PDA

View Full Version : A feel for Las Cruces, NM



trolly dei
07-28-2011, 05:07 AM
I want to get a general impression of Las Cruces (or New Mexico in general) from someone who has lived there. What makes Las Cruces different from other cities in America, and how would you describe it to others?

For example, I grew up in Calgary, Alberta. I'd say Calgary is a relatively large city in the prairies, home to plenty of urban rednecks. Every July people put on cowboy hats, paint store windows with rodeo cartoons and the words YAHOO! or HOWDY!, and attend plenty of free, delicious pancake breakfasts. The rest of the year is basically winter, and we all complain about how cold it is, then go play on the Rocky Mountains. Everyone who lives in Calgary pronounces it CAL-gry, not Cal-GARY. We have a strong economy, lots of immigrants, high housing costs, and the most expensive downtown parking in Canada. We're one of the most conservative, capitalist, Americanized cities in the country. We have a football and hockey team to be proud of. Calgarians are known for their hospitality and friendliness, except when it comes to Alberta's other major city, Edmonton. We've made fun of Edmonton for years, even before the Oilers ended up last place in the NHL. Again.

This is the kind of information I'm looking for- what kinds of quirks does Las Cruces have? I'm especially interested in the religious, post-secondary, and socio-economic aspects.

alleycat
07-28-2011, 05:13 AM
As I've mentioned before, the City-Data forum is good for these types of questions. There are separate forums for each state, and for most major cities.

http://www.city-data.com/forum/#u-s-forums

http://www.city-data.com/forum/las-cruces/

Of course, there might be someone here from Las Cruces who can tell you all you need to know.

kuwisdelu
07-28-2011, 05:41 AM
My parents lived in Las Cruces for a large part of their early adulthood, but alas I've only been there once, and it didn't make a great impression on me. I've spent a lot of time in New Mexico, since that's where our reservation is, though. Let me know if descriptions of Albuquerque, Gallup, Grants, or Indian country would help.

trolly dei
07-28-2011, 05:50 AM
As I've mentioned before, the City-Data forum is good for these types of questions. There are separate forums for each state, and for most major cities.

http://www.city-data.com/forum/#u-s-forums

http://www.city-data.com/forum/las-cruces/

Of course, there might be someone here from Las Cruces who can tell you all you need to know.

Thanks, I didn't know about this. I'll check it out now.


My parents lived in Las Cruces for a large part of their early adulthood, but alas I've only been there once, and it didn't make a great impression on me. I've spent a lot of time in New Mexico, since that's where our reservation is, though. Let me know if descriptions of Albuquerque, Gallup, Grants, or Indian country would help.

Anything about Albuquerque would be helpful, or any town/ city along the I-25.

alleycat
07-28-2011, 05:56 AM
By the way, for many cities there are pictures and statistical data on the C-D forum. It's easy to miss. Here's the link for Las Cruces:

http://www.city-data.com/city/Las-Cruces-New-Mexico.html

kuwisdelu
07-28-2011, 06:17 AM
Anything about Albuquerque would be helpful, or any town/ city along the I-25.

Mind you that I've never actually lived there. It's where we always fly into when heading for the rez, which is about a 2-3 hour drive away into the desert, and a lot of my relatives live or go to school there. So keep in mind these are more the impressions of someone who has been there often, but was always only ever passing through.

I think it's a beautiful place. Especially compared to someplace as dull as the Midwest, where I live. Even though it's the city, the air is clear, though not as clear as out in the desert, but it's not like big cities like out on the coats or even a place like Phoenix. It's always felt a little more raw to me than other cities because of that. You can turn around in any direction and see mountains in the distance, provided there are no buildings in the way, and even make out the vegetation or sometimes snow on the peaks. It's also dry, and so even in the heat, it doesn't feel as hot as it does where I live.

I'm not sure what Calgary is like, but compared to where I like, the sky is much higher. It's not something you ordinarily think about, but out west, the sky is so much higher than when you come home and look up, the clouds feel like a ceiling bearing down on you. Albuquerque is high up, though, but still so far from the sky, and even though it's something of a city with more buildings compared to the little town in which I live now, it feels more open, because I can see the horizon from so many more places.

Lots of the buildings are just ordinary buildings like you'd see anywhere, but you also see some adobe-style structures, though they're often just painted concrete or something like that. Everything is a shade warmer, as if someone pasted a rosy-brown colored lens over your pupils, but that might just be me being nostalgic.

Particularly beautiful, as always, in the desert are the sunsets. Even on the highways, which twist and turn in some places like the tentacles of a great, brown octopus, the glint of the sun doesn't burn, but lights up the walls of the roadways, which are painted the color of clay, and in some places painted with turquoise patterns or other designs.

The streets are like you'd find in most cities, but like some other cities in the west, you can see peaks in the distance. I don't know much about the local economy, but near the university (UNM), there's a nice area of little restaurants and shops like you'd probably find near any college. There are a lot of brown people, who may either be Hispanics or Indians, and out there, "Indian" doesn't mean what it does in the East, so I don't have to worry about confusing people like I do here when they ask what I am. You want to eat the local southwestern dishes, similar to Mexican food, with the real green chili. Or the Indian tacos on fry bread.

