Las Cruces, New Mexico
February 7 – 8, 2020
You know how it is, when you look at the forecast, read the warnings, look at the chances of snow, freezing temperatures and promises of treacherous roads and delays. Most of the time the forecast is wrong, right? Not this time. This storm was all that and worse. After leaving Fort Worth, Texas, I drove straight into the worst winter storm of the year. After getting to Odessa, battling some light rain and thinking “some storm, those silly forecasters!”, the nice manager at the counter that checked me in said, “Yeah, we might get some snow tonight.” I smiled and nodded. Right.
I woke up to several inches of snow. I don’t know how many because it doesn’t matter. I didn’t even know if I could get out of my parking spot, let alone drive down a highway. A few hours passed as I waffled back and forth about staying warm and dry or upside down along the freeway. How bad could it be? The traffic images online showed only wet roads. I decided to try it. I slid and slipped onto Interstate 10 only to find packed snow and ice, not “wet” pavement, it was 26 degrees – everything was frozen. I drove south for two hours at no more than 23 mph. Broken ice and packed snow felt like a jackhammer on the motorhome and all its contents. It was a true test of the 27 year old chassis (not to mention my 54 year old chassis). I’m not saying it was bumpy, I’m saying I was that little ball in the spray can that you shake. It wasn’t pleasant by any stretch of the imagination, but when it finally ended, the sun did come out and I found myself in El Paso, at rush hour, but I was glad to be out of winter wonderland.
A few months back while booking this show, the Las Colcheras Quilt Guild asked if I would like to stay at the home of one of the members while vending at the show. Chris Ramsey generously offered her driveway to my motorhome, so I graciously accepted. She was aware of my adventurous travels so when I arrived she offered to treat me to pizza. Not only did she surprise me by ordering one of my favorite kinds of pizza (vegetarian with sausage), but our dogs also share the same name! Joey! Her warm, comforting home was decorated with quilts in every room (see photos at the bottom). I felt like I was already at the quilt show with such talent and skill displayed in every quilt she created.
Thursday I woke up early and drove to the convention center to get a good parking place to unload my booth. I was the first one there! After setting up the booth I took two photographs of every quilt hung for the show. One wide shot and one close up so you can see the intricacies of the stitching. As you can tell by the images below, Las Cruces has no shortage of talent, passion or love of quilting.
The Show Challenge was from the traveling Bob Ross Cherrywood Challenge in Minnesota. This may have been my favorite part of the show. Enjoy the photos of these incredible works of art. Click on the images if you’d like to see them larger.
“I’m going to make a forest out of these trees!”She said as she held up “The Woods” stencil (#40079).
As a gesture of thanks, I offered to take Chris out to dinner. She chose a place that she thought I’d love, and she was right! Constructed in the 1840’s, the building was an important stop for the Butterfield Stagecoach Line. Visitors included Billy the Kid, Kit Carson, General Douglas McArthur, and Pancho Villa. In the 1870’s, after the proprietor died, the building turned into a hotel called the Corn Exchange Hotel that had a restaurant and other stores for several years until in 1939, a 25 year old Katy Griggs, had a dream of having her own “chili joint.” With the help of her mother cooking in the kitchen, La Posta de Mesilla was born in a small corner of the building with no running water, dirt floors and just four tables and believe it or not, claims to be the first restaurant to serve complimentary chips and salsa! Soon word of the amazing food spread, and the restaurant took over all of the 17,000 square feet of the building.
There are parrots and a piranha tank in the lobby today and also a large tree growing right into the ceiling. It’s like stepping into another time and another world as you enter. The pillars, ceiling, the thick adobe walls remain and are celebrated by blending them into the more modern renovation. This second-generation family restaurant of 80 years was honored by the USS New Mexico (SSN 779) by naming their galley after this famous restaurant, La Posta de La Mar. It was also honored in USA Today in 2013 as being one of the ten best Mexican restaurants in the country. The awards are too many to list here, but I will mention they are world famous for their margaritas (unlike so many other restaurants claim to be, this one is). I ordered the folded tacos (deep fried, of course) and Chris had the infamous red enchilada (a corn tortilla dipped in red sauce), served pancake style, with one egg on top. I toasted her generosity with a blood orange margarita to end a very full and memorable day.
Friday morning, I was again, the first vendor in the parking lot. Was I eager enough to start the show? The awards were given out at 8:30 a.m. and the show opened at 9 a.m. My booth was in the far corner of the convention center, so it took a while for people to find me. I heard the murmurs, then the voices, then the people came. I met so many people, spoke to such down to earth yet elegant quilters from every age, and location. I will say that I especially enjoyed speaking with a father and son who not only quilt together, but repair old Treadle sewing machines. Listening to the stories of where they found these treasures and then repairing them to like new condition was a real treat. I met a young veteran who makes quilts for his children because it helps him cope with PTSD. He showed me his quilting work and I must say, as a fellow veteran, I was so inspired by his story, his life and his passion for quilting.
My new friendors (vendor friends) include Amy who was next to my booth. Her booth was filled with the most creative things I’ve ever seen made with wool (see above photo). It wasn’t just any wool though; she and her husband dye the wool by hand. Expertly, no less. I never knew how so many things could be made with wool. Take a look at the photo of her booth. She is hand dying a piece of wool for me so I can make a pen roll for my fountain pen collection – keeping them safe and warm.
