Sunday, May 31, 2009

RV trip day 3: Canyon Road

On Sunday morning we all drove over to Canyon Road, not far from downtown Santa Fe. Nothing in Santa Fe is far from downtown, come to think of it. Canyon Road is full of artsy boutiques where everything is beautiful and nothing is affordable unless you have, say, $25,000 to shell out for a sculpture of a burro. (I am fairly sure the real thing is a lot cheaper.) Shopkeepers were uniformly friendly and always permitted photography.

Two of our friends went home today, and we say goodbye to the others tonight. Tomorrow's destination: Buena Vista, Colorado.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

RV trip day 2: The Miracle Staircase

Santa Fe is one of the prettiest cities I've seen. We're here through Sunday with some of our Las Cruces friends, and on Monday we'll go our separate ways. Though I don't expect to be actively selling my books on this trip, I will leave business cards on bulletin boards at all the RV sites—a low-key approach to be sure.
Today we visited Loretto Chapel, which is now a private museum. It's well worth paying the small admission to see the spectacular "Miracle Staircase." According to the story, the nuns who owned the chapel needed a staircase to get to the upper level, but there wasn't enough room for a conventional set of stairs. So they prayed, and along came an anonymous carpenter who built essentially what you see in the picture and then disappeared without accepting payment. It seems to have no supports except for a small brace added later. Originally it had no railing and banister, which it's said made for scary ascents and descents.

Here's a wonderful statue in front of a shop downtown. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

RV trip day 1: Santa Fe

Too tired to blog. We and the two cats are whipped. Here is a flower from the courtyard of the New Mexico  Museum of Art in Santa Fe. Much more when I'm rested.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

RV trip, Day 0: Are we there yet?

We're excited! Our month-long 3,000-mile RV trip begins in the morning as we head north to Santa Fe. We'll explore the city with two other couples for a while, then head north into Rocky Mountain country in Colorado, west to Salt Lake City, north to Yellowstone, and east to South Dakota.

Please check in regularly for trip updates and photos, as I'll try to post on most days.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gary Presley’s Seven Wheelchairs

My friend Gary Presley wrote a nice blog entry about When Pigs Fly yesterday. The gentleman has taste!

Gary is an accomplished writer who authored Seven Wheelchairs, his autobiography. I've read it and highly recommend it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Oh, do you wonder what that ripping sound is? Well, I had a book signing at the Coas Bookstore in Las Cruces today. A nice elderly lady named Sandra sat down to chat with me and said she'd buy my book. She hailed a clerk and asked exactly how much my book was with the tax—$16.05, she was told. My, you're going to bankrupt me, she said as she peeled off three twenties. We stopped her from paying $60.05, but by golly, she was about to do it.

Anyway, I signed a copy for her. Then Sandra and I chatted about the Christian missionary work she and her family have done in Yunnan, China; and then she talked about her reading tastes. She likes clean, old-fashioned romance novels, not the modern kind with dirty parts in them. When she gets to a place in a book that has a dirty part, she said, she rips the page out. That didn't seem like the time to go into detail about the book I'd just inscribed to her, which while not exactly dirty, does have a plot that revolves around a porn shop. And there are parts where, um...

She left the store with a small stack of books and assured me she would read mine first. So if you hear the sound of ripping pages, that's Sandra with my book.

The photo shows the sign I displayed using a quote from an Amazon review by Jack Shakely.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Add links to your blog comments

When you post a comment on someone's blog, maybe you'd like to put a live link in your signature line to make it easy for people to visit  your own blog. Here's how to do it:

Say you want the text Internet Review of Books to be your linked text. You need to add the following HTML code:

<a href=""> Internet Review of Books</a>

The result:

Friday, May 08, 2009

Review of Silver City’s
Bear Mountain Lodge

This is my May column for Southwest Senior, which arrived in today's mail:

Local authors, local books: Silver City’s Bear Mountain Lodge

By Bob Sanchez

Was she an heiress?

That’s what historian and writer Donna Eichstaedt wanted to know as she read the sign saying that Mrs. Myra McCormick was ill and the Bear Mountain Lodge near Silver City was closing. Perhaps the woman was related to the family of Cyrus McCormick of mechanical reaper fame. “We are always looking for interesting stories,” Eichstaedt told me, and she saw possibilities—New Mexico had often been a destination for heirs and heiresses back when such people were more common.

Had the answer been yes, the story would have developed differently. But Mrs. McCormick was no heiress, although she turned out to be an interesting woman in her own right. So Eichstaedt decided to write an article about the lodge anyway, and the article developed into a short book, Silver City’s Bear Mountain Lodge: The Untold Story. Seeing photos of Mrs. McCormick and the lodge “really got (Eichstaedt’s) adrenaline going” and inspired Eichstaedt to start writing.

Apparently, Myra McCormick was a “peculiar and caustic” character whose personality was forged in the Depression. During her research, Eichstaedt heard stories of McCormick doling out a single washcloth and a single towel per person for a guest’s entire stay at the lodge, and of a guest catching her pouring water from a dog’s dish into a pitcher meant for iced tea.

As it turned out, the original owners became the book’s primary focus. In the 1920s Juanita Franks and Walter Langer married and settled in New Mexico to run a home for disturbed boys, but their backgrounds were too different for them to stay married. After a stint back east, Juanita returned home to New Mexico, while Walter’s heart was on the east coast and in Europe. In time he became a renowned psychiatrist and a disciple of Sigmund Freud. As his contribution to the Allies in World War II, he wrote a secret report for the U.S. Government that analyzed Hitler’s psyche with remarkable accuracy. Once declassified in the early 1970s, the report became a best-selling book entitled The Mind of Adolf Hitler, which incidentally I remember reading. The divorce of Franks and Langer, Eichstaedt says, is a “classic example of how the power of history separates people.”

Juanita Franks tended the lodge for many years before selling it to Myra McCormick. Juanita lived to be 103, and a photo of her and the author grace the back cover. McCormick in turn left the lodge to the Nature Conservancy.

Eichstaedt has a real curiosity about New Mexico, which she conveys through her clear and entertaining writing. An assistant professor of history at Dona Ana Community College and a director of the Doña Ana County Historical Society, she earned her Ph.D. in history from Illinois State University.  She had been dean of Lincoln College in Illinois before moving with her husband to Las Cruces since 1992.

Donna credits the Nature Conservancy for their support in her researching and writing the book. Her next project will be an article about the psychoanalyst Eduard Hitschmann, whom she describes as having been Sigmund Freud’s best friend.

Published in 2008 by Southwest Senior Books, Silver City’s Bear Mountain Lodge is out of print, but copies are available through Coas, Southwest Senior, or from the author. It’s well researched and well written, and a good addition to the library of any lover of New Mexican lore.

If you are a published local writer and would like me to review your book, mail a copy to:
Southwest Senior
P.O. Box 1053
Las Cruces, NM 88004
Attention: Bob Sanchez

Be sure to include your contact information.

Bob Sanchez is the author of Getting Lucky, available from Amazon at, and he blogs at