Saturday, March 1, 2008

Las Cruces, NM, (again)

We're definitely heading toward home now. We left Balmorhea SP and West Texas this morning and drove into New Mexico and Mountain time. We like this park where we are. We stayed here while we were traveling east. It has a really nice hot tub. I'll bet I've told you that about a dozen times by now. It's just a nice all around park though. Laundry has piled up because we haven't had a sewer connection for two weeks. We've changed locations often enough to use the dump station to empty our tanks, but that doesn't help where the laundry is concerned. Since it drains into the gray water tank, we wouldn't have enough room in the tank to take showers. So . . . this place has a nice clean laundry room with lots of machines. I needed to wash a load of sheets and two loads of towels. Those are easily done in the park laundromat, and I can use our machine for our clothes.

Yesterday we went scuba diving in the San Solomon Springs swimming pool. It was excellent practice, although not much of a dive site. We came to realize that tropical fish have evolved for protection and mating by becoming bright in color. The fish in this area are very silvery, and that seems to be their way of identifying one another. Well, except for the catfish, and they are black. We saw two endangered species, the Channel catfish and the Comanche Springs Pupfish. Pretty cool. Mike took some pictures underwater, and I took pictures above. I'll give you a link at the bottom of this entry.

The pool was absolutely filled to the brim with little schooling fish, mainly Mexican Tetras, Round-nosed Minnows, and Pupfish. There were also bottom feeders in the way of catfish. Occasionally, a predatory Sunfish makes its way into the mix, but it has been determined that they don't eat enough to create a problem for the endangered little pupfish (2 inches long). The catfish are anywhere from 4-12 inches. There are also the cutest diving ducks called Lesser Scaub. We enjoyed watching them very much. And there are spiny softshell turtles. We saw several of them, but we weren't able to get pictures of them. There is also another kind of turtle called a Mexican slider, but we didn't see any of them.

The funny thing about this is that the schooling fish, all varieties about 2 inches long, who followed us all over the pool. When we were diving, they seemed to identify us as their fearless leaders, and they followed us everywhere by the thousands. They also nipped at us because they have come to associate swimmers with food. People feed them all the time, and so this creates a problem. It didn't really hurt, but it was terrifically annoying. We're told the turtles will bite too, and there is a rather large one. (We learned this from the dive shop guy, who teaches diving in the pool.) I'm referring to the pool as a "pool," but technically it is an open body of water because it is spring fed. We were also able to see the many little holes on the bottom where the spring feeds in 1 million gallons of water per hour. That's a lot of water!

It was a shallow dive from start to finish. It was also high altitude and fresh water. For those of you who know about diving, those three things mean that it is difficult to control your bouyancy. As far as I'm concerned, bouyancy control is the most difficult part of diving. In shallow water and with all of the other factors coming into play, it was necessary to be pretty heavily weighted to keep from popping back up to the surface all the time, and having so much weight made it difficult not to end up dragging your equipment and your body across the bottom of the pool. It was 25 feet at its deepest point, and the deep leg off the main pool gets as shallow as 12 feet at the far end. (There is also a shallow leg that comes off the main pool, but we didn't go into that area.) Still, I'm bringing this up because we both did really well controlling our bouyancy, and so we are feeling pretty good about that.

So we're in Las Cruces for a few nights. After that, we'll be heading toward Yuma, AZ, which is a two day drive (two days for us weinies--one day if you're in a hurry). We'll probably hang out there for a couple of days. Then we'll head over to San Diego where I want to visit my mother's grave and place some flowers. Then we'll head north on I-15. We expect to be home around the third week of March, but don't hold us to that date. It all depends on the weather and whether we like the parks we find along the way. (Weather and whether.)

Here is the link to the pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/threecatsranch/Balmorhea

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cool -- I might even consider snorkeling in a pool such as this. Forget the ocean where they have BIG fish that bite!! We just returned from a very windy, but otherwise beautiful weather trip to the desert. The flowers are in full array now -- well worth a trip just to view them! I'll write more when I answer your email. Lisa

larryc said...

Great Pics.... Are you sure the fish were not related to the pirrana some how?

Barbara said...

Mike says he wondered about the pirhanna too. We think it is a distinct possibility. What we want to know is this: How do the fish get into a spring like this in the first place? Here is our guess: Bird eat the eggs of fish and then poop them out into the spring.

Anonymous said...

Like the "golden valley" in your new Ribbon of Highway picture -- forgot to mention it. Lisa