Hatch, New Mexico: Chile Capital of the World With Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

If you love New Mexico cuisine or if you love chile peppers, Hatch, New Mexico is the place for you.

Hatch, New Mexico

I, Zeb the Duck, have visited Hatch a few times, so you will see photos from various trips.

Chiles everywhere

Hatch chiles are famous in most parts of the United States, and beyond.   After harvesting, the chiles are strung and become ristas.

Zeb with chile ristas

Here I am with so many fresh red chile ristas.    But red is not the only color.

Not only red chiles in these ristas.

These ristas have more than just red.   There are also ristas of green chiles, and ristas with red and green chiles.   In the fall, after harvest there are so many ristas and the aroma of fresh roasting chiles is everywhere.   Hatch, New Mexico, with population from the last census, of under 2,000 is the self proclaimed Chile Capital of the World.   On this road trip, Hatch was a necessary stop.   We stopped at Hot Stuff.

Hot Stuff Restaurant and Gift Shop

It is winter, although rather nice temperatures, so things are little different.

So many colorful pots

Look at all these pots.   We love these things.   So useful and so colorful.   Often they are out in front of the restaurant, but now being protected from any bad weather.   The restaurant is open and most people sit inside.

Eating out here is perfect in warmer weather

But in the summer, out here at these tables is the place to be.   Soapy’s mom bought green chili stew here.   Lots of pork and perfectly seasoned with Hatch green chile.   She will be back for more whenever she is in the area.   Next door, more chiles.

Hatch Chile Sales

Hatch Chile Sales was open.   So many more ristas and many bags of chiles.

More ristas with our Soapy

And more than chiles to eat.

Chile pepper wind chimes

How about chiles painted on wind chimes.   Again, Hatch is the place for chiles.   Now another place.

Sparky’s Burgers BBQ and Expresso

Sparky’s Burgers and BBQ.   Sparky’s always has a line, but it moves rather quickly.   But, Sparky’s is only open Thursday through Sunday, and we were there on Tuesday.   Sparky’s has many unusual and larger than life statues around the restaurant.   First an alien.

Alien

Many people believe an alien space ship landed in New Mexico many years ago, so aliens are a popular theme here.  But not only aliens.

Statue collection

Teako Nunn grew up in the 1960’s and loved the larger then life statues from that era.   And now he has several.  We loved the red and green chiles on the bucket ofKentucky Fried Chicken.  Teako Nunn and his wife, Josie, own and operate Sparky’s.   Next to Sparky’s we enjoyed seeing Uncle Sam.

Uncle Sam

With chile peppers, of course.   Chloe, Soapy’s dog, was really sorry we were here on a Tuesday.

Wonderful for dogs. But only open Thursday through Sunday.

She could have had her own 7 ounce burger patty.   Next trip will try to plan our time in Hatch better.   And you can be sure we will be back here again.   Hatch is a nice, friendly town with great chiles.   And fabulous food.    You will smile a lot when you visit Hatch, New Mexico.

Colorado Traveling Ducks at Fort Union, New Mexico

Another road trip.  Everybody is happy about road trips.   Our moms just decided to get in the car and drive, preferably south.   It is winter here in Colorado.  Let’s take a quick trip looking for warmer weather.  We are an unusual group this trip.   I, Zeb the Duck, Soapy Smith Duck, my mom, Soapy’s mom and Soapy’s dog Chloe.

Chloe. Soapy Smith Duck’s dog

Chloe is part Pit Bull, part Labrador, and probably has some Dalmatian.   Under her white fur, some black spots are on her skin.   This is Chloe’s first long road trip.   This will be her first time in a motel, first time in an elevator, and many more firsts.   Heading south from Denver on I-25, we enter New Mexico, and about 100 miles further this rest area caught our attention.

Fort Union National Monument

We are near Fort Union and this rest area is part of Fort Union National Monument.   The rest area has all the normal things, rest rooms, information maps and vending machines, but there is more.

Nice picnic area

Isn’t this a nice picnic area?  We liked the overhead cover.   Gives protection from snow, rain and the intense New Mexico sun.  Maybe we will stop here for a picnic on another trip.  We liked this wagon wheel.  Part of old American history.

Wagon wheel. Maybe from Santa Fe Trail travelers?

Santa Fe trail was here

The Santa Fe trail passed through here.   Can you imagine traveling across the desert and over mountains in a covered wagon?   It was still chilly and windy here, so we did not go Fort Union this time.   But mom and I have been here before, so I want to show you more about Fort Union.   I, Zeb the Duck, was very young and this was one of the first trips in my blogging career.   Mom, I, Zeb the Duck, and my Alaska uncle visited here in 2013.

