Eggs & Aliens in Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (Bisti Badlands)

May 2017 – There’s a wonderful natural treasure to be found in northwestern New Mexico at the Bisti Badlands — or Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness — just 40 miles south of Farmington.

Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico Photographing the Eggs

Hanging out with the alien eggs at Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in New Mexico

We had a very magical experience in this exotic location five years ago and we wanted to get back once again.

Exotic Landscapes Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness Bisti Badlands New Mexico

There are all kinds of hoodoos in the Bisti Badlands

The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a huge area filled with crazy rock formations that resemble everything from spacecraft to furniture to alien eggs. Because it is a wilderness area, there are no trails and no vehicles are allowed either. The only way to see it is to walk on in and start exploring.

The hoodoos and colorful mounds make for a great day of fun just getting lost in a maze of crazy shapes, and on our last visit we roamed all over the place climbing up and over red and black and orange striped conical hills that easily stood 50 to 100 feet high.

Bisti-De-Na-Zin Wilderness Bisti Badlands New Mexico

There are no hiking trails in Bisti Badlands, but walking in any direction takes you to cool rocks!

But the “prize” in Bisti Badlands, if there can be such a thing, is the tiny group of stones that look like alien creatures emerging from their cracked egg shells.

Cracked eggs Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

In one corner of the Bisti Wilderness there is a collection of rocks that look like alien eggs or pods.

Alien eggs Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

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Cracked egg Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

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This is a favorite area for photographers, and we headed out in the late afternoon as the shadows were getting long.

Alien egg Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

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Some of the rocks look very much like eggs sitting on a dish or embryonic alien life forms emerging from the shell.

Eggs Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

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Each one is a little different, and some look as though they might come to life.

Eggs on pedestals Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

A creature from afar?

Alien eggs Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

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As we wandered around the perimeter of these fantastic rock formations and crouched down to see them up close, I suddenly heard Mark yell “Help!”

I turned around and saw his hand reaching out… he’d been swallowed up by an alien egg!

Human eating alien egg Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

Oh no!!

Not really, of course, but these little guys were very engaging and we were having lots of fun getting photos of them and playing with effects.

Eggs alien egg factory Bisti Badlands De-Na-Zin Wilderness

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Sometimes we couldn’t help but get in the photo in one way or another, even if it was just a shadow of ourselves.

Photography at the Eggs Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

With such long shadows sometimes we had to incorporate our own shadows!

Hoodoos Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

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As the hours went by, one by one, each egg lost the sun’s golden glow. Then the setting sun threw some pretty colors across the sky.

Hoodoos Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

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One of the things I love most about these alien egg rocks is that each one is decorated with a different pattern on its surface.

Some have a wonderful pattern that seems very deliberate, as if carved by a divine hand.

Exotic egg Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

Each egg was decorated with a unique pattern.

Some are very bold, with definite lines and carvings.

Alien shellback Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

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Others have finer lines and have started to fade in places.

Decorated egg Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

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And some don’t have any decorations at all.

Egg in shell Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

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Decorations or no, you just can’t beat seeing one of these crazy egg rocks set off by a pink sunset.

Eggs at sunset Bisti-De-Na-Zin Wilderness Bisti Badlands New Mexico

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And then, with a flash from the west, the sun was gone.

Sunset Bisti Badlands De-Na-Zin Wilderness

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We decided to stick around to see what this other-worldly place looked like at night.

We’d brought our big flashlight with us which is like a car headlight (review here). We put it on its lowest setting and began playing with it doing “light painting” on the rocks. Cool!

721 Cracked eggs at night Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

We did a little “light painting” on the eggs with a flashlight as it got dark.

A few stars began to twinkle in the rich light of dusk. The moon was rising and looked like a huge street light above us. Mark was using his favorite wide angle lens and it made a fabulous starburst out of the moon!

Full moon starburst Bisti-De-Na-Zin Wilderness Bisti Badlands New Mexico

The nearly full moon created a starburst in the sky at dusk.

Back at the trailer when we were going through our photos, Mark emailed this cool shot to a friend who’s a video arts and Photoshop expert. Suddenly he got an email back that looked a little spooky!

Full moon starburst Bisti-De-Na-Zin Wilderness Bisti Badlands New Mexico with UFO

What’s that flying over the cliffs?

As a gag, he emailed the revised photo to another good friend who is also a photographer and Photoshop expert, and suddenly it came back looking even spookier!

UFO Full moon starburst Bisti-De-Na-Zin Wilderness Bisti Badlands New Mexico

OMG – They’re shining their spotlight on our rig!

But before we could play with our photos in the rig, we had to get back out of Bisti Badlands in the dark.

I was glad the moon was so bright. Like our old days of sailing on our boat when we made long ocean passages at night, the moon was like a very dear friend in the sky. The eggs around us were easy to see, and it even cast shadows on the ground.

Stars at cracked eggs Bisti Badlands De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

Eggs by the light of the moon.

Even with the moon so bright, more and more stars began to appear in the sky above us.

