I’ll still post specifics on the arts and culture/food in town, but for now let me throw out a bunch of random images and observations (again, just my own perspective) to round out the sense of life in Las Cruces. Warts and all.
I’ve been off the blog lately to have my gallbladder removed (successfully, I think, although the dunny has doubts as to how much I’m back to normal). Why didn’t anyone warn me about growing old?
Overall, this High Desert region is relatively poor, so there are plenty of trailer parks scattered around. If you have visions of upward mobility, one might even throw in a boat, after all it is only 1000 km to the ocean. Such alternate options, on top of a recession economy, have made housing affordable for many on the lower end of the income curve (including some of us starving artists). The median home price is under $100,000. Catherine herself is buying a distressed fix-er-upper for less than $50,000, on my own street. There goes the neighborhood, sigh…
With the warm, dry weather, America’s desert cities become popular destinations for the modern-day swagman, and Las Cruces has its share. We even have our own small tent city, and finely dressed art patrons sometimes have to pick their way around the grotty lads passed out on benches during the Art Ramble downtown.
The desert….with all the recent flooding in Queensland, the Wide Bay mob might find it surprising to see water-dispensing kiosks where one can buy this precious commodity. And the city Aquatic Center is a big deal! The drought continues unabated.
In the dry desert air, things, such as vehicles, tend not to rust out like the do in the Queensland tropics. There are still a lot of old utes, sports cars, and just plain clunkers all around town.
On the other hand, things don’t decay and disappear into the weeds. Combine that with the rural Western mindset toward trash (drop it anywhere, never clean it up), and you find some pretty spectacular rubbish collections in people’s yards. Often right next to nicely fixed up homes, due to lack of a city blight ordinance.
Speaking of the West, Las Cruces hosts the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum, complete with longhorn cattle. Gotta have your boots, cowboy hats, and Texas sized pickup trucks.
Speaking of signs, here are a couple of preserved icons from the past…
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, the car rules. There are some great old legacies of the Motor Lodge touring days, most decrepit but some restored.
God forbid you have to walk anywhere or leave the A/C comfort of your car to shop for essentials like cigarettes.
In the older quarters downtown are still many walkable small schools, some being reconfigured, such as the Alma d’Arte charter school for the arts. As the city has grown, the sprawling mega-school rules (again, you need your vehicle).
Likewise, there are some nice, small neighborhood parks. But some huge sports complexes, with blazing lighting systems to permit play in the cooler evening hours. America does youth sports BIG. I attended the local football rivalry game between high schools along with over 20,000 fans (from a city of only 100,000!) and RV tailgate parties all night.
So there is Las Cruces….city of the crosses.