A recent road trip, originally planned for San Fransisco, made a quick detour east to Silver City, New Mexico. Rain was in the forecast…and rain…well… my camera (and my hair) have issues with it. Once you enter the California dessert and go on into Arizona, the music changes along with the food and the people. Lucerno is on the radio, sleeping hound dogs are found in convenience stores and snake-skin boots make their entrance. At one stop, a Motel 8, Mike inquired if there were flat screen TV’s in the rooms. The gentleman, not in on the joke, stared first…then got it with a guffaw. He and his bride were recent transplants from Minnesota and, not missing the snow, were settling into the heat nicely. The next morning, we realized we were staying at “truck stop heaven” and I found the most amazing flag-draped truck in the back lot. I wasn’t alone.
We set out again, going through old towns, in search of places of interest. We turned off at Bowie to see the old mining fort. The town itself was desolate, except on the outskirts, where it seems pecans and pistachios are grown in abundance. I saw horses walking freely between farms without fences…although they took one look at my ready camera and turned their big arses towards me. I didn’t take it personal… I don’t like having my own photo taken.
Once we stopped at the end of a long and winding dirt road, we encountered the sign that said “a gentle 1-1/2 mile walked with good trail”... People, if you EVER see a sign with those words, get the hell back in your car and drive away…fast. We started down the “gentle” trail, and about a mile into it, I had an asthma attack. I think God (or my Father in his angel form) sent the deer in just to check on me.
We made it as far as the old cemetary where a soldier had received the Medal of Honor and a small child (Geronimo’s son) had been laid to rest. From there, you could see the fort with the flag blowing gently…taunting… straight up the side of a rather large hill. I gave Mike the nod and we went back before I myself was laid to rest. To add insult, while driving out, we noticed a sign previously missed coming in. It was the handicapped entrance and apparently you could drive straight there…
When we reached Silver City, my first impression was “Haight Asbury meets Wyoming”. I had never seen so many old hippies together in one place…except maybe in that old Woodstock movie. Later (inside an antique store) my observation was confirmed on a tee-shirt…“Where all hippies go”. Beyond the hippies, I saw cowboys going about their business, even a few kids standing up on hay and one gentleman having a conversation with a cinder-block fence. In my estimation, he appeared to winning, but that block wall was holding pretty firm.
We stayed at the oldest hotel in the town…a place called The Palace. You had to park wherever you could and the curbs (I swear) were 24 inches high. Once parked, if you were too close to the curb, you couldn’t get your car door open for love or money. I made sure I didn’t need to get back in before I made the big step up. I went inside to inquire about a room and was followed in by an older, sprightly couple from Derbyshire, England. I’d been there in my travels (Pride and Prejudice ya know) and we made an instant connection. We waited, while hearing strange sounds coming from what appeared to be the adjacent bar, trying to keep up a normal conversation. The hotel lady finally came in and gave us several keys to check out the available rooms on our own, explaining she was very busy trying to get a pigeon out of the bar. I wanted to ask her if the bird needed help with his tab, but stopped myself, aware that this might be these folks first visit to the states. At least we now knew what all the yelling was and it seemed a somewhat reasonable explanation.
Her Majesty’s loyal subjects and I mounted the stairs and explored (and of course commented on) each of the room selections. The place was built in the mid 1800’s, all moldings and narrow hallways, and it certainly had its charm. Being the polite American I am, I let them have first pick of the three available and naturally… they picked my only choice. When we went downstairs, apparently the bird had been liberated and the lady had recruited the balance of her faculties, saying “Oh, there’s another room”! “Thank God” I whispered, not wanting to be next to the breakfast area, I leaped up the stairs with the key. It was perfect with beautiful natural light, a window view up the street and at the very end of the hall and cheap!
Room reserved, camera in hand, we marched out onto the unsuspecting streets. We met up with a hippie Santa trying to give out candy canes but I feel certain his normal day job is growing medicinal marijuana. There were interesting folks all up and down the streets…even a cowboy selling his prize farm beef from cooler chests…and thankfully none were camera-shy. We passed up a young girl with a sign that said she was giving out “good advise”. She looked about 20 so I was fairly certain about the decision to pass. I have a cat about that age so I thought I’d save money and just have a chat with Avree when I got home. We visited one new gallery that was hard to miss because the sidewalk was painted with colorful big round dots that said “Follow me”. Naturally I wanted to. After walking a bit more, tummies were growling, so we stopped at a restaurant that said “cafe”on a neon sign. I love Mexican food but I’d had it 4 meals in a row and decided I just wanted an ordinary sandwich. I ordered an egg salad sandwich and that my friends…is exactly what I got…A fried egg on 2 slices of bead with a piece of lettuce on top. Literal took on a whole new meaning. Back outside, we noticed a sign hanging from a bridge. I shot it and it appears in an earlier story. I put it here again for those who missed it. I had to read it a few times before I understood it, but if you take the town tour, it all starts making sense.
Back at The Palace, I took my book down to the cozy lobby to read. Our room was a bit small…and what with the flat screen blaring…
Down in the lobby, I found a nice big burgundy velveteen chair with a matching footstool, and made myself at home with my book and a box of good n’ plenty. Just as things were getting good, some lady opened the door and went outside, leaving the door cracked open and all the freaking cold air coming in on me. I got up, shut it and resettled. She then came back in, placed a phone on a lamp table, put the door kickstand down and went back out. This went on a few times for the sake of her nicotine habit. Just before I strangled her to death (I’m pretty sure they still hang people there for crimes) I went back upstairs. I grabbed my coat and went to the coffee-house owned by the Palace… but not before giving her the stink eye.
I got settled in with a nice hot chai latte and big chocolate chip cookie. I had to tell the guy behind the counter what I would pay because there were no prices and he was new. Then the Harley guys started filing in. I wrote about them previously and it’s somewhere below here. I found them entertaining and friendly with their contagious holiday cheer as they dressed for the local childrens Christmas party. It was fun to watch them take off toward the school complete with a police escort.
After coffee, another trip down the streets, and some interesting window shopping. I’m not sure the connection between Elvis and Christmas, but he’d be proud to know he’s remembered in Silver City.