Sunday, March 29, 2009

Deep in My Heart

Things got better shortly after we crossed into Texas. But then, I knew they would. New Mexico is a very nice state and they keep up I-10 in admirable condition, but we sang a round of The Eyes of Texas as we rolled by the granite and bronze welcoming star and I knew I was home at last.

Shortly thereafter, we were at Exit 6, The Outlets of El Paso, easily visible from the highway because of the bright desert and Mexican colors-- deep purple, sage, ochre, terra cotta-- splashed across the sagebrush. Indeed, there was tumbleweed blowing down the main walking street in the center of the mall.

The mall seems very new: it's spiffy, well designed and, as Hemingway might say, 'a clean, well-lighted outlet mall'. We went to the Old Navy outlet, Sarah and I each carrying a doxie who was gently stuffed into one of the store's shopping carts cum baby seat. Both boys sat peacefully in their respective carts while we shopped. I was in search of more t-shirts like several I already own from the regular retail Old Navy in Novato, but no luck.

Still we found a pleasant mix of low-cost merchandise they seemingly wanted to unload and new, spring clothing that was at regular price. Old Navy outlets are famous for selling regular price merchandise, so you need to pay attention before you celebrate your bargains.

My check-out rang at $112, which was the most fun I've had in quite a while: 4 t-shirts, a pair of trousers, a 'silk georgette' peasant blouse and a print hoodie. Of course it all mixes and matches and is machine washable. Now I am well equipped for the Born to Shop research trip to Italy in May.

There weren't too many stores we hadn't seen before and fell into the discussion of just how many outlet malls one needs to visit before it all goes stale, but still...we were impressed. There are a handful of high-end brands such as Coach and Brooks Brothers and a lot of shoe and board stores with the usual suspects thrown in. There is a food court, but because we had the Doxie Boys with us, we were in search of a Sonic.

We never really found Sonic, but were quite happy to find Fuddruckers and a stream of cowboy boot outlets: Tony Lama, Justin and Luchesse. Sam Luchesse was my first subject when I began work for People Magazine, so the brand is dear to me. Sam passed away in 1980 and the firm was sold out of the family. Yet the quality is unmistakable. The difference in the quality of the product at Luchesse when compared to the other brands is simply funny. Luchesse is more or less the same price but thousands of times better.

El Paso stretches and sprawls around mountain peaks and sagebrush, from exits 1-35 or so. Since I-10 is the heart of everything and maps were free and readily available, we just kept going east. After the outlet mall, we stopped at a roadside frutero truck and bought mangoes, $7 for a crate. They are golden female mangoes and should be ready to devour as soon as we hit San Antonio.

We spent the afternoon driving from outlet to outlet in El Paso-- many were closed on Sundays. We are drooling for the two acre store with the three acres of parking and look forward to getting there when they open tomorrow.

Until then, we can remember the just viewed sunset over the plains, the glowing red sign at Krispy Kremes which delivered a warm, fresh dozen into our laps and settle in to watch Sunday night television here at the Red Roof Inn.

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