Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hueco Tanks to White Sands NM

 Tuesday May 15, 2012

We woke to clear blue skies, packed up camp after enjoying breakfast from the nice shelter overlooking the Hueco Tanks….this was a very nice but remote campsite. We headed south and west towards El Paso.  Finally we had cell service for first time since mid-morning yesterday!  Jane called Robin’s sister who lives in Las Cruces hoping we could catch up with her today or tomorrow…luckily we could and we arranged to meet for lunch today.

We traced the Butterfield through El Paso – definitely different than it would have been 150 years ago!  Six lanes of traffic passed Fort Bliss, then the El Paso Airport and miles and miles of urban sprawl.  We stopped at the Chamizal National Memorial for a passport stamp. This was commemorating a treaty with Mexico to change the boundary line.  We then continued on into downtown El Paso where we passed the location of the Butterfield Station.  This location was half way on the Ft. Smith to San Francisco journey. 

Butterfield Trail in El Paso today

Butterfield Station location today

Original Butterfield Stop in El Paso

 Leaving El Paso we passed very close to the Mexican Border but could see little through a huge fence.

We then headed north into New Mexico and the Butterfield Station in Las Cruces. Now a restaurant La Posta we were to meet Julie, Robin’s sister, there for lunch.  This is one of few remaining standing Butterfield Stops still in good repair.  We had a Great lunch but forgot to take a photo. 
Original La Posta Station

Inside La Posta
After lunch Julie toured us around the square in Mesilla to see some of her favorite shops. Before leaving Las Cruces we made a quick grocery stop since we were out of many essentials.

Julie and Ben on our walk around the square
Somewhere we passed through Border patrol Stop.
From Las Cruces we headed west veering off the Butterfield to visit White Sands National Monument. This is a national park in the middle of the White Sands Missile Range! When they do missile testing they close US 70 so we will hope to make it back out of here before that happens!

We stopped at the visitor center and found there was a Sunset Stroll at 7 PM led by a ranger that ended on top of a dune for the sunset.  We continued on 12 miles to Alamogordo found a campsite, ate a quick sandwich, and headed back to the park for the Sunset Stroll.  We with about 20 other people learned about the plants and animals of this desert. We were also able to get a few photos. This area is in a bowl with mountains on 3 sides and sand built up by the Rio Grande river on the south – the largest gypsum sand bed in the world. The sand is brilliant  white and would have been impossible to photograph in the middle of the day.  It is indeed beautiful – the photos will not do it justice.


We returned to camp and went to bed early – the altitude and mountain time catching up with us.

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