Friday, February 19, 2016

Weather Extremes and Unique Natural Wonders in Roswell, NM

The change in weather has been so drastic since arriving in Roswell it feels like we arrived in Winter and now it's Summer - what happened to Spring?

At least the skies look like Spring :-)
From lows in the 20's to highs in the 90's, it's a crazy 10 days!

We complete several projects at Mom's house, including upgrading the front ramp to make it safer for her. No longer having a S&B of our own, it is enjoyable to do the improvements, to see our efforts make things nicer for her.

One morning we take a break to see Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, just a few miles east of Roswell.



Like the rest of southeastern New Mexico, winter is not an attractive time of year for this refuge. Still, this is an amazing place in the midst of the dry desert. 

In the middle of dry and desolate 
ponds and inlets cover the area
Bitter Lake is a strange eco-system where the Chihuahuan Desert meets short grass prairie, the Pecos River, and the Roswell artesian basin. It is rare for wetland-dependent species to be interacting with desert creatures - but that's what happens here.

We drive the eight mile gravel road around the water, with short trails to coves, bird blinds, and small man-made dikes along the way. Not much to see this time of year, but we do encounter several Northern Shovelers - beautiful ducks, a small Egret, and a large gaggle of Snow Geese in the distance.

Lots of room for the few ducks to spread out
Northern Shoveler - beautiful colors
The Snow Geese prefer to crowd together
We stop and watch, and listen to, the geese in the water when suddenly they all take flight! They make a short loop and settle back down where they started. 



So graceful in flight
A single high-stepping Egret
Bill sees a small turtle on a branch but before we can back up to see it close up, it slides into the water. Further around the water we see a small deer running along a line of tall brush. Later at the visitors' center woman at the desk says she has yet to see either a turtle or a deer - so we feel pretty lucky!

Visitor Center photo 
The Visitor Center is small, but one of the most complete and appealing I've seen. I learn that the refuge is home to one of the largest variety of dragonflies and damsel flies, and over 20 species of duck.




What I find odd is the seasonal hunting here. Deer, hog, duck, even sandhill crane! It is strictly regulated, but still seems counter to the purpose of a refuge.

Bill's family has a long history in Roswell, including his Great Aunt Martha who lived in a home that is now on the Historic Registry. We do a drive-by one afternoon.

The house where Aunt Martha lived
We've done little cooking while here, and have found a favorite restaurant where we enjoyed a tasty and fun Valentine's Day dinner. Our server, Courtney, is such a delight that we've been back twice to see her and partake of the tasty menu items. Peppers Grill and Bar is also Mom's favorite so we take her for dinner, along with her sister, our Aunt Nancy, on Thursday evening. 

She is recognized by people when we walk in, and the young family seated behind us want to know "Is that Ms G?"  The owner stops by to tell her hello. Courtney takes good care of all of us, and we all have a great time.

Just as wonderful is Aunt Nancy's homemade New Mexico enchiladas - with fresh mango-black bean salsa - that we enjoy at her home. So fun to have two of the three family matriarchs (Aunt Kathy is in Fresno, CA), all to ourselves!

Friday is slightly cooler than the 90+ degrees of the day before, and the clouds roll in around 10 AM. It doesn't change our plans to visit Bottomless Lakes State Park.

The clouds change all day
Lea Lake
Once again, although I've heard of the park, I'm completely unprepared for this unique place. The nine lakes are sink holes surrounded by steep, red cliffs. Only the two largest, Lea Lake and Lazy Lagoon, are visible from the road. They are fed by underground water percolating through the rocks. The water level is low now, but the shade of the surrounding walls make them look very deep. Both of the large lakes are 90 feet deep! 

The nine lakes are actually sink holes
A couple are very small
All of them are beautiful
Bill reads that in Figure Eight Lake, which is really two lakes, one side cannot sustain fish, and the other can. Apparently the walls of the "non-fish" side have a very high saline content. We love learning stuff like that!!

Red rock surrounds each lake
Away from the lakes, the color disappears
We weren't this hot in August!
It is sad to see trash floating in a couple of the small, beautiful pools. Swimming is not allowed, and access is very limited and dangerous so cleaning them is not an option. The campground and day use areas are all very clean.

