Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
This image does not look inviting. It was cloudy and windy. The corner where our little in inn was located, did not exactly look like a spa resort.
But I was ready to check out La Paloma! When I'd made reservations a week earlier I'd spoken with a very nice woman. She made it clear that the baths might be a bit busy on President's Day weekend. I was curious to see what kind of guests visited a motel with bath houses in the middle of nowhere.
Don and I arrived and headed for the cute office building. I wish I could have taken a photo inside where things were really hopping. Two Mennonite couples were having a hard time checking in for some reason. The women, wearing long skirts and bonnets spoke to each other in some kind of Dutch German, I'm guessing. The gentlemen were trying to figure out which accommodations would work for them. I had a hard time picturing this foursome hanging out in the bathhouse.
Once a Motor Court
The office was crowded, so we waited outside in a whipping wind. I studied the line up of light blue doors and windows. It was intriguing to know that the motel was really made up of individual cabins, that once had garages between them.
From the Rear
This rear view, shows the office and guest rooms and one of the old outdoor soaking tubs. The cabin shapes with pointing roofs, are only evident from the back. The individual cabins (ordered from Sears) once housed workers who helped construct Elephant Butte Dam in 1912. The structures were later moved to this location, where they became part of a motor court for travelers.
Shower House... not Bathhouse
I knew the room we had booked didn't come with a shower. I thought it would be sort of retro-amusing to head from our room to the showers, in my robe. I figured there would already be people wandering around in robes, since there was a bath house. But it was crazy cold and windy! The last thing I wanted to do was walk 3 feet, outside, with wet hair. I never saw the inside of this cute building. No showers for me.
Signs and Walkways
Before we found our room, I was already in love with the white and blue paint. I loved the star sign and the passageway to the second bath house in back.
I paused for a quick lounge in front of our door. Too bad the winds were gusting or we could have made good use of the courtyard area.
There were hammocks and fire pits and mountains to enjoy. But we headed inside.
Room # 3
I loved the retro screen door. The gusting winds did cause a problem, though. I learned to grip the innocent, blue door, whenever I entered or exited. Even then, the wind sometimes grabbed the door from me and whipped it out of my hands, slapping it against the exterior wall... with a sound that I'm sure made our neighbors jump.
But in truth, our cozy little room was very quiet and I'm sure we never bothered our neighbors. Our rooms had once been separate cabins with garages, that had since been turned into bathrooms.
Sort of a Bathroom
The interior reveals more of the house-shaped cabin, that once was home to construction workers. The box-like closet reveals the fact that our guest room was not one of the higher priced ones with a remodeled garage bathroom. That little box held our toilet! We did however have 2 beds. We should have brought along friends!
The toilet closet door held our cozy robes. We needed those robes for our dash to the bathhouse a little later.
Time to Spa!
There were about 4 doors and a sign up sheet. The attendant had left for a while, which meant we were on our own to read all the rules and figure out the sign-in board. We chose Door #2, since it had space for 2 people. There were rules about behavior and keeping the noise down. The 2 "fainting couches" were at the ready in case we over-cooked.
Our funny little soaking tub looked ancient. My camera flash lit the dim room up after we lit the candle. The only light from outside, was the teeny tiny peep hole at water level. I made sure to pack a spa cap for our adventure. I thought it would make me feel like I was Joan Crawford in some old movie. It actually made my head so hot I had to remove it.
Don and I had to mute our laughter as we used the rope to step down into the pool. We knew there was a guest in the next door tub and we wanted to be respectful.
But it was hard to let the healing, mineral waters do its calming work, when we were standing there melting. There was no place to sit and I was feeling giggly. We didn't last long. We explored the rest of the bathhouse. There was a sweet black cat, sitting on a chair. There was soft music playing and gurgling water sounds. We peeked in a 1-person soaking room. There was at least a window!
There was a neat little line up of foot soaking circles on the floor. I tried to imagine the place earlier, when the bathhouse was crowded. How odd to picture 5 people sitting in a row with their feet soaking.
We could see out the back windows to the soaking pool that is no longer in use. The next morning I walked around and found the open air, soaking pavilion (to the right) that was actually very inviting with nice wood and tile.
I wish this photo could show the winds gusting. I warned Don to hold his robe closed as we headed back to the room. We may not have taken our bathing very seriously, but we did actually feel relaxed and content to enjoy our little room with our tuna melts.
I know we didn't make good enough use of this wonderful little spa. We failed to get the full retro bathhouse experience. But I'm so glad we stayed. I'm glad the town has preserved a few of the historic bathhouses. Our stop was a little off our route to California, but it was well worth the detour! I will fondly remember the curious, rustic bathhouse and our cabin-like room with knotty pine!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!