Stars at night Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

As we hiked out we saw more and more stars.

Hiking out in the dark was quite a thrill. We heard some coyotes very close by and were hoping to catch a glimpse of them, but they must have caught our scent and heard our footsteps because they soon headed off into the night.

Stars over hoodoos Bisti De-Na-Zin Wilderness New Mexico

Stars over the hoodoos.

Every so often we could see the lights of a power plant in the distance, keeping us more or less on track! We ended up scaling a few more deep washes on the way out than on the way in, but we made it out just fine!

Some notes and a word of caution for folks heading to Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness with RVs:

The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is a very special place that is well worth a detour to visit.

RVs are allowed to park overnight in the fenced off parking area which can hold a few truck campers or perhaps 3-4 larger RVs. The “RV” end of the parking lot can get very muddy when it rains and the ruts from RVs that had been there during recent rains were quite deep.

This parking area is located about 3 miles down a dirt road off of Route 371. When we went to Bisti Badlands in late September of 2012, the 3 mile dirt road was well graded and it wasn’t difficult to drive on with our fifth wheel trailer.

Now, however, it appears that the road has not been graded in a very long time, and it is absolutely terrible. We drove at 3-9 mph the entire way in both directions, no joke. Not only was everything in our rig badly shaken up but we discovered the locking nut on one of the bolts that goes through the equalizer in our fifth wheel suspension actually fell off. Without a locking nut, the bolt had worked itself almost all the way out during our drive in. Luckily, Mark was able to fix this right there in the dirt parking lot. More on that coming soon!

More importantly, it seems that Bisti Badlands has been “discovered.”

In 2012 we were the only RV there for one night and we had just one companion RV another night. This year the parking area was quite busy every night with cars, vans, truck campers and short Class C’s crammed in, and lots of people came in cars to hike for the day as well.

In 2012 there were no footprints beyond the gate into the wilderness area, and this year there were footprints everywhere, especially leading to the eggs, and there were lots of people out hiking. In 2012 there were a few boondocking areas down the road, but now there are markers at those spots saying “No Vehicles.”

As we were packing to leave Bisti Badlands on a Saturday morning, four cars arrived and joined the RVs that had stayed overnight. During the 45 minutes it took us to drive the dirt road out to the highway, 12 more cars and trucks passed us on their way in. I have no idea if or how all those vehicles could fit in the parking lot!

So…. if you own a bigger RV, it might be wise to leave it in Farmington and make a day trip to Bisti Badlands in the tow vehicle or toad. Mid-week will be quieter than weekends, especially during the peak seasons of spring and fall.

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More info about Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (Bisti Badlands):

The website for the BLM is undergoing many changes and doesn’t have information about Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness at the moment. We describe how we found the eggs on our previous visit at this link.

Location of Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Parking Area – Interactive Google Maps

If you go into the Bisti Wilderness with a friend or spouse, it’s a good idea to stick close together or take a set of two-way radios. We used both our radios and a hand-held compass. A hand-held GPS can be a helpful tool too (although we just used our compass). We also used all three of our Lumintop flashlights (reviews HERE (searchlight) and HERE (pocket flashlights).

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City of Rocks State Park, NM – RV Camping in the Hoodoos!

November 2015 – Scooting across New Mexico, we left the display of aging missiles at White Sands Missile Range Park and made our way to a place on the map that looked too fun to miss — the City of Rocks. As we traveled, stunning sunrises and sunsets continued to punctuate the start and end of everyday.

New Mexico Sunset CIty of Rocks

A wonderful New Mexico sunset!

The City of Rocks is a huge collection of massive boulders clustered together in a vast open plain. For miles, all we had seen was wide vistas of nothing, barely a bush and not even a tree. Then we suddenly saw “the city” ahead.

City of Rocks New Mexico

The City of Rocks!

New Mexico has turned this “urban” landscape into a wonderful state park that is essentially a huge campground with hiking trails scattered through and around it.

RV camping City of Rocks New Mexico

New Mexico’s City of Rocks is a little camping paradise.

At the entrance to the park there is an area with electric and water RV hookups.

RV hookup campsites City of Rocks Campground New Mexico

There are hookups if you want them.

The rest of the “city” is filled with charming campsites that snuggle up against the rocks.

RV camped at City of Rocks Campground New Mexico

You can be off on your own communing with the hoodoos!

RV camping at City of Rocks New Mexico

What a neat campsite!

We were enchanted. What a fun place to camp!

Motorhome at City of Rocks Campground New Mexico

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We hopped on our bikes and checked out the trail that encircles the whole area. This is a very pleasant trail for walking (it’s just a few miles long) or for biking.

Moutain biking City of Rocks New Mexico

There’s a short trail for hiking or biking.

We had fun taking our bikes around the campground loops.

Mountain bike ride City of Rocks New Mexico

A very fun place for a bike ride!

The trail also climbs a steep hill at one point, and we had a blast bombing down the road.