Fort Union, NM with my Alaska uncle

The park rangers told us there were 3 separate forts built on this location.    The first was to protect the Santa Fe Trail, the second to establish a Federal presence in the territory, and the third Fort Union was a Union response to the Confederate invasion.   Those interested in our Civil War should visit here.

Ruins of Fort Union. Two previous forts were closer to mountains.

Also history of Santa Fe Trail.

Santa Fe Trail goes to Fort Union, NM

Ruts from wagons on the Santa Fe Trail are visible in the hard, dry ground.   The third Fort Union is the one most visited.

Adobe remains of officers quarters

This fort was a large supply facility for the southwest.   At one time about 5,000 soldiers lived here.   We were warned to stay on the paved walkway and to watch for rattlesnakes.   It was a sunny day.   Pleasant for us, but rattlesnakes also like sunshine.   We stayed on the path, read the signs, and did not see any snakes.   About those supplies:  In 1868, 44 tons of bacon were brought to Fort Union in 22 wagons.   That’s a lot of bacon.   Many other supplies were also delivered here.

Waiting for supplies

Fort Union had the premier hospital in the region with 6 wards and 36 beds.   You could get treatment and care for 50 cents per day!  Fort Union was abandoned in 1891.   Fort Union is easy to visit, just a rather short drive from I-25.  It is interesting.

Visit Fort Union National Monument

If you visit, watch the film at the Visitor’s Center, and don’t miss the gift shop.   More about our new road trip next time.

Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck Take a Road Trip to an Ice Cave and Volcano

Road trip!   We love road trips.   I, Zeb the Duck and Soapy Smith Duck are in the car, waiting for our moms.   Like many road trips, there is no rigid schedule.   We are not sure where we are going or when we will return.   Heading in the general direction of the Grand Canyon, but wanting to see things much different also, from Denver we head south on I-25.   Along the way we see several pronghorn, or American antelope.

Pronghorn or American antelope

We often just call these animals antelope.   They are the second fastest animal in the world, behind the cheetah.   Of course, they are the fastest animal in North America.   These animals appear so delicate and graceful.   We love them.   In Albuquerque we leave I-25, heading west on I-40.   This is still rather high in elevation and somewhat mountainous, so the heat is not a problem.   We are near Grants, New Mexico.   Let’s go to the ice cave.   We were here in March 2016, but we want to see it again.  The ice cave is located on the Continental Divide.

Inside we pay our fee, get our map and look at the museum stuff.

There are several dormant volcanos in this area of New Mexico, and the ice cave is inside a partially collapsed  lava tube.   As we walk to the cave, we admire this old, twisted tree.

Ducks sitting on twisted tree with old lava behind and to the right.

And we rest for a moment here.   Ducks have short legs you know.   Last year we showed you some of the things along the way, so we won’t repeat it.   Now, down 70 stairs to the ice cave.

Down the stairs to the ice cave.  And still more stairs!

Photos are difficult here for mom, but this ice is deep and old.

This is really old ice

The temperature dropped as we reached the bottom of the stairs.   There are two levels to see the ice, probably less than 10 feet apart, but the lower level is much colder.   This ice is about 20 feet deep.   The blue-green tint is from the natural Arctic algae.  The oldest ice is on the bottom, and is from 1100 A.D.  That is old!  New ice is added each year from rain and melting snow.   We love icicles.

Permanent icicles

Especially in the summer.   I don’t remember this sign from last year, but it explains a little about the ice never melting.   The temperature here on the ice never gets above freezing.

Inside a lava tube this ice does not melt

The lava tube is partially collapsed, so we can see outside.   We like this place.   If we are in the area again, we will probably stop again.   March 2016 was colder and windy when we were here, so we did not hike to the top of Bandera Volcano.   But today is nicer, so up the hill we go. We pass this lava formation.

Lava Arch

Continue climbing on the path, we reach the top of Bandera Volcano.

At the top looking into Banderas Volcano

The elevation here is 8,122 feet.   This volcano erupted about 10,000 years ago.   The crater is well preserved.

Looking into Banderas Volcano

It is about 1,400 feet wide and 800 feet deep.   This is considered a fragile environment as rocks and other items slide into the crater.   On mom’s phone it indicates we climbed 18 flights of stairs to reach the top of the volcano.   The path was gentle so we enjoyed the climb.   Back down near the tourist store, I liked this cactus growing by the old shed.

Cactus near old shed

And look at this gas pump.

Old gas pump. They sure look different now.

Today’s gas stations and gas pumps certainly look different.   This is great place to hike and see different things.   For more information visit http://www.IceCaves.com  We think you would enjoy stopping here when you are in the area.  We continue driving west on I-40.   Stay with us to see where we stop next.

