Saturday 27 August 2011
Valley Of Fires State Park Carrizozo NM
Hello again. Well I’m finally beginning to get caught back up on my writing and all of up dated with our travels. A lot has happened since July 4th when we crossed the new Mexico Stateline leaving Texas and a whole lot of new friends and thousands of great memories behind us with a new state and new adventures ahead.
At this time we are camped at the Valley Of Fires State Park on highway 380 west just four miles west of Carrizozo New Mexico. We have been camped here for the past ten days but have been in the Carrizozo area since August 8th.There is a reason for our extended stay. Somewhere around Mellrose NM we somehow managed to bend our rear axle and by the time we reached Carrizozo the right rear wheel was leaning in so bad we decided to switch out the rear axle with an axle that James Whitehead way back in Morton Texas suggested that we take along with us. But before I get to far along lets start at the beginning . July 4th the day we arrived in New Mexico.
Clovis New Mexico
Monday July 4th 2011
Monday morning July 4th we hit the road once again for the last few miles we would travel in Texas before crossing the Stateline at Texico New Mexico stopping for the night in Clovis New Mexico at Joe’s Boot Barn And Country Junction.
With most of the Fourth of July fireworks display haven been cancelled throughout much of West Texas due to the very dry conditions and threat of wildfires something that has plagued much of Texas over the past six months, the road into Clovis was packed with travelers headed into Clovis the one place that had not cancelled their Fourth of July fireworks show.
All along the way that day we were passed by many people that had seen us along the way in different towns along the way as they would pass they would wave and cheer us along more than a few stopping for pictures and supplying us with ice cold sodas and bottled water. We were having a great day rolling toward our destination of Joe’s Boot Barn.
Our water jugs were empty from the mornings watering of Pearle and her gang so as we passed thru Texico we noticed hanging on the wall in front of the grain elevator in town a water hose. As Mary was busy filling up the jugs who should pull up but the local Police Officer on duty that morning. Busted! Not really. He was just curious about the wagon and our travels and wished us well.
Just outside of town on the right hand side of the road is an agricultural stop and weighs station. We had been forewarned and told all sorts of nightmares about getting past this check point with all of our animals, especially since the recent equine herpes virus outbreak . I had inquired over the phone to a veterinarian office as to what paper work was needed to cross into NM. The girl I spoke with over the phone must have been working on commission. She tried to convince me that we needed all different sorts of medical records and health certificates, tick vaccination along with a new Coggins test on each animal at total cost of well over three hundred dollars. Nice try lady. I decided to chance just riding past since the sign stated that all persons transporting livestock must stop. We are not transporting livestock it’s the other way around, our livestock is transporting us. I must admit that it wasn’t my quick thinking that came up with this loophole; I have to thank our good friend and fellow teamster Bob Skelding for this idea. We rolled on past hoping that no one was looking out the window in our direction feeling like we were smuggling a load of contraband across stateliness. We made it past without any trouble while we were still within eyesight of the weigh station we were asked to pull over by a gentlemen of advanced years who with somewhat misty eyes checked out every inch of the wagon along with Pearle and Pauline, A true wagon and mule lover. I almost wished he could have been able to get up in the wagon with us I would have handed the reins over to him. It wasn’t hard to see that this man really missed the days gone by that he drove a team.
All across Texas we were told that we had to stop by Joe’s Boot Shop once we arrived in Clovis a fellow Muleskinner John McComsey mentioned it to us more than a few times. The last time that I was thru Clovis was way back in 1973 and a lot has changed since then. Coming into town we passed by several new and used car lots all boasting fantastic savings and rebates if you took home a new car or truck over the holiday. I pulled the wagon to a stop in front of a convenience store for some fast food and a cold drink. I asked a Policeman where Joe’s was he laughed and pointed not two hundred feet in front of me. Good thing I wasn’t hunting rattlesnakes.
Joe had it going this day the parking lot was full and so was the store. Outside in a corner of the lot one of Joe’s employees was operating a mechanical bull that was tossing youngsters off onto an air filled mat as quick as they got onboard. Pearle and her gang along with the wagon were an instant attraction. As I got down from the wagon I was greeted by one of Joe’s friendly staff. In no time at all a man wearing a big cowboy hat came rolling up to us in an electric wheel chair it was the man himself Joe Rhodes. Joe and I hit it right off. I told him how all across Texas folks insisted that we stop in. With a big smile and a firm handshake he invited us to pull the wagon around back and get set up for the night. Joe along with his staff were more than friendly to us getting us all set up with water and hay for the night a bathroom and electric we were set.
After getting the gang all set up and watered and the wagon unloaded, while Mary was getting the camp set up I went inside to check out this place we had heard so much about. It doesn’t matter what kind of cowboy or cowgirl you are if you can’t find it in Joe’s you’re just not going to find it. If its tack you’re looking for its here both new and used and at affordable prices. Also offers a full line of equine feeds and vitamins. If you are decorating your home in a western décor check out the Country Junction located in the same building, here you can furnish and decorate every room in the house. About the only thing you can’t buy in Joe’s is a new truck to haul everything home in, but as I already mentioned there are no shortage of truck dealerships within spitting distance.
After looking around for a bit inside I went to check on Mary and the pets only to get chewed out by some little old lady who was having a hissy fit because Pearle and her gang had drank all their water. This old gal mistook their begging for attention as a need for water. As I walked over to her she demanded of me to know just who these animals belonged to. I told her that I was that lucky person, that’s when she let me have it with both barrels. I tried to assure her that they were in no danger of dehydration and that they had already drank their fill. Well she wasn’t hearing any of it. She set herself to the task of refilling first Pearle’s bucket and then Pauline’s I had to laugh as each one of them promptly kicked over each full bucket. She wasn’t finished yet undaunted she set her sights on Dan and then Dusty for once displayed the good manners I’ve always known he posses ‘s he just turned his nose up and walked away. Dusty always the gentleman sniffed the bucket and went back to snoozing. She still wasn’t done with me, I got a big kick out of all this and just looked at her poor husband and smiled after all he’s the one that has go home with her. I’m sure she meant well and no harm was done and I got a good laugh. By this time the store was closing up. Joe as he was leaving closed the gate for us. This confused me just a little since when we had met earlier he was in an electric wheel chair. Joe had been bitten the year before by a tick and standing on the hard floors of the store all day is sometimes a little hard on his legs.
Joe was at the store bright and early Tuesday morning preparing to start the day. I needed to pick up some mail from the Post Office downtown along with a few other stops the bank etc. Now one would think that a city with over thirty two thousand people and a Air Force base would have a taxi service. Wrong guess again evidently from what I was told by several people is that there just isn’t enough business to keep a taxi company going. Not to fear though Joe was more than happy to give me the loan of his truck. First stop the bank where I chanced to meet Jo a very pretty woman who surprised me by telling me all about her grand kids while we were in line. I told her about the wagon and where we were. Jo said she would like to bring the kids by before we pulled out that morning. I left the bank and headed over to the Post Office and then back to Joe’s where a Ferrier that one of Joe’s guys had arranged for the night before to stop over and shoe Dan. This is embarrassing on my part. As most of you know I promote any American business owner that works hard for his or her income I am sorry to say that in our travels I have not only lost this man’s card but the paper I had with all those great guys and girls that make Joe’s Boot Barn such a good place to shop at.
When I pulled in he was just finishing up with Dan and I thought it would be funny to say he had shod the wrong horse with a quick laugh he offered to remove the shoes free of charge. I must say he did a very good job with Dan’s hooves and his prices were better than fair. I’m sorry that I lost your card but if you are reading this I want you know that you did an outstanding job.
Joe and I were talking about the hassles of buying boots for guys like me that only need one boot and how I hated tossing out that new left boot each time I purchased a pair. For all of you that don’t know yes I do have to pay full price for my boots even though I only wear the right boot. Joe had a solution to this dilemma of mine. He sent one of his salesmen to the back of the store and when he returned he had four brand new right Tony Lama boots in my size two for dress and two for work at no charge. THANKS JOE!!!It just gets better before we pulled out that day Joe loaded us up with six fifty pound bags of his best horse feed he offered nine bags but we just didn’t have the room. He promised this feed to be the best on the market not only for ease of digestion but strength, energy along with most of the essential daily vitamins that working horses and mules need. Along with a steady diet of good hay or alfalfa feed four pounds of feed per thousand pounds. This stuff really works not only does it do everything that I mentioned it also promotes a healthy coat. Pearle and Pauline work very hard pulling this wagon and need all the strength that they can get. One thing that I am always on guard for is an attack of colic in my years around horses I have seen numerous cases of colic more than a few of them fatal for the animal. I give the gang twelve percent sweet feed at the beginning of each day. I do not grain my stock at night after a day of hard work I do feed them good hay or alfalfa. This is just my method it may not be your way of doing things but it seems to work for me. Any way what I have noticed with this new feed is that while the girls are working, walking or trotting not only do they have more energy throughout the day they don’t seem to pass as much gas as they do with the sweet feeds all in all they just appear to be healthier. What is the name of this wonder feed you may ask? Well I’m not gonna tell ya! For that answer log onto www.joesbootshop.com or call 1-800-658-6378 or 505-763-3764 or fax505-763-3913. Joe or his knowledgeable staff will get you fixed right up. Here’s a little bit about Joe and his wife Darla they are celebrating over fifty years of marriage this year. Joe and Darla began Joe’s Boot Shop many years ago in Muleshoe Texas with just fifteen pairs of Tony Lama Boots. And a dream They were boots with slight imperfections in them. Over the years the business grew as did their reputation for treating the customer right selling high quality boots at a fair price. As the business grew so did the selection of items in the shop. Eventually they out grew their Muleshoe Texas location and relocated the shop to Clovis New Mexico. If you can’t make it to Clovis go on line and check them out. If you are passing through Clovis stop in and tell the them a one-legged mule skinner in a covered wagon sent you the shop is located at 2600 Mabry Dr. Clovis New Mexico 88101.
As we were getting the wagon ready to go Jo showed up with her grand kids and a huge doe that looked more bear than dog but had the attitude of a well cared for and spoiled puppy. He was so big me took up most of the rear seat of Jo’s car.
We said our good byes to everyone at Joe’s and hit the road for Mellrose NM a little over thirty miles away. As we rolled along thru Clovis on a narrow four lane road I have to give the people of clovis credit for their courteous driving , there was a few times that we held up the flow of traffic at intersections but nobody seemed to mind too much. On our way thru town we passed by a play ground full of kids that all ran to the fence to see our pets. Kids really seem to get a kick out of seeing horses. As a kid I was horse crazy and I’m happy to see that most kids today all seem to share the same dream of having a pony or horse of their own. Just think of all the money Wal-Mart would lose in a year if just three out of every ten kids had a pony instead of video games.
