Saturday, November 1, 2014

2014-32 Las Cruses and Deming New Mexico


Las Cruses New Mexico
Deming New Mexico

Campground:  Leasburg State Park.  $14 water/elect. 30 amp.  I moved over to the electric sites after making an online reservation ($19).  All electric sites are pull-thru sites with concrete pad for RV and covered paved ramada with picnic table. PS.  I’m only paying $4 since I have their season campers pass.

Campground:  Rock Hound State Park.  $14 water/elect. 30 amp.  Best to have a reservation for an electric site this time of year.  Nice paved ramada with picnic table. Surrounded by the Florida Mountains.

I had two days of dry camping before I could move over to an electric site.  I ended up having quite an experience with the solar panels charging my one and only 12 volt battery in the camper.  It was a real hit or miss ordeal.

After hooking up the solar panels and the charge controller, it appeared nothing was happening.  The little red light and little black light did not come on and the digital read-out remained  blank.  After fiddling around a while, I accidentally touched the little black light and discovered it was actually the switch to turn on the control panel.  And how do you know if you have the whole device turned on with another switch that has an “O” and a “-”.  Is the “O” for on or off.  Does the dash symbol mean it’s on?  Really, sometimes the simplest of things can appear complicated until you figure them out.  Like why would they make a switch and a light monitor look identical?  I wonder if that's why they always recommend one to read the instructions? hmmmm

Portable solar panels

the charge controller, do you see the two small lights, the one on
the right side of the display is actually a button to turn on the display

Well, since I got it all working, it appeared I was getting a 12.5 meter reading out of a total of 13.  Figuring that was pretty good, I proceeded to turn on the exhaust fans in the ceiling vents and plug in my laptop.  The meter kept reading 12.5 so I figured all was ok.  Except the batteries were not being charged.  All the power was going to the fans and laptop.  Later that evening the battery went dead.  Opps. I goofed.  The next morning, before I could move over to my electric site for the rest of the week, I’d needed to get the battery recharged so I could close the slides on the camper and retract the landing legs.  With everything turned off this time around, I got a strong meter reading of 13 and the battery was charged enough to close the slides and retract the landing legs.

Note:  for dry camping, it's best to have at least 4 six volt batteries.

Enough of that stuff, it’s time to do a bit of touring.  Went into town and the old section of town called Mesilla. It’s where the town got it’s start.  Where Bill the Kid was tried and jailed before he made his escape and ended up back in Ft Sumner.  And if you remember reading my report a few stories back, you’ll remember that’s where he was shot to death by the sheriff.  It was a quiet day being the first of the week, so I browsed through some of the shops and eventually made it back to the campground.

corn husk flowers

tourist stuff

a neat shop hidden in the back of a parking lot

The next day, today, I had what I consider my big adventure.  That’s anytime I have a nice drive into the country, visit a ghost town and meet some interesting characters.  Today was one of those days.  I took the more scenic route along 185, past irrigated desert farms growing cotton, pecans, hay and world famous chili peppers.  Had to stop at a boarder patrol station along the way and declare I was a U.S. citizen.  Yes we’re that close to the Mexican boarder where boarder patrols are often inland as well hoping to catch all those illegals that have crossed the boarder.

pretty cool advertising in Hatch NM

Lake Valley ghost town

Drove through the town of Hatch famous for their chili peppers and this is the time of year to get them freshly roasted, past dairy farms out in the desert where you’d never expect them to be, but apparently they have water sources for growing hay to feed the cows and they’re in business.  Even passed two power generating plants, one a wind farm the other large solar array panels moving slowly as they follow the sun across the sky.  Turning north past Nutt New Mexico, I headed towards the mountains and Lake Valley (ghost town).

Wouldn’t you know it, a ghost town closes on Tuesdays and Wednesday.  I wonder where the ghosts go on their days off?  In any case, even with the gate closed, I was close enough that I was able to get some pretty good pictures of the place, besides the school house is the only structure one can tour when the place is open.  It’s now managed by the BLM and they hope to eventually stabilize and open all the buildings for viewing in the future.  In the mean time, I walked around the periphery and enjoyed the solitude as I took all my pictures.  This was a silver mining town and when President Grover Cleveland changed the monetary standard from gold and silver to just gold, silver prices plummeted and many of these silver mining towns collapsed including this one.  Along with the main part of town burning down in 1895 which pretty much put the nail in the coffin for this mining town.  It did have a resurgence when manganese ore was discovered and needed during WWI and WWII.

