January 31, 2022- Carrie is another soul whom I could swear I’ve known for centuries. The young Park Ranger minds the Visitors’ Center at Coronado National Memorial, assisted by a small crew of Border Patrol agents who keep watch on the roads that intersect this National Park property, in southwest Cochise County. We talked, for about thirty minutes, about the effects of the border wall and barbed-wire fence on the movement of wildlife, especially large cats (jaguars and ocelots). She sees the barriers as a trade-off for security that definitely makes her own situation a lot safer-though she longs for the day when such blockades are unnecessary. The ease of our conversation reminded me of others, with whom I could walk in and begin speaking, as if we were resuming an interaction that had been interrupted by some strange event, a while back. Then, too, there was the group of mule deer, which visits her and watches through the large picture window. They are like members of her family.
The Monument, as its known hereabouts, commemorates the explorations of Juan Vazquez de Coronado and his party, who marched from Compostela, on the west coast of Mexico Proper, through the Sonoran Desert and the Sky Island country of what is now southern Arizona, clear past the Rocky Mountains of present-day New Mexico and Colorado, to an area of central Kansas, near Salina, which he called Quivira. The expedition was manned largely by indigenous Mexicans, with a few hundred Spaniards and a hundred or so Africans. Coronado’s legacy, like that of most European conquerors, is a mixed bag. He is no hero to the Puebloans, whose ancestors were slaughtered in the Tiguex War of the mid-Sixteenth Century, but is remembered more neutrally by the Apache and by the Plains nations, such as the Wichita and Arapaho.
Here are some views of Coronado National Memorial. Below is Ranger Carrie’s work space.
I dubbed these the Jaguar Watch.
The southern terminus of the 800-mile Arizona Trail can be reached by hiking the steep, 3-mile round trip Yaqui Ridge Trail. This is a task for another visit, possibly in early March. As it was, the day was well-spent, and featured everything from a power outage, just before I checked out of Motel 6 in Douglas to a Zoom meeting that I joined from Casa Grande’s Public Library. In between was the rewarding time spent at “the Monument” .