Wednesday, July 08, 2009

There's More than One Las Vegas!

We took a 3-day, 2-night vacation to Las Vegas. This one:

Las Vegas, New Mexico, a rather unique community located not too far from where we live as the miles go, but more of a distance culturally. We've been through this town several times, but never actually stayed there. Originally one of the Spanish Land Grant towns of New Mexico, Las Vegas became a center for the cattle industry in the late 1800s. Several movies have been filmed there, including one of the hot films of my college days, Easy Rider.

After an easy morning's drive, complicated only by lack of a good map, we arrived in town, only to discover that the good highway map was printed on the back of the "scenic" drive version that we had been using. We had simply neglected to turn it over. Actually, we could have gotten there just fine without a map, I think, but it's always nice to be sure. I had directions to the hotel, but we had a little trouble finding it at first. That turned out to be highly ironic, because in our journeys around town during our stay, we kept looping back to the Plaza without intending to.

Our reservations were at the Plaza Hotel, built in 1882, on one side of the oval Spanish Colonial Plaza in Old Town. The hotel lobby still obviously had the original hardwood floor showing between some nice carpets. When we checked in, we were, of course, given our keys. No electronic-coded, credit-card type keys here--brass keys and a brass key ring, with the identifying hotel insignia almost worn off:

Our room was topnotch, other than the mess we made of it. The furnishings were antique, except for the flat screen tv and the mattress, thank heavens. The ceiling was 12 ft., and the second floor window overlooked the plaza out front. The bed was comfortable, with great pillows and double sheets over and under the blanket. I thought the bedcoverings were somewhat unusual: the bed skirt appeared to be a pleated silk, but the coverlet was a white cotton quilt.

We had dinner one evening and morning breakfast in the Landmark Grill downstairs. Notice the beautiful stencilled border around the top of the room. You can't see it in this crowded picture, but the wainscoting around the room is a Chinese red. The colors worked beautifully together. We had Cobb Salads for dinner, and they were excellent, served with all the elegant touches. The breakfast came with the hotel room, but it was cooked to order.

This crowd was interesting. There were two tables of teachers who were in town for an AP Institute at the nearby New Mexico Highlands University a few blocks up the street--the few blocks between the Spanish plaza and the 21st century science and technology building with the astronomical observatory on the top covering a big leap in time. And just on the other side of the University a block or two is an original Carnegie Library, patterned after Monticello, and still in use. The rest of the room was filled with a group of people who drive Buicks. Big Buicks. They had been at a meeting in Colorado Springs and were taking a week to travel as far as St. Louis together before splitting up. The cars were in great shape, but were not the polished just-for-show classics. We did, however, hear a couple of irate men complaining because the station where they had gotten gas had a canopy that dripped some dew onto the windshields of their cars. One of the cars was, I think, a Roadmaster from probably the 1960s. The trunk was HUGE! Anyway, they were an interesting group to observe.

We did a little bit of antiquing in a shop or two around Old Town and New Town--which is not really new, just newer. My dear husband also took me to some fibery places, which I'll write about in a separate post. Otherwise, we just took it easy for a couple of days, drove around looking at the hundreds of buildings in this town that are on the National Register of Historic Places, and ate Mexican food at a couple of spots recommended by locals. Mexican food is abundant where we live, but we knew from experience that there is a regional difference in food as well.

I could not pass by this shop:

I love a good pun. The store was well-organized, with a large children's section in the back, a used book section, gifts, and current books, as befits a community with two vastly different kinds of colleges and a community college.

I was pleased to find used copies of an Elizabeth Peters that I have not read and two of the Dorothy Sayers books I've been trying to chase down to read again.:

What was my overall impression of Las Vegas as a vacation spot? For our purposes, it was just what we needed. We were not looking for a crowd or for a lot of activities; in fact, we wanted a little bit of peace and quiet for a couple of days. I also think that the Plaza Hotel would be a good place to stay if you were on vacation and had been "doing" Santa Fe or Taos and were looking for a refuge from some of the crowds that plague those places in the summertime. The facilities at the hotel were excellent; the service was good, but it is definitely small town service, not the snap-your-fingers-bellman-to-the-front service of a big city hotel. This is a hotel with a bed and breakfast flavor, which is fine with me.

1 comment:

Deb said...

Sounds lovely! I've been to the "other" Las Vegas; this one sound much more my style.