We were stopped by a guy in a white pickup truck outside of town who thought that what we are doing is the coolest thing he has ever seen. He was very adamant about his likes and dislikes in our government and society and insisted that while he would never give a dime to certain organizations he was more than happy to donate to our feed bill. After taking a bunch of pictures and congratulating us on our goals he bid us goodbye.
Not too far outside of town is Cannon Air Force Base at the far end of the base is off base housing and just past that is Reliable RV Park managed by a gentleman and his wife and son. They invited us to set up camp overnight refusing payment of any kind they were just happy to have us there. We stopped by the office on our way out the next morning hoping to at least get a business card so I could write more info about their RV Park that seems to have more military people living their than anyone else. That’s quite a change from when I was in the Navy back then you would hardly ever see an enlisted man and his family living in an RV sure a lot of enlisted family’s lived in trailer parks. It seems that the RV craze has affected everyone. I can see where it’s a great way for military family’s to live off base and not have to rent a house or apartment or buy a home only to have to try to sell it when it comes time to transfer to another base.
At the park we were greeted by a bunch of kids from about three years old to around sixteen all of them were very polite and full of questions . Pete and Jr. along with Dan, Pearle and Pauline were in heaven with all the petting and treats from the kids even Dusty who has had such a hard time learning to trust people is finally come around and now allows a few people to approach him and pet him. The RV park was a good stop a chance for a hot shower and a laundry mat.
Wednesday July 7th we hitched up and hit the road again for the very small town of Mellrose NM. Well that’s all for now it’s getting late and the bugs are making a nuisance of themselves flying around inside the wagon. New Mexico is not only famous for Billy the Kid it is a land of fascinating sunsets. I don’t roll out of bed early enough to see the sunrises I’ll have to ask Mary about that. I hope to have you all up to date on our travels over the next few days so please hang in there and thank you all so much for your patience. As always stay safe and please SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. Without them America would not be free. Goodnight.
wednesday July 7th
Wednesday morning we harnessed up the girls once again and headed out for the town of Merose NM. Population about 750. We got off to0 a pretty early start on the day and were on the road by 9:30am a pretty good start for us. From the RV Park we stayed the night at to Melrose is about twenty miles. The sun was shining as it has been foe several months now without any clouds in the sky above us and none on the horizon just a big blue empty sky. The weather was not too hot and the girls were pulling us along fine with Dan and Dusty trotting along behind getting into a disagreement with one another from time to time (just like two little boys). Junior was enjoying himself perched on his seat beside Mary on the constant lookout for birds or rabbits along the road always ready to leap from the wagon and go for a chase (we keep him tied up for this reason). As he has gotten older he has also gained a lot of speed and runs constantly chasing anything that he can. Pete was not having such a good day. Poor old Pete must have eaten something that didn’t sit well on his stomach. Twice we had to pull of the road for him to go relieve himself. Unfortunately he didn’t make it out of the wagon in time and twice we found ourselves having to clean up a not so pleasant smelling mess. Pete would get to feeling better as the day progressed. It was during one of these stops that we met Jonathan Riter a former Florida boat captain turned rancher here in NM. Jonathan was very interested in our travels and has also become friends with the Harrison family that left KY ahead of us on their bicycle built for five bound for Alaska. The Harrisons stayed with Jonathan and his wife for a few days while passing thru NM. Jonathan invited us to stay a few days at his place and we may have took him up on his offer if only he wasn’t sop far off the highway, Jonathan’s home is about twelve miles off the road almost a full days travel for us. Even though we didn’t take him up on his offer we would see Jonathan several more times over the weeks to follow.
Along the way we stopped several times for Pete and those who pulled over to see us and take pictures. As we were nearing the town of Melrose later in the day Mary seen something up ahead in the distance she was having a hard time making out with the aid of our very good binoculars she was able to se a guy trotting up to us on a very large grey horse. Ben Buran rode up to us and introduced himself and his horse as the unofficial welcoming committee of Melrose and invited us to come stay at his home for a few days. We followed Ben on into town and along the back streets to his house. As we were rolling thru town it was eay to see that at one time Melrose was a bustling community with several stores now closed along its Main Street. Untill 1906 Melrose was known as Browntown I believe I have the spelling correct and was also the broomcorn capitol of the state. Before the county voted itself dry Melrose was home to a dozen saloons supplying spirits to all those that worked the railroad that was also a major economic boost to the small town. During WWll Melrose was home to several hundred German POW’S. During an afternoon horseback ride Ben showed me the ruins of the old POW Camp just outside of town.
Before moving off to Atlanta GA. For college Ben attended high school in the same building that his grandmother attended high school in. They both graduated from the same high school though many years apart. Not too many folks can make that boast!
Ben is quite the historian on his little town and is very proud of it. After finishing college rto become an Arborists He returned to his hometown something that not many young folks do today. As an Arborists Ben relys on trees for his living in an area that is not too well known for its abundance of trees but he does manage to stay busy.
We stayed with Ben thru the weekend letting the animals rest all except for Dan who carried me all over the town. Ben showed me all around town on horseback telling me all about the history of this small town. Melrose like so many small towns is very proud of its Veterans and their service and sacrifices they made for their country in the park along Highway 60 in town is a very nice Veterans Memorial that if you are passing thru you really should stop and see.
Mary took off one evening with Jennifer a cousin of Bens who was in town from Colorado celebrating her birthday (which birthday I didn’t ask) I heard somewhere along the way that its just not polite to ask a woman her age. Anyway Mary had a good time out with the girls and met Bens mom and step dad and several other folks. She needed some time away from the wagon and me.
Melrose is a neat little town that like so many of the smaller towns we have visited has a declining population. Since 1980 Melrose’s population has declined by one third. Riding along Main St. its not hard to see that at onetime not so long ago this was a thriving little town now almost all f the stores in town are closed up for good. The draught that has affected so much of this part of the country isn’t helping matters any either. This year was the first year that farmers in the area did not plant their crops. Melrose is by no means a ghost town located just over thirty miles from Clovis there are those that commute back and forth for work . The residents of this little town really do have a nice little community to call home. Kids are safe to ride around town on their bikes or skate boards without fear from the bad elements you find in larger towns.
Ben and his family showed us a very good time during our stay in Melrose, Monday morning when we harnessed up to leave town Ben saddled up his horse and with us for the first five miles of the day seeing on our way to Tolar NM about eighteen miles away. We had a great stay Ben thanks for everything.
Ben has also gotten the travel bug to return to Atlanta Georgia one day but not by car. He plans to do the trip on his horse I just hope he doesn’t take that mean little donkey of his along with him. I was helping Ben to halter break this bundle of energy and fast hooves when he latched onto my left forearm with his teeth. For about thirty seconds I didn’t think I was going to get my arm back he only released it to get a better grip. I got my arm back with a small chunk missing out of it. With work he may make a good pack animal. Good luck Ben!
Monday July 11th
Monday morning as we were loading the wagon and getting ready to pull out of Ben’s yard we noticed that our right rear wheel was leaning to the inside instead of standing straight up and down. I pulled the wheel off and checked all the spokes for tightness everything on the wheel seemed t be all right and the axle looked t be in good shape but the wheel still didn’t look quite right. Everything was rolling smoothly so we decided to pull out and keep an eye on it.
Ben rode along with us for the first five or six miles before turning around and riding back to Melrose. We said so long to our unofficial one-man welcoming committee and thanked him for a really good time.
Our trip this day would take us eighteen miles to the community of Tolar. I can’t tell you a whole lot about the town of Tolar or its history today it isn’t much more than a wide spot in the road. On our way into Tolar we were stopped by a couple that invited us to stay the night at their home just outside of town. This is another embarrassing moment for me, I have managed to get so far behind in my writing that I have misplaced and forgotten the names of a few of the kind people that have made this adventure of ours so good. This is another one of those times and I do apologize for not being able to remember names of those that have been so nice to Mary, me and all of our pets.
We camped in the front yard of the couple that invited to stay the night turning Pearle and the rest of the gang loose in a round pen for the evening. It was just getting dark as we were getting the wagon ready for the night and the wind began to pick up blowing in on the wind were some dark rain clouds that looked promising for some heavy rain. Along with clouds came the thunder and lighting. The first lightning strike we witnessed was off to to the southeast of us about eight or ten miles. In just a few minutes we were all seeing the smoke from the wild fire that this strike had started. It turned out that this fire was in the area of the Cannon Air Force Base Bombing range. A few minutes later there were some more strikes to the southwest across the highway about five miles from us . A fire started and in no time at all fanned by the high winds a wall of fire was blazing a path across the dry desert heading in our direction. Our host being a fireman said goodbye to his wife and us and headed off to fight the fire. Through our binoculars we were able to see the fire racing towards us the only thing between us and the fire was one ranch house and Highway 60. As it got darker the flames seemed to get higher as the wind picked up. We all listened in on a scanner to the progress the fire fighters were making in getting this fire under control. As we watched and listened the sky grew brighter then as if by magic the wind began to die down and the fire grew weaker. Luckily the ranch house closest to the fire was spared thanks to the efforts of theses fire fighters. This fire started around eight pm and was not put out until around four thirty am. The clouds that looked promising for rain produced very few short showers that night while the lightning that came along with them sparked fires all along a path of over seventy miles keeping firemen busy all through the night in at least four different counties all the way to the Texas border at Texico. It has been a busy year for fires all through the south west burning over two million acres of land and there doesn’t seem to be any relief from the drought and dry conditions in the near future.
Tuesday morning we pulled hit the road again for Fort Sumner just about fourteen miles down the road. About four miles from Tolar is the tiny town of Taiban. Taiban is a pretty unique little place. Just out side of the town along the side of the road is a grave of a child that died well over a hundred years ago. I don’t know much about the grave other than what I have been told by several people. I was told that this is the grave of a young girl and that the grave even though it is over a hundred years old id still cared for by family members still living in the area. Taiban has only one business that is open each day that being the U.S. post Office. I don’t believe that there are more than a dozen people that live in the town. The unique thing about this little place is the sidewalks that line each side of the highway all thru town. It doesn’t appear that they get much use and look as if they were recently added.
