Friday, July 06, 2012

To Roswell

It was another hot day a few years ago, also in early July, and during some trying times. 

But it was also a Saturday, perfect for the quick road trip to Roswell I was already considering. Not so much to see their UFO festival, though I've always pondered life beyond our planet. Just now, I needed to help clear my head and see some scenery.
Errands finished, leaving the Chihuahuan desert grassland in Abq, soon to go over those mountains - the Arizona-New Mexico Mountains


I've always liked many of the newer bridges NMDOT has built, and the revegetated Fourwing Saltbush on the slope looks far better than most of the less-for-more, desert-denying and design principle-defying landscape treatments done to us over the last 15 years. And much cheaper.


If only they would keep it cleaned up more, and perhaps add some strategically-placed natives like Soaptree, Sotol, or the like.

Over an hour over those mountains and south, just east of the Gran Quivira site...cool and damp air. The fragrance of Oneseed Juniper...wild southwest spice!

A high ridge, separating Chihuahuan desert grassland in front (with Soaptree Yucca) and more 
semi-arid Great Plains Grassland beyond. A good storm with refreshing rainfall.

The scent of the heavy, cool air from a fresh rain, not to mention the grasses, wet soil, and the feathery gray Sand Sage, was even more refreshing. Near Claunch...same place where my former Honda Accord met a fast pronghorn antelope last July...

Woke up to fog, dew and dampness, and this Beargrass.

Now in the lowest, easternmost part of those Arizona-New Mexico Mountains, the dampness continues, but the air warmed some. Seeing these gold-flowering Damianita among the Gray Oak was a cheerful surprise. Limestone here.

Giant Sacaton grass clumps at the edge of the pasture that lies along the Hondo River valley - so serene, like lyric pictures in "Song for New Mexico" by Ruidoso's Flying J Wranglers.


"There's a farmer in the valley, about as happy as can be. A pretty, dark-eyed senorita, works beside him in their field."

Heading east onto the section of more Chihuahuan desert grassland, but this time  the easternmost stretch following the Pecos River valley northward.

The last stand of Ocotillo, against departing storm clouds. The air heavy, warmish, and damp.

A freshly-washed blue sky appears - my head clear of the previous day. Scattered Creosote Bush and other Chihuahuan Desert region shrubs, a midst an expanse of dryland grasses.

Tasajillo / Cylindropuntia leptocaulis along a fence, some fruit already ripened.

Desert Willow as the sole plant species used by NMDOT in the US-70/380 medians on the west side of Roswell. Just like what NMDOT used in the Rio Bravo medians in south Abq...but theirs' get more rain than those in Abq.


Imagine those medians depressed, swaled and gently dammed with leaky gabions, to passively harvest water through some inlets and overflow outlets. Even better, I would imagine...

Roswell's spacious Chaves County courthouse grounds

A decent steak restaurant, but too bad it's morning, since they even have a nice Texas Red Oak clump, with some Texas Sage 
and other plant accents. The tree species and steak would be sure to grab me.



The owner of this chain really gets the tie-in of the classy yet rugged good looks of the region. Just like El Paso is really part of New Mexico in most ways, this area is really a part of west Texas. You hear it in the accents, and see it here. Been to Cattle Baron, and they even serve good Starbucks coffee.


In "enlightened" Abq, that might be a half-dead spruce planted with healthy ocotillos...or some aspen clumps frying next to a thriving yucca. The contractor and client culprits scratching their collective heads...


Me scratching my head at their willing horticultural dyslexia.......

Cartoonish, yet very genuine-to-place - young Yucca rostrata or Y. thompsoniana planted along the black-on-tan mural. Not quite as good as a sirloin, but...

Cattle Baron also owns Farley's - a cool building design and architectural plants. Been there...good.


I think the Feb 2011 mega-freeze took those large century plants out, yet another proof of the lack of real power microclimates have over climate. Note the prefix micro...that will be another post! 

NMMI is a military prep school in Roswell. The military often likes remote places like Roswell, and this reminds me of some of the places I grew up while my late father was serving in the US Air Force. I mowed lawns like that.


