an easterly direction

the journeyThe voyage east takes yet another detour as my original route of Interstate Hwy 10 to Hwy 70 has changed. An easy 947 miles with a stop in Ruidoso to visit a great friend who will have all sorts of advice for me on my move there must be delayed.

A more direct route will be taken as Interstate Hwy 40 has been chosen for a convoy of vehicles and trailers full of materials, furniture and family members. The journey will include driving at night through the Mojave Desert, Kingman, Flagstaff, Winslow, Holbrook and other such memorable towns, finally turning south at dawn just before reaching Albuquerque.

It is a voyage of determined souls, some reluctant to leave California, but once they have visited and lived for a while in New Mexico it will become apparent why people love it there. The quality of meetings and new friendships with my new neighbors will be determined by my willful transition to living in the semi-wild west.

New Mexico sceneryMy interests and curiosities are wide open to the people, the history, the agriculture, the cattle, the high chaparral, the foods and the rancher’s way of life.

The locals only rodeos are everywhere in the spring and summer, it’s a favorite pastime on Friday and Saturday nights, so the appropriate hat and boots part of my life will take on new meaning. Yee Haw!

The journey east to meet and better connect with the heart of America has begun as I finish moving only what I need and storing the stuff of accumulation, comfort and convenience. This new life will be filled with adventure and the more open I am to the people, places and lifestyles the better and happier I will be. From my initial conversations with the people I have met in past trips to Mountainair, there is a feeling that a new, positive influence is needed.

The fact that my main goal is to awaken a restaurant that will cater to the needs of a wide-spread, yet limited population will be instrumental as the dining room conveniently sits at the intersection of two highways. Most of the traffic is pickups rolling through for supplies and gasoline and semi-trucks moving cattle. What we will provide is more than just hot food and coffee, it will be a meeting place, a venue to gather, converse and share tales of the ranchers life.

the shaffer dining roomThe number one requested breakfast menu item being steak and eggs, the need for fresh biscuits and gravy and coffee that you can stand a spoon up in will be prepared in a way they are not used to.

Hearty breakfast burritos will also be a mainstay on the menu, offering to go orders to help all those on horseback or quads to make it through the day.

I won’t forget to let our patrons know that the doors will open at 5:30 AM and I plan on letting the smell of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls help bring them in early.

My study of the cuisine of  Arizona, Texas and New Mexico has opened my eyes to the many varieties and various uses of local chilis, as well as fresh herbs which at first came as a surprise. There is no need to search for organic ingredients here, for everything readily available in this area is simply fresh and very wholesome.

I am inspired and excited, as there is an obvious need for my participation and friendly interaction. The transition to having a California boy manage and cook at a nearly 100-year-old historical hotel will offer a lifestyle that neither I or the residents of a small town had yet imagined. It is an opportunity to give of myself, to create, to serve and to offer a smiling face that will hopefully be welcomed by all.

the shafferThe “season” of Indian ruin tourists and artifact hunters, motorcycle clubs and rodeos is just around the corner and by springtime I will have settled in and become a part of the community.

With New Mexican ranch fare being our primary goal, expect the wood burning b-b-q to be fired up first thing each day with the slow cooked aromas of local beef, pork, venison and elk wafting through the air.

Our advertising will be hidden in the perfumed smoke of exquisitely seasoned meats floating though the arroyos and canyons calling all those who desire more than just a quick meal to our doors.

Any and all recipes that best utilize every part of the steer, hog, wild turkey and antelope are much appreciated…

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