The Road to 65, Mile 32: Time Is On Our Side

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December 30, 2014, Prescott-  This is the sort of day, in between a lot of hoopla, when it’s just good to take a deep breath, do some errands, and make some soup-in anticipation of tomorrow’s storm.  I spent some quality time with friends, this evening, and we were given little to do for this bi-weekly spiritual gathering, other than recap the high points and themes of last weekend’s Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference.

On calm, relatively uneventful days, it’s tempting to leap into the future, in mind and heart.  Here’s the deal, though:  The future, being full of a range of possibilities and challenges, might cause the skittish to run for cover, the way the idiots on Wall Street are doing today.  The future does not belong to such as these.  It can only be owned by those who move ahead with confidence, and wave to the cowards hiding behind their little rocks.  It can only belong to those who are grounded.

We were told, repeatedly, last weekend that this is the Age of Responsibility.  Those who raise children to think for themselves, and develop their innate talents to the fullest extent possible, will be rewarded with the marvels those young people accomplish.  Those who own up to their actions and statements, both good and bad, will have the best chance of capitalizing on their achievements and of learning from their mistakes.  So, time,like other resources, can be either a source of infinite bounty, or it can be a leaden albatross, dragging its bearer into a dark pit.

I believe time is on the side of the former.

The Road to 65, Mile 31: Wild, Tame and Just Plain Ornery

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December 29, 2014, Prescott-   This post will be short and to the point:  I don’t like meanness in human beings.  A rural community in the South, where good folks have made sport with animals for centuries, has decided it’s time to grow up, as a community, and put an end to live animals being dropped pell mell, in a cage, into the public square, as a New Year celebration.

That this is done to an animal that can be pretty ornery itself, and which is overpopulated in much of the country, doesn’t make the case for lowering ourselves to the animal’s level.  Humans are just better than that, or ought to strive to be better.  The same goes for bullfighting, slicing fins off sharks, dogfighting, cockfighting, and knocking the crap out of turkeys in a factory slaughterhouse.  The above, except for most dogs, are all pretty nasty creatures. That doesn’t justify our being atrocious.

I had a dream once, where I was given the opportunity to torture a tyrannical man, who was chained up.  I looked in his eyes and saw a totally fear-ridden soul.  I couldn’t do it, especially as he was disempowered and would not likely be a threat to anyone.  My recollection of the film, Gandhi, which I saw about ten years after I had that dream, was of Mahatma saying, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Back to animals:  They are, big and small, each given a means to defend themselves.  Those with teeth or beaks, bite.  Those with stingers, sting.  Claws and hooves can kill a perceived attacker.  A few months ago, a commenter on another social media site wrote that wild animals are unnecessary, and he wouldn’t mind seeing them all wiped out.  What havoc that would wreak on the balance of nature is not something with which I’d like to take a chance.  It may seem naive, but I’d rather encourage natural predators to do their work, and if they need help in controlling an overpopulated species, then Man ought to go in and cull the excess, but in a humane manner.  As I see it now, only some species of insects, rodents in cities and some kinds of deer are overpopulated, and we can humanely deal with this problem.  There is no need to be ornery in the process.

The Road to 65, Mile 30: Somnambulation

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December 28, 2014, Phoenix- When I was in seventh grade, my home room/math teacher, a burly, gruff Chicagoan named Mr. Anzalone, regularly disparaged those of us who were zoning out during class as “Unconscious”.  He’s gone now, but the sobriquet still seems to fit a good many people.  The theme of today’s final sessions of the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference is that many, if not most people, over the past seventy years, or longer, have been going about their lives with a sort of tunnel vision.

I don’t exempt myself from this state of being, though the percentage of time when I am totally in tune with my surroundings has increased markedly, since I have started using essential-oils based supplements.  The doltish behaviours still rear their awkward visages, from time to time, but less so than before.

Part of the whole mass somnambulance seems to stem from the notion that we, as individuals, don’t matter much, that the mechanism which supposedly controls it all, and its minions, will just roll over us, anyway.  People on the Left scream when police or military die in the line of duty, and are covered by the press.  People on the Right scream when the President appears on television,on the golf course, or anywhere near where they live.  The common thread is  “WHAT. ABOUT. ME?” Then, it’s back to the Cocoon of Square One.

