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Past Adventures

Spring Break Road Trip - 2005 Part II

The sights include :  The International Space Hall of Fame and Ham, the Astro Chimp, White Sands Monument, White Sands Missile Range, the City of Rocks, the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Park,  Rock Hound State Park, the Giant Road Runner in Las Cruces, NM, Franklin Mountains State Park, Chamizal, Roadside Attractions in El Paso, the US Border Museum, and the Hueco Tanks State Historic Park.

Forward :  (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)

     I hope you enjoyed Part I of the Spring Break Road Trip of 2005.  Now, for the second part of our trip.  Once again, sit back, relax and be an arm chair traveler for a little while longer.

Star Date 03/09/2005 - Wednesday

     We had an early breakfast and our first stop was the International Space Hall of FameYou can't miss this place, its on a big hill on the east side of town.  Outside, they had a little rocket park including the bottom half of a used V-2 rocket. Its a great little museum filled with all kind of space junk including models of satellites and they have a piece of the Odessa meteorite.  We need to find a way to get this back to Texas.  Remember HAM the space chimp.  Well, he's buried here, right by the flag poles

     After the brief tour, we took Hwy 70 west to the White Sands National MonumentWhite Sands National Monument is much like Texas' Monahan Sandhills State Park.  Due to all of the desert sand, one feels like you are out in the middle of the Sahara desert.  We took on the Big Sand Dune Trail.  Actually, there really wasn't any kind of real trail, just a series of numbered post you follow with a pamphlet guide you pick up at the beginning of the trail that tells you what to watch out for and other things to see on the sand hills.  It was like being on the beach and also, there were quite a few folks out.  Some folks were having too much fun.  We then checked out the lake while one of our war birds flew overhead.  We visited the visitor center for another, yea you guessed it, a refrigerator magnet for this place.

     We then left and continued west on Hwy 70 till we reach the White Sands Missile Range.  Its here where all of our missiles are tested.  They say that at times they are testing, they shut down Hwy 70 between Alamogordo and Las Cruces.  Security was tight.   So we left the car outside and hiked in.  The guards checked our ID's and told us we could take all the pictures we wanted of the missile museum park, but not to aim west or north.  Now, for the missiles :

The Atomic Bomb Casing, Honest John, Hound Dog, Loon,  Matador Mace, Nike Hercules, Patriot, Pershing 2 and the Talos

     Hum, didn't I see this one in Roswell the other day?  While there, also check out the V2 rocket inside the building next to the missile park and of coarse the missile museum across the parking lot to view more artifacts from old missile testing days.

     Our tour ended and we proceeded back onto Hwy 70 and west to Las Cruces.  In Las Cruses, I head Chad over the radio, "Quick, Pull over for gas!"  "What are you talking about?  We gassed up before we left Alamogordo?"   Chad again screamed, "We need to pull over for gas now!"  I said ok,  and then found out why.  Dam, that Chad has eyes like a hawk!  Then I just couldn't take it anymore.  We pulled into a local Walgreen's to find something to rub on my skin for all the itching.  As I was checking out, I inquired as to where the local hospital was.  A pregnant lady  behind me stated she was leaving for the hospital for a sonogram and we could follow her there.  To the emergency room, let's find out what's up with all this itching and my hands swelling up.  Well after about 2 torturous hours, they finally told me that I was indeed suffering from an allergic reaction to something.  I was given a shot, some pills and then we were off again.  Thank God they did not have to operate!

     As we made our way through town to get to I-10 we passed the bridge going over the Rio Grande river.  The Rio Grande River doesn't look so Grande from here.  We found I-10, headed west to Deming and then north on Hwy 180 to Silver City. 

