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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Gems and the Divide

The day dawned over Escondida Lake revealing a blue sky and an almost full moon. It was a welcome sight after last nights wind and rain.
The students from New Mexico State were busy drying out tents and sleeping bags in the chilly (44°) air.

After breakfast we drove 15 minutes to the campus of New Mexico Tech. Beth had read there is a good mineral museum here.

A student docent welcomed us to the free museum where cases and cases of beautiful samples were on display.
I'll only share a few photos like this Chalcanthite on Gypsum. It could have been a flowering plant.
A substantial portion of the collection is devoted to minerals native to New Mexico.
We appreciated the clear labeling which included the country, state, and county.
Old mining tools. like this dynamite plunger, were scattered through the displays.

"Good" didn't do justice to this collection. There are 5,000 minerals on display out of a collection numbering 18,000 specimens! This is the best collection we've ever seen.
If you have questions, the publications office is just across the hall. An extensive selection of books and journals were available.

After satiating our interest in minerals, we drove downtown. Socorro has a historic town square and lots of shops, bars and restaurants catering to the students at New Mexico Tech.
We wandered in to M-Mountain Coffee for some caffeine and scones.

Reversing course, we headed north towards Colorado.

Shortly after getting underway we pulled over at a rest area to see sand dunes.
Picnic shelters were raised on decks with sun and wind protection. It felt like we were at the beach without water.

There were some interesting showers and geological formations around.

As we approached the continental divide, the dry landscape gave way to snow. Our little Lexor climbed to 7,380' crossing the continental divide at 2:42 PM for the first time.
The town of Cuba still had snow on the sides of the road at 6,950 feet above sea level.
The landscape fascinates us here. It is very different from the east coast and changes every few miles.
Storm clouds were on a parallel track as we traversed a high plateau.
Dry landscape with big clouds in the distance.

At 5:02 PM we pulled in to Navajo Lake Cottonwood Campground, elevation 5,657' and a refreshing 49° Farenheit. Site 44 was $14.00 including water and electricity. It was another campground where we were instructed to leave a check in an envelope. Checks are a "must have" when camping, especially in the shoulder seasons.

Walked to the river and noticed a pair of beavers coming and going from a nearby island. These two were nose to nose.
Returned to the van to get Beth and the beavers were still around. A great blue heron even dropped in to do some twilight fishing.

The San Juan River was a peaceful backdrop for a restful night after what was, for us, a long drive.

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