Everyone’s life matters. Giving a slain police officer, firefighter or member of the Armed Forces his/her due tribute does not take away from your uncle who had a fatal heart attack, three months ago, or the homeless guy on the corner, who froze to death because the local shelter decided that minimum temperature had not been reached that night, or your friend’s cousin’s next-door-neighbour’s grandmother, who passed quietly in her sleep, at age 98.  Pain is pain; mourning deserves respect.  Where this connects with a sleepwalking state is the point at which we can no longer see the social value of honouring our troops or our First Responders, because they are not in our immediate circle.

Everyone’s life deserves dignity.  I am not a financially wealthy man.  I cannot give to any more than a few of the three dozen organizations which solicit my money on a daily basis, online,  by mail, or, until I activated the “No Soliciting” tab on my landline, by phone.  I do not give cash to people on the street, because that may well just be a green light for self-destructive habits.  I will buy food, water or a hot beverage for a needy person.  I may give a ride to someone in need.  I do not mock, hassle or bully people, because no one deserves it, and besides, I am only one lost job away from the streets, myself.

The bottom line is, in this day and age of warp-speed change, we each need, more than ever, to awaken from a semi-conscious state, and prepare ourselves, in every way possible, to be of service and of a full awareness.

The Road to 65, Mile 29: Darkening, Below the Peaks

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December 27, 2014, Phoenix-   When I was 18, and working at the General Electric Company’s Riverworks, in Lynn, MA, word came up the pipes that one of our town’s favourite police officers, Augustine J. “Gus” Belmonte, had been slain, while busting up a robbery attempt at a Saugus restaurant.  Rumours flew about that it was an execution, ordered by this or that Mob boss.  Gus was a man of the people, and enforced the law in an even-handed, humane manner.  It turned out that the killers were Irish-American thugs, but not tied to any crime family, per se.  All Saugus turned out to see Gus off to his place in Heaven.

I was a jerk-wad kid, back then, and probably struck a lot of people as being barely able to tie my own shoelaces, but I thought the world of Augustine J. Belmonte.  He was in the prime of his life, forty-four years of age, when the Lord called him home.

Fast forward, nearly forty-six years later, to Flagstaff, AZ.  Tyler Stewart, a young man from north Phoenix, serving in his first year as a police officer on the Flagstaff force, responded to a domestic violence call, in one of the mountain town’s few tough neighbourhoods.  The perp got the officer’s confidence by seeming to be polite and co-operative, then got the drop on Officer Stewart.  Tyler Stewart was 24.

Flagstaff is a university community, a ski resort and an outdoorsman’s year-round paradise.  The San Francisco Peaks, an alpine sky city, loom to the north and smaller peaks like Mount Elden, Mars Hill and Kendrick Peak beckon to hikers and runners, as well.  It is also a railroad town, as anyone seeking a good night’s sleep in any of the motels along Old U.S. 66 can attest.  Drifters and the troubled find their way here, en route to or from California or  Las Vegas, and many stay.  Robert Smith, who killed Officer Stewart before turning the gun on himself, was one of those troubled souls.  He was 28.

While this transpired, on a sunny Saturday-after-Christmas, I was in a faith-based conference in Phoenix, learning of systemic alternatives to greed, rapacity and vengeance.  It occurred to those of us who heard of this incident, over dinner, that there is, when people feel utterly trapped, and at the mercy of wolves, so to speak-they revert to savagery, however tempered by cunning that it may be.

We often worry about high-profile catastrophe: Mass murders, such as the Twin Towers, Newtown or Peshawar; missing and ill-fated airplanes, of which there have been three this year; or almost incomprehensible global phenomena, such as the Mega-Tsunami of ten years ago, Friday.  The more common tragedy is, collectively, like death by a thousand cuts.  Four police officers have been killed, in the line of duty, over the past two months. Some blame an obscure street gang, which has “declared war” on police. To date, that group has not carried out any of its threats.  The deaths which have occurred, are all random results of a torn social fabric.  The mentally ill, from unrestrained sociopaths to schiziphrenics, who are shunted aside by the hipsters and the Men of Purpose, have, in each case, been shown to be the perpetrators.

