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I’m posting this as a place holder as much as anything else so I can remember to go back to Silver City, New Mexico. Two weekends ago I was in Silver City with my daughter on a two-day trip down to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings. It is about a five hour drive to Silver City so we spent most of the day in the car heading south on I-25 and then west over Highway 152.

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Rest Area I-25

The interstate part of the trip is what it is…interstate. We stopped in Truth or Consequences for lunch at the  little Grapevine Bistro on Broadway. I don’t recall exactly what I had but it had Prickly Pear Jelly on it and it was good. I never had Prickley Pear Jelly before so that was a new treat. They make the stuff in TorC. This is sort of a health food cafe and I recommend it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe turnoff on highway 152 is not much further down I-25. It is a two-lane blacktop that rises up from the Rio Grand valley and over the Black Range. It was heading into mining country and we went past Hillsboro and Kingston, two old “ghost” towns that have been reoccupied. They are worth a photo stop on another trip. The highway climbs to Emory Pass and then starts to drop towards the Mimbres River valley. There are some active copper mines along this stretch…another future photo stop, maybe. We finally got into Silver City around 4:30. We did not make hotel reservations — thinking there would not be a problem finding someplace to stay. There are two “historic” hotels in Silver City: The Murray Hotel and The Palace Hotel. There are plenty of other places as well.

The Murray Hotel is five stories and the tallest building in town. It has an Art Deco look to it and it dates from the early 1900s. It is in the process of renovation but it looked pretty good on the outside.  The Palace dates to 1882 and ia a two-story rambling place with commercial shops below and hotel space upstairs.

We sort of flipped a coin and headed to The Palace. The proprietor was sitting in the lobby doing sdome bookkeeping chores. He found us two small rooms on the second floor…all that was left. That was fine with us.  Our roos were small but suitable since we just wandered in off the street. This is an old hotel. Bathrooms are retrofitted into the rooms but they work. There are working transoms over the doors. You can hear conversations from your neighbors’ rooms. There is a little breakfast room at the top of the stairs where they serve coffee and a light breakfast.

We went across the street to the Toad Creek brewpub for supper and then headed back to our rooms. The other guests were settling in. My TV didn’t work because of a cable problem but I listened to an audio book I brought along through headphones and read a magazine.  There was music drifting over from Toad Creek but it was not disturbing and I was asleep by 10:30.

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I was awakened at about 4 AM by voices…mostly one voice.  I won’t go into the details other than to say that another guest was having a mental health crisis that lasted until about 7 AM when he apparently became exhausted and either fell asleep or left the building. I don’t think many guests slept that night and most looked bedraggled at the coffee bar in the morning.   I will go back to The Palace again but take ear plugs.

Silver City is an interesting place and you can walk around downtown and see a number of historic structures. The Bell Block building is a magnificent cast iron front commercial building. The Palace Hotel and the Murray Hotel are nearby  The Silver City National Bank building was designed by noted regional architect, Henry Trost, who also designed the Paisano Hotel in Marfa TX that I’ve covered earlier.

The Palace Hotel

The Murray Hotel

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Bell Block

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Toad Creek

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Our second day was a long drive up to Gila Cliff Dwellings. It is about a 45 mile drive north out of Silver City over the Pinas Altas Nountains and into the Gila Wilderness area. It takes a little more than two hours to drive those 45 miles. This is probably as remote a place as one can find that is still accessable on a paved road. There are deer on the road and not many places where you can actually see more than 100 feet of pavement ahead of you. The scenery is spectacular but the driver has to watch the road.

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The big payoff…beyond the scenery and beyond the next the horizon… is Gila Cliff Dwellings.

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