On the way to Elephant Butte

25 03 2011

Rancheros de Santa Fe

The wind finally calmed down after sunset, we enjoyed a spaghetti dinner, watched some TV and called it a day.  This morning the construction crew was back at work by 8:00.  After checking email, making a few phone calls and having breakfast we decide to break camp and head south.  Today’s travel promises warmer temps and more winds as we approach southern New Mexico. 

Rancheros Pool

We didn’t take advantage of many of the facilities of Rancheros de Santa Fe, the pool area looks nice but was still closed.  The main office and store is very nice, and they offer family friendly movies in a small theatre during the summers. The campground brochure also noted a few hiking trails around the property, but with the cold temps and wind we didn’t wander far.  We did take advantage of the hot showers – while older, the 3 shower stalls are very clean, roomy and private.  The site we had provided full hookups including water, 30A electric, sewer and cable TV.  There was also a picnic table at the site which went unused.  Overall I’d rate this campground better than Santa Fe Skies where we stayed last year.  I think Rancheros provides a better location, the facilities are on par and having trees throughout helps limit the cramped feeling.  The staff were very friendly and helpful and the cost was about the same as other similar campgrounds, about $30/night including a Good Sam discount.  We’d stay here again.

With about 220 miles ahead of us, we’re hoping the weather will warm somewhat.  We have several grilled items on the menu, but so far haven’t gotten out the grill or even the camp chairs.  Our destination for tonight  is Elephant Butte State Park, just outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  The forecast is for highs around 75 and lows around 44 – certainly better than 22 at Trinidad!

Very Large Array, Socorro, NM

One of the most interesting sites along this route is the Very Large Array outside of Socorro, NM (about half way between Albuquerque and Elephant Butte). This National Radio Astronomy Observatory consists of 27 huge white radio antennas configured along a “Y” shaped pattern.  These 230 ton giants with 82 feet wide “ears” can electronically be combined to function as one giant antenna.  The VLA is used to study black holes, planetary nebulae and other research purposes.  The Very Long Baseline Array also calls Socorro home.  The VLBA consists of system of 10 radio telescopes stretching from Hawaii to the Virgin islands.  When combined, this array is the world’s largest, dedicated, full-time astronomical instrument.  Our travels will later take us near Ft. Davis, home of one of these VLBA sites at the McDonald Observatory.

Very Large Array, Socorro, NM

VLBA, Ft. Davis, TX

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