My other new friendor is Mary from Quilt it Ya Ya. Her energy and passion for fabric brightened our entire corner. People would spend so much time at her booth looking at all of the very unique fabric she displayed, not only that though, her prices were amazing. She knew the where’s, when’s and how’s of the fabric world…and once I saw a Star Wars panel, it was mine.
Gail Tate of Wooden It Be Nice was a shining star of my vendor world. There is a world of difference between a professional like Gail and wannabe like me. To say her work is an artistic masterpiece is an understatement. Her wine corks, coffee scoops, bottle openers, salt and pepper shakers, seam rippers, ice cream scoops and every other single piece of what she was offering was polished to perfection. You can actually see the love in each piece that she put into it, so every piece she creates is a piece of Gail. For this reason, her work is priceless (and very reasonable!). I walked away with a coffee scoop I just fell in love with. I’d say it was her best piece because I was so drawn to it, but every item displayed at her booth was of blue-ribbon quality. Now, every morning, I will be grateful for Gail and her gift of woodwork as I have my coffee. Thank you, Gail.
That night Chris made some incredible soup in her Instapot and invited me over for wonderful conversation and stories of her 80 years in Hatch and Las Cruces. She has traveled the world extensively, been to the most beautiful places humans have ever been – but will live nowhere else but Las Cruces, New Mexico. She told me over coffee before I left that “those mountains out there, are mine.” She loves them because of their strength, majesty and elegance in all kinds of weather year in and year out. Even after just a few days with Chris, I could describe her the same way.
Saturday was anticipated to be the grand day of the show. So guess what? Yes, I was the first vendor in the parking lot again. I was ready. Bring on the quilters! This was not a day for looky-loo’s, today was the day of the serious shopper and quilting enthusiast. The parents and grandparents brought their kids, quilters brought their non-quilter friends, this was the day for everyone to see and appreciate the world of quilting in Las Cruces. There were classes for beginners, vintage quilt turning, more door prizes and raffles too! I ordered lunch but forgot it was there because I was so busy. I met a very proud young mother with two entries in the quilt show for quilts by her kids! It fills my heart with such joy when I see the kids getting into quilting.
Above are some of the award winners, though every quilt was absolutely beautiful. Every person that walks by my booth has a story to tell about a quilt they made, why they made it and where it is right now. They become a living part of the person who makes it. When you join a guild, you become a very important part of your community as well. Please consider joining the Las Colcheras Quilt Guild and make a difference in your community.
The show wrapped up with the Guild Chair, Denise, chatting with me about much she appreciated all of the vendors supporting the show. We were each given a gift bag filled with chocolates and hand-made luggage tags. Above is the image of my gifts and treasures. As I was loading up my booth, I looked to my left and saw the moon over Chris’s mountains. I couldn’t be more grateful for the people that made this show a grand success. Thank you to all that came to the show, participated by showing their quilt, the quilt judge, the vendors, the guys at the loading dock, the wonderful guild, and Chris who made it a very special weekend.
After the show wrapped up, I asked Chris if I could treat her to dinner again. I was happy when she agreed as it was rather short notice. She said, “I know of another place you’re going to love!” I’ve only known her four days and she read me like a book. We went back to the little village of Mesilla and found a place to park right in front of the Double Eagle.
This building was built in 1849 and was the place where the Secessionist Convention declaration of Mesilla as capital of the Arizona Territory was signed in 1861. Billy the Kid was also jailed and tried here in 1881. The restaurant now is furnished with museum quality art, a 30-foot hand-carved oak and walnut bar, many of the ceilings are of pressed tin accented with 18 karat gold, the Billy the Kid patio has Cycad Palms which were around when the dinosaurs walked the earth. The red brick floor was laid in the 1850’s and there is a framed newel post where Billy the Kid and his girlfriend, Maria Gonzales, carved their names. Billy’s plea for mercy in a letter to the governor is framed in this room, it was, of course, denied.
After a mix up of margarita’s, I found myself with two. Both were excellent. Chris had a late lunch with her friend Dot, so she ordered an appetizer. I ordered three chicken enchiladas covered in the house made red sauce – and to continue this new tradition, I ordered an egg on top of the enchiladas. It was a phenomenal dinner and Chris made it entertaining with the story of how she and her husband got lost in Chicago at night after attending her first major league baseball game.
Chris and I wandered about the Double Eagle after dinner and found the small and spooky Carlota Salon. In 1850, this room was the scene of a double murder. The mother of a very affluent family found her son and the maid together in a compromising situation in this room one afternoon. The mother stabbed the young woman and mistakenly stabbed her son as well. It has been said that the ghosts of the two lovers visit this room. Despite security measures such as cameras and motion detectors, broken glasses and tipped over chairs are found in the mornings.
This room is named after Marie Charlote. She was the daughter of the King of Belgium and the wife of Maximillian, Archduke of Austria and also the Empress of Mexico from 1864 to 1867. There are paintings of her in this room (see above photos). When you’re at the Double Eagle, be sure to visit this room.
It was an amazing evening that followed a very exciting but last day at the Las Colcheras Quilt Show. They are held every two years, so I look forward to coming back and exploring more of this beautiful area with Chris. Thank you to everyone who participated in this show, it was a grand success. Though it was difficult to get to the show, it was also difficult to leave – for very different reasons. I gained many new friends here and had such a great time with the quilters. Until next time – keep stitching!
A collection of quilts by Chris.