Tuesday, January 8, 2013

El Paso, TX. Least Rain in TX. Spaceport America. UTEP. White Sands, Wineries, Museums, Ranches, Birding and a lot more. Galileo. Citizen Kane. Gabrielle Giffords. Appraiser.


For “Travel Tuesday”,  let’s visit El Paso, TX.

El Paso PoppiesAfter the last few days of dreary rain, and a lot more in the forecast, the reason I picked El Paso is because it is the city with the least rain in TX. 

El Paso is part of the ‘Big Bend Country’ region in Texas:   


“Named for the Big Bend National Park, the westernmost region of Texas boasts pristine parklands, wide open skies, popular hiking and camping areas, and the beautiful Davis Mountains. Relive the days of the Wild West or experience the international culture of old El Paso. Discover the Park Lands of the Texas Big Bend Country.”

A panoramic view of El Paso, Texas from the north. The Hueco Mountains can be seen toward the east; the Juarez mountains of Mexico can be seen to the south (far right of the image).

“El Paso is home to the University of Texas at El Paso (founded in 1914 as The Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy, and later, Texas Western College; its current name dates from 1967) and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso.   Fort Bliss, one of the largest military complexes of the United States Army, lies to the east and northeast of the city, with training areas extending north into New Mexico, up to the White Sands Missile Range and neighboring Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo.” 

Spaceport America terminal hangar facility as of October 2010

“El Paso is the first large city in the world to have a spaceport in the vicinity. Spaceport America, which lies 90 miles from El Paso, has seen the completion of several successful manned, suborbital flights.

The Franklin Mountains extend into El Paso from the north and nearly divide the city into two sections; the western half forms the beginnings of the Mesilla Valley, and the eastern slopes connect in the central business district at the south end of the mountain range.”


Main article: History of El Paso, Texas

A Folsom projectile point

“The El Paso region has seen human settlement for thousands of years, as evidenced by Folsom points from hunter-gatherers found at Hueco Tanks.

Hueco Tanks East Mountain

The earliest known cultures in the region were maize farmers. At the time of the arrival of the Spanish the Manso, Sum, and Jumano tribes populated the area and were subsequently incorporated into the Mestizo culture, along with immigrants from central Mexico, captives from Comanchería, and genízaros of various ethnic groups. The Mescalero Apache roamed the region as well.

Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate was born in 1550 in Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico and was the first New Spain (Mexico) explorer known to have observed the Rio Grande near El Paso, in 1598 celebrating Thanksgiving Mass there on April 30, 1598 (several decades before the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving). However, it is thought that the four survivors of the Narváez expedition by the names: Juan Dirac, Francisco Chuvash, Maria Munoz and Terea Franco passed through the area in the mid-1530s. El Paso del Norte (the present day Ciudad Juárez), was founded on the south bank of the Río Bravo del Norte, (Rio Grande) in 1659 by Spanish conquistadors. In 1680 the small village of El Paso became the base for Spanish governance of the territory of New Mexico, remaining the largest settlement in New Mexico until its cession to the US in 1848, when Texas took it in 1850.

After the Civil War's conclusion, the town's population began to grow. El Paso was incorporated in 1873 and encompassed the small area communities that had developed along the river. With the arrival of the Southern Pacific, Texas and Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroads in 1881, the population boomed to 10,000 by the 1890 census attracting newcomers ranging from businessmen and priests, to gunfighters and prostitutes. El Paso became a violent and wild boomtown known as the "Six Shooter Capital" because of its lawlessness. Prostitution and gambling flourished until World War I, when the Department of the Army pressured El Paso authorities to crack down on vice (thus benefitting vice in neighboring Ciudad Juárez). The city developed into the premier manufacturing, transportation, and retail center of the U.S. Southwest.”    A lot more and vintage pictures at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Paso,_Texas

General Pershing's punitive expedition camp near the border, El Paso, Texas (postcard, circa 1916).

Franklin mountains, left-to-right (i.e., south-to-north) are: Ranger Peak, Sugarloaf Mountain, and part of South Franklin Mountains.