Back in 1945 I think it was I may be wrong on my date here a train carrying several box car lads of ammunition exploded on the tracks in Taiban the explosion was so great that it is said it could be felt and heard as far away as fifty miles. Not only was the town spared but only one person was killed in the explosion, a man standing in front of a store almost a half a mile from the train was hit in the head by some debris.
We rolled on thru Taiban and on into Fort Sumner. For months we had been in dry areas with nothing but dry burnt grass so dry that when walked on it is like walking on popcorn it can be felt crunching under foot. Rolling down the grade into Fort Sumner it’s as if you are approaching an oasis everything is green, trees grass and fields full of fresh cut alfalfa. At the edge of town is a historical marker that explains about the “Bosque Redondo” a very sad time in American history. From 1863-1869 over six hundred men from the U.S. Calvary along with Bureau of Indian Affairs guarded over 8,600 Navaho and Mescalero Apache Indians in what was a disaster for the U.S. Government and a failed attempt to convert theses Indians into farmers. After only a couple of years the more than four hundred Mescalero’s Apache’s managed to escape back to their homeland where they were eventually hunted down by the U.S. Calvary in what was to be a long and costly campaign for both sides. But for the more than 8<600 Navaho Indians it became known as the ‘Long Walk of the Navahos, a journey of more than 35o miles on foot from Fort Defiance AZ more than 3,000 Navahos never returned home many of them dyeing along the way.
Fort Sumner is probably best known for the west’s favorite bad guy “Billy the Kid”. About 6 ½ miles southeast of the Village of Fort Sumner lies the remains of what was known as Old Fort Sumner it was here on the night of July 14 1880 at the home of Pete Maxwell it is said that Sheriff Pat Garrett shot and killed Billy the Kid. The only thing remaining today of the famous home is a stone marker where Pete Maxwell’s house once stood. A lot of controversy still surrounds the death of the Kid to this day. Authors by the score along with Hollywood have all put their spin on what really happened that night. Billy is buried beside two of his childhood pals Charlie Bowdre and Tom O’Folliard also killed by Pat Garrett. Untill 1905 Billy’s grave was unmarked it was then that his headstone was put in place. Twice since then Billy’s head stone has been stolen, recovered once in a back yard in Texas and another time in Huntington Beach CA. Today there is an iron fence around the graves of the three friends with a steel strap holding Billy’s head stone to the ground. The headstone of Charlie Bowdre and Tom O’Folliard has the word PALS over their names.
As we started to pull away from the Historical marker at the edge of town Mary and I both heard a terrible thunking sound coming from the rear of the wagon. I got out to have a look, it was here that we really started having problems with our rear wheels. The right rear wheel was leaning in a little further than it had been in Melrose and was rubbing on the brake arm. While I was untying Dan and Dusty from the back of the wagon for a better look who should pull up to lend a hand but Jonathan Riter and his wife. Jonathans wife took the two horses off to the side while Jonathan and I tried to figure out the problem.
On our way out of Clovis we had met Gerry Gideon a resident of Fort Sumner and long time Muleskinner. Gerry had invited us to come stay at his home while we were in town. I called Gerry to let him know we were in town but having some troubles with the wagon. Within a few minutes Gerry arrived on the scene. After putting all of heads together we decided that the only thing to do was to continue on very slowly to Gerry’s house only a couple more miles down the road.
We said so long to Jonathan and his wife after retying Dan and Dusty back to the wagon and rolled onto Gerry’s place.
We rolled into Gerry’s yard and parked the wagon by his barn and after turning the gang loose in a round pen and unloading the wagon we got down the business of what was wrong with our wheel.
After jacking up the rear of the wagon and removing the wheel and the steel boxing from the axle we were able to see that the end of the axle was charred and bent. The axle is wood with a steel sleeve or boxing that goes over the end of the axle for the wheel to ride on. About every hundred miles I pull the wheels off and grease both the axle boxing and the wheel. All I can think of that may have caused the axle to bend is that maybe I ran low on grease combined with the heat from the road surface along with friction just caused everything to get to warm and bend the axle.
While were in Morton Texas James Whitehead had given me another axle that his brother in-law had turned out on a lathe. The new axle still needed some work before we could swap it out. We decided to soak all the wheels in a water trough for a few days and swap the rear wheels from each side. This seemed to make the right wheel stand a little straighter.
We spent a week with Gerry and his wife Lavern. Lavern has got to be the best cook in all of Fort Sumner each day she prepared all sorts of delicious meals for lunch and dinner only allowing me to cook dinner one night. Gerry runs a small engine repair shop out of his barn and is known around town as the guy who can fix most anything that is broken from lawn mowers to refrigerators During our stay I helped out around the shop with Gerry while Mary and Lavern busied themselves with all sorts of lawn and gardening work. Gerry has a tool box body on the back of his truck that was missing a fiberglass door. One of the things that I have been trained in is mold making thanks to Henry OL McKee of Henry O Boats. I used one of the other doors on the tool box as a mold and made Gerry a new door for his tool box.
Gerry has done quite a lot over the years. He claims to have sold over six hundred mules in his lifetime and has trained many to pull wagons. At this time he is down to only three mules two for pulling his wagon and for trail riding. Gerry knows his stuff when it comes to mules and passed on a few tidbits of information to me.
During our visit Gerry gave us the use of his motorized golf cart so we could take in all the sights in town. A place that you have to stop in and visit while passing through Fort Sumner is the “Billy the Kidd Museum” located at 1435 East Sumner Ave, Fort Sumner NM for more info on ther museum you can phone them at 575-355-2380 or email@example.com . The price of admission is $5.00 per person. Plan to spend a few hours seeing everything in the museum. A video show explain a lot about the Sante Fe Ring and other people involved in the life of the Kid takes about ninety minutes to watch. The museum is full of artifacts and weapons of the day along with several articles that belonged to Billy the Kid. There are also several different letters and interviews from old news paper articles over the years some disputing his death and others confirming his death by Pat Garrett. It is well worth the time to visit. Just about every kid in America has heard of Billy the Kid.
Over in old Fort Sumner is another museum that we didn’t get a chance to visit. The Old Fort Sumner Museum is located at the Billy the Kid grave site also close by is the Bosque Redondo Memorial. For more info on these places and others in Fort Sumner you can contact the Fort Sumner-De Baca County Chamber of Commerce707 North 4th, Fort Sumner NM 88119. Phone 575-355-7705 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerry and Lavern showed us a great time in Fort Sumner. We attended church with them on Sunday morning a non-denominational church that we really enjoyed and then had brunch in town afterwards. Everybody we met in Fort Sumner was very friendly. One evening we all piled in the car and rode out to Old Fort Sumner to the rodeo arena and spent the evening watching barrel racing and pole bending. During the evenings at Gerry’s and Lavern’s Gerry and I would turn into couch potato’s and watch the RFD channel.
Finally on Wednesday July 20th we loaded up and headed out of town crossing over the dry Pecos River and on our way to the town of Yeso. Today Yeso has a population of only five people and a collection of crumbling adobe buildings. There was a time that Yeso was a happening little place. As you come into town from Fort Sumner you pass by what used to be a good sized motel now a crumbling mass of weathered adobe bricks. Further on into town is the old train depot and several now closed business’s . Like the town of Taiban the only open for business building is the U.S. Post Office.
We rode along the back streets of town past the remains of several old small adobe houses to the old Church one of the few old buildings still standing but in very bad need of repair. We pulled up alongside the church and set up camp. On our way into town Pearle had managed to throw her left front shoe, the only person I could think to call was Gerry Gideon. I called Gerry and explained the situation and ask if he knew of a Ferrier. While he was unable to locate a Ferrier he was able to go by the feed store in Fort Sumner and pick me up a box of horse shoe nails. The next afternoon Gerry drove out to our camp and together the two of us were able to nail a shoe on Pearle’s hoof.
We camped in Yeso for two nights and met three of the residents of Yeso. Mary and I wandered all around the neighborhood of the past snapping pictures and wondering what life must have like living in one of the many one and two room adobe houses back when Yeso was a thriving community.
When we needed to refill our water containers Phil one of the residents of town and local historian on the area came over in his truck and collected up our jugs. Even in a small town like Yeso they have the odd homeless person show up from time to time. Phil told us a story about a guy who showed up in town and was sleeping in the old church only to be run off for of all things building a camp fire inside the church on the wooden floor! What was this guy thinking?
It seems we have been following the same route as our friend Bob Skelding. We both stayed with Gerry and Lavern while passing thru Fort Sumner and we both camped in Yeso. Bob is off on another adventure thru the Rockies at this time.
From Yeso the next town we would come to would be Vaughn thirty four miles west with nothing in between a two day trip.
We filled up our water jugs on Friday July 22nd in Phil’s yard and rolled out of Yeso headed for Vaughn. Friday was a pretty good day to travel we made about twenty one miles that day and camped alongside a fence about a hundred feet off the highway. Highway 60 out through this part of New Mexico isn’t very heavily traveled so we had a pretty peaceful night.
We woke up early Sunday morning planning to get an early start into Vaughn. Just like the night before traffic was almost non-existent in the two hours it took us to get the wagon loaded we didn’t see more than a dozen cars ride past us. We did have one visitor riding a Harley stop by to visit with us for almost a half hour (I can talk bikes all day). He was on a long ride and was returning home to Texas if you are reading this I hope you had a safe ride the rest of the way.
All of the pets did well tethered to the fence all night it wasn’t until just about time to leave that Dusty had a small problem. After eating his breakfast he likes to lay down and roll in the dust or grass or mud or whatever is available. He got down on the ground and started rolling around and managed to get himself a little scratched up on the barb wire fence. Nothing serious he wasn’t bleeding or cut up badly he just managed to scrape off some of that pretty palomino blond hair in a few places.
