Sunday, October 24, 2010

Travel? Wow.

I think my head has almost stopped spinning.

Can't say I can remember a few weeks when I've been so busy. I've also been a bit sick, which hasn't helped things. I spent three days last week traveling for business. Before I get into the details about what we've been doing in class, I thought I'd give you a little bit about what I've been up to.

We flew down to El Paso, Texas on business via Dallas-Fort Worth airport. With the advent of baggage fees and the reduction of amenities on domestic flights, I have to say that dining in airports has gotten more expensive than I ever dreamed of and carry-on baggage and the jostling for overhead space has become a fine art. I also can't say that I can ever remember more crowded flights (all four legs with full planes) or being treated like more like cattle than on this trip.


I had the misfortune on two of the longest legs of my journey to have the center seat on a 737 and find myself sitting next to little old ladies with very sharp elbows. On the short legs from Dallas to El Paso, I was fortunate enough to have the aisle seat.

Our journey's destination was Las Cruces, NM and when we touched down in El Paso, we were treated to a truly spectacular sunset that made me wish I'd brought my camera along for the trip. (Sorry! No pictures!) We drove our rental Hummer H3 (not our first choice) from El Paso up to Las Cruces for the night. Along the way we were treated to the view of an illuminated star - 468 feet tall! - on the mountainside near El Paso's community college. After checking into our hotel in Las Cruces, we enjoyed a nice, but late, meal at a place called La Posta that was located in La Mesilla, NM - a cute little town on the outskirts of Las Cruces with traditional adobe houses and a relatively long history including being a stop on the Butterfield Stage Coach trail and the location of courthouse and the trial of Billy the Kid.

The next day when we awoke, the sun was rising behind the mountains and the clouds above were lit up with orange, pink and red hues that you seem to only see in the desert Southwest. Very rugged, but very beautiful. We spent most of the day shut away in a conference room and a shop doing out jobs, but enjoyed a lunch outside with a wonderful view of the mountains again. After our meeting, we drove back down to El Paso, just missing a severe thunderstorm that we later learned had dumped 2" hail on the area.

After checking in to our hotel, we drove over to the Stateline BBQ - it's right on the Texas/New Mexico border. It is an area with a large number of casinos and race tracks to tempt Texans to cross into New Mexico and spend their money. It's an interestingly decorated BBQ and steak restaurant which had some melt-in-your-mouth baby back ribs and perfectly cooked steaks. What's particularly interesting is that there is a hallway by the bar that runs between the restaurant (in Texas where there are some strict liquor laws) and a liquor store. (in New Mexico with more lax liquor laws) The idea here is that when alcoholic beverages can't be sold in Texas, you walk over the border to New Mexico for a drink and bring it back to your table in Texas.

When we left the restaurant it was a moonlit night with broken cloud, but we could see the lightning playing over the top of the mountains and off to the east - the result of the severe storms. The fellow that I was traveling with was fascinated by the fact that we were so very close to the Mexican border - a fact advertised by a flagpole several hundred feet high with a massive Mexican flag flying. He wanted to drive a along the border on our trip back to the hotel which we did, but I was pleased he didn't want to go over the border into Juarez - one of the most dangerous towns in all of Mexico due to the drug trade.

It is a stunningly beautiful and rugged place. I don't mind visiting, but I can't say I'd like to live there. Not enough places to paddle!


Mel and Angus said...

I have eaten at La Posta. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Bud and I are native New Mexicans. We grew up in the 4 Corners area. New Mexico does have beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Cat said...

I lived in Amarillo for a number of years. I believe the closest lake was several hours drive away--it was called "Lake Fort Supply" if I remember right.

I didn't canoe back then, and would have loved some wilderness--but that to me kind of pre-supposes trees, which had to be imported and lovingly nurtured by human hands.

I got back into canoeing when I moved back to Oregon.

I'm glad you had a good time on your trip, though.

Canoez said...

I'd been to New Mexico before - in the early '90's we took a group of Boy Scouts to the Philmont Scout Reservation in Cimmarron up in the Northeast corner of the state. We flew into Denver and took our time sightseeing as we drove down to let everyone acclimate to the altitude changes.

I was amazed that it was it wasn't mostly desert - there were lots of Pinon pine and some small oaks. A very stunningly beautiful area and I've got to agree with Mel and Angus that the sunrises and sunsets are awesome spectacles.

The other thing that's neat is to be able to see weather happening at long distances - something you can't do in most of the Northeast with the hills and trees.

I must say, the Southeastern corner of New Mexico is much more arid and barren and is what I anticipated the area around Cimmarron would be like. (Although I was pleasantly surprised to find trees and other greenery!)