     It wasn't too long till we arrived at the City of Rocks.  Ok, its not a real city, but a bunch of interesting rock formations pretty much in the middle of no where.  If your use your imagination, you could find just about anything in there.  Unfortunately, the visitor center was closed, we arrived too late.  However, after changing out the batteries in my camera, we took a few picks before heading out again :

Map to the City of Rocks, Balanced Rock, a City of Rocks' Suburb,

Massive Columns, Mushroom Formation, an RV Hide Out

and the Famous Toilet Seat Rock

     It was now getting dark, so we finally headed back north again on Hwy 180 and reach Silver City for the night.  Hey!  My hands are back to normal and I am no longer itching.  Thank God!

Star Date 03/10/2005 - Thursday

     Another early breakfast and another early start.  This time, it was to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings.  We headed north on Hwy 15.  On the map, it seem like it would only take thirty minutes to get there.  But unfortunately, it was a curvy, twisting mountain road in which you could not go more that 40-45 mph and you had to really watch out!   Hwy 15 took you through the Gila National Forest.  You even passed over the Continental Divide at one point.  It took over an hour and a half to get there and I admit I was driving way too fast for this road.  However, on the way, I finally was able to get a shot at my favorite bird and please be careful of the deer who just might jump in your way.  There are several areas in which you can pull over and take in the scenery.  Parts of this forest were still covered in snow.   Once you crossed the Gila River, you then knew you were pretty close to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Park.  We got lucky, they had some flooding in the areas and were closed.  But now they were open.

     We checked out the visitor center and their exhibits  and then heading on over to the dwellings.  Outside the visitor center we noticed this monument.  I think it may be Geronimo's grave since he was suppose to be born in this area.  Check out their ancient apartment living :

Gila Cliffs 1, Gila Cliffs 2, Gila Cliffs 3, Gila Cliffs 4,

Gila Cliffs 5, Gila Cliffs 6, Gila Cliffs 7, Gila Cliffs 8,

Gila Cliffs 9 and Gila Cliffs 10

     After our brief tour it was time to move on.  This time, we headed back out on Hwy 15, but  took Hwy 35 back, around the mountains and were only stopped onceHwy 35 led to San Lorenzo.  From San Lorenzo, we headed east on Hwy 152 and past the Chino Open Pit Copper mine and also checked out the pits observation area.  We then continued westward and then south on Hwy 356 passing through Bayard and then connected back up to Hwy 180 again and headed south.  As we traveled south, we passed by Hurley, which had the smelter to process the copper from the Chino mine.  On to Deming.

     Once in Deming, we hit the Rock Hound State Park in the Florida Mountain just south of town.  The park was located just south of town.  We first studied a plaque which displayed all the kinds of agate and jasper which can be found here.  We decided to try our luck and headed up one of the mountains. The campgrounds below became smaller and smaller.  There were RV's parked everywhereThere was agate everywhere.  I finally decide to pick out banded pieces to be tumbled later.  I picked up my bucket full and proceeded back down.  Before leaving, we checked in the park HQ to see if we had missed anything else.  While there, the ranger gave us a map to Deming's Rock Hound Roundup rock and mineral show in town.  We headed back into town and found the show at the county fair grounds.  It was the usual stuff, however, I did find one table that greatly interested me.  The table was full of the really good agates and agate nodules which can be found in the Deming, Florida Mountain, Silver City and in the boot area of the state.  Since I had visited most these places, I decided to pick up a few for souvenirs.

     After making the rounds we decided to move on.  Soon, we were back on I-10 heading east to El Paso.  But first, we had to make one more stop at Las Cruces and I don't mean the hospital.  Just outside of town off of I-10, is a huge road runner sculpture made of junk.  Yes, I do mean junk.  After this short stop, we were back on the road, back in Texas again and made it to El Paso.  After dinner, we found our lodgings for the night.  No more itching.  Knock on wood.

 Star Date 03/11/2005 - Friday

     I think at this point we were both pretty tired and decided to take it easy in town.  I grabbed the map and quickly located our bearing to head downtown.  We did check out the old Camino Real Motel.  The Camino Real Hotel is to El Paso as the Manger Hotel is to San Antonio.  I don't know of any ghosts, however, back in 1912, the house rules included :

If you wet or burn your bed, you will  be thrown out.