We still managed to get a start on the day and made the fourteen miles into Vaughn by about three in the afternoon. Our first stop in Vaughn was at the truck stop as you get into town./ Mary went inside to ask if there might be a place that we could camp for a day or two, the lady in the store got right on the phone and Called Rhonda the owner of the Americano Motel just across the street. Within a few minutes Rhonda pulled up in her truck and escorted us over to her motel, around back behind the motel she has a few acres of land more than enough room for us to park the wagon and get the staked out for the night. Rhonda is such a sweet heart she has a love for horses and mules and just about anything with four legs but she really loves horses. We were running low on hay and so was Rhonda for her own horses but somehow she managed to come up with a few bales for us. Rhonda not only helped us to get the wagon all unloaded she also set us up in room for our stay. I am a big believer in the barter and trade system so is Rhonda. Her and her sister were left the motel by their parents when they passed away the two of them are doing a heck of a job remodeling the place one room at a time and making repaiors to the swimming pool and adding a security fence around the pool for insurance and safety. Rhonda not only runs the place she is also an accomplished welder having welded together several of the gates for the local ranch’s. The fence that she is putting together around the swimming pool is one of her welding projects. According to Rhonda the welding is the easy part it’s the tedious job of cutting the metal one piece at a time that is time consuming and dirty. No problem! I sat down on the ground one morning armed with a tape measure and a chop saw and in a few hours time I had cut all her metal for her . Out at the ranch where she keeps a couple of ponies she needed some hooves trimmed a little more barter and trade. There were a few other odd jobs to tend to so we stayed on thru the week and got all caught up on all the television we had missed and enjoyed long hot showers not to mention air conditioning and a real bed, but too much of that stuff will spoil you fast. We pulled out of Vaughn on Friday morning our destination the town of Duran NM on highway 54 south. As we were rolling thru Vaughn who should pull up beside us just out for a day of driving ? Our friend Jonathan Riter along with his dog. We pulled into a gas station to visit with Jonathan for a few minutes and get a few supplies. While were visiting with him several other curious folks stopped by all wishing us well. Before we pulled back out on the road another cross country traveler pulled into the station on a very small scooter. Riding this little scooter was a very pretty young lady of twenty three, she had left Santa Rosa California two days before on her scooter headed for Norfolk Virginia I believe. I had to be proud of this young lady riding coast to coast by herself on a scooter that most folks use to just get around town on. I’ve crossed the U.S. a few times on my Harley even then on a larger motorcycle you still get jolted around when tractor trailers pass you by in the opposite direction I just couldn’t imagine what her days must be like. I hope she had a safe and fun journey its one thing she will always remember. At the other end of town is a burger joint so I pulled off to the side while Mary walked over and got us a couple of burgers for lunch, while she was getting our food I was busy telling a few people all about our trip while they all posed for pictures with Pearle and Pauline. We sat there and enjoyed our burgers before rolling on.
We hadn’t been on the road very long when Jonathan pulled alongside us again, he had ridden ahead of us a few miles and found a farm selling fresh hay in the bed of his truck he had a three strand hundred and twenty five pound bale of fresh cut hay for us. It took a little work but between the three of us we were able to get it loaded in the wagon although it didn’t leave much room for Pete. With the hay loaded and Pete settled in for the ride we said so long to Jonathan and turned off Highway 60 onto Highway 54 south Duran was still twelve miles ahead.
Duran New Mexico
Whoops!!!! I got my days mixed up we pulled out of Vaughn on Saturday not Friday. Anyway after exiting off Highway 60 onto 54 we still had twelve miles to go before we could call it a day and find a place to camp. Rhonda had told us about a friend of hers in Duran Jamille Hindi and his family and said she would call ahead and ask them to be on the lookout for us. There was a parade going on in Corona about nineteen miles south of Duran when Rhonda couldn’t get in touch with Jamille she thought maybe he might be at the parade that day but said she would keep trying.
We had been rolling along Highway 54 for a few miles when we noticed the scenery beginning to change. Gradually we were getting into rolling hills at first dotted with a few cedars then more and more cedars off in the distance we began to see mesas. In just a few short miles we we had gone from dry burnt grass and cactus to rolling hills with trees and green grass. Along the way we were stopped by a very nice lady with her two granddaughters. She rode past us then did a u-turn and came back. She was so excited to see us and very happy when we told her she could take all the pictures she wanted with the kids and the pets. I had both girls climb up in the wagon so they could get their pictures, It only takes a few minutes to stop and indulge peoples wishes and it always puts a smile on the faces of the children. Just as we were pulling into Duran a town with a population of just twenty eight and no stores or Post Office it began to rain then the temperature dropped and it began to Hail. The whole outburst lasted less than ten minutes and lucky for us the hail was only pea sized. As you can imagine Duran is a very small town like so many other small towns tha the railroad passed thru it wasn’t always the empty town that it is today. Am I the only one who see’s a pattern here with small towns and the railroads? It’s not the railroads who are to blame times have just changed people don’t travel by rail nearly as much as they used to. Not to many years ago I rode the Amtrak from Deland Florida to Richmond Virginia and back a few times it really is a fun way to travel Its not nearly as fast as flying but it sure beats the bus in comfort. Then dining cars still have waiters and white linen table cloths. There’s a lounge for drinking and smoking and the seats are more comfortable than the plane. Coastwise it’s about the same as taking the bus but whole lots more enjoyable. Oh well!! Enough about that. Back to Duran.
By the time we arrived in Duran word had reached a few folks that we were on our way. As soon as the rain stopped we were escorted to the old school gymnasium beside the Volunteer Fire Department. It didn’t take very long to meet almost everybody in town everyone was so friendly and helpful. A couple of very nice ladies stopped by rto unlock the gym so that we could use the electric and water and get in out of the rain if need be. All of our water needs were taken care of by Jamille and his friends and family what a really great group of people that live in Duran. We camped Saturday and Sunday night pulling out on Monday morning.
Sunday afternoon Pete Jr. and I went for a walk around the town. As we passed by the church a narrow brick building that was built around 1909 I stopped to snap a few pictures out of curiosity I pulled on the door handle and to my surprise the doors were unlocked. Yes this was a surprise to me the last few church’s I tried to see inside of were locked up tight only unlocked foe services. I can’t fault the churches for this its just the times we are living in. It is a shame though when you think about it that even the churches have to keep their doors locked. Anyway I went inside the church what a gorgeous place I had to take several pictures that I will be sharing with all of you on our web site so as I get all caught up on my writing.. I cannot put into words how nice it is in this church you will just have to wait for the pics.
Monday morning before we pulled out most of the town turned out to see us off it was such a good feeling all these folks stopping by to wish us well? Duran may be small in numbers but large in hospitality, Thank you all for sharing your town with us
Monday morning as we were getting the wagon ready to hit the road for Corona just about everybody in Duran came t see us off. We rolled out waving goodbye to everyone. Back out on Hwy 54 we pointed the girls south for the town of Corona. Corona is nineteen very scenic miles from Duran. We hadn’t gone a half a mile when we spooked a deer that had been lying in brush alongside the road. As the deer jumped up to run off Jr. tried his best to leap from the wagon and chase after the deer. For the next mile or so he never took his eyes off the side of the road hoping to spot another deer.
The sky above us was dotted with white puffy clouds and a breeze was blowing enough to keep us cooled off as we rolled along. Nineteen miles is a good day of travel for us especially when the girls have to pull the wagon thru rolling hills by the end of the day they are ready for a well deserved rest.
As we rolled into Corona we were looking for two things, a place to set up camp for a couple days and a store. At the far end of town we lucked up and found both. The last gas station heading south out of town has a convenient store and a small RV Park where for ten dollars a night we were able to set up camp.
I wasn’t able to get out and see very much of Corona during our two day stay. I was laid up in bed not feeling very well. I wasn’t in bed the entire time I just wasn’t up to wandering around. What I can say about Corona is that the folks that we met there were all very friendly and very much interested in travels. People in Corona have a wonderful view of the Cibola National Forest. From where we were camped looking out towards the mountains off in the distance the view is something else. Corona is not a very large town, only about a half a mile in length with a gas station a general store with groceries and a Post Office. Between Vaughn and Carrizozo it is the only place within a seventy seven mile area that you are able to get gas or anything else, it’s almost like an oasis that really is out in the middle of nowhere and it really is a pretty place to visit.
After collecting our mail on Wednesday August 3rd we rolled out of Corona for the town of Carrizozo a forty three mile ride that would require us to camp alongside the fence line at least one night.
Leaving Corona we climbed a small hill for about a mile or so the scenery was beautiful wioth rolling hills and trees dotted with the odd cow here and there. Throughout the day rolled up and down hills and thru small mountains just enjoying the day. We were stopped once by a Highway Patrolman who had a complaint that we were impeding the flow of traffic. It seems that someone who was in a really big hurry didn’t appreciate having to slow down for a few minutes until it was safe to go around us. No big deal the officer was very polite and interested in what we are doing. He was satisfied that we have a slow moving vehicle placard attached to the back of the wagon and that we were not breaking any laws, he was even nice enough to tell us where all the best places to get cheese burgers with green chili sauce. Green chili sauce is a favorite in this part of NM, and yes it is very good on a burger but for those of us that prefer the red chili sauce there is also no shortage.
Later in the day we rolled thru a mountain pass that gorgeous emptying out into the desert flat land. It was getting on in the day and we were looking for a place to pull off for the night, Mary was looking off in the distance thru the binoculars when she saw her first antelope. It was about this time that the shoe we had replaced on Pearle’s front hoof came off. We weren’t going to travel much further without getting her a new set of shoes. We had traveled about twenty miles when we saw up ahead of us a house just off the road. It was getting close to dark so we decided not to bother whoever lived in the house. We pulled over along the fence line and set up camp for the night. By the time we were set up and the gang all fed it was well past dark. The generator was giving me fits not wanting to run for very long. Frustrated I gave up on the generator and called it a night and went to sleep.
Thursday morning we woke up to another beautiful day. Sue Dickerson the lady that owns the house we had camped not far from came down to introduce herself and invite us up to her place for a few days. We gladly accepted Sue was also able to find us a Ferrier after a little calling around. Sue was on her way to a doctor’s appointment but told us to go ahead and get set up in her yard and she would see us later in the day.
While we were loading the wagon I noticed that our right rear tire was split and was going to have to be welded together before we went anyplace. A lady in a jeep stopped by and made a call and within thirty minutes her son Channon arrived to fix us up, Channon welded the wheel together not just in one place it had broken in two places. After repairing the wheel he also applied the drill tek to two sets of shoes for Pearle and Pauline.
We were all set up in Sue’s yard and watching traffic pass by 11:30am a really short day for the girls. Dan, Dusty and the girls were running around loose in a large pen that Sue had provided for us while her two horses each in separate pens whinnied back and forth to the new comers. Sue has to really nice looking horses a Twenty year old Morgan stud that prances around like a two year old and a palomino mare about the same age along with an assortment of ducks, geese, chickens two dogs and a cock a too.
The Ferrier couldn’t get to us before Saturday so it was decided that we would be at Sue’s place until Monday morning, no problem the girls would enjoy the rest and Sue had plenty of hay that she allowed me to pay for. Hay is at a premium right now with all the dry weather so if you are able to find any buy as much as you can afford. I was more than happy that I was able to purchase hay here and not have to go searching for it.
