The collision of global markets and social mood

Monday, April 30, 2012

Las Cruces To Tucson, Recap

After the blowing dust of El Paso, it was a real treat to wake up to the pure air and bright light of New Mexico last Friday morning.  Of all the places in the country, nothing says Welcome To The Desert to me more than New Mexico.  Ever since the first time I stayed in Tucumcari (on old Route 66 in 2002) and woke up to a dazzling, bright day and had fun just breathing, I have been fascinated by it.  Las Cruces was even better because I'd had a great week in the markets, had a productive conference call, and then took the rest of the day off and went over to Nellie's Cafe for an early lunch.

I ordered the combination plate because I wanted to try several things, but wish I'd stuck to their chili verde.  No biggie, it was still great.  Just a lot of cheese which I try not to eat that much.  Nellie's is known for their chili dishes, and you could really taste the difference.  They tasted a lot more vibrant than what I'm used to.  Maybe because they're grown so close by.  Or maybe because Nellie's just deserves all the praise they get.  I think it's both.

I really liked Las Cruces, which means "the crosses" in Spanish.  I searched everywhere to find the derivation of the name, but could not.  At first I wondered if there was a rock formation on the nearby Oregon mountains (which are absolutely stunning), but no.  Some people wonder, as I do, if it means "the crossroads" because that's just what the geography of the town feels like. The Mayor evidently thinks so,  because he says "Welcome to the crossroads" in his welcome letter in the visitor's guide.

"Crosses" seem to be winning in the symbolism department.  As does the sun.  With over 350 days of sunshine per year, it figures prominently throughout the town and its symbols.

Sunshine Grocery & Grill.  Blue and bright orange, in contrast to the dusty earth of the desert.

Las Cruces has garnered a lot of accolades for being such a great place to live.  US News & World Report, Sunset Magazine, Inc. Magazine, AARP, Money Magazine, Forbes, and Family Digest have all singled out Las Cruces as being one of the best places to live and work in America.   And after exploring the town, I could see why.  It was pleasant and felt just the right size.  Not too big, and not too small.  Just right.  And clean.

I pushed on toward Tucson, glad I'd made another friend along the road.  Speaking of friends, remember Herbie The Love Bug?

Man, that's a Big Az burger.

Pulled into Tucson in the mid afternoon and headed over to 4th Avenue which is a funky section of town that's very, uh, eclectic.  More so than ever. 

It's a conspiracy, man.

If you're on fire it's okay. 

Even amid the festival of tattoo parlors and piercings and teenage panhandlers and head shops and day drunks extraordinaire, the brightly colored platform shoe has made its appearance on 4th.

Lenny says Let Love Rule.  This artist simply says Let Love In.

Great name for a coffee shop.

Leave your squirt gun at home.

Obviously the desert is the place for solar.  And Brooklyn pizza, too.

After all the fun, it's nice to make a bee line to the B Line which is a tiny oasis amid the grungeness of 4th avenue.  In fact, I'm always surprised to see it humming along so well.

Maybe it has something to do with the food, which is spectacular.  These are Southwestern style mahi mahi tacos, and they rule.

I'm such a sucker for mid-century modern design.  So later I checked into this place which used to be The Flamingo but is now a Quality Inn.  My favorite room of the trip for only $50.

Full breakfast included, right by the pool.

And grapefruit right outside my door . . . if I felt like climbing over the railing and picking one.

I had a great sleep that I badly needed, then hopped in the car and drove a couple hours up to the Phoenix area, to Scottsdale, where I lived in 2009-2010.  First order of business was a stop at Daily Dose, which was one of my favorite spots.  I sorely missed their Southwest Flannel Hash which is corned beef hash cooked with jalapenos, tomatillas & red onion.  I had it as a side with an order of chorizo tacos which come 3 to a plate and sent me to the moon.  Sorry about forgetting my camera again because I was in such a hurry, but if you just imagine the best thing you ever ate, you'll know what I'm talking about.

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