We left Lajitas, TX and headed towards New Mexico. Along the way we pasted several interesting roadside surprises.
The first random roadside stop is a PRADA store in the middle of NOWHERE! Bizarre, right? It turns out it was an ART project, it’s not actually a store so no new purses for me. This building is in West Texas off of route 90 between Valentine and Marfa. It was an art project built in 2005 of biodegradable adobe-like substance is meant to melt back into Earth, but what about the real PRADA purses and shoes on display inside? It cost $80,000 (40 Prada handbags). As you can imagine, it has been vandalized and broken in to several times, but they keep replacing the merchandise.
The second picture we took, also on Texas 90, outside Marfa, TX ,after the Prada store. We had to google “White stationary blimp in Texas” to find out what it was. It is a semi-stationary blimp, tethered to a circular track (which we saw as we got closer we could see this). It is operated by the U.S. Air Force and is used as an aerostat radar balloon to detect low-flying aircraft coming across the border, presumably with illegal drugs.
Texas Route 90- Bizarre or cool?
The third interesting structure we saw was a giant red X outside of El Paso. It turns it that it was also an $80,000 art project. Who has this kind of money for art projects? There’s no 40% Micheals coupon for that! Anyway, it is actually located in Mexico and marks the spot in Juarez. (Indian Jones was wrong, X does mark the spot). Called La Equis, it stands 20 stories high, and symbolizes the blood spilled from the brutal Juarez drug wars.
Las Cruces, NM
Las Cruces (little crosses) is the second largest city in New Mexico. It is located an hour north of El Paso, TX. We stayed at Hacienda RV Park. They have a pool and nice paved roads for bike riding. Nice evergreen trees and half fences in between lots for privacy.
We chose to spend two weeks here because it is the closest place to stay to visit White Sands NP (an hour away), Chris needed an airport for work travel so we’d only be an hour away from the El Paso, TX airport and we were celebrating Thanksgiving.
This is pecan country. We were surrounded by pecan groves. These tree leaves actually change color in the fall so it added a pop of color to the desert scenery. We have missed the fall colors from back east. None of the orchids do public tours but we were lucky enough to drive by one when they were harvesting them and then drove back to the back of the farm and saw how rest of the process, all from the side of the road.
Francey (Chris’s mom) came out to visit us for Thanksgiving. This year was a bit different for sure. I usually host up to 15 people at my house for the holiday dinner and this year I couldn’t even cook at turkey for 5 people. We ordered our meal from Golden Corral and picked it up hot and ready Thursday. It was easy as pumpkin pie (yes, that was included in the order). Instead of spending all day in the kitchen cooking, we played Bocce ball and went to see the movie Wonder.
I despise Black Friday shopping. It stresses me out. Instead of being around a ton of crazy focused holiday shoppers we decided to go wide open spaces.
White Sands National Park really got us in the holiday spirit.
On the way to WSNP, there is an army post that is a missile testing range. On post there is a missile park and museum. It’s only a few minute detour that was well worth the stop. The Space Shuttle Columbia landed here in 1982, it houses a fully restored captured German V-2 rocket (which we, the US, used to launch us into the Space Age after WWII, and it is the test site for the first atomic bomb.
White Sands Missile Range
White Sands National Park
On to White Sands National Park. BTW- the Every Kid in a Park Pass is saving us so much money! It was free for 4th graders again this year and gets all of us in to National Parks and Monuments for free. This trip saved us $10 but Big Bend was $25… it all adds up!
White Sands is the largest gypsum dune field in the world! It covers 275 square miles. Gypsum is a chemical sedimentary rock and is used to make drywall, plaster of Paris and cement. The sand is the sediment remains of the rock that has broken down and trapped here in the basin. The sand here is different from beach sand because it is moist and cooler but it is as white as the Gulf of Mexico beach sand. The wind moves the sand and forms dunes that have shifted over thousands of years.
Grandma was here so that means a DATE for Chris and I! It was a beautiful day so we decided to go to the Organ Mountains -Desert Peaks National Monument for a hike and then go to dinner.
This area is managed by BLM and includes almost 500,000 acres. We chose to explore Dripping Springs Natural Area and trail. There are ruins from an old resort and sanatorium. The Butterfield stage coach ran through here. We enjoyed alone time to talk without interruption and hike a longer tougher hike without any complaining. It’s the little things!
I took the girls back to this park to hike a different trail that lead to a cool cave. We had a fantastic day of great weather, good exercise, outside classroom, impromptu 30 minute lesson from two park rangers hiking themselves. Life is good!
This tiny town is full of history. We had a girls day out and visited the old town mainly to learn the history of Billy the Kid. He was captured here and put in jail for 3 days until they tried to transfer him to the Lincoln Jail but he escaped in route.
We found a lovely 18th century restaurant called La Posta to have lunch. USA Today ranked it top 10 Mexican restaurant in America. It was one of the stations for the Butterfield stagecoach. It is very festive and fun. Inside we found an aviary and piranha tank. We loved it so much we went back for dinner with Chris later in the week.
NM Science and Nature museum and Prehistoric Trackways National Monument
We visited the NM nature and science museum in downtown Las Cruces and learned about the discovery of the Dimetrodon here in Las Cruces close to where we are staying. A Dimetrodon is a mammal-like reptile that live way BEFORE the dinosaurs. Naturally once we learned this we had to drive out and hike out to where it was discovered. The girls and I were seriously out in the middle of no where, no visitors center, no maintained trail, no people. We dropped a pin to let Chris know where we were and started hiking. We hike or an hour before I said we need to turn around because we hadn’t found what we were looking for. On the way back we found a small trail so we followed it. I love my little explorers. We looked for fossils along the way and think we found evidence of a few. As we were getting close to the end of our 2 1/2 hour trek we came over a ridge and found cows in our path. That was an unexpected surprise.
Francey brought her famous Magic Suitcase filled with gifts for all of us! We had tons of fun with that.
We found a place to drop off our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. We were so excited we found a Church in Las Cruces that still had a collection day!
The Walmart in Las Cruces is the best Walmart! The cleanest, most friendly and they have grocery pick up that was super easy and amazing. I wish all Walmart’s were like this.