Wednesday, March 30, 2011

San Angelo, TX

We started the day headed for Big Spring, TX, but before we even got there everyone decided we really wanted to head on to San Angelo, bypassing Big Spring. So 276 miles and 6 hours later, we arrived at the Elks Lodge, only to find it is only open Th-Sat. Oh well, we all piled in the car and headed to town for a bite to eat, after visiting the Visitor Center first.

We were told to go to the old downtown area. There we would find several unique and unusual restaurants and shops. Here is Max, Joyce and Patty in front of Miss Hatti's Cafe and Saloon.

We went inside and found it was a lot fancier than just a bar and grill. Decided it wasn't what we wanted for dinner but we did get the story on how the place got its name. This building was originally a bank. This is just 3 doors down from Miss Hattie's Saloon. It was after 5pm so we couldn't go to the museum. But as the story goes, there was once an underground tunnel between the bank (now Miss Hattie's Saloon) and this location, 3 doors away. Men would come to town with their wives and tell the missus they had business to conduct at the bank and would then send the wives shopping. Once in the bank they would then go through the underground tunnel to Miss Hatties Bordello, take care of business there, return to the bank and back out to find their wives, who by then were done shopping. Then they would take the wives out to dinner before going home.
Across the street was Eggemeyers General Store.

Although it truly was at one time the old general store, it is now a gift shop full of upscale soaps, lotions, specialty foods and cookware and many other gift items. But the decor is cute and much of the store is still original, such as the floors, some of the cabinets, and such. Notice the old airplane hanging from the ceiling. There were dozens of these hanging from the ceiling.

The old train depot.

The old freight depot.

Fort Concho was established about 1867 to protect the frontier. It was established at the junction of the Butterfield Trail, Goodnight Trail and Road to San Antonio.

The fort was abandoned in 1889 and it passed into private ownership. Like many of the frontier forts in this area, it has no walls around the buildings.

Just outside the fort was an area which developed, now called the Old Town Historic District. This was originally a bank building.

Carlsbad, NM

I had never been to Carlsbad Caverns. One of the most famous caves, yet one which I hadn't visited, until today.

We spent 2 1/2 hours wandering through the natural opening down to the Big Room, which is the size of 14 football fields. I usually don't get good pictures down in caves so I left my camera topside. Sorry, no pictures. But Grandkids, if you are reading this, I did buy postcards which I will be sending soon.

The following day Max and I headed south to the Guadalupe Mountains. I wanted to do some hiking in the area. And these were only the trails available at this trailhead and there were several other trailheads. I wish I would have had more time, but now I have a reason to return.

We hiked Guadalupe Peak Trail. And so you don't have to do back and read about it, the elevation is 3000 ft and the round trip is 8.4 miles. Here I am at the beginning.

I'm not even a third of the way up and already the parking lot and the cars look like small specks.

About half way up we encountered this bridge.
Probably 2/3 of the way there. Behind me is El Capiton Mountain.

Well here I am at the top of Guadalupe Peak, elevation appx 8800 feet, and as you can see I was starved. That was hard work. Guadalupe Peak is the highest summit in the state of Texas.

Just signed in on the log and getting our picture taken with the top of the mountain marker. As we were getting ready to head back down the lady sitting to the side recognized Max. She is an inactive WIN whose name is Hilda. She was on her way to the SKP Park nearby and stopped just to hike the peak.

It took us 3 hours to hike up, we spent 1/2 hour eating lunch and visiting with the other hikers, then another 2 1/2 hours to hike down. What a great hike.

We stayed in Carlsbad, NM, a small town on the Pecos River. They have put a small dam on the river and created Lake Carlsbad. Along this 1 mile area they have created parks, walking/biking paths, a large playground area, a beach area, even a riverboat ride. If you ever get in this area, check it out.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Next stop, Roswell, NM

The drive towards Roswell took us through Ruidoso Downs, NM, home of a famous racetrack. The racing doesn't start until May 27, so nothing much was going on at the track, but just down the street were a couple of museums.

We were too early to visit the museum and we decided not to wait around, but outside they have a few lifesize statues of horses.

Across the street was the Billy the Kid Visitor Center. I would have liked to seen what they have, but they too were closed. But I did get my picture with Billy.
Everything in Roswell revolves around aliens. They even make the sno-cones.

I had been to the museum before, so I spent most of the time watching one of their UFO movies in the video room while the others wandered through the museum.

I didn't know Zone II Alien Headquarters was located in Roswell. Did you?

I liked this bronze statue out front of the museum.

And I even made a few new alien friends.
And another new friend.
And another. I would say the aliens in town were very friendly and even let me get my picture taken with them.

Alamogordo, NM, and the White Sands National Monument

After leaving Willcox, AZ, the we headed towards Alamagordo, NM, home of the White Sands National Monument. Most people know of White Sands because this is where the first atomic bombs were tested, now called the Trinity Site. The Trinity Site itself is located at the north end of the White Sands and is not accessible except twice a year. So we settled on visiting the White Sands National Monument, just outside of Alamogordo.

As you can see, after driving only a few miles off the highway, all you can see is white sand.

