The Little Red Schoolhouse Tree

Little red schoolhouse.  Photo by Jim Reed.   At first I imagined a small tree growing in a planter in the corner of the old red schoolhouse when Kevin told me there was a tree inside. "Why is that unusual?" I asked. "Lots of people put trees inside homes. "No," responded Kevin, "It’s a big tree. They put a big tree inside the schoolhouse." Sitting at a picnic table behind The Trading Post at Three Rivers, I had already spent […] Read more »

Sunspot, New Mexico — easier than a trip to the Sun

National Solar Vacuum Tower. Photo by Jim Reed. If you really wanted a close-up look at the sun, you could fill up your gas tank and head sunward. Traveling eight hours each day at sixty miles per hour you’d cover the roughly 93 million miles from the earth to the sun in about 189,583 or so days (519.4 years) and arrive just before Thanksgiving in the year 2,517. Faster and far more realistic would be a visit to Sunspot, located […] Read more »

Wild West History at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park

Oliver Lee Memorial State Park. Photo by Joel Bickings. At first site, Oliver Lee Memorial State Park in southern New Mexico might seem merely a quiet, off-the-beaten-path, sun-backed stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert. The stillness of the landscape, the massive towering cliffs that form a Hollywood-like set backdrop to the Park, even the occasional, swirling dust clouds that meander through the mesquite and yucca desert might give one the impression of quiet permanence. However, a closer look reveals much more. […] Read more »

Father Albert’s Legacy — the Apache Christ church (St. Joseph’s)

Apache Christ Church In 1916 Father Albert sat in the Tularosa, New Mexico train depot waiting for Ralph Shanta to pick him up and take him to the Mescalero reservation. This was his first assignment after becoming an ordained priest of the Franciscan order. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he came from a world of culture and comfort. This was not that world. Sweat poured down his back as he stared at the striated cliffs of the Sacramento Mountains. […] Read more »

Exploring White Sands National Monument

The majestic soaptree yucca spears the New Mexico sky. Photo by Michael and Allison Goldstein. Dawn has yet to break when we first arrive at White Sands National Monument. It is bitterly cold, the gates won’t open until seven, and we are unable to find somebody who can allow us to enter early. Nonetheless, the morning light will reveal the first sand dunes we’ve ever seen, and "magic hour" for photographers should not be wasted in a motel bed or […] Read more »

Alamogordo’s Space Center — learning about life in space with all its technical difficulties

The Little Joe 2 rocket was used to test the Apollo launch escape system. Photo by Michael and Allison Goldstein. As seasoned science-fiction fans, Allison and I approached Alamogordo’s Space Center with questions about liftoff velocity, orbital trajectories, and re-entry temperatures. Avid readers of Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, our minds were open to ideas regarding black holes, red planets, and little green men. We were, after all, enroute to one of the bastions of twentieth-century science: the NASA space […] Read more »

Elk, High Rolls, Mayhill and Mountain Park — small mountain communities

View from rest stop west of High Rolls and Mountain Park. Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks Eleven miles northeast of Alamogordo on U.S. 82 are the almost twin communities of High Rolls and Mountain Park. It is this part of the road that traverses several life zones after it leaves the Alamogordo area because it rises about forty-five hundred feet within sixteen miles. Before you reach High Rolls, there is a rest stop that provides a panoramic view to the […] Read more »

Dunken, Hope, Pinon, Sacramento, Sunspot, Timberon and Weed — hamlets along two-lane roads

Methodist Assembly Retreat Center in Sacramento. Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks If you’re one of those persons who always wonders "where does that road go," and who likes the wide-open spaces of New Mexico, including sparse traffic and two lane roads, then discovering these seven hamlets is a pleasant adventure. From Roswell, take U.S. 285 south to Artesia, then U.S. 82 west. Hope, 21 miles west of Artesia, was settled about 1884 and was known as Badgerville or Badger because […] Read more »

Bent and Mescalero — home of the Mescalero Apache

View from Mescalero Apache Tribal Offices. Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks The Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation headquarters is located in the town of Mescalero, on US 70 seventeen miles northeast of Tularosoa. Originally established on May 27, 1873 by Executive Order of President Ulysses S. Grant, the reservation was first located near Fort Stanton. The present reservation was established in 1883, covering 463,000 acres between the White and Sacramento mountains, all in Tribal Ownership status. According to information furnished by […] Read more »

Tularosa and La Luz — history and roses

House in Tularosa. Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks. Although Tularosa derives its name from the Spanish word tule meaning reeds or cattails, City of Roses is much more appealing and conjures up the picturesque town that Tularosa is. Original settlers in the 1860s came from washed-out villages on the Rio Grande near Mesilla. Due to frequent raids by the Apaches from what is now the Mescalero Apache Reservation, occupation was untenable and the site was abandoned. Another attempt at settlement […] Read more »