After our first welcome at an authentic lodge, which feels endowed with history – (a long record of hospitality, frequented by both locals and guests who have returned for generations) we head to the famed “Western Bar”. Just about everyone we met spoke of the Western Bar. Established back in 1948 this local dive/club/restaurant/must see is a beacon of the community. Serving as a haven for both locals and those passing through during winter blizzards when 20” can drop on a dime, the crowd is warm and the booze is flowing. Nestled in the middle of the very obvious Main Street (don’t worry, with not a single street light in town, you won’t miss it) the Western is a wooden cabin with low ceilings, wooden walls, and walking space requiring one to be close to their neighbor. Especially when it is packed and as far we we can tell, it always is. Dollar bills serve as wall paper with years, names, and places of origin from visitors. Ordering an assortment of traditional bar fare, we are impressed with the country fried steak, nachos, shrip skewers — ordering half the menu between our group of 15 – everyone is pleased.
When leaving, our fantastic host Lisa Thomassie (the general manager at the Lodge), Sandi, and I had promised to sing Bob Seager’s “Old Time Rock’ N ‘ Roll” – a promise we kept. SInging Karaoke, especially in a small town, is a GREAT way to judge the friendliness of a place. With encouraging smiles and groups singing along and eventually clapping in rhythm to my, I’m sure far from impressive, rendition of the old classic, the energy was fun and contagious. After dinner, tables were cleared out and song and dance took over. Even the beautiful and talented Miss Cloudcroft and Miss New Mexico took the stage performing Carrie Underwood’s, “Before He Cheats” bringing the few left in the crowd that weren’t standing to their feet. We tried to leave the bar several times throughout the night, watching the minutes turn to hours knowing blogs and videos awaited us back at the hotel. Finding us in the parking lot, Allison Bailey and Lisa King (the welcoming and embracing group from the Chamber in Cloudcroft) literally took us arm in arm and brought us back in and on stage to sing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. And fun it was!
Miss Cloudcroft and Miss New Mexico were regulars in our Cloudcroft crew, these stunning young ladies represent both class and genuine kindness. Thanks for your time ladies!
Another town favorite is the Mountain Mercantile. This deli and grocery store smells of fresh pasteries and baked goodies immediately proving Pavlov’s law effective. Have breakfast, lunch, or dinner here and expect to be impressed. The family owned joint is inviting and an afternoon or two can easily be lost within these walls.
Mountain Foto is owned by the enchanting Sonnie Hill, a woman who immediately feels warm and familiar. She and her fiance, Dan Nowell, were another favorite pair who I guarantee you will run into when visiting Cloudcroft. Mountain Foto professionally stages old western themed photos along with various other era appropriate options. Capturing Rogue Riders circa 1880, our talented photographer Jane invited us to play with our costumes and props bringing out the photogenic side in all. Thanks Mountain Foto!
A reprieve from the heat and the stress of everyday life, Cloudcroft is definitely a place to which Rogue Riders will return. Thanks to everyone for making the visit unforgettable.