A little history for this drizzly Saturday afternoon:
T or C, as it is known to the locals, is a spa village and was originally named Hot Springs, NM. When the hit radio quiz show announced they would air the program from the first town that renamed itself after the show, the residents of "Hot Springs" took a vote. A vote that would forever pique the interest of travelers gazing at Google maps...thinking what an interesting name for a town. They MUST have interesting people, interesting food, interesting shopping. So...not so much. But more on that in a moment.
Ralph Edwards, the host of Truth or Consequences (the show, not the town...I can see how all of this would get confusing), visited the town during the first weekend in May for the next 50 years. It became known as "Fiesta" and included a beauty contest, a parade, and a stage show. The town continues to celebrate "Fiesta" and usually features some B actor and, of course, the Hatch Chile Queen. Do you know what else happens the first weekend in May? Derby. The Kentucky Derby. It is understandable that I had never heard of "Fiesta" until we saw the wall of celebrity photos at the Geronimo Springs Museum. We were too busy watching the fastest 2 minutes in sports...and getting liquored up to appropriately cheer our pony around the track. But we did it in suits and huge floppy hats and that's classy.
Anyjulep, we packed up the suitcases, bid adios to the Hampton, and made our way up 54, passing Hatch and the New Mexico Spaceport on the way. No time to stop...there was shopping to be done at interesting stores and food to be eaten at interesting restaurants. Except when we got there, everything was closed. I mean, the churches and the Geronimo Springs Museum were open, but everything else was shut up tighter than...well...never mind. Let's just say it has something to do with a nun. It was only 10:30 and check-in to the entire reason for driving to T or C (besides the cool name):
My knowledge of Geronimo is limited to "when you throw yourself from a perfectly good, non-crashing airplane, you scream (or cry) "GERONIMOOOOOOOOOOO!" That's the extent of it. I expected that I would learn all about Geronimo in the next hour or 2, maybe even discover that he liked to jump from high places. And I may have learned something but the information was everywhere, in 10-point font. And I have the attention span of a 4-year old. So all I got was this:
Geronimo and I sometimes wear the same do-rag. Also...his name translates to "one who yawns." Although there was very little yawning while he was leading his Apache tribe brothers into war with Mexico and the U.S. for stealing their land. I guess he didn't get the memo that the U.S. has a tendency to do that. Just ask the residents of Panama when we decided we needed a canal. If you would like more accurate information on Geronimo, Ric Burns did a documentary on him for American Experience titled We Shall Remain. (Those Burns boys are hoes for history.)
In addition to Geronimo: The Wax Man, the museum housed a pretty impressive collection of Native American pottery:
...along with a mannequin, just in case you forgot to pack your imagination.
Then there was the miner, who smokes the eternal cobb pipe, waiting for someone to share a beer with him in his log cabin (which was actually moved to the museum. I imagine moving a log cabin is something like moving a mobile home).
And, of course, what is a museum without a display of food items created by companies who have forgotten to change their packaging over the past 100 years...
But perhaps what was most exciting was a display of toys that children made during the pioneer days, with a sign that read "Remember when children made their own toys?" I glanced, I scoffed, and remembered my own Barbie dollhouse and Glo-worm (which were most assuredly not made by me). Suddenly, I heard Neal exclaim, "HEY! I had one of those!"
You heard it here first, y'all...Neal is basically a pioneer. And thus a remarkable Soldier.
When we left the museum, it was noon and time for lunch. We cruised around the block (we cruised around the block a lot while we were in T or C and it truly is just one block) to Happy Belly Deli, which got fantastic reviews. As we were pulling up, they were locking up for the day. At noon. I'll let you ponder that for a second because I still don't get it.
So, we cruised around the block again to Cafe Bella Luca, which also received high marks by travelers on TripAdvisor.
The 108-degree mineral water flowed into the baths at the top of the hill and continued through 2 more pools, before finally arriving at this one...making it the coolest of the baths at 101 degrees. It was mostly unoccupied, especially since a sandstorm blew in on Sunday morning and dropped the temperature to the low 40's. Everyone wanted to be hot in their hot springs, not warm.
The sun was setting over the Rio Grande and Riverbend Hot Springs. And it was time for dinner.
And then they drained the pools. Yes, my OCD friends, they are completely drained and cleaned everyday. Everyone can breathe a big germaphobe sigh of relief.
The next morning, in an effort to get back on Atlanta time and see the sun rise, I pulled myself from bed at 6:30 AM. The pools were just beginning to refill, starting with the top and the hottest.
We watched as the T or C locals popped in, paid their $10 for an hour's soak, and discussed everything from muscle testing to Plato.
We loaded the car and said goodbye to our abandoned soupy selves. We promised to not forget...to try and build something similar in our own backyard someday. And then we closed the door on #1 Riverbend Springs,
However, a stop in Hatch for lunch and then one quick stop at the Future Site of the New Mexico Spaceport still hovered in our future.