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  1. #41

    Default New Mexico - North to Central

    Wednesday, October 22
    Start : Espanola, NM
    Finish: Valley of Fires Recreation Area (BLM), W of Carrizozo

    We had started our trip in Santa Fe, can always find more to do, but time to head South to Kasha-Katuwe Rocks National Monument (a BLM site, not part of the NPS 401). The rock formations are unique and a couple of trails take you into the middle of the 'tents'.

    Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

    Our next stop was south of Albuquerque, on US 60 at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument at the Abo unit. There are 3 missions within this monument, scattered in a Central New Mexico. They were built over 600 years ago and abandoned in the 1670s, the remains are dramatic.

    Abo - Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

    We continued east on US 60 into Mountainair, NM to the main visitor center for the missions. Across the street was a bakery that had just opened a few months ago with wonderful treats, we enjoyed Cream Apple Scones. Across the street was a great mural.

    Mountainair, NM building mural

    Out of town we headed south on NM 55, actually south, then east, then south ..., zigzagged our way south to the second unit of the missions, Gran Quivira. The remains are smaller and constructed with a white rock. The pots on display in the visitor center were spectacular.

    Gran Quivira - Salinas Pueblo Missions NM pottery display

    Kiva pot

    On our trips we keep track of the license plates we see. Early in the trip we had seen almost all of the states, then we still needed North Dakota and Hawaii. On SB I-25 today we saw several North Dakota plates. Still need Hawaii.

    We ended the day at Valley of Fires Recreation Area (BLM), west of Carrizozo on US 380. This is an excellent, but small campground with 19 sites and 14 with electric and water. The restroom and shower building is excellent. Another spectacular Fall night overlooking the lava fields.

    Passport Stamps
    Salinas Pueblo Missions NM
    Abo, NM
    Mountainair, NM
    Gran Quivira, NM

    Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument - BLM New Mexico
    A Centennial Celebration 1909-2009 - Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

    Letterbox - 1

    Wildlife Sightings
    Garter Snake

    Red-tailed Hawk
    Common Raven
    Ferruginous Hawk
    Dark-eyed Junco

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    A tip to maybe find Hawaii plates - near military bases.

  3. #43

    Default BLM - Central New Mexico

    Thursday, October 23
    Start: Carrizozo, NM
    Finish: Las Cruces, NM

    Valley of Fires Recreation Area - Lava beds

    This year the New Mexico BLM created 10 stamps, modeled after the NPS passport stamps. On our way home we decided to pick up as many as we could. We got our first one at the beginning of the trip in Pilar, NM for the Rio Grande Norte National Monument. Yesterday we got another one at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks NM. Camping at Valley of Fires put us in place for three more this morning. We actually left our campsite before the visitor center opened to get to the others, we would be coming back to Valley of Fires later.

    After a tasty green chili breakfast burrito at Abuelita's in Carrizozo we went south on US 54 to Three Rivers Petroglyph Site. We had been here several years ago and enjoyed the one-mile loop hike past numerous petroglyphs. They are over 600 years old, with over 20,000 in the area. Besides a small visitor contact station there is a campground at this site with an on-site host.

    Three Rivers Petroglyph

    Back north to Carrizozo, then east on US 380 to Fort Stanton for the Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area stamp, we first went to the Fort Stanton Museum, a New Mexico State park. The fort buildings are remarkable, white with green trim. The site is free, with a number of exhibits in the surrounding buildings.

    Fort Stanton Museum

    After a few phone calls we found out the BLM stamp was with the campground host at their campground, north of the fort, back towards US 380. The conservation area encompasses the old military reservation, now set aside for recreation and conservation. Last Spring we had camped at their other campground in the area that was at the Snowy River Cave.

    Back west on US 380 with a quick stop at the Valley of Fires visitor center for their stamp, then over to S on I-25. A final stop of the day was to Fort Craig Historic Site, just south of the Bosque del Apache NWR. This is a place you have to want to get to, you won't stumble on it. It was a frontier fort founded in 1854 with only ruins remaining today. The trail to the fort was under major renovation, but a temporary trail was available. The displays in the visitor center were well done.

    We ended the day in Las Cruces at a motel, our third night in a motel for this trip. We had great beer and Happy Hour appetizers at De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery. A new place for us off I-25 at exit 3. We have always enjoyed High Desert Brewing Company on previous visits to Las Cruces, but De LaVega's was closer to our motel. Both are worth a visit.

