Our “plan” for the coming weeks included a couple with our FAVORITE Iowa Bluebirders and Corn Imprimateurs – The Florers. They leave Iowa for a bit every winter (wouldn’t you, if you could?), and after careful plotting of orbits, we realized we shared some common geography and goals. We decided to meet for a week at an RV Park just outside of Tucson; then journey together to the Grand Canyon (weather permitting). Given that we started this plan in South Padre Island, we had a ways to go to go; and our previous blog post outlined our narrow escape from Texas Ice Hell to Las Cruces slightly-less-icy-hell.
inasmuch as there was REAL SNOW covering the pseudo-snow, we decided to leave that destination for some other time.
We DID have some fun in Las Cruces prior to our close encounter of the Florer kind. One of the first things we “planned” to do was to visit White Sands, New Mexico, where the Sand “is so white it looks like snow.” Well, inasmuch as there was REAL SNOW covering the pseudo-snow, we decided to leave that destination for some other time.
Second in line for things to do was a dip in the hot springs in Truth or Consequences; a place just 50 miles north of Las Cruces. There are several establishments offering soaks; we selected one that offered no-contact check-in and private open-air baths. THAT was a pretty decadent – and most enjoyable – experience.
This turned out to be at a little family restaurant just across the street from the RV park. And of a completely NEW style: Deshebrado Brisket Burritos. This was just about the yummiest thing I haver ever eaten –bbq brisket, simmered for 18 hours in a sauce of some kind, shredded and rolled into a tortilla.
The angel behind the counter asked if I wanted “Hot.” I said – Yes Ma’am!
Another surprising (and delicious) food product discovered in Las Cruces: Green Chili Sundaes! Many of our friends think that is quite likely the craziest thing I have ever done
c’mon…an Ice Cream, Sundae topped with Green Chilies does not even REGISTER on the Harris Crazy Scale. And, Crazy or not, it was DELICIOUS.
Grammatically, I should say “they” because I had more than one! The Chilies were in a sweet jelly base, scooped over the Ice Cream, then smothered with Salted Pecans. OH. MY. GOODNESS.
And, imagine how good that was after a Deshebrado Burrito!
If you build it, they will go!
Nearby to TorC is New Mexico’s answer to SpaceX’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas: Spaceport America. New Mexico bills this as the “world’s First Purpose Built Commercial Spaceport.” The anchor tenant (if anything about a spaceport can be described as an “anchor!) is Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic enterprise.
It’s NOT their motto, but perhaps it should be: If you build it, they will go! You’re welcome, New Mexico!
Unfortunately, the Spaceport was closed to visitors due to Covid. Next time – when we return to see White Sands, I guess.
Also on the way to TorC is the little town of Hatch. This is the self-proclaimed “Chili Capital of the World.” Almost every single building on the diminutive main street has equipment for drying, smoking and preparing chilis. A few years back we went through Hatch, bought a small amout of Chili power and enjoyed the hell out of it — SOOOOO tasty! This time we decided to stop, and we bought a couple of packages from a little mom-and-pop place – 2 pounds of Green and 5 pounds of Red Chili Powder.
IF you get a text from someone claiming to be me and needing Bail Money, it MIGHT BE TRUE this time!?
As we were leaving, I realized what the baggies looked like, and HOPED that the dogs at all the Customs and Border Patrol checkpoints would not identify them as suspicious biologicals.
Along the way, we learned of a new challenge for CBP and ATF in this new era of semi-legal weed: What do they do with Drug-dogs that alert at minute amounts of now-legal Marijuana? It’s a thing: there are THOUSANDS Invested in dog training – and they cannot just be repurposed for sniffing other kinds of contraband! In Tucson there was a news piece on efforts to give away these very expensive animals!
One of the experiences we had even before arriving in Las Cruces, but did NOT appreciate, was the pleasure of having one of our credit cards compromised. This has happened several times while we have been on the road, and we have developed a strategy to minimize the inconvenience (more on that in a minute). This time, the adventure began with a text from CapitalOne: “Did you just make a purchase for $1,895 at the Microsoft Store?” Why, NO, NO I DID NOT!!! Card Cancelled immediately, and a new one sent to the RV Park in Las Cruces, where it was awaiting our arrival.
They did NOT plan for a “victim” who was a retired guy with too much time on his hands!!!
But this time, there were some added adventures in this process. It seems that even though CapitalOne rejected the transaction, Microsoft still SHIPPED THE PRODUCT. To our HOME ADDRESS in Chicago! And then, I learned by Email from the UPS, UPS was instructed by the miscreants to HOLD FOR PICKUP instead of delivering. All a well considered approach to scamming $1,800 from Microsoft. But they did NOT plan for a “victim” who was a retired guy with too much time on his hands!!!
I decided this was a chance to CATCH THE GUY who came to claim the product, if we could get a cop there in time!!! But WHO TO CALL to make this happen? And how to get it done in the 2 hours or so before the UPS office opened and the creep showed up to claim his booty?
I started with UPS. In retrospect, I may as well have started with a Root Canal! After being disconnected and transferred several times, I reached an agent who, in the most bored tone possible, told me there was NO WAY UPS could get a cop involved. This had to be initiated by the SHIPPER (Microsoft).
An hour wasted, so far.
So, now to call Microsoft. There is, BTW, NO WAY to call Microsoft. I could go online to the website and open chats, which said that I needed to call – and they finally gave me a number. That number had multiple layers of Voice-prompts that eventually lead me back to the Website. You can see the viscous [SIC] circle. FINALLY, I did speak to a person, who feigned interest in catching the bad guys, but eventually said all they could do is ask UPS to return the product. They suggested I call CapitalOne.
Almost all of the two hours before the UPS Center opened was now gone.
Eventually, CapitalOne said they would forward to the fraud department, but could not promise any action as they were neither the shipper NOR the receiver.
In short (which is something I rarely do on these pages!) , presented with an opportunity to catch one link in the criminal chain, no one really cared a bit!
While I am writing this, I should explain as a public service how we have learned to minimize the impact of these kinds of issues. We have THREE SEPARATE CARDs with CapitalOne – all on the same account with the same credit limit. All download in one shot to Quicken. One card is mine, One Liz’s and one is used ONLY for online things like recurring payments, Tollway, subscriptions, Amazon, etc. The latter is NEVER used in person or for anything or any other kind of transaction!
By doing this, when one card (each is a different number) is compromised (usually mine, used the most, at restaurants, gas stations, etc.), the rest continue to work. We never have to re-do all of our online accounts, and Liz can use her card until mine is replaced. This replacement can be a challenge as we travel, but so far CapitalOne has been GREAT to work with.
Eventually, I suppose, the ultimate fraud prevention will be unique biometric ID. Or, [SARCASM ALERT] perhaps we can co-opt the chips Bill Gates has put in all the COVID vaccines for this purpose? Sorry, no politics.
Ultimately, we made it to Arizona and to Tucson, where we anticipated a week or so of socializing. First, we tee’d up a dinner with cousin Andy and his wife Mieko. A couple of years ago, they had hosted us in their yard and at their dining table. It was our turn, and one of the amenities of the RV park we were staying at was a selection of food trucks.
The nite my cousin visited, it was a Curry truck, and the Lamb Curry I emjoyed was AWESOME. The evening ended with Andy (a potter by profession) presenting us with Coffee Cups AND Mieko promising us a Japanese curry the next time we visited Tucson.
Before they left, we toasted to my Aunt Marilee (a dear friend of Andy’s) with some of her 60-year-old Scotch that we carry onboard RV WHERE YET for Special occasions such as this.