Bicycling City of Rocks New Mexico

Barreling downhill towards the city.

Early one morning, we spotted a hawk that was surprisingly calm and didn’t seem to mind us too much.

Bicycling City of Rocks New Mexico

A hawk keeps an eye on me but doesn’t get spooked.

Each campsite is unique, and they come in various sizes and shapes.

Camping in an RV at City of Rocks New Mexico

I just love a retro trailer. This one is actually almost brand new!

Some campsites are fairly level and some are very unlevel, but each one is charming.

Motorhome camping at City of Rocks New Mexico

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On the Pegasus North Loop you can get away from it all and be quite far away from the “hubub” of “the city.” However, if you want to stay more than one night on that loop, you have to reserve in advance.

RV with solar panels City of Rocks New Mexico campground

On the Pegasus Loop you need to reserve ahead or just stay one night.

We loved this little spot, and highly recommend it to anyone planning a visit to New Mexico. For RV travelers that are headed east-west on I-10, the nice thing is it’s not too far from the freeway — just under 30 miles.

Motorhome RV camping City of Rocks New Mexico campground

A beautiful pink-and-blue sky… I love those skies in the early evening in the western deserts!

The cost when we stayed at City of Rocks was $10/night for dry camping and $18/night for electric and water hookups. The cool thing about New Mexico is that you can purchase an annual State Parks camping permit (currently $225 for non-New Mexico residents and $180 for the lucky in-state crowd) that gives you huge discounts on overnight camping. If you have one of these nifty camping permits, the dry camping sites are free and the electric/water sites are $4/night. More info below…

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It IS Rocket Science at White Sands Missile Park in NM

November 2015 – In our RV travels across New Mexico, we made a fun pit stop at White Sands Missile Range where there is a unique outdoor Missile Park. But before I show you some of the missiles of yesteryear, I have a few more photos to share from our stop in the metal art haven of Tatum, New Mexico.

After 8 months of RVing in the eastern states, it was here that we saw our first really huge, colorful and expressive skies that are so common in the west. Sunsets filled the sky from corner to corner, leaving no part of it untouched by vibrant color…

Sunset in Tatum New Mexico

Vivid color fills the sky at sunset

…on another day, the brooding skies of an incoming storm filled the air with an eerie feeling and then brought a deluge of rain.

Brooding skies in Tatum New Mexico

Dark and mysterious clouds blanket the heavens

And then there were the fun metal art signs, two of which stand on opposite sides of Eubanks Street in Tatum. In the first, a cowboy approaches his mule with a friendly greeting in hopes of getting some cooperation from the stubborn beast…

Metal art sign Eubanks St Tatum New Mexico

Howdy Y’All

In the second, the mule kicks him clear over the moon!

Metal art street sign Eubanks St Tatum New Mexico

Whooops!!

The metal art in Tatum was such fun. When we drove out of town, we noticed the back of the “Welcome to Tatum New Mexico” sign bidding us goodbye in Spanish:

Hasta Luego metal art sign Tatum New Mexico

See ya later, Tatum!

Driving along US-380 we saw lots of ranches with cool metal art signs at the entrances. The Johnson Cattle Company has everything from a turkey vulture sitting on a windmill to Wiley Coyote and The Roadrunner on opposite sides of “The Needmore Outfit.”

This ranch was so big that there were several similar signs at different mile markers along the edge of their property.

Johnson Cattle Ranch metal art Sign New Mexico

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Another biggie was for LA Ranch:

Carpenter Graham LA Ranch metal art sign New Mexico

The roundup…

As we approached the mountains, we discovered that the rain that had drenched us in the flatlands had dumped a bunch of snow in mountain peaks. This was the first snowfall of the season and looked very dramatic in the distance at the end of our rippling road.

New Mexico snow capped mountains US-380

A first snow covers the mountains

Soon we were passing White Sands where the drifts of sand looked like snow.

Fall color on US-380 New Mexico

The sand at White Sands (is it snow?)

We noticed a sign for White Sands Missile Range and decided to drive down that road, not knowing quite what to expect.

White Sands Missile Range Logo

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What fun it was to discover that there is an outdoor missile park at the White Sands Missile Range. Missile testing has gone on at this range for decades. Set out on pads, as if in a rock garden or on a pin cushion, a bunch of old, outdated missiles aim at the sky.

Missile Park White Sands Missile Range Museum

The White Sands Missile Park is a playground full of old missiles that were once tested here.

There are missiles of all kinds, dating from the 1950’s to the 1990’s.

Missile at White Sands Missile Park New Mexico

Missiles come in all shapes and sizes. Some are square and boxy….

White Sands Missile Range Missile Park New Mexico

…others are tall and skinny!

You can walk freely among them, and there is a plaque next to each one explaining what it was and when it was tested at White Sands.

Tank Missile Park White Sands Missile Range Museum

Some have moveable launch pads

White Sands Missile Park New Mexico

And some have sizable fins

Missiles with familiar names like Pershing and Patriot are on display here, along with lots of lesser known missiles. There is a museum too, but we happened to have come on a Sunday which is the only day that the museum is closed. Oh well…Next time!

