Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shock rock

When it comes to campgrounds, this one rocks.
It’s not lush or green or sparkling with water or any of the other things we look for in a campground, but City of Rocks in New Mexico is absolutely stunning.
The state campground is about 50 kilometers north of Deming, in the south central part of the state and after a day of wandering through the scrub brush wasteland of Texas and New Mexico, we weren’t sure what to expect.
What we got was a shock, a sprawling expanse of rocks standing on end, in strange formations, like an army of misshapen Mr. Potato Heads on the march. Wandering through the people-unfriendly yucca plants were dozens of jack-rabbits, long ears twitching and longer legs propelling them this way and that, much to the stunned amazement of a spellbound Sidney.
Just after pulling in we watched the setting sun kiss the rocks goodnight and next morning saw the sunrise show them in all their martial glory. While we settled for a conventional, serviced site, there are a score or more unserviced sites nestled in the rocks themselves, offering a unique camping experience for the traveller bored with the unreeling miles of desert scrub.
Freezing nights, even here, a stone’s throw from the border with Mexico, kept us in the southern part of the state, so we missed some of the state’s larger centres, such as Taos and Santa Fe, and the northern areas, which would have pushed us to the higher and potentially more treacherous I-40 as a conduit west to California.
But unless they are radically different from the southern regions, there is little to see, scenery wise, in this border state. Prisons, state and federal, pop up along the Interstate more often than rest areas, and highway signs counsel drivers not to pick up hitchhikers in those areas. Duh.
There seemed little in the way of agriculture or irrigation, and the sparse vegetation will only support a few cows, or occasionally sheep, per acre. The only thing that seemed in abundance was poverty and maybe state border patrol guards.
We encountered a blockade where guards, and patrol dogs, checked vehicles for unwanted passengers from Mexico, with the wall-less border, much to George W. Bush’s dismay, on the south side of the highway for much of our drive.
And the other abundant crop — rocks. But none like the City of Rocks.

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