Large and empty day use area
All sites at the camp ground have electric and water, and are mostly level with good spacing. It is less than 1/3 full. Only one of the $10 dry camping sites near the smaller lakes is occupied.

Our original plan was to stay here, but at 17 miles from town, we're glad we opted for our current park. 

A few days left in Roswell, we plan to take in more sights, hang out with Mom, and maybe we'll get to enjoy some Spring before we leave.

The end.....







23 comments:

  1. Sounds like you are enjoying your time in town while helping Bill's mom and finding some really cool places to visit. Love that Northern Shoveler...so pretty! The snow Geese are just gorgeous. Watching them take off must have been spectacular:) Hunting and refuge don't seem to mix...very strange! I like Bottomless Lake SP. We need to pay this place a visit.

    Enjoy the time you have left:)

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    1. Yes!, their mass flight was spectacular (and loud). You will love the red rock, especially as it is such a surprise against all the brown and gray.

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  2. Sounds like you are enjoying your time in town while helping Bill's mom and finding some really cool places to visit. Love that Northern Shoveler...so pretty! The snow Geese are just gorgeous. Watching them take off must have been spectacular:) Hunting and refuge don't seem to mix...very strange! I like Bottomless Lake SP. We need to pay this place a visit.

    Enjoy the time you have left:)

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  3. Even though it's winter, it looks like you've been able to check out all the birds and critters. Bundle up and enjoy yourselves.

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    1. Wish we were doing more bundling and less perspiring :-) Like most others, seeing critters always makes the trip better for us.

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  4. You have certainly been busy...I am sure Bill's mom has enjoyed every second of your being there. And Aunt Nancy's homemade enchiladas sound yummy.

    You have certainly made Roswell sound more appealing to visit. So great to fave a wildlife and state park close by. Beautiful picture of the Shoveler!

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    1. I still want to get downtown and take in all the alien-ness that puts Roswell on the map, but the natural places are very special. He's my new favorite duck :-))))

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  5. Aunt Martha's home looks so....homey! What a great porch!

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    1. That's my favorite part too - love those big deep porches!

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  6. What wonderful pictures! I love the gaggle of geese...

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    1. Thanks Laura. They were pretty spectacular!

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  7. Welcome to Roswell spring. The weather swings are famous for being all weather, all spring there. December was really dicey with all the snow. Several people were snowbound within Roswell! !

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    1. Yes, Mom's pipes burst and she and Aunt Nancy were snowbound for several days :-( Today's wind is not what I was hoping for when I wanted Spring :-))))

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  8. Wow, that is extreme! I've been planning another trip west for a couple of years now. Hope we will someday get to take it. My route took me through Roswell and I had no idea about these beautiful natural areas. So thanks for putting them on my radar. Would late March or April be good weather? 90's are not me but then neither is snow anymore. ;-)

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    1. While the temps are usually mild in March and April, the winds can be brutal. We were stuck in Ruidoso last March when the gusts were up to 40 mph for two days, and then they were sustained from 20-30 mph all through New Mexico for most of the month.

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    2. While the temps are usually mild in March and April, the winds can be brutal. We were stuck in Ruidoso last March when the gusts were up to 40 mph for two days, and then they were sustained from 20-30 mph all through New Mexico for most of the month.

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  9. Forgot to say that the hunters and their duck stamp monies were instramental in starting the NWRs. They of course wanted to guarantee their "sport" but it's all part of the "land must be USED" mentality. At least they aren't auctioning off mining or grazing leases YET.

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    1. That makes sense, I've heard that hunters and fishermen are often the leaders of wildlife conservation areas - it's just weird to see the hunting schedules alongside the preserved wetlands :-)

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  11. Bottomless Lake is another park on our radar next time we're in NM. Love the bird shots!

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    1. Thanks :-) We would love the quiet of the campground there, especially in greener months. The lakes are very unique :-)))

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  12. I enjoyed my visit at Bitter Lake and I agree with you the small visitor center had a lot to offer. Did you see those egg replicas of birds? I found that interesting.

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    1. Yes! I didn't get to spend a lot of time in the center, but those were definitely interesting.

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