 

 

 

An Ice Cave in New Mexico with Zeb, Soapy Smith and JB Duck

We are going inside a 10,000 year old lava tube to see an ice cave.   Wow!   We have never done anything like this.   Grants, New Mexico is a few miles south of I-40, and home to the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano.

Here we are at the entrance to the ice cave and Bandera volcano.

Here we are at the entrance to the ice cave and Bandera volcano.

We are in the West Central Zuni Mountain Range, on the continental divide.   First we stop at the Ice Cave Trading Post.

The Ice Cave Trading Post

The Ice Cave Trading Post

This is a combination museum, gift shop, information station and where we pay and register to visit the ice cave.   The artifacts and ancient pottery on display are 800-1,200 year old.   This is privately owned property, so we are happy they let tourists visit the ice cave.   The Bandera Volcano erupted about 10,000 years ago, creating lava tubes, leaving volcanic rock and making conditions right for the ice cave.   We are following an ancient lava trail to the ice cave.   This lava rock was tossed all over the ground.

Scattered lava rocks

Scattered lava rocks

Along the way, we are enthralled by these ancient twisted trees.

Ancient twisted tree

Ancient twisted tree

This hole in the ground, insulated by lava rock, served as a natural underground refrigerator, before electricity was available here.

Natural underground refrigerator

Natural underground refrigerator

The native American Indians occupied this land for years.   This cave entrance in the back of the photo, is really an entrance to a lava tube.

Native American Indians used the lava tube like a cave.

Native American Indians used the lava tube like a cave.

Continuing along the lava trail, we go down 3 flights of open stairs for a total of 69 steps.   We are going into the partially destroyed lava tube.

Lave tube with top collapsed. Stair railing on the left

Lave tube with top collapsed. Stair railing on the left

We will never be completely underground and in the dark, as the top of the lava tube is partially collapsed.   We are almost at the ice cave.   This sign explains what we are seeing.   The temperature on the ice never exceeds 31 degrees F.

Why does it stay frozen?

Why does it stay frozen?

And it gets hot here in the New Mexico desert during the summer.   This is the ice of the ice cave.

Ice is very old and never gets above freezing.

Ice is very old and never gets above freezing.

We are here, but mom could not get good photos of us and the ice.

Soapy and JB Duck at the Ice Cave

Soapy and JB Duck at the Ice Cave

The ice shows blue and green colors, reflected from the sun.

Colors reflect on ice and on rocks

Colors reflect on ice and on rocks

This is the first time we were in a lava tube and this is our first ice cave.   Leaving the ice cave, we appreciated the red bark on these trees.

Love the red bark on this tree

Love the red bark on this tree

We hope you will visit an ice cave soon.   It is really interesting to see.   When you come here, you can also walk to the top of the volcano.   It was very windy when we were there and we have seen volcanos, so we did not walk to the top this time.   Maybe next time if it is not so windy.   This is the last stop on our desert road trip.   We really enjoyed all the places we visited and the things we saw.   We hope  you also enjoyed seeing this part of the United States with us.

Roswell, New Mexico

Zeb, the Duck here.  Mom and I went to Roswell, New Mexico.  Roswell is a nice town, pretty far from everything but mom did not tell me everything.  There might be aliens in Roswell.

Many people in Roswell believe that the morning of July 4, 1947 one or more alien spacecraft crashed here near Roswell.  It was a rainy morning, so visibility was low.  Many people believe one or more UFOs crashed that morning and that some aliens died in the crash.

Aliens

Aliens

The United States government removed the debris and the official story was that one or more weather balloons crashed.  To this day, there is no agreement about what happened in July 1947.  As a duck, I have no idea what happened, but I believe everything is possible.

In Roswell we toured the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

International UFO Museum and Research Center

International UFO Museum and Research Center

I liked the museum.  There was a lot of material to read and also a display of aliens with lights that flashed.  I, Zeb the Duck like to see different things and this museum had different things.

Aliens?

Aliens?

In one room mom found this statement from a former United States astronaut.  He seems pretty sure that UFOs did crash in Roswell.

Did UFOs crash in 1947?

Did UFOs crash in 1947?

Visit www.roswellufomuseum.com for more information about this museum.

Many businesses in Roswell have signs and merchandise relating to UFOs.  Even McDonald’s has a green alien on their sign.

McDonald's and aliens

McDonald’s and aliens

I like the idea of aliens visiting Roswell.

Even though a big part of Roswell’s identity involves aliens, I want to be sure that you know Roswell is a real town with schools, hospitals, theaters, parks and all the things other cities have.  I hope you visit Roswell and tell me what you think about the aliens.  Were they there?  Are they still there?  What do you think, or do you even care about an event 66 years ago?  I love to hear from humans.

