Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Speaking of service ...

This entry was inspired by a post I read on another blog (see the link for Write to say it over there on the left). That blogger was frustrated by the modern definition of "service." He was trying to check into a hotel, and he'd asked for a particular size of room, and he requested nonsmoking. Eventually, the clerk was able to tell him that the computer said there were no nonsmoking rooms of that size available. Since the computer said it was so, that was that.

Here in Rio Arriba County, we are fortunate to have some innkeepers who don't need to wait for a computer to tell them whether a particular type of room is available. They already know, off the top of their heads, what lodgings are available. While Five O'Clock Somewhere was under construction, we greatly enjoyed the services provided by these people. And there was never any question about the availablility of nonsmoking lodgings.

At the Shamrock Hotel (the Chama Choo Choo link at left), there's no question about the availability of nonsmoking rooms. Because it's a historic lodging, with not-so-modern construction, the insurance company insists that ALL rooms be nonsmoking. The Shamrock was designed to be the latest in modern convenience, with such luxuries as most rooms having private bathrooms. Unfortunately, it was completed in 1930, just in time for the Great Depression. It's seen its share of hard times. Now, it's furnished with vintage furniture, and recalls an era long gone. My favorite is the front suite, where some unknown artist started (but didn't finish) a painting of a mermaid on the bathroom wall. She looks like some star of the silent movies, but I have no idea who painted her, or whom she might be modeled upon.

The other place where you can be sure of getting personal service is the Stone House Lodge. There are a half-dozen one- and two-bedroom cabins, two studio apartments, a three-bedroom mobile home, and the Stone House itself, a big cabin suitable for conferences that sleeps about 17 people. There aren't any designated non-smoking facilities, but these cabins are VERY rustic -- even when all of the windows and doors are shut, there's enough air flowing through that smoke is thoroughly dispersed. The big virtue of the Stone House facilities is that you can do all of your own cooking; all units have very well equipped kitchens. You can go fishing, and then you can fry up your catch for dinner within hours of catching it. And if you want to supplement your fish with some home-cooked pie for dessert, the Stone House restaurant produces the most awesome home-made pie ever.


Blogger Pat said...

Roger & Barbara at the Shamrock Hotel / Chama Choo Choo can also tell you all about trains and have a gift shop / art / t-shirt / coin-sculpture / fine/train art sort of gallery that's just plain fun to wander through. Of course, if you want to get into the hotel business and want to be right next to where the coal-burning steam locomotives start and end their day, they'll make you a deal on a hotel of your own... it's officially for sale, though things happen slowly in the Chama Valley. Oh, and there's an ice cream and fudge shop right next door.

The danish rolls for breakfast take-out are also good at the Stone House Lodge. And then there's the chocolate cake they baked yesterday morning ... with a little bit of a soft-serve ice cream accent. Mariln and her family are very much a local institution.

Carol Anne learned that she enjoyed cooking a lot more when she was on vacation and free of big-city and job stresses when we rented cabins at the Stone House Lodge. The ability to cook there led Carol Anne to insist that we get a decent kitchen when we shopped for our cabin.

Which segues somehow into next Saturday's dessert potluck following the New Mexico Sailing Club dinner at the Heron Lake Marina (Sat. Aug. 20th, 2005).

Other places we've enjoyed in the Chama Valley include

The Guest Cottages at Tierra Wools in Los Ojos -- nicely furnished and sited in a very old-timey northern New Mexico village.

High Country restaurant, lounge, package store -- some of the best food in Chama and a meeting room and patio in back; also a nice Sunday brunch with a chef on hand for custom omelettes.

Elkhorn Cafe -- south edge of Chama, good sandwiches and such as reasonable prices. Small staff, so we do sometimes avoid it if it looks too overrun with turistas.

Cooks and Books -- next to the Chama Valley Mart. Order sandwiches or ribs or whatever they have that's special.

Not such a good example of service -- Viva Vera's Mexican restaurant died when its owner, a longtime Chama institution passed away. My impression was that Vera Alcon's descendents who were involved with the restaurant didn't have nearly the commitment to service or friendliness to customers that she'd had. I remember encountering a son or nephew or some such who seemed to be a little annoyed by the nuisance of having to bother with customers, even semi-regulars.

Mon Aug 15, 02:11:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

One other useful bit of information about the places Pat names above: Cookin' and Books has a beer-and-wine license, and the High Country has a full liquor license.

Mon Aug 15, 11:40:00 PM MDT  

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