Concordia Cemetery

Few places in El Paso are steeped legend and lore like Concordia Cemetery.

Enter if you dare, Mu-ha-ha-ha!

Concordia is the final resting place for all manner of historical figures; generals, outlaws, and civic leaders scattered alongside commoners and unmarked graves. The most famous resident and who’s remains were at the center of a recent legal battle between the city and his surviving family is John Wesley Hardin.

In trouble with the law since the day he was born

The purported outlaw extraordinaire, has had all manner of tall tales told about him. He has been portrayed as a gambler, outlaw, lawyer and heavy drinker with the truth lying somewhere in between.  Famed El Paso historian, Leon Metz, has a book about him that you can browse through at Google Books.

Map of the dead

The cemetery is relatively well maintained now, watched over by the Concordia Heritage Association.  Occasional vandalism is still a problem but Concordia is nowhere near the scary drug den that I recall being warned about in my youth. The graveyard is broken out into sections which makes for an interesting walk through on cultural burial customs. El Paso may not have its own “Chinatown” but we at least have a place to bury the Chinese.

Chinese markers
Chinese Gravestones

All of the sections have a mix of grave markers from very ornate and opulent tombs to simple unmarked wooden crosses.  You’ll even come across a nice advertisement:

monumental advertising
Monumental Advertising

I guess if you buy the plot you can do what ever with it.  One thing that struck me, as I wandered around looking at the family names scattered around, was how connected to El Paso’s past many of these individuals are.  Their names are left not only here but all over El Paso, on buildings and street signs, permanent markers to their commitment to the city’s growth from dusty outpost to sprawling metropolis.

Caples other building

If you happen to be walking around during the summer, bring some water.  There is hardly any vegetation or shade and no water fountains so it gets quite toasty.  Or you could just hop over to L&J for a drink:

L&J, the old place by the graveyard.

I have a bigger walk through that you can view at Flickr here: Concordia Cemetery

Super-sized Mushrooms

We finally had a couple of good rain storms but nowhere near where the annual rainfall totals should be.  When it does rain we usually get a few smallish mushrooms but nothing like these monsters that have sprouted up:

Super Shroom
Double Cap
Double Cap

I wonder if the Smurfs are setting up shop to begin their sequel.  I had better send Indy out to investigate…

Indiana Jones and the Mushroom of Doom!
Indiana Jones and the Mushroom of Doom!

Sunspot Rally 2011

On July 30th we joined a local El Paso Mini club, EPMINIS for a rally to the Sunspot National Observatory just outside of Cloudcroft NM.

View Larger Map

The rally started at 9:30 with everybody meeting at Starbucks off of I-54 for a quick drive to Alamogordo New Mexico.  In Alamogordo there was a a brief lunch break at Alameda park before we headed into the Lincoln National Forest towards Cloudcroft.

Alameda Park, Alamagordo NM
Alameda Park, Alamagordo NM

We were driving our Jeep and don’t have a Mini but we were given a nice “Honorary Mini” car-magnet to identify us as part of the rally.  The El Paso crew was joined by some New Mexico Mini-ers, so there was quite a turnout.

Lincoln Sign
Entrance to the forest

The drive to Cloudcroft is pretty quick with a nice change in elevation as you enter the forest.  The roads are curvy and the Minis were cruzing at a good clip on the way to Sunspot.  We wound up in the middle of the pack so I did my best to keep the Jeep in the mix and not slow anybody up.  The Jeep handles really good for a large SUV, supported by a new stiffer uni-body construction and airbag suspension. The 5.7 HEMI helped too:)

First stop was the National Solar Observatory (NSO).   Their mission statement from their website:

“The mission of the National Solar Observatory is to advance knowledge of the Sun, both as an astronomical object and as the dominant external influence on Earth, by providing forefront observational opportunities to the research community. The mission includes the operation of cutting edge facilities, the continued development of advanced instrumentation both in-house and through partnerships, conducting solar research, and educational and public outreach. “

It was a nice facility with plenty of parking and a visitors center.

NSO Visitors Center

After a brief explanation of the facilities purpose, which included an overview of the structure of the sun, we were given a tour of the grounds by a astronomy student who works there. The tallest on site was the Dunn Solar Telescope:

Dunn Solar Telescope
Dunn Solar Telescope

After viewing the inside and getting a overview of how the scope works, we exited and toured the rest of the site wrapping up at about 3:00 PM.  From the NSO we motored over to Apache Point Observatory (APO) where one of the EpMini club members, Garrett worked and was going to give us a tour. APO is a private facility partnered with the NSO and New Mexico State University.

Apache Point
Telescope row

Garrett’s job at APO was keeping the 2.5 meter telescope operational.  He explained the telescopes capabilities and showed us the work that goes into the fiber optic cartridges that are used to do spectral analysis on stars, planets and other space objects. Garrett gave us a lot of info and really showed some enthusiasm for his job.  I would imagine working here to be pretty chill, you get to look out into space seeing things that few people get to experience, coupled with the calm forest surroundings.

Fiber Optic Disk
Garrett’s disks (each hole gets a fiber cable plugged into it)

One of the best parts about the APO tour was the view from the Sacramento Mountains down into the valley. The Who’s “I can see for miles” sums it up best:

I can see for miles!
I can see for miles!

We were finished at APO at about 5:00 and it was time to head back home. I would like to thank the EPMINIS group for letting an ol’ Jeep tag along, it was good to get away from the heat in El Paso.  For more pictures of the NSO and APO sites see my Flickr set here: Sunspot Rally 2011