White Sands Missile Park New Mexico

Yes, it IS Rocket Science here at White Sands Missile Range!

Whenever we visit New Mexico, we always see unusual things, whether it’s exotic rock formations or alien visitors or funky metal art or white sand beaches. The Missile Park fit right into that crazy theme.

But even better was the usual City of Rocks that lay just ahead…

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Tatum, New Mexico – Metal Art Magic

October 2015 – After landing in Paris, Texas, we dodged some serious rain storms as we made our way across the state. All thoughts of dallying in the area evaporated when the world’s strongest hurricane, Patricia, showed up on Mexico’s Pacific coast and decided to join forces with another storm so they could march together across the southern states. We alternated between hunkering down and sprinting until we finally got out of harm’s way in New Mexico. There, the fringe edges of the storm created some spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

New Mexico sunset

What a sunset!

Years ago, when we first started RVing full-time, we crossed New Mexico from east to west on US-380 on our first journey after picking up our new trailer outside Dallas. This road is a wonderful alternative to either I-40 or I-10, and it lies right between them, passing through miles and miles of wide open ranch land.

Cotton growing and oil drilling in New Mexico

New Mexico has miles of cotton above ground and oil below as well as wind farms in the distance.

What struck me back then was that almost every ranch had a beautiful sign over the gate that was crafted in sheet metal. Each one depicted various scenes from the region, and they gave the landscape a humorous and artsy touch.

When we decided to travel this route once again, I vowed to capture some of these creative metal art signs with my camera as we passed. Unfortunately, the ranch gates come up so fast that after each shot I was moaning, “Darn, this one’s blurry too!” (or cut off, or indistinguishable against the background).

Then we arrived in Tatum, New Mexico.

Welcome to Tatum New Mexico metal art sign

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As we slowed down going through town, we noticed that every single street was adorned with a wonderful metal art sign.

Eagle and cactus metal art Tatum New Mexico

Every street in Tatum has a cool metal sign at the corner.

How cool is that?! We climbed out of the RV and began walking around town, admiring the fantastic variety of metal street signs on every street corner.

Howling coyotes metal art sign Tatum NM

Desert sounds…

Some were images of classic desert creatures and plants, with flying eagles, cholla cactus and howling coyotes featured prominently as they did what desert creatures do in New Mexico. But other signs humorously depicted people living their lives and doing what people do.

Antique car and family metal art Tatum New Mexico

Lemme get this cranked up for ya

Metal art street sign oil drilling in New Mexico

These little dipper oil drills are very important to life here in New Mexico

I was captivated by the clever street signs and got a huge kick out of walking up and down every street in town to see what kind of image was on display at the next corner.

Donkey and cowyboy with cactus metal art street sign

Taking a break in the shade of a cactus while his mule smells the flowers

Motorcycle metal art street sign in Tatum New Mexico

When your mule won’t go, take the bike!

Deer metal art street sign on Anderson St Tatum NM

A desert deer family on Anderson Street

US-380 goes right through town, but the townsfolk know the road locally as “Broadway,” and a buffalo marked one corner of this important street in town.

Buffalo metal art Broadway St Tatum New Mexico

A bison guards Broadway

Turning to face another corner on Broadway, I was bemused to see that the letter B had vanished from the sign, and below the flying birds the sign now read, “Roadway.” I looked for the B on the ground all around the sign, thinking that it might have blown off in a windstorm, but it was nowhere to be found.

Birds flying metal art street sign Tatum New Mexico

When you lose your B, you get Roadway

Ths fun metal artwork isn’t limited to street signs. As I walked further afield, I discovered several inviting park benches, each decorated with a different western theme as well.

Metal art on park bench Tatum New Mexico

There were park benches all around, each one unique.

I love it when a town has a theme and has invested in decorating itself with art of some kind or another. But who was responsible for all this funky metal art in this tiny town of 839 people in New Mexico? At the far west end of town, we began to get some clues. We found a big building surrounded with metal art of all shapes and sizes. A sign above the building said, “Metal Art by Tex Welch.”

Metal Art workshop sign by Tex Welch Tatum New Mexico

Tex Welch was the original Metal Art Man in town

I really wanted to meet this guy, Tex, and ask him about the street signs and find out if he was the one who’d made them, and if perhaps he had made the many fabulous arches at the entrances to the ranches we had just passed. Unfortunately, his workshop was closed. We wandered back to his shop a little later, and it was still closed.

Little did we know that winds of change have come to the lively metal art scene in Tatum, New Mexico.

Metal art wind vane Tatum New Mexico

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Down at the opposite end of town, at the far east end, I came across a huge American flag made of painted stones set in the ground. Four flags were flying next to it – the New Mexico and Texas state flags, the American flag and the POW flag. Each was made of sheet metal and flew in a perfect ripple. In front of the flags, a group of soldiers were planting an American flag in the ground, reminiscent of Iwo Jima, and beneath their feet were the words: Support Our Troops.