El Paso Information and Links

“El Paso is the fourth-largest city in Texas, the biggest border city (and the 22nd-largest city of any kind) in America, and almost as close to Los Angeles as to Houston.
City of El Paso | El Paso County | State of Texas

Map of Texas highlighting El Paso CountyEl Paso is located in the westernmost corner of Texas, right where Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico come together. It lies 710 miles east of Los Angeles, 670 miles northwest of Houston, 565 miles southwest of Dallas, and 710 miles south of Denver. El Paso is 1,250 miles from Chicago, and roughly 1,835 miles from New York or Philadelphia.
32.0° N 106.6° W  Mapquest map

Just over 700,000 people live in El Paso, which makes it the fourth most populous city in Texas. Combined with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, though, the metropolitan area forms the largest population center on any international border in the world. About 2.2 million live in the area, with 700,000 residents in El Paso County. The median age is 27 years.

El Paso skyline from the north

El Paso has 248 square miles in area, making it the fourth largest city in Texas, and 22nd in size in the United States. It is the nation's third fastest-growing metropolitan area. El Paso is the county seat of 1,054-square mile El Paso County.


Click for El Paso, Texas Forecast

Bring your sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen, leave the umbrella and raincoat behind. El Paso's average summer high is 95 degrees with very low humidity. Its average winter high temperature is 55-60 degrees. Annual rainfall is only 8.65 inches. Current weather

El Paso is on Mountain Standard Time.  From April through October, the city observes Daylight Savings Time, setting their clocks ahead one hour in April and back an hour in October.

El Paso's telephone area code is 915. (Area code throughout neighboring New Mexico is 505. And to call Ciudad Juarez, just across the Rio Grande in Mexico, dial 011-52-656 plus the seven digit Juarez number.)

El Paso has no state, county, or city income tax.

El Paso's low cost of living compares very favorably with other major cities. On average, El Pasoans pay 94% of the national average for all items.    Compared to other U.S. cities, El Paso's cost of living is low:

San Diego, CA

Santa Fe, NM

Denver, CO

Las Vegas, NV

Albuquerque, NM

Phoenix, AZ

Tuscon, AZ


These statistics were provided by the Industrial Development Council of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce.


University of Texas at El Paso

images[3] “The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is a four-year state university, and is a component institution of the University of Texas System. Its campus is located on the banks of the Rio Grande river in El Paso, Texas. The school was founded in 1914 as The Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy, and a mineshaft still exists on the mountainous desert campus. It became Texas Western College in 1949, and The University of Texas at El Paso in 1967. In Fall 2012, enrollment was 22,749 (19,217 undergraduate and 3,532 graduate students).

UTEP is the largest university in the U.S. with a majority Mexican-American student population (about 70%).

Other notable features of UTEP are its campus architecture (modeled after the dzong style of Bhutan, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Bhutan,), and its athletic history (UTEP was the first college in the American South to integrate its intercollegiate sports programs and to this date is the only school in Texas to bring home a NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, which was in 1966).”     More at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Texas_at_El_Paso


Things To Do

Art Galleries

Art Galleries

Find an alluring mix of traditional and contemporary art at any one of our local galleries. Each gallery is rich in history and culture and aims to provide its visitors with a sight you will see only in El Paso.

Bowling Centers

Bowling Centers

Bowling has a long and rich history, and today is one of the most popular sports in the world. El Paso is home to many locally owned and operated bowling alleys.



This city offers great fun for families big or small. Kids can count the whiskers on the tigers in the “cool” park environment of the El Paso Zoo. Spend a Sunday, biking along the Rio Grande or feed baby goats at the Licon Dairy petting farm. Western Playland offers rides and roller coasters under the warm sun any day of the year.

Historical and Cultural Sites

Historical and Cultural Sites

El Paso serves as a cultural corridor introducing thousands to our history. With our extensive diversity one could learn of the grim fate of the notorious outlaw John Wesley Hardin, learn about the native Tiguas culture, or visit the Magoffin Homestead, one of El Paso’s prominent founders.

Movie Theaters

Movie Theaters

Everybody loves going to the movies. That's why the Sun City features five great movie theatres for you to enjoy. Whether you are willing to pay $1 at the Montwood Movies 7 or $8 at Cinemark Tinseltown USA, you can always be sure that El Paso offers nothing but the best.



