Ride the USA-Day 5: White Sands

Friday, May 29—Las Cruces, NM to Van Horn, TX

Approaching White Sands Missile Range

Approaching White Sands Missile Range

It was a short ride over the Organ Mountains into the White Sands area. I hadn’t planned on it specifically, but decided to go to the White Sands Missile Range. Two young men with smiling faces calling me, “Sir”, greeted me! They then escorted me into a visitors clearing center, did a quick background check, and issued me a visitor’s pass. One of their colleagues was wearing a hat declaring, “I love Jesus,” and a shirt defining “Sacred Heart” on the back. He was all-in!

Patriot Missile/Launcher

Patriot Missile/Launcher

The tour is simply a walkway through an outdoor display of various missiles and launchers, and a museum dedicated to the history of the missile defense program. Yet it’s interesting and worthwhile. One leaves with somewhat of an understanding of everything from the Manhattan Project to Patriot missiles.

A small area of the museum is dedicated to the Indian battles of 1880. I have become much more aware of the atrocities inflicted on Native Americans in the name of progress. Our country is the best in the world in terms of freedom, yet there is a dark side to our history.

A Drone prototype?

A Drone prototype?

A dove's nest inside the missile

A dove’s nest inside the missile

I spent a little time at White Sands National Monument. It represents a story of cattle ranchers who, with some help from a bad drought, nearly decimated the natural grass habitat of this amazing ecosystem that is dependent on annual monsoon rains late summer. Any biologist would find this area fascinating.

Roswell was on the way so I took a quick through the UFO Museum. Honestly, as far-fetched as it all sounds, the tour was worth my time. Was there a federal over up??

The natural entrance to Carlsbad Caverns...my after-hours quick tour

The natural entrance to Carlsbad Caverns…my after-hours quick tour

I made a run at Carlsbad Caverns National Park as I was riding by, but the cavern tours closed about an hour before I arrived. The ranger said the best he could do was point me to the natural opening to the cave.

Road signs that make bikers uncomfortable:

Loose Gravel
Fresh Oil
Flash Flood Area
Dip Ahead/Running Water

The conclusion of the day was the personal greeting I received from a Texas State Trooper as I approached Van Horn. We had a nice discussion about Harleys, and the possibility that I was speeding. In the end, I was let off with a warning. (If I was speeding, it was only 1-2 miles/hour. I was crawling into town in desperate need of a fueling station!)

Don’t mess with Texas!

Route:                   70E, 54N, 70E, 285S, 62S, 54S
Miles Today:         423
Time Today:         11:25
Total Trip Miles:   1,932
Weather:               Mid 60s to Low 90s, clear skies
Lunch:                   Big D’s Downtown Dive, Roswell
Lodging:                Desert Inn ($44!)
Dinner:                  Hotel El Capitan

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