Wow!

Poor Boy's Metal Art American tribute Tatum New Mexico

A beautiful patriotic display right on the main drag at the east end of town

Behind this nifty scene there was a building surrounded by metal cactus, crosses, cowboys and turkey vultures. A sign on the building said, “Poor Boy’s Metal Art.”

Poor Boy's Metal Art Workshop Juan Manuel Carbajal Tatum New Mexico

Poor Boy’s Metal Art is the new game in town.

I tromped around a little bit, hoping to find someone working outside, when I heard happy whistling coming from behind the building. I went around back, and there was a guy hovered over a workbench, whistling to his heart’s content, as happy as a man can be.

I called out to him, and he introduced himself as Juan Manuel Carbajal. That’s a mouthful! I had him repeat it and spell his last name until I could say it right, rolling “r” and all.

“Let me show you my current project,” he said with a huge grin as he gestured towards his workbench. “This is a little finer than the street signs… it’s more indoor art than outdoor.” The bench was covered with smaller pieces. He picked one up and I couldn’t resist taking a photo. He absolutely radiated happiness as he showed off his artwork.

Juan Manuel Carbajal metal artist Tatum New Mexico

Juan Manuel Carbajal was a sheer delight to talk to.

He told me he was originally from the city of Cuatémoc in Chihuahua, Mexico, but had lived here for decades. He reminded me of our friend Alejandro Ulloa in Ensenada, Mexico, who had done the extraordinary metal fabrication on our boat, creating our solar panel arch with polished welds. He, too, was truly passionate about his work. It isn’t often that you find people who genuinely loves what they do. Juan and Alejandro are two of the lucky ones.

“I apprenticed under Tex,” Juan explained to me when I asked about the metal art workshop at the other end of town. “He’s the one who made all the street signs here. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been well,” he said with a sigh.

I asked Juan if he’d made any of the signs around town, and he said he’s done a few, “And I donated my display with the flags and the troops out in front to the town, so Tatum will have it no matter what happens to me.” How wonderful for the town to be gifted such a unique, patriotic work of art.

Tatum Community Center Metal Art sign Tatum New Mexico

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Juan went back to his workbench, and I continued roaming around town. He had said to check out the metal art built into the metal fencing nearby, and there were some terrific images there.

Bronco wrought iron fence metal art Tatum New Mexico

Ride ’em, Cowboy!

Cowboy horse and cross metal art fence Tatum New Mexico

Paying respects…

Horses metal art fence Tatum New Mexico

A-prancin’ and a-dancin’

I think he also has done some of the painted metal art that appears around town.

Mad bomber metal art fence Tatum New Mexico

It’s the Mad Bomber!

Military helicopter metal art fence Tatum New Mexico

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Roadrunner metal art fence gate Tatum New Mexico

New Mexico flag with a roadrunner on a gate

I just love it when we come across unusual people and places like this! I had hoped simply to get a few fly-by images of ranch gates as we traveled on US-380 from Texas to Arizona, but instead we found the heart of the metal art magic in this region and had a chance to talk with one of the artists.

RV and sunset in New Mexico

Tatum, New Mexico, is a cool town to visit for RVers heading east-west through New Mexico

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Roswell, New Mexico – Aliens, UFO’s, Spaceships and more!

February, 2015 – Roswell, New Mexico, was the site of some extra-terrestrial activity way back when, and a few aliens seem to have escaped and set up housekeeping in town. When we arrived in Roswell, we found the place was absolutely overrun with little green monsters.

Alien Welcome in Roswell New Mexico

Welcome to Roswell!

As we drove down the main drag, we noticed all the aliens immediately. They were out welcoming us in front of every business in town. Even the Super 8 motel had a little alien doorman standing in front holding a “Welcome” sign.

Alien welcome to Roswell NM at the Super 8 Motel

Super 8 has a special greeter..

All of these aliens are unique. Some are tall, some are short, some are cute and smiling and others seem distant and a little forlorn. But almost all of them are bright green with big heads and skinny bodies, and they all have large black almond shaped eyes.

Forlorn alien in Roswell New Mexico

This guy looks a little lost!

Some of them still live in their flying saucer spaceships.

Aliens with a UFO space capsule

An authentic alien spacecraft.

Even the local credit union pays tribute to Roswell’s unusual visitors.

Roswell spaceship bank sign

Look what showed up at the credit union.

A few aliens have gotten into the loan sharking business, doing taxes on the side.

Aliens at loan shop in Roswell NM

These aliens have money to loan…and they do taxes too.

A very Japanese looking alient has opened a sushi restaurant called “Galactic Sushi.”

Galactic Sushi in Roswell New Mexico

Japanese aliens serve up yummy sushi.

Down at the local Arby’s, management has figured out that Roswell is now completely overrun with aliens, and they know there is only one thing to do: welcome the aliens with open arms (and provide signage with alien translations)!

