Answer when Ruidoso calls

Clyde Davis

Personally, I’ve never needed a good reason to go to Ruidoso — a western Pennsylvania boy gets homesick for land that isn’t flat, anyway. However, in this column, with summer stretching out before us, I’m going to give you several good reasons.
One reason, of course, is the relative cost. You can do everything mentioned in this column and still get back to Clovis before 1 a.m. (If you do decide to overnight, please be aware you cannot camp on public lands at this time; they are closed because of the fire status.)
So here we are arriving in town in time for an early lunch. Cafe Rio, located right on Sudderth, is a hidden jewel; if you aren’t looking for it, you’d miss it. That would be a real shame, because the price is right, the decor colorful and unique, the staff gracious and accommodating, and the food out of this world. Maybe I should say, around this world.
International, homemade cuisine is the specialty of the house. We had a Greek salad that was, if possible, better than the ones I make, and shared a spinokopita that was just fantastic. Nothing on the menu comes from a microwave. It’s all prepared right there in the kitchen, from fresh ingredients.
For dessert, walk across Sudderth and go back east a couple of blocks, then take a turn toward the river (north, if you prefer.) One block off of Sudderth is the Pie Pantry. For the past couple of years, this hidden garden of delights has been baking and serving fresh pies of all kinds. Like the Cafe Rio, the ingredients, preparation and baking are all done right there in the kitchen, no prepackaged stuff. Does this remind you of your grandma? In this day and age, even grandma doesn’t usually make her own pies. Janice and I shared a slice of apple pie, with ice cream, which is the only way to do it justice. Yep, that’s an indicator of how large the pie slices are.
Okay, let’s do a gallery stop. Gift shops abound in Ruidoso, if you get my drift, but we dropped by Mountain Arts Gallery, walking back up to Sudderth for this cultural experience. No surprise, the majority of the work is Western art.
How about Teri Sodd’s beautiful, color-rich portrayals of first American women? The artist, it is said, uses herself as a model, which explains her seemingly intimate ability to communicate emotions, moods and intuitions in her work. A completely different approach is taken by Judy Larson, whose nature subjects — animals depicted in outdoor settings —reveal more than first meets the eye. Behind the wild horses, are embedded the images of riders. Within the litter of wolf pups, the shadows of human children can be discerned. Also in the gallery, one finds the work of two of my personal favorite Western artists: Dorey Burns’ dramatic, larger-than-life cowgirls and Tim Cox’s understated ranching scenes.
Since it was our anniversary trip, Janice and I couldn’t wish to finish the day without some music and dancing. Inn of the Mountain Gods is currently featuring, on an ongoing contract, the Texas group Sixshooter. All are experienced musicians, and if you like to dance, you’ll be cheating yourself if you don’t make it down to the Inn of the Mountain Gods sometime this summer to hear them.
Everything mentioned in this column is cost reasonable, too.
Even with the outdoor activities temporarily sealed off because of the fire danger, there is plenty to do in Ruidoso, and you can do it all and get back before — well, before it’s too far into the next morning.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: