New Mexico Museum of Space History with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Let’s go to the space museum.   We ducks are interested in many things, with aviation and space travel near the top.   Today we are visiting the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

New Mexico Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, New Mexico

Before we even enter the building, we see many exhibits outside.

German Air Force Tornado 45 + 11

This is a German Air Force Tornado 45 + 11.  These planes were at nearby Holloman Air Force Base from July 2, 1999 through June 10, 2009.   One of its primary missions was precision strikes against ground targets.   This plane is highly serviceable due to its automatic terrain-following and electronic counter-measure systems.   That’s what the sign said.   We followed the sign to the Gravesite of HAM.

HAM, world’s first AstroChimp. Final resting place.

HAM was the world’s first Astrochimp.   He was the first chimp to visit outer space, on Jan 3, 1961.   He completed all his tasks on his mission.   He flew at 5800 mph, reaching an altitude of 155 miles.   During is 16 minute mission he experienced 7 minutes of weightlessness.   Inside the museum, we saw his space suit.

xico,  Chimpanzee Restraint Suit for HAM the Chimp

Actually called a restraint suit.   Also, we saw the Mercury Primate Capsule.

Mercury primate Capsule for HAM the Chimp

This was his protection while he was strapped in for his flight.   After his flight, HAM lived at National Zoo in Washington, DC until 1979.   Then he moved to North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC until he died January 19, 1983.   His remains were brought here to New Mexico.   We don’t usually do this, but I want to show you a photo from Grand Bahama Island from mom’s visit in 2011.   That was before I, Zeb the Duck, was even born.

Grand Bahama, The Bahamas, near 1961 splash down sites

On Grand Bahama Island, SE of Florida, the East End Missile Base Library salutes the Mercury 7 Space Pioneers.   The splash down area for early US space flights was very close to this location.   HAM was the first in space January 3, 1961.   Alan B. Shepard, Jr. was the second on May 5, 1961.   Shepard was the first American human in space.   Later, in 1971, he also walked on the moon.   Gus Grissom was the second American human in space, flying July 21, 1961.   All flew separately, and all were successful.   There was so much to see outside the museum.

X-7A Test Vehicle

This is a X-7A Test Vehicle.   It was used to develop a ramjet engine for anti-aircraft missiles.   As a test vehicle it was meant to be reused, so it was covered by parachute.  Also we saw this Air Force Plane.

Air Force Plane

And a capsule used in the space program.

Capsule from space missions

Inside the museum, there were many exhibits and many hands on activities.   We will just show you a few things.   Moon Rocks.

Moon rocks

These moon rocks were brought back by Apollo 17 astronaut, Harrison Schmitt in December 1972.   These rocks are believed to be 3.7 billion years old.   If you were alive in 1969, you probably saw this on TV.

Set for TV coverage of first lunar landing

This is the replica of the moon hung behind Walter Cronkite during the CBS TV coverage of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.   On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong landed Apollo lunar module Eagle on the moon.   This was the first ever moon landing.   July 21, 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon.   Buzz Aldrin joined him on the moon.   They walked on the moon for about 2 hours and 15 minutes that day.  They gathered rocks and sent many pictures back to earth.   Here is an early space suit.

Early space suit

Those suits look bulky and very uncomfortable.   But they did protect the astronauts.   The suits are getting more streamlines, as you can see here.   Old suit on one leg, newer suit on other leg.  This is an Apollo fuel cell.

Apollo Fuel Cell

We ducks don’t really understand everything about this space stuff, but we enjoyed seeing everything.   Back outside (we had to leave because the museum was closing for the day), we visited this memorial.

Memorial to those who perished in US Space Program

The United States has suffered three deadly accidents in the space program.   This monument is a memorial to those that perished.   Each disaster has a plaque.

First disaster

 

Second disaster   

 

Third disaster

We hope you will visit the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  We found it interesting and believe you will also.

McGinn’s Pistachio Farm and Vineyard

We love pistachio nuts.   We love the green color, and we love the taste.   In Alamogordo, New Mexico, we visited McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch and Winery.

McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch

But, are pistachio nuts really 30 feet tall?

World’s largest pistachio

This is the world’s largest pistachio nut.   It is 30 feet tall, made from 5 yards of concrete and then colored with 35 gallons of paint.   When the founder, Mr McGinn, died, his heirs had this pistachio nut created.   They remember as kids they would travel around the country with him, always stopping for these oversized, roadside attractions.   We ducks have seen a lot of these attractions also, and we always are amazed by what we find.    But, back to Alamogordo and this pistachio farm.   The building is huge, housing equipment, gift shop, small cafe and lots of storage.

Large building

PistachioLand is the name, but there are also vineyards here.   Our first activity was a tour of the farm.

Tour bus. Soapy’s dog Chloe went on bus with us.

These ladies were so friendly and so smart.   Our moms were the only humans on this tour, so Soapy’s dog, Chloe, was also allowed to go with us.   First we saw the vineyards.

Vineyards

Seven types of grapes are grown here and they press the grapes and produce their own brand of wine.   Continuing, we saw acres of pistachio trees.

Pistachio trees

You may notice the irrigation hoses on the ground.   Remember, southern New Mexico is mostly desert.   These pistachio trees are grafted.   There is a university in California that has trees that do well in this climate.   Pistachio trees are grafted onto these trees, creating hardy Pistachio trees that thrive in the desert of New Mexico.   After our enjoyable tour, we headed towards the gift shop.

We like gift shops and love ice cream

We see that ice cream cone.   Near the entrance, we stopped at the Koi fish pool.

Koi pond

We love water and we love watching the fish.   We ducks are sitting here with the sheriff.

Ducks with sheriff

He is telling us stories.   At the end of the long porch is a patch of cement.

The notorious of the American Old West

This cement has names of some of the notorious people from the early days of “The Wild West.”

Ducks on wine barrels

Adding to the rustic atmosphere, we are sitting on wine barrels, under the sign for the Saloon and Hotel.   Inside the gift shop, we found normal souvenirs of t-shirts, post cards, refrigerator magnets, and many fascinating items.   Also a nice collection of regional cookbooks, many flavors of salsa and sauces, and wines.   There was a sampling table of candy, most with pistachios.   We especially liked the pistachio brittle.   Soapy’s mom liked the chili pistachio candies also.   Another section had old signs and this 1940 Ford.

1940 Ford

We like this gift shop and we really liked all the people we met.   But, now it was time for the serious stuff.   Remember the ice cream.   We didn’t want sandwiches or any other food, just ice cream.   Each human got 2 scoops of ice cream (huge scoops) in a waffle cone.   Mom had some with pistachios.   Soapy’s mom had some with chocolate.   We went outside so Chloe, our dog, could join us.

Nice area to sit with Soapy’s dog Chloe and eat ice cream

The ice cream was delicious.   We had a great time here at McGinn’s pistachio farm.   When you are near Alamogordo, we hope you will stop.   The tour was good, the atmosphere fun, the gift shop incredible and the samples are tasty.   The ice cream was a bonus and a reason to stop here on a warm day.   Next time we are in Alamogordo, we will stop here.   Maybe we will see you.

White Sands National Monument with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are going to White Sands National Monument today.

White Sands National Monument Visitor’s Center

And there is so much white sand there!    If you start digging at the shallow part, you will still be digging sand for more than 30 feet.   A sign said there is enough sand to fill 45 million boxcars.   That makes a train long enough to circle the earth, at the equator, 25 times.  That is a lot of sand!  White Sands National Monument is near Alamogordo, in southern New Mexico and is surrounded by White Sands Missile Range.   Sometimes this monument is closed during missile range tests.   White Sands Missile Range is also an interesting place.   The first atomic bomb test was here, at Trinity Site, July 16, 1945.   There is also a fascinating free museum at White Sands Missile Range.   But, today we are talking about a lot of white sand.   After the Visitor’s Center, we walked to the gift shop.   Isn’t this a pretty court yard between the Visitor’s Center and Gift Shop?

