“C” for Cotton and Chalk

After leaving Albuquerque we next stopped near a town call Las Cruces.  We didn’t actually see the town.  The entire area is as flat as a pancake.  To me that says bike riding.  In the morning Mike and I headed off for a short ride on our bikes.  As we were leaving we were told about an old historic town about two miles away that we could bike to.  It was called La Mesilla.  We wandered around for a little bit and stopped for a coffee in a café where we would be close to our bikes.  We didn’t know that we were going for more than a short ride when we left the RV and we hadn’t brought our lock cable.  I am more concerned about break-ins and theft in the southern part of New Mexico and Texas than I have been before.  This may be wrong but we are seeing security vehicles in mall parking lots and in campgrounds and I am just not used to that at all.  In fact it probably makes camping or parking safer than elsewhere due to the increased security.

Cotton Close-up Cotton in NMAs we were leaving La Mesilla someone suggested a parallel road to take back to the campground.  We took their advice and we got lost.  There is a big difference between being lost in a car with an engine and being lost on a bicycle.  Actually we only road an extra mile or two in the end and was it ever worth it.  We saw some really interesting agriculture.  They had lots of what Mike’s thinks were pecan trees.  To irrigate them they completed flooded the fields.  You would have thought that would kill the trees but it obviously doesn’t  What we saw that we liked best were the cotton fields.  Like everyone else I have read a reasonable bit about slavery, southern plantations and cotton growing.  I guess I thought that I knew what cotton would look like.  I was not expecting plants with cotton balls or cotton batten just hanging from them.  The cotton needed cleaning as there were some hard lumps inside the cottons balls but it was instantly recognizable and felt just like cotton batten.  I was really amazed even though I probably shouldn’t have been.  It was a lovely morning and we did make it back to the RV just fine in the end.

Nothing we read said anything good about the campgrounds in El Paso so we decided to stay quite a bit outside of town and to drive the car in for the day.  Mike and I arrived in El Paso early Friday afternoon.  The “festival” didn’t start until Saturday with a “preview” starting at 6pm Friday night.  We saw some huge signs advertising two different exhibits at the art gallery.  One was called Cezanne and Picasso and the other was called Renoir to Remington.  I thought that sounded good and we decided to visit.  We visited the Cezanne and Picasso exhibit first and it contained one picture by each artist and the Cezanne still life certainly wasn’t one of his better works.  The Renoir to Remington was OK.  It had three small Renoirs, one of which was a still life of apples, if I remember correctly, which didn’t look like Renoir’s work at all.  Although I was disappointed in the major exhibits it was still nice to wander around for an hour or so.  We came back to town on Saturday to see the festival called “Chalk the Block”.  Chalk paintings El Paso Chalk paintings El PasoThis was much smaller than I had expected from my reading on the internet that talked about a major festival and 30,000 visitors coming into town on the weekend for it.  None the less it was quite interesting.  It had your standard set of food booths and arts and crafts booths.  It also had lots of chalk artwork on the sidewalk which is what made it unique and interesting.  In one area the paintings were done by university students.  I am guessing that this would have counted as part of their grades.  My favourite picture was one by a student that we don’t have a photo of.  Other areas had paintings done by more professional artists.  Some of the works were really good.  There were also a few of your traditional buskers and a really nice play area or fair set up for children.

Originally we were going to leave El Paso and head south to the Gulf area.  We saw some road signs for Carlsbad Caverns which we had heard about before and never seen.  We decided to completely change our route and head north again back into New Mexico to see the Caverns.  If we do that I don’t think that we will make it down to the Gulf area.  I will let you know shortly if I think we made the right decision or not.

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