Roswell is on highway 285 about 100 miles north of the Texas state line.  For more information visit www.seeroswell.com

Capulin Volcano National Monument

A dormant volcano?  Wow!  I, Zeb the duck, was in a dormant volcano in New Mexico.  Mom and I visited Capulin Volcano National Monument in northeastern New Mexico.

Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

President Wilson declared Capulin Volcano a National Monument in 1916.

Capulin Volcano erupted 60,000 years ago.  Mammoths roamed these plains in those days.  The eruption of this volcano defines the landscape of northeastern New Mexico.  The flat-topped mesas are ancient lava flows.  The mountains are cinder cones, shield volcanoes, tuff rings and volcanic domes.

Landscape defined by volcanic eruption

Landscape defined by volcanic eruption

I learned so much reading the signs at the monument.

Mom and I drove to the top of the volcano and hiked part of the Crater Rim Trail.  The trail is about one mile long and the views of the volcano are great.  We hiked into the volcano also.

Capulin Volcano, New Mexico

Capulin Volcano, New Mexico

Homer Farr was custodian of the volcano for 32 years.  This sign explains many things he did for the national monument.  Sounds like a lot of work; he must have been very dedicated.

Homer Farr

Homer Farr

Of course, the main attraction here is the dormant volcano, but there are many wild animals here also.  Black bear and cougars hunt within the parks boundaries.  Many mule deer live here and some antelope and elk pass through the park.  Desert plants such as cacti grow here since the annual rainfall is about 15 inches.

Cactus in dormant volcano

Cactus in dormant volcano

The solidago capulinensis is a species of Goldenrod that cannot be found growing wild anywhere but the slopes of Capulin Volcano.

Capulin Volcano is the meeting place for the prairies of the Great Plains and the forests of the Rocky Mountains making it home to the state grass of New Mexico, Blue Grama grass and the state tree, the pinon pine.

Some safety walls are built from lava rock and cement.

Zeb the duck on lava and cement wall

Zeb the duck on lava and cement wall

At the Visitors Center I sat on this huge piece of lava rock.

Zeb the duck on lava rock at Visitors Center

Zeb the duck on lava rock at Visitors Center

Capulin Volcano National Monument is about 30 miles east of Raton, New Mexico or 58 miles west of Clayton, New Mexico on US 64 and 87.  I liked the volcano and I think you would too.  The geology is interesting and the hiking and views are wonderful.  For more information, visit www.nps.gov/cavo

Fort Union National Monument

I, Zeb the Duck, visited an old fort.  I went with mom and my Alaska uncle.  Located in New Mexico, Fort Union is well marked and a fascinating place.

Fort Union, NM with my Alaska uncle

Fort Union, NM with my Alaska uncle

The park rangers told us there were 3 separate forts built on this location.  The adobe ruins of the last fort and the accompanying information signs showed the officers areas, the supply areas, the animal areas and so much more.

The first Fort Union was to protect the Santa Fe Trail.  The second was to establish a Federal presence in the territory.  The third Fort Union was a Union response to the Confederate invasion.  Everyone that is interested in Civil War history should visit Fort Union.

Ruins of Fort Union.  Two previous forts were closer to mountains.

Ruins of Fort Union. Two previous forts were closer to mountains.

The Santa Fe Trail went to Fort Union.

Santa Fe Trail goes to Fort Union, NM

Santa Fe Trail goes to Fort Union, NM

We saw the ruts from the wagon traffic.  This third fort was a large supply facility for the southwest.  At one time about 5,000 soldiers lived here.

We saw the adobe ruins as we followed the trail and read the informational signs.

Adobe remains of officers quarters

Adobe remains of officers quarters

We were warned to stay on the paved walkway and to watch for rattlesnakes.  It was a sunny day.  Guess that is good for us but the snakes also like the sunshine.  We did watch but did not see any snakes.

The National Park Service tells us some amazing facts.  As I said, Fort Union provided supplies to many establishments in the southwest.  In 1868, 44 tons of bacon was brought to Fort Union in 22 wagons.  That’s a lot of bacon!

Waiting for supplies

Waiting for supplies

Also, Fort Union had the premier hospital in the region with 6 wards and 36 beds.  You could get treatment and care for 50 cents per day!

Fort Union is located in Watrous, New Mexico, on I-25.  The National Monument is about 20 miles north of Las Vegas, New Mexico and about 100 miles south of the Colorado state line.  The exit is well marked and Fort Union is easy to find.  Visit it and you will have a couple enjoyable hours.  The area has so much vacant land that I could imagine living here 150 years ago.

Visit Fort Union National Monument

Visit Fort Union National Monument

When you visit Fort Union National Monument I hope you watch the film at the Visitors Center.  And don’t miss the gift shop.   For more information visit www.nps.gov