El Paso attracts world-class photographers, painters, sculptors and muralists. See both regional and international artists at three art centers; explore the area’s archaeological past or the natural history of its Chihuahuan Desert setting; try a hands-on project at the Insights Science Museum.


Ranches, Farms & Orchards

Ranches, Farms & Orchards

Locals and visitors alike can enjoy the fruits of harvest during the summer and fall and taste spicy chilies, refreshing Zinfandels and candied pecans. Visit one of the many orchards of the upper Rio Grande by taking a Sunday drive along Highway 28 under the cool canopy of Pecan trees.


Regional Casinos

Regional Casinos

El Paso is centrally located and just a short drive from some of the regions most popular casinos.




Vineyards and Wineries

Vineyards and Wineries

The sun shines in El Paso approximately 302 days per year, earning it the nickname “Sun City.” All that sun we’re bound to have the finest regional vineyards. Raise your glasses to doing Texas different.

Hueco Tanks State Park.

Hueco Tanks State Park, named for the large natural rock basins that trap rainwater, offers visitors a chance to peruse ancient rock paintings, a historic ranch house, and a stagecoach station, plus picnic areas, camping, hiking, rock climbing, bird watching, and free guided tours.   www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/hueco_tanks/El Paso, Texas Attractions - Franklin Mountain State Park

Franklin Mountain State Park.

Opened as a public park in 1987, the stunning Franklin Mountains overlook the Rio Grande River and offer opportunities for hiking and biking, rock climbing, tent camping, RV camping, and other outdoor activities.

White Sands National Monument.

This unique attraction features pristine white sand dunes of gypsum sand. Start at the visitor’s center and museum then explore the dunes along Dunes Drive - an eight-mile-long scenic drive that takes visitors into the heart of the dune fields. Wayside pullouts let visitors stop and walk in the gorgeous white sands.  www.nps.gov/whsa/index.htm

Indian Cliffs Ranch.

A visit to this ranch truly transports visitors back to the Old West. Visitors can explore historic buildings and see classic tools, an antique wagon collection, a re-created western town, a working stable, and live animals. Also enjoy a playground, maze, rattlesnake pit, and popular restaurant.  www.cattlemanssteakhouse.com/tour.htm

Fort Bliss US Army Post.

Fort Bliss was established in 1893, and is home to more than 30,000 U.S. Army troops. The base provides anti-aircraft and missile defense services, Patriot Missile battalion maintenance and training, tank testing, and missile launch exercises. The Fort Bliss Museum and Biggs Army Airfield are also located on the Post.  www.bliss.army.mil

Biggs Army Air Field.

Located at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, Biggs Army Airfield was established in 1916 and decommissioned in 1966. The airfield was re-activated by the US Army in 1973, and today Biggs AAF is the largest active army airfield in the world.  www.bliss.army.mil/  Sites at  Ft Bliss/airfield/enter.htm       

El Paso Park & Fly

Things To Do At El Paso - Butterfield Golf Course

Butterfield Golf Course.

Built along El Paso’s historic Butterfield Trail, this public golf course features 18 championship holes surrounded by natural sand dunes, native plants and local wildlife. The course also offers golf classes, a pro shop, a restaurant, and a variety of special events.  www.butterfieldtrailgolf.com

Tigua Indian Cultural Center.

Visitors can experience 500 years of Pueblo history and tradition at this attraction that features Native American dancing, traditional songs, guided Pueblo tours, baking and cooking demonstrations, a museum, and a gift shop.  www.ysletadelsurpueblo.org  

El Paso Military Rate

Cielo Vista Shopping Mall.

With more than 140 shops, specialty stores, department stores, and restaurants, including Dillard's, Macy's, Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, Bostonian, Old Navy, and others, Cielo Vista Mall is a shopper’s paradise.  www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=213Things To Do At El Paso - Bassett Place Mall

Bassett Place Mall.

This shopping center offers a wide range of national retailers and specialty shops, including Costco, Kohl’s, Ross, and Target plus an 18-screen movie theater, an arcade, restaurants, a food court, and kids’ play area.
Open Mon-Sat, 10am-9pm; Sun, noon-6pm. www.bassettplacemall.com  

Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino.

