Vado, New Mexico – February 26-March 4

We chose Western Skys RV Park (Passport America $20/night) because it was the halfway point between El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico and convenient to all the places that we had marked to see. We were still in the Chihuahua Desert area. Beautiful days with warm temperatures, no humidity and no rain. Nice!

El Paso had a great museum of art and we enjoyed much of the city. The only issue we had in El Paso was that the western side of the city had many road closures due to road construction and that hampered our travels on that side of town. We visited the Museum, Mission Trail, San Elizario Historic District, and the Tigua Indian Reservation Pueblo.

Las Cruces, NM was less crowded and had a unique arts area right on Main St. We visited the Museums of Art, Natural Sciences and the Branigan. All nearby with easy access. We also enjoyed White Sands National Monument, Old Mesilla Village, and the Basilica of San Albino. There was so much history to absorb from this area. It can fill your brain and your senses.

Let’s start with White Sands National Monument! Admission to the park is $20/vehicle; $10/person or you can use a National Park Pass. I highly recommend getting the National Park Pass. Seniors can buy a lifetime pass for $80. It’s worth getting this pass, 4 parks and it pays for itself.

White Sands National Monument is in the Chihuahua Desert, Tularosa Basin and is 275 square miles of white gypsum dunes. It is stunning and we are allowed to climb the dunes and even sled down them. Sunsets over the dunes are nothing short of spectacular.

The El Paso Museum of Art has free admission and has some very interesting exhibitions. It is in the historic area of town with safe walking and interesting sights. I especially liked the Julie Speed exhibit.

Next up, San Elizario Historic District, which has roots as far back as 1598, was a Spanish Fort, Presidio San Elizario in 1789, and where the Salt War was fought between the town and Texas Rangers in 1877. The Rangers surrendered. Great little place to visit and the people were welcoming and fun. Note: The Old County Jail is the only jail that Billy the Kid broke in to. He sprung his old friend Melquiades Segura!

We visited the Socorro Mission and actually participated in the “Mass for the Infirm.” It was a Spanish Mass and the Priest invited us to lunch after. Experiences. Have them. Grow.

El Paso Museum of Archaeology.

Tigua Indian Reservation Pueblo. We met Arthur, a member of the council, who was very informative and spoke to us at length about his people and their belief system. The center has many artifacts and shops. Very educational and I highly recommend stopping by. https://www.ysletadelsurpueblo.org/

Old Mesilla Village (Little Tableland) on the Rio Grande was started in 1848. It is home to the Basilica of San Albino and many artisan shops that have set up in the historic buildings. Most residents are direct descendants of the early settlers. Billy the Kid went on trial here and was sentenced to death. Mesilla is a colorful place and worth a look.

Las Crusces Museum of Art, Museum of Natural Sciences and Branigan Museum. All are adjacent to each other in historic downtown. Nice visit. Lovely folks.

The following is a remote trail that we took after visiting the Museum of Natural Sciences. This area is rich in fossils. Gerry McDonald is responsible for major finds in the 1980s and is still finding fossils in this area. He is an Amateur Paleontologist who discovered the “worlds richest repository” of pre-dinosaur fossils and fossil tracks, dating back 280 million years. We enjoyed the trek out and a 4 wheel drive is a must. It was a little scary out there and we were not fortunate enough to find any fossils. We did find beauty and quiet, however.

We had a great few days here. Many capers and looking forward to our next adventure in Silver City, NM. More later!

Otis Redding Foundation and other things Macon ……

February 5th we continued touring Macon, which has a rich and varied music heritage. Phil Walden founded the South’s premier R&B booking and talent agency and Capricorn Records in the 60s. Macon is the home of Little Richard Penniman, Otis Redding and where James Brown, The Allman Brothers and many others congregated to make some wonderful music and showcase their talents.

Historical areas to visit include: The Tic Toc Room, Douglass Theater, Red Lamp Lounge, The Rookery, Elizabeth Reed Music Hall, Hippie Crash Pad, and the “At Filmore East.” So much history, so much music, and so much love in this city.

We visited the Otis Redding Foundation, which is run by his wife, kids, and grands. We spoke at length with Justin Andrews, Otis’ grandson and learned a lot about how they are helping youth realize their potential. The mission of the foundation is: “Empower, enrich and motivate youth through education in music and the arts.” They are doing a good job. I bought the Collectors CD of his music and Justin threw in a Dream CD as a gift. I invite you to check out their works at https://www.otisreddingfoundation.org/, you will be glad you did. Mr. Redding’s legacy carries on!

We also grabbed a bite to eat at The Rookery on Cherry Street. The Rookery was founded in 1976 and is a local favorite. They have signature sandwiches (you get a choice of meat) with names like “the Jimmy Carter Burger,” with peanut butter and jelly, “the Allman Burger,” with Swiss cheese and mushrooms. It was a very good experience and the food, service and atmosphere was worth the walk. More information here: https://www.rookerymacon.com/

To close out our day we visited Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church. It is a Neo-Gothic design built in 1841. The towers are the tallest twin towers in Macon and measure 200 ft to the tip. The architecture is exquisite. If you love architecture and church history this is a must see.

This was our last day in Macon, the next morning we moved on to Montezuma, Georgia. The weather and the travel have been good and I can’t say enough about the people of Macon, who made us feel so welcome. I highly recommend a trip to Macon to visit the sights, meet the people, and enjoy the richness of it’s history. You will be glad that you did.

Tubman Museum

Our journey continues. February 5th on to the Tubman Museum on Cherry Street. The museum is a lovely building and the staff was excellent. The Tubman Museum is the largest museum in the nation dedicated to educating people about the Art, History and Culture of African Americans. There were several exhibits of artists and inventions. We covered the museum in about 4 hours. The first floor had an array of textile art by Winnie McQueen. The pieces were outstanding and each panel told a story. The following are examples of her work.

Artifacts from Jim Crow were also on the first floor. Some of these images gave me visceral feelings as I do remember this time even though I was a small child. I thought, “This isn’t right.” One memory I have is as a child of around 6 years old. We were “pickin’ cotten” and granddaddy had hired our local crew. They brought along a little girl about my age and we hit it off immediately. We decided that I would teach her to ride my bike. A neighbor stopped by and talked to my dad. Shortly after I received a switching and was told I was never to play with the girl again. I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now. It made a lasting impression. Following pictures are some of those artifacts.

Other artifacts from the first floor:

The second floor had several eclectic art exhibits and a tribute to Harriet Tubman. I was really moved by the work of Steve R Allen. Beautiful, bold, work. He never received formal training but has an amazing gift. Examples of his work follows:

A random sampling of art work follows:

Little Richard’s piano. The plaque says, “Do not play Little Richard’s piano. He will KNOW!” Loved that.

Harriet Tubman:

The poster has amazing symbolism of the open hands and the bird flying bird. Representing freedom!

When we finished the museum we went down to the gift shop. We were told that the artist Steve R Allen had arrived and was up in his exhibit. We promptly went up and met a most talented man. We engaged in a lengthy discussion of his works, his childhood in Raleigh, NC and also met his brother who was just beginning to paint at 66 years of age. What a bonus to our day. Lovely!

I highly recommend making a journey to visit this museum. It’s well worth it. Entry is just $8/person. Go!