Southern New Mexico: Day One of Three Day Trip

Since we were off the grid during the entire trip, in full disclosure, we’ve returned from our trip already.

Starting in Albuquerque, we drove with the White Sands National Monument in mind. All we knew was we had three days to find stuff…Everything else was a bonus. As we drove southward, we stumbled upon a prairie made entirely of volcanic rock, otherwise known as Valley of Fires. It cost $5 cash. We had a $20 bill. So we continued on our way, but we intended to see it on our way back through at the end of our weekend.

Next up, we stopped by the Three Rivers Petroglyphs site. Home of more than 21,000 petroglyphs, and apparently an ancient Mogollon village site. For those who don’t know what a petroglyph is, it’s ancient markings by natives. Nobody has a clear understanding as to why the markings were engraved on rocks. But most theories have the markings used as trail markers. Being so close to a village (or more likely several villages), these particular petroglyphs were likely religious and artist based.

 Of course I can’t, and didn’t, take pictures of all 21,000 petroglyphs. But I did take pictures of some of the more impressive sights.

You’ll notice that not all these carvings are ancient. Though I’m not claiming that Europeans traveling through in the early 20th century are disrespectful by carving into these same rocks, I did find it interesting. Notice the  images carved by ancient Pueblo people. The are of masks, animals, and what are most likely religious symbols (the sun cut into fours and the squares that snake together). It’s interesting to see what the two different cultures decided was important to share with future generations. The European traveling through wanted everyone to know their name, the ancients cared about rams, camels (yes, camels…that was news to me too), and religious symbols.

This is the forth petroglyph site I’ve meandered through. The second to last image above is particularly interesting to me. Notice the symmetry and perfect of its lines and curves. That is highly unusual among these and all other petroglyph carvings I’ve come across. This probably speaks to the advancement of their artistic, and therefore advanced, nature. The better and more advanced art is in a culture tends to be directly linked to a cultures technological advancement. I assume it’s because of the society’s increased leisure time.

Heading in the opposite direction of the petroglyph site, we found a Mogollon village site. As with most (more recent) village sites, it is unexcavated to maintain preservation. But, there were hundreds of pieces of pottery laying about.

As much as we wanted to take at least one piece, we left it all there. That did not stop us from collecting shards and placing them under local fauna. This allowed us to live vicariously as archaeologists but without disturbing the site and still leaving everything as we found it. For the record, we also did not dig anything. We simply looked for pieces that came to the surface naturally.

The white on black pottery is unique to the Mogollon people. Having been to at least a dozen different ancient ruin sites, this one had more treasures like this than any other. It was so much fun. And, as always, we picked up garbage left behind by hikers. Leave it better than you found it…

Next up, headed further south and westward to Alamogordo, NM for the world’s largest pistachio. Touristy, I know. We weren’t planning on seeing this site, we just stumbled upon it as we drove through.

Pistachios have never tasted so good! Not this one obviously. It’s made of anything BUT nuts. But inside the souvenir shop, there was local pistachios for sale. No salty flavor and so much flavor I could cry. This pistachio can be found at the McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch in Alamogordo.

By the time we finished with our nuts, we had only about 30 minutes of sunlight left. So, no White Sands. We drove on to Las Cruses for lodging and food. For food we found a great brewery I knew nothing about, which is ALWAYS a great find for us.

High Desert Brewing Co. had the feel of a true small town dive bar. A dozen tables, no hipster atmosphere, the beer was quite good, and the food was great and cheap. The wife had a Peach Wheat (very peachy but very smooth and drinkable…a tough combo to master) and I had a Brown Ale (hoppy and bubbly but bordered on a nutty flavor… definitely worth a try). The best part was the price. Most brew pubs think too highly of themselves and charge a lot for their brews. At High Desert, you can get a pint for $4. Not bad at all.

This ends Day One of our tour of Southern New Mexico. Hope you enjoyed it half as much as we enjoyed traveling it.

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