After we visited the White Sands Missile Range Museum (See “New Mexico Part 2”), we headed over to Deming, New Mexico. This little town in the middle of the desert had a substantial amount of history, culture and natural areas to experience.
While Joel worked I took the kids to explore the town for the day. We heard many good reports from other travelers about the museum in town, the Luna Mimbres Museum. This museum brought out the rich history of this old little town. Some of the notable exhibits included displays from local soldiers who went through the Bataan Death March, an iron lung to help those infected with Polio, an old time village, an operable siren on an antique fire truck, native american pottery and wild west days items.
Afterward, we stopped by the Visitors Center in town. We planned to stay for close to a week and wanted to see if they had any insider’s scoop on any interesting places to visit. While I talked with the lady there, the boys were invited to look around and climb aboard an old steam engine, train cars and caboose on display outside. A short time later I heard train sounds as the boys pulled on the levers. Then my youngest ran back inside to ask for my phone to take a picture. As I walked outside with him, he had his older brother placed in the stocks. I was glad they had a good time while they waited for me.
One reason why I take the time to talk with visitor center people at the various locations is they sometimes mention little known places. In this case, Amigos Mexican Foods. This is a local processing facility to make popular authentic mexican foods like tamales, burritos, etc. While most of the food is shipped out, they have a small takeout shop for people to order preheated meals fresh from the plant. This hidden gem offers a variety of hearty meals complete with a tortilla, rice and refried beans for only $5. The flavors were outstanding. Even the beans had a slightly smoky flavor to them that made me wonder if they cooked it over a wood fire out back. Absolutely delicious and filling!
The main reason why we chose Deming as a stopping point was for three unique scenic areas in the nearby vicinity: Gila Cliff Dwellings, City of Rocks, and Rock Hound State Park. I’ll describe them below.
Gila Cliff Dwellings (pronounced “Hee’ la) was a native american dwelling located on the side of a cliff, much like Mesa Verde. We chose Gila to tour though because we heard Mesa Verde was closed to tourists walking inside of them, unlike Gila. We had a short walk through a tree-covered valley which turned upward via a series of stairs. Once we approached the top, we entered the dwellings. These were made in a series of adjoining caves. We walked by the top openings and stepped into a room or two. They had a few viewing ladders to look over the tops of individual rooms that we could not access. They also had a couple pictographs on the cave walls to see. From the edge of the dwellings, we had wonderful views of the valley and rock hills surrounding the place. To simulate their lifestyle, we had the option to climb down a ladder to exit the place. One question my boys brought up was, “Where would they go to the bathroom?” I told them they either had to have a pot or perhaps they ran outside down the cliff side into the trees. Who knows?
City of Rocks was a small, circular area of large boulders which seemed in the middle of nowhere in a valley. People with small trailers camp among the boulder collection, looking quite small in comparison to the boulders’ sizes. Visitors here climb all over the various rocks, much like a teenage jungle gym, but it is difficult to take in the natural beauty of the place with everyone climbing everywhere. My boys had quite a fun time though. I was thankful the place was not too large, as my youngest got turned around while playing hide-and-go-seek.
Rock Hound State Park was one of the only places where people are allowed to hunt for semi-precious gems and take a small portion out with them. To me, it was just a side of a desert mountain with a valley view. Perhaps if we knew more of what and where to look for the special rocks, I would have engaged more in the activity. The family tried.
Though we spent an entire week in town, the time went by quickly with all of the activities. We continued our travels as so much more was out there to see.
Until we meet again,