Road Trip -- Alongside the Rio Grande to El Paso, Texas
Replies: 3 - Last Post: Oct 3, 2012 7:39 PM Last Post By: trekker502
Oct 2, 2012 3:57 PM
Just a few miles south of Taos, alongside the Rio Grande, is a rest stop with an historic placquard about the Comanche Indians and early settlers (Spanish) who captured women and children and sold them. Just a few miles north of Las Cruces, where the original Camino Real trail diverted away from the Rio Grande toward El Paso, there was another placquard about the Apaches and Spanish capturing the new settlers or Indians. Taos is 63 miles north of Santa Fe along the direct route. Santa Fe is about 300 miles north of Las Cruces. Socorro is a good half-way point in the long drive through summer-parched desert. The 400-years-old San Miguel Mission in Socorro just celebrated its Festival of San Miguel this past weekend. There is a lot of history in this region. The old El Camino Real went from Santa Fe to Mexico City, extending the Santa Fe Trail from Chicago to Santa Fe. There was also a wagon trail from Santa Fe to Los Angeles.
There were many apple groves and vendors alongside the roadway north of Espanola and also some wineries. Near Los Lunas and Belen, there are new orchards (apples?) and old vineyards. East of Las Cruces, along Interstate-10, are cattle stockyards.
There are three lakes south of Socorro, including the marshland at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (8 miles south of Socorro), which is famous for its Sandhill Crane Festival in November -- thousands of sandhill cranes winter over at the Bosque before migrating back north to Canada and Alaska in February. South of the lakes, the Rio Grande becomes just a trickle of water. Of course, this is late in the season of a drought year. I was surprised at how much water there was in the river near Taos.
I had not previously driven south of the Bosque, so this next part was an adventure. I took the turnoff to Truth or Consequences, but I did not divert to see the historic monuments nearby. I had read an article about the town, but I was not impressed with its main street. I also took the turnoff to Hatch, renowned for its chilis at this time of year. There were vendors along the roadside.
Las Cruces is a sprawling city, similar to Albuquerque, but a little smaller in size. I am glad that I chose Santa Fe as my home! I prefer the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, rather than the parched desert. There has been a considerable amount of roadwork being done paving the Interstates, but the traffic has not been slowed that much. I turned east onto Interstate-10, and stopped at the Travel Information Center just over the Texas border in Anthony. I had lunch at the Flying J's Denny's Restaurant. Gasoline in Texas is $3.49, compared with $3.70/gallon elsewhere in New Mexico. I filled the tank.
I will continue my report on El Paso tomorrow.
Oct 2, 2012 4:30 PM
Oct 3, 2012 7:48 AM
The main attraction in T or C is the natural hot springs and the little spas that have grown up around them. T or C bills itself as " the most affordable spa town in the country", and that's certainly true. The flip side of that, is that T or C is also one of the most funky and decrepit spa towns in the nation. I have not stayed at them, but I have heard that some of the hot-springs-based accomodations are quite pleasant, with a casual, informal charm not evident out on the main drag (and quite different from the hoity-toity atmosphere at more upscale joints in northern NM)
It's actually about 1/10 the size of ABQ. I have no love for Cruces itself, but the nearby Organ Mountains are spectacular and offer superb winter hiking.
Like most interstate corridors, you really have to look hard for the charm along I-25. Try to find time to take Hwy 152 through Hillsborough and over the Black Range to Silver City. It is a spectacular drive, with some neat little towns along the way.
Oct 3, 2012 7:39 PM
3I returned home to Santa Fe at 2:30 p.m. today, after a wonderful trip. I am planning to participate in the 5 miles walk -- Making Strides Against Breast Cancer -- this weekend, so this was just a short scouting trip. Last Friday, I finished my summer of being on-call for jury duty. I now know how much time it will take to drive to Big Bend NWR and to the Carlsbad Caverns.
I was happy to find the port of entry to Juarez, Mexico, from Mesa Street/Mexico #45, off of Interstate-10 in Old Town El Paso. I discovered that there are two Mesa Streets about 10 miles apart in El Paso, but after a roundabout I finally did find the correct one. It was twilight in the barrio, so I did not stay long. I did see the bridge over the Rio Grande and the long bumper to bumper line of cars leaving the USA. I really liked the architecture of the buildings in Old Town El Paso, and also the architecture of the El Paso campus of the University of Texas -- Southwest Indian/Spanish. Maybe a Moorish influence. Actually, the thousands-years-old adobe pueblos of the Indians in New Mexico look very similar to the adobe dwellings in Marrakech, Morocco
I returned to Anthony, Texas, on the borderline with New Mexico, last night. The Pilot Travel Center/Truck Stop was safely brightly lit up, so I chose to park there overnight for free. Their price for regular gasoline is the same as that of the Flying J, so I topped off my gas tank at Pilot this morning. The Good Sam Club for RVers recommends both Pilot Travel Centers and the Flying Js.
I left Anthony at 8 a.m. this morning heading toward Las Cruces, 16 miles away. I drove past the Interstate-25 junction about 4 miles to the University Avenue turnoff to see more of Las Cruces. I was impressed with how large the New Mexico State University campus is, extending along most of the length of the avenue. I don't know if all of its buildings are sited along University Avenue, or if they are more spread out away from the narrow corridor. New Mexico State U. is the agricultural research institution supported by agricultural land grants and its research is supporting the farmers and horticulturists (including affiliation with Master Gardeners in each city) throughout New Mexico.
I became more observant of the landscape as I drove northward along Interstate-25 from Las Cruces. It is about 300 miles between Las Cruces and Santa Fe. There is parched desert with dangerous crosswinds between Las Cruces and Hatch. Thousands of years of the winds blowing sand have created many dunes and sandstone striated mountains that have been uplifted from the valley floor. The length of the Interstate is undulating up and down the backs of the sand dunes. The golden yellow of the chamisa seen along the High Road to Taos is still the same color, but of different plant species -- it may be too harsh a climate for the chamisa. The pale lavender asters from the High Road are again replaced with pale lavender flowers of another species. Yucca has been planted in the median along part of the Interstate. I don't know if the wildflower seeds were purposely planted alongside the Interstate because most of the desert sand dunes were covered with sagebrush species and no flowers blooming at this time of year.
From Hatch northward to Albuquerque, the Rio Grande crosses under the Interstate from west to the east side and the river valley is verdant green with trees, crops, wetlands/lakes, parks, and wildlife refuges. They are more easily seen from the east side of the Interstate and blocked from view by drivers heading south on the west side of the Interstate. I stopped at Hatch to explore the cute town. I do like mild green chili and have eaten burgers with Hatch green chili and cheese. The Texas chili taco burger that I ate in Anthony was still too spicy for me even though I did not include the jalapeno peppers or pico gallo.
The Rio Grande again crosses under the Interstate north of Albuquerque and runs along the west side northward to its headwaters. There is a string of Pueblo Indian villages located on the banks of the Rio Grande northward. At Santo Domingo Indian Pueblo, the gasoline was being sold at $3.41/gallon today. I had just bought gas 5 miles previously at San Felipe Indian Pueblo for $3.52/gallon. The Hatch gas station charged $3.79/gallon!
Edited by: trekker502
(4 star Hotel)
From US$255.15 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$169.00 per night
Des MoinesBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$129.00 per night