While there is no conspiracy, there is an issue that needs to be addressed.  Registration of firearms, as appealing  and, in many cases, necessary as it is, resolves only a small part of the problem.  It has not been that many years since I had to explain to my then-teenaged son how it was that a schizoid man could behead his own flesh and blood, and toss the head out of his moving truck, onto a highway full of horrified commuters.  No human being can long be made to feel that he or she is irrelevant to the very people in whom trust has been placed.  The rest of us will soon have to bear the full cost, and dollars are a very small part of that cost- as everyone who has tried to make mental health care all about the money has learned, to their chagrin.

In a couple of days, most of us will assess this departed year and gaze ahead at the broad horizon of anno novo. The sunrise and sunset will appear the same.  Perhaps somewhere, an overloaded ferry, in a far-off place, will be the first reported disaster.  The jails will be full of those who over-celebrated.  In New York City, a young widow will wake up alone, and two fatherless boys will look at the empty dining-room chair, where their father used to sit.  In the Anthem neighbourhood of Phoenix, a veteran State Police officer will look out the window, and tears will stream down his face- as he wonders “Why MY son?”. even as he knows the answer, full-well.  In the Old Town section of Flagstaff, a young woman will also wake up, without the man she thought she could trust, and hopefully not blame herself.

Life is beautiful, under the shadow of the Peaks, and it is also grim.

The Road to 65, Mile 28: Transformation Begins Here

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December 26, 2014, Phoenix-  Every spiritual quest has a beginning, middle and end.  The mid point of my present journey was in Truth or Consequences- quite a surprise, as I had figured on being in the mountains by then.  The Universe has much figured-out, that it only reveals to us in layers.  A snarky commentator on another Word Press site, angrily disputed the notion that we need focus on the Present.  My take is that without that focus, the Future he so adamantly says SHOULD be our focus, presents itself as a chaotic jumble of unclear choices.

I am now in Phoenix, attending the 30th Annual Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, so named because this is the Grand Canyon State.  It is apropos in another way, as well.  Here, we can collectively delve into a wealth of spiritual and social issues.  Perhaps fortuitously, a major focus this year is our relationship to finance- both personal and communal.

I recognize that, before my own financial house gets seriously in order, which my heart tells me is about to happen, I need to complete some unresolved aspects of personal spiritual transformation.  The humility part is down, and the discipline part is getting there.  Tightening up on occasional use of coarse language, always done in trusting private, is definitely necessary now.  Dropping “F-bombs”, even in a state of righteous indignation, is like popping a bag full of coal dust.  It impresses few, and doesn’t do much to better a situation.  So, you might say this is my early “New Year’s Resolution”.  In that regard, what few such resolutions I make, I tend to keep.  Making vows to self, and not keeping them longer than a few days or weeks, is the wicked sibling to greeting a newly-opened gift with “Just what I always wanted”, or dismissing a compliment with a sneering “Oh, THAAANK you”.

Transformation is like the journey itself. it never really ends.  Even after our spirit and body bid each other farewell, the spirit moves on and on, and the body greets its friend, the soil, repaying Mother Earth, or in the case of cremation, the life-giving atmosphere, for having sustained it for so many years.  The spirit never stops growing- even after plateauing a while, the move forward resumes.

I was reminded of this tonight, as the great Van Gilmer, a Gospel and Spiritual artist of the first magnitude, led his equally-accomplished adult children, and an impromptu choir of Phoenix-area singers, in a rousing set of songs from those hand-clapping, foot-stomping, and supremely energizing genres.  “I made my vow to the Lord, that I never will turn back.  No, I will go, I shall go, to see what the end is going to be.”  This is what Christ called the “The end that shall have no end.”  So, it continues- the end of 2014 is fast approaching.  The beginning of 2015 comes swiftly thereafter.   I must be ready, and I will go, I shall go.