Saturday morning the Ferrier arrived to shoe the girls. Since we began our journey over a year ago we have had very good luck when it comes to finding a Ferrier up until now the workmanship has been fantastic. I have always bragged on everyone that taken the time to care for our pets hooves. I am sad to say that I cannot say the same in this instance. Enough said.
Saturday afternoon Sue and I drove into Carrizozo about twenty three miles from her place to buy groceries and scout out a place to set up camp when we got to town. While we were at the grocery store doing some shopping I passed by the meat counter and had to pick up a thick London Broil for dinner. We don’t get steak to often out here so a treat now and then is good. Along with some jalapeño peppers to stuff with cream cheese and wrap in bacon I was looking forward to dinner this night.
Back at Sue’s place I got the grill going with some cherry and apple wood that Ben had given us back Melrose and prepared a feast for Mary and I . We invited Sue to dine with us but she had other plans for dinner that evening.
The rear wheel was looking worse so I used the extra days off to soak both rear wheels in a water trough to at least keep the spokes tight. The axle looked like it was getting worse and I was beginning to make plans in my mind to replace the axle in Carrizozo.
Monday morning I pulled the wheels out of the trough and we loaded up to hit the road for Carrizozo. I bought a couple more bales of hay from Sue and we said so long after she and Mary exchanged a few books from their extensive libraries. Mary has quite the selection of books and is constantly finding people along the way to exchange reading material with.
We were on the road by ten thirty am rolling slowly along to Carrizozo. With the rear axle looking worse it was going to be a long day. Most days we trot the girls about fifteen minutes out of each hour, not this day. All in all it was a pretty good day and we made it into town about two hours before the sun went down. It was a twenty three mile day that went by pretty quick considering the slow pace .
We rolled into Carrizozo on August 8th at the time that I am writing this it is now Sept. 15th I have gotten so far behind with things that have been going on in our lives. It is very easy to get behind and really hard to get caught back up. Aas you read along you will start to see that we had a few problems but we have overcome them and we are back on the road again rolling along having a great time as usual.
We stayed in Carrizozo and the Valley of Fires State park for a little over a month due to problems with the wagon. If it weren’t for some very special people in Carrizozo we may still be stranded I would like to acknowledge and introduce you now to some of the folks that you will be reading about further along. And at the same time thank these folks once again for all of their support and help.
Dominic, Mark, Ron, James Matthews, Andrea and Chris Stromberg, Leroy Lopez, George and Mable Vega, Waylon Hill, Fred and Trish Steely, Dan and Barnett, Dave Schultz and Marilynn, Bill, James Guevera If I have failed to mention anybody I apologize there are many more fine people in Carrizozo these are just a few.
Carrizozo has a population of 1,222 And sits at an elevation of 5,438 feet then town was established in 1899 as a new town on the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad and is the county seat of Lincoln County. Above Carrizozo in the surrounding mountains are the towns and cities of White Oaks made famous as a gold mining boom town and hang out of New Mexico’s favorite bad guy “Billy the Kid” (If Billy were alive today he might be Governor of NM also the town of Capitan the home town of “Smokey the Bear” for those of you who aren’t yet aware Smokey the Bear was in fact a real live bear and is buried around Capitan. Smokey the bear’s story is very good reading and you kids would enjoy it if you have the time check out Smokey the Bear on the internet. Higher up in the mountains amongst the tall pine trees is the city of Ruidoso home of the famous Quarter Horse race track Ruidoso Down and yet even another Billy the Kidd Museum. I’ll bet good money at the casino in Ruidoso that Billy and Elvis along with Janis and Jim Morrison are all having a really good laugh.
Now we were told from several residents of Carrizozo that the town was actually founded when a wagon train caught up in a huge dust storm that blew for several days. When the storm finally blew itself out members of the wagon train decided to stay right where they were and started the town of Carrizozo. Who knows? No matter how the town was founded today it’s a really nice place to visit filled with really good people. While you’re there stop at Roy’s Pharmacy for an old fashion malt or shake or any store and try some Carrizozo apple cider or cherry juice from the Carrizozo Orchard.
We set up camp just inside town at the intersection of Hwy54 and Hwy380 at an old truck stop that has been closed down. We got lucky here the electric was still on and the bathrooms were open and still working. And can you believe this? Even though this place is closed down the truckers still use the parking lot to pull off and rest up in and with all these people using the rest room here it stays clean.
I pulled the wagon alongside a fence to tether the mules and horses to it was only after getting everybody un hooked and out of harness that I found out I didn’t have enough extension cord to reach the plug in and the generator not working. Once again No problem! A very kind hearted truck driver parked close enough to us that we could plug into his inverter for the night, this guy even had a treat for Pete and JR. In his truck riding shotgun is his little cocker spaniel. Wes the driver here had bought a case of canned dog food that his dog would not eat. Pete and Jr. will eat anything that is put in front of them and really enjoy it when we add a can of dog food to their dry food the stinkier the better.
For our dinner that night I walked across the street to the Four Winds Restaurant and Lounge and ordered burgers for Mary and I. The Four Winds has really great burgers and from what I hear from the locals the rest of the menu ain’t too shabby either. After a long day of travel and full bellies we fell asleep early.
Tuesday morning I was pondering on where I was going to park the wagon so I could swap out the axle. I didn’t have to ponder on this to long. Andrea Stromberg the owner of the Trading Post Antiques just across the street from where we were and insisted that we set up in the fenced in field beside her store where we would have all the conveniences of water, electric and a bathroom with a All Sups gas station next door. We were set!. It didn’t take us too long to get moved over to the Trading Post.
As we were loading up to move A young man by the name of Dominic stopped by to ask we needed anything. I explained to him about the axle and mentioned that I could use a couple of jacks to lift the wagon and get the axle out. Dominic said he would be happy to drop off some jacks and lend a hand if I needed it. Another gentleman named Bill also dropped off a high lift jack for us.
After getting set up across the street at the Trading Post I had to walk to the Post Office to get our mail from Dwayne and to take a foot tour of the town but not before I took a quick tour of the Trading post. Andrea and her husband Chris have a rather unique store filled with antiques from Mexico along with several new items such as hand carved furniture made of mesquite and cedar things like beds, tables complete dining room sets new and antique doors, chandeliers and lamps made from elk and deer antlers a lot of beautiful things to improve any home theses are just a few of the things they have. The Trading Post Antiques is located at the intersection of Hwy 380 and Hwy 54 in Carrizozo it’s a big red building that years ago began life as a Chevrolet dealership you can call them at 575-648-2736.
After leaving the Trading Post I walked south on 54 into town stopping at the caboose that is the towns visitors center it was here that I met Dave Schultz Managing Editor for travel Lady Magazine for more info on the magazine check out Dave at Dave@travelLady.com Dave was talking Kevin Lindsey who was traveling on his Can Am motorcycle. I met these two because I was interested in the motorcycle a three wheeler with the wheels moved forward instead of the rear.
After introducing myself the three of us got to talking about bikes cameras and traveling. Dave is a photographer fellow traveler and bike ride. After Kevin took off Dave offered to drive me to the post office. On our way to the Post Office Dave filled me in Roy’s Pharmacy an old time pharmacy and soda shop. Today you cannot get a prescription fillred at Roy’s but you can still get a reall good old fashioned malt made with real ice cream. After meeting Roy I met another young lady that worked for Roy I mentioned to her that I had seen some really neat old cars down the street and was curious as to owned them. Come to find out I was talking to the daughter of the old car collector Waylon Hill and what I had seen in the lot was just a small sample of what Waylon had stashed away in his shop. Waylon invited me over to see all his cars. I won’t tell you everything he has hidden away but I can tell you that what he has collected over the years is a hot rodders dream come true some 57 Chevy’s some Nomads and oh yeah a 1954 Corvette with the six cylinder. After showing me his collection Waylon gave me a ride back to the wagon.
Wednesday morning I was ready to start on my project but I hadn’t seen Dominick yet with the jacks so I decided to give him a call. Boy did I feel stupid! I get Dominick on the phone only to learn that he and Mary had seen each other before I was up and out of bed and the jacks were already under the wagon. Dominick was in Ruidoso for the day and ask if I needed anything from there. Hay is always something we are searching for and he was in the right place to get some so he said he would drop some by later that afternoon.
By the time Dominic arrived I had the wagon up on blocks and the axle out the big problem I now faced was that I didn’t have the proper tools to finish machining the new axle. There was still a lot of work to be done to the new axle before we could install it. Dominic seeing my problem loaded up me and the axle and off we went out to the ranch where he lives to get the axle prepared.
Dominic’s Dad owns the Windmill Ranch a very large cattle ranch that is now being offered out in parcels of several acres. We arrived at the ranch pulling up to a garage not far from a house. We got all set up in the garage to start on the axle and have a few refreshments. Dominic walked over to the house and returned with his Uncle Ron. The three of us set to work first with a grinder attempting to shape the end to fit the metal boxing over when that wasn’t working we decided to shape it with a chain saw. Hey don’t laugh everywhere you go these days you pass by all sorts of eagles, bears totem poles etc. carved with chain saws so how hard can it be? The answer is VERY HARD! After an hour or so we had one side fitted with a boxing. It was about this time that Dominic’s Dad arrived on the scene with Nephew’s James “Cornfed” Matthews and Mark who were just returning from purchasing a new Dodge Dually for Cornfed after picking up the dually Cornfed and Mark had stopped off someplace that offers a challenge to hearty eaters a really huge burger and platter of fries if you can eat it it’s free and you win a tee-shirt yippee. They both had on new tee-shirts
Dad took over and in no time at all using a saws-all had the other end shaped and fitted. We had a few other slots to shape and we were done. We thanked dad and loaded up in pickups I hopped in the new dually and off we went back to the wagon. When we got back to the wagon someone made the decision that this was a thirty pack job at least. I stood back and supervised as Ron, Dominic, Cornfed and Mark took over installing the new axle. In no time at all the axle was in and the wheels were on. By this time it was getting dark so we all said goodnight since a few of the guys had other things involving the fairer sex on their minds they had dates for the evening. I could have never gotten the job done had it not been for the help these guys gave me. These are not your typical Cowboys. These three cousins Dominic, James and Mark all three from New York State Tupper Lake New York. Don’t go thinking that they are a bunch of out of place Yankee transplants here to New Mexico, these guys are hard working real cowboys that work the ranch and run their own business’s their family owns the Windmill Ranch along with other ranches. At just twenty five years of age James Matthews owns James Matthews’ Trucking Specializing in Auto Car Hauling for more info call 518-524-7986. Thanks again guy’s for all the help.
