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Festival de la Familia…and unexpected Autumn

October 14, 2013

New Mexico – Sunday, October 6

After a good Sunday breakfast, Tula and I started off with some walking in the town of Las Cruces. But it seemed very quiet and abandoned because everything was closed on a Sunday morning, and no one was out and about. But we quickly walked a little over a mile and a half, and then moved on. I headed east over the Organ Mountains, and on the other side was the White Sands Missile Range. A little farther on was yet another national park site – the White Sounds National Monument, and of course it was closed, but I could see a lot of white sand. At one point, all vehicles had to pull off into a makeshift inspection station. It was like a border crossing, but there were officers on each side of the car, and one had a German Shepherd, and there were about 6 other officers on standby. I got through quickly – all they asked me was if I was a U.S. citizen, and I didn’t even have to show them any identification or anything, and then they told me to have a good day and waved me on. Since I was close to the Mexican border, I’m guessing they were looking for illegal immigrants. I continued northeast to the town of Alamogordo.

I was looking for places to walk, and we headed for the old part of downtown and walked around a bit, but it was pretty warm out, with little shade. I decided to look for something on the outside of town. I heard some live music so I parked and Tula and I went to see what was going on – I had found the Festival de la Familia that I had seen a few posters for. It was a church fundraising event – for one of those old mission churches that I like. There were a lot of people around – eating, listening to music, dancing, participating in kids’ activities, and looking at auction items. The band was reminding people to buy raffle tickets. I wandered on a bit, and did some more walking, and thought about maybe buying some raffle tickets – depending on what they were raising money for. If it was for something like feeding children in foreign countries, I probably wouldn’t buy any since this is a U.S. journey – I would be interested in supporting this if the money was going to stay in New Mexico. I went back to the festival, and heard that the drawing was going to take place in about 5 minutes, and the priest himself was selling the raffle tickets. I asked him what the proceeds were going to support, and he said it was all for the church. It’s their big annual fund-raising festival, and since it’s an old church, they’re needed to do some work on it. I’ve enjoyed all these old Mission churches, and to be able to help with upkeep for one of them was a good thing. I bought $60 worth of raffle tickets and since I didn’t win anything, it was all a donation. After the drawing, I got a picture of the priest by his church, and then Tula and I drove over to a pretty neighborhood on the other side of town. I enjoyed seeing all the tidy adobe homes and cacti and flowers in the yards. Altogether in Alamogordo, we covered over 2 1/2 miles.

Then I continued heading east, with the eventual goal of getting to Roswell. I started climbing up another mountain range toward a town called Cloudcroft. This was a little resort town back in the day – a place to escape from summer heat in the desert and get up into the mountains. A train would bring visitors up the mountain, and although trains no longer run, some of the trestles remain, and the highest one was visible from the side of the road. It was a beautiful drive up into the mountains – I even passed an apple and cider shop but it was closed. It was getting to be evening, and Tula and I set off on a walk – first we went along an old train track that had been turned into a walking trail, but it was so stony, it wasn’t really good walking for either Tula or me. I decided to just venture along some of the streets off the main road, and to my astonishment, I walked into an area of old wood and log cabins and woods with trees in fall colors, and if I didn’t know better, I would have thought I was in the northwoods of Minnesota or Wisconsin! There was a big lodge at the top of the mountain too. And to think an hour earlier I had been in a desert neighborhood looking at cactus. No wonder people like to get up in the mountains to get out of the heat – I had to put a sweatshirt on! There was even a road sign advising people to watch for snowplows, and there was a skating rink (not open yet of course) and a little building with a skate rental sign. It smelled like fall in the air, and was such a treat for a Michigander missing the autumn weather! We walked 2 1/2 miles until it was too dark to be out. There was no place to stay in Cloudcroft, so I just continued on for a couple hours to Roswell.

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