The Road to 65, Mile 27: The Finest of Yules

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December 25, 2014, Vail, AZ-

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When I finally got my phone plugged in, this evening, and was able to have a decent conversation with my mother, we each agreed that the other had done a good job of parenting.  We also gave credit to our now departed spouses.  The finest gift one could ever get, regardless of the occasion, is consistent love from a parent.

Some say it’s the parent with whom one shares gender, who is the most crucial influence in life.  I found the influence of both to be critical to my survival and happiness, over time.  I know Penny valued both of her parents, and her father loved his three girls, with all the paternal ardor he could muster.  Penny poured her heart and soul into raising our son, as did I.  What sparked this in my mind, was seeing a photo of a young man playing a video game on his phone, with his two daughters very close to him, and looking very glad that their Daddy was with them.

People can do all sorts of things that are positive, with their children.  Most of the messages I have received from people today about their family time, yesterday and today, have been positive and full of gratitude.  There are a few tales of conflict and strife, mainly from the victims of selfish and unhappy parents.  Those tales pain me, especially when I think of how much my parents did to make our lives joyful, and I know it wasn’t easy for them, a good many years.

I spent a marvelous Christmas Eve and Day with a couple of wonderful friends, just east of Tucson.  This is the first day in a while, that I don’t have a boatload of photos to unleash on you, my faithful readers.  Just know that enjoying a meal prepared by a woman who can barely eat anything, is worth all the buffets in all the casinos of the world.  Eating fresh-baked biscuits, as is, was one of the best breakfasts ever. My friend and I went out for lunch, he hoping to find a Chinese buffet.  We found a small place which prepared off the menu, and did even better, meal-wise, than we might have at a buffet.  The relaxation that I enjoyed the past two days was a huge Christmas gift.

So, too, was speaking with my Mom, after all these years, one of the best friends I could ever want.  She doesn’t feel old, and that does my heart fabulous.  Hope a fine Yule was had by you,but if not, look to the New Year.  Sometimes, Happy can’t be summoned within a given time frame.

The Road to 65, Mile 26: Homage to a Chief, and Hail to the Heathens

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December 24, 2014, Vail, AZ-  Growing up, and especially in my teens and twenties, Christmas Eve almost achieved a holiday status all its own.  As a young adult, it almost became a not-so-dry run for its sister Eve, a week later.  This morning, I scouted around for a breakfast place in Lordsburg.  The Pilot Truck Stop store turned out to be the closest thing to such an establishment, since I swore off fast food chains, a while back.  (Well, I do go in Subway, now and then, but you get the picture.)  Armed with a blueberry muffin and high test coffee, I checked out of Holiday Motel and headed west.

Cochise, the famed Apache warrior chief, was a complex man.  His thoughts on the state in which he found himself and his people were summed up by his observation to General Crook that the common enemy of both Apache and American was the Spaniard, who had long since disappeared from these lands, to be replaced by the Mexican, whom Cochise neither understood, nor trusted.  He didn’t particularly like Crook, but he did see the General as a man of his word.  The feeling was mutual.

Cochise would probably like the way in which his old redoubt, the Stronghold that bears his name, has been kept largely wild.  There are horse camps and vacation cottages nearby, but the campsites that are set aside, for those who come to pay their respects to him, are primitive.  Pack it in, pack it out, just as the Chiricahua people did.

I walked a short distance, from the Day Use trailhead, to the base of the Dragoons, and said quiet prayers to the Father of us all.  Like Quanah Parker did, at the Sipapu in Palo Duro Canyon, nearly three years ago, Cochise communicated with me:  “You are ever welcome at this place.  Return, at length, when you are able, my son.  For now, go in peace and harmony, and above all else, keep your word.”

SAM_3498 SAM_3502 SAM_3504 The ruggedness of Cochise Stronghold was soon replaced by the wild yapping of those whose owners call them the Heathen Hounds.  Hacienda Ranch lies a fair stretch down towards the road from Vail Steak House, one of my homes away from hom, when I’m down this way.  The Heathens and their people came this way, from Oklahoma, about six months ago.  These are hounds (chihuahuas) that like all such little critters, would gladly enjoy me as their breakfast.  Bob and Tamy are of a different opinion regarding yours truly, and so I was given a fine lunch and a nice little guest room.  So, I hailed the Heathens from the other room, and went off with Bob, exploring the low country, and a winding hill.

