Saturday, April 30, 2011

April in El Paso

El Paso PanaramaWe were looking for someplace to stay warm for a few weeks before heading North, and so we headed for El Paso and the Fort Bliss RV Park, one of the best military parks we’ve stayed at (see our review here). El Paso Overlook We’ve visited El Paso since the early 70s, when it was a medium-sized, friendly city with interesting shopping opportunities across the border in Juarez.  All that has changed, of course, as El Paso has grown to be the 19th largest city in the U.S. with a population of over 650,000, and Juarez has become a battleground of the drug cartels.  Still, it’s a nice place to visit, and seems to be at least four cities in one.  On the West side of the Franklin Mountains, there’s good shopping, with a large mall, and upscale housing in the foothills.  On the east side of the mountains, Fort Bliss dominates the area; a huge and rapidly expanding Army post.  Further West, miles of truck terminals and storage yards support the cross-border industries, and downtown, the retail stores display most of their signs in Spanish for the shoppers across the border. Juarez Sign From Scenic Drive, you can take in most of El Paso and Juarez, which has an estimated population of 1.5 million, although as a result of the cartel violence (over 3000 killed in 2010), as many as 400,000 may have fled the city.  As you look across the border, large white lettering is visible on a prominent mountain.  Translated, it says “The Bible is the Truth – Read It” – Border Fencewhich apparently isn’t being done by enough people there.  It’s sad to see how the border has turned into what looks like a war zone – the fence, guarded by Border Patrol agents, is a visible reminder of the problems of illegal immigration in the area.

La PostaJust up the road from El Paso is Las Cruces, home of one of our favorite restaurants, La Posta de Mesilla.  It’s always a must-visit when we’re in the area, Brenda for the Chile Rellenos, and for me, the pancake-style Enchiladas with an egg on top.   It’s amazing how much better enchiladas are when stacked….and the egg……ahhhhhh!   I’ve been visiting and ordering the same thing since 1967, and have never been disappointed.
La Posta Enchilladas
From El Paso, we drove 30 miles to the Northeast to explore Hueco Tanks State Park, an interesting area of rocks and pictographs.  We were surprised by the entry procedures; after filling out a lengthy registration form, we were given a pass and told to go directly to the interpretive center for a briefing.  There, a friendly park ranger had us view a 20-minute video on pictographs an the need to preserve them, then showed us on a map where we could and couldn’t go.  Hueco Tanks WritingIt seemed a bit unnecessary until we viewed the first pictograph site, and saw how graffiti had covered most of the original artwork.  And not just recent graffiti, but even from the 1880s.  In this picture, the red paint is the original native American pictograph, almost completely destroyed by the pioneer graffiti.
Hueco Mtn RocksIn another area of the park, we saw a red spot on the huge rocks along the road.  Looking through the binoculars, it turned out to be a climber, dressed only in shorts, halfway up the sheer rock wall.  I’m sure there’s a motivation behind why some someone would want to do this, but thankfully I don’t have it.Hueco Mtn Climber
That’s it for this post; we’ll be headed to South Dakota soon – we’ll let you know how we’re doing, check back with us!

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