36 hours in the Land of Enchantment

Sometimes it all comes together. We get a level clean site with a view, gazebo, pool, playground and unbelievable weather. Las Cruces New Mexico was on her best behavior with a light breeze and 80 degree temperatures and we reveled in her hospitality!

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Our roadschool day sent us to Dripping Springs Natural Area in the Organ Mountains. I was so impressed with the visitors center there as the Rangers and volunteers were very engaged with the kids and we’re happy to answer any questions. We learned about all of the various wildlife and historic ruins of the area while becoming Junior Explorers.

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The hike to Dripping Springs was a 3 mile moderate round trip. Hiking with a newly turned 4 year old is always a crapshoot, but it’s a risk I am always willing to take for the benefit of the other older and less lamenting siblings. This day little Boober was her less that stellar adventurous self. We had only hiked about a third of mile when the stopping and sitting in the middle of the trail in protest of going any further began. When this happens I use my first line of defense in the form of a “tattoo” drawn on her arm that has magical powers when she pushes it. It’s her “energy button”. This works about half of the time. This was not one of those lucky 50% chances. Most of the time though this non-compliance to be motivated by her curiosity alone can be forced by food. So just as soon as we had started our jaunt, we were picking a spot for lunch. We found a 100 year old water tank and perched on top as we ate our hummus and fruit.

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The next 1.2 miles our homemade energy button carried us through to our first ruins stop. In the late 1800’s wealthier residence of Las Cruces would vacation at this higher altitude hotel to escape the heat in the valley. The ruins consisted of a chicken coop, horse corral, vegetable garden and general store that all served the visitors of the hotel. They could park their horse and buggy here and the garden and livestock would keep them fed as they got a few days of relaxation.

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Higher up the trail we came to the place for which the area gets its name and it definitely lived up to it. It was dripping alright. If you’ve ever had a leaky faucet then you can get a pretty good picture of what the springs might look like. Below on the left is the photo that motivated me to do this hike. On the right is what the springs looks like today.

After speaking with the rangers at the visitors center, we learned that it is generally flowing during the monsoon season.This is not monsoon season. However, it was still beautiful. We saw lizards and birds and a multitude of different species of butterflies. P-man counted 27 in all. I can only imagine the paradise it is in the monsoon season.

Just about another 100 yards up we came to the Tuberculosis Sanitarium ruins which I found fascinating. With TB spreading like wildfire in many communities in the early 20th century Dr. Nathan Boyd started a sanitarium in honor of his wife who contracted the disease. The hospital was in operation by Dr. Boyd who then sold it to a Dr. Sexton until in fell into ruin in the 1940’s.

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Then as difficult as the hike was coming up the mountain at times with “the vocal one”, she ran ALL the way down the mountain to the Visitors Center. Go figure! When we got back we completed our Junior Explorer packs and then got sworn in as Junior Explorers of Dripping Springs Natural Area.

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When we got back to the campground, we decided a swim and a night out eating authentic Mexican food was in order. Andele’s is our favorite spot in Las Cruces which features an outstanding salsa bar. After we stuff ourselves we like to tour the historic Old Mesilla where Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to hang and Arizona became the shape it is today with he Gadsden Purchase in 1848.

Back at the campground, Hubby and I got to enjoy our gazebo, a glass of wine and a view of the city lights. We met a couple from Oregon who were camping in a tent and traveling in their Toyota Corolla. Although his crisp starched shirt definitely didn’t represent a tent camper that I had ever seen!

We always try to squeeze every ounce of fun and education on our short visits across America. There are still a few points that I would like to hit on another trip to this city in the desert. There are vineyards in the valley of Las Cruces that have award winning wine and there are caves to be explored in the surrounding mountains. Adventures set for another day.

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