In courtyard between museum and store

Our mission in the gift shop was sleds.   Yes, we bought 2 sleds and wax sticks for each sled.   We can sled on the sand dunes.   Sleds and wax tucked into our car and we followed Dunes Drive until we found our perfect dune for sledding.

We are ready to sled

Here we are, ready to enjoy sledding on the sand dunes.

Dunes look pretty big from this sled

Well, these dunes really look big from here.   Remember, we are small rubber ducks.   Maybe we should let the humans try this first.   Soapy’s mom was the first to go.   She survived and said it was great.

Mom coming down sand dune

Here comes my mom sledding down the dunes.   We ducks went also.   Fortunately it was not crowded today.   Another family was sledding down a nearby dunes.   All the humans were all laughing and having a great time.   This white sand is primarily from gypsum.   This sand is fairly rare because gypsum dissolves in water, but there is no water here.

So much white sand

 

The sand is very white and beautiful.   A quite a bright reflection when the sun is at its brightest.   There are several picnic areas.   These picnic tables are great.

Picnic area

The covering protects from the sun and also the wind.   Nobody wants blowing sand in a picnic lunch.   But here I, Zeb the Duck, am sitting on the sand.   Those ripples are caused by wind, so be careful if a storm is coming.   But we do like to see mountains behind the sand.   There was another sign reminding us that from the space shuttle, the only white features visible are snow on mountain tops and this white sand.   At 275 square miles of white sand in the Tularosa Basin, this is the world’s largest gypsum dune field.   Much of southern New Mexico is desert, so you can guess that many desert animals live here at the sand dunes.   This one, the Bleached Earless Lizard, was the most fascinating to us.

Didn’t see this animal

We did not see the lizard, but he many have seen us.  We loved our time at White Sands National Monument.   We hope you visit soon.   We think you will have as much fun as we did.   And in the Visitor’s Center we learned so much about this whole area.   New Mexico is great!

Colorado Traveling Ducks Find an Automated Toilet

Walking across the International Bridge from Juarez, Mexico into El Paso, Texas, we immediately encountered these automated toilets.

Automated toilets

Most directions are in English, Spanish and Braille, for the blind.  This is our first post about a toilet, but this is something you all have to see.   First press the open button on the outside of the toilet building.   Enter the bathroom, and then press the button to close.

Push button to open and close door

This also locks the door, preventing unwanted visitors.   Just remember this is the same button you will later press to leave the rest room.    Next, if wanted, press this button to lower the toilet seat.

Ladies like toilet seat down

This is important as ladies like the seat down, and a previous occupant may have been a male that needed the seat  up.   When needed, press this button.

Push button for toilet paper

Toilet paper will be dispensed for you.   Now you are finished, but there is no button to flush.   What to do?

Will flush after washing hands

No problem.   After washing your hands, the toilet will flush for you.   To wash your hands, hold them under the writing.

Wash and dry hands here

First to get soap on your hands.   Then move to get water.   Then hands further to the right for hand drying.   Everything is very automated.   All you ever need to touch is buttons.   Remember, the button to exit is the same button you used to lock the door.   Walk out.

After a few seconds door will automatically close

The door will close in a few seconds.   This is the most automated bathroom we have ever seen.   However, there must be more of them around in the US and the rest of the world.   Anybody know of any?

Juarez, Mexico with Colorado Traveling Ducks and Chloe

After leaving Palomas, Mexico, we drove across the desert, along the US-Mexico border.   The sky was dark, very few vehicles on the road, but we enjoyed the night drive.   Many times the only lights visible were from the old international border wall.  After a little more than one hour, we arrived in El Paso, Texas.   Checked into our rooms, spending a couple days in El Paso.   Walking in El Paso, our humans wanted to walk across one of the international bridges.   We went into the customs area to see if we could take Soapy Smith Duck’s dog Chloe into Mexico, and then back into the US.  We did not have Chloe’s record of shots, but we did have her rabies tag.   After seeing Chloe, talking to the humans, checking passports, Chloe was allowed into Mexico and was assured we could bring her back. We would definitely return before these border agents were finished woking for the day.

