Skillet Casting its Culinary Magic

From the Skillet website: Sometime in 2012, Isaac Sandoval was challenged to design and build the world’s largest cast iron skillet. The skillet itself didn’t break any world records but people loved the unique menus and crowd-pleasers cooked in the giant skillet. Thus, began the journey into food and pure wonderment of all things culinary. Isaac and Shawna set up shop in Vegas (NM) as a food truck, and two years ago went full brick and mortar in a historic building downtown. Skillet today is an immersive art, food, and drink experience.

How did they navigate the restrictions imposed by COVID-19? Below are Shawna’s responses to questions about the virus and its impact.

Artfully designed
The foodie entrepreneurs have not been idle during their down time. The Zen pool and new artwork are just some of the additions to the patio. That’s Shawna in the background.

“We were forced to close our doors March 15,” Shawna said. “Ourselves and our employees all went on unemployment directly after. Although the government left opportunity for restaurants to serve takeout, we made the decision that our efforts were best placed elsewhere.”

The fan-favorite foodie-friendly restaurant was closed for two and one-half months, reopening on June 1.

Shawna said the Skillet is reopened at 50 percent capacity because of mandates from health officials. “Our business hours are basically the same as before. We decided to cut our late-night menu for the time being, which so far gets us home earlier on the weekends.”

Looking to the future early on in the shutdown, the Sandovals set about making changes designed to add and enhance seating, and expand food options.

“We expanded our patio seating during the quarantine knowing that outdoor dining is considered substantially safer than indoor dining. Skillet has a large outdoor patio and our outdoor occupancy at 50 percent is 100 people. With the recent beautiful weather, Pizza anyonewe’ve been serving more customers outside, which was made possible because of the expansion. Our order-at-the-counter service is actually conducive to the “contactless” approach. We eliminated all duplicate menus and have just one menu for customers to see without touching, and our servers still bring all food and beverage to the customer. We have security staff for busy nights who remind people to sign our book at the door for the required contact tracing. Recently we’ve implemented digital temperature readings for all customers entering the restaurant. Employees that are in direct contact with the public are required to wear masks at all times.”

Like many businesses, the Skillet has taken advantage of stimulus programs geared toward small businesses.

“Through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), we are able to rehire and pay all our employees who went on unemployment for the quarantine. The grant portion of the loan will assist with our payroll while the business is getting back on its feet. This is particularly beneficial for restaurants such as ours as we employ around 20 people, a significant proportion of our operational costs.”

Operations day-to-day requires attention to detail and a willingness to work toward specific goals. Shawna and Isaac want to return to – and continue – the ambiance and atmosphere the Skillet has become known for. The young entrepreneurs are equally concerned about their business friends and neighbors.

Art Installation“In spite of uncertain times, we fully intend to provide the same fun and safe environment as we always have,” Shawna said.

“Please continue to spend money at local businesses in our community; our friends and neighbors have been more than gracious and we need to do everything in our power to make sure Las Vegas continues to thrive.”

Isaac and Shawna aren’t worried about the future so much as ready for new challenges. “As a relatively new business we are already accustomed to constantly evolving and changing things in our business per the market and trends. The COVID restrictions are just another hurdle to jump for us, although this is a difficult time for everyone, our newness works to our advantage.

“It’s one day at a time for now,” Shawna said. “This will most certainly change us and all restaurants in small ways forever, however, I remain optimistic with regards to the outcome.”

For more information about the Skillet, go to

Courtesy Photos: The Skillet

NOTE: I am featuring local businesses, nonprofits, and organizations in this series of articles about how COVID-19 has affected our community . If you would like to participate, email for more information.


What makes Las Vegas special?


I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, especially since I have accepted an assignment to write an article about that very thing. Face it, if you live here you are in one of two camps:

  • There’s nothing special about Las Vegas!
  • There’s everything special about Las Vegas!

What I want to know, is what you think makes our town special, what makes it a vibrant community. If you were looking for a place to visit, what would attract you to Las Vegas, NM?

Susie Tsyitee, director at the Las Vegas Arts Council, asked the question at a recent Rotary of Las Vegas presentation: What do you think the common response is when visitors ask, “What is there to do in Las Vegas?” Most commonly the response from people who most often come in contact with visitors is, “There’s nothing to do in Las Vegas.”

Gas station attendants, motel registration clerks, fast food restaurant workers, cashiers at quick shop markets like Allsup’s, these are often the only contact visitors have with our community.

