Last Voyage of the Mark Twain

What do you do when you see a boat in an arroyo, miles from the nearest lake? You stop and take a picture of course:

Last Voyage of the Mark Twain
Last Voyage of the Mark Twain

The arroyo was next to Winchester Lane and Los Alturas in Las Cruces.  The boat has been filled with dirt and it looks like somebody planted the plants in it.  There is a drip irrigation system that runs to it from the house next door. Odd. A few pics are here at my Flickr stream: Dry Docked

Southwestern Portland Cement (Pt 5)

I stopped by for quick look around the outer perimeter:


View Southwestern Portland Cement in a larger map

The walk around the front silo takes you through a grassy area to a couple of buildings that are almost completely demolished.  Little remains of the building closest to the railroad tracks.

Demolished

The destruction in this area is more mechanical than from the ravages of time.  Next to it is a larger building that has a large section opened up.

All opened up

These two buildings were not safe to enter so I rounded around the front and back into complex interior to see if anything was different.

Front entrance

After passing under the offices I went back into the 3 story building, in the process spooking off four of the largest pigeons I have ever seen. I noticed something comical on the electrical panel that I hadn’t noticed before:

Sense? This makes none.

I had a flashlight with me this time but didn’t have the time to go into the offices.  I want to get in there soon before it gets cold.  I’ll have less of a chance of crossing somebody who might be using it as shelter.

1 stack down
One stack down

Interesting side note, in the ongoing Asarco demolition, the smallest stack above was just demolished on Tuesday afternoon.  The channel 9 news had video and made mention that the remaining two stacks are scheduled for demo in February.

Full Flickr set here: Southwestern Portland Cement 5

El Paso Zoo

Over Labor day weekend we decided to visit the El Paso Zoo.  It was a great time to visit. The weather was cool and it had rained some the night before so most of the animals were out.

El Paso Zoo
Be careful! Its a Zoo in there.

The Zoo recently opened its Animals of Africa wing this year on the site of the old “Dudley Dome” opening up a whole new area to walk around in.  Some new additions include Giraffes:

Giraffes!
Giraffes!

If I counted right there are 5 to the herd and they are pretty play full with each other. Zebras have also been added:

Zebras!
Always eating, these guys

Other smaller animals added to the African side include meerkats, various birds and by far the coolest is a pride of lions:

Lions
The King on his throne

The lions were very playful, chasing each other around, tackling and in general doing what lions do.   A small train rings the African exhibit that you can ride for a few bucks. The entrance has been reworked as well making the African side the entry point linked by the bridges over the Franklin Canal to the older part of the Zoo.

Over in the Asia exhibit two of the tigers were out, the male and one of the two females:

once bitten
Tigers! They’er Grrrreat!

It seems like no matter how much good the Zoo does, they get hit hit with sad news. As reported in the Times, the male tiger was recently killed by its mate. Considered a freak accident and happening in a split second this only underscores the dangers of these wild animals.

When we were there, we saw no indication of any issue between the two.  They were walking around the enclosure with the male being very vocal.

Flowers Good!
Flowers Good!

The Zoo’s plan is to replace the male with the ultimate goal of the tigers reproducing. All of the other exhibits were open with the exception of the reptile house which is being reworked.  A full Flickr walk through is here: Labor day at the Zoo

New York 1998

This is from January 1998.

WTC from Empire State Building
WTC from Empire State Building

I was on a work related trip to New York and on this day we had some free time to see the city. The first thing we did was hit the Subway and ride to the World Trade Center.  The experience of riding in the subway was wild and worth it in and of itself.  Once we got to WTC we were amazed at how big the two towers and entire complex was.  Sadly though, the observation deck was closed and we couldn’t go up. Bummed, we hopped back into the subway to go to the next best thing: the Empire State Building.  Even though we couldn’t go up I’m still thankful I at least got to visit once.

Plaza de los Lagartos

At the center of Jan Jacinto Plaza is a Luis Jiménez sculpture titled “Plaza de los Lagartos.”  The piece pays homage to the parks unique history, once being the home to live alligators.


View San Jacinto Plaza in a larger map

The tale of the alligators is a sad one.  Three were added to the park in the late 1800’s and were the main attraction for decades. Unfortunately they were frequently targeted by vandals until they had to be permanently removed from the park. Their last appearance in the park was in 1974.

Retorno de los Lagartos
Retorno de los Lagartos

The sculpture was part of a mid 90’s attempt to revitalize the downtown area.  It originally was more kinetic, featuring water fountain and misting elements. Currently the fountain has been drained and the water features turned off. The ever present desert sun has faded the fiberglass sculpture quite a bit.

Faded Glory
Faded Glory

San Jacinto Plaza had served as the Sun Metro transportation hub for the Downtown area.  This lead to an abundance of people waiting in the park for the bus as well as pan handlers and vagrants who slept in the grassy areas.  To prevent that, the grassy areas were fenced off making the park not very park like.

Recently Sun Metro has moved the hub and now the park is rather empty.  The revitalization bug has once again been caught by city council so to make the park more people friendly, the city has removed the fencing surrounding the grassy areas.

That's more park like
That’s more park like

Surprising that little change really opens up the park.  If I still worked downtown I would certainly eat my lunch here.  More changes may be afoot though as a polarizing plan to revitalize the park even further has been drawn up by an outside design firm.  One of the most prominent changes was the removal of the sculpture from the park altogether: San Jacinto Redesign

The alligators now have their own Facebook page (Los Lagartos) in protest to the redesign and others around the city have voiced concerns as well.  I agree that a redesign should include some elements from the parks past.  Jimenez’s sculpture could be refurbished and better incorporated into a water feature prominently drawing from the parks historical significance.  If removal is still in the cards, then one would hope that any reuse of the sculpture doesn’t wind up being an affront to the original artist intent.

Old view from Mills and Oregon
Old view from Mills and Oregon

The city should follow the recent revitalizations of the Plaza Theater and the Mills building.  Both have been brought into this century while maintaining their heritage.  The Mills building even added back some nice architectural elliments that had been removed by the previous owners refurb in the 70’s:

Entrance to Mills
Entrance to Mills Building

That’s the one thing that El Paso really has going for it, architectural history.  After being largely neglected but left intact, we are finally waking with the desire to improve our downtown.  We should resist the attempts to go whole hog modern, we are never going to be “that city”.   Lets move forward by better using what we have.

A larger flicker walk through is here: San Jacinto Plaza