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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Introducing Santa Rosa, My Favorite New Mexico Town

Getting off the Interstate at Santa Rosa puts one on old Route 66, and the town is one of many along the old road to encourage tourism by showcasing the 1950s. We stopped for a bite to eat -- the old Santa Rosa Cafe no longer in business -- and found the Route 66 Restaurant still going strong. It was “Taco Tuesday,” too! How cool! Plus, the young nine- or ten-year-old girl helping her grandmother at the cash register loved my Dr. Seuss t-shirt, so all in all, we had a good initial experience and decided to spend the night.

It was early enough that we had plenty of time to explore around town after checking in at a motel.

As is true of most of the towns along old Route 66, the old business strip along the old route through Santa Rosa has fallen from its former glory, and many commercial buildings are vacant, some with a long-abandoned look. (The east end of the strip has more going on than the west.) On the west end of the strip this sign confused me --

-- until I read in La Frontera that menudo is "the world's only reliable hangover cure." That makes sense of serving it in the morning with donuts, doesn't it?

We cruised from one end to the other several times and also through the downtown to find the post office and admire the county government buildings.

While housing in Santa Rosa is neither big nor ostentatious, the place is no ghost town. An apparent range of small middle-class homes line pleasant neighborhood streets. The tiny, empty one above, however, was our favorite, its stone wall typical of many properties in the town. There are also many adobe-style houses, and altogether it looked like a very pleasant place to live.

El Rito Creek

But the best part of Santa Rosa is the water. Not only does the Pecos River run through town, with its lively tributary El Rito Creek, both running deep with water (not just rocks, sand and, dust), but there are also numerous lakes and ponds and springs, all with clear, fresh, beautiful water. In the morning we took a closer look. At Park Lake, where water fun is clearly the theme, I was sure I detected a bubbling spring beneath the sparkling surface, which would certainly explain the astonishing clarity of the water. 

Park Lake

Over at the Blue Hole Fishing Ponds, we had a charming encounter with a pair of ducks whose differences made no difference whatever to them,

The Blue Hole!

but it was at the Blue Hole itself that we met real excitement. One of my sisters tells me that the Blue Hole is famous among divers, and we were fortunate enough to come upon a pair of divers preparing to go down the 81-foot hole and explore tunnels leading off it. They said they would be down only 30-45 minutes, which sounded like a long time underwater to me.

The Sun and Sand Motel is no longer in business, but the restaurant is still open, with a Route 66 theme (naturally), and plenty of Mexican dishes on the menu, so what better to order for breakfast than huevos rancheros? I was asked if I wanted red chilis, green chilis, or "Christmas." "Christmas" is both red and green, so of course that's what I chose, because it was a new experience beckoning. Also, please note that that is not a bottle of beer on the table but a beer bottle transformed into a salt shaker. 

There are bigger, fancier towns in New Mexico, but I have to say that if I were moving to the state, Santa Rosa would be my #1 choice. David and I both found it very refreshing, and Sarah, while not allowed into the Blue Hole, enjoyed her stroll in the vicinity -- and she was fascinated earlier at the fishing bonds by those ducks. It was 11 a.m. before we tore ourselves away, all three of us having had a very interesting and satisfying time. 

1 comment:

Karen Casebeer said...

So good to see some water! Love the image of Sarah in the driver's seat. Looks like she's claiming her status.