M-A's Musings and Travels

A place where I can ponder and remember wonderful trips, camping excursions and hiking adventures.

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Name:Mari-Anne
Location:Whitefish, Montana

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Day 7 - Guadalupe Mountains, Texas

We are in virgin territory! I think we've been to the airport in Dallas-Ft. Worth (but didn't embark) before, but that doesn't count.

After leaving our campground in Gila NF, we passed through Deming and Las Cruces, NM, but not before stopping for lunch in Mesilla, a very old and interesting town south of Las Cruces. We had heard of a great Mexican restaurant in Mesilla from a friend of Dale's who spent some time in the Air Force in this area, way back when, and who bragged about the good food. However, that was years ago, and we didn't even know if it still existed, let alone how to find it. Never fear! It is now so famous that it has its own billboard, advertising its location. All we had to do was follow the signs to the famous Old Town Plaza in Mesilla. Only the exit we needed to take from the freeway was closed! This necessitated a bit of guesswork, but we found it. The parking place for the plaza even had a map, showing the exact location of our restaurant.

Walking to the restaurant was very warm. The temperature was in the 70:ies but it felt warmer. We had truly arrived in the American Southwest.

La Posta was really a treat! Not only was the food great (I had pork burritos and Dale had "some other sort" of burrito), the decor was also fascinating. It reminded us of a New Orleans court yard with lots of colorful plants attractively arranged, cobble stoned floor and exotic birds in huge cages. The food was so plentiful that I saved half my lunch in a doggy bag, which we then shared for dinner that night.

From Las Cruces and Mesilla we drove south on the I-10 freeway along countless stock yards with the accompanying smell. I have never experienced such an unpleasant smell for such a long stretch anywhere on a freeway before. Lining the freeway on the eastern side were equally countless pecan orchards, however, none of the trees were blooming yet.

I don't think Dale could get out of the El Paso area fast enough. Cars were zippin' by everywhere around us at neck-breaking speeds, and not knowing the area, the exits, etc., I know I wouldn't have been comfortable driving either.

The river Rio Grande separates the US and El Paso from Mexico and the town of Ciudad Juarez, both within spitting distance of each other. But how different in appearance! We were immediately struck by the incredible difference between the two cities - El Paso pretty much like any other large American city with residential sections, industrial sections, business sections, etc. and then Ciudad Juarez on the other side, incredibly poor and shabby looking. The houses, almost without exception, looked very run-down and barely inhabitable. Such a sad sight!!

After leaving El Paso, we had originally planned to go directly south to Big Bend National Park, the final destination of our trip, but instead, we drove east to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park since it was closer, and we figured we could still reach the park's only camp ground before the end of the day. Can you imagine! There was not a single public rest room between El Paso and the park! There were some picnic areas, but they all lacked one common commodity - a rest room! And nowwhere to hide in bushes along the highway either! We finally found a little store where the owner was watching a Cuba Gooding movie on a very small TV screen He gestured toward the back of the building where a questionable sign read "rest room." However, this long "reward" was occupied and I found myself "fighting" wfor the key with some latecomers who corned the prior occupant outside the building while I was waiting inside.

These were our first close up views of the Guadalupes, the highest mountains in Texas.


Guadalupe Peak Guadalupe Peak

And below is a photo of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park camp site. The information on the bulletin board warned of incredibly strong winds and for tenters to batten down the hatches or else they'd blow away. We can attest to the strength of the wind. It was impressive.

Guadalupe Peak

While reading during the afternoon, a fellow camper dropped by to ask if we had any insecticide. It seems he had picked up a swarm of killer bees during an eleven day stay at one place in Big Bend National Park. He left thinking the travel would get rid of them, however, he found they had built a nest under his trailer. He was still trying to get rid of them when we left the next day.

Here we are leaving the next morning with the sun just coming up and casting its glow on Guadalupe Peak.

Guadalupe Peak

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