Day 106 – New Mexico’s Scenic South, Monday, February 14, 2011
Outside of a few Valentine’s Day wishes from some friends and family, today was rather uneventful. I spent the morning traveling from Alpine to Las Cruces. This was a time when I wished I had my Z4! An open road, a posted speed limit of 80, and I’m putting along at 75, OUCH! I could go 80, but VANilla gets a little vibrating action going and gets a little noisy. I have to put the volume on my iPod on high just to hear it.
Tim suggested I visit Mesilla, just on the outskirts of Las Cruces, so Petey and I took a short walk around the town square. The smell of authentic Mexican food permeated the air from the famous restaurant, La Posta. My stomach grumbled, “stop in for cheese enchiladas”, my brain thought my stomach might be a little too sensitive for them and it prevailed.
One of the buildings on the square, now a gift shop, used to be the county courthouse, jail, and school. It was here that Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to hang on April 13, 1881. He was taken back to the courthouse in Lincoln where he escaped and later met his death at the hands of one of Dona Ana’s sheriffs, Pat Garrett.
After our brief visit to Mesilla, Petey and I hopped back in VANilla and headed north toward Ruidoso. We tried to make a stop at the Organ Mountain Recreation Area to see Dripping Springs Natural Area named for a cliffside that seeps water, but we were not successful in finding it. We found an area called Aguirre Springs in the vicinity, but it seemed confusing, so we carried on. I have been fighting either horrific allergies from the West Texas dust or a slight head cold, so that may have added to the complications and my lackadaisical attitude toward finding the area.
Our drive took us past White Sand Missile Range. A Nike Hercules Missile display towered beside the road as we climbed the pass. The Nike Hercules Missile stands 41 feet tall and is 31.5 inches in diameter. The missile weighs over 10,000 pounds and can reach speeds up in excess of 2,500 miles per hour. It can travel 75 miles and reach an altitude of almost 30 miles high. The missile was tested at the White Sand Missile Range from 1955 through 1967 and tasked with shooting down enemy aircraft and ballistic missiles. When the Nike Zeus system was designed, the Hercules missiles were used as targets!
After a brief stop at the missile display, Petey and I continued on in hopes of hiking in Lincoln National Forest. First, we stopped at the Tunnel Vista for a view of the mountains and the desert basin. We spent most of our time here dealing with an owner who was oblivious to her off leash dog. Normally, it wouldn’t bother me, but Petey takes a little time to warm up to other canines. I politely warned the woman who corralled Rosie only to let her slip away a few minutes later. Thankfully, she decided to get up from her nap on the overlook ledge, collect Rosie, and continue on her journey. I’m not sure I’d choose to nap between a ledge and a winding highway while letting my dog run loose nearby!
It seemed as though most of the Lincoln National Forest entrances around Cloudcroft were closed and the only one that was open was for cross-country ski trails which wasn’t too enticing to a Texan in tennis shoes. We just wound through the mountainous forest and pulled in for an early evening at the Wal-Mart in Ruidoso Downs. I’d have to categorize today as a “do-over”: a lot of driving and no hikes. Tomorrow is another day. ETB