Do people not know about:

  • The City of Las Vegas Museum (on Grand Avenue, history and culture)
  • The Santa Fe Trail Interpretive Center (inside CCHP on Bridge Street, history and culture)
  • Montezuma Castle at the United World College (international students and history)
  • Five historic districts with self-directed walking tours (history and architecture)
  • Hiking (outdoor recreation)
  • Fishing (outdoor recreation)
  • Camping (outdoor recreation)
  • National Wildlife Refuge (outdoor recreation and conservation)
  • Special activities year around
    • NMHU special events open to the public (entertainment and education)
    • UWC special events open to the public (international cultural interaction and entertainment)
    • Saturdays @ the museum (history and entertainment)
    • Monthly Fort Union “Glimpses From the Past” at CCHP (history and military)
    • Gallery 140 on Bridge Street (arts, culture and entertainment)
    • Fiesta in July (cultural enrichment and entertainment)
    • Places With a Past in August (history, architecture and culture)
    • Heritage Week in August (history and culture)
    • NMHU Homecoming in September (celebration and education)
    • Two national parks (Pecos National Monument and Fort Union) within easy driving distance (history and culture)
    • Fridays al Fresco in Plaza Park through the summer (music and entertainment)
    • Antiquing (shopping)
    • Galleries (shopping, arts and culture)
    • Annual Light Parade in December (celebration and entertainment)
    • Annual Holiday Home Tour (CCHP sponsored celebration)

    Access to much of what happens in Las Vegas is free or at minimum cost. You can’t find a better deal than that.

    This doesn’t begin to touch on the private sector sponsored music and arts events like gallery openings, live music at local taverns, amateur productions put on by a local theater group and special events designed to celebrate the talents of local artists in every creative discipline.

    There is no better affordable dining experience anywhere! Local eateries have been recognized for generous servings, freshly made entrees with locally-grown (when possible) produce, excellence in presentation and service, diverse menus… Can you tell I’m a fan of our little town?

    When I posed the question of what makes our town special to local businessman Charlie Sandoval, he said without hesitation, “History, culture, and New Mexico Highlands University.” My husband said, “Location, location, location!”

    What do you think? In one word or as many words as you like, tell me what you think makes Las Vegas, NM special. What shouts, “Las Vegas is a vibrant town!” to you? Respond in the comments section below, or e-mail In the subject line type LV Special.

    Please Follow, Like, Comment and Share this post. Your feedback is important to me. Thanks for reading One Roof Publishing Magazine. The publisher may be reached by e-mail at

Is there a ghost in the house?

Find out at the CCHP Places with a Past Tour Aug. 5

The Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation Places with a Past Historic Homes and Buildings Tour returns on Aug. 5, with haunting recall of lore and legend about ghosts flitting here and there. Visit Montezuma Castle (United World College), the Plaza Hotel, the Castañeda or some of the legendary homes around town and you will be amazed and delighted by the mystery in the history.

Do I believe in ghosts? I reserve judgment since years ago I lived in a spirited house in town. I say spirited because it was not haunted in the sense that something weird lived there. Quite the contrary. It did not appear as a ghostly apparition, but as a bright light flashing just on the periphery of vision. The spirit could be almost seen day or night. I thought of it more like an angel watching over me. I won’t tell you where the house is, but I hope the people who live there now appreciate that friendly spirit as much as I did.

Kathy HendricksonGhost Stories is the brain child of tour guide and owner of Southwest Detours, Kathy Hendrickson, who is also a CCHP board member. From whence did this idea spring? This Q&A with Kathy reveals the story behind her ghostly vision.

ORP: PWAP has been the major fundraiser for CCHP for many years. Talk about the challenge of making old ideas new again so you not only have new visitors but return visitors as well.
Kathy: This is my fifth year as Chairperson for the PWAP Tour and every year is a challenge to think of a new idea for the tour. There are so many events going on this time of year, it is a challenge to bring visitors to our town. I have been thinking of this ghost theme for awhile, mainly because I have heard so many folks talk about ghosts here. In fact, as soon as we bought our old Victorian, the former tenants told me that we have a female ghost living on our 3rd floor, thus the reason my house is on the tour!

ORP: Why did you select this theme?
Kathy: Ghosts stories seem to appeal to everyone, even when you say you don’t believe. Las Vegas was the “Wild West” and if you read about the history, there were hangings on our lovely Plaza, thus there must be ghostly spirits around.

