Monday, November 24, 2008
The plan was to get up early enough to see the sun gently kiss the Oregon mountains good morning at 6:45 a.m. and take great pictures. But I didn't set the alarm and woke up around 7:10 a.m. I quickly dressed and was out the door by 7:15. Right across from the campground was an open area with a trail that lead over a wash. I was a little frightened that I might lose my way in the shrub as the path twisted and turned and it was quite hilly. But I thought to myself that if I kept the campground on my right at all times that I would be okay. So I walked in the crisp morning air happily snapping pictures. Then I caught a glimpse off to my left of a coyote bounding through the brush. I swear I had Marty Feldman eyes - one bulging left at the coyote, one bulging right towards the campground. (For those of you young 'uns who don't know who I'm talking about...)
Thank God I had my camera strapped around my neck, or I would have dropped that sucker like a hot potato. I ran as fast as this pudgy ole body could run. That's all I could think of was me tripping, falling, and landing flat on my stomach and being surrounded by a pack of coyotes licking their chops and saying, "My, look at this juicy morsel that just dropped into our laps!" (I KNEW I shouldn't have eaten those French fries last night!) Meanwhile, the buzzards are circling. I shook that vision out of my head and ran like hell. I leaped over bushes, I zigged, I zagged, I'm telling you that I could have made the Olympic team, albeit the middle-aged, overweight team, but Olympic, nonetheless. I made it back to the trailer safe, in record time, and gasping for breath. Nothing like a little vigorous exercise to start your morning.
We were just planning on doing grocery shopping and then hanging around the trailer for the day. But I did some exploring on the net and found out about a neat town right near where we were staying called Mesilla. It is a famous little town. Billy the Kid was once jailed here and tried in 1881. Judge Roy Bean, the famous Texas Hanging Judge, got his start in Mesilla.
But we specifically went to the town of Mesilla because of the famous Double Eagle Restaurant. It is haunted by two young lovers. It is the oldest structure on the plaza and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
This restaurant was originally a home, beginning in 1847. The first family who ever lived in this house, which was the largest house ever built in Mesilla, was the Maes family. They were import/exporters from Santa Fe. When the Mexican-American War ended in 1847, giving more of northern Mexico to the United States, the Maes family decided to move south to Mesilla to make it a permanent home. The Maes were a well-to-do family, and with such a large house, had many servants. Their eldest son, Armando, had eyes for one of their young servants, Inez. As the days went on, they fell madly in love. Armando's mother got wind of this and was terribly angry with the situation. She fired Inez and forbade Armando to continue to see her. Who could stop young love? Supposedly the townspeople helped the couple because they knew the young couple were really in love. One day Mama Maes came home early and heard voices in Armando's bedroom. She went in there and found the two of them in each other's arms. She ran out of the room and stumbled over her sewing basket. She saw her sewing shears, grabbed them up, ran back into the room, and in a rage, stabbed Inez in the chest, killing her instantly. Armando jumped up to stop his mother and she accidentally stabbed him, too. He died 3 days later. It is said that he did not die from the wounds, but of a broken heart.
The REAL Clue Game:
Murderer Mrs. Maes, sewing shears, Carlotta Salon (Armando's Bedroom)
The ghosts of the young lovers haunt the Carlotta Salon (Armando's room), and the restaurant, to this day with the likes of broken glasses, knives on the floor, and overturned wine bottles. There are two upholstered Victorian arm chairs in the Carlotta room that are said to be the ghosts' favorites. They have worn areas where it looks as if someone is sitting in each chair. The front of one seat is worn exactly where two legs in pants would be. The other, the entire front of the seat is worn exactly as if someone was wearing a skirt. The restaurant warns visitors to beware of these chairs if you dare sit in one of them. Unfortunately, I didn't read the brochure about the chairs until AFTER I was out of the room. I sat in different chairs in the room.
I saw the two painted portraits of Mr. & Mrs. Maes hanging on the wall. The one of Mr. Maes has a bullet hole through it.
The restaurant has many rooms to dine in; we ate in the Billy the Kid patio. It has a seven foot carved stone fountain in the center, surrounded by Cycad palms. The red brick floor was installed in the late 1850's. The patio had been open to the weather until 1984.
Each room had its own charm. The Gadsden room had a large back lit stained glass ceiling surrounded by tin ceiling tiles. The stained glass was salvaged from a hotel in San Francisco after the Great Quake of 1910.
The Maximilian Room, named after Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, Archduke of Austria, who was made Emperor of Mexico in 1864,contains three Baccarat crystal chandeliers, measuring three feet wide and seven feet tall. They are in the classic French shape containing 18 brass arms with more than 1,000 hand cut lead crystals. The ceiling is covered in 18 carat gold, except for one tile which is covered in 24 carat gold. The original design called for the complete ceiling to be done in 24 carat gold, but the owner at the time caught the interior designer in the act and ordered him to cover the tiles with the less expensive gold.
I was reluctant to leave the restaurant, but we were done eating, I had wandered in the majority of the rooms, and lest I wanted to work in the kitchen, I fear my time was up. So we had to leave.
The old part of Mesilla is set up pretty much like the majority of the old towns of the southwest. Everything is set around a town square. So picture a large square, or rectangle, if you will. In the center is a gazebo, park benches, and just open space. Along the two longer sides and one short side of the rectangle are shops and restaurants.
At the other short side is a church. We stopped in to pay our respects to the Basilica of San Albino. This is the third church to stand on the same site;it was built in 1908.
The bells of San Albino are an important part of Mesilla. The first bell was cast on September 1, 1876. Shortly thereafter the second bell was made. The biggest and last bell was not made until December of 1887. The bells still ring today. They wake the townspeople to early mass at 6:30 a.m.. The ring for deaths, funerals, baptisms, and marriages. Here is the room with two large bell pulls hanging down into the room.