Monday, March 1, 2010

Fire and Ice

When the people in the town of Hot Springs, New Mexico decided they needed to attract more tourists, they came up with a unique publicity stunt—they teamed up with a game show and renamed their town Truth or Consequences. Unique? Yes. Effective? Err…judging from the nearly empty streets yesterday, not so much.

The town is known for its fantastic hot springs though (hence its original name) and we decided a trip to the kooky, artsy town was in order. With nearly every corner in town proclaiming to have the best springs, we deferred to our Lonely Planet guide and chose the ‘swankiest’ one available for a real treat.

Ahh... We had our own private hot-tub-sized hot spring bath in our own room, complete with a beautiful mural of a desert scene on the walls to set the mood. With the door left open a bit, we had a refreshing breeze and an hour or so of family relaxation and fun. The spa setting with fluffy towels and iced water delivered to our room was calming and indulgent and to our surprise, the whole thing only cost us $30. Definitely worth it.

We topped off the day by parking early to watch Canada kick some serious butt in the hockey game to bring home the gold. Whoohoo! (On a side note, I can't believe how many people have been smiling and congratulating us when they find out we're from Canada. Makes me proud to be Canadian.)

From heat to snow. Yep, snow again. We have to laugh over the fact that we came south largely to escape the cold and enjoy hot weather, yet we seem to keep intentionally driving towards cold.

Today, we decided the Gila Cliff Dwellings sounded pretty darn cool and we should go see them. When the turnoff from the highway, in the middle of the New Mexico desert, said “Warning: Ice on road. Road closed 27 miles ahead,” we laughed. Seriously? 27 miles to a road that’s so icy it’s closed?

What followed was 27 miles of incredible scenery—jutting rocks, deep gorges and trickling creeks amongst nearly abandoned old mining towns. We saw maybe 4 vehicles on the way and felt like we’d been transported to our own movie-set world.

And at the end of the 27 miles was, you guessed it—a closed road. Yes, there was some snow around us, but ice? Nope. While we contemplated bypassing the signs that were surrounded by tire tracks, we thought better of it. We knew the elevation was increasing and the temperature was decreasing and the road we had to go to didn’t really have a way back or off it. The prospect of driving backwards or turning around on a twisty, narrow mountain road didn’t really appeal to either of us. Over the edge of a cliff wasn’t where we wanted to end our vacation.

So, instead, we looked at each other and laughed hysterically, turned around, and drove on to Silver City, New Mexico. Instead of ancient cliff dwellings, we browsed through Victorian buildings that now house offbeat art and coffee shops (and quite a bit of junk as well). Instead of a hike through the forest, we went for a bike ride and played some bocce ball at the campground. It was a great day, but certainly not what we thought we’d be doing today.

Tomorrow, we leave New Mexico and start slowly making our way to California.

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