New Mexico: The penultimate post

I have one more day with my friends Avis and Bill, and, despite their having to work Wednesday and Thursday, we still had lots of fun (plus I have my own work to do when they’re working).

Here’s what happened yesterday (Thursday).  I first returned the CeilingCat RentalMobile to Enterprise, where, mirabile dictu, they fully reimbursed me for the tire I had to buy to replace the flat tire that was too damaged to be patched. They also gave me a 10% discount and free upgrade on my next rental. An unexpected bonus, and kudos to Enterprise.

We then repaired to a nearby gas station for burritos. You’d think that a gas station would be an unlikely place to get burritos, but in Las Cruces that’s where the best burritos are to be found. In fact, I’m told that people decide where to buy gas based on the quality of the burritos (they’re made in a kitchen at the station).

Here’s the large selection at the One Stop station in Las Cruces, and if they don’t have the kind of burrito you want, they’ll make it for you on the spot. Each tray has a different kind of hot burrito. Note the posole and menudos (also house-made) in the front:

I had the jalapeño and chicken burrito:

Avis had the chile relleno burrito, something I hadn’t encountered before. They simply wrap an entire chile relleno in a flour tortilla. I got to taste it, and it was very good:

I left out one place we visited on Wednesday. In my quest for the perfect green chile cheeseburger, we repaired to Dick’s Cafe, renowned for the item, which is simply a juicy cheeseburger smothered with sauteed green chiles. The tradition is to add mustard, but I eschewed that condiment.

I had the “jumbo” chile cheeseburger, cooked rare, with fries. Here I’ve peeled back the cheese so you can see the chiles. They also have a “double jumbo” burger made with 18 ounces of meat. I didn’t think I could handle that one.

When cooked rare, the burger is ungodly messy, and I ultimately had to use a knife and fork to eat it. It was delicious. Green chile cheeseburgers should be adopted more widely in the U.S.!

To complete the pigout, we went to Caliche’s Frozen Custard for dessert; it’s a local favorite and serves all kinds of sundaes and mix-ins. Note that it’s famous as the “home of the green chile sundae” (see bottom of left column, too). I didn’t have one as that didn’t sound too appetizing. But who knows?

Caliche“, by the way, refers to the calcium carbonate deposit under the surface of the local desert, a stiff white layer whose name has been appropriated in the name of this treat.

The extruding custard:

I had a caliche with hot fudge topping and brownie chunks mixed in. It was studded with large pieces of homemade brownies. After that jumbo green chile cheeseburger and then this, I needed a nap.

The ocatillo (Fouquieria splendens) is a familiar plant of the Southwestern desert, flowering once a year, as it is here in the nearby town of Mesilla.  As Wikipedia notes:

The bright crimson flowers appear especially after rainfall in spring, summer, and occasionally fall. Flowers are clustered indeterminatelyat the tips of each mature stem. Individual flowers are mildly zygomorphic and are pollinated by hummingbirds and native carpenter bees.

The “spines”  are actually petioles, the leaf stalks that attach the leaves to the twigs. The first leaves produced die, and the remaining petioles become the thorns that protect the plant.

Lovely flower, eh?

Hesperaloe parviflora, a native red yucca whose flowers attract (and are pollinated by) hummingbirds:

This native species (Echinocereus triglochidatus or Echinocereus coccineus; names differ) is variously called the  hedgehog cactus, kingcup cactus, claretcup, or Mojave mound cactus. It’s dioecious, meaning that plants are either male or female. I show both below:

Here’s a female plant, whose pistils are extruded and ready to receive pollen, while the anthers (male bits) are nonfunctional and produce no pollen.

The male plant, with lots of pollen-bearing anthers but whose pistils are clustered together and unable to receive pollen.

The Rio Grande River has diminished substantially by the time it reaches Las Cruces, as water is diverted to grow pecans, pistachios, and various vegetables.

And a bunch of pictures of lovely Boris. Not to neglect his calico step-sister, I’ll post pictures of Janet in the next and last installment.

A formidable tuxedo cat!

Yesterday when I was working at home, Boris slept between my feet:

. . . and when I tried to take his photo, he played with the strap on my camera:

Cuddling him the night before, he bit my nose (it didn’t hurt too badly):

Last night we went to the Game Sports Bar and Grill to meet other faculty after the departmental seminar. There we sat in the outside beer garden, blissfully free of televisions and loud people. I had a local darkish beer, Scotia Scotch Ale (7.8% alcohol), as well as a local speciality: fried green chiles coated with crushed pecans. This is the Las Cruces equivalent of buffalo wings (ranch dressing on the side). They were great. It’s hard to have a bad chile.

