Monday, January 28, 2008

Truth or Consequences, NM

I had first seen mention of Truth or Consequences several months back in a Vanity Fair article. In a Manhattanite fantasy I envisioned a small dessert outpost lead long ago by a great American Indian chief who bestowed this fine name on his village to foster its main virtue.


The town was originally named Hot Springs until 1950 when host Ralph Edwards of popular radio show Truth or Consequences announced that he would broadcast the program from the first town to rename itself after the show. Though it no longer goes by that name, the town still benefits from the abundant hot springs the flow below it. There are several public bath houses and many private spas. With the mountains rolling behind it, T or C looks something like an old Western movie. With a lot of RV parks.

Many RVs; some old cars

All of the geothermal energy floating around seems to have attracted a certain type of person: about 85% percent of the local economy is dedicated to a faux-scientific New Age lifestyle. Not surprising given the statement on one hotel brochure: the T or C hot springs has "quite possibly" the highest mineral content in the world. Upon arriving at our hotel, the Pelican Spa, late Friday night received an "Artist Directory" of the local talent. Most of these "artists" are astrologers, tarot card readers, purveyors crystal jewelry. We found advertisements for "Vaatsu: The East Indian Science and Art of Placement," "Mary Clark Reiki Master and specialist in Chrystal Layouts," "Sazi Sacred Dance and Ritual Performance," among others. Our favorite was Jan Thedford, QXCI/EPFX, SCIO Quantum Biofeedback Practitioner. One website aptly pinpointed T or C, "We had our best 'Twilight Zone' moment at Xochi’s [a bookstore], listening to the owner and two guests discuss how to chase away whatever it was that was producing the 'bad energy' just inside the front door." The local merchants here are the descendants of traveling potion peddlers and snake charmers of yore.

Sir Richard Branson recently chose an area near Truth or Consequences as the headquarters for the first space tourism company. T or C was also home to serial killer David Parker Ray and his infamous "toy box."


Phillip and I work up on Saturday morning and got breakfast at the local diner. We took a soak in one of our hotel's bathhouses. The bathhouses are rustic rooms, each with a deep clay tub large enough for two people. The steaming mineral water flows out of a large PVC tube connected to each room.

We spent the afternoon wandering along the outskirts of town were it bleeds into Caballo State Park. We walked around the Rio Grande. We examined the local flora. We got dinner at the town's fancy steak house, which hasn't changed since the 1960s.

T or C from above; the Rio Grande

Happy cactus; Christmas tree cactus

Some fishy evidence; Turtleback Mountain

A public bathhouse; funky digs @ the Pelican

Its a pretty trippy place - you can imagine what it must have been like after some xxxx xx xxx.


erin said...

sounds like my kinda thing!!
new mexico is wild and the desert makes me a little crazy. crossing over the hills into california was the most incredible thing, going from godforsaken flatness to lush seaside

brian said...

now it all makes sense- you and philip went there together!

blog is a funny word, isn't it? it sounds like a word from a tv show about outer space.

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