Written by Steve Leyndyke, Downtown Las Cruces Partnership Board Member
Many publications include Carmel, Indiana, on their lists of the most livable cities. It’s a suburb of about 85,000, great downtown, great restaurants, good shops and markets. It’s got lots of charm, is quite tolerable if you’ve got to live or work in Central Indiana. Even the winters are not so bad until the “Polar Vortex” hits and then you’re dealing with highs in the mid-teens, lows around zero that can last from somewhere around mid-January through March during which you don’t see the sun or your neighbors too often. So, after we retired, my wife and I began thinking about leaving. We looked at many of what for us would have been the most likely of retirement destinations… Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida. Then one winter evening my wife was reading an article in Forbes, re: “Best Places to Retire” and one of those places was Las Cruces, New Mexico. We’d never thought about New Mexico, but the idea seemed intriguing, so, on a sunny weekend in mid-May, we flew out there. Though one would immediately notice the terrain, topography and surroundings, superb views and panoramas, I don’t know of better words than to say than say that we were Gob Smacked by the charm and an easy way Las Cruces has about it. In three days, we committed to buying a lot, building a home and going about the business of physically moving to Las Cruces, New Mexico. Was that a rash decision?
As I look back to that first visit to Las Cruces, it was a Saturday Morning, and we went downtown to visit the Las Cruces Market, which is held every Saturday on Main Street. While walking toward The Market we ran into a couple we had met earlier in our visit who were building their new home here in Las Cruces. They suggested we stop into The Branigan Cultural Center, where they had an exhibition of Contemporary Southwestern Art. Impressive! We toured through the exhibition of what was probably an hour before going on. After visiting The Branigan, we arrived at The Market, any description of which just cannot do it justice. That is because on Saturday morning, the entire downtown portion of Main St. in Las Cruces shuts down for (I am not kidding) hundreds of vendors who show and sell unique locally crafted items; clothing, artwork, food. This goes on and on for blocks and stretches the entire length of the Downton Las Cruces area. We’d spent a couple of hours touring, learning, walking, talking and looking for what we might want to use to decorate our new home here in Las Cruces. Then wouldn’t you know, we were getting hungry. Yes, it happens. Who would ever have thought Carne Asada Street Tacos from a food truck could taste so good, but they did. It must have been the Chili Verde (green) salsa which had about the right amount of spice to wake up our sleeping taste buds. Finally, we became tired from our day of touring the Branigan Cultural Center and The Market and found a nice restaurant with curbside tables where we could sample New Mexican Micro Brew, Little Toad Creek, soak up some sun and enjoy all the sights and sounds that were going on all around us in what was to become our new home, here in Las Cruces.
To be honest, selling and moving cross-country was not necessarily easy. Fix the items in your home that need fixing, clean, painting, cut and trim. Find a realtor and sell the house. Okay. But finding a mover, packing, selling what would not fit or work in the new house and saying goodbye to everyone… That can be a challenge. That is the most difficult. The actual move also challenging though ours was more comical, I mean if you can imagine two cars, each carrying luggage and one of our greyhounds on a 1,400-mile cross-country odyssey with overnights at dog friendly motels Springfield, Mo and Amarillo, TX. Though I believe the dogs actually enjoyed the ride. Our realtor here was helpful in finding us a rental where we could live while our new home was being built.
Today is a cloudless mid-February morning, and we’ve moved into our new home. We’re looking forward to a high in the low 60’s. Maybe a bit too early for the pool, but we are here with a perfectly blue sky, the sun, the mountains and the easy living that’s Las Cruces. I’ve taken up golf again, joined a golf club and I play with a group of people who are much like me. They’ve had professional careers and moved from other metro areas like Denver, New York, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, not to mention Albuquerque. My wife’s taken up hiking in the surrounding mountains with a group of people that have a variety of backgrounds and diverse points of view. They keep her entertained. There is no Winter here, at least not in the Midwestern sense. I can golf and my wife can hike year ’round. Golfing, hiking, and our many new friends keep us busy here, but there are plenty of other things that also keep us occupied here in Las Cruces. For instance, there are beautiful natural sights to see in New Mexico and Las Cruces offers Downtown Concerts, Museums and lots of that great New Mexican Cuisine, so much of which is unique to New Mexico and is really out of this world.
Downtown is growing and thriving.