From Bosque to Malpais
From Sea to Shining Sea, Day 42: Socorro, NM to Roswell, NM
|SANDHILL CRANES (FOREGROUND) AND SNOW GEESE IN THE DISTANCE|
From the refuge, we drove north on NM-1 to US-380, our route to Roswell. Turning east onto 380, we were skirting the northern border of the White Sands Missile Range. Along the way, we found a letterbox commemorating the missile range's Trinity site, location of the first atomic bomb testing in 1945. The box was hidden on the roadside, five miles north of the actual Trinity site, which is open to the public only two days a year, in April and October.
Continuing east on this smooth, well-tended road with spacious shoulders, we were taking the easy route through Jornada del Muerto, a harsh desert region given this name by the Conquistadors who had to cross it to travel between Las Cruces and Socorro. Though it is relatively flat, it took the early Spaniards as long as a week to traverse the dry 100-mile stretch which offered no water, no firewood and no shelter. Small wonder that the Jordana remains mostly void of settlement and development today.
Near the eastern reaches of the Jornada, we noticed that the landscape on either side of the highway had changed to thick jagged black rock. We had driven into the Carrizozo Malpais (mahl-pah-EESE), an extensive rugged landscape formed by ancient lava flows. Scientific evidence indicates the lava spewed from volcanic vents about 2,000 years ago and flowed south along a basin for more than 40 miles.
|LAVA FLOW IS EVIDENT ON SATELLITE IMAGE FROM GOOGLE EARTH.|
|PLANT LIFE ON THE CARRIZOZO MALPAIS (lava flield)|
|COLORFUL CARRIZOZO ARTSY STREET|
|FINAL RESTING PLACE OF SMOKEY BEAR MASCOT|
|HISTORIC BUILDING IN LINCOLN|
|OUTDOOR SET FOR DRAMA PRODUCTIONS|
A few miles further east and we connected with US-70 in the crossroads of Hondo, following that route into Roswell. By the time we arrived, darkness had fallen and the famed UFO museum had closed, so the aliens will have to wait until tomorrow.
Ken's cold continued to drag him down throughout the day, so we engaged in a role reversal today with him slack boxing—waiting in the car—while I retrieved the letterboxes and brought them to the car to stamp in. Tomorrow we'll visit the museum in Roswell and continue our way east.
TUESDAY, 27 DECEMBER 2016
• Ended in: Roswell, NM
• Miles driven: 209 [trip: 6,389]
• Weather: 28° to 57°, clear
• Letterboxes: Found 9, Planted 0 [trip: F111, P15]
• Walked: 2.5 mi [trip: 102.9]
• States: NM [trip: 8]
• Counties: 3 [trip: 120]
• Towns: 11 [trip: 279]
• Billy the Kid mentions: 32
• Billy the Kid sightings: 0
Loved: We were fascinated by the geology and the biology of the malpais (lava beds) area.
Lacking: Restaurant choices in Roswell for dinner
Learned: A large lava flow can occur without a volcano. We asked the ranger at the BLM visitor center, "Where's the volcano?" He laughed and said, "There isn't one. All this came from a vent." Whaaattt??
More Photos from Today
|WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY IS VERY POPULAR AT BOSQUE DEL APACHE.|
|BOARDWALK AT BOSQUE DEL APACHE|
|SEEDS FIND SOIL IN ANY LITTLE CREVICE.|
|LAVA, LAVA EVERYWHERE|
|SMALL TOWER IN LINCOLN USED BY SPANISH-AMERICANS IN BATTLES WITH APACHE|
|US-70/US-380 EAST OF PICACHO|