New Mexico’s Gila Cliff Dwellings with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Sadly, this morning we left La Paloma Hot Springs and Spa resort.   Mom said enough soaking in delightful hot springs and time to see more of New Mexico.   Leaving the desert landscape.

Desert landscape near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Heading west, we noticed the land changing.   Hills became steeper, vegetation began to grow, and soon we were in the pine forests.

Changing to pine forest

Each type of landscape has its own beauty, and we like the changes.   Here we are at a National Monument.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings.   In 1907 President Theodore Roosevellt established Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.   These caves were home to some of the ancient people.   Here is a little background.

About these cliff dwellings

The Mogollon people lived here in the 1200s and had moved on by 1300.  Archeological evidence suggets that many different groups of people inhabited this area over several thousand years.   We have driven as far as possible.   Now time to hike.

Let’s start hiking

That is ice hanging from the rocks.  The bridge crosses the Gila River.  We will cross the river several times.  The trail starts easy, following the Gila River.   We are going up, but not real steep.   Here is a marked photo opportunity on the trail.

All the way up there? Let’s go

Are we really hiking up there?  To that open area on the cliff?  Mom says yes.   Then let’s get going.   OK.   Here we are.

Interesting, but not open to visitors

This is the first room, and a small room.   We cannot go into this room.   So let’s go into this room.

Inside room in cliff dwelling

The cave is natural, but the ancient people built the walls and any other enhancements.

Looking out

What a beautiful view from their front door.   However, I doubt if they had much time to sit and enjoy the view.   Hunting for food was important.   It is believed these people also began growing food.   Lots of time and energy climbing from cave home to Gila River below.  Water is always a necessity.   River and snow were necessary for life.  We visited the end of February and we saw snow and ice on these cliffs.  There are more rooms to explore.

Let’s explore another room

Steps to another room, so here we go.   Wow.

Red pictograph

Here is a red pictograph.   There was a black one also.   Like the ancient people left us a message.  Standing inside these cliff dwellings, we feel like the ancient populations.  Living in these caves, roomy with high ceilings.  Those inside could see those searching for food, bringing water, and tending crops.   After exploring, we took the steps out the same way we entered.

Using ladder to exit

We could have taken the ladder down as these tourists did.  Continuing on the path, going down was pretty steep.

From outside, looking at entrance

Outside looking up we can see the entrances the ancient people probably used.

From outside looking at entrance

Carefully finishing the entire trail, only about one mile, we take one last look back.

We were up there

Yes, we were up there.   These caves, the Gila Cliff Dwellings are really interesting.   If you are north of Silver City, New Mexico, we hope you visit the cliff dwellings.   We liked them.

Chloride, New Mexico with Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are in Chloride, New Mexico.

Welcome to Chloride, New Mexico

With our arrival the population increased almost 25%.   Just adding me, Zeb the Duck, Soapy Smith Duck, and mom.   In 1881 Chloride had 3,000 people, 8 saloons, three mercantile stores, two butcher shops, a hotel, boarding houses, an assay office, livery stables, a candy store, a drug store, a law office, a Chinese laundry and a millinery store.   The Pioneer Stage Line came into town, a post office was established and a newspaper was started.   And some brothels.   This was an active and rowdy silver mining town.   But when the mining ended, most people left.   Now it is a living ghost town with a permanent population of 13 humans.   About 27 original buildings are still here.

Native rock building

This native rock house, built with a steep pitched roof, has been able to survive severe hail storms.   This building was used for 30 years as Cassie Hobbs “doodle dum” or workshop.   It is now on New Mexico’s Register of Historic Places.  I, Zeb the Duck, would be happy to live in that native rock house.   It’s really pretty from the outside.   Check out this large adobe building.

Adobe building

Originally  Judge Edwin Holmes’ law office, later the post office, a barber shop, a church and dance hall and feed storage.   But in 1914 it was a Harley-Davidson dealership.   Now it is a wood working shop.   Quite a history for one adobe building.   And another native stone building.