The next morning before I was out of bed Cornfed and Mark showed up to take me to breakfast. We went to a breakfast place and had chicken fried steaks and eggs and brought back an order for Mary she stayed behind not yet ready to meet the day head on so early.
Friday morning we were ready to hit the road we weren’t planning to travel but about four miles out to the Valley Of Fires State Park on Hwy 380 west. We rolled out of the Trading post after saying so long to Andrea and Chris. Little did we know that we would be back within a couple of hours?
We were rolling along slowly listening for any strange sounds coming from the rear of the wagon and there were a few new sounds that didn’t sound to good. First was the scraping of the brake lever on the wheel and then the sound of the spokes of the left rear wheel rubbing against the bolster on the wagon. We decided to go as far as Lucky’s auto Salvage on Hwy 380 and attempt to do any repairs there it was only about a mile up the road.
We made it to Lucky’s where I got down from the wagon to get a better look at things. Both rear wheels were leaning to the inside at the top the wheel on the left leaning worse than the right. The left rear wheel had become dished at the hub loosening all the spokes. I called Andrea and made arrangements to return to her place so I could try to repair the wheels. I needed something big enough to soak the wheels in on the back of an old truck in Lucky’s lot was an old chest type freezer big enough and deep enough for mr to soak both rear wheels. Lucky offered to drop it by the Trading Post.
We turned around and very slowly made our way back to the trading Post where after setting up camp again I removed both rear wheels and attempted true up the wheels before soaking them. Trueing up a wooden spoke wheel is nothing like a wire spoke motorcycle wheel it looks easy enough but I soon found out that it is not easy and I not only do not have the proper tools I am not a wheelwright. After soaking the wheels they were swelled up and tight I put them back on the wagon and everything looked fine until we took off. Within a couple of miles both rear wheels were once again leaning in but had remained tight. We rolled the four miles to the Valley Of Fires State Park and set up camp. I was frustrated and just needed to call it a day get some rest and try to figure things out the next day.
The next morning we met Fred Steely and his wife Trish both camp Hosts that volunteer and live in their fifth wheel trailer at the park. With Fred’s help we moved the wagon and the gang to the rear of the park where there was better grazing and more room. This move put us about eight tenths of a mile from the shower’s and the place where the park supervisor wanted us to dump all the droppings. No Problem! Fred gave us the loan of his Yamaha Rhino a cool little four wheeler with a dump bed on it. Fred also loaned us a generator.
I started making phone calls all over the country trying to find a set of rear wheels for the wagon. While there are plenty of wheels out there it is very difficult to find the right wheels that will fit your axle and the boxing. IO was able to find a set of wheels but the price was out of our reach. Now I started thinking of different ways to mount modern truck wheels to the wagon. Once again finding axles and hubs became a major problem. I didn’t want to cut up our one hundred year old wagon destroying an antique but the options were not looking good. I came up with several ideas that were affordable and even en found the materials to get the job done I just couldn’t bring myself to destroying an antique Owensboro wagon. I was ready to pull my hair out I was having terrible thoughts about giving up, that’s the last thing I wanted to do. Fred and I looked high and low just when I thought I couldn’t do anything else Waylon Hill came by and got me. We rode into town to a friend of his place Leroy Lopez. Leroy not only has a junk yard he is also building the coolest little ghost town with old buildings and wagons and cars and trucks from the early 1900’s. Leroy has done a really good job of putting together a town over the past fourteen years. Leroy, Waylon and I walked thru his junk yard where we found a set of axles and wheels that I could mount under the wagon but I would still have to cut the ends off of the original axles to get the job done and the job would look like it was just tossed together. On one end of the yard we found an old water tank wagon complete with truck wheels and tires with a little work we could make our box the part of the wagon we ride in and sleep in fit in place. Leroy and I did some bartering and together we both came up with a plan. I went back to camp all smiles and happy. It had taken almost two weeks to figure a solution to our problems during this time I had run low on money feeding the animals and trying to repair the old wheels it was just a very frustrating and scary time for me not to mention what it was doing to Mary she was concerned more with what I was going thru mentally she really worries about me. Since we left Kentucky over a year ago each time things have gotten tough and I was beginning to worry something has always happened to make things better. If you don’t believe in the man upstairs you had better think again I know for a fact that he has gotten us thru each and every bump and ripple in the road.
Monday morning August 29th with Fred’s help we loaded everything into the back of Fred’s truck to keep the wagon as light as possible and headed back to Carrizozo and out to Leroy’s house to make the changes to the wagon.
I called Dave Shultz and let him know we were heading back into town he wanted to get some pictures of us on the road. We were in pretty good spirits as we headed back into town. We met up with Dave and Marilynn not to far from town. Dave was snapping away it was at this point that Pauline has decided that she likes the camera. Dave was standing alongside the road getting ready to shoot some photos as we approached Pauline stopped turned her head towards Dave and pointed her ears in a very nice pose. Dave has since then taken more photos of her and she poses each time. Mary and I both talked about this and we both agreed that we may have expected this behavior out of Pearle our diva but never shy introverted hard working Pauline. I fear we have created a monster.
When we arrived a Leroy’s he was already hard at work on the new chassis. Tuesday morning we emptied out the wagon removed the canvas using a winch on a boom truck we lifted the box from the Owensboro chassis rolled it out of the way and lowered the box onto the new steel chassis with 16” truck wheels. We bolted the box down then set about making a new tongue to put our double trees on. With that done Leroy came up with an idea for a brake that we had. Last but not least Leroy surprised us by fabricating a spare tire rack under the wagon. We were ready to hit the road again but first I had to do one more thing. Leroy had done so much for us that I felt that I needed to do something for him in return. In his garage Leroy had been working on a 1985 Chevy El Camino and had it running pretty good. The car needed one thing to really set it off. It needed a new paint job. It took some doing but I was able to talk Leroy into letting me repaint it for him. It took six days from start to finish sanding it down and getting it ready to paint. Getting the supplies was the biggest problem. First we drove to Ruidoso to a body shop and several other places getting the sand paper, thinner and other materials needed. In Ruidoso we were able to get everything but the paint for that one of us was going to have to drive into Alamogordo to a supply shop to get the paint on Saturday morning because the supplier would be closed on Monday for Labor Day. It was decided that I take Leroy’s truck and go get the paint.
We got busy prepping the car for Pint over the weekend and had it ready to paint Monday but Leroy insisted that I take the day off and take Mary into town for Labor Day festivities. Leroy gave us the use of his truck all day we had a great time. Carrizozo puts on a pretty good parade and a day in the park later in the day there was a ranch rodeo just outside of town. We started with the parade after the parade the street was roped off and an obstacle course was set up for the out house races. This is very exciting stuff and very funny. Each team has to make their own outhouse with wheels while two team members race thru the course against another team a third tem member sit on the throne and as they pass by each obstacle the one on the throne must place a roll of toilet paper on a stick as they race around each obstacle it’s a riot to watch. In the park venders are selling different foods and others are selling their wares kids are playing different games and he Paul Pino Band Emcee’s the race and puts on a concert and dang it Roy’s was closed I wanted to treat Mary to a malt.
Later in the day we went to the rodeo and caught the last two events the trailer loading and the kids team event goat hair pulling. The team trailer loading goes like this two guys on foot run from end of the arena to the other while two guys on horses chase a steer one guy ropes the steer then as a team they guide the steer to the open trailer. The two guys on foot load the steer into the front of the trailer close the gate then one of the horses is loaded into the trailer the gate is closed the second horse gets tied to the trailer and all four team members load up in the front of the truck. It’s fun to watch and it takes skill to get the fastest time. Now for the goat hair pulling. This is a bad time to be a goat. This is a relay race the firsts kid rides up on a horse jumps off crawls thru a barrel tags another kid who runs one hundred feet to a kid at the goat who then after being tagged pulls some hair from the goat runs to the barrel passes off the hair to a kid who crawls thru the barrel races one hundred feet to another kid passes of the hair and runs to the finish line fun for everyone except the goat.
From the rodeo we drove out to White Oaks to the No Scum Saloon where we ran into our old friend from Duran Jamill Hindi. We could only stay for about an hour Libby had worked all weekend and really wanted to close up and go home. So after a few beers we all said goodnight and headed off in different directions. White Oaks sits in a small valley in the mountains and the best way for me to describe it would be to say think of a Hidden Valley commercial without the salad. It’s a very pretty little place that if you read the historical markers and believe them you would think you were headed to a rundown ghost town. There is only one business in town and that is the saloon but people do live there and love it. The road to White Oaks is a few miles north of Carrizozo off Hwy 54 once you turn off you drive nine miles back into the mountains to the town. The closer you get the prettier the scenery gets.
We made it back to Leroy’s just after dark you would have thought that we had run off and abandoned everybody. All six animals were carrying on when we got out of the truck. Sometimes it’s like we have a bunch of children all going thru the terrible twos and you know what? I love every minute of it I wouldn’t trade any of them off.
George Vega had showed up one afternoon bragging to Leroy and me about the great enchiladas and rice and beans Mable had cooked for him. Leroy and I picked on him so much over it wanting to know where our enchiladas were. It must have worked I think it was Tuesday evening he pulled into the drive way with three plates of really great enchiladas that Mable had cooked up. All around town folks talk about what a great cook this lady is. During our stay she baked some brownies and some cookies and brought them over to us. Mable is a great cook George is a lucky man
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent painting Leroy’s car in the end he was vey happy showing it off to all his friends I was very happy that I was able to do something nice for someone who really went out of his way to get us back on the road and at the same time Mary and I have another good friend.
George Vega is one of the most comical people we met in Carrizozo everyday he stops by just to push Leroy’s buttons and get him going. He always has a smile on his face and makes everyone around him laugh, George if you are reading this I just want you to know that Leroy did take very good care of me on that paint job and you should let me relieve you of that 64’ Impala before it causes Mable to much trouble.
Before we pulled out of Leroy’s Saturday morning George came by and loaded us up with goodies from him and Mable. Mable the stew was really great thank you.
On Thursday evening we met Dan and Sue Barnett. Mary and Sue hit it right off talking with Dan we found out that we both know some of the same people and share a lot of the same interests. Dan was also a vendor like myself traveling around the country to different motorcycle rallies. Talking with Dan it was like we had known each other for several years. Dan had stopped by to see the wagon and to look at Leroy’s shinny new El Camino.