International bridge between El Paso, Texas, USA and Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Soapy Smith Duck’s mom and dog, Chloe, ready to cross into Mexico.   This is the second day in Mexico for Zeb and Soapy.   But this Chloe’s first international trip.   After walking across one of the three international bridges between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, this was our first view of Juarez.

Walking into Juarez

Not a busy street at the moment.   Many people were interested in Chloe.   She is a pretty dog.   Some wanted to pet her and some were afraid of her.   Our moms watched her very closely.  She is not used to many new people.   But Chloe was wonderful and it seemed like everyone loved her.   We thought this was unusual.

Rhino on balcony

It is not often we see  a statue of a rhinoceros on a patio.   We could not go inside the building with Chloe, so we are not sure what that was about.   US dollars can be exchanged for Mexican pesos.

Exchange money here

One US dollars gets 18.60 Mexican pesos.   But only exchange what you will spend.   If you want to sell pesos to repurchase your US dollars, you must pay 19.10 pesos for a dollar.   We were only here for a short time, so we did not exchange any money.   We did not find any restaurants with outdoor patios that were open, so we purchased street tacos from a vender.   We paid in US dollars, so the price was a little higher, but we were fine with that.

Delicious street tacos

We wanted 3 tacos, but we got 3 orders of tacos, about 12.   We ate a lot and gave some tacos to people on the street.   The tacos were delicious.   And a little messy.  The humans decided Chloe had been here long enough, so we started back across the bridge to El Paso, Texas, USA.

Chloe and Soapy’s mom heading back to USA

From the bridge we could see the Rio Grande.   The river separates Mexico and the United States.  The bridges are quite long.   We enjoyed the walk and looking down at the river and the international border.   This is a very busy border crossing area, with 3 major bridges.  In 2017, each day about 20,000 pedestrians, 35,000 cars and 2,500 cargo trucks cross from Mexico into the US.   That is traffic for each day of the year.   This area is called the world’s largest international border metroplex.   The border between the US and Mexico is 1,954 miles (3,145 km) with 48 official US-Mexico border crossings.   Within these 48 border crossings are 330 ports of entry.   The border also extends several miles into the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.   In January 2009 there were over 580 miles (930 km) of border barrier in place.

Traffic coming into El Paso

Looking back from the US into Mexico, there is a lot of traffic on this one bridge, cars waiting to enter El Paso, Texas.  There was no problem getting Chloe back into El Paso, Texas.   The friendly agents were waiting for her.   We all had a great time in Juarez, even though it was a short visit.   We hope you cross borders and visit new places.   It is fun and we always meet nice people.

Palomas, Mexco and back to the Pink Store with Zeb and Soapy

We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, and humans are back in Palomas, Mexico.   And that means we are going to the Pink Store.

The Pink Store

We love the Pink Store.   This is only our third time visiting, but we look forward to shopping and having lunch here.  And mom did promise that next trip to the Pink Store, she will get a better photo of the store.  It’s really not that dark and dreary there.   The most notable items are possibly the bigger than life statues for Day of the Dead celebrations.

Day of Dead statues

In Mexico, Day of the Dead is celebrated November 1 and November 2.   Many believe the spirits of deceased relatives return to their homes.   Death is not feared, but embraced as a part of human life.

Day of Dead

Here are more items for Day of the Dead.  We like the dogs on the bottom shelf.   Often the living will assemble an “ofrenta”, or memorial of items important to the deceased while they were alive.   But there are many more items at the Pink Store.

Huge selection of pottery

Many pottery items.   All of these are hand painted.

Pottery

We feel that the Pink Store offers some of the best Mexico has to offer.   The items here are of good quality and made in Mexico.   We like the hand blown glass.

Hand blown glass and silver jewelry

And of course, the silver jewelry is beautiful.