Native rock building

This was originally a chicken coop.  Then used as a residence and a temporary schoolhouse.  Some old-timers reported a working “still” in the basement during the 1930’s.  Before we left Truth or Consequences, we were given a great map of Chloride.   That is where we learned about the buildings and much of the history of Chloride.   Here is a tree in the road.

Hanging tree

The sign, with us sitting on top, says Chloride National Forest.   But our map calls it the “hanging tree.”  Really?   Well, maybe not.  There is no record of anyone actually being hanged there, but miners and cowboys who had over indulged in the local saloons were tied to the tree to sober up.   Actually we ducks think that is a rather clever idea.   This building, close to the hanging tree, was one of Chloride’s early saloons.

Saloon

Then became the post office until 1957 when the post office closed.   It is now private property and the building is being remodeled by its owners.  The name of the town, Chloride, was named for the type of silver ore that was found there.  Now the name makes sense to us.  The Monte Cristo Saloon and dance hall was also a popular place during the silver mining days.

Monte Cristo Saloon

Later the building was used as a schoolhouse and as local headquarters for various mining companies.   This building is also on New Mexico’s Register of Historic Buildings.   It is now a gift shop and gallery.  Chloride had a general store from 1880-1923.

Pioneer Store Museum

In 1923, the owners covered the windows and locked the door, closing the Pioneer Store.   In 1998, under new owners, the store was cleaned and reopened.   All the original merchandise from 1923 was still on the shelves.   We visited with the daughter of the people who purchased and reopened the store.   It is now an interesting museum.

Inside Pioneer Store Museum

She allowed us to take a photo inside.   This is a fascinating museum to wander through.   So many things that are nearly 100 years old.   Left just like they were in 1923.   If you are in Chloride, don’t miss this museum.   Chloride is 40 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway, so it is an easy day trip.  The residents of Chloride often visit Truth or Consequences to purchase groceries and other items.   Chloride feels like we were in a real silver mining town.   We think you would enjoy a few hours there.

Northern Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway, New Mexico with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Leaving Truth or Consequences for the day, we drove through desert and mountains.

Desert at Truth or Consequences

The city is surrounded by desert.   This is a picnic pull off about a mile out of town.   Continuing, we knew when we arrived at Truth or Consequences Airport.

Sign for airport

There was also a small sign, but we loved the retired Air Force jet as a marker.  We are driving the northern part of the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway.   We will see living ghost towns.   These are towns that came into existence when silver mining in the area was profitable.   When the mines shut down, most people moved.  However, each of these towns still exist and each town has a small number of permanent residents.   Shortly we arrived at Cuchillo, previously called Cuchillo Negro.  The town was named for an Apache chief.

San Ignacio Catholic Church in Cuchillo, New Mexico

We really liked this church.  San Ignacio Catholic Church was first built in 1867.  Catholic Mass is still held here every Sunday.  The name, Cuchillo Negro, means Black Knife.   The same name as a nearby creek.   According to US Census, sometime between 1900 and 1910 the name was shortened to Cuchillo.   We enjoyed seeing these deer.

Deer

They watched us as we lowered the car window and took photos, but they did not run.   We quickly left to allow them to enjoy their time grazing.  The next town is Winston.

Winston General Store

In the late 1800’s silver was mined here.   Winston grew as a town for families, a change from a more rowdy town a few miles away.   We will tell you about that town next time.   We went into the General Store.   They really have everything.   Groceries, tools, souvenirs, beautiful turquoise and silver jewelry.   And delicious chili dogs.

Delicious chili dog

Everything is in crock pots and you make what you want.   Enjoying a warm, sunny day, we decided to eat outside.   Food was delicious and the nice weather was just what we wanted.   Let’s drive around town a little.

Winston post office

A cute small post office.  The population is estimated at only 61 full time residents.   Frank A. Winston, was a prominent resident in the early days.   The town was originally named Fairview in 1881.   But when Frank Winston died in 1929, the town was renamed for him.   A lady at a Tourist Information office told me Frank went to Europe and saw some metal work he liked.   He bought the metal work, had it shipped to New Mexico, and built a Carriage House to fit the metal.

