Las Cruces and White Sands
Feb 6, 2019
|Las Cruces NM was the next stop on our cross country tour. Interestingly, we didn’t know anyone here and really didn’t have a “purpose” for visiting. It just looked like a good place to stop and celebrate Cathys birthday. It turned out to be a remarkable visit.
We parked the RV at the Hacienda RV resort. Normally anything with resort in the name we pass on, however the location was perfect. It was near the historic town of Mesilla, which was on our list of places to see. Per our normal operating practice, we found a local brewery, High Desert Brewing. Local craft breweries are our go to place to check with the locals on the their go to places. The bartenders made some suggestions including the best Mexican cuisine in town.
We started our hiking with a rolling loop trail around A mountain. It is actually Tortuga mountain but more widely know for the huge A painted near the summit. The trail had nice views of the Organ Mountain range and Las Cruces. After the hike, we finally saw Bohemian Rhapsody. Great movie even if your not a fan of Queen.
Mesilla is a historic town with small shops and a farmers market. It’s also the home to Andeles Dog House. This is the Mexican restaurant recommended by the bartenders. It was a hit! Endless fresh made chips at the salsa bar! The fresh pico de gallo was the best.
At Sunday Mass our celebrant was Fr. Tony from Jacksonville FL! He is 87 years old, has kids older than Cathy and I, has been a priest for 25 years and travels the country preaching about his mission work with Food for the Poor. Very interesting view of life!! After Mass, we found Beck’s Coffeehouse. Another recommendation from the bartenders. It was one of the best cups of coffee on this trip. Our baristas were local college students. We had a great conversation with them. They recommended a nearby hike and we headed in that direction.
The Soledad trail is a 5 mile trail through a canyon in the Organ Mountain range. There was a waterfall at the end of the trail with falling water. A rare sight in the High Desert. The water was immediately soaked underground explaining why the canyon was dry.
To celebrate the reopening of our government, Cathy and I spent a day at White Sands National Monument. The monument was closed during the shutdown and we were happy to have the opportunity to experience such a unique place. The longest marked trail is the Alkali Loop Trail. At certain points on the trail you can only see mounds of white gypsum in every direction. The hike was challenging because the “sand” can be loose or packed. The wind constantly moves the sand so it can look different from year to year. The neatest thing is the adaptation of plants to this yearly change. The major draw of the monument is sledding down the mounds. But just like sledding on snow, you have to climb back up to the top! Unfortunately we found the sleds 10 minutes before the Monument closed.
We also fulfilled on a promise to each other to dedicate time and talent to a charity. We spent two mornings at the El Caldito soup kitchen. Each day different community groups commit to prepare lunch for anyone who walks through their door. The first day we joined with a committed group from St. James Episcopal church. The second day, we assisted with a group of local hikers. Each day over 150 people were served. Without exception, everyone was appreciative and thankful as they passed by our serving stations. We were grateful to serve and met some wonderful people.
After El Caldito, we headed for Organ Mountain National Monument for a hike. The Organ Mountain range towers to the east of Las Cruces. It is an impressive range that illuminates at sunset in spectacular splendor. The local hikers suggested the Pine Tree loop trail. We found the trailhead and decided to hike the loop clockwise. This is one of our favorite hiking trail so far. It was a moderately strenuous 5 miler with a 1600 foot elevation gain. The vistas were incredible. There were pockets of snow and ice in the pinnacles. We saw a frozen waterfall and prickly pear cactus at the same time. To our east was White Sands Missile Range. We could also see the white sand of the national monument 20 miles away.
Our next stop is near Truth or Consequences NM, more to follow on how they got a name like that for a small city in New Mexico.