SAM_3505 After such a repast, the confluence of the Chihuahua and Sonoran Deserts called out pretty loudly.  There are no sahuaro, or yucca, in this transition zone, but everything else is here, including the javelina and coyotes.

SAM_3508 These ancient rocks are found along a wash, just southwest of Hacienda.SAM_3509 SAM_3511 SAM_3512 Bob and i went a bushwackin’ through the scrub, and found this seasonal tank.  He thinks a larger one lies just to the west of this one.  Maybe on a future jaunt, one or both of us will find it.SAM_3513 Th scene is recorded for posterity.SAM_3514 These next scenes are from the winding road up a nearby hill.SAM_3516 SAM_3519SAM_3517 SAM_3521 In the absence of sahuaro, the ocotillo take full advantage.  The dogs didn’t take advantage of me, but even if they tried, I’d have loved to death.

This Christmas Eve was spent watching a rebroadcast of A Christmas Story 2″, which bored me to tears, and . another, of “Pearl Harbor”, which delivered the full horror of that awful day.   One element of surprise, though, led to another, and as Admiral Yamamoto said, the sleeping giant had been awoken.

The Road to 65, Mile 25: Truth, Consequences and Delayed Gratification

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December 23, 2014, Lordsburg-  When I was a very young child, about 4 or 5, my maternal grandmother would occasionally babysit us, so both our parents could work.  Grama would sometimes have the radio broadcasting something about truth or consequences.  I could barely say the second name, but I knew what truth meant, and figured consequences were some kind of lies.

In March, 1950, shortly after i would have been conceived, the game show host Ralph Edwards, celebrating ten years of his successful radio show, “Truth or Consequences”, took an idea from a couple of staff members- to name an American town after the show.  The town selected was Hot Springs, New Mexico, which had the advantage of already being a prime tourist destination, due to its eponymous mineral baths and nearby Elephant Butte Lake, a man-made reservoir of the Rio Grande.  On April 1, Mr. Edwards, his wife and several crew members went to Hot Springs, for the official renaming, and the City of Truth or Consequences, “TRC”, was born.

I spent Monday night and Tuesday morning, enjoying the hospitality and vibrant civic spirit of this remarkable little community.  Here are some scenes from the Hot Springs Historic District and Geronimo Springs Historical Museum, Sierra County’s place of record.  The painted water tower and some brightly coloured homes reminded me of Bisbee, AZ.

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The San Andres Mountains rise to the southeast.SAM_3439 Quirky shops and eateries are scattered throughout the town.SAM_3447 Geronimo Springs Museum is a well-ordered and delightful place in which to learn of west central New Mexico.SAM_3441 A display of coloured glass and ceramic greets the visitor, outside.SAM_3443 So, too, does a log cabin.

SAM_3442 SAM_3465 Inside the museum are many features of paleontology, anthropology, local culture and history.  I started with Pleistocene relics, a mammoth skull, and one of a mastodon.

SAM_3455SAM_3456 Going backwards in time, here is a Devonian coral.SAM_3459 Next, are some fern fossils.

SAM_3460 This is the tale of a chair, brought from the original Sierra County Courthouse, in nearby Hillsboro.  The two towns disputed which would be county seat, and the State of New Mexico ruled in favour of Hot Springs.SAM_3463 The historical exhibits showed portraits of Geronimo, Don Juan de Onate, and cowboy author Eugene Rhodes.  This local hero outshines them all, in my opinion.SAM_3468 I left “TRC” a bit later than I had planned, but some serendipity is worth delayed gratification elsewhere.  I would end up putting off a visit to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and a walk around Silver City, but along the way to that area, I encountered several little gems.

Hillsboro, the aforementioned rival, was mostly closed up for the holidays.

SAM_3470  Not far up the road is Percha Creek, with a truss bridge and adjacent walkway/overlook.

