Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Arizona Here We Come!

We left Kerrville, Texas August 25th and drove at a leisurely pace heading for Flagstaff, Arizona. We pulled into r.v. parks by 2:00 p.m. to avoid traveling in the peak heat of the day, as the furry crew ride in the camper.  Our first stop was Ozona, Texas which is located a short distance before Fort Stockton.  There were lots of oil workers in the area and we felt lucky to get into an r.v. park with full hook-ups, even if it was just a gravel lot!  The driver's side brake rotor was setting up a substantial racket as we arrived in Ozona.  Roy picked up the needed parts to make a repair and we booked in for two nights at the I-10 R.V.Park in Fort Stockton at only $20 a night with full hook-ups!
At one time Fort Stockton was considered the main hub for the outlying smaller communities, but I wouldn't think it would be now. The small communities look self sufficient and Fort Stockton appeared to be a dusty rundown desert town.  It has a restored historic fort called Fort Stockton and some other historic buildings in the old downtown area.  This picture was taken at the visitor's center which is housed in the restored 1911 Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient Railroad Depot.
Here is another picture of the visitor's center and historic railway station.
Here is some information in regards to the history of the train station and railway.  If I'm understanding the information correctly, it appears the railway is still operational and is one of only 7 rail gateways between the United States and Mexico.  The 391 mile long South Orient line is the only significant amount of rail owned by the state of Texas.
Comanche Springs of Fort Stockton while historically not the beautifully landscaped picture it is today has a very rich history!  It was once considered one of the largest artesian spring systems in Texas and provided 60 million gallons of water per day in the middle of a desert!
For those of you with an interest in history take the time to read the information sign about Commanche Springs.  A lawsuit in the 1930's attempting to stop well owners from interfering with the normal flow of water from Commanche Springs is what defined Texas groundwater laws!  I've developed quite a love of history from our travels.
A local artist creates these wonderful metal silhouettes.
The Comanche War Trail came though Fort Stockton with Comanche Springs being a stop over. The numbers of native people making the journey from north to south during the September full moon or what was also known as the Comanche moon was so numerous as to make a trail a mile wide!
Here are some silhouettes representing the 9th cavalry.  The 9th cavalry established their first headquarters at Fort Stockton in July 1867 when the fort was reoccupied following the Civil War.
Here is the history of the fort and the troops that were stationed there.
This is a small portion of the expansive restored Fort Stockton located in the old downtown.  Fort Stockton was named for Commodore Robert Field Stockton, a naval officer who distinguished himself in the Mexican War.
These silhouettes represent the early settlers.
The great movement into the west took place from 1840 to 1890. Fort Stockton and Pecos County played an important role in this great migration.
These silhouettes represent the Vaqueros.  Vaqueros are the cowboys of the Spanish colonial period.
Vaqueros were hired by ranchers to drive cattle from New Mexico to Mexico City and later from Texas to Mexico City.  Many of the techniques for wrangling longhorns were established by the Vaqueros.

We headed out of Fort Stockton for Carlsbad, New Mexico.  We considered stopping at Carlsbad Caverns for a different cave tour than the one we did before and opted to bypass the caverns.  We hate to start sounding like my dad in his later years, but we've seen enough caves!  We opted to stay at Brantley Lake State Park outside of Carlsbad.  It's a nice little r.v. park sitting way out in the desert.  There is access to swimming and boating in the lake.
This pine needle nest was in a branch of the conifer tree in our campsite.  A brief Internet search suggests it may be a red squirrel nest.  From our stay at the state park we went to Roswell to visit friends we made on our last stay at the Red Barn R.V. Park.  We just stayed one night, but had a great time visiting!
We traveled the familiar Billy the Kid Trail out of Roswell through the Hondo Valley and the historic community of Lincoln into new territory for us starting with the blip in the road called Pie Town!  It appears that this pie shop may be all of Pie Town!  We, of course, had to stop in for pie and coffee. When we got our pieces of pie, we instantly exclaimed that we should have shared a piece, as the portions given were large.  It was amazing how fast our pieces of oatmeal pecan pie disappeared and how quickly we considered whether we could eat another piece!  If passing through Pie Town, NM be sure to stop in for a piece of one of their delicious pies!  I heard the waitress say that if a person calls ahead, they will make the pie of your choice and have it waiting for your arrival!
After our pie and coffee break, we moved on to Socorro, NM.  Little did we know that Socorro is home to the world famous Vary Large Array radio telescope research station!  It sits just outside town on Hwy. 60.  Entrance to the visitor's center is free and has some nice displays with mind blowing information!  It's interesting the things that go on in our world that we have little knowledge of!  This is the site where the Jodi Foster movie "Contact" was filmed.
After hundreds of miles of desert, we finally made it into the mountain meadows and pine forests of Flagstaff, Arizona!  It's hard to capture a community, but I felt this walk into Cococino National Forest right behind our r.v. park gives a good feel for the area.  The mountain community of approximately 68,000 people is bordered by Cococino National Forest and wooded mountains. Flagstaff is at an elevation of 7,000 feet.  It is a college community hosting Northern Arizona University.  The community has an outdoorsy feel with sporting goods shops and mountain bikes with super fat tires on display.  There is downhill skiing locally.  Our first impression of Flagstaff is that it is worth a trip here just to breath the mountain air and that it is a place that would encourage a person to get physically fit!  The dogs, Roy, and I are enjoying  hikes out through the pictured meadow, and I've made it my goal to make it to the base of the mountain before our month's stay is over.  We arrived around the first of September.  The daytime temperatures are in the 70s and the evenings are dropping into the 50s.  Although we could probably stay here through October, we have decided there are enough signs of cold weather coming that we'll head further south in Arizona at the end of the month.