Waning Gibbous Moon
La Mesilla, New Mexico
Continuing south past Tularosa, New Mexico, I stopped for a long sleep in Las Cruces before heading to nearby Mesilla (La Mesilla, the mesa, as it was known before the Gadsden Purchase via the Treaty of Mesilla in 1854). In Billy the Kid Antrim's day, La Mesilla and John Kinney's ranch just west of there were the headquarters and hideouts of the Jesse Evans Gang, aka The Boys, about thirty of the onery-est, wicked-est, mankilling-est cattle rustlers west of the Pecos. Billy rode and stole and shot with them for a brief time, long enough to get in bad, bad trouble. Billy was captured and jailed in Mesilla, then transferred to the Lincoln County jail shortly thereafter. Today, Mesilla has a clean, classical old town square with lots of historical references, a beautiful basilica, and a Billy the Kid Gift Shop in the old courthouse where Billy was sentenced to be hanged (not open during my brief early morning stop there).
I have always like the city of Las Cruces, but before this trip I didn't know about La Mesilla or its back story. It is really charming - I'm glad I made the quick and easy detour off the highway to soak in some history and absorb still more Kid lore. The people I met there were especially friendly and obviously proud of their town.
Silver City, New Mexico
I knew about Silver City from its proximity to the Continental Divide Trail and from reading friends' blogs in past years. I almost rode up that way on my bicycle trip in 2013, but opted for the straight shot through Deming and Lordsburg instead - in hindsight, not recommended!
Silver City is great. It has everything I like and more and I will definitely return. One day's visit was not enough to do justice to the art scene and the mining history and the hip cultural vibe here. The kind folks at the Silver City Museum were smart and welcoming and a late breakfast at La Familia Restaurant was downhome delicious. Of course, Billy the Kid lived in Silver City too, in his teenage years. This is where his mother died and his first arrest (for stealing some clothes) occurred. He escaped from the jail through the chimney and thus began a rather spotty life of crime and exile. I really want to come back to Silver City to spend quality time investigating the town and to explore the nearby Gila National Forest. I am not a cold weather person, but this is one spot where I think I would like to spend a real winter. Just one.
I learned something new and interesting just about everywhere I stopped in New Mexico on this trip. Color me happily enchanted and wanting more.
Peace, Love, and Appreciation.