Monday, December 3, 2012

A Blast from the Past

Day 9: Saturday, December 1
Big Bend to Las Cruces, NM
Early risers eating breakfast in the Chisos Basin Lodge can watch the mountains around the basin catch the sun’s fire as it rises and paints them bright russet and gold for a few magic moments of morning glory.

We revel in the beauty of early morning high in the mountains, then must be on our way to Las Cruces--it's a long drive north, mostly on two lane roads through desert and cattle country.  


Settled into a kind of pleasant reverie of monotony, cruising at 78 mph on the lonely two lane highway, far from any town, we pass a little Prada shop. WHAT? Dick squeals to a stop, and we turn around for another look. 

Yes, there are what appear to be lovely Prada purses and shoes displayed inside, visible if you press your nose right up against the dusty display windows.  Later research reveals that the store is an art installation--the original glass windows had to be replaced with plexiglass when cowboys shot out the glass, repeatedly.

Texas has beautiful county courthouses.  This is the courthouse in Marfa, which, of course, sits resplendent on a square in the center of town.  The jail house across the street is fashioned in the same high style, almost like a guest house for the court house (although it seems to no longer be in use, at least for its original purpose).

 When we pass the stadium of University of Texas El Paso, Dick begins to reminisce about his past pole vaulting prowess--he broke the stadium record here back in 1960.
The memories flow on as we settle into our hotel in Las Cruces, and the desk clerk recommends that we dine at La Posta.  Dick has dined there before--over fifty years ago, when the team bus stopped there on the way home from that track meet in El Paso where he vaulted so well.  But the restaurant’s history runs far deeper than that.  The building dates back to the 1840s, when it was stage coach stop.  Later it became a hotel and restaurant--a sign in La Posta proudly claims, “This building is the original La Posta.  For more than a century and a quarter, these ‘dobe walls have withstood the attack of elements and man, have sheltered such personalities as Billy the Kid, Kit Carson and Pancho Villa.  Now Mesilla sleeps, but La Posta still offers its traditional hospitality to all.”

La Posta has had a number of expansions and additions since 1960, but we are seated in the original dining room, maybe even right where Dick sat before (although he doesn’t remember the details clearly enough to verify this, but I would like to believe it could be true.)


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