Monday, January 28, 2013

Leaving the Cosmos entering Tucson

The title of this post may not be self-explanatory. When our daughter Jen was in High School, she had a small (6") alien gumby figure named Cosmo which traveled around attached to her backpack. No doubt she got a kick out of yesterday's post with the life size Cosmos we met.

Early this a.m. we loaded the car, ate a quick b'fast and headed out from Roswell NM. The sun was just coming up, and we got a couple of decent pictures thereof.

I love the way the sun underlights the clouds at sunrise and sunset. Here is another shot a couple minutes later when there is more light to bring up the colors.

As we travel west on Hwy. 70 the topography changed at least 5 times in a couple of hours, and the scenery was alternately captivating and stultifying.

 We paralleled the Rio Hondo and climbed up into the Sierra Blanca mountains to the resort town of Ruidoso, then down the other side of the pass to the town of Tularosa where we got some gas.

We continued west on 70 and used the bypass to get around Alamagordo NM. I find it difficult to even pronounce the name of the town without doing it with a funny voice.

After leaving Alamagordo we continued west until we got to  this interesting spot.

The information center is constructed in the pueblo style of architecture. I really like it but Scooterchick is ambivalent towards it. I understand the concept, sturdy thick walls, cool in summer and warm in winter with interior courtyards to protect from the elements. I will show you a couple of pictures to support my thesis of it's elegant simplicity and utility.

 Believe it or not this outbuilding contains the washrooms

This is an exterior shot of the Visitor Center.

Detail showing thickness of wall and Spanish influence of door.

A signboard with information on the area and covered walkway between buildings. Shade is paramount when considering elemental protection.

Long shot down the side of the building. Pole rafters and slope of exterior wall visible.

Interior courtyard between interpretive center and gift shop. Shaded, protected from wind and cooled by the bulk of the buildings around the courtyard.

We took the time to view a movie presentation that gave an overview of White Sands, very informative and colorful. People in the area come out to hike, take photos, explore or use Off-Road day use area.

Here are your genial bloghosts Scootard and Scooterchick being pummeled by the wind. All across from here to our destination for the night the wind was blowing at 15-18 mph and gusting 26-30.

This is a dried stalk of the flower of a yucca. The Apache had multiple uses for this desert plant. Scooterchick found out the hard way that the leaves can poke you quite nastily.

I still managed to get her to pose with the offending flora. She is showing you to beware of the spines.

We took a picture of these dwelling units that the staff live in. Still in the pueblo style.

Here is a picture of the White Sands. It is actually the largest white sand area in the entire world.

And here in the final picture is a shot of the mountains which make the white sands possible. The gypsum deposits of which the mountains are constructed leach out of the stone whenever there is rain. The area does get about 10 inches of rain per year, compared with our home in Squamish that gets 10 feet.

The suspended microscopic gypsum particles flow down to through the Tularosa basin to end up in Lake Lucero. When the rains stop, the everpresent winds evaporate the water and the suspended gypsum forms into selenite crystals. These crystals, softer than a fingernail are pushed across the basin, first in cornflake sized flakes, then smaller flakes and eventually to gleaming whit sand where they blow up the windward side of dunes and softly cascade down the lee side.

At one side of the basin the dunes travel at 12-15 feet per year, and at 24-26 feet on the far side. Byt he time they reach the far eastern edge, the sand is fine and soft as talcum powder.

We drove west on 70, alternately opening the sunroof and running the HVAC, then closing everything and shutting things off, as we passed through dustclouds. Apparently someone representing the EPA held Town Hall type meetings in NM and AZ, where he explained that dust picked up by the wind was considered a pollutant, because it raised the particulate index in the air, and that as a pollutant it must be stopped. 

The audience politely explained that periodically the wind picked the dust up from the desert floor to create these dust storms and that efforts to control the wind to abate the issue had been unsuccessful.
When the official insisted that the situation could not continue without federal citations and resulting hefty fines, someone asked if the federal government could suggest a solution.

The EPA fellow suggested that the area could be watered, and the dust could not be picked up by the wind. Shocked silence ensued, and he smugly though he had played his trump card.

An elderly desert dweller of some repute, considered to be an expert asked him one question.

Son, are you familiar with the concept and definition of a desert? Where exactly is that water supposed to come from? 

Continuing on we came to Las Cruces, which is a town of about 100,000 people where we joined up with I-10. This one runs from San Diego CA to Jacksonville FL.

Leaving humor and foolish government policies apart and continuing with our narrative, we gassed up in Deming. Gas adjacent to the freeway was $3.49. Two blocks further on it was $3.03. I'll let you guess which one we used.

We climbed up over a pass in the Peloncillo Mountains and dropped down to the San Simon rest area.
As you can see the wind is fresh.

There were informative sign boards, one off which gave area information and said in plain print "Welcome to Arizona". Thank you very much I thought, we're glad to be here.

Unbelievably it began to rain on this side of the pass. The rain continued on and off until we arrived at our destination. Once again I love seeing 150 mi.(240 km.)  to go on a mileage post and realizing that's only 2 hours of travel even if we stop for gas.

We arrived at our overnight stop at around 3:45 and got checked in. Yeah, we're definitely in AZ now, note the Saguaro cactus?

We were able to park just outside our room, and Scooterchick lost no time investigating the courtyard. The hotel is undergoing renovation at present, so it didn't appear that they were taking care of the pool, but the courtyard does have a festive feel. Here is my darling smiling her approval.

This is a picture looking from the pool towards the hot tub.

This one looking the other way. It almost looks like a small Mexican all inclusive doesn't it. I'm sure it will be lovely when they finish the reno. It is acceptable for an overnight stay.

Here is the room. Pretty average, but for less than $50,  including breakfast it will do nicely.

So, showered fed and having filled you in on our progress, I bid you adieu.

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