Roswell, New Mexico and West
The sign says it all doesn’t it. How can you not like a town that embraces its aliens so wonderfully! We bypassed the sardine like RV parks close to town and headed out towards Bottomless Lakes State Park, 8 miles South of the 380. Here a series of cenotes, lakes, were formed when the limestone was worn away from an ancient reef that now are the high banks of the Pecos River. We were lucky, we arrived really early, noon, check in time is supposed to be 4 pm…really late! And there was only two spots available. We watched as others arrived much later and left as it was full. The campground is right on Lea Lake, the largest of the cenotes. It had an abandoned feel this late in the year, most of it was closed up but it sure beat being side by side in the city, hate that!
Mike was raring to go as soon as we hooked up, Roswell…the place of alien dreams! We stopped for lunch at Big D’s Downtown Dive, looked like a favourite with locals, delicious green chile burger before wandering about and hitting the grocery stores.
The museum was a wealth of information. Several people told us there were alien tours, think we might do one of those next trip back through. Would love to see the actual landing site 70 miles to the North.
We were glad we stayed out-of-town at Bottomless Lakes State Park. We took a look at some of the other sink holes/lakes/cenotes, really beautiful in the late day light. This is New Mexico’s oldest state park, it takes it name from nine small deep lakes that formed along the Pecos River Valley escarpment. The caves formed within the limestone, and as the Pecos River eroded the escarpment, the caves eventually collapsed, leaving behind several deep, almost circular lakes known as cenotes, very similar to Carlsbad Caverns further South of here.
They range in size and depth, some have very steep sides, others, like Lea Lake at the campground have a sandy beach and are open to swimming, not a soul in sight at the beach. There is also a small nature trail through the marshes to the West, they were quite dry, but are filled by the spring in Lea Lake. A few ducks, but mostly quiet until almost dark you could hear the cranes coming in to roost. I was ready to go out at dawn to try some photography but the level of gunfire around us made me think twice, hunting season must be open, the last cenote, to the South is privately owned, a hunting camp of some sorts, I decided I’d rather not be bagged as a duck looking for birds in the predawn light:)
I talked Mike into driving me up to Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge the next afternoon, we had to diesel up anyway for our trip West so it was a good excuse to go have a look. Wildlife “refuge” is a bit of a misnomer, no refuge here from Sept.1st to Feb.15th for the birds, it is open to hunting:( Many of the ponds were full of geese, and in several areas hundreds of cranes were arriving to roost for the night. It was beautiful to see hundreds of cranes and geese in flight, the miracle of migration!
We had a straight run on the 380 the next day headed West. We had no idea we were going up in elevation to over 6600 feet. The High plains turned into Cypress and Juniper shrubland and then to Piñon Pines. The 380 turned into a Baja road, no shoulders at all for about 35 miles after the spit at the US 70. Not too hairy but narrow and up we went along the Salado Creek. The trees were in full Fall colour along the creek bed. We passed the State Park where Smokey the bear originated, you learn something new every day, past the small historic towns, Lincoln and Capitan before slowly starting our descent after Valley of Fires State Park. Here you cross over the Malpais lava flow. 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted covering 125 square miles of the Tularosa Basin, over 44 miles with molten rock up to 160 feet thick. The lava flow is considered to be one of the youngest flows in the U.S. Most definitely a place we will be coming back to explore! From a small pullout on the road we got out and stretched our feet amazed at the immensity of the lava flow!
From the high plains here we started to descend towards the Rio Grande. We picked up the US 25 South and headed towards Elephant Butte and Truth or Consequences. Yes, a town named after a game show, as if Roswell wasn’t odd enough;)
We checked into Elephant Butte State Park and I knew immediately I’d gotten it wrong, it felt more like a sardine city RV resort than a state park. We awoke at 7am to “Estas son las mañanitas” and later in the day were serenaded, well, I don’t quite think I can call it singing by a woman and man doing bad covers of late 50’s early 60’s songs you might here at a bad Vegas piano bar, but it was karaoke…very very bad karaoke…lordy lordy lordy help me now 0_0. I’d tried to make reservations at a campground to the North, more secluded on a bluff overlooking the Elephant Butte Reservoir but here we were…the view was not bad, quite lovely, it just had a rather sad feel to it. The Walmart was a bit frightening…I have nothing against anyone, really, but there is a subset that shops at Walmart that is quite scary, here it is the old oxygen packing electric shopping cart driving wrinkled from too much sun tanning population that would run over you in the aisle, then give you a dirty look for not leaping out of their way…whew…it was an obstacle course, the only smile came from the Christmas sweater rack we walked by, yes, I guess they do buy them, or they wouldn’t be here;) at least we had a good OMG smile;)
Better than this:
What a strange country we are crossing. There is good and bad in every corner and everyone has an opinion, which they tend to voice, without you asking;) Elephant Butte seems to cater to the water sports crowd, sorry, we always have a giggle when we hear water sports. Judging from the number of boat and RV storage businesses this looks like a winter retreat for those from the North and cold climates. It seemed quiet, perhaps the crowds have not arrived, but the beaches were too barren for me. Sand and garbage.
Better the view within the state park, the bunnies and quail were the best amusement to be had. Groot and Gamora watched fascinated from the back window at all the edible action out there;) we were treated to magnificent skies and warm temperatures as well. Hard to complain after the below freezing weather we’ve been running from.
We’ll explore Bosque del Apache in our next leg of the journey, but that, is another adventure.
Stay tuned and saludos amigos!