Part of Free Spirits at Noisy Water by Dave McGary, the statues mentioned on Roadside America.
In the lobby, a Remington sculpture.
Besides all of the wagons, carriages, costumes, furniture, saddles, tools and art, there were great displays of various guns.
A gun, holster and knife alleged to have been owned at one point by Billy the Kid.
Outside again, a lucky lizard who lost his tail to save his life.
On our way out of town we passed through Ruidoso, a tourist destination and ski town. Although we didn't have time to stop, it was quite lovely. Coming down out of those mountains, our road cut right through the Valley of Fires (aka Carrizozo Malpais--click link to see satellite images of the area.) An unexpected delight, this enormous lava bed is among the youngest and best preserved in the U.S.
From southernnewmexico.com; ...formed between 1500 and 2000 years ago when Little Black Peak erupted pouring molten lava for 44 miles southwest through the valley. It isn't a volcano per se since the lava flowed via vents, burying almost everything in its path. One hundred sixty-five feet deep at the thickest point, the formation is between 2 and 5 miles wide. From a distance it appears as barren rock but...there are many varieties of flowers, cactus, trees and bushes...The lava is similar to Hawaiian lava, jagged and rippled, and most of the lava field is a wilderness study area...There are bats, roadrunners, quail, cottontails, lizards, great horned owls, burrowing owls, buzzards, hawks, gnat catchers, cactus wrens, sparrows and golden eagles, a virtual birdwatcher's paradise.
Here's a shot with Charles in it for some scale. How did the Carrizozo Malpais form?
We continued heading west to our next destination, one of the best birding sites in the U.S., Bosque del Apache NWR.