The inside of the chile:

Some other people in the beer garden. I didn’t understand this tee shirt (I’m clueless) until it was explained to me that this meant “Hands off my daughter!”

A woman nearby had “Slinky hair”, which would wiggle like a Slinky each time she moved. I am assured that this is her real hair:

A lovely local woman with bird tattoos on her shoulder:

And a final shot of Boris, who’s wont to sleep all stretched out on his back.

I’m returning to Chicago tomorrow morning, but I believe there’s one more post to go. Stay tuned for a pair of huge horned owls that live in the local Home Depot.


  1. Posted April 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Nice pics Nd fantastic blog post.

  2. David Coxill
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    What are those fries made out of ?They don’t look very nice .

    • Posted April 27, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      They tasted fine even though they looked weird.

      • David Coxill
        Posted April 27, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        I will take your word for it .
        Enjoy what’s left of your trip.

      • Posted April 27, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        I noticed them too. They look like freshly cut fries like one should get with fish and chips. Much better than the usual “industrial fries”.

        All the chiles look great. So good I had to have a chile relleno for lunch!

      • Posted April 27, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        It looks like they might contain some anthocyanin. If so, that is a good thing.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Lots of food, cats and beer. What else is there? Here in this part of the U.S. there is a Hamburger place called Freddys that specializes in the custard as well.

  4. Heather Hastie
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    It all looks absolutely fabulous!

  5. Christopher
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Love the shot of you chomping down on your burger! I think that you should use it for the author photo on the jacket of your next book!

    • Posted April 27, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      The shot of Boris chomping down on PCC’s schnoz was better.

  6. Curt Nelson
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Yes I do have a plate full of beautiful fried chilis. I also have a cold beer, a fun cat, and a frozen custard.

    • yazikus
      Posted April 27, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink


  7. Christopher Bonds
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    You should know that I started laughing uncontrollably at the shot of you eating that burger. I think in part it was all the stuff falling out…

  8. BJ
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    That picture of you eating the burger just screams !!!!JOY!!!!

    From the posts and attendant photos, this seems like the most pleasurable trip you’ve had. I imagine it’s the kind of trip that makes you feel sad when it’s time to leave.

    Clearly, the highlight is Boris. What a beautiful and adorable biddle buddy!

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    “Caliche“, by the way, refers to the calcium carbonate deposit under the surface of the local desert, a stiff white layer …

    Cormac McCarthy’s always goin’ on about it in his novels.

    • yazikus
      Posted April 27, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      Bk layer, right?

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to have a bad chile.

    Damn straight, brother. Like pizza and sex, even when they’re bad, they’re kinda good.

  11. Posted April 27, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Amazing flower pics. Half my landscaping and gardening woes come from caliche.

  12. thompjs
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    In August/Sept Whataburger has fresh chiles for their burgers here in Houston

    But yours looked awfully tasty.

  13. Posted April 27, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I am looking at the photos of Boris. The white spots are asymmetric on his head but quite symmetric on his belly. Does anyone know a study on this problem of global importance?

  14. Mark R.
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Another great and hunger-inducing post. I’m making linguine and clams for dinner. After reading this, I should have made my own green chili hamburgers with some nice Hatch chilies I roasted and froze last Summer. Maybe this weekend!

  15. yazikus
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Great photos. I am a huge fan of the chile relleno burrito. It is just delicious. How were the hot sauces, I wonder?

    As for the fella with the shirt, he doesn’t look quite old enough to have a daughter of dating age…

    • Avis James
      Posted April 27, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Around here! Yes.

  16. tubby
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    So Professor Ceiling Cat can haz chilli cheezburger!

  17. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Gas station burritos!? They should have had this in Breaking Bad! Fring should have been involved somehow.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted April 27, 2018 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

      This is classic Southwest Dining and certainly a throwback. I recall back in the early 60s going to the drive-in often in the Phoenix area. You didn’t go to the eatery at the movie for just popcorn and pop. You went for the tamales and tacos. They were the best.

  18. ladyatheist
    Posted April 27, 2018 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m so envious! Those cactus are lovely and I’d like to sample at least three of those burritos. Thanks for sharing… I think!

  19. Posted April 28, 2018 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Good noms

  20. Stephanie Mayer
    Posted April 30, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous flowers! Petioles are actually part of the leaf; it’s just the blade that falls off of Fouquieria. (:

  21. Posted April 30, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Frozen custard with chilis! How fusion-cuisine-y! 🙂

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