Family Time

We had our first visitor to El Paso and broke some more “myths” of the area.  My mamasita came to visit for a few days and she was shocked at the size of El Paso, not just a border town.  El Paso is again over 700,000 people and if you combine the Las Cruces area it is over 1 million people.  That is not counting Juarez with over 1.5 million people. 

My mom was here for a few days and we were able to explore so many areas but our first stop was of course, The El Paso Zoo!  Pictures, Pictures and more Pictures:

Being so close to African lions is amazing.  You can really appreciate how large they are.  Especially when they are stalking you.

This Blue and Gold Macaw loves attention and he sure did get ours! 

 My mom is an amazing horse trainer and she was impressed at the training of the Asian elephants.   Love at elephant sight!  
These two old ladies (the elephants) still enjoy their behavioral enrichment and definitely enjoy scouring the exhibit looking for their produce!

After the zoo we explored the local downtown Mexican shops.  The following morning we hiked up a trail at the Franklin Mountains to one of several springs in the area.  Wouldn’t it be nice if it was a huge swimming hole with crystal clear water.  What we found was a small mud puddle, but a cottonwood tree, grass, flowers, butterflies, and birds were all loving the oasis of the mud puddle!  And it is just enough water to support wildlife through a tough drought and desert habitat.

We finally reached some shade near the spring!

The Spring.  We jumped in and went swimming! 😉

Mamasita taking a break.
A lot of work was done on the trails at the Franklin Park.  They are in need of some repair but who knows what will happen now:  TPWD recently went through huge budget cuts and reduced the TPWD staff tremendously in El Paso.  The Superintendent was let go as well and now, the area is managed by someone over 200 miles away.  This is not a good thing for wildlife or parks in Texas and especially in El Paso.  The Wyler’s Aerial Tramway that I was lucky enough to ride on to the top of the Franklin Mountains now only has very limited hours on Saturday and Sunday.  The Franklin Mountains State Park is the biggest urban park in the US and faces severe threats of encroachment by houses and roads along the foothills of the state park boundary.  I am worried for wildlife and the land.  It reminds me of Aldo Leopold’s “Thinking like a Mountain”.  Maybe we should all stop and think about what the mountain needs because in the end it will come back and bite us!  Only the mountain has been around long enough to know how to manage itself. 
Oh and by the way, you can help save the Franklin Mountains, even living out of El Paso.  You can sign an online petition.  Please click here and take a second to sign the petition to save the Franklin Mountains through Care2.  Signing petitions are a great way to support the causes you care about if you don’t have financial or volunteer time to give.  So keep it simple and go sign the petition!

 Can you find the animal? 

 That hat saved my life!  So hot in the sun but plop it up on your ponytail and it allows the air to circulate but still provide shade.  I am in the market for a bigger one though. 
My mom looks so teeny in comparison to the mountain.  It was cool to walk through different habitats in the desert.  So much diversity lives here and at first it seems barren, but then your eyes start to see the differences.

A Two-tailed butterfly on a thistle right near the spring at Franklin Mountain State Park.

This beautiful species of butterfly was everywhere once we got up to the spring.  There were also a lot of dead ones there as well.  I did a little research and found out it was Two-tailed swallowtail.  While we were up there we were speculating why there were so many dead ones?  They do lay their eggs on a host tree but in the research it did not say anything about them dying after or not?  So if you know some more on butterfly life cycles please let us know!  And maybe something was eating them because only their wings were left. 

After our long hike we took the scenic road up to Mesilla, a small town in New Mexico.  Along the way there were pecans, pecans and pecans.  Mesilla was a quaint small town that had a Santa Fe vibe with adobe buildings and small shops, art galleries and local food.  Definitely a place I would like to go back and explore more of. 

 Pecan trees take over the landscape on the drive to Mesilla.
So much to do and so little time.  I am so glad my mom had the chance to come down and visit.  On her 8 hour drive home she stopped at the Guadeloupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns and said they were amazing!  I can’t wait to visit and camp!
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