New Mexico: Day 1

April 20, 2018 • 9:00 am

So it’s farewell to the Land of Boiled Peanuts (which I love when sold hot by the roadside, but not canned like these in Piggly Wiggly), and hello to the Land of Green Chile:

And I am with my friends Avis and Bill, who teach biology at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Avis’s mom, the renowned ornithologist/ecologist Fran James (who taught at at Florida State, and is retired but still works) was also visiting. (That’s why Avis is named Avis.)

I spent one night, and Avis prepared make-your own fajitas will grilled chicken and all the fixings. I finally learned how to wrap a flour tortilla properly (result not shown). Important: do not overload the tortilla with fillings or it will squirt out the end:

There are two cats in the house: my old friend Janet, the calico, and a new and very active one-year-old tuxedo cat, Boris. Boris likes to sprawl on his back, which is hilarious. But woe to those who try to pet that belly! (Actually, he’s a very gentle cat.)


Boris (you can tell I’m getting my cat fix):

I will return to Las Cruces for two more days of visiting after six days of perambulation. I planned to leave early today, but Enterprise (a rental car company I’m coming increasingly to despise) didn’t have my car ready, as it was in transit from El Paso, Texas, an hour away. So we all went out to breakfast at Nellie’s Cafe, a great and popular spot in Las Cruces.

Left to right: Avis James, Fran James, and Bill Boecklen

The number 2 combination, recommended by Bill: ground beef taco, refried beans with cheese, Spanish rice, an enchilada with “chile meat” (pork), and a chile relleno filled with cheese. A great breakfast, and I chose the green over red chile (you usually get a choice), as I think the green has more flavor.

Up into the mountains northwest of Las Cruces to the quaint town of Silver City, which wants to be Santa Fe but is not quite as trendy. It’s lovely, and the drive here was gorgeous:

Sadly, in the middle of nowhere, and having driven very carefully, the tire started leaking air. (New cars tell you this.) When it got down to ten pounds I pulled over, called the AAA, and waited an hour and a half for someone to put the toy spare tire on (I didn’t trust the jack).

Then, driving to Silver City on the toy tire, I was informed that Enterprise could give me a swapper, but they had only huge vans, and by “huge” I mean half the size of a school bus. I bailed on that and went to Wal-Mart to buy a new tire. Enterprise said that if the flat is not my fault, they might reimburse me (bastards!). Well, they found three patched punctures in the tire when they replaced it, so it’s on Enterprise for giving me a threadbare tire. I anticipate a fight when I get back to Las Cruces! I lost about four hours of time, but I made it here and am staying at the Murray Hotel, an Art Deco original:

Finally, I have news from my two duck-sitters that all is well with Honey and Frank. I’m told they come at the whistle, and yesterday both of them ate from the grad-student duck-sitter’s hand! Here’s a photo I was sent.

I noticed that Honey’s swain last year was also lacking the dark brown bib of a normal male, which suggests that a). the males were hybrids with domestic white ducks, and b). the male may be the same male we saw last year. Readers with time on their hands may want to go back and compare Sir Francis to last year’s drake.

22 thoughts on “New Mexico: Day 1

  1. What guidance does PCC(E) have for readers sending links?

    I sent something last night but I know the travel is not a good time.

    I looked for your note about this but it took too long – or I was distracted away… chain reaction of life, you know….

    1. Are you using the eddress you can find by Googling Jerry or clicking on the “Research Interests” hotlink at the top left side of WEIT?

  2. Vacations rarely go without some hitches.
    Janet looks like a tortoiseshell cat from here, but I expect she has some white on her somewhere.

    I should try to remember the green chile. The color had put me off, but I would like new experiences.

  3. Sounds like Enterprise is a good one to stay away from permanently. When is it likely to be the driver’s fault for a flat tire. Maybe if they throw a barrel of nails on the road in front of the car. Nobody gets flat tires these days if they put good tires on the cars. Really nice breakfast…

    1. It’s not a matter of the driver’s fault, it’s what is covered in the rental conditions. In Europe, tyre and glass cover is often an optional extra – not too expensive, and I usually let the agent talk me into it.

      Last year, in northern Italy, I encountered a lot of fallen rocks on the road, one of which I must have failed to avoid completely because I found a hole in the sidewall. So I put the space-saver spare on, rang the emergency number to cover myself, and next day called at the Europcar agency in Lugano. They had no spare cars available (or maybe they didn’t want to be stuck with a French rental car in Switzerland) so advised me I could, if I wished, get the tyre replaced and claim the cost back. The tyre place they directed me to told me (I think – I speak no Italian and they didn’t understand English or French) that they had no tyres of that make so they would have to swap both front tyres (presumably some ‘safety’ BS). So, not wishing to continue without a spare, and not wishing to drive round Lugano getting lost in Italian and vainly searching for a tyre place with the ‘right’ tyres, and needing to get to Chamonix that day, I paid up. Took a photo of the hole in the sidewall.

      Took me several months of emails to get reimbursed. Probably not due to malice on Europcar’s part, more likely the ‘too hard basket’ – a claim for *two* new tyres, on a car rented in France, for tyre damage incurred in Italy, against an invoice in Swiss francs. Fortunately I could document that I’d followed Europcar’s procedures and their agents’ advice. Eventually I received a friendly email from Europcar, apologising for the delay, and they refunded me the full cost.

      Moral: If you can, always document these things.

      In other news, in England I paid a ridiculous amount to repair (and repaint) a tiny 1/8″ dent in the driver’s door, probably caused by some cretinous prat opening their door in a car park. NOT my fault but (since I hadn’t taken out the quite pricy comprehensive cover) my responsibility. As I told the rental agent, I would have felt happier about paying if I’d lost it on a bend and gone hurtling off into the bushes. Them’s the breaks.


      1. In hindsight, I *should* have got the tyre place to put both tyres they removed in the back of the car. Guess I was too stressed from trying to understand Italian to think of that.

        Also with hindsight, I could probably have saved myself (and ultimately Europcar) a bit of money if I’d got the tyre done the previous day in Italy (without waiting to try the swap-a-car option at Lugano), or waited till I got to Chamonix. Italy and France are both much cheaper than Switzerland. Ain’t hindsight marvellous…


  4. This makes me miss the food in New Mexico, some of the best to be found anywhere. Lived in Albuquerque (I should have taken that left turn!) for a few years back around ’79-’81. Loved it. Skiing, crewing for a hot air balloon during the annual balloon festival for a couple of years, camping and, did I mention the food?

  5. I had to look up “relleno” as my grasp of Mexican (and New Mexican?) food is pretty bad. I do regret not exploring it more in Pittsburgh when I lived there, but there was time and money and such to constrain things.

    Wikipedia says they are related to those “poppers” one gets at almost all Ottawa area pizzerias. Is that correct?

      1. To be honest I’m not sure either – I’ve never ordered one. Most menus describe them as friend jalapenos with cheese. From the below, it sounds like a cousin, not a brother as two factors are different.

  6. Just up from Silver City is the little town of penos altos (I’m not certain I’ve got the spelling correct) with a great bar/restaurant. It looks derelict from the outside but it’s really neat inside.

  7. Awesome picture of that mountain road. But what I’d really like to learn about is the proper way to wrap a tortilla. I could never figure it out, despite eating hundreds of self-wrap flour tortilla-based meals.

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