Monday, March 29

Las Cruces, Day One

Hi! I've been so busy lately, I haven't had any time to pay proper attention to this website. Nor time to write about the little road trip we took a few weeks ago. And I still don't have much time, but I am going to try to get a bit down before it's all gone from my memory. And yes, it will probably be long-winded. Isn't that how all my travelogues are?

We left on a Wednesday morning. A beautiful day. Sunny and by the time we hit Albuquerque quite warm too. Another hour south and it was HOT. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to have such lovely weather after so many cold and gray days.

Someone is actually driving.

The drive to Las Cruces was quick. Super quick. For some reason, I thought it would take us a lot longer. Perhaps because I hadn't been to southern New Mexico since I was about 12 and back then the drive probably felt a lot longer. I pretty much stared out the window the whole way down. Such beautiful landscape and amazing colors. I kept seeing a lot of the colors that I used in my knitting, especially the striped bags that are browns mixed with sagey greens and yellows and blues. We stopped a few times to take photos, but that kind of beauty is not always easy to capture on film. I was armed with a good bit of my camera collection, most of which I did not use, but oh well, it's always good to be prepared. My favorite picture of the whole trip was taken at a rest area just north of Las Cruces.

We rolled into Las Cruces at about 2:30 or so. We checked into our hotel, the Ramada Inn, chosen for its proximity to the NMSU campus and the fact that I liked the pictures on their website. Looked like a nice place to stay. I mean, who can resist palm trees? Not me. Oh yeah, and they have a bar in the hotel. Never a bad thing.

The hotel.

It took us awhile to check in because we kept changing rooms. We walked into the first room and there was no window. Just the main door and a set of French doors overlooking the pool area. Which might have been okay if it was an outside pool area, but no, this was an inside area. So the room was rather dark and instantly made me feel totally claustrophobic. We went back and asked for a room with a window. And of course we had already gotten some of our stuff out of the car so we were dragging it around with us. The second room had French doors that led into the room from the hallway and then a regular door on the other side. No window. The door on the other side led out to a little balcony which was nice, but still, no light in the room. And French doors out to the hallway so not great privacy. Back to the check in desk we went. I felt like an asshole, but hey, we were going to be there for a few days, I wanted to be happy. Finally, the third room was fine. A regular door at the hallway and big, big windows on the other side of the room, letting in lots of sunshine. Perfect.

We got the rest of our stuff out of the car and settled in to relax a bit before we met up with Jami and my niece, Caroline.

(A slight tangent because I don't think I mentioned this before. Jami was in the middle of her book tour when we met up with her. We knew she couldn't make it up to Santa Fe and so we made plans to meet her down south since she would be driving from San Diego to Austin. It had been about 4 years since we'd seen her. So one night in Las Cruces with Jami was our plan. Plus we'd been wanting to go down and visit our niece too. It was all pretty great timing.)

I hadn't slept well the night before we left so I tried to take a nap, but it didn't really work. I was just too excited about seeing Jami and Caroline and I don't know, it was just exciting to be away from home too. So sleep never came.

And then this weird thing happened. I had just gotten up and put my jeans back on. I heard someone at the door. Not knocking but putting a key card in and opening the door. I said to Will, rather casually, "there's someone coming in the door." Sure enough, the door opened and, well, oddly enough it was Jami! So I said, "oh look, it's Jami." She was rather taken aback to be walking into an occupied room, but in the end, it was fine because we all knew each other. But how weird is that? After we changed rooms so many times, the hotel guy did not update the info in the computer. So when Jami checked in with a new hotel guy, he gave her our room thinking that it was vacant. It all could have been rather uncomfortable, but since we just happened to know each other, it was all good.

After agreeing to meet up at around 5:00 (I think), Jami went off to get her own room and take care of book tour business. Will was glued to the computer and I entertained myself by taking pictures of the gold chair in our room. I really liked the chair. And the light filtering through the gauzy curtains. I took a lot of pictures of that chair.

I was antsy to see my niece so I kept looking out the window. Right as I saw Caroline walking up to the hotel, Jami knocked on our door. Such perfect timing. It was cocktail hour. We decided to have a drink at the hotel bar first. Caroline went along with the plan, dear niece that she is. (She's not 21 so cocktail hour that isn't at somebody's house is not so fun for her.) The bartender came over to our table and Jami asked her what her specialty was, a question that really threw her for a loop. First warning sign. Second warn sign was when Jami asked for a margarita and the bartender stared blankly at her. I was rather surprised as margaritas are such a big thing up here in Santa Fe. I assumed that most New Mexico joints made a lot of margaritas. As we later figured out, the hotel bar had them on tap, so to speak. Ugh. In spite of these warnings, I went ahead and ordered a marg because I had been thinking about having one all day. Oh yeah, and it was St. Patrick's Day. So they were green. Not margarita green. Green green.

Green margaritas and Jami.

I was afraid. (Will smartly declined green dye in his beer. No idea why all the St. Patty's Day festivity in southern New Mexico. I mean, I don't think LC is known for its Irish population. Just its college student population.) And rightly so. It was perhaps the worst margarita I have ever had. It kind of tasted like Kool-Aid but I could probably actually drink Kook-Aid and be happier. It maybe had a drop of tequila in it. Mostly just sugar. And yuck. But no matter, the company was good.

We got through our drinks and moved on to dinner. My older niece, Alexandra, had recommended El Sombrero to us. Caroline vouched for it and off we went although the worthless Tom Tom misled us for awhile. (My niece doesn't know her way around her college town all that well. Go figure.) El Sombrero was AWESOME. Excellent Mexican food. And so cheap. I think we had dinner for four including three beers for about 50 bucks. When Will and I go out here, that's about what we pay for two. Next time we're down that way, we're definitely eating there again.

After dinner, Caroline dropped us off at the hotel and went on her way to party with her friends. Something about green jello shots. Jami, Will and I headed back to the hotel bar which was hopping with people drinking green drinks. Totally decent hotel, but man, that hotel bar. Not my favorite place. Anyway, skipped the green drinks and had very safe not green drinks while we caught up and shared stories and had an all around great time. Of course by ten o'clock we were all ready to call it a night. That's what happens when you get old.

It really was quite lovely to see Jami. She has so many stories to tell and so much to say about lots of different things. Always a joy to be around. Just wish there was a bit more time...maybe next time.

[Photo by Jami]

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