Greetings From Las Cruces
Nov 27, 2008
|It is a rainy Thanksgiving morning with some snow rumored later in the week. We are up early for Lynda’s traditional Thanksgiving kickoff, the Macy’s Parade. Since we are on Mountain Standard Time we’re two hours earlier than in the east. One of the challenges of this lifestyle is remembering what time zone we are in.
We are parked at Sunny Acres RV Park until Monday when we head for warmer weather in Arizona. It is an adequate park but nothing special. I chose it because it is a Passport America member so our six-night stay is only $137.93 (about $23 a night). They have a Thanksgiving potluck today, but we demurred. Our Thanksgiving feast will consist of green chili stew, appropriate for New Mexico, and a little football.
Our 830-mile drive from Mission was smooth and uneventful; just the way we like it. The weather was perfect and the traffic was even bearable around San Antonio and through El Paso. We spent Monday night in Junction, TX as planned and had barbeque at Cooper’s. I had a mix of sausage and ribs, while Lynda had a turkey sandwich – she wasn’t too hungry. In retrospect, I wish I had only ribs, which were great – you apply your own sauce. The meal was overpriced ($23 w/o tip) for the portions. They weigh the meat portion that yielded a six-inch sausage and 2-1/2 ribs. Also the people working there didn’t seem to be having fun. When Lynda asked whether the pork chops were moist, the response was, “ If you get here early in the morning when they are cooked.”
We stayed at Pecan Valley RV Park about five miles west of town, not surprisingly, adjacent to a large pecan grove. Unfortunately, they had an early cold snap and lost the entire crop. The park is small but perfect for a one-night stop - $20 for a long pull-through. This is deer country with numerous young deer wandering the RV Park and the pecan grove.
Tuesday we made the 485-mile trek to Las Cruces in nine leisurely hours. With the cruise control on 60 mph most of the way, we averaged 10 mpg, not too bad considering the rise in elevation and going through the Texas Hill Country. Now that fuel prices have moderated traveling it is not as painful on the pocketbook. Unfortunately diesel is still a dollar more than regular. We saw it as low as $2.13 (cash), with $2.39 the lowest here in Las Cruces.
Yesterday we did some sightseeing in the area. First we drove 36 miles north to Hatch, “the chili capital of the world.” We remembered seeing signs for Hatch chilies in Santa Fe but thought they were a type of chili. Located near Hatch is Spaceport America, “the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, and the exciting frontier of commercial space travel.” Although we don’t plan any space travel, we thought Spaceport would be worth seeing.
Arriving in Hatch we stopped at two chili stores and acquired some merchandise including green and red pecan brittle. Yes, it lights up your mouth! Lynda thought about sending a chili wreath back east but decided it was too risky with dried chili peppers. The box would probably arrive as an unattractive wreath and chili powder (or dust) in plentiful supply. At the first store we also learned that the Spaceport does not yet exist. I’m so happy we didn’t drive the several miles out the dirt road to see only the future location.
From Hatch we drove back through Las Cruces to the nearby small village of Mesilla, where William Bonney alias Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to be hanged on April13, 1881. Having escaped from jail he was later shot and killed by Pat Garrett who is said to have had an office in Mesilla.
Mesilla was once a bustling community due in part to the fact that the two main trails in this part of the country crossed in Old Mesilla: the Chihuahua to Santa Fe and the San Antonio to San Diego. Today it is a neat little upscale tourist oasis with interesting shops and eateries surrounding the Plaza. We browsed the shops for an hour or so and had a coffee on one of the Plaza’s benches.
Another reason for visiting Mesilla was to find our way to the Double Eagle Restaurant in daylight, our celebratory splurge meal for the evening. It is known as “The Crown Jewel of Old Mesilla, an historic dining establishment on the Plaza.” They are pretty pretentious but as we found out later they have earned it. We had not had a fine dining night out for several months nor a steak for quite a while, so we decided to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary and one-year of RVing.
The restaurant is located in the oldest building on the Plaza, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is noted for its aged steaks and won the Best Margarita in El Paso contest in 2002. It also recently got the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine. As you can imagine, this is not where one goes for cheap eats, the 12-ounce Filet Mignon is $64.95. Lynda had the Award Winner margarita, a combination dinner with a small filet, chicken enchilada and a chili relleno, and pecan pie (this is pecan country). I had two martinis and a 16-ounce ribeye dinner that well satisfied my steak craving for another month or two. Now, doesn’t that sound like a splurge? Actually, the cost was not as bad as you might think. It was in the ballpark of our normal splurge amount.
Finally, yesterday I received two emails I had been waiting for. The first was from England confirming my grandfather’s attendance (1893-1898) at Bromsgrove School south of Birmingham. I have a picture of him and his rugby team that one of my British cousins said looked like Bromsgrove. He was correct so now we’ll visit the school on our upcoming trip. The current Headmaster has offered to have someone show us around even though the school will be “a ghost town” during the Christmas holidays.
The second notable email came from our insurance agent. I had asked her to get quotes for our truck and rig if our residence was Washington or South Dakota. This years premiums for Alabama that we just paid totaled $2047. Interestingly, the premium for South Dakota would have been $1288 and in Washington State only $1279. I guess it pays to shop for a state of residence when home has a different meaning. I chose these two states because they are possible alternatives to Alabama and neither have state income tax. We will look at this further.
Tomorrow we will visit White Sands and Alamogordo. Saturday we’ll check out the Las Cruces Farmers Market downtown on the Plaza and possibly visit a classmate of Lynda’s in El Paso. On Sunday it’s back to the Double Eagle for their Champagne Brunch ($19.95).
Hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving Day!