It didn’t look promising Monday morning when we crossed the border of Texas and arrived in New Mexico.
Having lived for 20 years in New Mexico, I had fond memories of the warm weather and 300+ days of sunshine a year. In New Mexico I knew that we wouldn’t experience a solid week of gray, overcast skies like what we had left behind in Austin. But what I hadn’t counted on was that March in New Mexico can bring windstorms with cold and blowing dust and that’s just what awaited us. A late winter snowstorm had moved through Arizona on Sunday and the effects of the cold and wind were evident, even down in the southern part of New Mexico. Fortunately, it didn’t take too long for the weather to warm back up and today was a perfect 70 degrees, no clouds and no wind.
Our first stop Monday in New Mexico was in the city of Las Cruces. We visited the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park for the opportunity to walk along the Rio Grande River. Sadly, there was very little water in the river.
Rio Grande River at Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park
I don’t remember ever having seen the river that dry. The Rio Grande is the continent’s second largest river and plays a vital role in transforming barren desert into fertile land for farming. The Ganges River of India is the only river in the world that is more heavily used for irrigation.
As we continued our drive northward in New Mexico from Las Cruces the route basically paralleled the river. The further north we went the more I began to understand that all was not lost, as far as what had seemed to be a dried up river. The key is the management of what water there is by regulating how much is allowed to flow from the source in the Colorado mountains to the mouth in the Gulf of Mexico 1,885 miles away. There is snow yet to melt in the mountains and, hopefully, there is enough snowmelt that when the floodgates are opened at Elephant Butte Dam the dried up places we looked at downstream will again have water.
In Albuquerque, where we arrived on Wednesday, we were happy to see that there is a lot more water in the river. We were told that things are more dry than normal, but it did look a lot better when we walked along the river at the Rio Grande Valley State Park. Rio Grande River at Rio Grande Valley State Park in Albuquerque
We are staying in the Albuquerque area for the next two weeks and are excited about the opportunities for activities that we enjoy. We have a bike map of the city and there are a number of good trails to explore. There are also many hiking trails in the Sandia Mountains just east of the city. Today’s perfect weather gave us the opportunity to do a short hike in the foothills of the Sandias and then later in the day a bike ride on one of the city trails.
Our hotel is on Central Avenue, which once was part of the famous cross country highway Route 66. When we are in the mood for some nightlife we need to follow it back down towards the city and check out the historic vintage neon signs that they say still are there along the route.