ORP: How many homes and properties are on the tour this year?
Kathy: There are nine places on the tour this year. Four beautiful Victorians and five historic buildings, all with interesting tales of restless souls.

Ghost in the houseORP: Since the theme is ghostly, how did you go about selecting properties?
Kathy: Well, for one, my home has a ghost story, so that was a no brainer. I had heard ghost stories about the other properties I chose for the tour. Luckily the owners agreed to open their homes and buildings for the tour. And I only selected properties that have friendly spirits.

ORP: The popular sites are the United World College, fondly known as Montezuma Castle, the Castañeda and the Plaza Hotel, all of which host ghosts. What home properties and stories surprised you when you were putting the tour together?
Kathy: I don’t want to give the stories away, but there is one home on the tour in particular that has a very active ghost within. I had heard there was a ghost in this home and that two previous owners had moved because of the apparition, but after listening to the current homeowner tell her personal experiences with the spirit, it raised the hairs on my arm.

ORP: What reactions have you received about the theme of this year’s tour?
Kathy: I was surprised to find out how many folks are interested in spirits and ghostly tales. Even if you don’t believe, you are curious to hear the stories.

ORP: What is the most intriguing ghost story you’ve heard while putting the tour together?
Kathy: Not to give anything away, but in one of the homes, a ghost tucks the owners’ daughter in bed at night.

ORP: Have you ever seen a ghost?
Kathy: I was never a believer in ghosts, but now I am rethinking everything. After we bought our old Victorian, I heard many noises at night, and thought I saw someone in our room one evening. I always came up with a logical reason for hearing or seeing something. Now, after doing the ghost research, I’m not sure.

ORP: What do you most want people to know about the Ghost Stories tour?
Kathy: Even if you are afraid to be afraid, or don’t believe in ghostly spirits, you will enjoy exploring some beautiful historic homes and buildings and hearing about their histories. We will also have a special added attraction to the tour this year. The Ghost Paranormal Investigators team will be present to do two demonstrations during the day, and show folks how they investigate the paranormal phenomena of a haunted building. This husband and wife team have been featured on the Travel Channel Ghost Adventurers Show.

ORP: Have you had success recruiting docents for this ghostly adventure, and how are you preparing them to keep the ghosts at bay while revealing their secrets?
Kathy: This is the first time the CCHP has ever had a Ghost Story themed tour. I think the docents are excited about doing something new and fun. Hopefully the ghosts will enjoy being shown off, too. The Las Vegas Harvey Girls and Fred will be the docents at the Castañeda Hotel. This is for all those Fredheads out there.

ORP: Do you want to name the properties on the tour?
Kathy: I will let folks be surprised to see the places when they purchase a ticket.

What: Ghost Stories, 2017 Places With a Past Historic Homes & Buildings Tour
When: Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Where: Nine selected properties
Cost: $25 per person
Tickets: CCHP, 116 Bridge Street, Las Vegas, NM
Phone: 505-425-8803

Photo Kathy Hendrickson, Fred Harvey/Mary Colter Fan Club
Photo at Castañeda, Martha Johnsen


Q&A With Tour Guide Kathy Hendrickson

More than a tour; it’s an experience

If you are looking for someone to lead a tour of Las Vegas, N.M., you couldn’t find a better person for the job than Kathy Hendrickson of Southwest Detours. Her enthusiasm combined with copious amounts of research give clients what they’re looking for, an entertaining experience full of historical fact and imaginative delivery. Her business has gained quite a following since its inception. She introduces newcomers to Las Vegas and inspires repeat clients to come back for a second time around, and bring their friends with them. Southwest Detours is a take-off on the Fred Harvey southwest vacations that introduced America to the southwest with “detour” adventures arranged through the railroad. Kathy has brought that concept to life with enthusiasm and dedication.

Kathy HendricksonORP: You’ve been doing this for a while now. What have you discovered about yourself as you’ve grown as a tour guide?
I’ve discovered that I really enjoy being a tour guide! Meeting folks coming from all over the country and all over the world to explore our historic town is a very rewarding career. I find that my background in sales and marketing, when I worked for L’Oreal as an artistic educator, helped me reinvent myself as a good tour guide.

