Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Other Las Vegas, Part 1

Ron is in the middle of his trip to New Orleans/Baton Rouge (and various places in between here and there).

A couple of weeks ago, while he was planning the trip, we talked to our good friend George and his wife, Beth. They used to live here in New Mexico, but a few years ago they moved to Amarillo, Texas. As fervent liberals, they're definitely in the minority in Amarillo and they were ready for a weekend getaway. They thought I should have a weekend getaway with them while Ron was away and Ron agreed (and of course, so did I).

So we made plans to meet in Las Vegas, New Mexico. It's not really halfway in between -- I only had a 1 1/2-hour drive versus their 3 1/2-hour drive, but it's an interesting town (I suggested next time we meet closer to halfway, perhaps Tucumcari or Santa Rosa).

We met in Las Vegas a little after 10:00 on Saturday morning. It was too early to check into the motel, so after a light breakfast, we headed for the historic downtown district. Las Vegas was once a thriving railroad town (the railroad was built there in 1879), but as the railroad has declined, so has the town. There isn't any industry, but there is New Mexico Highlands University. The population of Las Vegas is about 18,000 and the enrollment at NMHU is 3,500.

The historic downtown district is an odd mix of dilapidated, empty buildings and thriving businesses. We found a great bookstore and spent more than an hour in there. George collects fountain pens and they had several for him to test before he decided on one. His wife Beth teaches third grade and she bought several children's books for her class. I have so many books on my "To Read" shelf, I didn't let myself buy anything.

The owner of the store was a friendly, outgoing woman. Her accent was very pronounced and familiar, but I couldn't place it. George asked her where she's from. Philadelphia. Then it all came back to me -- all those nuns from grade school and high school with their Philadelphia accents! I told George and Beth I was having flashbacks to those Philadelphia nuns. The bookstore woman was very nice, but Philadelphia accents are a bit "screechy" to me.

After wandering up and down the street for awhile longer, we drove back to the motel and checked into our rooms. Then we changed into swimsuits and drove to the hot springs. These are natural hot springs, just off the side of the road several miles outside of town. There are about a dozen different "hot tubs" lined with rock. They're different sizes and shapes and different temperatures. Just like Goldilocks and the three bears, the first one we tried was much too hot. I could only put one foot in and keep it there about 3 seconds. The next one was hot, but not quite hot enough. The third one was just right! There was a guy already in there, but it was the perfect size for four and he welcomed us. We stayed there for a long time, soaking, until our muscles were so relaxed they felt like they were melting.

We went back to the motel and cleaned up for dinner. We were so relaxed, we took the easy route and ate at the motel restaurant. The food and service were excellent. They had steaks, seafood, pasta, and New Mexican cuisine on the menu. I had the 8 oz. sirloin topped with port-sauteed mushrooms and a little bit of cheese (I'm not sure what kind), covered with dijon cream sauce. It was unbelievable, indescribably delicious.

After dinner, we went back to George and Beth's room and sat up talking for a good long while before I went next door to my own room. I turned on the TV to watch the end of the LSU game. Ron was somewhere in the crowd of 92,000-plus people. It was a close, exciting game and LSU won with a last-second touchdown. Ron called a few minutes later with a very loud, very excited crowd in the background.

We both had a great day Saturday.

Coming soon! Part 2. Sunday -- wind and snow!

1 comment:

Elle said...

Sounds like a grat trip and fun friends. Can't wait for the next installment.