Before we pulled out of Leroy’s on Saturday morning just about everybody we had met during our stay in Carrizozo stopped by to see us off. We almost felt as if we were leaving home.
With the wagon loaded and the girls hooked up I climbed up into the wagon and took it for its maiden voyage around the yard. Satisfied that everything was working good Mary climbed aboard and headed out for Socorro NM on Saturday September 10th. I need to get this posted to the internet tomorrow it’s one o’clock in the morning here in San Antonio NM and we have a day of travel ahead of us tomorrow. I do apologize for taking so long to get everything caught up and I thank all of you out there for your patience with me. I’ll be writing more in the days to come so please keep reading and following us along. As always take care of your selves. Take a little time and come on out here see a part of America and please SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. Until next time. Chuck, Mary and the Gang
September 19, 2011
Hey again! We have been back on the road for just a little over a week now and put almost a hundred miles on the new wagon. We sure do like these new air filled tires they are such quieter than the old iron tires and roll along so much smoother. Pearle and Pauline seem to be able to pull us easier and aren’t as tired at the end of the day.
Our first few miles back on the road I was getting use to all the new sounds and lack of. The wagon handles about the same except that we can maneuver around much easier, it doesn’t take nearly as much space to turnaround in and pulling off the road onto rougher uneven surfaces is almost worry free. We no longer have to worry about breaking a wheel on a rock or knocking a spoke loose. I do need to invest in a can of Fix-A-Flat and a plug kit.
On our way out of town Dave Schultz and Marilynn met us out on Hwy 380 for a few more pictures and to wish us well. They are just two of the many people that we are going to miss. Dave and Marilynn were a big help top us during our stay and in many ways helping turn what could have been a very bad experience into a very pleasant time. They are just a couple of the people that we are going to miss and look forward to seeing again.
Further up the road as we passed by the Valley of Fires Fred came out to see us off or so he thought at the time. After passing Valley of Fires we had a long grade to climb this was to be just one of the first tests for the new wagon and the girls. Pearle and Pauline pulled us up the grade with no problems at all it was on the other side that we began to have a little trouble.
Getting to the top was no problem now we had to go downhill and it was a whole lots steeper going down than it was coming up. As we started down the grade the wagon started pushing the girls causing them to step a little quicker at first then faster and faster. I applied the hand brake only to find that it wasn’t holding fast enough. The girls were trotting faster almost on the verge of breaking into a full gallop downhill with a heavy wagon pushing them all the while slipping on the smooth surface on metal shoes one slip and both of the girls could have fallen and been run over by the wagon. I was getting more than scared pulling on the brake and the reins trying as hard as I could to get everything back under control. I was finally able to slow the wagon and bring it to a stop even though it was still slipping and trying to roll forward. Mary hopped from the wagon and quickly jammed a large rock under one of the rear wheels holding us fast.
Seeing that that there was no way we were going to get to the bottom safely without better brakes I called Fred and ask him to come out so we could use his truck as brakes to get us down the hill. Fred showed up within a few minutes. In no time at all we had the wagon chained to the front of his truck while Mary sat on his tailgate and led Dan and Dusty. It took about twenty minutes and must have looked pretty strage to anyone passing by but with Fred’s help we were safely at the bottom.
When Leroy and I had put the brakes together I had failed to notice that the brake rod was not strong enough to hold the wagon and needed to be stiffened up. We weren’t going to be going down anymore hills that day so I had all night to come up with a fix that would get us to Socorro. After we thanked Fred and said so long for the last time we got back on our way. We only had about five miles to go to a place I had scouted out a few weeks before where we could pull off for the night complete with porta potties.
Dan and Sue Barnett rode out on Dan’s motorcycle and met us just as we were pulling off for the night. With their help we had the girls out of harness and camp set up for the night in record time. Dan and Sue hadn’t shown up empty handed they had brought with them supper, really good burgers from the Four Winds in Carrizozo. About the time we were finishing dinner it began to sprinkle rain and flash lightning Dan and Sue dressed in their leather quickly and headed for town as Mary and I climbed in the wagon to wait out what turned out to be very little rain but a great sound and light show provided by Mother Nature flashing lightning across the desert floor and into the distant mountains. A lightning show out in the desert can be a very beautiful sight to behold with the long bolts striking the ground many of them separating onto several bolts of electricity. It can be very beautiful and very dangerous in dry conditions as we have seen so many times during the past several months. We were lucky the lightning never got very close to us and as far as we know it didn’t spark off any fires.
Sunday morning we were off to an early start. As many of you already know we don’t like to travel on Sunday if it can be avoided Sunday is a day of rest not only for people but also for animals. Had we had a water supply where we were camped we would have stayed until Monday morning.
Dave Shultz had told us about a place that he thought we would be able to get water and maybe camp for the night a place called the Rock Shop about fifteen miles further up the road. Before we pulled out that morning looking ahead we had several hills to climb and roll down the other side of. I took a fence post that we usually use to tether one of the gang out on and wired it to the brake rod with bailing wire, not the best fix in the world but one that would work until we could get to a place with a welder.
All thru the day we rolled up hill and downhill with no troubles. This stretch of Hwy 380 between Carrizozo and San Antonio NM has only about four or five houses in a sixty five mile stretch and they are spaced very far apart. After five hours of rolling up hill and downhill ahead in the distance was the Rock Shop. About a mile before the Rock Shop is a sign for the Adopt A Highway Litter Campaign this one mile stretch of highway way sponsored by the Rock Shop and I have to say that they are doing a very good job of keeping their section of New Mexico very clean.
We rolled up to the rock shop only to find it closed, the gates locked and no one at home. There we set with a water hose not five feet away from us just on the other side of a chain link fence. It would have been easy to just hop over the fence and help ourselves to all the water we needed but in this part of the country folks depend on their wells for water and I’m just not up to stealing. Besides across the road about two hundred yards was another house the only other house within the next seventeen miles and our only hope for water for all the animals.
We pulled into this yard and a woman stepped out with camera in hand snapping all the pictures her camera would hold. Mary and I asked her for water for the animal’s even offering to pay for it. Nothin doin! She let us know that –she was a good Christian but our animals weren’t getting any water from her. I told Mary not to worry we would just go back to Rock Shop and set up camp along the fence line and hope that sooner or later someone would show up and allow us water. Our picture taking woman subscribes to the “Throw Thy Neighbor under the Bus way of life” She didn’t have anything good to say about her neighbors even after I explained to her that they might at least sell us a little water for our animals. People like this are placed in our path just to test us I believe. We turned the wagon around and found us a place along the fence line not far from the Rock Shop and set up our camp. We had a few gallons of water left and were able to give each animal enough to get them thru the night. Just about the time the sun was going down who should show up in their car? Dan and Sue to the rescue. I was fighting with our generator trying to get it started realizing that it was a lost effort and I needed to bite the bullet and buy a new one as soon as possible.
Sue having overheard me mention this to Mary the night before had passed this info on to Dan. Dan opened up the trunk and pulled out a generator for us free of charge. Once again They had not arrived empty handed Sue had gone thru her closets finding several jeans that no longer fit her but would fit Mary . While Sue and Mary yakked away I got the new generator started and lights going in the wagon. We told them about the water situation and that we weren’t too worried that sooner or later the folks from the Rock Shop would come home and I was sure they would let us get some water.
Even though it was a forty mile drive into Socorro Dan didn’t care we loaded the water jugs in his trunk told Sue and Mary that we would be back and off we went./ Our first stop was San Antonio, all the business’s were closed and we couldn’t find a water hose anywhere in town so we drove on into Socorro to a Circle K store where we were able to fill the jugs. And get a couple of things.
By the time we got back to the girls it was getting late we unloaded the trunk and said good night to Dan and Sue. I have no idea why but every time it seems we are in a jam of some sort or another someone comes to our rescue. Life really is good!!!!
The next ranch house along our way was seventeen miles away it was about there that we were planning to pull off for the night and see about refilling our water. We arrived at the ranch around four in the afternoon and met Mrs. June Muncie a very nice lady who carried Mary and our jugs to her ranch and refilled our water. We told her about our experience the night before and she assured us that it wasn’t my looks or anything like that the woman with the camera treated everybody the way she had treated us.
We camped the night along the fence line getting an early start the next morning . We still had eighteen miles to San Antonio and I wanted to get there and find a place to camp for a couple of days and get some shoes put on Dan. About five miles from town we were stopped by Gina a very nice lady who also has a wagon or two and an assortment of longhorn cattle and horses. Gina gave us the name and phone number of Lynn Masingale the owner of Masingale’s Farrier Service. Not only would Lynn be able to take care of Dan she had a place for us to lay over for a couple of days with running water
We stopped at the only gas station and store in San Antonio where we refilled our gas can and bought a few things before trotting down Hwy 1 to Lynn and Eva’s future home. Lynn and Eva are getting their place ready to move into they have about ten acres of land and a trailer that they are in the middle of getting ready to move into. Eva attends college all day in Socorro while Lynn shoe’s horses bit bt bit they are getting their place ready. In the mean time they let us camp out brought us some hay for the kids and let us have all the water we needed. We arrived at Lynn and Eva’s on Tuesday afternoon Wednesday morning Lynn came by and took care of Dan who was more interested in playing than he was in getting his new shoes put on. Later that afternoon after school was out for Eva the two of them came by camp with an ice chest full of refreshments that put us all in a really cheery mood.
Thursday morning Lynn came over to take me into Socorro to the bank so I could pay her for the shoeing job. We had one thing to do before going to the bank. Lynn has a really tall black Thoroughbred gelding that wasn’t looking too good so we loaded him in the trailer and took him to the Ark Of Socorro Vet Clinic. Lynn had given him a shot before we loaded him and by the time we arrived at the Vet he was feeling much better, better safe than sorry. Off to the bank then back to camp.
Lynn dropped me off took her horse home then came back to our camp so she could ride Dusty. I have done a lot of ground work with Dusty bu was unable to ride him. The last time I tried to get on his back he started bucking throwing me to the ground. I know that he isn’t a bad horse I’ve had Mary on his back in a round pen and he did great. Me trying to hop on him the way I have to with only one leg I think spooked him last time and set him off.
I had Dusty all saddled and ready to ride when Lynn arrived. When she first tried to get on him he spooked a little after I talked to him for a minute she was able to get in the saddle. Lynn is very good with horses and I trust Dusty to be a gentleman. Dusty was great he was a little unsure about what he was supposed to be doing when he was nudged to walk or haw to turn with the reins. I had expected all this. I also know how smart he is and how quick he learns things. Within thirty minutes he was doing things that would take most horses a few days to get the hang of. All I have to do now is get him past getting spooked when I go to hop on him. He’s a good horse I know that with just a little more work he’s going to be just fine. He has come a long way from the scared and skittish horse he was when we got him last November.