ORP: How do you prepare for a tour?
Being on the board of the Las Vegas Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation has been a great tool in preparing for a tour. I can research the archives at LVCCHP to get information about the buildings and homes we will tour. I like to add something other than historical facts. As an example, when I met Nina Strong, the Harvey Girl who worked at the Castañeda Hotel, she told me about her life working there. I use some of her experiences in talking about the Castañeda, which is fascinating for tourists to hear.

Kissing Cousins?ORP: What types of questions do clients ask?
Some of the questions are directed to me. For instance, “Are you from Las Vegas?” “How did you find this town and why did you want to live here?” That is a question I get almost every tour!

ORP: Are you ever stuck for an answer? If so, how do you handle it?
Most of the time I can answer the questions, but I do get stuck for an answer sometimes. I tell them, “That’s a good question. I will have to do some research to find out the answer.”

ORP: What is the funniest reaction a client has had to the tour experience?
I can’t recall a funny reaction to the tour, but I have had some really fun folks on the tour, which makes for a fun day. One of the funniest was after the tour of the Castañeda. I asked two couples to do the Castañeda Kiss at the water fountain. I told them that if they give me a good kiss, they will get a free drink when the Castañeda Hotel Bar is open. Well, the wives didn’t seem interested, but the husbands were. The men grabbed each other and gave me a big Castañeda Kiss. They said they weren’t going to miss out on a free drink!

ORP: What is the Castañeda Kiss, and how did it get started?
The Castañeda Kiss started last year when a couple on a tour walked in front of the building by the water fountain. I said, “Stop there and give me a kiss.” I took a photo of them and the woman said, “Now that was a Castañeda Kiss!” The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, and the Castañeda Kiss tradition was born.

ORP: What are the benefits of hiring Southwest Detours?
There are a lot of benefits to hiring Southwest Detours! For instance, the Montezuma Castle/UWC offers student tours on selected Saturdays, but only when students are available and there are no student tours on holidays or in the summer.  Southwest Detours does tours on demand and we are there all year round, every day of the week. Also, the Castañeda Hotel is not open to the public yet, so we can offer tours inside the building, which is a fascinating historic place. We also do tours at the Plaza Hotel, some historic homes and a few buildings on NMHU campus. Southwest Detours will give you the history of each place as well as a chance to explore inside and outside. We also offer movie site tours and will be adding ghost tours soon.

At the CastanedaORP: What do you tell clients about Southwest Detours when they call to book a tour?
I ask them if they want a private tour or if they want to join a group. Some folks prefer a private tour, even though it is more expensive. I suggest a group tour because I think it’s more fun to tour with other folks and some of my tourists become friends with folks they met on the tour and keep in touch with them. I also ask them what they are most interested in seeing and how much time they want to spend. I can then suggest the best tour to fit their needs, as some folks are only in Las Vegas for the day.

ORP: Talk about how you improve your tour skills?
I improve my skills by constantly looking for interesting articles on the history of Las Vegas, Montezuma, UWC, Castañeda Hotel, and of course, everything on Fred Harvey history.

ORP: Do you get repeat clients and if so, what is their reaction to the ways the tour has evolved?
I do get quite a few repeat tourists, as they sometimes like to come back with their friends. I also get a lot of referrals from tourists that I have given a tour to. I never give the exact same tour, as I try to add something new to it each time and they all seem to like it. Please LIKE Southwest Detours on Facebook to read all the great comments that folks have shared about the tours.

ORP: What do clients most want to see when they visit Las Vegas?
The most requested tours are the Castañeda Hotel, The Montezuma Castle and the Historic Plaza Hotel. We get a lot of Fredheads in Las Vegas, as they are very interested in Fred Harvey history. (NOTE: Fredheads are aficionados of all things Fred Harvey, the entrepreneur who took hospitality to the next level across America.)

ORP: What is the best thing you can hear from clients?
Last week, a man on the tour from Los Alamos area told me that finding Southwest Detours was like finding a pot of gold. That is probably the best thing I have heard so far! I do get some great comments, and I think most of the tourists are so happy there is a tour guide in Las Vegas to show them around and take them into buildings they otherwise would not have access to.

ORP: What does the tour consist of?
Each tour can be different depending on what the tourist is wanting. A typical tour starts at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the Plaza Hotel. From there we travel to Montezuma and tour the Montezuma Castle/UWC. I give them the history of the Montezuma Hotel starting when Fred Harvey managed it. I also tell them about the UWC which is an amazing school with a mission statement of peace through international education. My husband and I are very involved in the school as getaway parents, which is one of the reasons I am privileged to do tours there. If the Dwan Light Sanctuary is open we will also tour there. Sometimes, we break for lunch afterwards and then go on to the Castañeda Hotel tour, which was Fred Harvey’s first great track-side hotel.

