Tag Archives: summer travel

Not exactly White Castle’s

Cousin Karen Sandrick was in town last week for a quick visit and tour before meeting up with her friend John from Albuquerque. Since ABQ is about 260 miles up the road from Las Cruces, John suggested we meet at The Owl Bar & Café in San Antonio. (Worth the trip if you’re ever in the ‘hood.)

Sandrick cousins last Friday at The Owl Bar & Café in San Antonio, NM.

I overheard Karen on the phone telling John we would meet him at The Owl ‘Café’ – since I’ve been there and know the place to be kinda funky, I told her I was sure it wouldn’t qualify as a café. Wrong again, chili breath. Yes, it is funky, but it weren’t for the café, we wouldn’t have had their world famous green chili cheeseburgers.

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Mountainous memory making

My cousin Karen flew out from Chicago on Wednesday. During our 50 or so hours together, we will have covered about 600 miles and enjoyed some of my favorite places in SoNewMex: the Rio “Petito,” The Lodge in Cloudcroft and White Sands National Monument.

Gypsum beach sans H2O.

Visitors have mentioned White Sands should be listed as one of the natural wonders of the world. Karen agreed. It’s 275-square-miles of the finest sand, which is made of gypsum crystals blown and tumbled over 45 miles from the dried up Lake Lucero. The dunes are thought to be only a few thousand years old, were the back yard to the Apache Indians and now a national park used for hiking, picnicking and even sledding.

Since I am in the process of selling my house and leaving New Mexico – oh, did I mention I’m moving back to the land of lush, east of the Mississippi? – it was a treat for me to share with Karen one of the local wonders. White Sands is in the Tularosa Basin, just over the St. Agustin Pass from Las Cruces. In addition to the natural beauty of the basin, surrounded by three mountain rangers, that part of the desert is home to White Sands Missile Range Headquarters. But I’d rather stick to the natural wonders than talk about military installations.

Karen in the Sacramento Mountains. Beyond is a small strip White Sands.

From the monument it’s only another 40 minutes or less to Cloudcroft. I love that we can be in the Las Cruces desert at 9, drive across the Basin to walk on the dunes, and be in the mountains for lunch.

Cloudcroft was hoppin’ yesterday and there was a line of hungry folks waiting to get into the bar-grill on main street, so I made a quick U-turn and headed up to The Lodge. It’s a turn-of-the-century inn and home to the ghostly chambermaid, Rebecca. Karen said her talapia was perfect. I’m trying to enjoy as much Mexican food as I can before I leave later this month so I ordered the Chipotle Chicken Quesadilla. And we shared a hot apple cobbler. Oh my.

I’m happy Karen wanted to come out one more time before I leave town. Her desire to see White Sands allowed me to implant some fresh memories of places that have come to love, and hope to see again.

BTW, the Rio “Petito” is my name for the Rio Grande as is passes through our Mesilla Valley en route to El Paso. It’s – I don’t know – maybe a hundred yards across and only a few feet deep. It’s the major feeder for the local farm irrigation system and it’s, well, turned off in the winter. I’ve seen people playing football in the dried river bed. It doesn’t seem to be that “grand” to me. But then people here think Lake Michigan is just a lake.


For dog lovers only

My friend Kate wrote me a sad note yesterday.

“We had a lot of sadness over the weekend. Mae Mae went to the vet to have her teeth cleaned and they wanted to do a simple operation to open up her nasal passages so she could breathe better. She developed a blood clot and died of a heart attack. Our hearts are broken.”

Kate with Joon, one of Mae Mae's cousins, in Cincinnati, July 2010.

Before my four-legged, fuzzy boy Aw’gy came into my life, I had no idea about true puppy love. Hadn’t a clue about how much a dog could lift my spirits.

Some mornings in Las Cruces, we’ll walk over to the desert near my house. I’ll let him off his leash and can’t help but smile as he takes off after a bunny he’ll never catch. It’s Continue reading

Kelley’s Island Weekend

My sister’s family are big-time campers, which is a great idea when you’ve got lots of kids. Not only does camping provide a multitude of things to do and explore, but when you go with siblings and their children everyone gets their family-time bucket filled. Including my sister’s sister. Me.

I was delighted to be apart of the family weekend on Kelley’s Island, (Explore Kelley’s Island), which is just a 20-minute ferry ride from Marblehead, Ohio, on Lake Erie.

Ferry from Marblehead, Ohio to Kelley's Island in Lake Erie, where the skies were not cloudy all day

Niece Becky and her family had been there a few times and offered it up for this year’s first summer campout. Three of her siblings plus her parents, my sister and bro-in-law, took up the gauntlet, uh, er … backpack. With me tagging along, there were 25 of us – when her whole family gets together they number 45 and I’m talking immediate family here.

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Time to find a new shell

My niece was happily describing some of the sea creatures she and her family discovered during their recent visit to a public beach in Destin, Florida. “We didn’t realize a Hermit crab finds an abandoned snail shell, lives in it until it outgrows the space and then finds another shell-house,” she said. Until it outgrows that one, I imagine. (Read about Hermit crabs.)

Well, this crab has not outgrown it’s shell but is leaving just the same. Continue reading