Healing and fun continue in New Mexico


For now, let me take you back two months to our time in New Mexico where Steve continued his recovery.  After a post-treatment follow-up with his oncologist, we were OK’d to finally get out of overheated Tucson.  Steve wasn’t yet in top shape to drive Betsy, but we just had to move on. The city life with blaring sirens, traffic, train horns, dust, and impossible heat was getting old.  We had to hit the road!

This post is a clipped version of the many fun things we did while in New Mexico:

Our escape to southwest New Mexico began at Silver City.  Sitting at a cool 6142′ of elevation, it was perfect for a month of healing.  Rose Valley RV Ranch was highly recommended by most of our RV friends who had stayed there.  What a difference a change in elevation, scenery, temperature, and state made.  To top it off, our next door neighbors were super quiet since they were all six feet below ground at Pioneer Cemetery, on Old Silver City Cemetery’s “Memory Lane!”

Steve had a complication resulting from his radiation treatments.  The good doctor gave him a cocktail of medications to remedy a throat ulcer, in addition to painkillers for management of his unrelenting head and jaw pain.  We took it easy for the first week as his body adjusted to the onslaught of drugs, but we did manage to maintain our daily morning walks by strolling around the neighboring cemetery on a little hill that pumped up our heart rates.

View of Silver City from nearby Boston Hill

Silver City is a vibrant little artsy town that was our gateway to several explorations.  When Steve was up for it we spent time walking the historic downtown and driving the scenic wide open space of the Gila wilderness.  We also tackled a few “real” hiking trails, visited historical spots and attended events in town.

Silver City
Shoe shopping at historic downtown Silver City

Just one of the many art galleries here

The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is just an hour’s drive from Silver City on a scenic and sometimes narrow road.  It’s an interlinked dwelling built in alcoves within a remote canyon deep in the Gila wilderness.  The dwellings were built in five cliff alcoves by Mogollon peoples between 1275 and 1300 A.D.

On another day we went to White Water Canyon, where we followed the easy Catwalk National Scenic Trail.  The sheer cliff walls rise out of the stream bed, and metal walkways are supported on steel beams drilled into the rock 20′ above the water.  It zigzags from cliff to cliff as it winds through the canyon.

The walkway hangs 20 ft above the creek

The walkway was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was named The Catwalk, referring to the original plank-board walkway that was placed atop the steel pipe used to bring water to the ore processing plant downstream.

Whitewater Creek
A creek runs through Whitewater Canyon

Just southeast of Silver City is the City of Rocks, consisting of rows of monolithic blocks formed by volcanic ash welded together 35 million years ago.

While roaming around the rocks, we imagined the various formations as a small city containing houses, chimneys, courtyards and streets.

Back in Old Silver City, we enjoyed seeing the Silver Steamroller Street Printing Event which was featured during the Southwest Print Fiesta.  We watched as large-scale hand carved blocks were inked, placed on the street, and pressed onto paper by a 3,000-pound steamroller.  Very cool!

While in southwest New Mexico previously, we experienced their unique cuisine, and one of the biggest questions here is, “red or green?”  At the center of it all is the New Mexican hatch chile, in both red and green varieties, which is used in everything from enchiladas to ice cream.  We tried it again this time, but Steve learned the hard way that it was too spicy in his current condition.  Oh well, I still love the green ones!

After a month in Silver City we moved on to Elephant Butte Lake State Park.  We had heard good things about this place, where the lake is the largest and most popular in New Mexico.  Here we continued to chill and enjoy the view together in the peace and quiet of late-season camping.

A double rainbow adorns Betsy after an afternoon storm
In life, you take what you get and run with it the best that you can 🙂
Goofing off on the reservoir dam

I was looking forward to a visit to Bosque del Apache Wildlife National Refuge, but was disappointed to learn I was too early for the arrival of migratory birds.  At least while driving the scenic road I was able to take in the sights of mountains and expansive meadows, and to enjoy some wildlife encounters:

Where are the birds?  Looking out from an observation blind
A deck where hundreds of Sandhill Cranes can be observed taking flight – but not today!

Moving from nature to astronomy, the Very Large Array Radio Telescope located west of Socorro, NM was something to behold.  It uses 27 dish antennas in a Y-shaped configuration, which work together as a single telescope system with an eye up to 22 miles across.   It collects and processes into digital images the radio waves emitted by astronomical objects.