ORP: Do the Harvey Girls continue to have a role in your tour?
Yes, very much so! The Las Vegas Harvey Girls usually join me for group tours, consisting of 10 or more folks. Last month, I had a group from the Albuquerque Senior Center and a Las Vegas Harvey Girl came along.

For more information about Southwest Detours go to
Book a tour by e-mail:
Book a tour by phone: 505-459-6987


Q&A With Cinematic Entrepreneur

And promoter of Las Vegas: Jim Terr

Jim TerrPromoting the community can sometimes feel like a thankless job. It requires hard work, a sweeping understanding of the area, discerning what makes the area appealing locally and to visitors, and an ability to connect with readers and viewers in interesting ways. Jim Terr continues to be a light in the tunnel that leads folks to visit – and helps those who live here appreciate – the sweetest little town around. He does it in creative and often quirky ways, always positive and lighthearted. What you may not know about Jim is how very talented and creative he is. He has produced countless YouTube videos that highlight Las Vegas positives, and many that celebrate life. He is a satirist with a liberal bent, a song writer, and a tongue-in-cheek commentator on the fractured political landscape. This Q&A is about his consistent dedication to promoting Las Vegas, the original.

Watch Jim show off his talent in Over the Edge Part 8 at Sala de Madrid, Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m., and in a matinee performance on Sunday at 3 p.m. He will be performing as an opening act featuring a couple of his songs, including his most recent video Road Show Rejects. (A disclaimer here, Bob and I have our 10 plus/minus seconds of fame in the video.)

ORP: Talk about yourself and Blue Canyon Productions.
Jim: Blue Canyon Productions
, a name I don’t use much anymore, was originally coined after a canyon near here, to go with my first production, an album I did with Sweetgrass (1972), a bluegrass band I was in. I’ve used the name to cover a lot of my music and other productions, which transitioned into a lot of video work starting in 1993 with Las Vegas, New Mexico – America’s Oldest Film Location, which has gotten almost 3,800 views on YouTube since I first posted it, and hopefully some good publicity for Las Vegas.

I’m participating in the upcoming CCHP Places With a Past Film Tour of Las Vegas on Saturday, Aug. 6, as a docent at the Plaza Hotel, speaking as an expert on Las Vegas film history – which I’m actually not but I’ll brush up on the subject. I also have a long-running website on film at And I’m trying to promote some future film and TV productions, hopefully in Las Vegas, with a “Romaine Fielding” series of vignettes at

ORP: You’ve had success writing jingles. Talk about that and how it inspired your creativity.
I think my first jingle was a song I did on an album around 1983, called Is Your Mama Behind You?, about littering (wondering if your mama is following behind you to clean up your litter). The jingle was distributed nationally by the Sierra Club. When I returned to Las Vegas in about 1985, I did quite a string of radio jingles for local businesses, banks and Murphy’s Drug Store to name a couple. I have done many since then, including a national jingle for Snapple, which I was told was the most popular of that series. It was called Sing a Song of Snapple. My little niece and nephew accompanied me on vocals and saxophone respectively. I found out later that the kids made much more in royalties from it than I did! Anyhow, I have a foundation-funded documentary in progress looking at jingles in a larger perspective historically, a realization that came to me while listening to an old-time brass band in Plaza Park one day.

ORP: At what point did you burst into the digital arena with your very active Facebook page, and what have you gained or realized from this effort.
I was resistant to Facebook (like everything else), until a friend signed me up, and the rest is history. I spend half my day on Facebook. I always say I learn a lot about other people, and have made a lot of real friends and business connections. It’s a great playground for me, and educational in a million ways. Facebook has gotten my videos and other content out there. Although I’ve gotten more than 1.5 million views of my videos on YouTube, I get many more views per video on Facebook, so maybe I’ll surpass that total on Facebook videos someday. Here’s one about Jimmy Carter that amazingly got over 140,000 views on Facebook, and almost 6,000 shares (reposts). So Facebook has been a great gift for me.

