Last year Hawaii. This year Las Cruces, New Mexico. Celebrating our anniversary. Both special.
We thought about a Tuzigoot trip to the Gulf Coast to mark our 11th anniversary and give their economy a shot in the arm, but just didn't have the time to do it justice. Decided instead on a weekend in Las Cruces after some web-surfing found an intriguing B and B there. It's been a mild November in Cedar Crest, but Las Cruces runs 10-15 degrees warmer this time of year, so that was another attraction.
Trip almost ended in Socorro, though. We stopped there to check out a couple of gift shop/galleries on the plaza and take a picture of the NM Tech campus, where Mike went to school. Heidi also lived in Socorro a couple of years.
Leaving town, as we approached the on-ramp to I-25, I saw a car waiting at an intersection. Then, just as we drew even, he accelerated on a path that would broadside us. I swerved and accelerated, and braced for him to hit us on the right rear, but he must have seen us just in time to avoid a collision. Whew! Soon after that we stopped at the Owl Bar and Cafe for the traditional greenchilecheeseburger lunch to settle our nerves.
Next stop on the way to Las Cruces (Susie said we're going to have a relaxing weekend, not a go-go agenda) was the El Camino Real Heritage Center. The Camino Real was the royal road from Mexico City to Santa Fe back when Spain was colonizing what is now New Mexico. A portion of the camino in central NM was called the Jornada del Muerto - journey of death. This was a stretch of about 100 waterless miles. The Heritage Center is at the north end of the Jornada. Socorro was named for the "succor" it provided northbound travelers after they made it across the journey of death.
Here's a shot of the observation deck at the Heritage Center.
Here's one view from the Center - I don't think that track in the foreground is an actual piece of the Camino Real.
The Center, which is fairly new, has some nice exhibits and photos and is well worth a visit. Just one more reason to go to the Owl Cafe. (I should note that the Buckhorn Cafe, located in San Antonio, NM, as is the Owl, has been written up as having an outstanding greenchilecheeseburger as well. We've never tried it. You could stop in one on the way down to the El Camino Real Center from Albq, the other on the way back and make your own assessment.)
A few miles further along, we got off I-25 and drove through the cotton, chile, and hay fields, then pecan orchards along the Rio Grande valley. Nice, actually brilliant in the late afternoon sun, late fall colors along the way. Found our way to the Lundeen Inn of the Arts near downtown Las Cruces.
The Inn is a restored 100-yr. old Mexican territorial inn, now a combination inn and art gallery. The Lundeens added living quarters on top of the old inn. Here are some interior shots.
This comfy little den was where I spent my pre-breakfast time. A coffee table book there that I read was a Paul Horgan (famous writer of the SW) biography of famous artist, Peter Hurd, published in 1971 and interspersed with a lot of Hurd's art (a bunch of it from Horgan's private collection). They were classmates at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell and continued their friendship as they both became celebrated in their fields. One interesting story. They were the only two enrolled in a writing class. Their teacher said their semester assignment was to write a book. They would alternate weeks: one would write, the other would illustrate. What an enlightened instructor! What an opportunity to develop life skills!
Here's one of the gallery rooms and the great/dining room.
The host, Jerry Lundeen, who is an architect, told us that there are generally around 300 paintings adorning the Inn's walls. (Wife Linda is an art dealer and was away for the weekend.) Makes it a really interesting place to stay, especially when, like us, you take the time to bask a bit.
Saturday morning we went to the downtown Farmers and Crafts Market. Some scenes:
There was a street street artist.
Susie's in the picture, but she's not the one crouched next to the artist. Your professional photographer can also be seen.
There was old-folk music.
And, best of all, mariachi music.
We had street food for lunch and topped it off with fresh kettle corn.
Incidentally, you can get your kettle corn with either red or green chile seasoning. Which reminds me: When Mike's in-laws visited us a few years ago, his father-in-law commented, What's with this place? No matter what you order they want to add red or green chile! Yes, Bob -- even popcorn.
We also did a little shopping. Susie found the perfect ring. I found a nice Nativity scene produced by a local craftsman to add to our collection.
I like finding nativity sets produced by local folks who just like to do this sort of work, not out to make a buck, not mass-produced. The mountains in the background, I suspect, look a lot more like the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces than anything around Bethlehem.
Saturday afternoon we just drove around a couple of the historic districts in town with one stop at the old RR station, now a RR museum. Exhibits included a model train layout.
Across the street was this transportation mural. We'll let that bus represent Tuzigoot.
Well, Blogger keeps locking up, maybe telling me that this posting is long enough. To be continued. Stay tuned.
Susie and Rob