Wednesday, November 3, 2010
LAND OF ENCHANTMENT
Wednesday 11-3-10. We left the wonderful staff at the Holiday Inn in El Paso at 9 am wearing jackets and long pants to ward off the morning chill. With rush hour traffic almost over, we found Hwy 20 easily. It took us out of town and eventually connected to Hwy 28 that we rode into New Mexico. After a lengthy stay in Texas, we were looking forward to a 'Welcome to The Land of Enchantment' sign. Evidently the sign was placed on a more prominent road as we were never quite sure when we crossed the state line. The pavement was smooth (yeah!) and traffic was light. We cycled past cotton fields with the Franklin Mountains as a dramatic backdrop. We rode past miles of pecan orchards and in one area the trees canopied the road in dappled sunlight for almost 5 miles. A butter pecan ice cream cone was a must at Stahmann's Country Store. We also saw acres of red chili peppers and grape vineyards. By 11 am, the temperature was warm enough to shed our outer layer, several miles before reaching the tiny settlement of San Miguel. This village has a beautiful small Catholic church made of volcanic stone. History states that Jose Giron from Mexico City first settled in this area during the mid 1600's and brought with him a statue of St. Michael the Archangel. Over time, devotion to the saint grew and the community was named San Miguel. We stopped briefly in Mesilla which has a quaint plaza surrounded by adobe buildings. It is the historical section of Las Cruces and we felt almost as if we had entered a village in Mexico. We are in country that once was the stomping ground of William Bonny, aka Billy the Kid. He evidently had a reputation based more on fiction than fact. This was due in part to Sheriff Pat Garrett who killed Billy by ambushing him in the dark of night and then wrote a book about The Kid. Some historians believe Garrett's book embellished Billy's notoriety to conceal the fact he had killed someone so young. Today was a wonderful ride beneath blue sky to Las Cruces, home of New Mexico State University.