ORP: Talk about your website.
I have so many websites I wouldn’t know where to start. Way too many, mostly momentary inspirations that have not been productive; I’m “website poor.” You may be referring to the New Mexico Vegas  website, That was an idea to incorporate the many Vegas-related websites and projects and videos under one umbrella. Several folks and businesses in Las Vegas pitched in for me to put that together and make some new videos specifically for that site, some of which have gotten quite a few views already. So, it’s an effort to sort of consolidate a lot of my local promotional efforts in one place. I’m expecting that the Road Show Rejects video will get quite a few views over time. Like some of the other videos I’ve done at Charlie’s (Spic & Span, Bakery and Cafe), and around Las Vegas, I think it features some of the “good spirit” that makes Las Vegas unique. An occasional resident once told me it was the friendliest town he had ever been in. I had never thought about it, until then. I try to promote that generosity, which I think is extraordinary, as well as the physical and historical beauty.

ORP: I’ve thought about uploading videos, but it seems a bit daunting. Talk about how you became such an active producer on YouTube.
Jim: Before YouTube came along (or before I got onto it), it was quite a deal to upload a video to a website. YouTube made it much easier. Once you get familiar with the procedure it’s pretty simple. It’s even easier to “embed” a YouTube video into your website. I’ve become rather compulsive about producing videos – it is great fun and has produced some income and some visibility for issues I care about. I now have more than one thousand videos on YouTube. Facebook is where my new videos get the most views, and that’s equally easy to upload once you understand the procedure.

ORP: Why do you work at promoting the community when your only compensation is an occasional, “Thank you?”
Jim: I enjoy it for some reason, and enjoy sharing and seeing beautiful pictures of nature and architecture and people in general. I hope some of it generates tourist business for Las Vegas as well as additional pride and appreciation among residents. And I do get compensated – sponsorships – for some of my videos, occasionally.

ORP: What do you most want people to know about the area?
Jim: I’ve covered a lot of that in the videos and comments above, but here’s one that’s been very popular on YouTube (almost 20,000 views!), Las Vegas New Mexico – the Real Las Vegas, featuring our superstar, Brenda Ortega. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever put that video on Facebook…

ORP: Talk about some of the songs about Las Vegas – serious and parody – you’ve.
Jim: Here’s a funny one about Las Vegas – or Northern NM in general – with more than 5,000 views on YouTube), though probably not everyone will think it’s funny. I would hope we all agree that Las Vegas is absolutely unique in about a million ways – including its history and culture and architecture.

On a more serious note, I did a series of videos about some of the “elders” in our area, if you search for “NEW MEXICO SURVIVORS” on YouTube you can find them.

ORP: What is your goal in producing/creating your many Las Vegas-related YouTube videos?
Jim: It’s just been some sort of itch to appreciate Las Vegas and to share that appreciation and hopefully promote tourism, and of course to keep myself afloat with sponsorships for videos and websites when I can.

Jim Terr is available to film videos on commission. You may contact him at, e-mail:



Las Vegas, NM: A Destination Vacation

I love New City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider MemorialMexico, from its mountains in the north to its deserts in the south. I love the mix of cultures and variety of recreational and cultural activities. In Las Vegas, New Mexico we have our share of fun and educational activities all through the year. Among our assets are a museum that has steadily gained in stature and reputation under the conscientious care of a qualified curator and friends who continue to support and promote its collections. Check out the Las Vegas City Museum website for details. But that’s just the beginning. WAIT—as the infomercials declare—there’s more!

New Mexico Highlands University: NMHU was established in 1839 as New Mexico Normal School and became New Mexico Highlands University in 1941. Its original purpose was teacher education. Today the university offNew Mexico Highlands Universityers graduate and undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, education, and social work. Many in the community consider NMHU to be the heart of the community providing education, jobs and opportunity. It is literally located in the “heart” of Las Vegas surrounded on all sides by neighborhoods and business districts.

Luna Community College: Named for Maximiliano Luna, speaker of the House of Representatives for the Territory of New Mexico in 1899, the school started out in 1967 as a vocational training school, Luna Area Vocational Technical School, and later became known at Luna Vocational Technical Institute providing occupational training for students in area school districts. With its expanding course selection the school’s board of directors adopted Luna Community College as its name reflecting its broader educational opportunities.

United World College at Montezuma, NMUnited World College: An institution that matriculates 200 students from around the world in an International Baccalaureate program designed to prepare them to attend colleges and universities anywhere in the world. It is located at the site of a scenic restored hotel in Montezuma, N.M., and is surrounded by forests and mountains. The grounds include a natural hot springs and a historic trestle bridge (no longer in use). The cultural activities bring a vibrancy and flavor to the area that has broadened the world view of locals and given the students a taste of what it’s like to live in small town America.