Meanwhile, the town leaders have hired a whole slew of aliens to become patriotic lightposts. These obedient aliens are all lined up in a row along the town streets, and they proudly hold the flag of their adopted country.

Aliens welcome at Arby's in Roswell

Arby’s welcomes aliens
— and provides signage in their language!

Alien lamppost with flag

Some aliens carry American flags
and light up the night.

The cutest aliens are all hanging out at the local Walmart. We saw them grinning and waving through the window as we went in to go shopping.

Happy outerspace alien faces at Walmart

The aliens are having party down at Walmart!

It was all quite overwhelming. We’ve never been surrounded by aliens quite like that before. It made us almost feel like aliens ourselves! We caught our reflection next to an alien in a store window that announced: “We’re Here!!!”

We're Here in Roswell New Mexico

We’ve landed…in Roswell!!

How did Roswell, New Mexico, become the alien capital of the world? A spaceship crashed here back in July, 1947. A local rancher was out with his grandson one afternoon, and they noticed some unusual debris scattered around. They returned later to inspect what seemed to be the bits and pieces of a flying saucer, and then the word got out — Roswell had been visited by a UFO.

UFO spaceship crash site of Roswell

Artwork on the side of a building tells the story:
The origins of the aliens-in-Roswell phenomenon was the crash landing of a UFO in 1947

A local media frenzy caught the imagination of the whole country, while little green aliens scampered all around Roswell behind the scenes.

Roswell Daily Record July 3 1947

From the UFO Museum – an original local newspaper from July 3, 1947.

Over the years, local artists have gone to town in this town, and now every sign and every building sports the image of an alien or a flying saucer. The artwork is stylish and captivating!

The alien zone downtown Roswell New Mexico

The alien artwork on the buildings is fabulous.

One artist channeled Da Vinci in a huge mural on the side of a building that depicts an alien’s hand reaching down to touch a human one. In the background, the UFO Museum sports a sign with an alien spaceship on it.

God humans and spaceship

A divine, no, an ALIEN connection…

Even the local coffee shops have gotten in on the act. They don’t sell regular coffee. They have Stellar Coffee!

Stellar Coffee from outer space

This coffee is truly stellar.

Not too far away, the King’s Treasure House sign sports a 3D coffee cup and offers inspirational books that are not of this world.

Flying saucer UFO in Roswell New Mexico

Roswell… not of this world!

We really enjoyed this artsy side of Roswell, New Mexico. The aliens made us feel welcome, and the graffiti and artwork is fun. Roswell is a town that is not only not of this world, it is truly out of this world!

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Southern Washington – Volcanoes, cranberries and FROGS! – Milton-Freeman, WA, is to FROGS what Roswell, NM, is to ALIENS!!

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White Sands National Monument – New Mexico’s Desert Dunes!

February, 2015 – The first thing we noticed when we arrived at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, was the beautiful patterns in the sand. The wind leaves ripples across the sand, the way the ocean does at the beach, and the patterns wriggled away from us in semi-parallel lines as far as we could see.

Rippled sand of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

We saw beautiful patterns in the sand everywhere.

When we first were driving towards the National Monument, we wondered where the sand was, becauase all we could see was vast brown landscapes all around us. But as soon as we got onto the Dunes Drive inside the park, the white sand enveloped us on all sides.

Vast landscapes and tiny person at White Sands National Park New Mexico

The landscape at White Sands is vast.

The sand was virgin in most places, filled with patterns that Mother Nature chose. But in some spots we saw the tracks of little creatures and the footprints of people, some wearing shoes and many running barefoot!

Sand Patterns at White Sands New Mexico

Ripples weave across the desert floor.

Animal tracks in the sand

Animals and people left tracks here and there.

 

There are hundreds of square miles of brilliant white sand in this area, and White Sand National Monument encloses 223 of those square miles. The sand is a crystallized form of gypsum that usually dissolves in the rain before being washed away. But this area is in a basin that doesn’t drain, which leaves beautiful dunes and “beaches” on the earth’s surface.

Standing on virgin sand

This is a unique landscape!

There are many different kinds of dunes, and sand piles, and flat open expanses of sand. Desert plants poke up through the sand here and there, and the light and shadows play with each other on the dune faces as the sun travels across the sky.

Plant and shadow in White Sands New Mexico

Plant and shadow…

Desert plants in White Sands National Monument New Mexico

Desert plants

We were enchanted by the patterns we found everywhere. In some places the sand makes crisp little ridges, and in others the sand undulated in large, soft waves.

Dodge RAM 3500 truck in White Sands National Monument New Mexico

Some of the dunes undulate in large, soft waves.

It was nearly Valentine’s Day, and Mark got inspired, drawing hearts and writing “Sweety” and my name in the sand. We played with making shadow puppets and made two wonderful hearts as we stood side by side. As we looked down at our perfect shadows on the ground, we both said simultaneously, “Now all we need is someone to take our picture!” Oh well, no one was around so we got just one heart shadow instead of two.