And you can drive out on the highways, and after a few minutes past the edge of the city, presuming you've passed or haven't yet come to the Indian casinos, you're back in the middle of nowhere, with vast plains of sage grass and dust, the mesas in the distance, and in my case on the way to Zuni.

thebloodfiend
07-28-2011, 06:09 PM
I live in Albuquerque right now, and I go to UNM. I've also lived in the Northeast Heights and I currently live in Nob Hill. So let me know if you want anything more than what kuwisdelu gave you.

trolly dei
07-28-2011, 06:15 PM
Thank you, kuwisdelu! That's the sort of feel I'm looking for. You described Albuquerque beautifully. thebloodfiend- what's the general religious attitude? Are most people Catholic, or indifferent, or Catholic and indifferent?

thebloodfiend
07-28-2011, 06:29 PM
Most of the Hispanics are Catholic with a few exceptions. Depending on the neighborhood, there are quite a few churches. For instance, in the Northeast Heights, near the mountains, there are only three or four big churches. And I didn't know many religious people up there. The population was predominantly Caucasian and most of them were wealthy. As you get closer to the city, it becomes more diverse and you see a lot more churches. I don't know of any mosques or synagogues, though there quite a few muslims around campus. Around the city, in Rio Rancho (the psuedo-suburbs) and Tijeras(other side of the mountains), there aren't many churches either.

Bicyclefish
07-29-2011, 12:23 AM
I grew up in neighboring El Paso and you're all making me miss the mountains and lightning storms. Drive into the desert, away from the city lights, and the stars at night are gorgeous. *el sigh*

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29864089@N06/4180974891/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/goldpaint/5158113556/

blackrose602
07-29-2011, 07:16 AM
I just spent a couple of months in New Mexico. Only made it to Las Cruces once though, so I'll give you my general impressions of the immediate area. Hopefully something will be of use.

Las Cruces was sort of shocking because it was a city--a real city, with urban sprawl, car dealerships and fast food joints on every corner, tall buildings and traffic. In actuality, the city has a population of less than 100,000. But we were staying an hour away in Alamogordo (population 35,000), and that was the biggest town we had been in for awhile.

I'm from New Orleans, and this was my first trip out west. Like everyone else has said, the sky is just so big and so high. The mountains stretch out endlessly in every direction. They're generally sandy brown, but dotted with trees and scrub brush. There's a lot more vegetation in the area than I would have thought.

Alamogordo is basically a strip situated between the mountains. There are two main roads in the center, and several neighborhoods literally backed up against the rock. Alamogordo has a Walmart, a few restaurants including major chains, and several tourist attractions.

Both cities are primarily populated by government workers. White Sands Missile Range lies between the two (where the atomic bomb was first tested, and still the primary test location for new aircraft and weapons). There's also White Sands National Monument, known for the soaring gypsum dunes--phenomenally tall mounds of gypsum dust that looks just like, well, white sand. Here's an article I wrote on both White Sands locations: White Sands National Monument and Missile Museum (http://www.totsandtravel.com/2011/07/6147/white-sands-national-monument-and-missile-museum/).

The area sits in a valley, with an elevation only around 4000 feet. But your characters can be in Cloudcroft in less than two hours. With an elevation of 9000 feet, Cloudcroft is a locally popular old-fashioned resort town.

New Mexico is hot, but it's a dry heat. It was generally 100-105 degrees F while we were there, and it felt fairly comfortable. In New Orleans, because of the humidity, it's pretty much unbearable over 90 F. You don't sweat in New Mexico, or more accurately, you do but it dries instantly. It's easy to get dehydrated because of this, so you need to pay attention to hydration.

I concur with the above observations on the sunsets, storms and wonderfully scenic highways. I enjoyed just driving for the sake of driving, taking in the sweeping vistas that seemed to go on forever.

trolly dei
07-29-2011, 08:06 PM
Thanks for all the great replies!

CEtchison
07-29-2011, 10:05 PM
Having lived in Ruidoso several years, I traveled much of New Mexico. If we were driving to visit my inlaws, we would travel north, catching 380 and come through Carrizozo to Socorro then I-25 north to Albuquerque until we reached I-40W. If we were visiting my family, we headed north at Carrizozo, then up through Santa Rosa until again we reached I-40E.

Often we would travel to Las Cruces just for some variety. Ruidoso only had a Wal-Mart and was a bit of a tourist trap so everyday items were quite pricey. And sometimes, Momma just wanted to go to a damn Target. lol So we'd load up the kiddies and head south west, coming down out of the mountains at Tularosa and into Alamogordo. With Ruidoso being at 7000 feet and the base of the mountains and adjacent to the White Sands, there could easily be a 40 to 50 temperature difference between the two. I recall one trip to Alamo and the temperature was a beautiful, sunshining 87 degrees. When we pulled into our driveway 45 minutes later, it was 41 degrees with a light snowfall.

To get to Las Cruces, we continued on Hwy 70, through the White Sands missle range (yes it is an active missle range lol) and pass through the mountains just east of Las Cruces. Like someone else said, what I remember most is the urban sprawl. And without a great deal of tall vegetation (unlike the towering pine trees we had in Ruidoso) it was extremely noticeable.

I never considered Las Cruces to be one of the prettier places in New Mexico. It was just kind of there. However, White Sands is absolutely gorgeous and someday I would love to go back and do the midnight bike riding tour when there is a full moon. I also think the northern areas of the state, Santa Fe, Taos, etc. are visually prettier areas. For some reason there seems to be a greater contrast in the color of the sky and the earth. Maybe it has something to do with the elevation. Anywho....

The sky is unbelievably clear a night in New Mexico. It is black as ink with little pinpricks of light scattered about. And when there is a full moon, it gives off as much light as the brightest city streetlights, even casting shadows on the ground.

I can say that driving south by yourself out of Albuquerque and into the desert is magical and creepy at the same time. LOL There are very few cars traveling, especially if you're off on a two lane highway. Because everything is so black, even the smallest amount of light is noticeable as are numerous sets of eyes reflecting the car headlights as they stare at you. And when exhaustion sets in and the imagination starts churning and you still have two hours before you reach home, well, you wonder who it is that is chasing you and whether or not they are serial killer, military or alien. LOL