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.

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 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.

Center of the United States with Zeb the Duck

This may not be the center of the world, but we are at the geographic center of the contiguous 48 states of the United States.   That means Hawaii and Alaska are not considered when determining this center point.

Geographic center of the 48 states

Remember, Hawaii is thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean.   And Alaska is north of Canada.   This flagpole displays the flags of the United States of America and the State of Kansas.

Flagpole. United States and Kansas flags

This geographic center is near Lebanon, Kansas, 12 miles south of the state border of Kansas and Nebraska.   There is a small chapel here.

Small chapel

We went inside and this is the view from the door looking toward the altar.

Inside chapel. Looking to altar

A really is a small chapel.  Looking from the front toward the door.

Inside chapel

This chapel has 8 pews, so no big crowds, please.   Here you can see the whole area.

Nice area

The chapel, a covered picnic area and the flag pole.   We enjoyed this peaceful setting.   We just didn’t bring a picnic.   Maybe next time?