March 19, 2012

Blowing Dust Storms

We left Albuquerque on Saturday morning just as the front of a major storm was blowing in. The drive south on the interstate was windy, but not as bad as it would become later in the day or on Sunday.  We made it safely to Las Cruces where we checked into a Drury Inn to wait out the severe weather.  Drury Inns have become our refuge from bad weather, and we have enjoyed these hotels.  The fact that they allow pets without a separate fee adds to their appeal.  We are taking advantage of our spacious king suite, which is a nice little break from the RV.  I’m not sure where we’ll take shelter after we leave New Mexico, however, as there are no Drury Inns on the west coast.  I guess the weather will just have to behave.

Yesterday morning was windy, but not bad, and we ventured out to Mesilla for lunch. Mesilla is a pretty historic town with a good assortment of New Mexican and Mexican restaurants (there is a difference).  As we were eating, we noticed the skies getting dark.  The wind storm had arrived, and with it came blowing dust.  The skies were brown, and it was a bit eerie.  We headed back to the hotel where we decided to stay put.  We don’t have to go anywhere right now.  Besides, Tucson, which is our next destination, is under a winter weather advisory.  Snow, in Tucson?

The blowing dust storm got progressively worse as the afternoon wore on, and the interstate highway was shut down for a time due to reduced visibility and hazardous driving conditions.  Our hotel was full with stranded motorists.  I watched a tall light pole swaying in the wind next to where our RV was parked and hoped for the best.  The weather was even worse in Albuquerque where flights were cancelled or delayed and power was out for many residents.

Please Don't Fall!
I'm Sure Glad We Weren't on the Highway
The weather today was windy and cold, but the patch of blue sky was a welcome sight.  We went back to Mesilla to walk around the town and have lunch.  Mesilla is one of the most-visited historic communities in southern New Mexico and contains a significant collection of adobe buildings around a central plaza.  Mesilla was established as a town around 1850, but it did not officially become a part of the United States until the Gadsden Purchase of 1854 resolved a boundary dispute with Mexico.  Mesilla soon became a major stop on both the Butterfield Stage Line and San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line.  It’s a quaint and charming town, with interesting shops and restaurants.

The Plaza at Mesilla
Around the Plaza
San Albino Church on the Plaza
We had eaten lunch the last two days on the edge of town, but today we found a restaurant on the plaza.  We discovered that Double Eagle has received many accolades, including “Most Romantic” and “Best Fine Dining” in the Las Cruces area.  We would have to agree.  We knew as soon as we walked in the door that this would be a special place.  The restaurant is housed in what was once a private residence, and we sat in the interior courtyard under a skylight.  Although I love good, down-home cooking, and often prefer eating at diners and dives, it’s nice to enjoy a fine-dining experience from time to time.  The funny thing is that we didn’t even know what kind of restaurant Double Eagle was when we selected it.

The menu at Double Eagle is a twist on traditional New Mexican favorites.  Tim and I shared the Green Chili Cheese Wontons with Pineapple-Jalapeno Salsa, which was just amazing.  I then ordered the grilled salmon with an orange-chipotle chili sauce.  The salmon was served with a side of pasta with the same wonderful sauce.  Not your typical New Mexican side dish!  We just had to finish with a specialty dessert and chose the Banana Enchiladas, which turned out to be crepes filled with banana slices, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a maple-caramel-butter pecan sauce.  All I can say is “Wow!”  This was one of the best meals of the trip!

Green Chili Cheese Wontons with Pineapple-Jalapeno Salsa
Grilled Salmon with an Orange-Chipotle Chili Sauce and a Side of Pasta
Banana Enchiladas
We stopped in a few shops after lunch and sampled an assortment of New Mexican pistachios.  We bought the ones flavored with green chilies, along with pistachio brittle.  We ended our visit to Mesilla with a stop in a hand-made chocolate shop.  You can be assured that we did not leave empty-handed.

New Mexican Pistachios
Our plan is to leave for Tucson tomorrow.  The earlier forecast for overnight snow showers in Las Cruces has been dropped, although freezing temperatures are still likely.  The storm should be history by tomorrow, however, and sunny skies and rising temperatures are predicted from here all the way to Tucson.


  1. I don't know if they have them out west but Comfort Inn is pet friendly too. The meal you had in Mesilla looks soooo it good makes me want to go right out there! LV

    1. LV, Thanks for the tip. I agree that the meal would be worth a trip. Come on down! Sarah

  2. Banana enchiladas!!! Miami should added to the menu. :) AG

    1. AG, They really were sinful and would be a perfect dessert in Miami. Sarah