They rent you sleds at the visitor center.
Needless to say, we indulged. The hard part is walking up the sand dunes so you can start your sled ride down.
After we exhaused ourselves sledding we went back to a nature hike. This hardened mound of sand looks more like rock.
After leaving the white sands area, we returned to town. There we went to the International Space Hall of Fame. Although not as big as some of the other space museums I've been too, this one wasn't bad at all.

But what did catch my eye was this cactus about to bloom.

Nearby was a sled. Can you imagine sitting on the red seat and being thrust forward over 632 mph? It happened in 1954. That was the fastest man had ever traveled.

Inside the museum was 3 floors of space history. On the walls they had pictures of people who have made an impact on the space program. They even included Issac Newton and Copernicus, as well as the modern day astronauts from around the world.

Finally-Leaving Arizona

After being in Arizona for the better part of the last 5 months, I am ready to head on. So on towards Bandera, TX, I go. I have almost 2 weeks before the SI's Single Dance Rally in Bandera begins, so along with Max and a couple of other friends, we are doing some sightseeing along the way.

Joyce, Patty, and myself with Fancy taking a pose with Rex Allen.

For those who don't remember, Rex Allen was a famous singing cowboy and he was from Willcox, AZ, which is where we stayed the first night on the road. The town is small, the main drag is only a couple of blocks long. There are several museums and another claim to fame is the store on the corner which has the location marked where Wyatt Earp's brother was killed.

We were only here one afternoon, but last year I spent a week visiting the town. To read more about my adventures last year check out March of 2010. There are several blogs of my time spent in this area.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Old Apache Trail and Tortilla Flats

After several weeks in Apache Junction it was time to go somewhere different. So off we headed to Tortilla Flats. Now Tortilla Flats is a small town (it has a post office, a restaurant and gift shop), turned into a tourist attraction. Every day of the week during the winter months find the place packed with people from the valley (Phoenix). Tortilla Flats currently has a population of 6, has a voters district and the smallest post office in Arizona. But in 1904 it was a stop for the trucks hauling materials to build Roosevelt Dam. It only became a stage stop after Roosevelt Dam opened and became a tourist attraction.
All the buildings were first bought by one man back in 1906, then sold in 1925. The town as a whole has been sold several times for amounts which were as low as $12,000, to an ad which was supposedly placed on ebay in 2003 for $3.4 million. The museum in town has the complete history and more. You should go check it out.
But across the street from the town is a campground run by Tonto National Forest. No electricity or cell phone service, but water and dump at every site.
This unusual RV showed up while I was there. I stopped to visit with the people and found out they are from Germany. They have been traveling for 15 years and have traveled all over the world.

This is their website. Check it out, although much of the website is in German, there are lots of great pictures.

This was the creek below our campsite.

One day we decided to take the road on up to Roosevelt Dam. Along the way we stopped at Apache Lake. My toes were all I was willing to get wet.

Max was much braver. He got in up to his knees.

In 1996 they decided to raise the dam by 77 feet. This increased the size of Roosevelt Lake by 20%.

When we got back to our jeep, this red jeep was next to us with a flat tire. And they couldn't get their spare because it was locked on and they did not the key. So Max offered his spare. We then followed them to town where we got our spare back and they got their flat tire fixed. And they got the lock removed from their spare tire too.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spook Mtn and Bulldog Canyon-AZ

Max and I have been trying to do at least 1 good hike a week, as well as walking 3 miles every morning. What Max calls Spook Mtn is found near the corner of Ellsworth and Brown in Mesa, and is one of the places we enjoy hiking. It is about 300-350 ft elevation and about 1/2 mile to the top. We take Fancy with us so she can get her exercise too. Two trips up and down and I'm ready for breakfast.
Spook Mtn is so called because livestock will not go near this area. No one knows why.

On Sunday some of us went off-roading through Bulldog Canyon. Here is a shot of 4 peaks in the distance.

Although this road seems to end, we are in the bottom of the canyon and it just winds around through the mountains.

The flowers weren't blooming but the desert was very green. Even the mountains looked green because of the lichen growing on the rocks.

Our small off-roading group.

I got this great shot of a butterfly on a small bloom. The butterfly was only about an inch long.

We stopped to watch some serious 4-wheelers rock crawl up this hill. They all made it up and down.

She was watching her friends crawl up the hill. We decided she was making a fashion statement with her plaid boot high tennis shoes, hose and short skirt out in the middle of the desert, 4-wheeling. We just weren't sure what that fashion statement was....
This hummingbird was sitting on top of a cactus.

Here it turned and you can see its ruby throat.

The flowers weren't blooming yet, but the chain-fruit cholla was sure pretty.

This group was out enjoying the day too.

Max caught sight of this hawk swooping down across in front of us. He had the prettiest orange back like I had not seen before. If anyone knows what it is, please let me know.

Almost to the end of the ride, which was about 15 miles of dirt, I caught this shot of Weaver's Needle in the Superstition Mountains.

Bulldog Canyon requires a permit from the Tonto Forest District Office. All entrances are locked and the only way to get the combo is by obtaining the permit.

We finished the day by stopping at Filly's Restaurant on Rt. 88. They have live music and dancing on weekend afternoons. It was so crowded, couldn't find a table and since none of us were eating, we didn't stay today.