Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wonderful Hueco and the "House of Dreams"

David and I are having a truly relaxing vacation at Casa de Suenos (“House of Dreams”) bed and breakfast in Santa Teresa, NM, just outside of El Paso, TX.

As most of you know, we have been to the El Paso many, many times over the last 12 years to go bouldering at North America’s premier bouldering area, Hueco Tanks State Historical Park. This amazing area continues to astound us with its desert beauty and magical feel of nature and history combined.

During our early trips to Hueco we camped in various locations around the park, including the infamous Pete’s, which was just a patch of bare desert near Pete’s Quonset hut where he let climbers camp, build bonfires, play music (including an Austrian trombone, accordian, and guitar band and an Englishman who sang drunkenly outside our tent all night one year), hang out in the hut, get a little food, use the overflowing porta-potties, and meet friendly climbers from all around the world. After that lovely experience, I decided that I wanted our next trip after Pete’s to be upgraded a little, so we camped in the state park itself, which had nice sites with hookups, water and hot showers. After many attempts at a hot shower in the women’s bathroom, I heard from the underground that the men’s showers were much superior, so I ventured into that scary territory while David stood guard outside the door, and lo and behold, they did have better showers! Who the heck planned that? Most of the guys who climb at Hueco never even bother to use the shower, so what’s the point of giving them a nice one? Must be some secret plan by the park service to limit the ladies' use of the limited water down here!

We then upgraded from a tent to the Eurovan, which no matter where we parked, we were happy, so we alternately parked at Pete’s and the Rock Ranch for that trip. We did like hanging out in the “shed” at the ranch and met some cool people there, but the overall atmosphere of dirtiness and unfriendly staff in the Ranch house deterred us from wanting to stay there again, not to mention the “flush it down only if it’s brown” rule, and the limited shower use policy.

Longing for a bit of comfort on our Hueco trips, I decided we should try the comforts of El Paso (is that an oxymoron?) for our future excursions. This led to a number of trips (3-4 I think, it’s hard to remember the details after one turns 30!) where we stayed in various hotels, La Quinta, Comfort Inn, Extended Stay America, etc., but I was never satisfied with these locations either. What I really wanted was to stay right near Hueco, as I really liked being surrounded by the desert and all its creatures, not the city life of El Paso, which for the most part has a grimy and poor feel, and definitely some different social attitudes them mine and Dave’s, evidenced by all the trash that people just dump in the desert and the stray and dead dogs that one will see on any given trip. So for this trip, I decided to do a little internet research and find a nice bed and breakfast, figuring there has to be at least a few in a city the size of El Paso.

Well I was wrong – there are no B and B’s in El Paso, but I did find one, Casa de Suenos, in NM. I decided to call the owners and I spoke with one of them, Marlene, on the phone. She was amazingly helpful and friendly, and explained that their B and B, while in NM, was actually only an hour way from Hueco, as you can bypass El Paso (yeah!) and take the 375 loop around El Paso and hook up with Montana and then into Hueco. As we were driving about 40 minutes anyway, with a stay in El Paso, why not give this B and B a try? David was skeptical at first, but I was convincing (or he was tired of my whining about El Paso?), and here we are, at the wonderful Casa de Suenos! The B and B is actually located on the west side of the Franklin Mountains,

which El Paso wraps around on the south end of the mountains (does this city ever stop?), and it is a bit up on the mesa, so we have wonderful views of the NM desert, the Franklin and Organ Mountains, and we can see all the way into Mexico and Texas.

This area is rural and agricultural, with lots of horse ranches and pecan farms and wineries. The B and B has a beautiful courtyard

with a fountain and seating areas, as well as a large back patio with areas to eat and grade papers (in our case), or just hang out and watch the desert life.
Our room, the Kiva, is very comfortable with a queen sized bed, couch, private patio with a fountain (this I have really enjoyed) and is tastefully decorated in the southwest style, as is the rest of the inn. This morning we had one of the resident road runners see his reflection in the window of the dining room and decide to defend his territory against… himself!

He proceeded to attack his reflection in the window, but luckily he realized his mistake fairly quickly and was nice enough to pose for a couple of photos.

The birdlife is very abundant. We have seen a type of cardinal, and the doves and quail are numerous. David and I have been really enjoying the amazing breakfasts provided by Marlene, and I have had vegetable omelets with green chilies, asparagus, red peppers, and cheese with sides of bacon and toast three days in a row!

I think it might be time for me to try the pancakes tomorrow! The owners, George and Marlene, are very friendly and they make your stay feel like a home away from home.

We really lucked out with this find and I think that after 12+ years of searching, we have found our place to stay while enjoying the bouldering in Hueco.

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