Saturday, May 21, 2011

Truth or Consequences: True Grit

[2010 Out West Road Trip.  Travels with Carol.]

In March 2010, my mother, Carol, and I took a road trip from Missouri to New Mexico, in search of sun and warmth. Here is Day 14 of our road trip. 

Tuesday, 16 march 10 

Another sunny day in the hot springs in T or C. As I write this, Carol and I just returned from a night-time soak under the stars in a private pool. We both feel tres relaxed. The two glasses of New Mexico wine I had at dinner probably helped in that regard, too. 
Speaking of dinner, we had same at Pacific Grill, an Asian and seafood restaurant. Carol had the shrimp scampi; I had a Thai peanut chicken dish. Didn't live up to the glowing reviews, but it was fine.
Earlier in the day, we drove out to Elephant Butte, home of a state park, a dam, and a big rock that looks like an elephant. We then, for the heck of it, turned a direction on a road to see where it would take us. A sign said Engle, so that's where we headed. The road ended at so-called Engle, which seemed to be a very small cluster of buildings. We could choose to go back the way we came, turn left onto a gravel road, or turn right onto a road that ran parallel to the RR tracks to ... somewhere.  

We turned right. We passed many cattle ranches. We saw a number of big trucks go by us in the opposite direction. We kept on til the road ended. To our immediate left was .....  ah, the Spaceport. We turned left into the spaceport entrance, pulling up to the guard shack with a big STOP sign on its front. There was a color photo of a newborn on the window. A guy without any teeth slid open the window and allowed as how we couldn't go any further. It was all very X Files.

So we turned around and went back whence we came, and we were rewarded with cattle crossing the road. Carol was agog with excitement. At one point she wanted to get out of the car, but the three cows who'd stopped to stare at her looked like they were contemplating something vicious, so I said no way, Jose.  
We returned to T or C and drove around some neighborhoods. We took a nap upon arriving home.  

T or C has a different vibe than Silver City. Where SC has a large complement of boomers, all seemingly fit and youthful and either creating art or hiking something (did we mention we breakfasted with archaeologists from the Center for Desert Archeology in Silver City?), and concentrating on being laid-back, the T or C inhabitants appear more life-worn. While they, too, have a laid-back air, it seems to have been hard-won through difficult life paths. We see more families here than in Silver City. Here is a telling excerpt about T or C from "pantylion," a restaurant reviewer:
 Epicureans intent on shaved truffles over rennet-free eggs Florentine stay home; T or C is a place where locals go slit-eyed with hostility at the mere mention of calamari.
OK, this may be a little over the top, but you get the idea. T or C is a small town with a large potential for tourism and as a place to live. Maybe it's always been on the brink of its potential. Whatever, I feel attracted to its grittiness.  

It feels as if we have been here a week and as the days go by I become more irritated by the name Truth or Consequences.  The story is that Ralph Edwards offered any town in the country willing to change their name to his show would qualify for some monetary gain or something.  Every year the people here voted on whether to continue the name or not and each of the fifty years thereafter they voted to do so.  They don't bother to vote any more and Mzuri said she heard some pilgrim ask a native why they kept it and something of a snub was elicited.  The high school has the original name cut in stone over the door - Hot Springs High School.

We are closing the door on this fine and friendly place, stopping first for breakfast at the Happy Belly Deli then off to Socorro. 

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