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Friday, October 31, 2014

New Mexico Chile (This is How They Spell Chili in New Mexico)

Aloha Everyone,

New Mexico is known for its chile and they come both in green and red.  \People here love their chile. We were informed that even national franchise restaurants such as McDonald's and Wendy's have modified their menus to include chile on their hamburgers. J.J. and I have seen Chile Ristras at entries to restaurants, offices, and RV parks.

The difference between green and red chile is the time of harvest. The chile starts as green pods and you can pick it while still green. When it's ripe, it turns into a rich, deep red color. Chile is a serious business in New Mexico and The New Mexico Chile Advertising Act makes it illegal to advertise that a chile is New Mexican unless it has been grown in the state.

One of the main event of the day was our lunch stop at Applebee's. J.J. had a Scampi pasta dish while I enjoyed Grilled Salmon on a bed of spinach.

Here is our server Jules.

And our lunch:

Today we drove from Santa Fe to Gallup on I-25 and I-40. Most of these places were the roads we have previously taken. I tried to capture the beauty of the changing scenery.

Tonight we are back at the USA RV Park in Gallup.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, October 30, 2014

To Santa Fe via Roswell, New Mexico

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I usually use personal hot spot from my iPhone to access the internet when there's no Wifi available. This morning, when J.J. tried to use our personal hot spot, the signal suddenly changed from excellent to poor.  At the same time, a message appeared on our laptop offering an alternative --  the FBI_van WiFi. Brantley Lake State Park camping site is located about 7 miles off the main highway. It's an additional 10 miles to Carlsbad.  Therefore we thought it strange to have an FBI van roaming near a state park.

Brantley State Park was located on the other side of the dam.

7 miles off main highway.

10 miles to Carlsbad

Roswell is known for the Roswell UFO incident. In the summer of 1947, the military claims a US Air Force weather balloon crashed at a ranch near Roswell. Others claimed it was an alien spaceship. Today Roswell is an ordinary city with an extraordinary claim. Here are a few examples I was able to capture.

Ordinary city:

With extraordinary claim...

This is our first time ever visiting Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. The place has a very distinctive architectural style all its own. Low-slung, earth-colored buildings made of adobe bricks consisting of a mixture of sun-dried earth and straw dominate the scene. This melding of Native American with Spanish influence gave rise to the Pueblo style architecture.  

J.J. and I plan to return to Santa Fe during our next trip to Northern New Mexico. Tonight we are staying at an RV park just outside of the city. Our original plan to spend the night in the Hyde Memorial State Park had to be changed because the site was too primitive. We wanted to have electrical and water hook-ups plus a hot shower. 

The fruits tree is growing next to the office. They look like cherries. However no birds or bees are enjoying the fruits might mean that they are not edible.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Aloha Everyone,

The lovely Guadalupe Mountain ranges offer no hint of what lies beneath.

Ansel Adan's described Carlsbad Caverns as, "Something that should not exist in relation to human being. Something that is remote as the galaxy, incomprehensible as a nightmare and beautiful in spite of everything." 
We knew from National Geographic and geography classes that Carlsbad has one of the largest caverns in the world. Compared to other caverns we have visited, the sheer size of large chambers after chambers is very impressive. Carlsbad Caverns is located in the Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico.

J.J. and I signed up for a walking tour which took us down 800 feet by elevator to the big room, a natural limestone chamber which, according to the visitors guide prepared by U.S. Department of Interior is almost 4,000 feet  long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high at the highest point. Our guide was Ranger Phil. We walked in and out of numerous chamber caves seeing long, narrow stalactite coming through a hole in the ceiling. Some resembled rope coming through the roof of a belfry while others looked like curtain or drapes hanging down.

Carlsbad Caverns was discovered circa 1898 and today there are still so many areas that needs to be explored. We were told that the entire cavern is 36 miles. Many of the chambers have names including King's Palace, Left Hand Tunnel, Papoose Room, and Queen's Chamber just to name a few.

One of the most interesting experience for me was in one of the chambers, Ranger Phil turned off all the light for us to experience total darkness.  He also asked us to maintain silence for few seconds.  For many, maintaining silence seem to be a huge challenge. I totally loved the experience and thanked our guide.

The total walking tour with many stops was about a 1 1/2 hours.  I will be writing about my personal experience of a total darkness from a meditation point of view in my yoga blog in the coming days.

Randy works in the gift shop 800 feet beneath the ground. He was dressed for the environment as the temperature is about 53 degrees Fahrenheit year around.

Randy told me that he used to work in a shop on the ground level but he prefers his current location.  7 hours a day he works in the cavern only to surface to see the sun on his lunch break. Randy looked serene, and I couldn't help but wonder if the environment has attributed to his calm, peaceful demeanor.

I truly enjoyed our walking your but I was also very happy to be in the sun.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Almost Like Snow - White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Aloha Everyone,

White Sands National Monument is located approximately 30 miles west of Alamogordo off Arizona Highway 70.  We learned about it by accident and based on the brochure, the place looked so amazing that it was too good to pass.

Surrounded by mountains, White Sands National Monument encompasses 275 square miles of desert and what looks like snow is actually made of great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand.

We drove on the White Sand Loop to take in the grandeur of this natural wonder. The white sand is powder-like and even though we limited our exposure to two stops, J.J. and I still tracked lots of sands inside Honu which had to be brushed off.

We saw a family with two small boys ready to "sand-slide" using plastic sleighs. During the short time we watched, the boys climbed up the dune several times for a ride lasting a few seconds. The younger of the two fell down mercilessly his face digging into the sand. The two boys will be very tired by late afternoon.

From Alamogordo, we took Highway 82  to Artesia entering Lincoln National Forest. At a summit of 8,950 ft. elevation, the air was cooler and we drove through pine forests and alpine villages.

Tonight we are staying at Brantley Lake State Park, approximately 16 miles from Carlsbad. This is our first state park in New Mexico and we love it. There are a lots of cotton tail rabbits hopping around the park. J.J. was adding DEF (Diesel Efficiency Fuel) to Honu and two rabbits came by, looked at him and hopped under Honu for warmth for the night. It's good thing that we plan to stay just for one night. Otherwise they might decide to make a home under Honu.

Our covered bench and cooking area

This sand box area is for people who want to pitch a tent

Lake view from our bedroom

Aloha -- Cathi