariat together to determine the depth of the lake, having never reached bottom, so they called them the Bottomless Lakes.  The deepest is actually 90 feet deep.  Many of the state parks including Bottomless Lakes were developed by the CCC’s back in the 1930’s along with the WPA.  Many of those structures are still in great condition and are being used today.  The lakes are fed via an underground river that travels as far south at Carlsbad NM.  Quite amazing to see the large craters that were formed by the sink holes formed when the roofs of the limestone caverns collapsed, creating the lakes and the large holes on the sides of the escarpment.  The Pecos river flows nearby but does not feed into the lakes.

Panhandlers are starting to show up in the towns

The UFO Museum

the aliens move their heads when you walk on by

Roswell, the U.F.O. Cover-Up a great movie to learn
about what happened here in 1947

the research library

I had to go to the UFO Museum and International Research Center in Roswell.  This is a must for any UFO junkies, it’s like going to the mother ship so to speak.  The reason it is hear is that back in July 4th 1947, Mac Brazel, a rancher on the Foster ranch about 75 miles north of Roswell heard a loud noise but different than a thunder clap.  Two nuns at St Mary’s Hospital in Roswell saw what they believed was a plane crash.  The tower at the base tracked and reported a descending flash that they tracked on radar……

The next day, Brazel was riding on the ranch property with his 7 year old son and discovered the debris field.  300 yards wide (3 football fields) and ¾ of a mile long.  He picked up a sackful of the “stuff”.  The story goes on, with the military threatening the locals if they say anything about what they’ve seen or heard.  A great movie was done about the incident called “Roswell the U.F.O. Cover-up”.  One of my favorite country music singers, Dwight Yoakam has a lead part in the film.  

I thought I’d check with one of the librarians about a recent U.F.O. sighting that was mentioned on the news about a week ago and she recommended a web site for information:  MUFON .  A link is provided if you’d like to check the sites out.

I’ve been able to talk to a couple of the locals and they tell me that Roswell has become quite the Dairy capital out here.  Seems that the land got to be too expensive for farming in California and most of the dairy farms have moved here to Roswell NM as they have lots of good farm land for hay and cattle feed.

On another note, it’s kind of fun to see the snowbirds (and yes I’m one too) coming in to the campground, usually later in the day, setting up and then heading out a day or two later.  Eager to get to their winter stomping grounds.

The camp host here at Bottomless Lakes takes her “job” very seriously.  Now, keep in mind, she does not get paid and it is actually called “volunteering”.  When I talked to her the other day, she informed me it was a job.  That was right after she told me to stop washing my truck.  Opps.  My bad.  I’ve seen her walking back and forth all after noon, stopping to give “helpful” advice to all the incoming campers.  Actually when you think about it, as a New Mexico resident, after paying the small yearly camping fee, she would normally only have to pay the $4 a night for the electricity.  So in effect she is getting her campsite (cost $4) a night for the 4-8 hours she puts in each day.  Doesn’t sound like a very good deal to me.
How did it happen.  It’s already Thursday and I could have sworn it was only Wednesday. Somewhere along the way I’ve lost a whole day.  So I’ll be heading out tomorrow to my next stop, Alamogordo.  Maybe aliens abducted me for a day... hmmmm

Distance Traveled:  150 miles.
Alamogordo New Mexico

Oliver Lee State Park is about 15 miles south of the town of Alamogordo.  A western town with a military base close by and White Sands National Monument.  It’s fall type weather with the daytime temps now in the 70’s and evenings are a warm 50’s.  I’ve explored this area before, but will visit White Sands once again in the coming week that I’m here and will report on any interesting finds next week.  

views from Oliver Lee State Park

views from my campsite

and I have these views for a full week
more photos on Picasa