April 03, 2006

Truth or Consequences

This past weekend, Megan and I drove down to Truth or Consequences. Megan is doing a freelance story for AAA New Mexico magazine on the burgeoning arts scene there, and we decided to make a weekend of it, partly because we could use it after the passing of Hannibal, and partly because it offered an opportunity to relax.

I was always intrigued by the name of this little town. T or C, as the locals call it, used to known as Hot Springs, New Mexico, because of the hot springs that simmer under the ground and boil up there. The area looks pretty arid now, despite town's perch on the banks of the Rio Grande, but at one time the area was quite muddy and swampy. The Native American Mimbres people used to farm the area, but were eventually driven out by the Apaches. However, Native Americans considered the area neutral ground, and used the hot springs in the area to relax and heal.

The name actually came from a combination of two attempts at self-promotion. In 1950, Ralph Edwards, producer of the hit radio show Truth or Consequences, wished aloud that some town would rename itself after the game show. Of course, such an action would give more publicity to the game show. However, Hot Springs also thought the idea was a good one for the city too. After all, there are many "Hot Springs" around the country, including a famous one in Arkansas. By adopting the name, the city could gain some celebrity AND separate itself from all those other Hot Springs. In gratitude, Ralph Edwards kept coming back on the anniversary of the name change and bringing Hollywood people with him, to participate in the town's Fiesta.

Despite this interesting history, T or C is a small, sleepy town which rolls up its sidewalks around 8:00 p.m. each evening. It has two main drags, each a one-way split of the main road through town. Main Street is a little less developed than Broadway, but both have shops, cafes and art galleries on them. The arts scene is just starting to develop in T or C, with a number of small businesses that are either full galleries or hybrids of galleries and some other business opening in the past three years. Megan and I strolled around the town, which would take all of 15 minutes should you decide not to stop anywhere. The town seems to be on the verge of becoming one of those cute artsy colonies...but for now, it is just strange and hippy-dippy enough to be quaint and mysterious all at the same time.

However, the main attraction of T or C, and surprisingly the most undeveloped part of it, is its hot springs. There are a number of businesses that cater to people who want to soak in the mineral laden hot waters lying beneath the city range from the rustic to the glamorous. The main hotel in town, for instance, has private baths in the rooms, plus a well-known and regarded restaurant. We stayed in a slightly lower scale establishment, Riverbend Hostel, where our room was simply one end of a partitioned double wide and where we shared the community tub with other guests and members of the community who wanted to soak. The water came out at approximately 120 degrees, and passed through a series of three tubs that were gradually cooler until it drained out into the river. The soaks were nice, and Megan particularly liked soaking in the luke-warm tub next to the flowing Rio Grande.

The nice thing about the weekend was that it was cheap. $50 got us the room and the soaks (private tubs would have been $10 per person extra). Compare that to going up to New Mexico's Ojo Caliente: our friend Anne recently went up there and it cost over $200 for a similar weekend (though she got a massage as well).

There are other places we would like to visit in New Mexico, but this was a nice weekend getaway and a place we would be happy to take any visitors.


Blogger Mary B. said...

Hot tubbing in New Mexico sounds like a nice weekend. Truth or Consequences is an unusual name for sure, but then everystate has to have at least one weird name. I grew up in a state that has a town named, "Toad Suck." To make matters worse for the town, there was a guy who would pretend to be a shoe salesman so he could suddenly pop unsuspecting women's toes into his mouth. Yup, you guessed it. He was, "The Toe Suck from Toad Suck."

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Pauline said...

OH OH OH! Me!!! Take meeeeeeeeeee! I wanna go to T or C and take a soak!!! me me me!!!

11:05 AM  

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