Tag Archives: Las Cruces New Mexico

Same country, different world

“Wonderful” is the best word to describe a trip last week to my home-away-from home, Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was delightful to see dear friends and enjoy some local cuisine (THE best Mexican food this side of the Rio Grande). And I was reminded why New Mexico is called Land of Enchantment. I gotta tell ya, weather is a big part of it.

IMG_2255 My first morning started with the sound of a rooster crowing in the distance. I looked out the window to see a beautiful blue sky blooming over pink, orange and yellow bands of sunlight. Delightful! Only 24 hours earlier, I awoke to another gray day that has come to typify winter near the lake. What a contrast.

As I’ve traveled these United States, going back to my corporate days doing business on both coasts with stops in many towns and cities in between, I’ve come to appreciate the vast differences in climate and geography.

I remembered my first trip to Phoenix and Scottsdale and being utterly amazed at Saguaro cactus. Or at Lantana blooming on bushes eight or nine feet tall and round. We’re lucky if we can grow them at all in the midwest.

There was that February trip to Newport Beach, California when the weather was so beautiful – quite a contrast from Chicago’s damp chill that time of year – when I said to my colleagues, “This is not the real world.” Ha. Not MY real world but it certainly was for them.

Nearing the end of a wonderful week in Las Cruces, my brother – who would have been an excellent meteorologist – texted the weather back home was looking to make travel kinda dicey.

“Near 60 today,” he wrote. “Snow Wednesday. Near 60 on Friday.” My response was simple, “Oh yay. Oh sh-t. Oh yay.” I moved things around and got on a plane that day, ahead of the 10 inches of heavy snow dumped on our town overnight.

There are joys in our midwestern winters, of course. My sister reminds me we all have roofs over our heads, warm beds, plenty to eat, our health, loved ones … her gratitude lift goes on. I’m grateful too. But because I’ve lived where the skies are not cloudy all day, I sure do appreciate  the contrast. Here’s the view from my bed the first morning back in Indiana. And what a treat!

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How to take your heart with you wherever you go

It occurs to me after nearly a week visiting Las Cruces, NM, that I left a piece of my heart when I moved back to Indiana in 2011. I wonder as I ponder “being in the world but not of it” if it is possible to leave some heart everywhere we go.

Aw'gy guards our moving truck, August 2011, bound for Indiana.

Aw’gy guards our moving truck, August 2011.

I mean, I left! Moved. Packed up a 72-pound dog and 7,720 pounds of worldly possessions. Yet, as I’ve visited with friends who are as close as family, and in some cases even more open and loving, it has felt as though I never left.

Moved here on a whim back in oh four. “Bought an acre of land off the back of a matchbook,” I joked about the acre of land I bought from a realtor. “Either gonna move there or make money on the land,” I said.

Did both.

Come to think of it, I’ve left some heart in France; Sarasota, Florida; and all across the midwest. I don’t think it’s about me. I think it’s about the open, loving people I meet along the way. It’s also about being real, in a “wherever you go there you are” way.

You see, the thing is – this is so cool! – we are all connected.

In this vast, beneficent universe, we are connected, we are the same. You may be having a bad day and someone else has had those feelings. You’re celebrating and others know your joy.

You are just as connected as I am. If you don’t feel connected, I’m sorry about that. Here’s all you need to do: open your heart – actually picture your Valentine Day’s heart in your chest opening to the nature of people around you. Smile, thank them, wish them a good day and the heart you give them will come back to you in, well, hearts.

And corny as it sounds, but I’m here to tell ya, your heart will grow so large you’ll be able to leave pieces of it everywhere you go. And more will grow. So there you go. Happy Valentine’s Day from sunny SoNewMex.

 

 

How to go ‘There and back again …’

Here's Las Cruces native, Aw'gy, stealing some shade under a Mesquite tree during our last desert walk, August 24, 2011. "You're right, Aw'gy," I'd tell him. "We need to enjoy this."

My throat tightens as I write this.

A year ago today I drove north on Roadrunner Parkway to US70, across the desert through White Sands, picked up 54 north in Alamagordo toward Santa Rosa and I40. I made that trip several times over seven years, but this time I was leaving home.

 

Check that. Heading home, to Indiana.

I’ve left home before – Girl Scout camp, that first airplane ride at 16 to LA, college. I left home when I got married and lived in other towns. But I think now I never really left home until I moved to New Mexico.

Before visiting Las Cruces in March 2003, I’d never heard of it. We were going to visit friends. “Show me again. Where is it?” Continue reading

Leaving Las Cruces

I’m grieving. And it’s about damn time.

SoNewMex, where the skies are not cloudy all day.

Last May 4, I was readying house and hound for a 1,600-mile drive to visit family in Indiana. I’d made that trip before but last May my house was on the market and I was planning to leave Las Cruces. Now I realize I can’t leave. SoNewMex is a part of me. Thinking about it now makes me cry such that my dog comes over and leans on me. (Awww.)

I miss friends in my kitchen, First Friday Art Rambles, the Organ Mountains – alive with natural wonders, sand in my house, rocks in my yard, the pond, the cactus, goldfinches against a glorious blue sky, the view of the western sky from my kitchen window. The moon rising over the house across the street.

I miss long walks in the desert. When it got too hot, my dog flopped under a creosote bush to cool his belly on the sand. We’d walk to the desert near Memorial Park where Aw’gy would tear through the mesquite chasing jackrabbits. Or through the new Desert Trails Park, past the sign that warned us of snakes. Continue reading

Taco torture: Mexican food causes heartache

This writer's tastebuds crave the best Mexican food in the country, made in Las Cruces, New Mexico. (Thanks to La Posta's website for this mouth-watering photo of red enchiladas, flat, with egg.)

A couple of things this week made me homesick for Las Cruces, New Mexico.

It began with a call from  journalism colleague and friend William about his fabulous summer marketing internship with Ford Motor Company. Later, through email, he wished he, his parents and I could meet for dinner to celebrate. Impossible, since his folks live in SoNewMex, William is at Northwestern and I’m back home again in Indiana. His dad jokingly wrote we should all meet that night at Chope’s.

My mind wandered. I’m driving south on US28 toward this very unassuming establishment in La Mesa, about 20 minutes from Las Cruces. The road winds through acres of alfalfa, cotton and pecans. Irrigation ditches carved into the land carry water from the Rio Grande to the fields. And off to the left, the craggy, sometimes purple Organ Mountains sit atop desert foothills filled with juniper, sage, snakes … I miss all of it.

My New Mexico friends know the history but as I recall Chope’s has been there for eons. (There is great irony in Chope’s being listed on urbanspoon, by the way.) First it was just the tavern about 50 yards north of the restaurant.

Chope's, La Mesa, NM. Simple on the outside - hot and spicy on the inside.

Folks would walk from the bar to the kitchen to buy relanos to go with their cerveza fria. Now the restaurant bustles with diners  downing homemade Mexican dishes from tacos to red or green enchiladas.

For my tastebuds, the best Mexican food in the country is homemade in New Mexico. In the first few months, I tried flautas at several restaurants in search of the best. As my palate adjusted to red or green chile sauces, I switched to green chicken enchiladas. I’m tellin’ ya folks, this is good eaten’. I was ruined. Continue reading