Carriage house

The Carriage House is still standing and it is very nice.  It is nice to see good workmanship still being used now.

New Mexico desert landscape

The New Mexico desert in this area is nice to see for a change, but we think it would be very difficult to live here all the time.  But we love to visit.   Next time we will show another living ghost town.

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico for Hot Springs with Colorado Traveling Ducks

February was cold and had more snowy days than usual in 2020.   We were tired of winter.   So mom and ducks got in the car and headed south from Denver.   As it turned out, this was our last trip before the Coronavirus arrived in the United States and travel became restricted.   We will talk about the name, Truth or Consequences, soon, but let’s get to warm water now.

Leader in spreading benefits of hot mineral springs

Magnificent Magnolia was one of the first to spread the word about benefits of soaking in hot mineral springs.

Hot Springs Historic District

We head to the Hot Springs Historic District.   Since we did not plan ahead, we did not make reservations at a hot springs resort.   Our first attempt had no vacancy, but we were directed to La Paloma Hot Springs Spa.

La Paloma Hot Springs Spa

We arrived and they had room for us.   We are in southern New Mexico in the desert, so it is much warmer than Denver.

Lounging in hammock at La Paloma Hot Springs

Time to relax in the hammock and enjoy the warmer weather.   But what about the hot water?  La Paloma Hot Springs and Spa is a quaint bathhouse, over 80 years old.  The town sits over a pool of 110 degree F mineral water which comes to the surface through wells, springs and pools.   If you look at the last photo, where the roof is longer and it looks like the building ends, you turn right and enter another building containing 5 private rooms with private hot springs.   Let’s look inside.

Tables for massage

The two cots are for massages.   Mom doesn’t really like massages, so that option was not taken.

Our private pool

Down 3-4 steps, and you are in about 3 feet of warm mineral water.   Mom used the pool that was 103 degrees F.   Across from the steps, there was an opening where the fresh water constantly entered the private pool, and under the steps was another opening where the water flowed back out traveling outside over rocks.  A constant supply of fresh water for soaking.   We ducks didn’t like being so hot, so while mom soaked, we stayed in our room.   Mom loves soaking in hot mineral springs.   But she cannot soak all day.   We visited Geronimo Springs Museum in Truth or Consequences.

Geronimo Springs Museum

This is a great museum.   If you visit here, a visit to this museum is very informative and enjoyable.   And the staff is wonderful.  Geronimo Springs Museum is famous for Mogollon Whiteware pottery.

Mogollon Whiteware in museum

Particularly Mimbres Boldface and Mimbres Classic Black on White Pottery.  Now, about the name of this town, Truth or Consequences.   There was a radio show and this sign in the museum explains what happened.   In 1950 Ralph Edwards was the host of a radio quiz show called Truth or Consequences.   He said he would air the program from the first town to change its name to the radio show name.   This town in New Mexico won.   Ralph Edwards visited this city the first weekend of May for the next fifty years.  The first weekend of May became a huge event called Fiesta.   There was a beauty contest, a parade and a stage show.  This celebration still happens the first weekend of May.   Predictably, the long running celebration, Fiesta, was cancelled for 2020.   The Coronavirus came to town instead.   Maybe next year?   The town was previously named Hot Springs.

Inside Geronimo Springs Museum

Fiesta days are still popular, and here are some of the attire worn in past festivals.

Inside museum

This would be a fun time to visit.  Let’s see a little more of the town.   While Walmart is not normally a topic for us, we visit there for packages of sliced apples to eat in the car.   But look at this Walmart.

Walmart with covered parking

The parking lot has rows of covers, or roofs, in the parking area.   A nice idea, since the southern New Mexico sun makes things really hot in the summer.  Even the city water tower is painted and decorated.

Decorated city water tower

We like it.  Here is the Hamilton Military Museum and Veterans Memorial Park.

Hamilton Military Museum and Veterans Memorial Park

The grounds are rather extensive and many statues and memorials are located around the park.

