After Alamogordo we drove to Las Cruces NM to visit our friends Becky and Ed. After we got setup in their driveway and chatted for a while we went out for a great Mexican dinner at La Nueva Casita Café. They had an interesting side dish made from squash that we had never tried before called Calabacitas. The next day we went to the Ristramun Chile Co to see how they tied up the hanging Chile strands and we saw a cool chiminea that had a fish theme (if only we had more space in the RV;-) ).
Then we went to Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park to do a hike and see the birds. In the parking lot they had some Luminaries setup and this is a common Christmas decoration in this area. At night time they light the candles in the sand inside the paper bags and have them all around the properties, quite spectacular looking. In the visitor center we learned what a Bosque was which is plants and trees growing along a river (in this case the Rio Grande River), what birds we might see on the hike and about the history of the Mesilla area. The ranger was incredibly knowledgeable and very talkative. We walked about 5 KMS on the various trails and saw spectacular views of the Organ Mountains, Hoodoo type formations, the ducks and snow geese in the wetland ponds and river, and a couple of different types of hawks as well as the Gremble Grouse.
We worked up a thirst while hiking so stopped at La Posta (a restaurant in the Old Mesilla area that has been there since 1939) for margaritas and lunch. Sharon had the Prickly Pear Margarita and I had the Mesilla Valley Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita which was amazing and the glass was rimmed with local honey, crushed pecans, and green chile salt, yumm;-) For lunch I had Chorizo Sliders which was spicy sausage with fresh guacamole on sopapilias buns. Our timing for lunch was perfect since we had gone straight in to our table but when we left there was a huge lineup to get in. There were lots of groups there as the college students had graduated the day before. Later in the afternoon Sharon, Ed, and I went to our favourite winery Amaro for some wine tasting and this time we got to meet the German owner and winemaker. We sampled 6 different wines and of course had to buy several bottles to drink while we’re touring around New Mexico.
The next day we did some laundry and started the next blog but then in the afternoon took a break to go do a hike at Dripping Springs in the Organ Mountains. Our US National Park pass covered the cost of the entrance fee. We followed the trail up to Boyd’s Sanatorium and learned that the buildings had been used as a tuberculosis sanatorium, as a resort and later as a cattle ranch operation. It certainly was a spectacular location. We carried on up the trail and saw Van Patten’s water reservoir and then went back down to see the actual Dripping Springs. Next we saw Van Patten’s Mountain Camp which was originally a 14 room hotel around 1900 and then was expanded in 1906. We saw a cool cactus that had several heart shaped sections. As we proceeded down we decided to take the fork that led to La Cueva as it said the picnic area was only ½ mile away but it turned out it was much further to get around the backside of the rocks and back to the cave so we had to hurry a bit as they closed the gates at sunset. We did make it around to see the cave where the hermit used to live and as we returned to the parking lot we saw a Coyote going across the field (no photo as he was too far away). In the last shot you can just see the cave opening at the bottom of the rock mountain. We ended up doing around 8 KMS, what a spectacular area to hike and there were even little bits of snow left in some of the valleys where the sun didn’t reach.
In Becky and Ed’s back yard they grow Pomegranates and you’ll see in the photo their amazing harvest just before we arrived in Las Cruces. Since we love Pomegranates Sharon prepared 4 of them so we could take some with us when we left. On our last night with Becky and Ed we visited a great Italian place that is walking distance from their house and then walked through some of the neighbourhood to see the Christmas lights. This concluded another great visit with them and this made the third time this year (twice at their place and once at ours). We hope they are able to join us back in South Bruce Peninsula in the future so we can do more hiking in our area.