Wednesday, May 01, 2013

new mexico 2013, day two

day two in new mexico dawned bright and creepy.

which is fine. if i am not scared out of bed, how else am i going to make it downstairs in time for breakfast?

besides, leff and i needed to get out the door. we had a lot of driving to do if we were going to see everything that needed to be seen.

we headed south on saturday to socorro. it was here where we first started seeing warnings for rattlesnakes.

i also created a warning of my own.

"why socorro?" i can hear you asking.  tech, baby. leff's alma mater.

this is the building where he learned how to code. (although, i have a sneaking suspicion that he already knew how to do that before he went to college.)

it's a very compact school with lots and lots of stucco. leff says that it has changed rather dramatically. that socorro has grown a bit as well. i just thought it was neat seeing leffie's old stomping grounds. (he's been on campus at both of my old schools. i think it still astonishes him that some of my intro courses had 500 students.)

one thing that had not changed, however, was the giant mountain with the "m" painted on it.

since there is a mining contingent associated with tech, there are areas that are not open to the public because of, you know, controlled explosions.

i never got used to that.

anyway, the MAJOR thing that leff was looking forward to in town was el camino. I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND WHY

we were mainly there for the green chili cheese fries. THEY WERE SO DELICIOUS!! leff and i shared this plate.

AND THEN my chili rellenos showed up. OH. MY. GOD. i couldn't even finish them. they were SO GOOD but it was SO MUCH FOOD

do yourself a favor and go to el camino if you are anywhere near socorro. the staff is wonderful, the atmosphere is perfect and the food. OH THE FOOD

before leaving socorro, we stopped to take pictures of the owl cigar mural.


right outside of town is a box canyon where leff used to go climbing. he said that it didn't used to have an official name but it has now been branded as "the box".

it's incredibly quiet here. so much so that the only thing i could hear was the ringing in my ears.

leff scrabbled around on the rocks for a while, climbing all the way up to one of the caves. since i am really good at spraining things and bruising for no reason, i stayed further down the hill and took pictures.

and then we started driving to my favorite place during this whole trip. not even another warning for rattlesnakes dampened my spirit.

although, they did freak me out. this tree? this tree was surrounded by snake holes. D:

still! i could not let the threat of some snakes get between me AND THE VLA!!

this place! COR! things are VERY LARGE!

they are also very nicely arrayed.

and there are these warnings all over the place.

here, have two pointless videos so you can get the scope of the place. we were at the vla when the dishes were in a very tight configuration.

it's all so goddamned impressive even if i almost puked from altitude. (7000 feet, kittens. i have lived at sea level for a LONG TIME now (too long.) and do not do well at very high altitude.)

guess what! rattlesnakes. rattlesnakes had been seen in the area.

thankfully, we did not see any on this trip. just lots and lots of warnings. and many, many satellite dishes.

ANYWAY, after about an hour at the vla, we climbed back in the car and headed to el malpais!

this is how leff and i navigate, fwiw. i refuse to give up my map reading skills.

in name, el malpais is a badlands. in practice, it is a bad ass lands. there is a 3000 year old lava flow. you can HIKE on this 3000 year old lava flow. just follow the cairns.

it is not easy going, however. particularly if you are wearing converse without socks like a moron. like me.

i am not doing this place justice with my photographs. it is desolate. and spooky. and there are sinkholes.

while we were on the lava the wind kicked up. it was a lonely, knife edge noise what with all of the cracks in the lava and the low scrubby trees. i will admit to being spooked. leff and i were the only people out there. we couldn't even see the road.

i wish that i didn't always have thoughts of the fucking donner party at times like that. but, well, i am morbid and ridiculous. (the only thing that cheers me up in these situations is thinking about how gross a "donner kebab" would be. (i'm horrible.))

on the way to el malpais, leff and i drove through a small dust devil. it was one of the strangest things i have ever done. the car was suddenly surrounded by swirling dust and paper and then BOOM it was over.

that experience didn't prepare me for the larger dust devil that confronted us on our way out of the lava area. here's really shitty video of the fucker that threw a tree at us.

and then the park threw some gorgeous scenery at us.

i mean, COME ON lava flows AND a natural bridge? el malpais does not know when to stop. (and i am very glad for that.)

after about 11 hours or so on the road, leff and i rolled back into the abq where we stopped at the dog house.

jesus christ, they have great hot dogs. they were incredibly simple and cooked really quickly. i have missed this type of place. THEY HAVE FRITO PIE ON THE MENU you cannot get frito pie in seattle. not that i would want to eat it here. the pnw has a unique way of removing the soul from anything delicious. YEAH I SAID IT

tomorrow! we head up north to santa fe and it is just as horrible as i thought it would be. THE DAY IS SAVED, however, by bandelier and the caldera. i think we ate some food? it might not have been food though. check back soon!

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