On Saturday morning we loaded up the car and checked out of the Inn, after having a little something to eat at the Starbuck's next door to the casino. Yes, people were already (or still) dropping coins into those slot machines!
We went back to Carlsbad a different way than we had come, going south on I-70 and then east, to Cloudcroft, on I-82. As we neared Alamogordo, we started seeing pistachio orchards and farm stores. One of those stores stood out! (That's Mom standing beside the giant pistachio.)
McGinn's Country Store was on the Pistachio Tree Ranch. They had all sorts of wonderful goodies, made with pistachios, pecans and other nuts, and samples of most of them out on the front counter. Mom and I each took a sample of the pistachio brittle, and almost immediately found our mouths "on fire." We re-checked the label on the container. It said, "Pistachio Brittle." Right next to it was the container that read, "Hot Chili Pistachio Brittle," but we knew we hadn't taken from that one. We told the clerk, and she was sure we were wrong. To prove her point, she popped a piece in her mouth, too, and quickly agreed that the container had been mistakenly filled with the chili brittle. Her face was a little red, but I don't think it was from embarrassment! I bought some cherry cider to help cool my mouth, sampled the REAL pistachio brittle (delicious!), and bought some to take home for Dan.
After leaving the country store, we were soon climbing up the I-82 road to Cloudcroft. There were some beautiful mountain vistas and one amazing canyon. I tried to take pictures, but I failed to get the perspective and the depth of that canyon.
When we reached Cloudcroft, it was a little early for lunch, so we drove up the 16-mile, winding forested road to the Sunspot Observatory. I had read that this road had several wonderful places to see down on the valley floor, even as far as White Sands. But what we found was just ONE place where we could see the vista. But it was a nice one. Here's a shot from that spot. If you look closely, on the horizon and to the left, you can see White Sands. But it's way off in the distance.
This purple thistle was growing alongside the guardrail at the parking area.
Cloudcroft is a fun little tourist town with quaint shops, many of them featuring New Mexican art, along the Burro Street Boardwalk. Its elevation is 8,665 feet. The Sunspot Observatory, at the end of that 16-mile road that we drove, is 9500 feet above sea level.
Cloudcroft was the last place we visited. From there we headed to Artesia, and then on to Mom's house, in Carlsbad. The next morning, Sunday, after worshipping with Mom at the Sunset congregation, I drove home to Albuquerque. I arrived home that evening, with a bunch of new miles on our Ford Escape, and a bunch of good memories from our mother/daughter escape!