It seems aliens and those grays also like remote places.....

Me and my live oaks...Escarpment Live Oak / Quercus fusiformis.

And a Mexican food restaurant owned by the Cattle Baron - imagine that! But I've never been. This time Texas Honey Mesquite planted to grow through and shade via openings in the tile roof's canopy.

"Potted cactus plants? But the children!" - a desert phobe


(fresh from Carlsbad Caverns with the family in their hybrid Beemer, returning to their Corralespread, complete with a sustainably-flood-irrigated, organic lavender field and free-range goats)

"But they are mostly-spineless Opuntia ellisiana. I bet you wouldn't mind if these were a flat 
planting of bedding plants or spiny tea roses, right?" - moi.

I really like how those mesquites work. Their mass sort-of mitigates the visual dominance of the asphalt parking lot expanse. 

Downtown Roswell...looks like a Denny's is closed. But quaint and clean.

I won't tell you what lies beyond here, but now it's time for me to catch some varied  viewpoints 
of some UFO lecturers, and chill inside, in air conditioning. I know, I know, more metal cut-out 
cowboy art, but this is not just the state of the outlaw-biker-cowboy, it is cattle country.


Glad they threw in a Mescal Agave / Agave neomexicananative grasses, and an opuntioid into
this scene.


A genuine sense-of-place gets me every time!!

29 comments:

  1. From my end there are alot of strange blanked out white line background where text should be. Maybe the government sensored your post for sensitive government experimental UFO stuff they were doing.

    Apologize in advance if the white out some of my text.

    *grinning*

    Aside from that I love the arhitecture as usual and love those mesquite trees growing through the roofs. Reminds me of houses up in the mountains of the San Jacintos and Warner Springs where giant Oak and Pine trees were left to growth through decking and porch roofs.


    -

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    1. I finally decided to change the template, but blogger is so clumsy to work with, customize, change fonts and alignments, etc. Try re-reading it again...should work?!?!?????!??

      ???

      I also like that effect, and I had forgotten about seeing that kind of thing in remote, sleepy So Cal mountain communities, Colorado, etc.

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  2. That's a great look at transitions the mountains bring, have only been to Roswell in late fall when it's more brown.

    Great new look to your blog and everything seems to be working fine.

    Interesting view on the lawn at NMMI, I'm sure my mild aversion to having a perfect green lawn is shaped by those years in base housing. I'll let my buffalo grass go dormant just because.

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    1. I like their insulating quality between different parts of the desert...and the cooling effect in-between! Thanks - I still have some tweeking to do, but this allowed me to post larger images in the text. Too bad the text is a pain!

      NMMI - yes, my father got that grin driving by on a trip we made while I was in HS, and it is a nice campus. I like your attitude to letting buffalograss go dormant. I want to go dormant, too!

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  3. I love the new blog design too - more of that great negative space!

    The high grassland between ABQ and Roswell is incredibly beautiful to my eyes, too - lucky you to enjoy it with the drama of storm clouds!

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    1. Negative space...it's everywhere! Thanks, hope I can fine-tune the layout some more, but the paying job calls.

      Yes, I really like the juniper savanna, polka-dot look. When I see that on uplands, I know I'm in the southwest...you see a bit N of Pueblo but it takes over just south of that town...it really defines New Mexico, and I wish it were reflected better in all our towns that have it.

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  4. Love, love, love that rainbow in the stark landscape! I don't know that I've ever seen a rainbow in the desert. I hope to some day and also hope to be lucky enough to capture a photo of it. Just breathtaking.

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    1. Thanks...that was one stunning, rejuvenating trip. Cool, fresh and damp air can do that, too. And I can't wait until you capture a rainbow in the desert...to think of what you might do with it!

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  5. I've never been to Roswell. Liked your tour. I really liked the tree growing through the roof. And the mural is just total fun! Love it! I laughed at your comments about the cacti in the pots. No, if there were thorny roses there, no one would be worried about the children! hahaha

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    1. Thanks, Roswell seems to be one of the most thriving town in the southern high plains region, and quite friendly. They had fun with that simple mural.

