Our adventures aren’t just about the physical exertion of biking and hiking. We also like to relax and shop from time to time! The Las Cruces area offers opportunities for all of that.
80 miles north of Las Cruces is the small town of Truth or Consequences. Originally named Hot Springs, the town changed its name in 1950 to the name of the popular radio show. As a publicity stunt, the host of the radio show announced he would air the program’s 10th anniversary episode from the first town that changed its name. Hot Springs became T or C (as it’s commonly known around here) and remains named thusly, long after the show has become defunct. The hot spring still exists, as do a dozen or so resorts that offer soaks in piped-in mineral rich hot water.
We paid a visit to the Riverbend Hot Springs Resort, the only resort that had pools outside along the Rio Grande River. Their pools are arranged in a cascading series, each at different temperatures as the hot spring water flows down toward the river. You could hop into different pools, depending on the temperature you preferred. We purchased a 2 hour pass ($12 per hour per person) and soaked until we were limp. The crystal clear hot water contrasting with the cool air temperature was incredibly relaxing.
We also made a quick stop in T or C’s Geronimo Springs Museum. Larger that it appears at first glance, it houses an eclectic mix of minerals, prehistoric pottery, regional artifacts, a miner’s log cabin reconstruction, and town history displays. They have a lot of interesting information packed in there! $5 per person.
This area of New Mexico is littered with vineyards/wineries and nut orchards (pistachio and pecan). We visited a number of them including the Heart of the Desert farm that was both a pistachio farm AND a vineyard. As we learned during their free 1:30 pm farm tour, this area of New Mexico has a climate similar to the area of Turkey where pistachios originated. I learned that there are male and female pistachio trees, and pollination is solely wind-borne – no bee intermediary! If the winds aren’t right, pods will develop but un-pollinated pods will have no nuts (seeds). We were able to see their production and packaging operation, followed by free pistachio and wine tastings. It would be fascinating to be there during harvest season during which they literally shake the nuts off of the trees.
Another interesting vineyard stop was the Dos Viejos Winery near Alamogordo. It appeared deserted at first with a “for sale” sign in front, but we stopped in anyway and it turned out to be open. We were the sole customers in the wine tasting room. The vineyard was established by two partners (Dos Viejos means two old guys) and did a good business until one of the partners injured his foot severely, putting him out of commission. Shortly after, the other partner developed pancreatic cancer and died within 6 months. A historic cold freeze five years ago killed most of their vines and they have tried three times to replant, unsuccessfully. The owner is hoping that a young vintner will purchase the property and revitalize the business. Meanwhile, they are selling out their stock, all of which are well-aged, silky smooth vintages at least 10 years old. We tasted some delightful wines including their brandy-fortified dessert wine that rivals a good vintage ruby port. We departed with a bottle of the dessert wine and their last bottle of 2006 Sangiovese. I hope that this vineyard will see better times in the future.