Monday, May 26, 2014

White Sands and Apaches, sorta

Monday, Memorial Day, saw us at White Sands in the morning, after which we drove up to Ruidoso, a Mescalero Apache town in the Sierra Blanca mountains outside Alamogordo.

Our plan was to study the distinctive culture of the Mescalero Apaches as we had the Navajo and Hopi. No such luck. Although the Apaches fought European culture as strongly as any other natives, if not moreso, today they live prosperously and in integrated harmony with European Americans. And they do not put their culture on display.

What we did find to our delight was Tanner Tradition. You can look them up if you are interested. Although he does not make much of it, Lynn Tanner is a fourth generation Indian trader and the shop is a treasure trove of artifacts including everything from vintage to contemporary, the commonplace to museum quality.  The visit was a delight and we came away with yet another older piece of pottery, a small rug from about the 1960s and a contemporary Navajo folding knife for me.

When we arrived at the White Sands visitor center a massive yucca was roped off and a bunch of (non-English speaking) tourists were clustered. Unable to ask what the deal was, when we entered the center the helpful clerk informed us that a Great Horned owl had nested, sure enough

A cloudy rain-spattery day had two effects, the sand does not appear as blindingly white as usually it does and my lens got messed up. I have tried, none the too skillfully to retouch, but spots and dots appear.

Throughout the latter parts of the trip, the desert has been in blossom, to our delight.

To the right you see a trail marker for the Alkali Flats trail. You walk across reasonably hard pack sand. I probably walked about 3/4 mile, part of it on high dunes and even in the dull daylight it was blinding and disorienting, just as the park service warned at the trailhead.

Alamogordo delights in its status as the city nearest the White Sands Missile Proving Grounds. Curiously, we found nothing about the Trinity test (first Atomic bomb).
I'm not sure what this image of an abandoned mill of some sort says, but I liked it.

Tomorrow a long travel day from Alamogordo to Casa Grande, just over 425 miles.

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