Las Cruces is a city of about 70,000 in southern New Mexico. It is a modest bedroom community for the various government facilities (White Sands Missile Range, Holloman AFB, …) hereabouts and is also within commuting distance of El Paso, Texas. For us it is a rest stop on the way to visit friends in Tucson. The town is located in the Rio Grande valley which is to New Mexico as the Nile is to Egypt – all the major cities are located and all economic activity apparently takes place within about twenty miles of this vigorous and life giving river. (Click on photos to enlarge)
As the home of the southern campus of the State University of New Mexico (‘The Aggies’), Las Cruces is also a college town. The large student population gives the community a definitely young appearance. However, Jo Ann pointed out that many of the older men here display some kind of orthopedic injury that they collected from their hard working lives. The city itself seems to be in a state of becoming and suffers from some neglect in how things work. Yesterday we were directed to the worst Mexican restaurant in the world, and filled up at a Chevron station that needed a lot of love.
In the evening we decided to take no more chances and selected an IHOP near the movie we would later attend. Visions of the Grass Valley IHOP danced in our heads as we walked in. Along every dimension (including promised deliveries from its food distributor) we quickly discovered that not all IHOPs are created equal. Ours is a gem. Oh yes, and in the theater their new digital (DLP) movie projector broke down three times before it finally relented to play the entire movie.
The Great Western motel where we are staying was selected by the New Mexico British sports car club which made its parking lot look like something out of an old movie. I met an engineer who works at the Los Alamos lab; he gave me a thorough rundown on his TR4. Lucky for me it was parked in the shade.
This morning we visited the White Sands Missile Range about 40 miles to the east on the other side of the Sacramento Mountains. Since I worked on a number of missile weapon systems in a former life, I wanted to see their museum of this country’s missile development history. WSMR is an active facility, so in order to take our car on base we had to have it “inspected” for explosives, etc. That done, we drove to the museum and were well rewarded for the effort. The exhibits, while a bit weather worn, were still impressive.