Over the mountains to Artesia NM
Mar 13, 2010
|Monday night was cold but no precipitation, so we took Highway 82 over the mountains to Artesia. The road climbs out of Alamogordo on a steep grade to Cloudcroft over 8,000 feet, in about 20 miles. There was lots of snow in Cloudcroft and they had plowed parking spots in-front of businesses and restaurants but not enough for a truck and trailer that is 60 foot long.
We continued on about 10 miles to Mayhill which had no snow and a very nice restaurant. The restaurant had been totally renovated and just opened on the previous Friday. We chatted with the new owners and totally enjoyed the moment in time.
One of the other customers was a very dour man. when he left, we learned that he was a Federal Census Taker (no wonder he's dour) and that he was the THIRD census taker that had surveyed this small village in two days!! Now, what's wrong with this picture? The owners also said the questions they had been asked were VERY intrusive and inappropriate. We think we may avoid that experience by our style of living right now.
Artesia and the surrounding area are different than what we have seen in the other areas of New Mexico. This area is called 'Little Texas' because it is more like Texas than New Mexico. There is serious agriculture along with oil wells. The area between Artesia and Roswell is considered the dairy capital of New Mexico. Artesia also shows signs of being more prosperous than other areas we have been.
We understand there are several billionaires that went to school here and they give every graduating high school student with a 2.5 GPA or higher a full ride scholarship to college. The high school football field looks like a pro stadium!
Wednesday we went north to Roswell to see UFOs (ha! ha!). We did not pay the price for the UFO International Museum because we heard it is mostly articles and newspaper clippings hanging on the walls. We did go to the gift shop to look around. We made a stop at the Visitor Center as we like to do in new towns and met a nice young lady that could talk faster than anyone we have heard! Judie commented to her on her style of speech and she felt complimented, as she was... She said there was a lot to tell people and most people don't like to spend much time there. She did give us information about a Germany prisoner of war camp that was here from 1943 to 1946.
There were about 4,600 prisoners in the POW camp here in Roswell. They did construction projects here and one of them was to build a rock lined canal through town. It appeared to be about 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep with sloping sides in the area we visited. The prisoners put an iron cross in one wall with different type and size of stones. The locals were so upset they covered it with concrete. The concrete has now washed off over the years and the iron cross is now in a park area (see photos). Many of those POW's returned here to live when they were released.
Thursday we went South to Carlsbad Caverns and the sites around Carlsbad. It was about a hour drive to the Caverns and we did some sight seeing on the way. We passed up Carlsbad for lunch thinking White City would have restaurants. That was a mistake. White City is a few gift shops, gas station, old motel and one place to eat. The restaurant had a counter to order your food and some tables to eat when they brought your order to you. The food was marginal but eatable.
We went on up the 6 miles from the highway to the visitor center. We decided to take the Big Room tour which is a self guided tour using a audio device that you used at specific points along the 1.5 mile walk around the Big Room. To get to the Big Room you take an elevator down 750 feet in 60 seconds (8 mph). The Big Room has lots of very interesting and large formations.
Unlike Kartchner Caverns, Carlsbad is very dry and is mostly dormant. It has only about 5% of the area that is still active. Carlsbad has the size but Kartchner was more active with wetter and more colorful formations.
We tried to go by and walk through the Living Desert Museum, but even though it is open until 5 pm, they close the gate for new visitors at 3:30 pm. We arrived there at 3:45 pm. With the wind blowing 20-25 mph we probably would not have enjoyed the walk outside in the wind.
Friday we stayed around the trailer to catch up on paper work, trip planning and cleaning. We washed the outside windows, did laundry and Ed did some consulting work. We are prepared to move on to Texas.