Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Eagle Ranch

There are quite a few pistachio groves in the area here. The largest is Eagle Ranch/Heart of the Desert. They have over 80 acres and are the only groves that process their own in the entire state. They also harvest for the smaller groves around. The female trees are the only ones that put on the nuts. They are completely wind polinated which happens in April. The female will put on the shells and outer epi-carp regardless and only at harvest do you know if the nuts are there! Our climate and altitude are almost the same as in the Middle East where the pistachios originated. They are a perfect desert crop as they require only a fraction of the water of pecan trees.
This is what pistachios look like on the trees. They are not ready to harvest until Labor Day. They will turn more pinkish in color by then. What you see is a soft outer skin called the epi-carp that covers the hard shell of the pistachio. The shells split open naturally while on the tree as the nut out grows it. When they are ready, the epi-carp starts separating and is easy to take off. It has a slight citrus smell and in the Middle East they make marmalades out of it. The nuts are quite good just off of the tree, very moist and a slight hazelnut flavor. They are harvested by shakers that shake trees for a few seconds only. They are then dried, flavored, roasted, sorted etc.

Peppy Pistachio at Eagle Ranch/Heart of the Desert

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bowlin's Running Indian

An Alamogordo landmark if there ever was one! They have billboards all along leading up to it. The Running Indian is a gift shop that has been here probably since the 1950's. Their advertising used to be for miles, like the old Burma Shave signs. Bowlin's has stores in places like Akela Flats, Picacho Peak and Butterfield. They have been in business since the early 1900's. Bowlin's has several stores throughout NM. The one that springs to mind is the one with "The Thing" on the way to Tuscon. You can touch a past here and think of the days where it was so very desolate here and people were excited and happy to come across any sign of civilization!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Alamogordo-Fat Cottonwood

Alamogordo means Fat Cottonwood in Spanish. They were prolific when I was younger, lining streets and in front yards. Slowly they have disappeared. A few are left in the parks, living touchstones and silent sintinels to the past.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Apple Barn

I have always loved this old apple barn, it is in High Rolls which is about 8 miles up highway 82 from Alamogordo. High Rolls is known for apples and cherries. They have a cherry festival every summer and an apple festival in the fall. Nice booths nestled in the trees next to the Lions Park where they sell produce and pies. For years I dreamed of making the old barn a home, but it was eventually sold and the people who purchased it turned it into a store. They sell country items, apple related items, local foods etc. They have some true history with that building.

Their shopping baskets. I liked them because it was from Scottland S. Dakota. Did eBay strike again? It makes me curious about David Biller country stores.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bluff Springs

Bluff Springs. What else to say? It is amazing that we are surrounded by so much beauty. Living in the desert it is hard to imagine that such wonders are this close! It is serene here. A trail leads to the top where you can see the spring coming forth from the mountain. This place is about an hour from Alamogordo up in the Sacramento Mountains. I have known this place my entire life, having visited it for hikes and campouts. The water that flows here contains disolved calcium carbonate and that is what has created the bluff. The disolved minerals come from inside the mountain and create caves where it has been.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ruidoso Fun

Father's day we decided to escape the heat a bit and headed to Ruidoso. Ruidoso is in the mountains, and is a resort/skiing area, people visit to vacation, ski, watch the quarter horse races, and gamble at the Inn of the Mountain Gods. Nestled in a beautiful area, there is alot to see and do. We chose the fun park... it has bumper boats, go carts, minature golf etc. It was relaxing and well worth it!

Hungry after all the exertion, we went to eat. I had to document the size of the hamburger that John ate. It was an full 1 pound of meat, cheese and several slices of thick bacon and entirely yummy! (I am not mentioning the chicken quesadilla and fries that he also had).

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise bushes are in full bloom!!!

I love the intense colors, here in the desert, we admire even the smallest, most short lived of blooms. We finally had some rain last night, maybe a quarter inch. I will take what I can get!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Geodesic Domes

We have several of these in the area. They were popular in the '70's. You can see them scattered about in the basin and in the mountains. Leftover from the hippie movement? Geodesic domes were invented after WWI, the most recognizable one is probably Spaceship Earth at Epcot which is an entire geodesic sphere.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Strange Tree June

All of these branches are new since the last post. They are about 4 feet plus so far. Now, this might not be anything interesting if you live in an area where there is rain, but here in the desert? It is nothing short of a miracle!

Comparison Shot for last strange tree entry

Yard is greening up nicely!! Summer is officially here.

Purple Sage

Really, we call it Texas sage, but come on, we are in New Mexico.... These are a strikingly brilliant purple right now and a welcome relief from the surroundings.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Maguey-Century Plant

Here is an unusual sight. Three Maguey plants blooming at the same time. This is a relative to the huge Agave plants from which rope, clothing, milk and tequila. They are also called century plants because it was thought that they lived for 100 years. They only bloom once in their life and it is highly rare for all three to be blooming togather. When the stalks shoot up they grow at an amazing rate. Here in the desert, things grow SLOWLY. After blooming the plant will slowly die and need to be taken out.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Nuestra Senora de La Luz

In 1719 the Franciscan Missionaries from Spain built a chapel here called Neuestra Senora de la Luz- Our Lady of the Light. The village of La Luz is the oldest in the Tularosa Basin.

We are back down the mountain in La Luz at the little Catholic church. A charming and well attended fixture in the area. The statue of the Madonna up high, holding the Christ child was carved by a local blind sculptor named Mark Shoesmith many years ago. She used to be out front where you see the other statue in the middle photo. The Christ child was stolen about 25 years ago and they replaced it, then eventually moved her up and replaced her out front and added a nicho with a cover to protect the new statue.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Lodge in Cloudcroft

You cannot go to Cloudcroft without a visit to The Lodge. The Lodge was built in 1899, burned down in 1909 and was rebuilt in 1911. It is a beautiful place to stay or just go for a meal. They boast many famous people as guests throughout the years and it once was managed by Conrad Hilton. The Lodge has a popular golf course and a few shops. The restaurant is named Rebecca's after the resident ghost. Rebecca is a red-headed ghost of a young woman who was murdered by her jealous boyfriend...
This pavilion down the hill from the main lodge was the initial building. It is still used private parties and dancing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cloudcroft Trestle

Any talk of Cloudcroft or the area would not be complete without the Trestle. As we were founded to be a railroad town and Cloudcroft was founded for the timber, we have traces left of the past. The trestle a favorite photo op around the area, and is quite photogenic in all four seasons. There are faint scars of the old rail beds all through the mountains and ghost towns of memory only. This is one of the few visible reminders.
Standing facing East, I snapped the photo of the trestle, turning to face west, this view greets you. From this vantage, you can see across the entire basin and the mountains on the other side in the distance. If you look at the base of the far mountains, it looks like white low clouds. That is White Sands in the distance. From where I took the photo, it is probably 35 miles? The weather was in the low 70's yesterday up in the mountains and the high 90's in Alamo.