Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Looking forward to spring already!

If rainfall was plentiful in the summer and fall months, the Chihuahuan Desert cacti start popping out in March, April, May and continue at least through the summer.  This beauty was taken near Van Horn! Fort Davis' Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens has a lovely display of cacti all year round in their cactus greenhouse.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hiking Santa Elena Canyon

One of the shortest and grandest hikes in our region, Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park.  The park's website says this about this trail:

"1.7 miles roundtrip. This trail begins at the end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Although a short trail, it is one of the grandest spectacles in the park. After crossing Terlingua Creek, the trail climbs several short switchbacks and then gradually descends along the banks of the Rio Grande. Hikers are surrounded by lush riparian vegetation and 1,500-foot towering vertical cliffs of solid limestone. The trail ends where canyon walls meet the river. Take a lunch and enjoy the scene. Note: Following rains, flash floods, or periods of high water, Terlingua creek can be impassable, effectively closing the trail."

For more regional hiking information, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Holidays at Magoffin Home State Historic Site

The Magoffin Home State Historic Site is holding a holiday open house on December 4th, in El Paso.
More about this fun event:  "
Join us for an evening of fun as the Magoffin Home comes alive with the sights and sounds of the season. Enjoy the lights and holiday decorations as you wander through the Home. The Riverside Middle School Chamber Choir will be entertaining guests and seven lighted trees will be gleaming in the moonlight. Meet for refreshments in the courtyard. “The Home is especially lovely during this time of the year and a holiday visit has become a tradition for many El Pasoans,” said site manager, Leslie Bergloff. Visitors will enjoy being able to walk through the rooms without a formal tour guide and spend as long as they like in each area. Warm clothing is suggested for the outdoor activities. Adults $4; Children are free. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Please call 533.5147 for more information or see http://www.visitmagoffinhome.com/  

From their website:  "A striking adobe structure, the Magoffin Home State Historic Site explores the stories of a multicultural family who influenced the development of the Southwest borderlands. Magoffin family members actively participated in U.S. expansion and settlement, trade on the Santa Fe–Chihuahua Trail, Civil War turmoil, military service and U.S.–Mexico relations. The 1875 home is a prime example of Territorial style architecture and features a center courtyard and peaceful landscape. Explore the home’s authentic art and furnishings reflecting the daily lives of this prominent El Paso family."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grotto in Presidio

Taken at the Catholic Church in Presidio, near the Rio Grande.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Early Ranching Photos

This wonderful image is in the collection of the Marfa and Presidio County Museum, and this copy was sent to us by Randy Mallory on assignment for the Texas Historical Commission.  The Museum, on San Antonio Street in Marfa, has an impressive photography collection and exhibits telling the story of early Marfa and Presidio County.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Murals in El Paso!

El Paso has truly wonderful murals...this one is located at the corner of Brown and Yandell, just a block from another great place to visit, the city's International Museum of Art.  Since we're celebrating the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution this week, we also want to note that the museum has a collection based on the revolution, including a death mask of Pancho Villa.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quinceanera and gown shopping in El Paso!

Keeping on this week's theme of things to do and see in El Paso---Our region has a close relationship with Mexico, and few cities in the country have a closer one than El Paso.  Just a few blocks from the border in downtown El Paso, it is possible to buy quinceanera gowns worn to celebrate a young Hispanic girl's 15th birthday.  There's a great Q&A about quinceaneras here, a celebration of passage from young girlhood to adulthood.

Here's a quote from the Q&A at this link"In the presence of family and friends, the young woman (the quinceañera), often accompanied by fifteen young men and women of her choice, (damas y chambelanes), enters the Church in procession, together with her parents and godparents. If she has prepared the readings, she may serve as the lector for at least one of the readings. After the Liturgy of the Word, the quinceañera makes a commitment to God and the Blessed Virgin to live out the rest of her life according to the teachings of Christ and the Church by renewing her Baptismal promises. Then, signs of faith (medal, Bible, rosary, prayer book) which have been blessed and may be given to her. A special blessing of the quinceañera concludes the Liturgy of the Eucharist. After Mass, the young woman is presented to the community. The ritual continues with a dinner and sometimes a dance in her honor."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Read all about it!

