Sunday, March 30, 2014

From Texas Hill Country to New Mexico Mountains

MH & CRV Mar 2014Finally, it was time to hitch up and leave Wimberley.  We said our goodbyes to Sherry and her mom at Priddy Meadow RV Park and headed northwest, with an overnight stay at one of our favorite parks, Junction North Llano River Park.  It’s a nice park in a dismal town, and is well managed and comfortable for an overnight.  We continued on for an overnight at Fort Stockton RV Park, another nice park in another dismal town now overrun with oilfield workers, before heading further north, to Ruidoso, NM.  What a difference – from the Texas Hill country to a mountain location 7000’ up in the pines.  Sierra BlancaWe stayed at the Twin Spruce RV Park, a good location to revisit the area.  It’s a beautiful area, dominated by Sierra Blanca, at just under 12,000’, the highest peak in the Sacramento  mountains.  There was still a bit of snow on the mountain, and our first look as we rounded a curve reminded us of how much we enjoy the beauty of the area.

Inn of the Mountain GodsOne of our favorite places to visit is the Inn of the Mountain Gods, a hotel/casino operated by the Mescalero Indian tribe.  Not just a casino, it displays amazing Inn of the Mountain Gods Fountainsculptures and paintings along its halls and the fountain at the entrance and the view from the lobby is spectacular.   We’ve enjoyed just sitting there with a cup of coffee, watching the scenery – it’s a marvelous and peaceful view (and a great place to sulk after losing your money in the casino).  The complex is huge, with a golf course, fishing lake, hunting lodge, and ski resort at the base of the mountain. 
Inn of the Mountain Gods2
Hubbard Museum InteriorWe’ve been to many museums in our travels, but seldom are we as impressed by the quality of the exhibits as we were at Hubbard displaysthe Hubbard Museum of the American West.  A beautiful new and airy facility, the main area has an interesting collection of buggies, wagons, and saddles.  What amazed us, however, was the incredible fabric art and outside sculptures.  The fabric art was a collections of wall hangings, free hangings, and quilts.  The intricate workmanship that went into each piece was astonishing; we’ve never seen this level of fabric art, and it was displayed with lighting that brought out the full spectrum of colors.  Here are some examples:
Hubbard Art work1
Hubbard Art work2
Hubbard Art work3
Hubbard Art work4
Just outside the museum is a large landscaped garden area that contains the sculpture “Free Spirits at Noisy Water”, a large composition of horses ridden by Native Americans.  Scupted by the late Dave McGary and valued at over $1.5M, the detail of the horses is incredible – you can almost hear their hoof beats!
Hubbard Outdoor display2

Hubbard Outdoor display

We always make a visit to Cloudcroft, a neat little community at 8500’ at the southern end of the Sacramento range.  The town has a few gift shops, cafes, and a great bakery, the Burro Street Bakery.  After lunch, we headed further south to the Sunspot, the National Solar Observatory.View from Cloudcroft  It was a cool and dreary day, so we skipped the walking tour and instead drove slowly through the area looking for birds and wildlife.  From the observatory, the views of the Tularosa basin below include White Sands National Monument in the distance.  Finally heading home, we came across this cow Elk who seemed to stare at us as to say “who are you and why are you in my space?”Cloudcroft Elk
That’s it for this visit – next we’ll be exploring the area where Billy the Kid roamed.  Check back and see what we’ve learned!