West New Mexico

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July 17th 2019
Published: July 18th 2019
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What a scenic drive we made today. Our choice of routes was spot on. We left our hotel at 7:45 and 74 degrees and pointed the car north. And the route took us from 74 degrees to 97 degrees and everywhere in between, because our elevation kept changing the entire way. It was a slightly ear-popping day. And I should add, a very rural day. We drove for hours through uninhabited areas with no gas stations (good thing we gassed up before leaving) and no rest stops, except for one that we happened on, buried in wooded area off the main road. That was quite a relief.

Our destination was Santa Fe, NM and we decided to take route 180 through the Gila National Forest. The drive began through gently rolling hills of pink and tan and orange , blanketed with yellow grass and dotted with sage and cactus…at one point there were so many cacti in one field, they looked like headstones in a cemetery. And again today, the cactus was in bloom everywhere, with tall shoots towering over the plants, displaying large white perfumed blooms whose aromas filled the air with sweetness. I have spend some time trying to identify these plants that are everywhere around this region and finally came up with yucca. Check out the photo. I don’t know much about flowers and plants, but I can add this one to my limited vocabulary.

As we drove on, the houses were few and far between. From time to time we would see a sign that would say “congested area” only to find that there were a handful of buildings and nothing more. We saw almost no other vehicles on the roadways and Steve kept wondering why the road existed and why it was in such good condition. For there were immense expanses of land with no visible inhabitants and which seemed to have no visible purpose. Yet they were all fenced in, so someone owns the land and perhaps, from time to time, cattle will graze there. We did see a few cows along the way, but not many.

The topography changed often as the elevations changed, from dry desert to lush valleys where rivers flow from time to time, as evidenced by the lush trees and the rutted crevices in the ground. You can always tell where the rivers flow just by looking for the trees. They stand out as dark green and following a path through the otherwise dry pastures.

Most of the day we had a mountain range to the east of us, off in the distance. Since the sun was usually behind them, photos were not good enough to post. I wished we could see some of these majestic giants in the afternoon, when the light turns warm, as the sun sets in the west.

A couple of times we drove through a small town. The one that comes to mind is Reserve, where, within a few hundred feet, you could eat at Ella’s Café, Shop at Jake’s General Merchandise, relax at Uncle Bill’s Bar, visit Black Gold Emporium and enjoy “Wacky Waffle Wednesday” at Adobe Doe’s Café and Bakery.

We did happen upon a crossroads around noon time that had a gas station/restaurant/store where we found relief from a long drive and made a purchase as a thank-you for using their facilities. Then, as we turned east, we stumbled upon a VLA. OK, so we are coming up the road and we see A LOT of complex satellite dishes in a field, all pointing up to the sky. What the heck was this? When I looked it up, the first article I found said it was a facility that was listening to the sky for extraterrestrial activity. Hmm. So I continued my research to discover that it is a facility run by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the facility is called a VLA, or Very Large Array. These dishes/antennas (there are 27 of them and they measure 82 meters in diameter) are all mounted on rail tracks and they are moved around and tilted in various positions in an effort to identify celestial objects, activity of black holes, and other things. But they admit that, if there was alien activity or communication, they would likely detect that, too. Sounds a little like Twilight Zone, to me.

We ended up at our hotel in Santa Fe around 4:30 this afternoon. We will be here for three days.

By the way, if you scroll down you will see more photos. If you click on a photo it will fill your screen.

Additional photos below
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18th July 2019

Wow, looks beautiful
Between your dialog and pictures, you certainly painted a lovely picture of this area. Glad your weather is beautiful and your scenery is spectacular.

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