Gila cliff dwellings, White Sands and Billy the Kid!

Published: August 27th 2012
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25th Aug ’12 Silver City to Deming, New Mexico

Today we drove to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings which were about 44 miles north of Silver City. The journey was on small winding roads which went through forests and gradually climbed up onto cliff tops before winding down into the valley again.

It was a beautiful but hot day and the countryside was really pretty. To get to the cliff dwellings you had to walk up a narrow valley alongside a stream and then climb 100s of steps up in the cliff side. Luckily there were bits of shade but by the time we got up to the caves it was such a relief to get out of the sun. It was very similar to Mesa Verde but on a smaller scale, with 5 main caves that had been lived in or used by the prehistoric Mogollon people and ‘others’. Unlike Mesa Verde you didn’t have to climb up long wooden ladders to get into them, the only ladder was an optional short one which we did take.

The views were great and the walk itself was only a mile round trip which even in the heat was ok.

From there we drove and drove to get to Deming, which was only a stop off point to break the journey to Roswell up.

26th Aug ’12 Deming to Roswell

Eeeeee I was excited! Going to Roswell at last! I had purchased a roll of tin foil so I could make an alien hat to mark the occasion, but I am saving it for our full day there.

So we set off driving across the high plains, with tall mountain ranges and miles of little stunted bushes on what looks like desert. Our route took us to Las Cruces from where it is not far to cross the border into Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, which made me feel slightly uneasy and I insisted on locking all the car doors – I have heard far too many horror stories about this border crossing!

Anyway no need to panic, it was all very quiet (perhaps as it is Sunday?) and we were soon heading away. We were driving through the White Sands Missile Range area and had to pass through a security check point before we could continue. We turned off at the White Sands National Monument and had a look around the visitors centre and watched a short film about the White Sands – they are white sand dunes that stretch for miles and miles made from gypsum. We took the road out into the dunes and stopped off to do a board walk, aaaarrrggghhhh the glare from the sun on the sand was incredible even with sun glasses on, Howard who couldn’t find his (no surprise there) ended up with streaming, squinting eyes and we quickly got back in the car! The road continued on looping into the dunes and we did get out again and climb one, white sand stretching on for ever with giant mountains in the background.

We carried on up to Alamogordo and then went across country through the Mescalero Apache Reservation lands, beautiful western countryside that ends by the Lincoln National Forest. We started noticing references to Billy the Kid and stopped at one of the information boards and found that the ‘town’ of Lincoln was only 10 miles off the main road. We had heard this was where Billy the Kid escaped from jail, but the board also stated this was the site of the notorious Lincoln County War started and the names mentioned read like a list of western films and tv series!, Kit Carson, Pat Garret, John Chisum and many more. So what could we do?........but go and have a look see for ourselves!

It really is beautiful country here, green hills, small ranches, cattle stations, trees just like in the movies ha ha. The town is tiny now, a village really and it was nearly 4pm by the time we got there, which meant a quick look in two of the museums as they shut at 4.30 which was a real shame. I didn’t even get to buy a Billy the Kid magnet as the shop was shut!

However we did look around the jail museum, where Billy the Kid escaped from and even got to see the bullet hole in the wall from the six shooter he used in his escape! We also looked in the Murphy-Dolan store museum which looked as if it had been frozen in time. All good stuff and I’m glad we made the detour, I just wish we had had longer to look around.

So now it was time to put westerns aside for the moment and concentrate on all things extra-terrestrial! We drove on…… I scanned the skies for signs of UFOs, but no such luck, all I could see were the usual billboards advertising a thousand and one motels!

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