​Outdoor recreation: There are plenty of areas you can enjoy whether as a hiker, a biker or a fisher-person. Check out the New Mexico State Parks website for more information about Storrie Lake and other popular fishing spots. Hermit’s Peak continues to draw hikers and camping remains a fun adventure for families. Check for accessibility as some areas are restricted because of fire danger.

Hermit's Peak - Las Vegas, NM

​Hermit’s Peak: (This is a Wikipedia factoid) Hermit’s Peak is named for the Italian religious recluse John Augustiani, who lived there in a cave he had dug into the earth around the time of the Civil War. His cave became the subject of pilgrimage by devout New Mexicans, during his life and for a number of years after his death. The peak is in the Santa Fe National Forest and the trail to the peak is maintained by the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District. The trail to the top is approximately four miles from the El Porvenir Campground. Look for the face in reclining profile. It’s there.

Las Vegas Wildlife Refuge: (From the Interior Department Fish and Wildlife Page) With the Rocky Mountains to the west, the Great Plains to the east, and the Chihuahuan Desert to the south, Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge encompasses a diversity of habitats. Located along the Central Flyway, the Refuge provides an important resting, feeding, and wintering area for migrating geese, ducks, and cranes. Las Vegas NWR rests on a plateau in the foothills with the Rocky Mountains just beyond. River canyon walls drop below the refuge on three sides. Las Vegas preserves both wildlife habitats and a slice of New Mexico’s rich cultural history. Check out the website for more information.

Citizens’ Committee for Historic Preservation: (From the CCHP website) “The Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation was formed in 1977 to encourage the preservation and appreciation of Las Vegas and San Miguel County historic resources. Established by land grant in 1835, Las Vegas was originally called Nuestra Senora de Los Delores de Las Vegas Grandes (Our Lady of the Sorrows of the Great Meadows). The history of Las Vegas is influenced not only by many different cultures, but also by two major forms of transportation. As a major trading point on the Santa Fe Trail, Las Vegas became a prosperous Spanish town with a wide variety of adobe structures. As trade on the trail increased, so did the variety of settlers and architecture in the town. The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad saw a further increase of new residents many of whom built Victorian houses reminiscent of their homes in the Historic Castaneda HotelEast. While the Victorian residents are quite a surprise to visitors, used to the Pueblo revival of Santa Fe, it is the combination of the indigenous adobe architecture and the variety of Victorian architecture that makes Las Vegas unique.”

​Annually in August CCHP puts on a Places With a Past tour that features six to ten properties more than 100 years old, many of which have been restored and are currently occupied. A favorite on the tour is the Montezuma Castle, now part of the United World College. CCHP also conducts other historic events throughout the year. For details contact CCHP at 505 425-8803. Also see the site’s virtual tours to get an idea of what PWAP tours might consist of.

Originally posted to my blogspot site in February of last year, this information is worth repeating. The last two photos are mine. The others come from NMHU, CCHP and the City of Las Vegas.

Irritated Worrywart? NEVER!

purseDo not, under any circumstances, leave your purse or wallet in the car, or anything else of value. Never, ever.

A friend and I were out of town on Sunday. She parked in a parking lot and when I got out of the car, I left my purse and a bag containing my snow boots, a travel mug and my iPad in her locked vehicle. When we returned about an hour later, someone had broken the window on the passenger side, grabbed my purse and bag, and rifled through her glove compartment. Fortunately she had been wise enough not to leave anything of value in the car. We immediately called law enforcement and I got on the phone and reported the theft to the credit card companies and my bank.

For me, as unsettling as all that was, it doesn’t hold a candle to the aggravation and inconvenience of having to replace everything including keys, driver’s license, credit cards and multiple other items.

The most aggravating is dealing with a credit card company that assures me we won’t be responsible for the fraudulent charges on the cards. And yet, today rather large charges at two businesses have appeared on two of the cards, charges I was assured were never approved by the businesses involved. THEN WHY ARE THEY ON MY CARDS?!

I am left with the assurance that all will be well in the end. I must trust and not get bent out of shape. I WILL trust and not get bent out of shape. Much.

