House of Sugar, Border Patrol Museum, Wyler Aerial Tramway & Much More!

Posted by on February 22, 2013

Wow!  What a busy day!  We left the house just after 10:00 this morning and didn’t return until about 5:30 pm.  We did lots of sightseeing and also each deployed several Munzee’s…we are officially addicted, I think!

Our first stop was at Restlawn Cemetery to visit the grave of Tony Lama Sr. – ‘Bootmaker to the Stars’.  He began his operation as a shoe repair shop in 1912 in El Paso.

Tony Lama, Sr. - Bootmaker to the Stars

Tony Lama, Sr. – Bootmaker to the Stars

Franklin Mtns from the grave of Tony Lama Sr.

Franklin Mtns from the grave of Tony Lama Sr.

Next was a stop not far from our RV park, another of my Roadside America finds…and quite possibly my favorite to this point.  The House of Sugar (La Casa de Asucar) was built by Rufino Loya between 1973 and 1998.  The inspiration for the house was a promise he made to his wife that he would make something beautiful for her…and that he did!  He walls around his home and decorated them with ornate decorations – flowers, leaves, balls, etc.  There are some decorations on the house as well…but not as much as on the walls.  There are several ‘shrines’ along the walls with scripture in both Spanish & English.  The most amazing thing is the condition of the artwork…it’s freshly painted with no cracks, chips, graffiti or debris.  A definite ‘must see’ if you’re in El Paso.

The House of Sugar

The House of Sugar

A close up of the embellishments

A close up of the embellishments

One of the shrines in front of the house

One of the shrines in front of the house

The sidewalk alongside the house

The sidewalk alongside the house

Another shrine

Another shrine

Walkway to the house on the opposite side of the house

Walkway to the house on the opposite side of the house

Franklin Mountains as seen from the House of Sugar

Franklin Mountains as seen from the House of Sugar

I packed us each a salad for lunch that we ate in the parking lot of the National Border Patrol Museum before going inside.  We had a gorgeous view of the Franklin Mountains to enjoying while we ate our lunch.

Kelly's Kitchen!

Kelly’s Kitchen!

Lunch view of the Franklin Mtns

Lunch view of the Franklin Mtns

The border patrol museum was kind of interesting in that there were items that were found on illegal aliens when they were arrested (weapons, backpacks) as well as some of the ‘vehicles’ used to cross the border.  There was also an area paying respects to agents who lost their lives in the line of duty and to the canine patrol.

U.S. Border Patrol Museum & Franklin Mtns

U.S. Border Patrol Museum & Franklin Mtns

Motorcycles used to transport Illegal immigrants

Motorcycles used to transport Illegal immigrants

A boat created out of 2 truck hoods, welded together.  Used to cross the Rio Grande river

A boat created out of 2 truck hoods, welded together. Used to cross the Rio Grande river

Various weapons (some homemade, some found)

Various weapons (some homemade, some found)

The yellow rope ladder was found hanging on the border fence here in El Paso in 2010.

The yellow rope ladder was found hanging on the border fence here in El Paso in 2010.

Border Patrol Agent Michael

Border Patrol Agent Michael

Border Patrol Agent Kelly

Border Patrol Agent Kelly

Our journey took us to the front entrance to the El Paso International Airport to view the statue of the Controversial Conquistador, Juan de Onate (another Roadside America find).  The statue is the largest equestrian statue in the world standing 36 feet tall!  It’s referred to as the ‘controversial conquistador statue’ because many saw Onate as a cruel conqueror rather than intrepid explorer.

The Controversial Conquistador - Juan de Onate

The Controversial Conquistador – Juan de Onate   

Do you remember George Jefferson?  Today we visited the grave of the real life Sherman Hemsley who played, George Jefferson.  Hemsley passed away in July 2012 from lung cancer but due to legal battles was just buried in December.  He is buried at the Ft. Bliss National Cemetery.

Ft. Bliss National Cemetery

Ft. Bliss National Cemetery

Row upon rows of fallen heroes and their family members

Row upon rows of fallen heroes and their family members

At the very end of the first row in Section M1 you will find good old George Jefferson aka Sherman Hemsley

At the very end of the first row in Section M1 you will find good old George Jefferson aka Sherman Hemsley

Franklin Mtns as seen from George's grave

Franklin Mtns as seen from George’s grave

We made a pit stop at 3610 Johnson St…the site of our very first apartment.  It was a small 1 bedroom apartment that we lived in for 4 months or so before we moved on post.  Surprisingly, it was still there and hadn’t changed much other than the pool being filled in and is now a patio area.

3610 Johnson St. - our apartment was on the first floor in the front (the bldg on the right)

3610 Johnson St. – our apartment was on the first floor in the front (the bldg on the right)

The pool is no more

The pool is no more

Franklin Mtns from our apartment

Franklin Mtns from our apartment

Just up the road from our apartment was the William Beaumont Army Hospital.  It sits at the base of the Franklin Mountains and I still can’t believe that I don’t remember those darn mountains as all of my prenatal visits when I was pregnant with our oldest son, Zack, were done at Beaumont!

William Beaumont Army Hospital & the Franklin Mtns

William Beaumont Army Hospital & the Franklin Mtns

Our last stop of the day was the Wyler Aerial Tramway.  The tram ride up to Ranger Peak was $8.00 per person and you can stay up there as long as you want.  The ride up and down takes about 4 minutes each way.  Our tram operator was very informative and answered lots of questions.  From the top of Ranger peak you can see New Mexico, Juarez, Mexico and of course, the city of El Paso…along with the rest of the Franklin Mountains.  This would also be another ‘must do’ when in El Paso.

Meeting another tram

Meeting another tram

Overlooking El Paso

Overlooking El Paso

The Franklin Mtns from atop the Franklin Mtns!

The Franklin Mtns from atop the Franklin Mtns!

New Mexico

New Mexico

Juarez, Mexico

Juarez, Mexico

Something I did remember was that most of the yards in El Paso don’t have grass…they’re dirt or rocks and the many of houses themselves are Pueblo style.

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2 Responses to House of Sugar, Border Patrol Museum, Wyler Aerial Tramway & Much More!

  1. Jay Coffman

    I think it is very cool that you can go back to the bases where you were stationed and find your old houses/apartments. Also, thanks to you, I am going to start using Roadside America.

    Question-why is Sherman Helmsley buried at Ft. Bliss?

  2. Kelly

    It is fun to see the places that we lived in so long ago…you should do the same! I’m glad you’re gonna start using Roadside America…there’s just so much cool stuff out there to see!

    I wondered the same thing about Sherman Hemsley…as he was in the Air Force and originally from the east coast. However, yesterday as we spoke with one of the custodians at the cemetery yesterday (super nice and informative guy!) we found out that Hemsley lived here in El Paso for several years before his death and this is where he chose to be buried.

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