October 1, 2012
Today we had a change of plans. Dad is the map-reader and trip planner. As I was cooking dinner last night, Dad was studying the road map. He called Craig and I over to the table and went over today’s route. He suggested a change of plans. He wanted to go to Alamogordo and the White Sands National Monument. We both jumped at the chance to see more of New Mexico. Maps were consulted, plans were made, and we are headed in a new direction.
We left at what was thought to be our earliest time of departure: 8:38. Again, Craig made breakfast while I got ready. As we suffered another time change yesterday, this one worked a little more to our advantage. We crossed over into Mountain Time, and so we gained an hour.
Heading out this morning, we went back into Roswell to catch Hwy 70, and find a post office where I could mail postcards to the kids. Again, more drama with directions/parking/etc. Just know that there are some people in this motorhome who say they are interested in stopping, but really, they aren’t. And, yet again, no matter. The postcards are mailed, and I wasn’t left on the street corner in Roswell, New Mexico.
The drive today was more travel through very remote and sparsely populated country. I know I say this every day, but it is just beautiful. Highway 70 took us through the Apache Indian Reservation. We saw adobe brick buildings, haciendas, LOTS of buzzards, cactus (several varieties – I am kicking myself for forgetting my beloved tree book, Sunset Western Garden Book, and my bird book. “You can’t tell the players without a program,” and inquiring minds (like mine) want to know EXACTLY what trees and plants are growing. I look when we make our infrequent stops, but these things aren’t available in grocery stores.
As we headed into Alamogordo, we spotted a pistachio orchard and gift shop. We stopped, shopped, and then I asked about tamales. Fresh tamales, the kind that is not mass-produced. The wonderful woman went into the back and asked her staff where to send us. She suggested “Maria’s,” on 10thStreet in downtown Alamogordo. She said, “This is the real thing. She is a Mexican woman who makes them herself.” She was so right. We went to her restaurant, ordered lunch to go and 6 tamales – 3 green and 3 red.
Our lunch consisted of a giant burrito for Craig, and Dad and I split an order of enchiladas. Fabulous food. Or maybe I should say, Craig and I loved what we ate. Dad didn’t. Truly, the only ethnic food that he will happily eat is German. Although I, too, am German, I don’t cook the native food. It is one of my downfalls as a daughter. We head to Portland and go to the Rhinelander or Gustav’s when we want German food.
For me, this section of the town, (actually, the only part of town I visited) was a food vortex with Maria’s on one side of the street and a local grocery store on the other that made fresh tortillas. I ran across and picked up a bag of flour tortillas and a bag of corn tortillas and some cilantro. I plan to eat as much locally influenced food as I can while I am in the southwest. I’ll figure out something else to feed Dad. I need to keep everyone happy…..and fed. Prior to my shopping adventure, Craig had taken himself and bought a 6-pack of Pecan Beer. Pecan’s are grown in this region, and why not make beer out of them? It was actually pretty good.
White Sands National Monument is really something out of this world. It is miles of white sand and very little vegetation. We drove around on the road through the Monument and got out and walked around on the sandy dunes. It was warm, but not too hot. I was concerned about Dad and his long-sleeved shirt. I couldn’t convince him to change into short sleeves, so we cranked up the air conditioning when we got back in the Hag, and I fed him water.
The second highlight of the day was being stopped at the border patrol north of Las Cruces, NM. Everyone had to stop. We pulled up to the station, the guard asked us how many were on board and if we were all US citizens. We had speculated as to whether or not we would be boarded, but no, we were waved on through. Too white and middle-aged, I guess. It was all the more sobering, after today’s news of the death of a border patrol agent.
We spent the night in a campground in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. It was advertised as having a “magnificent view overlooking the city.” It was all of that. We watched the moon rise out of the front window. Beautiful, full moon – city lights – and a wonderful tamale dinner. Nirvana.
Miles driven: 300
Today’s Gas price: $3.499