Mesa Hills Wash Canyon

Sitting behind the Westside Recreation Center/Galatzen Park, on Wallenberg drive, is a large drainage basin formed by the earthen dam between Sunland Park Mall and I-10:

View Mesa Hills Wash in a larger map

I visited the area two times last year; once in harrowing adventure to get to the “Bridge to Nowhere” and the other in a vain attempt to find some interesting graffiti.

I went back to walk around the wash basin and kill some time at lunch.  The area is quite green despite the lack of rainfall.

Click image for a larger view

Parallel to a walking path that rings the area is an arroyo fed by the termination of a large drainage ditch that snakes through the westside. Its all downhill and by the time water reaches this area it can very forceful as evidenced in the great flood of 06, washing out part of Mesa Hills.

I didn’t notice it before but there is a mini canyon in the arroyo that looks like it holds water year round:

I saw quite a few birds around as well as a fox, who darted into his den on the side wall of the canyon. It might be a good area to do some bird or animal watching if you had the time.

The walls are very steep with lots of loose rocks so you have to be careful if you approach it from the side.  The pond can be reached by walking down the rocky arroyo from one end or by walking down to the wash basin.

The shopping cart helps give you a sense of the scale.  The pond had lots of tadpoles in it so the foxes may be here to feed on frogs or birds. Its an interesting, self contained ecosystem carved by what little rain we get throughout the year.  A few more pics can be found below:

Mesa Hills Arroyo on Flickr

Downtown walkabout…again

I can never get enough of downtown El Paso.  I worked there for 8 years back in the 90’s (!) and many of the now vacant buildings were open, bustling even.  To a 20-something kid, it felt like a lot was going on.  Now, much of downtown looks like this store front:

Much of El Paso’s downtown may be old but it has character.  We don’t have a lot of ultra modern buildings so it’s looked the same for decades. The 00’s were kind of tough on our downtown. The downturn in the economy caused a mass exodus of large businesses, hurting the smaller ones that relied on those workers to be there spending money.  I’m bummed that I can’t develop film at Reeds Camera or have a pitcher at Main Street anymore. There’s no more Bridge Gallery for a nice sandwich and art at lunch.  No more Kress to shop at, grab a taco and your pay bills.

Attempts to revitalize have come and gone and the recent burning of the historically significant, First National Bank building, has renewed interest in improving and enforcing building codes.  Despite some stagnation, there has been progress. The Mills Building has been completely rebuilt from the inside out. Transformed from a brown eyesore, The Mills is the crown jewel on the edge of a burgeoning arts district, complete with its own weekend Art Market.

While I’m nostalgic for some of my old haunts, new businesses have opened and have staked their claim in El Paso’s future.  Restaurants like Kipps Cheesestakes and the Percolator have weathered the tough times. In the case of Kipps, they are actually expanding their business to a new eastside location.  If Hotel Baghdad can been refurbished into a Doubletree, there is hope that something better will rise in the burned out location of the First National Bank building.

You could say our city is in a unique period of change… finally. The recent primary battle between longtime incumbent Silvestre Reyes and challenger Beto O’Rourke may have temporarily divided us, but O’Rourke’s win has signaled a more progressive future.  Our downtown has a front row seat to a new direction and will hopefully be better for it.

More pic’s can be found here: Lunchtime Downtown