San Francisco Days, El Paso Nights.

Tuesday night the Plaza Theater hosted Chris Isaak and the Silvertones,  a first for El Paso.  We’ve seen him before elsewhere but this was the first time we’d been to the restored theater.  I’ll have to say, I was quite impressed.  The sound was incredible and the band played flawlessly.

Hi!, I’m Chris Isaak!

There was an especially amusing instance where in typical El Paso fashion a couple was late and getting escorted to their seat in the front row 3 songs into the set.  Chris joked ” We’ve been waiting for you, until now we’ve just been messing around”  Classic!

Baby did a bad, bad thaang!

If you are only familiar with his hits and not his full albums you are missing out.  He plays the gamut from slow ballads to rockin numbers.  It may have been small size of the venue, but the band was really engaged and there was a lot participation with the audience.

Kick out the jams, Hershel!

Chris played his hits, fan favorites and then broke out into a jam session where they covered Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and other Sun Records recording artists.  He mentioned that they had previously recorded at Sun Records for an upcoming album.

Lets all get Dixie Fried!

They finished up and for the encore out came the famous mirror suit!

Super Magic

It was about a two hour set making for a very enjoyable night.  I was able to record a couple of videos which are included in my flickr set here: Chris Issak @ the Plaza

The Dam Tour

On our way back from a trip to Durango Colorado, we stopped for some lunch at the Elephant Butte Dam in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  The Dam water levels are at historic lows:

The Dam top

For comparison here is a pic from its peak, early 90’s:

The Dam from the other side when full

One of the most striking effects of this is how desolate and barren it feels now.  Now, I know its in the middle of a desert but when it was full it was a lot more inviting.  This just felt…hot, like being in a hot tub in summer.

All this exposure though has uncovered some interesting features though, most notably the site of an old hospital:

The hospital ruins

The restaurant at the Dam site has recently been remodeled and they had pretty good food at decent prices.  There is even a patio for chilling with a beer which with all this heat may be the biggest seller.

Dam Restaurant

There are paths that were built before the water was so high so it is easy to get down from the restaurant area but to get to Hospital Canyon we had to drive down some dirt roads, not 4×4 stuff but not your beaten path. A flickr walk through of the area can be found here: Dam!

Southwestern Portland Cement Plant

I went back to the Southwestern Portland Cement Plant today and shot some more pics using a wide angle lens.  For reference here is what the plant looked like in the 1900’s:

Southwestern Portland Cement 1900’s

Here it is from across the Rio Grande today:

Southwestern Portland Cement present day

I have shot a bunch of photos here, the place is really cool.  This section of the plant has been out of use for quite some time and the elements have really done a number on it.  Pigeons, bats and vagrants have been the only residents over the past 30 years and it shows.

Anybody need some bat guano?

There are a ton of places to explore and its fairly safe as long as you watch out for the holes in the floor and the huge killer wasps.  I’ve been here a few times and so far haven’t crossed paths with any wanderers or aliens. When it was easier to cross the river in this area, I’d be willing to wager this was a major stopping ground to stop and rest or change clothes.

The green room

I’m going to come back one more time and go into the main office area but for that one I think i’ll bring somebody with me.  It’s in an upstairs portion and there’s to many dark places for somebody to be hiding out.

All punched out

The previous Flickr sets can be viewed here:

Set One 5/10/2011
Set Two  5/16/2011

Eat at Lucy’s

I stopped by the Lucy’s last week, the one in the Budget Motel on Mesa.

Since 1972

Normally I get the Machaca plate but today I felt like some Tacos Al Carbon.  Good stuff!

Tacos, AL CARBON!!!

I don’t use salt, which is good because a small plastic shark had taken up residence inside of the shaker.

Excuse me, there is a shark in my salt!

Pro tip: it keeps the salt from clumping. Much more whimsical than rice.

Postcard Shots

I found a postcard scan of El Paso from about 92 or so:

El Paso from about 1992

For comparison here’s a similar shot from 2006:

El Paso from 2006

And here’s from a week ago:

El Paso from 2011

Yeah, I didn’t notice anything different either 🙂 That’s unfortunate because a lot has changed down there.  In that same time we got a couple of new museums, a handful of buildings have been revitalized and the Plaza Theater has been reopened.  The makings of an art scene have begun and there are many new restaurants and clubs that have opened.    To the casual visitor who may only stop at scenic drive for that 4000 foot view, downtown looks exactly the same as it has for years.  You know what though, that may be a bonus to the vendors who have stockpiles of El Paso postcards.

Portland Cement Reservoir

Another largely unknown oddity on El Paso’s Westside is the Portland Cement Reservoir.  Its a small man made lake that sits between Paisano and I-10.  To get to it you need to exit from Paisano onto Race Track Drive and head towards the Buena Vista Grocery.  You then turn right on Torres Street and drive past a red, 3 story brick building. The road is dirt from there and you are looking for a turn that will take you up hill next to a mobile home that sits on the top.  If you pass a cement plant you have gone to far:

Not to far off the beaten path

It’s easy enough to get to, the first hill between the mobile home and the cement plant was kind of steep but not impassable.  Once up top you pass a large water tower and it should be a little ways off to the left.

Come on in, the water's fine!

I’m guessing Cemex or Jobe uses this for their quarry operations, as there was some sort of pump and line going into the lake.   Schools of mosquito fish were in the water so it must not be to bad.  There was a large presence of algae in the water but it didn’t have any funny or moldy smells. There’s a good chance of seeing a bob cat or even a mountain lion given the presence of birds in the trees and several large jack rabbits that I spooked off.

Over the dam and through the rocks...

Across the dam there was an area that may have been a boat launch at one time.

Boat launch?

From the boat launch area a road continues on the right around the lake. I drove off to the left and found the worlds most desolate ball park:

Batter up!

There wasn’t much more to see so I headed back to the office.  The full Flickr set can be viewed here.

The Junk Drawer

Everybody has one, that special drawer that stores all the nonsense that you can’t quite place elsewhere. Chip clips, batteries, found parts of objects that you no longer have and gum…lots of gum.

Well I have the digital equivalent in photographs.  Random shots that individually may not stand on their own but are just as interesting as a complete set.

Pride of the Westside, now without trees!

The pic above is a good example of momentary importance. The current owners of the Coronado Tower have decided that that after all these years the building needed some cleaning up and in the process removed all the trees making it look rather stark.

Liberated Liberty

I organize things all the time. In my garage, my office and even my music collection everything has its place. I really don’t like junk drawers because really it means you have failed at putting everything in its place.  With all the photographs I have taken or scanned its no different.  I could go the straight sort by date route but interesting little gems would get lost in the sea of dates.  in reality, photos are better grouped chronologically by event anyway. There are only a few times in your life where the exact date is important.

Everything is bigger in Texas

So that leaves me with my digital junk drawer. At least its not stacked up somewhere, blocking an exit and creating a fire hazard. Random 2011 and 2010