Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Arizona Black And White

I got up before the sun but Rusty hardly needed me. He wandered off into the desert, never too far, never quite completely beyond the reach of my presence but he was on his own. He left me with my camera and I was in the mood to try to capture what I saw of the countryside around Cousin David’s house. 

Mesilla New Mexico

I trust it is by now becoming apparent we were having a ball exploring these western locations, taking as much time as we could and dipping on and off the freeway stopping as we wished. I highly recommend this form of travel when you can.

For some reason I had been wanting to return to Mesilla ever since we planned this part of the trip. In truth it was my nostalgia driving our journey from Austin through the Hill Country to Del Rio and along the border.

We came to Mesilla around 2011 with Cheyenne on a summer road trip as I recall to California. I think that was the period as I have lost all my photos from that time; my own clerical error and I can't find any pictures of her ambling through the summer heat surrounded by classic New Mexico adobe architecture. I had fun photographing it this trip while Layne managed Rusty for me.

Mesilla has some history of course even though it bills itself now as a center of art culture and good eats. It became the newly built home to Mexican refugees after they were put on the US side of the new border created by our old friend the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, and they unaccountably didn't want to stay in the town of Doña Ana and become US citizens. They got screwed over anyway by the Gadsden Purchase of 1853 after Apache attacks on Americans in the area brought in the US cavalry and a mapping error was supposedly rectified by putting Mesilla in the US anyway. Sometimes you just can't buck your fate.

It doesn't end there. In the Unpleasantness Between The States the confederacy made little Mesilla the capital and focal point of its western territorial claims which as you can imagine brought the good burghers of the town more unwelcome attention. This time California Volunteers came to town uninvited and forced them back into the United States. After all that was over and the newly unified country settled down a whole passel of mixed characters rode through made Mesilla their home.

From Wikipedia:
During the "Wild West" era, Mesilla was known for its cantinas and festivals. The area attracted such figures as Billy the KidPat Garrett and Pancho Villa. The village was also the crossroads of two major stagecoach, mail, and trade routes: the Butterfield Stagecoach and the Camino Real de Tierra AdentroThe village of Mesilla was the most important city of the region until 1881.
Here we see traditional symbols of welcome in New Mexico, strings of chilies:

I like Mesilla upon my second visit though I must say living here must be a trial on par with Old Town Key West as the streets are narrow, offsets are not known and parking must be....complicated?

There was a pre-Christmas art fair going on in the Central Plaza and Layne found a piece she thought might enhance the van. The artists whose name I omitted to note was a cheerful soul with his own stories of the Florida Keys and we spent a pleasant few minutes socially distanced.  

Once again our 21 foot Promaster snuggles in among the cars masking its identity as a traveling home.

After another of our discreet daily sessions with The Body Project videos by the side of the road, flapping our arms and lifting our feet as though reason had abandoned us, we got back on the freeway to make our next freezing cold overnight stop 24 miles west of Deming, New Mexico. 

New Mexico it appears is filled with these triffids of fearsome fame. No one seems to care and I have to admit they didn't make any dangerous moves on Rusty or me. I still didn't entirely trust them.

It was a frigid cold night and I was most unwilling to fulfill my earlier promise to my co-pilot and all round helpmate to pay her back for cooking and washing up by emptying the toilet. I put the five gallon tank inits discreet transport bag and trudged out into the snowy Russian steppes to do my duty at an hour when no one else was foolish enough to have a full bladder. The operation went as well as might be expected, I left no trace and I hardly complained at all about my frozen fingers and frostbitten nose. 

What a freezing night it was! Custom Coach has done us proud with their insulation system as it makes a huge difference to our quality of life in hot or cold extremes. Not to mention sound deadening which enables us to sleep close to traffic and not get woken up.
I walked the length of the rest area on I-10 the next morning. I reckon it must have been half a mile long, decidedly the biggest rest area I've ever seen. Unfortunately the grassy areas were plagued with little sand burrs which did Rusty no good but we walked the roads and made a decent stroll out of it.

Another free night on the road and on the way to Arizona.