SAM_3479 Emory Pass, at 8230 feet, is the highest point along this exquisite highway.  Here, I encountered a writer from Martha’s Vineyard, who is looking to relocate to warmer climes.  I gave him a few possible sites to explore, in that regard.  Emory was definitely not one of them- but it is a place of splendour.

SAM_3485 I stopped for lunch at La Tienda del Sol, in San Lorenzo, before visiting the Mimbres Ranger Station, which confirmed my suspicions about Gila Cliff Dwellings closing at 4 PM.  This delightful little place was full into the holiday spirit, as was Sunset Grill, in TRC, last night and this morning.

SAM_3487 I headed to Silver City, in the end, spent a short time at Fort Bayard National Cemetery, then continued down to Lordsburg.  The dusty desert town has its own gems, among them the comfortable and inexpensive Holiday Motel (NOT “Inn”) and Kranberry’s Family Restaurant, open for lunch and dinner.  I was treated like royalty in both places.  Days like this will bring me back to this area in the Spring, and then we’ll see about Gila Cliff Dwellings and vicinity.

The Road to 65, Mile 24: A Refuge and A Fortress

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December 22, 2014, Truth or Consequences- It was a mild day, which I started with a lovely breakfast of Strawberry Pancakes and sausage patties, at Socorro’s El Camino Family Restaurant.  Once again, all the regulars were present; nobody named Strawberry, though.

I set out for my first visit to Bosque del Apache (Apache Woods), since Penny and I came here in 1983.  It made an impression then, and did so now.  There were more sandhill cranes back then, and one of the docents gave a reason for the relative decline in their numbers.  The cranes have become dependent on corn that is grown by a farmer, who is employed by the Refuge.  The farmer they had, left and so, if anyone is interested in growing corn, specifically to feed birds, and be part of an upbeat crew of wildlife managers- contact Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife Service.

I began my drive down El Camino Real (New Mexico Highway 1), with a stop at this defunct Catholic church, in San Antonio, NM.  This little village has few remaining residents,but it is still worth remembering.  Each small settlement along the Royal Road was once a major stop, for those on foot or on horseback.

SAM_3347 I was greeted, upon my entrance into the Wildlife Refuge, by a Greater Sandhill Crane, perched on a branch.  Of course, he flew off immediately as I got my camera ready to shoot.  Continuing on, I walked a 3-mile loop of Chupadera National Recreational Trail.  The whole trail, up Chupadera Peak and back, would’ve been 9 miles.  I had more on my agenda, so that can be done another time.  The cairns mark each length of the trail.SAM_3355 Watch out!  The snakes and scorpions may be hibernating.  Not so, the thorny bushes.SAM_3358 Out in the distance, lie the San Andres Mountains.SAM_3360 Ann Young was an avid birder, who has since passed on.  To make up for the relative lack of wintering birds this year, here is a video of one of her last visits to Bosque: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyecyGVWrto.SAM_3361 New growth is taking its place, all over Bosque del Apache.SAM_3363 From the window of the Visitor Center, one can sit for hours, just watching the various finches, wrens and hummingbirds eat their fill.  Many, though, prefer the findings on the ground and in the brush.SAM_3367 Believe it or not, a bald eagle is perched in the cottonwood tree on the right.SAM_3369 Trees growing up out of the sandbars create a safe haven for aquatic life, but also are a convenient place for raptors to sit and enjoy the view.SAM_3372 I walked this berm, around a marsh that is full, seasonally.  This is not the season of its fullness, but I got a sense of what it could be.  A Cooper’s hawk followed me around the loop, screeching, but never quite finding its favourite meal.SAM_3376 Raptors, cliff swallows and barn swallows make their nests in these sandstone cliffs.SAM_3383 SAM_3386 Here is an overlook, above the Marsh Trail.SAM_3389 When I climbed the path, this was my view.  Some say the Chihuahua Desert is more barren than the Sonoran.  Right now, I’d say they are correct.