Very Large Array
VLA antennas are moved to different positions to make the whole system “zoom” in and out
Very Large Array
These big boys each measure 82′ in diameter, stand 90′ tall and weigh 230 tons
This custom-built locomotive transporter carefully lifts and relocates each antenna after maintenance and during reconfigurations
Very Large Array
In the 1997 movie “Contact”, Jodie Foster made contact with the aliens here.  I tried too, but heard only a noisy air conditioner


And then it was time for us to fly away for our long-awaited river cruise in Europe!

All our bags were packed…

Before leaving, we secured Betsy at the home of our very gracious friends Hector and Brenda of Island Girl.  They were kind enough to keep an eye on her while we were cruising around Europe.  Hector is an accomplished professional photographer, and like us you may want to be wowed by his work at H.M. Lopez Photography.

You can’t get any better accommodations than here at Casa Lopez




    • So glad to hear from you Mona Lisa and to know that Steve is doing so well. We understand the need to take it slow in recovery but boy did you two do a lot. Fabulous pictures of places I’m longing to go. Just love the picture and the caption of you two at the picnic table at Elephant Butte. I think the rainbow over Betsy is such a wonderful symbol of how you have come through the storms.

      • Yes, Sherry that rainbow portends great things to come. Now STeve is getting better and better everyday. When there is a day that he is pain free, that is when we take the opportunity to explore and it helped his body and mind too.

  1. White Water Canyon looks fantastic. I would be a bit afraid of the walkway but the beauty might take my fear away.
    Gorgeous photo in Elephant Butte Lake State Park. We had a beautiful photo there too. The full moon was reflecting off the Lake.
    Paul loved seeing the Very Large Array. A very interesting stop for sure.
    Glad Steve is feeling much better. Prayers that his follow up goes well.

  2. It’s wonderful to “hear” from you two. What beautiful images and a great tour you gave us. Can’t wait for the River Cruise post(S?)!!!
    Prayers continue for complete healing!

  3. Beautiful scenery in NM! Steve, one day soon you will be able to enjoy those hatch chiles. Thankfully, Tucson will start to envelop you with its beautiful winter weather. xo Len and Carla B.

  4. Wow, you two have been through so much. Now it is take to enjoy smooth sailing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you both.

  5. You’ve had a busy couple of months! So glad to see Steve feeling up to traveling, even if he had to pass on the hatch chiles. Looking forward to your post about the river cruise, as that is something we would like to do one day.

  6. Getting away into nature is one of the best ways to heal. I hope it’s helping physically because I can see it’s helping mentally. We enjoyed our time at that campground and in the Silver City area also. We never made it to the catwalk because I was worried about the height, but your pictures didn’t look too scary so perhaps next time! We look forward to seeing you in Tucson (or anywhere for that matter) this winter. You have our best thoughts and love.

  7. I was so happy to see your post when I opened up my computer! What a perfect place you chose for healing body and spirit — southwestern New Mexico is one of our favorite areas. Very cool that they’ve rebuilt the catwalk, and the Steamroller Printing Event looks like fun! Your photos are wonderful, and as always, you’ve added to our list of places that we want to visit. It’s a joy to see you two back out doing what you love.
    Hugs to you both, Laurel & Eric

  8. Elevation is wonderful thing in the west…instant cool weather. So glad you were finally able to get out of Tucson and that unrelenting heat. A very nice area for Steve to continue his recovery:)

  9. I am very happy to hear that things have continued to improve and you’ve been able to return to traveling. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to be stuck in Tucson over the summer, but it sounds like you all have taken full advantage of your new freedom and are back to doing what you love. I definitely want to go check out those antennas. Such a cool thing to see and your photos are awesome. I’m also looking forward to hearing about your cruise. You guys always find the best stuff to do!

    • His doctor kept reminding him that healing takes time. And we are glad to hear that since it seems he was not getting any better. I could tell he is slowly getting better, because he started to plan our outings.

  10. Nice to see your name at the top of our blogger feed and that you two are moving again. Sounds like everything is heading in the right direction and glad to hear that none of your neighbors at the Rose Valley RV Ranch stopped over for a visit.

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