Root for your favorite horse or hit the slots at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino. This thoroughbred racing track and slot machine casino is located just outside of El Paso and features over 700 slot machines available all year long, plus live racing events Tue-Sun from December through late April.  www.sunland-park.com

Chamizal National Memorial.

This unique memorial commemorates the peaceful settlement of the Chamizal boundary dispute with museum exhibits detailing the history of the U.S.-Mexico border and the 100-year-long border dispute between the United States and Mexico. Other features include a cultural center, art gallery and amphitheatre. www.nps.gov/cham/index.htm 

Wet ‘N’ Wild WaterWorld.

This water park is a true desert oasis offering loads of cool, watery fun, a volcanic garden, thrilling water slides, a wave pool, a kiddie pool and slide, a lazy river, shady picnic areas, barbecues, a snack bar, and more. Open daily. Ticket prices range from $2.95-19.95, depending on age. www.wetwild.com

Western PlayLand.

Enjoy a day at this family style amusement park that offers fun for the whole family with thrill rides, roller coasters, family rides and easy going kiddie rides, plus live entertainment, classic food concessions and souvenir stands. Open February-October. Check website for hours and ticket information. www.westernplayland.com 

El Paso Mission Trail.

El Paso’s historic Mission Trail follows the path of the Spanish missionaries who came to El Paso to spread their Catholic faith. A highlight of the trail is three adobe Mission churches that offer visitors a look into the lives of the missionaries and converted American Indians who lived and worked there over 400 years ago. www.themissiontrail.net

War Eagles Air Museum.

Visit this unique museum to see historic WWII and Korean Conflict era aircraft and exhibits highlighting the history of U.S. military aviation and the significant role that airplanes, pilots and support crews played during those wars. Open Tue-Sun, 10am-4pm. Children and students enter free. www.war-eagles-air-museum.com  

Magoffin Home State Historic Site.

This historic home was built in 1875 by El Paso pioneer Joseph Magoffin. The unique mansion, located in downtown El Paso, is made from traditional adobe construction, and features Victorian-era décor and furniture, plus several interesting outbuildings and period gardens. Open Tue-Sun, 9am-5pm.  www.thc.state.tx.us/hsites/hs_magoffin.aspx?Site=Magoffin   

El Paso Texas Hotel

El Paso Zoo.

The El Paso Zoo features over 220 different animals including elephants, lions, zebras, reptiles, and fish from around the world, plus kid-friendly activities, live animal exhibits, special events, on-site dining and a souvenir shop. Open daily, 9:30am-4pm with extended summer hours.   www.elpasozoo.org


Nature Tourism - Birding - El Paso, Texas

Billy Rogers Arroyo Park & Nature Preserve

Billy Rogers Arroyo Park & Nature Preserve

Enjoy beautiful views of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez while bird watching.


El Paso Museum of Archaeology/Wilderness Park

El Paso Museum of Archaeology/Wilderness Park

Fifteen acres along the foothills of the Franklin Mountains makes for a perfect birding site.




Featherlake Wildlife Sanctuary

Featherlake Wildlife Sanctuary

This 43.5 acre sanctuary is home to many species.



Franklin Mountains State Park

Franklin Mountains State Park

Franklin Mountains provide a great place to see birds migrating through the desert southwest.



Hueco Tanks

Hueco Tanks

A trip worth taking for bird enthusiasts.



Keystone Heritage Park/El Paso Desert Botanical Garden

Keystone Heritage Park/El Paso Desert Botanical Garden

Enjoy bird watching surrounded by an archaeological site and desert botanical garden.



Rio Bosque Wetlands Park

Rio Bosque Wetlands Park

Enjoy a location where nearly 200 species of birds have been sighted.



River Park Trail

River Park Trail

The Rio Grande provides a picturesque backdrop for bird watching




I didn’t know there was so much to see and do in El Paso!


