Rock around the clock.

Farewell El Paso, we left on Tuesday to head west again on that Interstate 10, 25 miles later we were just about leaving the town suburbs – it’s a big place. We were on a short hop (125miles) to a town called Deming, initially just as a break in the journey to Tucson. Now we really were in the desert as our journey took us into New Mexico. On leaving the visitor centre we just caught sight of the sign saying beware of rattlesnakes! – good job we hadn’t seen it on the way in! The only other signs we saw along the way were those warning us of possible dust storms, I think that’s what they have here instead of rain J. We did cross the Rio Grande again – the banks were further apart this time but not what you would call a grand looking river. Early afternoon we pulled into the “Little Vineyard RV Park” sunny and warm we quickly had lunch before exploring the town. What a contrast to the urban sprawl of El Paso and the unkempt Juarez in Mexico. Deming has wide clean streets and a sort of cared for feel about it. With street names like; Ruby Street and Diamond Avenue, Granite and Slate Street we went back home to read up on all the brochures collected from the visitors centre to find out more about the area. So today (Thursday) we became “rockhounds” we had decided to visit the Rock Hound State Park http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/PRD/Rockhound.htm located in the mountains we had seen just to the south east of town. This is a place where they actually encourage you to walk off the trails, dig up the rocks, bash hell out of them with a hammer then even take the best ones you find home with you! Subject only to a maximum of 15lb of rock, there are even opals in them thar’ hills!

I packed my claw hammer from my very minimal tool kit I have put together whilst Betsy packed lunch. After calling to purchase a chisel – well you can’t just hit rocks with a claw hammer can you? – we were soon at the park visitors centre drooling over the sparkly specimens that had been found within the park grounds; Agates and quartz, Jasper, Geodes, Perlite and “thunder eggs” – check it out!

Wide eyed (as you have to be when looking for stones) we set off up the baby slopes of the “Florida Mountains”. Well after realising that we haven’t been very active lately and not being used to a nice hot sunny day it was soon time to stop for lunch, take in the sights and try out the hammer and chisel. Wow these rocks are hard – and the thing is that as soon as you start making any sort of hammering noise someone appears and asks “found anything good?. Well actually I have no idea, just looking for something nice – sparkly would be good. Don’t think the fellow rockhounds were too impressed. For most of the day we felt we were alone as any fellow rockhounders were out of sight (it’s a big place) the peace and tranquillity were only occasionally disturbed by the hammer taps. Hey, we climbed/scrambled half way up the mountainside – it was a sunny warm (hot at times) day and we were taking the usual loads of pictures – you think we are putting a lot on the blog, wait ‘til we get home and show you all the others we have on the laptop! We did meet others the same as us, just enjoying yet another new experience. I did find an egg shape rock about 2ft. from end to end, maybe 100+ lbs. Tapping (possibly wildly hitting as hard as possible) it with the hammer made a hollow sort of sound. I had visions of a fantastic crystalline structure inside, calling Betsy over to my find I suggested that if we lifted it up and dropped/threw it down onto an even bigger boulder below us it would break open to reveal this. Many cuts and bruises later, barely able to lift it more than a few inches I reverted to the hammer and chisel technique – did I tell you it was a 1lb hammer and ½ inch chisel? We never did see any spectacular find – after many shale pieces slithering off it no longer sounded hollow and it actually seemed to have got heavier. It did give rise to a wondering as to how early prospectors felt after days of this – and would you tell anyone if you did find anything? We eventually scrambled back down, not that easy as it was steeper coming down and all the loose rocks (I think some people may have disturbed a few of these rocks) made it a rather slippy slidey sort of scramble. On the way up we had commented on how nice all the wild cacti were and how nice it would be to have a cacti garden. Well slippy sliding down, those same cacti were just traps waiting for you to fall into them after a misplaced footing – thankfully we are both experienced enough for that not to happen J. We made it down in time to drive round to “Spring Canyon” before the sunset in search of “Persian Ibex goats” none seen so back to our previous vantage point to watch the sun go down. On the drive back, as on the drive out our comments were about the sprinkling of houses in the middle of nowhere – what do people do here?

As for our precious finds, well we will wash our couple of pounds of rocks and maybe pick out a couple of nice shiny looking ones to keep – remember extra weight on board = less mpg.

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