New Mexico - Las Cruces May, 2018

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The first two images come from an afternoon flight from Sacramento to Phoenix, AZ, the eventual airport destination being El Paso, Texas.  Only six hours of travel time away, it's a very different environment. 

Las Cruces, New Mexico, is at 4,500 feet, and is very dry, with great air quality.  Similar to all of New Mexico, the elevation and wonderfully clear air result in very direct sunlight, and you have to protect yourself against a quick sunburn.       

crossing the Sierras near Mono Lake watery border between AZ and CA

Cruces is an hour's drive north from the old wild west town El Paso, Texas, and my only brother Don, and Theresa, one of my three sisters, live there.  I moteled it for four nights.  On Friday after checking in, Doris, another sister, called to say a group of relatives were nearby at a restaurant in Old Mesilla, a short drive away.  I met up with them for an hour or so.  Some had driven in from Tucson and others from Colorado Springs, or from Houston.

All of us were here to attend a wedding ceremony for Don and Tina's older son Josh and his spouse Madalyn, in a day or two.   

Quick family intro - my older brother Don and youngest sister Theresa both live in Las Cruces.  Don's wife is Tina and Theresa's husband is Dave. Another of my three sisters, Doris, drove from Colorado Springs with husband Paul.  Don and Tina's sons are Josh and Luke.  My third sister, Mary, also from the Springs could not come due to planning for another wedding, in a month.     

On Saturday morning my sister Theresa's husband Dave made a creative breakfast to further celebrate her daughter Kristiana's graduation from High School, the night before.  Afterwards we all sat & talked for some time, enjoying cooling breezes under a covered porch.  I had a chance to talk with Ryan at length, and Doris and Paul were there too.  It was a nice long jabber-session and the only photo I took was of Kristiana & Jory.   

Landscaping in Las Cruces tends to be minimalist, based on the cactus & succulent and other plants that can take the big heat here.  The month of May ushers in 5 to 6 six months of non-stop heat, and clear skies, an amazing but predictable weather pattern, and you have to admire the plants that do well here.  

note - you can enlarge any part of a picture by left-clicking in and then out again. 

Kristiana and Jory front yard landscaping    
  prickly pear Chaste tree doing well here      

Later many of us headed to Adele's Dog House Patio for a celebration of Don and Tina's younger son Lucas' graduation from a different High School in L.C.  We had Mexican food here which was great. Don introduced us to Josh's soon-to-be wife Madalyn's Dad and we met or waved to her extensive local family. 

Dave and Paul  sister Doris, brother Don & brother-in- law  Paul Madalyn's Dad

Doris and Paul, Theresa and Dave, and Rachel and I walked around Old Mesilla a little, stopping as usual in the Mesilla Book Center, a great place to browse western history books, fiction & non-fiction.  One of its main draws is that it is much cooler than outside.   

Later we sat in the shade at a wine cafe which we've been to before and each got something.  New Mexican red wines are often surprisingly good.  

It was really hot in the Old Town; the sun is intense this time of year, and there's little meaningful shade to be found, anywhere.    

    Old Mesilla town square & Church how to have a short life  
  southwest adobe style    looks original        

On Sunday, the day of the wedding, many of us met at Pecan Grill for a one pm lunch, a very popular dining & sports bar restaurant located at a busy intersection, where Dave is the master brewer.  One of his flavorful Belgian Ales was a nice compliment to my Caesar salad w/grilled salmon. 

The house three-man jazz band sounded nice and counter-acted traffic noise, and then it was an unexpected surprise to see a young man sitting in on drums, very talented, and quite shy. His Mom, taking photos alongside me, told me he is twelve.  He had basic jazz rhythms down, a great foundation, and he's got plenty of time to work on stage presence.   

my sister Theresa Dave & Theresa  piano, bass &  drums  Belgian brews by Dave, see note
  sometimes money flows in a shy lad on drums Kristiana, Theresa & Rachel  

note - my Belgian beer on the right had incredible complexity & flavor and I had a sense that I'd never had such a good beer before.  Dave is quite admirably a humble genius in beer-making, is my take.           

The Wedding

Don's son Josh and his bride Madalyn had a wedding ceremony at about four pm on a blistering Sunday afternoon.  Fortunately, Tina's friend offered up her backyard, a healthy looking pecan orchard.  Thank goodness for the shade, though it made picture taking interesting. 

I unfortunately over-used exposure compensation on a number of photos, and as a result either partially, or completely, washed out the background, and I could not correct for that later. But I came to like the effect, oddly enough accentuating the subject at hand.  

Tina's friends' home  back yard orchard start of the ceremony Don, Tina, Josh  Dave and Madalyn
  audience   church door  Josh, Madalyn and Minister
         
           
    first steps together as a married couple    
           
the event  photographer Don & Paul Josh & Luke   Theresa and Rachel
  Father & Daughter Don, Tina, Josh with Luke    Luke's friend...

The wedding was followed by dinner and dancing at the St. Clair Winery & Bistro, located in Old Mesilla.  St. Clair is the most commercially successful winery in New Mexico, and beyond, for good reason. 

The wedding party arrived about 5 pm and we all sat on a covered veranda for an hour of appetizers, and chatter and then we made our way to the open-field dining area, where we soaked up strong late afternoon sun for about an hour or so while enjoying great dinner options.  Finally the sun dropped behind the Winery building. 

As the evening progressed, and the ceremony began, it gradually became cool & pleasant.  At dusk, the Organ Mountains stole the show. 

art on old building New Mexico highway style  the wedding reception the couple  Lucas & Paul
  the setting  the fare was great can't get away from photographers the married couple dance  
Josh & Madalyn applause at the end   Father and Daughter   
  Josh & Tina    evening approaching Luke & friends 
Organ Mountains       goodbyes 
  Madalyn's family  Josh's new family   same day as another wedding

Josh and Madalyn will soon move to Fayetteville, Arkansas, close to Tina's parents, and they already have jobs there.   

Josh's younger brother Lucas got his single-engine pilot's license at 14, my brother Don being his mentor.  In 2018 Luke placed in the top percentile nationally in academics and received a full scholarship to the Embrey-Riddle Aeronautical University, near Prescott Arizona, where he is headed soon. hoping to become a fighter pilot eventually.     

Many of us will reassemble in two weekends in Colorado Springs, for another wedding, this time for my sister Mary's oldest son Sam and his bride Jessica.   

Part two - Tularosa

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