Las Cruces, NM

After leaving Texas, we went to Carlsbad Caverns National State Park which is just across the New Mexico and Texas border. The caverns were amazing and the size and beauty, all underground, were impressive. Once we emerged from the cave, we went on a quick and very hot hike in the desert. Then, we jumped in the car to head west to Las Cruces, New Mexico.

My father-in-law had recommended that we stop in this city, located in the middle of the state on the southern border, because he had heard it was beautiful. It took us 4 hours to get there and, often, we would not see a town for an hour. Much of the drive is through the Lincoln National Park, which is a lush and green landscape between two long stretches of desert.

Happily, we arrived in Las Cruces in the evening, checked into our hotel, and set out to the Old Mesilla area for dinner. Old Mesilla is the 'old town' of Las Cruces, with buildings dating back to the late 1800's. This square is notorious for holding Billy the Kid in jail prior to his being shot by the town sherriff, Pat Garrett. We wandered around the town square inspecting the buildings and delighted in the mellow pink sunset. I particularly liked the crossed Mexico and US Flags on the gazebo in the middle of the square. I've posted a picture of them above. After a bit, we discovered a gorgeous bar at the Double Eagle Restaurant and decided to eat there. We were wooed by it's original turquoise and gold tin ceiling, the beautiful original wood, and the pretty chandelier. The picture here is from this bar.

I decided on the appetizer portion of the chili relleno and grilled shrimp. When the meal came, I tasted my selections cautiously, having been let down in Texas. I was happy to find that both items were delicious. My chili relleno's sauce had a deep smoky flavor and the pepper was still firm enough to give against my teeth. When I bit into it, the cheese exploded out of the pepper into my mouth. I was truly happy!

After polishing off my relleno, I turned to the shrimp. They were beautifully prepared, but I still wanted something spicy. I asked the bartender if they had anything and was told nothing but mild salsa. I was tired of this response by now so I requested that he ask the kitchen staff if they kept anything secret back there and shortly thereafter he returned with some very spicy marinated peppers. Finally! Something that made me sweat a little. They were delicious and played well with the grilled shrimp.

Having had a perfect dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a deep sleep, waking early to go hiking in the beautiful Organ Mountains, pictured below, before heading further west.

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