Wow, I can’t believe it has been over a month since I have posted. No, that’s a lie. I have been procrastinating. Like any writer worth their weight in paper, or rather computer, I have been practicing the great art of avoidance. But it is time to get to it before I find myself back in Michigan with a whole lot of catching up to do.
As I stated in my previous post, we were outrunning the polar vortex, which happened to land us in Anthony, New Mexico. Anthony is a sleepy little agricultural village, population 9,360, located in the Dona Ana County, in the Upper Mesilla Valley. There are many cattle ranches, pecan groves, and quite a few cotton fields. Mainly surrounded by desert, we were surprised it had such a large agricultural economy. I am quite unsure where they found water because I really did not see any! It did rain a couple days we were there, but we drove by many sections of the Rio Grande River, and it was nothing but a dry bed. One of the bartenders we ran into told us water is only released a couple months of the year in the summer from the dams north of the area.
I found myself in somewhat of a depressed state during much of our visit. Far away from friends and family, nearing the holidays, the drab landscape, coupled with a lack of physical activity began to wear upon me. Even a wellness expert may be prone to finding the un-well state, fortunately my training and education helps me to understand how to counteract this! Toward the end of our stay, I resorted to the one thing that is sure to improve my mental state. I forced myself to schedule regular exercise sessions, set some personal goals, and soon I began to emerge from the blue funk.
But I do not want to leave the impression that it was a bad experience. Sometimes one just needs to have this sort of downtime to rediscover what is important, and perhaps draft a new plan. There were many things I enjoyed about this area. Here’s a few:
#1) The people. As in all locations it is the people of the land which are most interesting. Anthony and the surrounding area is populated largely by a Mexican-American population. For the first time in my life that I can recall, I was a minority. It is rather disconcerting at first, but we were treated very well by all the folks we encountered. When shopping at a local Mexican style grocery store, a little boy in a shopping cart kept pointing at Bruce. Bruce with his light skin and eyes, grey hair, tall build, did not resemble the local population in any manner! The boy’s dad kept trying to get him to stop pointing, and I found it to be just hilarious! Being a minority can be a humbling experience (when one has never been in the minority), and I am quite grateful for it. Sometimes we live in a cocoon, and if we wish to be a butterfly and fly freely we should experience what many others do. Be kind to all you meet.
#2) West El Paso RV park. We stayed 3 weeks in this nice little park. I think it had about 60 sites. It was spotlessly clean with wonderful bathrooms, a tree on every lot, and a gentleman who would come and rake your sand (yes they do this in the desert!) every day. Most of the people were semi-permanent types who were working in the area, but not from the area. Many full-time RVer’s are working folks who careers require them to move from place to place. Maybe they stay a month, maybe a few years. But living in a RV they always have their home and things with them. We enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with about 30 other people, who for whatever reason, were not able to be with their loved ones. The food was fabulous with all the important items such as turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pies. All that for $5/person, and I did not have to cook OR clean up!
#3) The local VFW Post #4384. The VFW’s are a great place to socialize when you have no social life in the area. You are always welcome, everyone is curious about you, and everyone has a story to tell. And the drinks are reasonable too. And at this post, a great couple named Rudy and Nellie serve 50 cent tacos on Wednesday nights, and they are delicious! The post was located just across the street from our rv park. Now that’s handy! Just a note here; if you are looking to make a charitable contribution, the money donated to VFW’s is 100% charity, spent on assisting veterans . 0% is spent on “administrative” fees. Money well spent. God bless our veterans.
#4) And ya know, there is always hiking! We found a couple good hikes. One was near Las Cruces, NM. A nice park called Dripping Springs. There are a couple trails throughout this park, and one leads you back to an old hotel ruin frequented by the likes of Pancho Villa, Billy the Kid, and other various outlaws. When you close your eyes you can almost feel the Old West around you. We also visited White Sands National Monument, a place of ongoing sand dunes, 275 miles of soft white sand. The dunes are composed of gypsum crystals and it is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. Although none of the creatures who inhabit the dunes were out (they are mostly nocturnal) we found out through the informative film at the headquarters, they have all evolved from their natural state to a whitish color to blend in with the sand. It is truly a spectacular sight to behold. It was a beautiful, sunny day the day we were there, and there were many families gathered to picnic and slide on sledding disks down the dunes.
#5) Old Mesilla NM. Mesilla is a historic village. During the Wild West era the town was known for it’s cantinas and festivals. It is also the place where Billy the Kid was tried and executed. It is a town rich in history with many original adobe structures still standing, the most famous of which is La Posta. Originally built in the 1840’s it was an important stop on the Butterfield Stage Line. Today it houses a few shops and a nice restaurant with an impressive tequila menu, one bottle of which sells for $300 a shot. Yeah, you read that right! I opted for a cold beer instead.
And there is always a downside. A few things I did not enjoy:
#1) The odor! Beef smells great on the grill, but when you have ranches with literally hundreds, maybe thousands of cattle, and the wind is blowing in the right direction, oh man!
#2) The water. It’s bad. There are water kiosks set up everywhere so you can purchase purified water, but it still didn’t taste right to me, and my digestive system was messed up due to this and the gallons of salsa I consumed during my stay. Chips and salsa are the popcorn of New Mexico.
#3) The litter. Lots of it. Depressing.
#4) Endless sun. Anthony has 300 sunny days a year. Hey, I am a Michigander and I need some gray days to settle my head. Maybe I had the opposite of seasonal depressive disorder. The sun is piercingly bright, and brought on a few headaches for me.
All in all, like most experiences, Anthony NM was a good one. I will always remember the people I met, and the sights I saw. But as we drove away headed farther west, I can say, I was ready to move on….
….to Desert Hot Springs California. I love it here, but more on that at a later date. Time to go get my exercise therapy!