The City of the Crosses
March 20 – 27, 2019
After leaving Benson we headed east to the high plains of the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico. The land is flat and open and the highway is riddled with signs informing one on what to do in the event of a sandstorm. It’s basically pull off the road and wait to die a gritty slow death by sand. After a couple hours of staying upright in the wind and not getting hit by any of those sand storms we arrived in our next destination, Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The translation of Las Cruces is “The Crosses,” or as the late great Chris Farley would say, “Las Cruces is Spanish for ‘The Cruces’.” They must have gotten rid of the crosses though as I didn’t see any.
We stayed at Sunny Acres RV Park just about a mile from downtown. Not only is it rare to find an RV park inside city limits, the sites were reasonably spaced and the roads were almost wide enough to do a u-turn with the fifth wheel attached.
There’s a couple of good breweries in Las Cruces. We had dinner one night at Pecan Grill & Brewery where I had some tasty chicken wings and Kendra had a salad that came with a large grilled pepper. Las Cruces is just down the road from the town of Hatch, claimed to be the chile pepper capital of the world and famous for Hatch chiles. As I was about to find out, the peppers here have a lot more heat than the stuff I could find in Michigan. Kendra’s not a fan of hot peppers so she gave it to me which I promptly ate without a second thought. After a few minutes of I-can’t-feel-my-face delicious fiery anguish I ordered a second beer. No bartender, that pepper wasn’t hot, I’m crying with laughter and sadness cause I was remembering Chris Farley. Their Peanut Butter Pecan Porter did wonders for soothing the minions in my belly running around with their hair on fire.
Just a short walk from our campground was the High Desert Brewing Company. With an outdoor patio it was a perfect way to spend a few hours Sunday afternoon sampling the beers while a sad looking dog stared at me from the next table.
We paid a visit to the White Sands National Mounument, the largest field of white gypsum sand dunes on earth. To get there it was a drive on a flat straight highway that was straight out of the X-Files through the White Sands Missile Range. The road is actually closed sometimes for missile tests which fortunately were not scheduled for this day.
White Sands is a vast, desolate, disorienting sandbox with miles of sand dunes in every direction surrounded by distant mountains. Bring a compass.
Being Roadside America attraction junkies, after leaving White Sands we had to stop at Mcginns’s Pistachio Tree Ranch in Alamagordo, home of the world’s largest Pistachio. Also home to a sample bar of a whole bunch of different flavored pistachios I never knew existed.
When looking for a place to go hiking closer to our campground we came upon Dripping Springs Natural Area, BLM land that included the Organ Mountains. If you make it past the sign that states in no uncertain terms that you will die, Dripping Springs trail leads up into a canyon at the base of the mountains where the ruins of Van Patten’s Mountain camp hotel and Boyd’s Sanitorium sit near the spring. The spring is not impressive, more like a leaky faucet. But hey, we’re in the desert after all.