May 15

The drive from LA to Phoenix, it's fun, really. The first sixty miles were a bit grim as the air quality was utterly dismal but once reaching the amazingly cool Wind Farms outside Palm Springs all was well.
Desert colors. The rest stops along this route are most recommendable. And when you open the car door and become enveloped in the blast furnace that is the desert near summer, well, you say to yourself, it's a dry heat.
My mother's cousin's son Spud! Why is it, you ask, that he is holding his hand so oddly...
...because he's got a World Series Ring! He's a manager in the Engineering department, and has been since Day One, for the Arizona Diamondbacks and since all the managers get rings, so did he.

Here's the thing. All his Entire life Spud wanted nothing more than to be in baseball. And here he is with a World Series Ring! Maybe you don't always get the details just so but Dreams DO come true.
And here's Kathy! She can do Eeeeverything.
May 16

In the morning I lolled around Spud and Kathy's place and then around 10 went to the ballpark for a FanTastic tour. Thank you sooo much Spud!
I heard so many interesting stories there is no hope I'll remember them all. One thing that stuck good though is all about the Air Conditioning.

The roof can close and they can cool up the whole place in a few hours. See that silver duct work, that carries the cool air. There are gigantic fans blowing over chilled water, like an evaporative cooler. It's quite a massive operation all right.
Look deep into the picture under the JumboTron and you can see the swimming pool and jacuzzi - a whole hang-out backyard available for renting at $5,999 per game, and fully booked for the season.

They have a lot of hooks to pull in the fans. For one thing every Sunday they let all the kids run the bases. That'll get the parents lined up.
Baseball-Ad-Baseball-Ad-Baseball you get the idea.
Hi Spud! We tootled around in this cart for an hour or so and then did a little walking.
The Press Box. Every service has its own phone, data port, and power, isolated from the others. Then there are radio and television booths next door.

So many systems to be attended to by the Engineering department!
Here's the TV booth. I'm ending with the signatures of celebrities who have visited. Vin Scully is at the very top a bit in from the left corner. Vin Scully IS the sound of baseball!
I'm heading East on I-10 and was distracted over and over by the amazing sights.

Click here for information about Saguaro National Park. Here's the Visitor's Center.
The Sonora Desert. It's a dry heat. Right. I lasted not more than 10 minutes out here in the blast-o heat. And it's MAY. It's so gorgeous though. What a treat. There is so much to look at - we forget.
Check out the bird on the second tallest arm. It's a virtual Saguaro Forest here.
I was diverted onto a side road by a change in the scenery.

Just because I'm almost sixty years old doesn't mean I no longer get to take picture of rocks that look like big fat b*tts.
Desert trees...
...and desert rocks with other kinds of desert trees.

This diversion took me to Willcox, a small town several miles off the main road where I spent the night in a arch-typical roadside motel.

Here's what AAA has to say about Willcox: 'Willcox grew from a small cow town into one of the country's major cattle-shipping centers. In days past, the large cattle ranches in the nearby hills harbored nearly as many fugitive gunslingers as cattle. The area also was the homeland of the Apache Indians; Cochise and Geronimo led raids in the area.'
May 17

A couple of miles outside Las Cruces is 'Historic Old Mesilla'. Under Spanish rule until 1821, established as a US territory in 1854, and full of tales of Western desperadoes.
It seems many of the original buildings are retained in tact, full of Gift Shop Items of course, and it would be much more entertaining if they got the cars off the main plaza. But anyway seeing it was well worth the detour.
A little bit of Spring stays with us.
The church in that first picture was closed so I found the office and asked when it would open. They gave me the key. It always pays to ask.
Cactus/succulent blooms are irresistible.
Continuing on to Alamogordo I took another few miles detour this time to see the White Sands Missile Range. The signs said there was a Visitor's Center. The brochure called it a Museum & Missile Park. 'At the close of WWII White Sands Proving Ground was established to test the emerging rocket technology.'

This was part of it. I think the whole set-up was designed for 10 year old boys and their 70 year old grandpas.
And now entering White Sands National Monument. I thought I was timing my arrival for a couple of hours before sunset but I missed the time change(!) and so was later than I intended...
...but still in time for the guided Sunset Stroll. Park Rangers, our tax dollars doing good work.
The main topic of the tour was 'how do plants and animals survive out here in such a hostile, shifting environment.' It was very interesting too.

You can find pretty much the whole story here at the White Sands National Monument website.
The Group - a middle-aged couple from Germany and an Indian family of four. It was fun!
The long shadows of evening.
A soaptree yucca.
Here are 275 square miles of shifting, wave like gypsum dunes. It's the setting sun that gives this tan color. It also looks tan when moist but the signature color of course is white.
He's taking a shot of our tour group.
You can't see them all but the crests of those dunes are scattered with photographers set-up for sunset.
Good night!
May 18

My night in Alamogordo was in a place similar to the previous night's. These roadside motels run around $35 but I did check out several each time before coming on one that felt good. You can hardly beat the price even at hostels and when they're good you've got everything you need in luxury.
I went back into White Sands to do the circle drive in the daytime. One thing about the blowing sands that shift the dunes, the road is always disappearing. They have to plow the sand, like snow.

Blindingly bright isn't it.
In the 'interdunal' areas (I think that's the right word) the plants were all abloom.
Mad dogs and Englishmen...and high school students. Lordy.
From what I have seen so far, there is one number one vehicle in Arizona and New Mexico. There is no number two. That vehicle is the Ford F150. I don't know what's with the Harley designation. Many of the F150 trucks are wearing these shared-logos, not always H-D.
Taking a detour to look at a place called Three Rivers. I didn't see any rivers and the campground was closed due to fire hazard. I liked the layers - dirt and rocks, blooming shrubs, dead bushes, green trees, blue mountains.
Here is called Valley of Fires and it is a state park. It's an acres huge lava bed down there - notice the cool walkway. I'm standing at a beautifully constructed campsite. If I was camping I'd be staying here for sure!

You can click here for Part 2 Santa Fe and Taos!
HomeUSA the West • Arizona-NM • '06 May: Phoenix, Alamogordo/White Sands

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