Veteran Memorial

But this one reminds us of all the veterans have done for us and how much they have sacrificed.   We, Colorado Traveling Ducks, and humans, are grateful for all our heroes have done and are still doing.   Thank you.   When you are in Southern New Mexico, stop at Truth or Consequences.   We think you will enjoy exploring this town.

Petroglyph National Monument with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Humans said we need to head home.   Horrible words to duck ears while enjoying a road trip.   But, one more stop they promised.   Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Petroglyph National Monument

Remember, much of New Mexico is desert.   But with enough moisture, cacti do have flowers.

Cactus in bloom

We love blooms on this cactus.  First stop was the Visitor’s Center, of course.   From there we went to one of the trails that allows dogs.   Here we go.

Chloe ready to explore

Chloe and her human mom, also Soapy’s mom, are ready to start.   We are on Piedras Marcadas Trail.

Piedras Marcadas Trail

There are petroglyphs up there.  Yellow.  Maybe for the Colorado Traveling Ducks, but about 700 years before us.

Petroglyphs

Here is another closer to us.

Soapy and Zeb on rock. Not touching petroglyph

We followed a trail up this hill.

Climb a hill here

But, as you can, these petroglyphs are almost in somebody’s back yard.

City from top

Here is another that we liked.

Interesting drawing

This sign explains a little about these petroglyphs.

History was written here

This petroglyph seems to show a human with rabbit ears.

Human with rabbit ears?

We did see some giant rabbits running through the petroglyphs.   Maybe their ancestors were here 700 years ago?  There are so many petroglyphs in this area.   But this is the last one we will show you.

Petroglyph and ducks

New Mexico has beautiful, blue skies.   New Mexico is known for hot air balloons.   There is a huge hot air balloon festival here in Albuquerque in October.   So we had to share this photo, from our February trip, of this lone hot air balloon, soaring above.  We took this from Petroglyph National Monument. If you visit Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico, you will see interesting petroglyphs.   The humans and ducks had fun and Chloe, the dog, also loved it.

Chloe had a good day here at Petroglyph National Monument

Hope you visit soon.

Heart of the Desert Pistachio Farm and Winery

Last week we showed you McGinn’s PistachioLand.   But they are not the only Pistachio farm and Winery in Alamogordo.

Heart of the Desert Pistachio Farm and Winery

Heart of the Desert at Eagle Ranch was possibly the first pistachio farm in the area.   This sign, a glowing heart, was completed in May 2018.   It is 26 feet tall, 20 feet wide and built to withstand desert winds up to 114 mph.   They are awaiting a ruling from Guinness, to name it as largest glowing heart in the world.   Today we want to show you Heart of the Desert ranch, but don’t want to repeat the same information.   This is a great picnic area.

Picnic area

And check out this horse.

Horse. With painted secrets

There are things painted on this horse for kids, of all ages, to find.

Find these things on the painted horse

Here is the list.   Both establishments have tours of the farm.   Both grow pistachio trees and process the nuts to sell.

Pistachio trees

Both have vineyards.  Both produce great New Mexican wine.   This 1928 International One Ton Truck is in Heart of the Desert’s parking lot.

1928 International One Ton Truck

The sign explains the importance of this truck.   Driving on the farm when he was seven years old???

His truck from Nebraska

Let’s see the entire truck.   A real classic.   In 1974, George Schweers bought 400 2-year old pistachio trees, and Eagle Ranch was born.   Trees have been added since that time.   We heard that George Schweers gave pistachio trees to Mr. McGinn when he decided to start his pistachio farm.   Good neighbors help each other.   In 2002 vineyards and wine production was added to Eagle Ranch.   Visiting either, or both of these pistachio farms will definitely add to your enjoyment of the Alamogordo area.   As you know, we like to stop at unusual roadside attractions.   So here we are at Basin Pipe and Metal Recycling.

Basin Pipe and Metal

And this is why.

Giant roadrunner

A huge roadrunner.   The roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico, and this one, built from scrap metal, seems at least 20 feet tall.   There is an area to pull off the main road to look at and photograph this roadrunner.   We like finding new things in New Mexico.

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.