Monday, November 7, 2011

More New Mexico Road Trip

Feel free to click on any image to make it larger.

In Oklahoma we left the main highway to see a few sites along Route 66. This giant soda bottle is in Arcadia, Oklahoma and stands in front of Pops, a combination gas station/restaurant/convenience store/tourist trap. In keeping with the soda theme, the store has an entire wall lined with refrigerated cases, each one holding dozens of varieties of soda pop. The soda bottle is 66 feet tall and those rings are illuminated with color-changing LED lights at night. I had my first Nehi Grape soda here.

Next, we cruised by Lucille's in Hydro, Oklahoma. Established in 1941 this classic old gas station is only one of two out-thrust porch/live over style stations left on Oklahoma's Route 66 today.

I was very interested to see how the landscape started changing from Oklahoma onward. Less trees and more wide open spaces and oil, lots and lots of oil.

We only travelled through the top of Texas but I would love to see more of this state. A quick stop in their welcome centre and we were on our way.

On to Amarillo and the Cadillac Ranch. It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm, and it consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of early Cadillacs; the tail fin) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Cadillac Ranch is visible from the highway, and though it is located on private land, visiting it is encouraged. In addition, writing graffiti on or otherwise spray-painting the vehicles is also encouraged, and the vehicles, which have long since lost their original colors, are wildly decorated. Sadly I did not get a chance to use any spray paint.

After spending the night in Amarillo and having one of the best pizza's I have ever had we headed into New Mexico, Land of Enchantment. It was amazing, within a half hour the temperature went from 2˚C to 20˚C. Finally some heat and sunshine!

We headed for Tucumcari (pronounced TOO-kum-kair-ee) on Route 66. Many of the scenes in the television show Rawhide (1959–1966) starring Clint Eastwood were shot in the Tucumcari area. I took a little walking tour around town to get some shots of some of the sites along the main street.

After lunch I was itching to get back on the road again. I wanted to see where Billy the Kid was buried so a little road trip to Fort Sumner was in order.

This is the view facing back towards Tucumcari.

A few antelope along the way.

This is the view facing towards Fort Sumner.

Fort Sumner was abandoned in 1869 and purchased by rancher and cattle baron Lucien Maxwell. Maxwell rebuilt one of the officers' quarters into a 20-room house. On July 14, 1881, Sheriff Pat Garrett shot and killed Billy the Kid in this house, now referred to as the Maxwell House. There is controversy over where the real burial site for Billy the Kid is. His grave stone was stolen several times and is now surrounded by a cage.

After a good sleep in Tucumcari it was back on the road toward Roswell and Alamogordo. Now I like aliens as much as the next person but even I found Roswell a little too hoaky. After a quick picnic lunch in a park there we were off to Alamogordo.

Along the way there were a few abandoned buildings like the one above. We also passed many pecan and pistachio farms along the way. On the way into Alamogordo we stopped at a pistachio farm and bought a bag of pistachios. Fresh and local...yum! Before going to the White Sands National Monument we took a trip to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site. It is a walking tour up a small hill, not only can you see many Petroglyph's but there is a great view of White Sands and area. As the tour guide was telling us about the site she told us to beware of rattlesnakes since a few had been spotted. Yikes! I am the biggest chicken in the world when it comes to snakes. I am happy to say that I overcame my fears and still took the tour. Gladly, no snakes were spotted!

Alamogordo is a desert community lying in the Tularosa Basin, it is bordered on the east by the Sacramento Mountains. It is the nearest city to Holloman Air Force Base and the White Sands Missile Range. It is also famous for its connection with the Trinity test, the first explosion of a nuclear (atomic) bomb.

White Sands National Monument is like no other place on earth. Here, dunes have engulfed 275 square miles of desert creating the world's largest gypsum dunefield. The brilliant white
dunes are ever changing: growing, cresting, then slumping, but always advancing. Slowly but relentlessly the sand, driven by strong southwest winds, covers everything in its path. Within the extremely harsh environment of the dune field, even plants and animals adapted to desert conditions struggle to survive. Only a few species of plants grow rapidly enough to survive burial by moving dunes, but several types of small animals have evolved a white coloration that camouflages them in the gypsum sand.

The dunes just before sunset.

Footsteps in the sand.My footstep in the sand.

The stinkbug lives in the dunes. I came upon it as it was crawling in the sand. I lay down in the sand to take a picture and it stood on its head. Luckily I have a zoom lens because I am told if you get sprayed by a stinkbug that it is worse than being sprayed by a skunk.

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