We've been posting about the history of the Mexican Revolution the past couple of days, and wanted you to know about another great place to visit in the city, Cinco Puntos Press.  An independent publisher of wonderful books about the Southwest, this press has several great books on the history of the revolution.  You can visit them yourself to see their full selection of books for kids, young adults and adults--both fiction and non-fiction.  Catch them at 701 Texas Avenue in El Paso, just east of downtown.

We keep their Ringside Seat to a Revolution by David Dorado Romo in our car, so we can find historic sites related to the revolution as we travel through El Paso!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mexican Revolution historical walking tour in El Paso, part 2!

Here's another stop on the Mexican Revolution tour of El Paso from the El Paso Times....just down the street from yesterday's entry.  This beautiful building is located at 301 S. El Paso Street, and was the location for the Shelton-Payne Arms Company and the Charles Hotel.  According to the paper, "The Shelton-Payne Arms Company supplied arms and ammunition to all factions. Archival records show that the company had assets exceeding $1.1 million dollars in 1913. The Merrick Building, which housed the company, was constructed in 1887."

Be sure to click through to the El Paso Times' special section on the Mexican Revolution...to hear an audio clip with more information about this important historical site.While in El Paso, don't miss the Museum of History's terrific exhibit on the city's role in the revolution.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mexican Revolution historical walking tour of El Paso!

The El Paso Times recently published a special section on that city's role in the Mexican Revolution, and it is a fascinating history you can continue to experience, since many of the locations are still intact.  We took part of the walking tour they published.  Pictured here is the Alhambra Theatre building at 209 S. El Paso Street.  Quoting the paper:  "This theater was constructed by Rodolfo and Manuel Cruz in 1914 for $150,000 to cater to the affluent Mexican exile community that relocated here during the revolution, as well as Anglo-American audiences. It featured vaudeville specialties and motion pictures. The Alhambra was designed by Henry Trost in a Spanish Moorish architectural style."

Click here to see the special section of the El Paso Times online.

Click here to read about a special exhibit about the Mexican Revolution at the El Paso Museum of History, on display now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fort Davis' Pioneer Cemetery

Many travelers are intrigued by the historical marker on the outskirts of Fort Davis, on the road to Alpine, and the sign that says, "Pioneer Cemetery."  If you stop, and walk down the narrow sidewalk, between privately held property and a "Beware of Dog" sign, you'll be treated to an interesting old cemetery used from the 1870s to 1914.  The headstones are beautiful.  Some of them are hidden by high swathes of grass, thanks to this summer's plentiful rains.  Others are enclosed by iron fences and gates.  Visiting this place is one of those small adventures that are common in the region.  Enjoy!

Double-click on the photo to read the historical marker--it tells a couple of great stories!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rock Art and Beauty at Hueco Tanks

Hueco Tanks' rock art sets it apart from other public land in our region, in that spectacular and fragile rock art is visible to visitors.  Over 3000 images are located in the park, the earliest put there by hunters and gatherers known as Archaic Indians.  The Indians filled the hidden and secret places in the rocks with sacred paintings depicting their beliefs and the world around them.

To learn more about the rock art in the park, click here to download a 3.79 MG guide.

Check out our entries in the past two days for more information about this very special place near El Paso!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

More images from Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site

Our thanks to TPWD for sharing these photos of this special place!  See yesterday's entry for more information about Hueco Tanks near El Paso.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What's a Hueco? Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site

"Huecos" (pronounced way-co's) are large natural rock basins that have furnished a supply of trapped rain water to dwellers and travelers in this arid region of west Texas for millennia.  Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site, is located 32 miles northeast of El Paso in El Paso County. It offers great hiking, birding, rock art and world-class bouldering opportunity. 

Because of the special nature of the park's attributes, admission is limited to protect it from "being loved to death."  Please contact the park or park information (1-800-792-1112-Option 3) for details. 