the 1902 school, has displays and info

On my way back I stopped at the crossroads called Nutt.  Or as all the locals know it as The Middle of Nowhere/Bar.  Actually there used to be a town called Nutt, but it has since vanished except for a few foundations buried on the opposite side of the road among the sage brush and tumble weeds.  The Bar, like the town of Lake Valley was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but the bartender opened up so I could use the bathroom and get a drink.  Along with the drink, he offered me a couple of pieces of pizza since he was just getting ready to have his lunch.  I took him up on it and learned how a ship builder who once lived near Lake Erie, married a 100% Hopi Indian, moved to Tucson Az and ended up in the Middle of Nowhere New Mexico.    It’s where the ranchers and cowboys like to play ping pong more than they like shooting pool.  It’s where Chewy the dog has a visitor (another dog) that comes by and stays with him all day before going back to the ranch in the evening.

former library, now called a Heritage Center
Las Cruces New Mexico

I did tour downtown Las Cruses where they have a couple museums.  Here’s a quick rundown.  The Nature museum and a few dinosaur track displays and a few live desert critters, lizards and snakes.  If you wonder through the exhibits slowly, it will take you all of 15 minutes.  Next door is their Art museum but it was temporarily closed for the day due to technical difficulties.  Across from that is the heritage Museum in a wonderful white adobe building that used to be the public library.  The building itself it gorgeous and even has a small stage with red velvet curtains, perfect for small shows.  The building has a couple of galleries with some photography being displayed by a National Geographic photographer and a display by the local photography club which was exceptional.  One of the rooms was closed off and the NG photographers photos had no descriptions as they hadn’t been put up yet.  Total time spent viewing the art, maybe 18 minutes.  And although it is called a heritage center, there was nothing of historic value on display, except the building itself, though not even photo’s of it’s former life as a library.

local theater productions are now
performed at the Rio Grande

nice walk ways to rear parking lots

It is nice that the downtown area does not charge for parking, though once again, there are only the small museums, a few art galleries and the rest are government and businesses like banks that fill up most of the cityscape.

Distance traveled:  86 miles
Deming NM.

A pleasant morning drive with a stretch of it being on Interstate 10, had to pull over for boarder patrol as they have check pointed along all these southern routes close to the Mexican boarder.  I-10 has lots of semi-truck traffic, speed limits are 75 mph but I always drive 65 mph when towing the camper. With 4 lanes of traffic, there’s plenty of room for speeders to pass me and the other drivers in the slow lane.

Rock Hound State Park

visitor center

Rock Hound campsite

As I travel around I often see things that don’t quite seem to fit what I’m used to seeing, say back in Michigan or Florida where I lived for 30+ years.  New Mexico of course loves their adobe houses.  In Santa Fe, they must fit with the original intent, too look like the rounded thick homes once built out of mud or sod bricks even if underneath they have a steel frame structure.  Down in Las Cruses their adobe structures are more hard edged, modern in design.  Sharper edges give a more updated look to the adobe buildings.  I’ve also noticed that in Las Cruses, many of the adobe homes are surrounded by stone and concrete walls. Completely encompassing ones property.  Often, except for the house in the center, the interior yard is just dirt and a few weeds, but it’s their dirt and weeds and it’s protected by that 5 foot high stone wall enclosure.  The whole valley is filled with irrigated farms yet the Rio Grande which normally runs through here is completely dry at least it is this time of year, including the irrigation ditches, dry as a bone.  Yet I still see tree farms being flooded, one section at a time.  Can’t imagine where the water is coming from.

Of course I’ve arrived in Deming New Mexico where I’ll be for at least 10 days.  It’s actually part of the Chihuahuan desert that runs through Mexico parts of Texas and New Mexico.  Much different than the deserts of Arizona, but I like it as well.  I don’t think of mountains as being part of a desert, but they are.  The Florida Mountain range is one of them and it’s mountains range often looks bare and harsh until you get closer and then you realize that though they don’t have trees growing on them, they do have cactus, iron wood, mesquite and sage growing up the sides of them.  It’s a much more rural area, no irrigated farms, smaller dusty town.  It seems more remote than many of the other New Mexican towns I’ve been in this fall. Definitely not as populated as the towns I’m been in like Albuquerque,  Santa Fe, Alamogordo.  I like the feel.  Experiencing the different pace of life in each town I visit.

I will probably only send one more report out for the season, two at most, as I’m coming to the end of my travels this year.  I’ll be spending the winter in Tucson again this year at Desert Trails Rv Park. A great place to enjoy many winter clubs and activities, lots of entertainment throughout the week and so many good friends to visit and share with.  

more pictures on PICASA

1 comment:

Kevin Lehmann said...

Cool stuff Doug. If your interested, out in the desert (BLM) between Las Cruces and the Florida Mtns, there are some ancient volcanos to explore. Just google hunts hole or kilborne hole, if nothing else it'll get you out for a nice drive in the desert.