Interestingly I reacted rather well on the day the incident happened. It’s the aftermath of getting everything back to normal and being a tad worried that my paper identity may be stolen. What I must not do is let this incident steal my real identity, the one that steams through troubles and keeps on going; the one that doesn’t let anything get me down; the one who realizes that everyone who is irritating the hell out of me right now is just doing their jobs.

The most crushing loss was a pen my brother and his girlfriend gave me for my birthday the year he died. It was engraved with my name. The pen is an irreplaceable personal treasure. When it hit me that it was gone, I almost wept. Up until then I was pretty stoic about the whole thing. Well, I’m still pretty stoic about it all. Getting angry changes nothing. I’m sorry there are people in this world so desperate or heartless or just plain mean that they take from others. I pray for their restoration to wellness of spirit.

When I was getting my driver’s license replaced, the clerk said a couple of women had been in the week before on the same errand. Their purses were stolen at Walmart, one inside the store the other in the parking lot. The inside theft was from the victim’s cart. She did what I often do, left the bag where babies usually sit, and someone ran by and grabbed it. The woman outside had a similar set up. She was unloading her cart into the trunk of her car, and unwittingly left her bag vulnerable to the purse-snatcher.

I guess my point is that this kind of thing can happen to anybody at any time. It’s important to make taking your property as difficult as possible. Don’t leave your purse in the car and don’t leave it in the cart. Carry it with you or put it out of sight where thieves won’t be tempted to take it.

In conclusion, I will appreciate a little prayer of thanks that neither my friend nor I encountered the thief, so there was no risk of us getting hurt, and a second little prayer that I don’t let my real identity be stolen. I refuse to be an irritated worrywart.


A walk in the park

Happy Face   These are a few snapshots from the People’s Faire. It was a perfect day. There were many booths and lots of bargains. The atmosphere was relaxing and interesting. As usual I saw lots of folks I hadn’t seen in a while so it was worth its weight in gold to reconnect. A couple of young men (teenagers?) were playing live while I was there. They had a powerful sound and were really talented.

I bought a couple of Christmas presents for friends. I also snagged a treat for me for only – get this – $7. A multi-strand necklace and two pairs of earrings. That’s right, folks – $7. I asked if that wasn’t a mistake and the very lovely crowds&boothsartist who created the pieces said she was moving inventory because she wanted to retire. Believe me, I wouldn’t have strung those tiny beads for $70!

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours and the best part is that I got some great photos.

I just want to thacropwalkkarylCartwheelnk the Las Vegas Arts Council for its dedication to the arts and artisans of Las Vegas and the area. This covers a lot of territory and includes the visual experience through exhibits, as well as writing and performance.

I heard once that there are more than 100 artists in this area. I suspect there are more than that. They are as important to our economy as the local businesses that invest in our community. Creating art is not only a joy, the artist is an entrepreneur, their commodity is the work they create. Support local artists. Buy original work for yourself and as gifts for family and friends.

Today I saw lots of handmade jewelry, ceramics, woodcrafts in a variety of styles, paintings, wearable fabric art, and much, much more. Many of these folks show in local galleries or participate in coop galleries. When you buy something from a local artist you are purchasing something unique and showing your appreciation for their work.

There were a number of nonprofits at the People’s Faire as well. One particular upcoming event caught my eye. On Sept. 27 from 12 noon to 4:30 p.m. the Friends of the National Wild Life Refuge will be sponsoring the 11th Annual Concert for the Birds. It’s a family friendly event with outdoor games, art projects for kids of all ages, a hayride, and more. The concert performed by the Mystic Lizards is from 3 to 4:15 PM. Put it on your calendar and plan to attend.

So, that’s how I spent my Saturday. I hope your day was as grand and pleasant as mine.

Las Vegas, New Mexico Acrostic Poem

Las Vegas Acrostic

Las Vegas, New Mexico

Lilacs in spring make your heart sing.
Art in the park? Oh what a lark!
Silvery river, lovely life giver.

Vegas town is New Mexico’s crown.
Enchantingly pretty, this little city
Gracious and kind, a place to unwind.
Architectural treasures, historical measures –
So proud of this place, with its charm and its grace.

New fallen rain, greens up the plain
Expands to the rills, and touches the hills.
Water comes down and brings joy all around.

Melding shades, in shadows fade
Engages God’s brush to enhance nature’s flush.
Xanthic hues are mixed in with blues
Indigo furls into mauve perfect curls
Colors the sky and makes your heart sigh.
Oh, how sublime, it is Las Vegas, New Mexico time.


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