SO MANY THINGS TO DO, SEE, and LEARN ABOUT IN A DESERT
My New Mexico vacation ranked in the top five in my life.
How Does A Pistachio Grow?
PistachioLand, Home of the largest Pistachio is owned by the McGinn Family in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Within the farm there is a country store and an Arena Blanca Winery. They had samples of pistachio’s and wines and even had a combo, pistachio wine. I indulged in both. They had several hot spicy flavored nuts that I was to chicken to try. I enjoyed the garlic and green chili flavored pistachios.
During the ranch tour we learned about pistachio trees. Our guide said, “When most men die, they want to come back as a male pistachio tree.” The reason . . . they have one job and that is to fertilize up to twenty-five female trees.
The trees begin to bear pistachio’s in the fourth or fifth year, yielding only a half a pound. Production rises by the eighth year, but a tree doesn’t reach full maturity until after fifteen years, where they will produce up to eighteen pounds of nuts. When the shell splits, that’s the sign the nut is ripe for picking. A special machine hugs each tree and shakes it until the ripened nuts fall. This happens around September tenth of each season. Guess you have to be a patient person to start a nut farm.
White Sands National Monument
Huge hills of ever-moving gypsum sand cover over 275 square miles of desert. The hills shift, slump, and grow in the relentless southwest desert winds. Only a few plants and animals survive burial by the crusading sands, but we survived and had a blast exploring the dunes. The sand felt fine, soft, and as silky as baby powder. It was cold on the bare feet. The air filled my lungs with its freshness and made me believe I could climb a mountain, or at least a dune, but then when I reached the top, I gasped, first for air to breathe and then at the gorgeous views.
Sledding in February isn’t an odd thing for Michiganders, but sledding in a desert is something I’ve never heard of. Unlike our Michigan dunes, gypsum sand doesn’t convert the sun’s energy into heat, so people can walk on it bare-footed and sled down even in the high summer New Mexico temperatures.
A Bit Scary
4000 miles of this property has been used for testing experimental weapons and space technology since after World War Two. I’m thankful we weren’t there when they launched missiles. According to the signs along the road they launch twice a week and close the roads.
Here’s a special treat if you are a Boys to Men fan. This link to their video, Water Runs Dry, is filmed in White Sands. I love the aerial views.
Faywood, NM Hot Springs
As I stepped into the hundred and seven degree water and lowered my body below the surface, a long drawn out ah escaped. This was an amazing experience soaking in a desert oasis of the Earth’s mineral waters. I understand why the Mimbres and the Apache native peoples considered this a sacred healing place. Later in the 1500’s the Spanish explorers also used these geothermal pools.
How could these Earth heated natural waters not be healing mentally, spiritually and physically? As I left the pool, I felt rejuvenated. My skin felt soft, smooth and amazing afterwards. I wished we had the time to rent one of Faywood’s cabins and stay for more soaks.
On Top of The World
The above photo was captured by driving two hours on a twisted, (mostly) no guard rail, narrow road up the steep mountain side. You can see for hundreds of miles, maybe even thousands on a clear day. This was only one of those captivating, take-your-breath-away moments.
We also went to the Inn of the Mountain of Gods Resort and Casino where the Mescarleo Apache Tribes were welcoming. I discovered my luck wasn’t any better in New Mexico than at home, but the views were spectacular and we had tons of fun.
We visited the Alameda Park Zoo in Alamogordo, NM.
I visited several historic stores in Old Mesilla dating back to the mid 1800’s.
*I didn’t see any rattlesnakes. I heard they hibernate during the winter months. Yay.
Thank you for allowing me into your lives and to share my travel experiences with you.