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Thanksgiving, Pandemic Edition: Celebrate Low-Key & Get Outside

hike in Sierra County
Posted on November 23, 2020 in
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So, these are strange days. Kinda goes without saying at this point (although if you’re interested, we did say more about it here).

But especially as we approach the holiday season with a newly reinstated statewide lockdown and Covid-19 cases on a sharp rise in Sierra County, 2020 is clearly not letting up on its strangeness any time soon.

Things being what they are, we hope everyone is managing to stay safe with mask wearing and minimal human contact, yet still finding ways to enjoy this typically festive time of year.

For many Americans, Thanksgiving week is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season. In Sierra County, one way to “shop local” this year is to take part in the “12 Days of Christmas—Virtual Cash Mob!” created by MainStreet Truth or Consequences.

Typically, a “cash mob” would show up in person at a local business to flood the store with customers ready to buy things. So, this is the same idea, just virtual. In an article that appeared in the Sierra County Sentinel’s November 20, 2020, edition, Linda DeMarino wrote, “Each night, starting on December 1 and going through December 12, the MainStreet team will be on location at a different store. The hosts will present various items from that store that viewers can purchase… many that will make great gifts for the holidays.” The event will be live-streamed on Facebook LIVE, so stay tuned to MainStreet’s Facebook page for further details.

As far as things to physically get out and do, yes, we are being told to stay home. Our three local state parks are closed, and many businesses are closed, too. However, we have a number of hiking trails still open to locals looking to get some fresh air. And even with restrictions in place, businesses that can stay open are doing so, and others are getting creative with contactless service, giving Sierra County residents at least a few options for local goods and activities as well as food and beverages cooked and brewed outside of the home in the coming weeks.

The Food and Beverage Scoop… What’s New?

First things first: Thanksgiving.

Two area restaurants will be serving a Thanksgiving menu in Takeout-only form on Thursday, November 26. Remember, health experts are asking us to keep our groups to 5 people or fewer until things are better.

  • Sierra Grande will be offering a “Thanksgiving Plated Menu” from 12-5pm at $38 per person. Call to place your takeout order: 575-894-6976.
  • Big Foot Restaurant & Pet Patio, located in Elephant Butte, recently made some big changes and they are offering a “Covid Safe Thanksgiving at Bigfoot” takeout menu from 11am-5pm. Please call to reserve your meal in advance: 575-744-4896.

And then there’s every other day…

Our most recent post highlighted other area restaurants that are managing to keep their doors open during these trying times. Most of these, to our knowledge, are still offering takeout dining options.

And there’s always Truth or Consequences Brewing Company, which has done a lot this year to adapt to the guidelines instituted by the pandemic. While we’ve missed the live music and lively gatherings, it’s been nice to have the option to grab a growler or crowler to go. The brewery will be closed for Thanksgiving, but their locally brewed craft beers, plus a small selection of cider and wines, will continue to be available to-go Monday through Sunday, 3-8pm. Order online at torc.beer.

If you’re in the mood to try something new, Mile Marker 7, located at 603 Main Street in Truth or Consequences, was brave enough to open its drive-thru window to the public for the first time on October 19, 2020.

Sisters Tiffany Ferland (owner) and Jessica Muller (manager) named the drive-thru coffee and snack shop in honor of their sister Crystal Montoya, who tragically lost the ability to walk in a car accident at Mile Marker 7. The sisters are longtime local residents with a passion for delicious coffee & tea drinks, and their menu includes options for those in the sugar-free and dairy-free crowd (coconut, almond, & soy options, to be exact). Regular hours are Monday through Friday, 6:30am-2pm and Saturday, 8am-1pm, but they will be closed for Thanksgiving.

In a recent chat with Sierra County Tourism, the new business owners added, “We want people to feel happy when they come here and for us to be able to add a little extra to their day! We love the community and are extremely grateful for all the support we have had since we opened.”

Get Outside!

One aspect of life in Sierra County that has eased the pain of this pandemic for many is our abundance of public lands, offering scenic vistas, hiking trails, and day drive opportunities so that “shutdown” doesn’t have to mean “stuck indoors.”

hike sierra county new mexico

photo: Elise Brianne Curtin

Following are a few options for getting out and about (masked and with sanitizer in hand) in the restricted days to come…

  • Ever wanted to try one of those motorized bicycles but not ready to take the purchase plunge to sample the goods? Local business Morning Star Outfitters is now offering “E-bike rentals” (helmet included) as a fun way to get around for anyone who does not have an electric bike of their own—yes, that’s right. It’s electric! Or, as the owner of Morningstar says, “It’s you, only faster.”Rental prices are currently $40/hour, $85/3 hours, or $105/day (24 hours). They are also expecting to have some used mountain bikes ready to be rented out by the end of November, which will be available at discounted rates of $18/hour, $40/3 hours, and $50/day, as well as weekly rentals. If interested, call 575-894-8715 for more info. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10-6pm, and Saturday, 10-5pm.
  • How about taking an old school automobile tour along the Geronimo Trail? This route includes stretches of National Scenic Byway and offers some historical background on Sierra County at several markers along the way.
  • Ted Turner Reserves is offering socially distanced guided tours on the Ladder and Armendaris Ranches, where guests are led into wilderness areas rich in scenic vistas and opportunities for wildlife viewing. Call 877-288-7637 or visit tedturnerreserves.com for more info.
  • While searching for outdoor activity ideas online, we stumbled across the “Turtle Top Trot” of 2020, a local challenge to hike the Turtle trail any day starting with sunrise on November 22 through sunset on Saturday, November 28, and to time—and enjoy!—yourself at whatever pace and distance you are able. Just make sure to post on Facebook with your start and end time and “#TurtleTrot2020.” Prizes are being awarded for fastest ascent, slowest climb, and even the “half-assed” hiker who only makes it halfway to the summit. If you’ve never made the trek before, this is a moderate to strenuous trail with steep drop-offs, so best not to take small children. But if you’re able to do it, the views are incredible.
turtle top trot -  sierra county new mexico
  • And of course, there are a number of locally loved trails scattered throughout Sierra County. Sadly, most of the ones with clearly marked trailheads lie within the boundaries of our currently closed state parks. There is, however, the Healing Waters Trail,  T or C’s most accessible, easy, in-town trail.  It is a relatively short hike with a well-cultivated trail that offers views of Turtle Mountain and covered benches to usher in some tranquility amidst the chaos.
  • As always, just keep a mask on hand and maintain those six-foot distances, please!
Outdoor photos courtesy of Elise Brianne Curtin.
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