You are not allowed downstairs in the seating room or in the kitchen when you are drunk.

You must wear a shirt when you come to the seating room.

Before it became a hotel, the site was solon operated by Ben S. Sowell, who became the first mayor of El Paso.

     We also walked by the alligator statue of El Paso.  I think long ago there really were live alligators penned up in this area for displayed.  Eventually they died and the only thing the townspeople could think of to commemorate them was this statue.

     And of coarse there is the Rocket Buster Boot Company that is famous for those one-of-a-kind specially made cowboy boots.  They have also made the world's biggest boots for wearing.  I think I'll pass.  I just don't have enough pesos right now.

     After lunch, we got our cars washed and then headed up north on Hwy 54, then west on Loop 375/Trans Mountain Rd to checked out the US Border Patrol Museum located just up a little ways on our right.  The US Border Patrol Museum also serves as a recruitment station.  It was just another interesting museum with exhibits important to their cause.  I soon learned that they drive around in vehicles that aren't just white and green.  Here's a map to their location.. 

     Next door was of coarse was the El Paso Archeology MuseumInside the museum was just more of the same old relics we had seen earlier.  They did have a nature trail to hike, but be careful! Be sure to visit them the next time your out here.

     El Paso, Like San Antonio also has its own Spanish Mission Trail.  Simply take I-10 south and then right on Zaragoza and continue until you reach the first mission, the Mission Ysleta.  It was also quite nice inside.  Then, follow the Mission Trail signs south on Socorro Street.  Remember, this area is park of the Ysleta Indian Reservation.  If you have enough time, you may want to gamble at their Speaking Rock gambling casino!  Continue south on Socorro for some distance and soon you will come to the Socorro Mission.  Unfortunately, it was under renovation at the time.  Although I did find a picture of it on the Internet on how it looked before the renovation started.  We continued south on the mission trail or Socorro Street and finally cane to San Elizario Mission

     I had heard of Chamizal National Park or Memorial and how in this area the Rio Grand river's channel would move from north to south and vice versa due to changes in the environment and the flow of the river.  Thus, the river boundaries between the US and Mexico would constantly change and become a source of political tensions between the two countries.  The park or memorial is a political arrangement.  The U.S. turned over thousands of acres to Mexico and also built a permanent channel to eliminate boundary disputes. We finally found the Memorial/Park by heading south on Hwy 54 from I-10. A Memorial Park was built to commemorate this action by the US.  It wasn't much of a park.  Just one more thing to see.  However, on the way back out of the area, we could see the the border crossing and how busy it was for people trying to get to the Texas side.  It also looked like no one wanted to go to Mexico.

     At this point, it was time for dinner and then back to the motel and rest and relax for a while.

Star Date 03/12/2005 - Saturday

     You guessed it, another early start.  After breakfast at the I-Hop next door,  we decided to first do a Gem Trail of Texas off of Hwy 375/Trans Mountain Road, a few mile past the US Border Patrol Museum, as described by Melinda Crow's Book, Rockhounding Texas.  This site is also described in my Gem Trails of Texas book by Brad Cross.  This time, it was Site 10, Garnet in the Franklin Mountain.  We followed the map and the area as described certainly did have banded areas of green/pink/peach color marble.  Heck, in one area we only saw green.  There was quite a bit of garnet to be seen embedded into the marble.  It seemed a little too difficult to deal with, so, we moved on and saved it for the next rock hound.  I did however, take back with me some green marble and the GPS coordinates for the site are 31 53.659 North and 106  28.332 West.

     We continued on westward on Hwy 375 while dodging hikers and bikers and finally found Franklin Mountains State Park.  We drove around the park mainly just checking it out and finally parked by a picnic area.  Like I said, watch out for bikers!  Those bikers will go just about anywhere.  They almost ran over this little critter.  The park did provide some awesome views of El Paso down below.

