Sunday, July 23, 2023

New Adventures in New Mexico!

We've been all through New Mexico...and just when I thought "we'd seen just about every town", our friends informed us that they had moved to one we hadn't been to before!  Well, we couldn't pass that opportunity by!   We gave them a year to get settled in...and this summer when the Arizona heat was just to much, we decided it was time to check out this "new town" and see if they were up for a visit!  

So, off we went to Silver City New Mexico, altitude, 5900, South West corner...a 5 plus hour fairly easy drive.  When we left Surprise it was already pushing past 80 degrees at 7:30 in the morning and it would reach 118 that day.  We were looking forward to much cooler weather for the next two weeks along with some nice visits with our friends that we hadn't seen in a few years.  

It didn't take us long to find out, that like many other parts of the U.S., they too were having "unusually hotter weather"!  Ugh...It had been, and was going to stay, right around 89-90 with mid-humidity.  Cooler than our area, but not as cool as we had hoped...oh well...

Our first stop (as usual) was the Visitor Center.  Even though we were here to see our friends, that didn't stop Jack; that's the one place he goes into and gathers up all the info he can find and chats with people.  ;-)  Their outside was very interesting...beautiful artwork, all done with tiles.  Found out that the town had a history of making tile and still does some.  There was also a replica of Billy the Kid's boyhood home.  Seems Ron Howard filmed a movie in 2003 there called "The Missing" and built this 1870 cabin and gifted it when they were done.

We quickly discovered two things about Silver's very "artsy", with tons of small art shops of all kinds, along with fun thrift shops and book stores to mix it up some.  The second thing was the crazy hours all of them have!  Every store, shop and restaurant opens and closes on different days and on different hours, with no rhyme or reason to it.  So, if you go on a Monday, you might find two places open from 7am-2pm (coffee cafe and someplace else), then if you go on a Wednesday, you might find three different places open, at three different times!  Crazy!  It was a good thing we were there for the full two weeks, because we needed it to get to all the places we wanted to see, with their funny hours!

If you have read my blogs before, you know I love taking pictures of murals.  Well this town has plenty!  They have a special "Youth Mural Program" that they started in 2003 to teach students about the history and culture of their community through the arts, engaging students in beautifying their community.  In addition, students learn problem solving, working collaboratively while creating something that they can be proud of.  I couldn't have agreed with their philosophy more, and as for the "art", they are fantastic!

I read about a wonderful little coffee shop to visit called Tranquilbuzz that we decided to check out.  What an incredible find!  I have to say, it was the most eclectic, "natural", relaxing, fun place I have ever been to.  As you enter, all the outdoor seating is created to look as natural as possible with smoothed limbs of trees as backing to long boards cut from them interspersed around a small pond and fountain with koi.  Paths and bridges lead you to different nooks for tables and seating areas, one with two bent metal swings (for two) with lovely cushions.  Then you go on up inside to more seating that has comfy chairs and a sofa, along with more wooden tables and chairs.  There is where you order your wonderful coffees and goodies.  They have a "music corner" that has every kind of instrument imaginable available, and a calendar of artists who come and perform.  Along the walls and hanging from the ceiling are all sorts of fun pieces of art, etc to catch your eyes and entertain you. Such a magical place.  Our friends had never been, so of course we came back again and brought them!  

When we were there the first time, we engaged in a delightful conversation (while swinging in one of those wonderful swings) with several local ladies and they suggested that we drive out to Pinos Altos to have dinner and listen to the music at the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House.  We told our friends about it and they agreed it was a "must do", so we set a date for the following Friday night and I made us a reservation. 

What a wonderful evening we had!  The Buckhorn did not disappoint!  Great looking, and the food was wonderful!  At first I was afraid that our table was a bit far from the music, but once they started playing, I was glad it was where it was because we could see them and hear them just fine and still hear each other!  If we would have been any closer, we couldn't have had any conversation at all.  ;-)  

That night, our friends suggested we should take the scenic drive up through the Gila Wilderness Area.  I asked about seeing the Cliff Dwellings and they said it was about a mile hike and with this heat, it might not be a great idea, but to stop at the Visitor Center anyway.  They gave us a route up and back and to do that would be an "all day trip" that sounded perfect, so we planned it for the next day.

We left around 8am to get an early start and headed out.  It didn't take long to start to see the lovely scenery.  We had seen some of it the evening before when we had driven to Pinos Altos, but the trees just got denser as we climbed and entered the Gila National Forest.  By then we were surrounded by ponderosa pine, spruce, fir and oak and about 7000' up. 

At the Visitors Center for the Gila Cliff Dwellings we talked with a ranger about hiking back to see them.  The temperature was already over 90 degrees and the tour wasn't going to start for another 45 min.  She looked at me and gently smiled and said that they had a great film of the cliffs here and artifacts...I took the hint, and watched the film.  They had a nice Geromino Monument outside.  Seems he was born at the headwaters of the Gila River in 1820.  I've seen other cliff dwellings before...

We went on to see Lake Roberts.  Beautiful fishing lake.  Only two other folks were there while we were there, one still out somewhere on the lake, and one bringing in their boat.  So peaceful and quiet, the sky was so vivid, it left wonderful reflections on the water as I watched a mama duck gather up her little ducklings.  

Next stop was a visit to the City of Rocks!  We had no idea what to expect.  All our friends told us was "you have to swing by and go see this place!"  So, we followed the signs and turned when it said to...paid our $5. to the State...and found out it is a picnic and campground!  ;-)  HUGH boulders, the size of buildings (hence "city") in weird shapes that (may?) suggest buildings, chairs, monsters, creatures...who knows?  Let your imagination soar!  They certainly are fun to look at, and I bet camp at and picnic beside (in cooler weather).  There were a couple of campers there, but otherwise, the place was pretty empty.

We did try and stop at a place for a bite to eat, but they were closing, so all we had was some ice cream.  It was ok...but we had a place we really liked in town that makes homemade ice cream, called  Ice Cream Emporium, that we've fallen in love with!   We made it back home around 4pm.  Nice, wonderful day.   

All to soon our two weeks came to a close...wonderful lunches, sweet ice cream treats and dinner visits with our friends, fun excursions and even a great time at the RV park.  Manzano's turned out to be a delightful spot!  Nothing "fancy", which is fine by us, we just need nice hook-ups, clean place, level spot, shade, some breathing room...and it's nice to meet friendly people.  This place had all that and more!  John and Barbara gave you all that and host a complimentary BBQ on Saturday nights with all the "fixings"!  Great way to not only enjoy good food, but to meet super nice people.  If we didn't have appointments and obligations to come back when we did...we would have stayed longer...even if to have another BBQ!


....back in the Arizona heat....Marie