The Other Las Vegas

Trip Start Apr 30, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2010

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Where I stayed
Storrie Lake Park

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Sunday, May 9, 2010

We headed to 'the other' Las Vegas, that is the one in New Mexico about 130 miles past the Clovis Welcome Centre. It was a constant uphill slope, and windy, but the Beast battled bravely. While we’ll only hit Nevada`s version this weekend, I think I can still safely say that this Las Vegas is the polar opposite of the one that gleams neon two states away.

Las Vegas New Mexico is a small, dusty town, with a couple of main streets peppered with run down shop fronts, faded painted brick billboards, a couple of inns and hotels. We drove right through in search of the area`s famous hot springs – we were still feeling a bit car-cramped from the epic Texas drive and wanted to relax before we checked out `downtown’. Following a map given to us at the Welcome Centre, we made our way towards Montezuma, a few miles past town.

The hot springs were wonderful! Tucked into the hillside just off the 65, there are several levels of pools, and the temperature of each one decreases slightly as you descend the slopeside. A handful of people were enjoying a soak or just the scenery when we arrived. We couldn`t get more than our toes in the first pool. A lady soaking her feet in the next one down, who was originally from Santa Fe and now lives in San Anonio, told us that there used to be a thermometer in that one that would typically read about 116F.

We slowly eased ourselves into the `cooler’ pools. The locals were interested to hear about Montreal – one grizzled man who stayed perched above the pools during our whole visit asked, "Montreal - isn’t that like Toronto?"When we quickly corrected him, he realized the error of his ways, “Oh right – Quebec - you guys parler francais, and they’re in Manitoba, right?”

We decided we would take a dip in to cool off in the rushing river that ran below, against the advice of our new friends, who said we’d freeze. We had to be tough Canadians though, and told them that at home the ice had barely broken but if we were there, we`d be sailing in it. The  water was jarringly cold, but felt perfect after soaking in the steamy pools. We repeated the cycle a few times and felt relaxed and energized at the end of our hot spring visit.Oh man that

We headed back in to Las Vegas. It was particularly quiet when we strolled through town since it was Sunday. A girl at the corner gas station recommended the Mexican Restaurant as one that would be open on a Sunday, so we headed over since we were starving at this point.

Johnny`s Mexican Kitchen didn`t disappoint! We were the only ones there, in the quiet one room restaurant whose walls were covered in old bottles, photos, posters and various New Mexican memorabilia. We ordered up some tacos and fajitas, and they were spectacular – the salsa and guacamole tasted fresher and more vibrant than any I`ve ever had. The service was quick and friendly, and we couldn`t believe the quality and quantity of food for the price. If you`re even in Las Vegas – the other Las Vegas – head to Johnny`s.

There wasn`t much else to do in Las Vegas on a Sunday night. We went to the Camino Hotel diner to have dessert, a cup of coffee and some internet so send a few updates, and fairly early that evening we drove to the Storrie Lake State Park. When we got there too late to get through the gates and into the actual campground (they closed at 8) we just parked in the lot and were asleep pretty quickly, still feeling great from those springs.

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