On This Day:

Astronomer Galileo dies in Italy, Jan 8, 1642:

“Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei dies in Italy at age 77. Born February 15, 1564, Galileo has been referred to as the "father of modern astronomy," the "father of modern physics" and the "father of science" due to his revolutionary discoveries. The first person to use a telescope to observe the skies, Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, sunspots and the solar rotation.

After Galileo published his confirmation that the Earth orbits the Sun, in favor of the Copernican system, he was charged with heresies (ideas that ran counter to teaching of the church) by the Inquisition—the legal body of the Catholic church. He was found guilty in 1633 and sentenced to life imprisonment but due to his age and poor health he was allowed to serve out his sentence under house arrest.”



William Randolph Hearst stops Citizen Kane ads, Jan 8, 1941:

“One of Hollywood’s most famous clashes of the titans--an upstart “boy genius” filmmaker versus a furious 76-year-old newspaper tycoon--heats up on this day in 1941, when William Randolph Hearst forbids any of his newspapers to run advertisements for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.”   For full story read: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/william-randolph-hearst-stops-citizen-kane-ads


Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords injured in shooting rampage, Jan 8, 2011:

“On this day in 2011, Gabrielle Giffords, a U.S. congresswoman from Arizona, is critically injured when a man goes on a shooting spree during a constituents meeting held by the congresswoman outside a Tucson-area supermarket. Six people died in the attack and another 13, including Giffords, were wounded. The gunman, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was taken into custody at the scene.

That May, Giffords traveled from the hospital in Houston to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the launch of the final flight of space shuttle Endeavour, commanded by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelley. The following month, the congresswoman was released from the rehab hospital and began outpatient treatment. On August 1, she made a surprise return to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time since she was shot, in order to vote in favor of passing a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

On January 25, 2012, Giffords resigned from Congress in order to concentrate on her continuing recovery. In August of that same year, Loughner pleaded guilty to 19 of the crimes he was charged with, including killing six people. As part of the plea agreement, federal prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against him. On November 8, 2012, Loughner was sentenced to life in prison without parole.”


From me:  Now we will have to support him for the rest of his life!



I was up early as I just couldn’t go back to sleep.  I didn’t know how much more I would have to do to this house before the appraiser came.  I went around shoving more stuff in drawers and cupboards, even stuff that I like to have handy.  It will take a while to get it ‘operational’ again. This house won’t stay this uncluttered for long, so I took pictures.

I tidied up the Grooming Room, and locked Miss Priss up in her big cage, so that she couldn’t ‘redecorate’ the room again.  I looked back in there 10 minutes later and she had got out of the cage, knocked my clipper blades down on the floor, overturned the waste basket, scattered her toys, and torn up some newspaper.  I found a wide slat off a wooden blind, drilled some holes in it, and zip-tied it across the space in the cage.  That worked, Miss Priss was contained, until I let her out again. 

Ray came over here and painted one more inside corner, and touched up a few places on the baseboards.  He was just removing some spots of paint off my kitchen floor when the appraiser arrived. 

First, the appraiser made sure that we had removed the RVport off the property line.   He took pictures and measured the outside dimensions of the house. Then he came inside, inspected it, and took pictures of each room, including up in my attic.   He wanted to see under my house, so I got my trusty Makita and unscrewed one of the doors that we had made in the cedar skirting in the back yard.  He took several pictures of the pier and beam construction underneath.  He noted that the house has double-paned windows, and also that there is an extra 3/4” of board insulation on the outside under the siding, not found on many houses.

Now he has the job of finding one to compare it to, this is one of a kind, so I don’t know how he is going to do that.    The results are supposed to take a couple of days.


Dizzy-Dick said...

Location should also be included in the appraisal. There are more than one method of appraising and a good appraiser will use multiple methods and average the outcomes. I had a real estate selling license when I lived in Pennsylvania.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thank you for your comment, DD.

The appraiser and I had already searched for houses similar to mine in this neighborhood, sold or for sale, and came up empty. He said that he will have to go farther back in the records. I hope he knows what he is doing.

My aunt was a RE broker in Bedford TX, and I used to help her when I lived in Dallas in the 60's. We came across several houses that I bought, fixed up and flipped. That's what started me in construction.

Happy Tails and Trails, Penny.