Sand swirls leading to a heart

We got into the Valentine’s spirit…

Shadow Puppet heart in the sand

…but with double-heart shadow-play, who takes the photo?

 

We were both drawn to the beauty in totally different ways, and we ran off in different directions to try to capture it. I turned around at one point and saw Mark lying down in the sand! Luckily, the sand brushes off really easily. His little bit of lolling around on this desert beach yielded some beautiful photos from sand level!

Getting down for a low shot of White Sands National Monument New Mexico

Mark gets low for a shot from sand level…

Blue sky at White Sands National Monument New Mexico

Nice!!!!

White Sands National Monument is a really FUN park. We watched kids making snow angels in the sand and families sledding down hills on flying saucers they’d rented at the visitors center. The beauty of this crazy sand paradise is that whenever the wind blows, the tracks left by people are erased, and the sand palette is wiped clean.

Brushed and rippled sand with grass plant

Footsteps leading to me in White Sands National Monument New Mexico

 

Like an old fashioned Etch-A-Sketch, or a sand castle made at low tide, you can leave your mark here, but only for a short while.

Desert plants in the white sands of New Mexico

The road that goes through the park isn’t paved. Instead, the National Park Service seems to use a snowplow to clear the sand to the sides! Some people bring their RVs down the Dunes Drive, but it looked like their wheel wells got pretty sandy.

Curving dunes in the sand in New Mexico

Plowed roads at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

The Dunes Drive is a plowed road through the sand!!

Our visit was way too brief, and we didn’t get to see the magic hours of sunrise and sunset. Oh well — next time!!!

Motorhome and sand dune in New Mexico

We had a wonderful introduction to this magical place,
and we’ll be back for sure!!

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Bisti Badlands, New Mexico – Exotic Rock Formations and Alien Eggs!

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Bisti Badlands NM – Mysterious rocks and an alien egg factory!

Bisti Badlands hiking in the wash

Hiking into the remote and mysterious Bisti Badlands.

Late September, 2012 – One of the great things about hanging out with the photography pros at Nasim Mansurov’s Colorado Landscape Photography Workshop was that they knew where the cool places were to take pictures.  Nasim suggested we check out the Bisti Badlands in New Mexico where there are all kinds of rock formations, hoodoos and some mysterious alien looking “eggs.”

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Hiking through the rock formations

We hiked on ridges and in valleys

This is a very remote place, 36 miles south of Farmington, New Mexico, and when you get here after miles and miles of boring flat land, it is a wonder to behold.  Even more startling for us, though, was having an Indian on a spotted Appaloosa horse ride up to our campsite to chat with us.  His name was Nelson, and I suspect his first language was Navajo, as he spoke English with an unusual accent.  He had been out rounding up a miscreant brahma bull that had wandered away when his nephew accidentally left the paddock gate open.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico lots of colors in the rocks and Teepees

The colors vary from one neighborhood to the next.

Tourists from all over the world make their way to Bisti Badlands, and Nelson has met folks from Europe, Asia, and all the states.  It is a wilderness area, so there are no signs and no trail markers, and too often hese tourists wind up on his ranch, quite lost.  The rather baffling maps from the BLM office make it look easy to find your way, but they quickly prove almost useless once you start hiking.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Indian on an Appaloosa Horse

An Indian visits our campsite on his spotted Appaloosa horse “Oreo”

Just last week Nelson had rescued a Japanese family that saw the light on in his house near midnight.  They knocked on his door seeking refuge from the cold, scary desert night.  He brought them back to their car in the morning.  “Don’t they see the movement of the sun, or watch the moon?” He asked us, shaking his head in disbelief.  Then he spurred his horse and cantered down the road in a cloud of dust, his faithful dogs following.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico hoodoos

Exotic hoodoos surrounded us.

Wow.  That was right out of the movies!!

Bisti Badlands Alice in Wonderland furniture

Mark finds himself a little table.

 

 

We ventured into the badlands armed with a compass, binoculars, a good sense of the sun’s path, a bunch of food and water, and our cameras.  The “egg factory” is a collection of rocks that look like aliens hatching out of their eggs, and finding it was our ultimate goal (as it is for most travelers here).  But the rock formations and desert colors we saw on the way were just as inspiring.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Alice in Wonderland hoodoos

Obama and Romney should pontificate a bit out here!!

We hiked for hours, following first one wash and then another, climbing up and over tall pyramid shaped rocks and skirting around the bottoms.  Over the years visitors have given the different groups of rock formations names:  The Wings, Alice in Wonderland, The Teepees, etc.  Spread out over several square miles, you only know you’ve arrived in a particular neighborhood when the rock formations look like the names they’ve been granted.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico searching for the cracked eggs

Mark scans the horizon for the eggs

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Collared Lizard

This lizard wasn’t lost!

We came across a group of rock formations that looked like furniture.  A perfect little table and a podium were fun to pose with.