Glass vases

These glass vases are pretty also.   The dolls are so festive.

Dolls and a duck

Too bad we don’t have lots of empty shelves at home.   The sheets of papel picado, or cut paper, are really nice, with so much detail.

Colorful paper cutouts available

And who can resist the had painted pottery and ceramics figures?

So festive!

Not us.   We do a little shopping, then have lunch or dinner here at the Pink Store’s restaurant.   A day at the Pink Store is very enjoyable.   And we always seem to have several packages to carry across the international border to our waiting car.   We think you would also enjoy a day, or more, at the Pink Store in Palomas, Mexico.   That is just across the international border from Columbus, New Mexico.   And, the Pink Store and Palomas are not crowded.   You will feel welcome and be able to look and enjoy everything in this small Mexican town.

Pancho Villa Attacks the US

The United States was attacked by Pancho Villa and soldiers from Mexico on March 9, 1916.   That was the last time a foreign military attacked a state in the United States.   In case you are wondering, Hawaii was not yet a state December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked.   Also, September 11, 2001 the attack on New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC, was done by hijackers using US commercial airplanes.   But back to Pancho Villa and his attack on Columbus, New Mexico.   In Columbus, we visited the Pancho Villa State Park.

Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico

This park was previously a US military camp, Camp Furlong.  Now it is home to a museum, with memorabilia from the very brief attack, a picnic area and a camp ground.   Here is Cootes Hill, a look out point from the military days.

Cootes Hill

You can see the cacti and flags of the United States and the State of New Mexico.  First let’s visit the museum.

In front of museum

We like the Mexican architecture and the old wagon here.   During the early morning attack, a young family escaped to Deming, about 25 miles north, in a 1915 Dodge Touring Car.

An antique car that survived bullets

All three members of the family survived, but the man did carry a bullet in him for the rest of his life.

1915 Dodge Touring Car with bullet holes

The car and bullet holes.   A close up photo of the driver’s door.

Bullet holes in the door

We are certainly happy all survived.   But let’s talk about the speed of this attack.   On March 9, 1916, at 2:00 a.m., Pancho Villa crosses the US Mexican border, 3 miles south of Columbus.   At 4:11 a.m. there are simultaneous attacks in the center of town and at Camp Furlong.   By 7:30 the last of the Villistas retreat into Mexico.   This attack lasted a little more than 3 hours, but there were casualties.   Ten townspeople from Columbus, New Mexico died.   Eight American soldiers died.   Eight other Americans were wounded.   Estimates are that 90 Villistas were killed and a small number were taken prisoner.   After a trial,  some prisoners were hanged, some jailed and returned to Mexico in 1921.   We ducks think that was a lot of deaths in a three hour attack.   But, let’s see what else is in the museum.   Soon after the attack, General Pershing was sent to Columbus and a tent city was soon built south of the railroad station and south of town.

A tent city was quickly built south of Columbus

We thought this covered wagon, without the cover, was interesting.

Covered wagon, without cover

Large trucks were brought to Columbus.

truck

And airplanes came also.

1916 JN-3 airplane, replica

This is a replica of a 1916 JN-3 Airplane, provided by Roger Freeman of Vintage Aviation.   These were all interesting, but the question is still why did Pancho Villa attach the United States?

Maybe we will never know why Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico

And it is quite possible we will never really know the answer.   The US military spent time and money trying to get Pancho Villa, but he was never captured.   So what happened in Mexico?

Mexican Revolution over

Across the street from Pancho Villa State Park is the first US Military Airbase in the US.

First US airbase in the US

Also in the state park, we visited the headquarters building of Camp Furlong.

Former headquarters of Camp Furlong

Now many people enjoy the New Mexico desert and this picnic area.   There are sites for campers here.

Picnic area

New Mexico is a popular destination for many Americans and Canadians escaping the colder winters in the north.   If you visit Columbus, we hope you take time to explore Pancho Villa State Park and the museum   We think it is quite interesting.