Our next and last stop in New Mexico was Las Cruces. It was hot and dry and the campground had just opened the pool – perfect! Once again, we had gorgeous views of the mountains right from our site. Our first day there, the mid-week farmers market was going on, so we drove in to town to get a taste for the local. We enjoyed listening to the street musicians, talking with vendors, and enjoying some food truck cuisine.
We had parked in front of a used bookstore, so after the market, we stopped in. This bookstore is AMAZING!!!!! So. Many. Great. Books. The children’s section is enormous and after spending a long time browsing through the vast collection, we had gathered a nice stack to take home with us. Then Kitt reminded me that we currently live in a bus, and that I may need to reconsider some of the choices. “What do you mean a huge book with a picture and description of every flag in the entire world is not necessary???” Darn living space limitations in 300 square feet. This place is a book lovers dream! The staff was extremely helpful and even found a very old book that one of the scientists we met in Los Alamos had suggested for Yay Yay. Score!
The next day we headed out to White Sands Missile Range. Getting through security was serious business, complete with interview, photos, and a background check. Somehow, we passed and they let us through. I’m pretty sure Cake’s non-stop talking put them in a trance and that’s how we got in! To me, it was like a graveyard of old missiles… a bunch of pointy cylinders hanging out in the desert. I wanted to be interested, but the truth is, I was a little bored. I did enjoy listening to our newest reader, Dooder, sound out the words on the different signs. The way he pronounces things is so cute, and sounding out words, well, the cuteness is off the charts! Kitt and Yay Yay thought the missiles were all really cool.
Von Braun developed the German V-2 rocket and worked alongside General Walter Dornberger who was commander at the German Peenemunde Army Research Center and responsible for, among other things, the V-2 program itself. Von Braun and Dornberger left Germany for the United States, and Dornberger became the Chief Scientist at Bell Aerospace outside of Buffalo, NY. An interesting family connection to this is that Kitt’s father was Dornberger’s attorney in Buffalo.
Then we were off to the dunes. Fearing one of my children getting swallowed into the sand, I was more than a little anxious. Maybe we should just skip this. But Kitt convinced me that we should at least go see it. So I worked on deep breathing and relaxation techniques while we made our way through the park. I put a quick facebook post out there for my friends to check in and make sure we made it out alive… I wanted to be sure people knew where we were just in case! Then I put all my worries away, because I would hate for my crazy thoughts to interfere with my family having great adventures. And I am so glad that we went. It was beautiful. It was an unbelievable sight. It felt strange and wonderful on our feet…very different than beach sand, and shockingly cool despite the bright sun and heat of the day. And it was so much fun!! In fact, Yay Yay said it was the most fun thing he had ever done! And for me, the exuberant joy and laughter free flowing from my children with the backdrop of magical beauty silenced my fears. It is something we will be talking about and remembering fondly for years to come.
Another day, we went into Mesilla, an old historic town. Old Mesilla’s history includes the Civil War with a battle between Union and Confederate forces, an important stop on the stagecoach and mail routes, and even the courthouse where Billy The Kid was tried for murder and sentenced to hang. Mesilla was originally part of Mexico, but after disputes between Mexico and the United States the Gadsden Purchase was signed in 1854 which finalized the disputed border between the two countries. Walking through Mesilla feels like being in Mexico. The town has done a great job at retaining it’s culture and history.
Since we were once again close to Texas we decided to go back for a day. Yay Yay was interested in El Paso and wanted to see Mexico. After looking up the current safety recommendations for crossing the border there, we decided the risk was just not worth it. But after (over)filling our bellies at a chinese buffet, we found a park that we could drive through to get a pretty close look at Mexico. It was close enough to see the great big fences that people attempt to get over, under, or though to gain access to the U.S. We were disappointed to be so close, but not go into Mexico, but it definitely felt like the right decision for our family.
We headed north to the El Paso Museum of Archeology where we saw some interesting artifacts and depictions of early life on this land. Native people were so resourceful and creative. It was inspiring to imagine how they would make tools out of rocks and sticks or rope and textiles out of plants. Right next door is the U.S. Border Patrol Museum, so we walked over keeping an eye out for venomous snakes along the way. The museum had vehicles, uniforms, and weapons used by the border patrol over the years as well as some of the boats made from scrap parts used to smuggle people and drugs into the U.S. An entire room is dedicated to all of the men and women who gave their lives protecting our country – a somber reminder of the dangers they face every day. Amazingly, this is the only museum dedicated to the U.S. Border Patrol and the museum operates without taxpayer funding.
Meanwhile, back at the campground…
New Mexico was beautiful, interesting, and a favorite for our family. We really enjoyed the friendly, easygoing people we met there and we look forward to going back!