 

 

 

But where in the world were those crazy eggs?  They were supposed to be about two miles into the badlands area, along a wash that branched southeast.  Well, there were lots of washes, and they branched all over the place.  We saw lizards scampering along the desert floor.  Surely they knew exactly how things were laid out in this vast barren place.

Bisti Badlands Rock Formations

Well, the eggs aren’t here, but this is cool!

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Wings

Winged things.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Flying Saucer

A flying saucer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We found ourselves in another area of formations that had flat roofs, or wings.  These hoodoos were otherworldly.  One even looked like a flying saucer.  Some of the flat tops were detachable and could be lifted off.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Pyramids

Mark stands at the base of a pyramid

Continuing on, we wandered between tall pyramid shaped formations that were decorated with fantastic horizontal stripes.  They stood just a hundred feet or so high, and were easy to scramble up onto for a birds-eye view.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico colorful black and red pyramids

The colors change to black and red

The landscape changed from shades of white and yellow to shades of red and black.  It was all quite beautiful and exotic.  But the eggs were nowhere to be found.

Bisti Badlands bird

Bisti Badlands New Mexico searching for the egg factory

“North is that way!”

We returned to our campsite and studied the BLM map once again.  Maybe they would turn up on a second day’s quest.  We headed out again the next day and this time recognized many of the landmarks and had a much better sense of where we were.  “North is that way,” Mark said at one point.  He had a photo of the eggs from the BLM and now we knew what they would look like if we found them:  small egg-like rocks backed by white eroded cliffs.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico cracked eggs

Two of the elusive alien eggs

Finally we found them and whooped and hollered in triumph.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico the black boobs

The black boobs – important landmarks!

In the end, they are actually very easy to find.  There are GPS coordinates available on the web, but here is an easy landmark-based way to get there:

 

Follow the fence on the left side of the parking lot into the badlands.  When the fence takes its second sharp 90 degree turn to the left, look straight ahead in the direction you’ve been walking, and look for two black “boobs.”

Bisti Badlands New Mexico the egg factory

Mark sits among the eggs

Walk towards them.  As you approach them, walk around the leftmost one (the further one), leaving it on your right, and continue on to the black topped white cliffs in the distance.  The little collection of eggs is right there in front of the cliffs.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico egg factory

The best light for these guys is dawn and dusk

Bisti Badlands New Mexico cracked eggs

Bisti Badlands New Mexico egg factory

We had arrived at the eggs in the glare of midday, but who cares?

Bisti Badlands New Mexico the egg factory

In a softer light at dusk

Bisti Badlands New Mexico the eggs

An alien rises up out of its shell!

Bisti Badlands New Mexico the eggs at dusk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We felt like successful Explorers!  The following afternoon we returned to the eggs a second time to capture them in the softer light of sunset.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico egg factory light painting

A full moon rises behind the eggs

There were a few other photographers with us, and we all had very a funny moment when we suddenly noticed the full moon rising opposite the setting sun.  All the cameras and tripods turned around in one motion!

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Cracked Eggs light painting

Light painting on the eggs

We hung out as the sky darkened, and we played with a new photography technique Mark had learned:  light painting.  Using a flashlight, we “painted” the eggs with light and used long exposures to get a wonderfully eerie effect.

This was the last of our RV travels before we returned to Phoenix to visit friends and family. Then it was time to store the trailer and board a plane to Mexico where our sailboat Groovy waited for us in a slip down south in Marina Chiapas.

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New Mexico – Just Started and In a Hurry!

Lincoln, New Mexico

Thick adobe walls

Thick adobe walls

We stopped for coffee at Calamity Jane's

Inside we met an unusual local man who makes

dreamcatchers out of horseshoes and the discarded

feathers from his friend's macaw.

The dreamcatchers were clever.  He

offered one to me, but I realized that if I

started collecting all the wonderful things I

found on my travels, our little buggy would

soon be stuffed to overflowing and would

exceed its maximum weight rating (GVWR)

of 7,300 lbs.

The roads in New Mexico stretched straight and narrow to

the horizon ahead of us.  We felt alone in the world.

Suddenly rows of satellite radios appeared in the vast lands

on either side of us.  Are we truly alone?

Is anybody out there?

New Mexico

After picking up our Lynx trailer at Marshall's RV in Dallas, Texas in May, 2007, we traveled

west through New Mexico..  We took a less-traveled route on roads between I-40 and I-10 and

discovered the charming historic community of Lincoln.  This town is filled with old adobe

homes that have thick walls.  You can see how thick the walls are in the doorways and

windows.

This was our first boondocking experience.  We parked in a

pullout by the side of the road and slept soundly.  There

wasn't a soul on the road after dark.  When we awoke in the

morning we strolled through the charming town.  Our

cameras were very busy trying to capture the beauty of this

stop, and then we jumped in the truck and continued

westward for California.

Next Post: Mammoth Lakes California.