     We then backtracked Hwy 375 to Hwy 54 and headed back south again.  We exited to the Fred Wilson Road exit, traveled west and followed the signs to the Wyler Aerial Tramway.  But, unfortunately, it was not open yet.

     We timed it just right and picked up Montana Street and headed east for about 20 miles and took CR 2775 north at the flying saucer, hey I'm not in Roswell again am I?, and finally arrived to the Heuco Tanks State Park.  It seems there is a visitor quota and we barely made it in.  The only activity we could do was the hike to the Indian rock art.  That's cool with us!  After paying our fees, the rangers made us first stop at their Interpretive Center for assimilation, uh I mean an orientation of the park.  It seems back in the early 1990's, quite a bit of vandalism of the Indian rock art had taken place.  After our assimilation, we waited outside for the others and noticed some more old ruins of the Butterfield Stage Coach facilities.  Apparently the stage coach used this area for a water stop.

     One of the rangers finally met with us and we began our trek down one of the trails.  Our guide pointed out that the Hueco Mountain are made of what he called a poor man's granite in which lots of holes or pockets were produced during formation.  In fact, Hueco, pronounced as "waco", is an Indian name for pocket.  Some of these huecos were quite large and trapped water for the Indians of the past and also for wildlife.  The huecos, with good reason, also make the faces of these mountains quite popular with the rock climbers.  The guide pointed out an old dam which was once used when this area was a ranch.  We finally came to several of the caves and began our tour of the old Indian rock art :

Ok, The 49's Left Their Mark,

The Cistern Marked for the Butterfield Stage Coach Company,

Indian Pottery Found on the Trail, Masks 1, Masks 2, A Shield,

Dancers 1, Indian Porno, Dancing 2, Crosses, Hands,

Kiowa Battle, and A Deer

     It was now time to leave for good. We backtracked to I-10 again and finally headed back east.  This time for home!  As we came to the I-10/I-20 split-off, I waved a good-bye to Chad as he headed east on I-20 while I continued on eastward on I-10.   About 6 miles west of Sierra Blanca, I noticed one the more interesting Texas rest stops.  The Teepee rest stop.

     Ok, Ok, Texas is pretty dam big.  Its dark and I'm tired.  Chad called and he finally made it back to the DFW area and still haven't even made it out of the desert and on into San Antonio yet.  I decided to call it quits and spend the night in Kerrville.  I found a Best Western and hit the sack.

Star Date : 03/13/2005 - Sunday

     I did sleep in for once and had the complimentary breakfast at the dinner next store to my Best Western Hotel.  After breakfast, I drove around Kerrville to try to re-acquaint myself of the area again before heading back east on I-10.

     While driving through Borne, I saw my last roadside attraction for this trip.  The Borne Muffler Man!

     I finally found Hwy 36 and took it south back to Lake Jackson.  Boy I'm tired.  Unfortunately, I had work on Monday.  Bummer.

Aftermath :

     Well it was quite a little road trip.  Sorry it took so long to get these pages out, but when I got back, I had to study for the National Pharmacy Technician exam that I had to take the following weekend.  I saw one lady cheat at the test.  But she got caught. 

     I also finished up my internship down at the pharmacy.  I guess I won't be pushing drugs until my next intern this summer.

     Oh, I finally got to see the Gargoyle movie.  I did find the motel.  It was the one across from the Million Dollar Museum which now serves as gift shops.

     Last but not least, after all that desert mountain driving, I finally had to get new front brakes on my car.

     Before I forget, this trip allowed me to add to the Texas Roadside Attractions page and also create a new, New Mexico Roadside Attractions page.

     If you hit this page before reading Part I, then click on the link below :

 Spring Break Road Trip 2005 Part I

     And one last thing :

Happy Easter !!


       So, until next time, take care and I'll  See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!


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 Copyright 1999 by [The Texas Road Runners - Francis Kiefel]. All rights reserved.