The park has an incredible history.  TPWD's website says, "A unique legacy of lively and fantastic rock paintings greets the visitor at the "tanks." From Archaic hunters and foragers of thousands of years ago to relatively recent Mescalero Apaches, Native Americans have drawn strange mythological designs and human and animal figures on the rocks of the area. The site's notable pictographs also include more than 200 face designs or "masks" left by the prehistoric Jornada Mogollon culture. Hueco Tanks was the site of the last Indian battle in the county. Apaches, Kiowas, and earlier Indian groups camped here and left behind pictographs telling of their adventures. These tanks served as watering places for the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. "

Thanks to TPWD for the use of this photo!  Check tomorrow's entry for more images of Hueco Tanks!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Modesta Canyon Trail near Fort Davis

The Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center near Fort Davis, has several trails for hikers to explore.  Here are some views of the 1.75 moderate to difficult trail, the Modesta Canyon Trail.  The Center's website says this about the trail:  "The hike into Modesta Canyon features permanent springs and pools, fascinating geology, and a rich display of flora and fauna. Here you’ll find huge madrone trees, majestic southwestern chokecherries, and some of the largest Tracey hawthorns in the state. Over 17 species of ferns are found tucked into crevices along the canyon walls."

A description of the Center's trails is here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo

From their great website:  "Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is the oldest community in the State of Texas. The Tigua Tribal Council is the oldest government in the state.

The Ysleta Mission, founded by the Tigua Indians in 1682, is the oldest parish in the State of Texas. In Spanish “del Sur” means “of the south” to contrast it with the mother pueblo of Isleta of the north, that is located just south of modern-day Albuquerque, New Mexico. The old Spanish spelling with "Y" has been retained for Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in El Paso, Texas.

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo has a tribal population of some 1,200 members. The combined reservation lands include two housing communities and several tracts near the Ysleta Mission and Hueco Tanks. Other tribally-owned lands include the historic Chilicote Ranch near Valentine, Texas." 
This website offers great travel information and background information on the local Tigua Tribe.  If you're in the lower El Paso Mission Valley region, take the time to wander and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More photos of the Guadalupe Peak Hike

Check out yesterday's entry for more information and links about Texas' highest hike...the Guadalupe Peak Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park!
More regional hiking information is available at: www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Hike to Guadalupe Peak!

One of the signature hikes of the region is to the highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  The hike is 8.4 miles round-trip with an elevation gain of 3000’, and generally takes 6-8 hours.  On a clear day, the view from the "Top of Texas" (8,749 feet, or 2,667 meters) is outstanding. The trail is very steep, but is well established. Some areas are exposed to cliff edges. It is rated strenuous.  Have fun, but please avoid the peak hike during high winds and thunderstorms.

For more information on this hike, click here to download a park document on the trail.
For more regional hiking information, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike

Tomorrow?  More photos of this great hike!

Monday, November 08, 2010

One of our favorite mountains on the horizon

Mitre Peak is a favorite site for travelers riding between Fort Davis and Alpine on Hwy 118.  The mountain is clearly visible from trails at the Chihuahuan Desert Botanical Garden and Nature Center; and the highway is on the Adventure Cycling Association's Southern Tier Route.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Views of Fort Davis National Historic Site

From the National Park Service website for Fort Davis National Historic Site, "Fort Davis is one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars' frontier military post in the Southwest. From 1854 to 1891, Fort Davis was strategically located to protect emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and on the Chihuahua Trail."

We think it takes zero imagination to put yourself back to that time as you walk the parade grounds and explore the fort's buildings.  It remains a must-see destination for visitors to the small community of Fort Davis.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Light in Closed Canyon

Closed Canyon is a neat short hike (1.4 mile roundtrip) accessible off Hwy 170 (the majestic River Road) and is part of Big Bend Ranch State Park.  You enter a narrow opening between high rock walls up to 150 feet; this is a slot canyon.  Once you're inside, the temperature drops considerably making this a comfortable hike most every time of the year.

Link to Big Bend Ranch State Park map is here.
More regional hiking information is available here: www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Beautiful Morning Sky

Taken in Van Horn...can you spot the goal post on the football field?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Grocery Store in Clark Hotel Museum

Though damaged and a bit difficult to see, this is a wonderful new look at Eugene Rowe's grocery store in the east end of the Clark Hotel in Van Horn.  The building is now the county historical museum, and walking in the building you can still definitely get a sense of the building in its original state.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

Altars for Dia de los Muertos

See Saturday's entry to read about El Paso's Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead Celebration!