      Couldn't resist the rose comment (and I like roses), since many in NM don't want yucca-type plants because of spines, but they don't mind spines on roses!

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  6. I love that area between AZ and NM. We drove through it and I'd like to go back and visit again. There's nothing wrong with you and your live oaks:) I love our trees here and can't imagine life without them. I really enjoy how that building incorporated them into roof. Really smart idea. And it looks great! Hope you have a good weekend.

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    1. You too...those highland areas really offer visual (and temperature) relief for us in the valleys.

      "I'm David, and I have an oak addiction."

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  7. Well, why not pick a steakhouse by its plantings out front? I could think of worse criteria... And the Mexican restaurant with the honey mesquite pushing out its roof made me do a double take. It's a cool, surreal look from your vantage point.

    Looks like it was a successful trip, and I hope you came back invigorated. I hope the aliens were kind to you up in the mothership.

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    1. Oh yeah! As long as it has an oak, native succulents, I'll take it medium rare. Next trip to Roswell, I will have to sit on that Tia Juana's patio, and see if their green chile and Mexican food are as good as here in the Rio Grande valley.

      Fortunately, I was able to fend off our benevolent space brothers wit a thorny mesquite stick. So a great trip!

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  8. What a great road trip! Now I am really missing my son who lives in Santa Fe!

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    1. Yes, and from where I live in Abq, Roswell is 2 hours and 45 minutes! Grueling and flat, but then, pretty relaxing.

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  9. That's a cool collection of photos David...nicely laid out.

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    1. Thanks so much - that's a great drive, and so peaceful and full of interesting things. Especially when that most interesting thing called rain happens, too!

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  10. In the NM landscape, thick green lawn looks more alien than the--alien!

    And sometimes the landscape reflects the mental state, cloudy and close breaking into sunlight and sweet breeze...

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    1. I agree...the last house on base I mowed was Alabama! I like how you describe landscape and mental state. It was one sweet breeze!

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  11. ocotillos....oh how I need to find one! Those look groovy!!!!!!!!! Pretty pictures!!!!

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    1. I've seen some ocotillos in your area...best for dry, well-draining, hot, sunny spots. Unless seed-grown (some available, some nurseries can special-order from Mountain States), they have a low transplant success unless well-rooted in a container...<50% for bare root ocotillos.

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    2. I have the spot you describe ...hmmmmm so sounds like you recc. to start from seed? How long do you figure until I had a decent sized specimen?

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    3. Starting ocotillos from seed is slow (5 years to get a 2-3' plant), but the grower I noted has 6' tall and taller ocotillos started from seed years ago, so they are really well-rooted - they can sell to some nurseries in your area. Other nurseries will buy wild-dug ocotillos, plant them in pots or boxes to root them out, then selling ones that are alive.

      The most common are bare-root ocotillos - they really struggle, since they sit on the lot for days and dry out, and they rarely re-establish since they are already missing most of their roots.

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  12. stunning photographs!! its amazing to see those soaptree yuccas. I love when you say "classy yet rugged," its so very true. But now I want a steak! mmmmm

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    1. Thanks, that area of soaptrees is quite incredible, especially about 50 miles to the south. Funny, but I have a steak thawing out...you might be warmer than us today...87F / 31C right now. But fine for soaptrees...

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  13. Amazing post! I don't know how you do it. I can barely find the time to post pics on my blog.

    Nice to see the salt brush planted back (by the bridge), but you are so right about adding some Y. elata to the mix or maybe some ocotillo.

    I like what they did with the cactus in the pots! and the use of the oaks.

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    1. Thanks for visiting. I should probably do less of this blog / photo posting, but it's a good way to show the land and interesting plant communities that people travel through, but never take time out to see similarities and differences from where they are!

      Some surprisingly good plant use in places that many never suspect, at least in very provincial Abq, where most refuse to botanize or travel south...only north.

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  14. thanks for share........

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