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Truth or Consequence (Part III of a III part NM trip report)

Cape Cod
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Truth or Consequence (Part III of a III part NM trip report)

My wife and I spent a week in southeast New Mexico, from February 3rd to the 10th. I’ve broken this trip report into three segments; Las Cruces, Silver City and Truth or Consequences.

Truth or Consequences Part III of III

We headed for Truth or Consequences (spoken of as TorC by locals) on Tuesday, February 7th. Using Route 152, which on a map seemed like a short cut, we again found ourselves on a treacherous side of the mountain road. Although only ninety miles away, Route 152 takes forever to drive over. The roadway itself is fine, a fairly wide, well maintained road. The problem is, there are no barriers to the side of the road and the thousands of foot drop-off alongside it. There seemed to be innumerable hair-pin turns and you’d be heading for a curve with nothing but thousands of feet of air between you and the ground if you went over the edge. There are no speed signs on that road except for the 15 MPH warnings at the sharp turns. No speed signs were necessary, as we couldn’t go much faster than 20 miles an hour anyway. Once we got into TorC we found out that not many local folks use that road. It’s actually quicker to get from Silver to TorC using a route with more miles. Be warned. Don’t use this road at night, period, or during inclement weather and don’t use it if you have a fear of heights.

A word about the how the town of Hot Springs (its original name) got to be called Truth or Consequences. It seems there was a television show in the 1950s which ran a contest. Any town that would change its name to the show’s name would be honored with a yearly event. At any rate, this little town took them up on it and it’s still a big deal there.

After settling into the Sierra Grande Spa, a 1929 building that clearly has been renovated recently, we went off exploring the area. We started at the Geronimo Springs Museum (also the next door tourist information center). It’s a good place to start with lots of local information to be seen. One should remember that it wasn’t that long ago that this was a pretty wild place. It took tough folks to live their lives out here and that spirit of independence continues.

In truth, there isn’t a heck of a lot to do in TorC. We drove over to Elephant Butte (pronounced “beaut”), which has a damn and the largest body of water for may miles. Lots of boats were to be seen, with businesses built around their storage and maintenance. Unfortunately we were informed that the area was in a 500 year draught and the water level in the dam was quite low. I was also told that during their season, the summer (hard to believe due to the heat of the day at that time of the year) 120,000 people come into the area for the boating recreation available.

TorC has two main roads, Broadway and Main Street. Lots of small businesses and a few restaurants are located along these streets. On the side streets are lots and lots of trailer parks, with a handful of private homes situated mostly in the parts of town which afford a nice view of the distant mountains.

Economically the area seems quite depressed. Which is too bad, as the folks were nice and the area has the potential for a productive tourist industry due to its great winter weather. I noted lots of chatter and press about a “space-port” which people hoped would come to the region. This is supposed to bring jobs to the locals and be a boon to the area’s economy. I certainly hope the projections are correct, but it seemed to me that the people there are putting an awful lot of hope into a single, on-the-planning board only, and highly speculative venture.

On Thursday we left for El Paso. On the way there we stopped in at the War Eagles Air Museum. It’s located in NM, off of Exit 8 on Route 10 (7 miles from the exit, but easy to get to). If you’re an aviation buff it’s worth the detour. Lots of flying condition WWII military aircraft plus some former Soviet fighters.

Redmond, WA
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1. Re: Truth or Consequence (Part III of a III part NM trip report)

Rich-I read all 3 of your reports and found them interesting. I am an Albuquerque native and my in-laws live in LC. I think you are right-on with your assessments of Southern NM. LC is getting pricier every day, Silver and T or C are sleepy towns.

I haven't been back for a couple of years, but I have heard from my family that Elephant Butte is the lowest they have ever seen. My brother-in-law is a pecan farmer and he has a well for irrigation. A lot of farmers rely on the Rio Grande for irrigation, so with this drought they are really in trouble. No new wells can be dug right now. I would question the info the sales agent told you about no water problems. There is a large aquifer, but can it really support all the building going on in LC?

Cape Cod
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2. Re: Truth or Consequence (Part III of a III part NM trip report)


I was very suspicious of the man's representations as to the water situation down there. The low level of water in the Elephant Butte dam was pretty dramatic. Don't know how it impacts the sport use of that body of water. Hope things get better there soon.

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3. Re: Truth or Consequence (Part III of a III part NM trip report)


I also found your three reports interesting.

Thanks for sharing.

This goes out to you and anyone else who is considering relocation to NM and uses this forum for gaining more insight.

Do not trust anyone with a vested interest in your money to tell you the truth about the water situation anywhere in the state.

Now that NM has become the new AZ, CA, FL, etc... for folks desiring a sunny, pleasant climate for retirement, etc.... there is the same kind of ethic at work thats helping ruin many of those other places.

The resources do not exist for unbridled growth and unrestrained lifestyles, no matter what anyone tells you. Multiple golf courses in a confined area in wetter climates may be fine, but here they are a huge drain and if tapped into the same aquifer as you're domestic water supply one could be taking a big risk in the long term.

Do your own homework, learn as much as you can in advance. Read up on water rights, quality issues, natural contamination issues like radium, uranium, arsenic, etc..... and what it would take to get it out of your water if found.

The arid, southwest has all of those naturally occuring elements in high levels all over.

You could be looking at thousands of dollars for a whole house UV system for human/animal caused contaminants and/or a good quality Reverse Osmosis filtering system if needed to assure quality.

If the land you're looking at has a well, spend the money and get it tested both for quality and productivity prior to puchase. If the seller is hesitant or makes claims about gallons per minute flow, etc... they should be willing to allow you to test for yourself.

If you'll be digging one, see if the records are available for the adjoining properties and how deep they had to dig, etc.

If looking at a town setting, find out from the EPA how the municipal water system tests out and how often water restrictions are in place. All those beautiful trees and shrubs you want to put in, might be out of the question.

If looking at a subdivision, find out if each home has its own well, or if its all shared.

And adjust your lifestyle, attitudes about conservation, landscaping preferences, etc.... now before you make a move and invest one's life savings.

Not trying to scare anyone off or be alarmist, but its a huge endeavor for most and being totally informed should be a priority.

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