SAM_3390 This is an oxbow of the Rio Grande, and trends towards dry, even when the river itself is full.SAM_3395 As you can see in Ann Young’s video, sometimes the bed under this boardwalk is full of water.  Not today.SAM_3396 SAM_3399 It is good enough for cattails, though.SAM_3400 My spirit friend was on the job.SAM_3401 Once back along the main flow of the Rio Grande, I spotted a Lesser Sandhill Crane, by its lonesome.SAM_3412 From the Eagle Scout Deck, more evidence of past drynesses and flows could be seen.SAM_3415 On my next visit to Bosque, I will focus more on the North Loop and the Canyon Trail.  It’ll also mean taking in a Fly-In, at sunset.

Continuing down El Camino Real, I came to a dirt road, which led me to Fort Craig, five miles eastward.  This National Historic Site is comprised of ruins, and figures in three sorry episodes of our nation’s history:  The Mexican War, which was its raison d’etre; the Civil War, during which Confederates from Texas tried to use New Mexico as a steppingstone to Colorado’s gold fields; and the Trans- Mississippi Indian Wars, which just led to more suffering and misunderstandings, on both sides.  That its ruins stand at all, however, show just how formidable Fort Craig was.  Walking these paths brought me back to the ramparts and walls of France, Belgium and Luxembourg.  The pilings below support the earthworks, which defended the fort against the Confederate force.

SAM_3416 This is what’s left of the Guard House and Jail.  Prisoners were segregated by race, as were the soldiers.SAM_3418 These are the remains of the Commanding Officer’s Quarters.SAM_3420 SAM_3421 The perimeter walls were more formidable than they look now.SAM_3425SAM_3426 Here is the Magazine Storage, where ammunition was kept safe and dry.SAM_3431 The Battle of Valverde, near Socorro, was a Pyrrhic victory for the Confederates.  They lost so much in materiel that they were unable to capture Fort Craig and hobbled on to Albuquerque, never gaining control of New Mexico.SAM_3435 I don’t believe I have ever cast such a long shadow.  Being tired by now, my course of action was to stop in the unique town of Truth or Consequences.  The story has been told by someone on my Facebook wall, but I will discuss it at length in “Mile 25.”

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The Road to 65, Mile 23, Part II: Passed by This Place

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December 21, 2014, Socorro- I encountered two sets of people, atop Atsinna Pueblo, on El Morro.  One was a worldly, sophisticated couple, who showed mild interest in my observations, before  heading off to more intriguing things.  The others were grandparents and grandson, who had several questions about the nature of the settlement, and whether the Zuni were related to the Puebloans who lived in Atsinna, before the Spanish came.

These chance encounters set me to thinking;  What message, in picture and word, was each person who left his/her signature on Inscription Rock, trying to convey?  How has each been received by those who have seen these messages since?

Before addressing that issue further, let’s have a look at what we found yesterday, at Atsinna.

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SAM_3294SAM_3299  The area that was once farmed, below, is now home to junipers and a few Ponderosa pines.

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Snow and ice have given the Headland Trail a rest for several months.

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I turned around and headed to Inscription Rock, for a new look at some old friends, from thirty-one years ago.  Here some of the better examples of each period’s messages to posterity.  Can you see any resemblance to Mount Rushmore, above the lichen-created heart?SAM_3308

The next three frames show the natural pool, created by runoff and preserved by an artificial dam, and the striation caused by mineral absorption.SAM_3311

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SAM_3314  Next, are inscriptions by Puebloan peoples, Spanish explorers, and Americans headed west.

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A pair of Cliff Swallows also leave their mark, in the form of nests, barely visible under the slight overhang.SAM_3322SAM_3325SAM_3328   SAM_3329SAM_3330 SAM_3334SAM_3339 How many signatures and petroglyphs can you discern?

I spent a few minutes driving around Zuni Pueblo, but with all shops closed on Sunday, and my own practice of not taking photos inside a Pueblo village, I leave you with these two views of nearby mesas, which are sacred to the Zuni.

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SAM_3346  I continued on to dinner, in Magdalena and a restful sleep, in Socorro.  NEXT UP:  Mile 24- Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and Fort Craig National Historic Site.