Friday, November 23, 2012

Ursula Leaves the State, Day 8: Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday dawned and we knew it was our last day to see sights, so off we went, with minimal dawdling. We headed back up north again, this time heading west when we got to Corrizoso. There we found the Valley of Fires Natural Area. Now, this one fascinating geological formation. It’s an immense lava field that covered a huge valley with up to 65 feet of black lava. All kinds of beautiful plants grow in it, and some of the local wildlife has developed darker coloration to blend in with the lava.
Valley of Fires. These are the Malpais, or badlands.

A man amid the lava flow

Lots of these caves are collapsed lava tubes

These are the cool cactus that make holey sticks.

A 400-year-old juniper, not the kind that took over the land around our house.

A dead tree!

It's so pretty in an austere way

The park was really well designed, with all the campsites having great views. The staff was very friendly and helpful, too. The part I was most impressed with was the trail, which was completely wheelchair accessible and had a very informative brochure that went with it. We had a great time photographing the plants and rocks, and even some birds. I hope it you are ever near here that you stop here. I am so glad one of my Facebook friends recommended it to us!
Cool lava

What an intrepid sotol! It found a place to take root!

You can see exactly how the lava flowed.
On our way to Carizzoso, we stopped at the Three Rivers trading post near the petroglyphs. I just wanted a drink, but we ended up staying a long time. This place was packed with really GOOD Native American art and crafts. The owner knew everyone who did the art, too—she did beadwork and framed the paintings (some of which were spectacular). I ended up getting an inlaid bear ring and a turquoise ring, plus two nice baskets that were hand woven. I put our souvenir rocks in one, and will use the other for apples and such in Ursula—they won’t break! Lee got us some wind chimes made of horseshoes and a really cool knife with an obsidian blade.
Three Rivers Trading Post, which is apparently in a historic building.

So, after the Valley of Fires, we looked for a place to eat in Carizzoso. We found a café with friendly staff and free wireless, a thing I had missed so much (I still haven’t managed to download the Audubon app I bought in Las Cruces). This place had my favorite green chile sauce of the trip, and some delicious fried green chile strips I ordered on a whim. Glad I did! I am so glad we avoided chain restaurants and tried all these mom and pop places this week. It was a lot of fun.

We then fired up the Malibu for one last scenic visit, this time we left the black lava for our second visit to White Sands National Monument. It was much more crowded this time, but still eerily beautiful. The late afternoon sun cast lovely light on the sand formations. We were able to find a place where we could hike without people all over us, which made it better. It was fun to see kids sliding in the sand and doggies frolicking, though.
Sand waves plus shadows of plants.

It's just so ethereal!

Lee made a mark on the sand with his new sotol cane. Yep, two canes this trip, but he was a sturdy fellow!

This could hypnotize you!

These are the crystals that form when there is moisture. They break down to form the sand.

As it got later, things took on a golden tone.

I liked how the ripples made shadows. it was a good time of day to photograph them.

So cool how the colors change from cool to warm.

White girl in the white sand. Good thing I wore the brown hat!

We had thought we were having dinner with Jan and girls, but they had gone to Las Cruces for that Friday shopping thing people do. So instead we listened to music in the evening, thanks to Lee having figured a way to hook his iPad up to the new sound bar.  And oh yeah, we plugged in the Christmas lights, in that American "it's after Thanksgiving so it must be Christmas now" tradition.

Christmas RV.
Lessons Learned: There's touristy souvenirs and then there's art souvenirs. I am glad we found some good stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous photos and what fun finding the trading post with the art, and the chili strips cafe! I'm also happy to hear that the were wheelchair accessible. I'd like to go there someday. Collapsed lava tubes, no less. :-)