40th Wedding Anniversary Trip to Casitas De Gila (Day 1)


I can’t believe how long it has been not only since this trip but since I wrote the last time. I have had tons of things to write about but I think that is the problem.

Earl (my husband) and I wanted to go somewhere or do something very special for our 40th wedding anniversary. He asked me what I wanted to do and the answer was easy! Go rockhounding!  I began my quest to find someplace to fit the bill. At first I though about flying up to see ours sons, Joe and Jon, and Jon’s girlfriend Emma, and then heading to Montana to look for sapphires or Oregon to mine for sunstones but realized the weather might not cooperate. I readjusted my thinking to try and find someplace within driving distance. I got on the computer and plugged in a few search terms with rockhounding being high on the list. I’m not really sure how I stumbled upon their website but I landed on a place called Casitas De Gila (click the name and it will take you to their website) in Gila, NM. I began reading about the B & B and low and behold one of the owners is a geologist! And not only that he has his PhD. plus he paints and his wife is a jewelry artist!

I showed Earl the website and he though the place looked like it was just what we were looking for. It is out in the middle of the boonies of New Mexico, quiet, in a dark sky area so we could see stars, has rocks you can actually pick-up on the property, nature, within driving distance if the weather turns bad and also within driving distance of really cool places to rock hunt! I email them to see if there was a casita available for our anniversary and we were in luck! They had one available so I reserved it for May 5th to the 9th. We also lucked out that the weather turned out to be pretty good so we were able to fly. We flew our plane, Big Blue, a Cessna 172 to Silver City where Enterprise  car rental true to their slogan came and picked us up. We rented an AWD mid-size SUV so we could drive where we wanted to or at least that was the hope.

When we got there we met Michael O’Connor, one of the owners and the geologist, and he lead us to our casita. We were lucky with that too. There are only 5 “rooms”. Two are duplexes and one is a 2 bedroom little house. We were on the end with nothing and no one beside us. We got in kinda late so we just took a stroll around our area and didn’t stray far. Dummy me forgot to take pictures of the inside of our little casita but if you look on the website (click here) you can see how the rooms look.

On Friday we decided to explore the grounds. Michael and Becky have 265 acres to explore and a running stream called Bear Creek through the property. They have 12 marked nature trails too! We decided to climb up the side of the mountain that was across the stream. OK, well maybe it’s more of a big hill but still….We hiked about half way up. It wasn’t very far as distance goes but it was a vertical climb of about 1000 feet. Here is a picture of our casita from up the trail.

Casitas De Gila from up on the hillside.

One of the things to understand with this B & B is that it is out in the middle of nowhere! There are no restaurants and no convenience stores to grab food but that is what I loved about it. To go to the grocery store you need to drive to Silver City which takes about 40 minutes. Anyway the point of that is to say that we brought food with us from Silver City and after coming down off the hill we had a really nice lunch of cheeses, bread and lunch meats. I was very proud of how well we did considering we could be in better…way better…shape. The rest of the afternoon was spent resting, relaxing and just winding down. It was great!

I did mention to Michael when we arrived that we were interested in what he could tell us about where to go rockhounding. He said to give him a call later and we could meet up. I did just that late in the afternoon after our hike. He asked me to come to his studio and he said he would give me some maps. I went by myself while Earl took a rest. His studio is something to see in and of itself. He had a painting in progress of the mesa’s at Black Hills Rockhounding State Park in Arizona. If I knew then what I know now I would have paid better attention to his painting, but I digress. I fully expected for Michael to give me a few maps and say go here for this and go there for that but he sat down with me and talked about where to find what and what to look for. He spent over an hour talking to me about the kind of rocks we could expect to find and where to find them. He also told me a little about the the geology of the area. It was really awesome that he would take so much time to help us. He told me about where to find fire agate, Apache tears, and  fluorite. He told me one of the guest had found some beautiful aquamarine fluorite and if we did go looking for fluorite could we let him know where we found it if we found it because that guest had only a vague idea about where they picked it up. I told Michael that I have a topo map app and I would be happy to give him the GPS coordinates if we found anything interesting.

I used US Topo Maps Pro and it worked really great!  You can find it at the Google play store.

Hopefully more to come tomorrow!

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