October 11, 2008 — It was a short drive yesterday.
We came into Las Cruces yesterday, just before noon. We decided to first reserve a hotel room, it being Friday of a three-day weekend, we thought it prudent to get a room early. Normally, we just look for a hotel wherever we decide to spend the night and start with whichever looks newest. In our experience they don’t charge more for new hotels, but you will get a better bed, shower and TV. But Thursday night I decided to do due diligence and checked out Expedia and Orbitz to get a feel for room prices and availability. So I wrote down a few motels & addresses that met our budget and criteria. Because we planned to stay in one place for the three days, I thought an outdoor pool would be nice.
Anyway, I can’t say this plan really worked out, first, one of the Best Westerns at the top of my list didn’t exist (it is now a no-name motel) — in the end we just drove to different places where I asked about availability, price and if those two questions were successful, then I asked for a room key to check the room.
I don’t normally go through this much effort, but since we had time (and we weren’t tired from driving all day), I decided to experiment. Later I went back and reviewed what I had learned with Expedia and Orbitz — especially pics of the rooms. I’m not sure if the effort to book a room ahead of time is worth it on a trip like this. We are paying $20 less than the Orbitz price for the Comfort Inn room that we ended up taking — and Expedia didn’t list this hotel, although they listed other Comfort Inns. Pics are accurate but until you see a room you really don’t know what you are seeing in a picture.
Since our room was not ready, we went into the historic old Mesilla town to walk around and have lunch. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. Incorporated in 1848, Mesilla was part of the “Wild West” offering cantinas, dancing and theater. It served as a stop on the Butterfield Stage Coach (prior to the Pony Express) and was even the capital fo the Confederate Territory of Arizona. This is where Billy the Kid was sentenced to hang, but he escaped, and was later gunned down by Sheriff Garrett. He was only 21 when he died. Carl and I are having fun putting the timeline together of the different notorious events.
Anyway, it is amazing that these buildings are still standing. They say it is because Mesilla passed up on having the train stop in their town, so instead the train went north to Las Cruces. This means that for a long time, time passed on Mesilla. Still, we give credit to the residents who preserve the history of Mesilla.
As far as our search for our future home, we are not all that enamoured with Las Cruces. Its name is far more romantic sounding than the actual city. The view of the Organ Mountains in the distance is one of the better parts of the city — I’ve been told these change colors but since we’ve been here, it’s been overcast so we haven’t experienced this.
Like all cities in the southwest, it is rapidly expanding. This is the first town the GPS system has steered us wrong, and more than once; there is a whole part of town not even in our database and there are many places, like the Starbucks that we searched for this morning, that must have moved.
Outside of Mesilla, the big thing here is the University of New Mexico. I was also told that people like to hang out at the Rio Grande but we haven’t found access to it. Part of that is because it is cloudy and has rained off and on all day.
If you sense we are running out of energy, you are right. We still have more things to see in New Mexico but we might just opt to head back to Tucson on Monday and take one of those Extended Stay or furnished apartment places for a week to see if we really like Tucson as much as our first impression gave us. If so, we may consider staying for a few months through the winter months. We’ll see.