    Passport Stamps
    El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro NHT - Fort Craig NHS, NM
    BLM - New Mexico
    - Three Rivers Petroglyph Site
    Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area
    Valley of Fires Recreation Area
    Fort Craig Historic Site
    Fort Craig Historic Site - BLM Socorro NM

    Smashed Pennies
    Smokey Bear Museum and Gift shop, Capitan, NM - 4

    Letterboxes - 6

    Wildlife Sightings
    Red-tailed Hawk
    Gambel's Quail
    Common Raven

  4. #44

    Default Homeward Bound - New Mexico to Tucson

    Friday, October 24

    Start: Las Cruces, NM
    Finish: home - Tucson, AZ

    After breakfast we drove into town to Apodaca Park to view New Mexico's Whispering Giant statue of Dineh by Peter Toth.

    Dineh, Whispering Giant

    On the east side of town is a new BLM National Monument, Organ Mountains - Desert Peaks National Monument. This monument was established this year by President Obama under The Antiquities Act of 1906. If federal land already exists a President can designate a national monument to be administered by NPS, USFS, BLM or FWS. Currently the next site to become site #402 within the NPS is Pullman Historic District in Chicago. The community is working hard for it to become a national park, which can only happen through Congress. In January this year the two Illinois senators introduced a bill to establish the park, the same has been done in the House. Speculation is if nothing is established before President Obama leaves office he will designate it as a national monument. The park status brings more tourists, i.e. $$.

    Just before we entered the visitor center parking area at Dripping Springs, within the monument, a roadrunner flew across the road in front of us. They are not known for their ability to fly, it was more a flapping gyration. A bit closer to the lot we avoided a tarantula crossing the road. Besides some basic displays there was a room with kid's activities. Outside the building was a nice native plants garden. From the parking lot several trails lead into the dramatic rocks and mountains.

    Organ Mountains - Desert Peaks NM at Dripping Springs

    On our way back through Las Cruces to I-25 we made a quick stop at the Farm and Ranch Museum. As we entered the building a gentleman pointed out a pair of Great Horned Owls perched directly above the doors, he told us they are there all day long.

    Great Horned Owl

    Back on I-25 north we stopped at Fort Selden State Historic Site for a trails passport stamp, another place we have visited previously. My husband re-collects stamps and reports them to the NPTC database to let other members know where the stamps are at and which ones are current. He also uses them to document our travels. In a few weeks after he scans all of the stamps he collected on this trip I'll post a link to his collection for this trip. As many of the frontier forts established in the mid-1800s, especially if built of adobe, the ruins are just that.

    Fort Selden State Historic Site

    A bit further north we turned west on NM 26, then north on NM 27 to a new BLM site for us, Lake Valley Historic Townsite. We were met by a knowledgeable, low-key on-site host, we appreciate the low-key approach. The old school house serves as the visitor center, which he opened for us. He told us we were the first visitors to ask for the BLM stamp since it was issued in July of this year. One half of the room was the schoolroom used until 1955, it looked like it might have on the last day of school. He told us this site was the richest silver deposit in the US. In the late 1890s when the dollar standard went from silver to gold the town went bust. It had a revival during WW II when manganese was mined. There is a well-developed walking trail with excellent interpretive signs.

    Lake Valley schoolroom

    Lake Valley townsite

    Play time was over, time to head home. We stopped in Lordsburg for a tried-and-true food stop, Kranberry's, we weren't disappointed. Finally, a favorite rest area, Texas Canyon, on I-10 in Arizona, about one hour from the driveway.

    Yes, military bases are the best possibility to see a Hawaii license plate. We kept our eyes peeled as we made our way to Tucson, home of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to no avail. So 49 states plus DC license plates seen on this trip. In a few days I'll come back with a trip summary.

    Passport Stamps
    El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro NHT - Fort Selden, NM

    Dripping Springs Natural Area - BLM New Mexico
    Lake Valley Historic Townsite - BLM New Mexico
    Zia bear image @ Fort Selden

    Wildlife Sightings

    Greater Roadrunner
    Red-tailed Hawk
    Mourning Dove
    Northern Flicker
    Gila Woodpecker

  5. #45

    Default Stamp images

    As on previous trips my husband has created a web page showing the passport and bonus stamps collected on this trip. Always fun for us to look back through for some great memories. Over the years his stamps have solved some questions and arguments about when we were someplace or a good trip down memory lane.

    Note: I was not able to imbed URL in text, 'select' option was flashing too quickly to 'capture' text. Probably an iPad issue. I'll try again later, or those with edit access can imbed the link - thanks.

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