Hazel and I took a mini-vacation, one-hour north of Las Cruces and stumbled upon a stunning beach (lake technically) retirement community called Elephant Butte, located in Truth or Consequences, NM.
We stayed at the Travelodge in T or C and I was blown away by the quality and value of our stay. I was limited to this choice as it is the only hotel in the area that is part of Wyndham Rewards. On the outside it is small and slightly dated but our room was very clean, we had a huge bathroom with modern, tiled floors and walls in the bathtub/shower and throughout the bathroom area. The best part was the front-desk clerk who gave me very detailed directions and perfect recommendations for local kid-friendly attractions. The several 4- 5 star google reviews for this Travelodge were earned as I did enjoy our experience in addition to having what felt like the local experience.
Hazel and I arrived on Monday in the early afternoon as I was summoned to traffic court for a speeding ticket driving from Las Cruces to Albuquerque for Hazel’s bi-weekly visit with her dad. I had to appear at 8:30 AM today, March 12th, thus an overnight stay and mini-vacation was the most practical route. After sorting my traffic ticket in the morning, we went back to our hotel to check-out and I asked the desk clerk, “How do we get to the water?” Being that I have spent a majority of my life living by water, I have had the good fortune to explore the Pacific Coast (Bay area through San Diego, CA), Atlantic Coast (NYC, NY) and my personal favorite, the gulf coast (Destin, Miami and Tampa, FL) to name a few beaches in my extensive repertoire, I guess you could call me a beach snob.
My Florida adventures were short in length and possibly this is the reason I am anxious to return. Nothing really compares to the bright, sugar sand and gorgeous clear emerald-green to various shades of light blue waters – it is my idea of heaven and hell, I would even settle for living in Gulf Shores, AL. I will never, ever forget Gulf Shores, AL because as Rhett and I were driving through on our way back to Austin, TX from Destin, FL this elderly lady in dollar-store velcro hair rollers, pajamas and peddling a tiny scooter grabbed her clear plastic hair cover and had this terrified look after she peddled furiously in front of and barely missed the nose of a four-door truck that she insanely tried to race out in front of to cross the street. No joke, her four wheel scooter went up on two wheels. We were right behind the truck and nearly died laughing. It was like a scene from the Beverly Hillbillies.
Naturally, going for several years now without being near the ocean or even a decent river (the parts of the rio grande I have visited in ABQ were more like a pond) has been really difficult and I could not wait to explore. It is safe to say that I am qualified to rate a beach being that I have spent most of my life living by water. I also believe that I am empathic and thus thrive living by the ocean and/or other large bodies of water with easy access/entry for hiking, water sports, rollerskating on the boardwalk, etc. This would likely explain my often surreal experiences in Austin, TX as well as I lived near lady bird lake which is actually a river for most of my time in the music capital. Even moving east to the countryside, downtown Bastrop, TX had a river running through its downtown area and plenty of local musicians and authentic dining experiences very reminiscent of the wild, wild west but better food and artisan cocktails, Neighbors Kitchen & Yard was my favorite riverside hangout and absolutely worth stopping in and trying the pizza if in the area. Empaths need to live by water and/or to visit the ocean/lakes/rivers as often as possible to feel balanced and whole, it is almost a spiritual experience. Being that I really have not had much of a choice of residence these past several years, it was truly divine to find Elephant Butte State Park.
It cost $5 for all-day entry into the lake/park and allegedly all state parks in New Mexico for the day so I was also able to check out Caballo Lake State Park as well. I am in love. Elephant Butte was my favorite, I was able to drive nearly right up to the water which had an emerald glow just like my memory of the redneck riviera. While the tourist market (sadly) seems to be dragging in this community, it was sort of a cross between Carmel, CA with the mountains set right behind the sea and Destin, FL minus the restaurants, bars, crowds and expensive price tags.
There were three other cars in the area and very few RV’s parked throughout the park. Literally, Hazel and I were completely alone listening to the tiny waves and rolling her along the sand in her jogger for most of our time there. I did a little meditation, she was smiling the whole time and in my imagination it felt like we were on our own private beach just for us – we are both LEO’s for the record and spent all of our time on LIONS BEACH, which I only discovered after returning to our car and viewing the park map – spooky, right?
Between this and post-apocalyptic White Sands which is truly an other-worldly experience – rolling hills of sugar sand that goes on for miles, I am truly pleased and happy with Southern New Mexico which I am going to call – So-New going forward (just remember, you heard it here first folks). It seems like a real diamond in the rough and off-the-beaten path find. Plus, believe it or not, a very small population and thus extremely affordable cost of living – we are happy and very well and I have an attitude of gratitude to god, the universe, whatever forces were at play attracting us here. I am seriously considering celebrating Hazel’s 2nd b-day on Lions Beach and I can’t wait to return, it was truly sublime and I was not expecting such a unique lake experience in mostly land-locked New Mexico.