Its another bright and sunny day here on the Magdalena Ranch just three miles west of Magdalena on Hwy 60 west. It was getting pretty late last night so I shut the lap top down and went to sleep. The temperature was about sixty five when I went to bed I awoke around 4am shivering. The sky was filled with stars and not a cloud in sight and the temp was in the low 50’s, Mary had hogged all the blankets. Up here in the high desert the nights are something to see. The sky is crystal clear filled with stars o nights like this it is a great time to sit back and watch for shooting stars streaking across the sky. During the day when it is warm walking around the desert with Pete and Jr. has been pretty rewarding. While we are still on the constant lookout for rattle snakes we have run up on all sorts of different wildlife. Jr. at just about a year old still has a lot of puppy in him and loves to chase anything that runs from him. He has a time chasing horned toad lizards they are pretty quick and always manage to trick him into following them into a cactus leaving a few needles in his nose and legs, still he hasn’t learned. Yesterday while we were out exploring Jr. spotted a road runner and the chase was on. It was better than watching the Road Runner and Coyote Show. Jr. is pretty fast but he is no match for a road runner he chased that bird all over the place leaping over cactus and around juniper trees just when he was getting close the road runner would switch directions and find another burst of speed after about twenty minutes of this Jr. finally gave up the chase and with his tongue hanging almost to the ground headed back to the wagon for a drink and a nap.
Most of us would never think of going to the desert to search for sea shells we tend to search for arrow heads and things of that sort. The desert is a great place to find sea shells and fish fossils in the rock facings. About thirty miles outside of Carrizozo I was staring up a t a mountain when I noticed the different levels that the ocean had once been it was fascinating to see the places along the rock surface where the sea had gradually receded leaving behind the high water marks. The desert is full of all sorts of life not just rattle snakes and lizards. All across the desert are burrows of rabbit, gopher and tortoise. In a place that appears to be flat for miles deer and antelope can hide almost in plain sight. About two weeks ago bow hunting season opened for elk. Riding back from Ruidoso one afternoon with Leroy we were lucky enough to see a small herd of these massive animals grazing not far off the road. The bulls are about the size of Pearle with antlers that spread several feet across and tower as much a six feet above their heads. From what I’ve heard from a few hunters the elk are not as fat this season as in years past because of the lack of good grazing brought on by the drought and hard winter last year. I am no expert on the size of elk but the ones that we saw that afternoon didn’t appear to be going hungry.
We pulled out of Lynn’s place on Saturday morning Sept.17th we were only planning to travel about ten miles over to the other side of Socorro and camp at the “Ark Of Socorro Vet Clinic”. We had a pretty good day for travel. The day before Lynn and I had scouted out the route we would be taking into town. About three miles from her place on Hwy 1 is a cattle guard across the road. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem to get around. Normally. Any cattle guard that crosses a roadway according to state law must have a gate off to one side to allow livestock to be driven around. There is a gate at this cattle guard unfortunately it has not been maintained and bush’s have grown up around the gate making it impossible to drive a vehicle or wagon thru. We were able to get the gate opened enough to get the mules and horses thru but first we had to unhook them from the wagon and then get the wagon across the cattle guard. Lynn met us at the guard and we used her truck to pull the wagon across. With that done we hooked everyone back up the wagon and were on our way again the whole operation taking less than twenty minutes.
We rolled thru edge of Socorro and out past the hospital to the Vet’s office where we set up camp for the night. The folks at “The Ark of Socorro Veterinary Clinic” welcomed us right in letting us tether the stock along their fence supplying us with water and electric. They even brought us out BBQ sandwich’s and potato chips for dinner. The Ark of Socorro is a mixed animal practice owned by Jack Duncan D.V.M.and is located just west of town on West US Hwy 60 in Socorro NM their phone is 575-835-9002 Email address is email@example.com they are super folks and are even open all day on Saturday.
Saturday morning as we were preparing to hit the road Mary Ann a very nice lady from the town of Magdalena stopped by the clinic with her dog. Mary Ann walked over to see Pearle and Pauline bringing with her not only treats for the dos but a big bag of dog food. Mary Ann told us about the road ahead of us to Magdalena and said she would be on the lookout for us when we rolled into town. From the clinic to Magdalena is a distance of twenty six miles no way we were going to make it there in one day especially since we were getting a late start on the day. I had a little difficulty posting things to our web site that morning and had to call our host for some assistance; turns out I had hit the wrong key while attempting to update the site.
We finally got on the road at 11:30am and headed west on Hwy 60 for Magdalena. Approximately five miles outside of town we began a climb of over twenty two hundred feet in elevation and a grade of three miles. The grade was steep in places but the girls didn’t seem to have any trouble pulling us to the top. Once we hit the top a truck pulled over in front of us. Lori and Lee Scholes the owners of “Rancho Magdalena” stopped and invited us to come spend some time at their ranch just outside of Magdalena. They were sponsoring a single action shootout at their ranch over the weekend something that they do quite regularly. The Single Action Shooting Society and The Magdalena Trail Drivers have a place set up on the backside of the ranch with an old west town and main street where shooters compete in different events where shooters shoot their way out of town in different timed scenarios .
As it was we were still a long way from Magdalena and wouldn’t make it to the ranch until the following afternoon missing out on all the fun.
The girls pulled us eighteen miles that day in just over five hours. Pretty good considering the long hill they had to climb. Along the way bicyclists were passing us going in the opposite direction. We had seen about ten of theses riders before we came to refreshment stop for the riders set up at a roadside table. The riders we had seen were part of the PAC Tour The Southern Transcontinental twenty riders riding from San Diego California to Savannah Georgia 2,848 miles in 26 days. Mary and I thought this was pretty amazing since most of the riders we passed were over the age of 60 for more info on this log onto www.pactour.com or firstname.lastname@example.org . These folks still have a long ride ahead of them and like us they are not sponsored all costs are out of pocket. What a great way to see America and get in shape.
About seven miles from town we found a place to pull off the road and set up camp for the night. After eighteen miles of pulling the girls were ready for their feed and water along with a well deserved rest. After all the kids were taken care of Mary and I had a dinner or pasta and canned chicken before calling it a night. Sunday morning as we were preparing to get on our way into Magdalena we were visited by several people. First was a Sheriff’s Deputy that graduated High School in Butte County and still has family living in Oroville CA. Next was Tom an older Hippie type who was out looking for his Yak that he had set out to graze then came Heather a sweetheart of a lady from Alberta Canada who was out for a tour on her Honda Gold Wing trike. Heather stopped to see if we needed any money or food. I was surprised to find after she left that she had left us with a very nice donation. Heather is on her way to Mesa Arizona, the day before she had ridden thru four states that’s impressive for anyone in any type of transportation. Even with the visitors we had that morning we still managed to get out on the road ahead of our schedule. We try to be on the road by 10:30 each morning we rolled out at 10:15am that’s pretty impressive for us.
We rolled into Magdalena about noontime stopping at the only convenient store in town to get gas for the generator. While Mary was in the store I was holding the team across the street when Mary Ann pulled up. I was having trouble with Pearle she did not want to stand in any one place pulling at the bit to go. As I was talking with Mary Ann Pearle decided to take off and would not stop walking. I had been having trouble with her all morning. First she didn’t want to back up so we could hook her to the wagon then this stunt of not wanting to stop. Usually when a horse or mule is acting out like this they are trying to tell you something and its up to you figure out what they are trying to say. After I got her stopped again and tied up to a pole I figured out what it was that she had been trying to tell me all morning. As we were trotting along I thought something just didn’t look right with her harness. I had put the wrong harness on her that morning and it was fitting her too tightly. I blame this on her enormous appetite she is quite a few pounds heavier than her sister Pauline. Once I had her back under control Mary Ann and I were able to get back to talking. Mary Ann drove up ahead and opened the stock gate for us at the ranch while I did a little shopping at the Family Dollar.
Magdalena is a very small town that is starting to see some growth with a few of the old ranch’s around haven been bought up by investors and parceled out into various size smaller ranch’s. Magdalena also has a small airport with a dirt runway.
In January 1885 the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railroad completed it’s branch from Socorro to Magdalena to haul ore from the Kelly Mines this was also the birth of the Magdalena Livestock Trail as ranchers in the surrounding country began to drive their cattle to Magdalena instead of Belen for shipment by rail. The Magdalena Livestock Trail is also known as the Magdalena Stock Driveway or “Hoof Highway” by those that traveled it. The Magdalena Stock Driveway is registered on the State Historic Register. The trail has been in use for over three hundred years even though ranchers such as John Chisum and Charles Goodnight herded cattle along the trail in the 1870’s for two hundred and fifty years before the Spanish had driven their sheep to the Rio Grande Valley for market. In fact more sheep traveled this trail than cattle during its long history. During the 1930’s the WPA and the CCC built a series of wells along the 150 mile driveway to aid in the herding of livestock. !919 was the biggest year for the Driveway with over 150,00 head of sheep and 21,677 cattle driven down the trail. The final cattle drive by the Farr Cattle Company of Catron County was in 1970.
Resting up here on the Rancho Magdalena we are camped in same place that in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s cowboy’s camped with their herds while waiting to load them aboard the train just three miles away in Magdalena. For more info on the Magdalena Livestock Trail or on the historic town of Magdalena call 1-800-383-6041 or the Magdalena Chamber of Commerce at 866-854-3217.
Mary and I have enjoyed a relaxing few days’ here at Rancho Magdalena Lori and Lee have been very nice hosts. Lori and Lee operate a bed and breakfast here at the ranch each room has a fire place and small library stoked with literature on the surrounding area. Many hunters stay here as guests during hunting season. They have a small herd of Long Horn cattle along with horses and wagons and chickens in the pen. If you want a quiet place to get away for a few days this is the place. The town of Magdalena with several gift shops is just three miles east of the ranch on Hwy 60 while there visit the Market Place, Lori Sholes place for antiques and collectables with books, saddles and Native American jewelry and assorted cowboy gear located at 105 North Main St. Phone 575-854-3088 or email@example.com to book a stay at the ranch or for more info you can contact Lori or Lee at 1-800-462-5489 or 575-854-3091 firstname.lastname@example.org . If you are driving thru the area Ranco Magdalena is very easy to find located on Hwy 60 at mile marker 109 you can’t miss the place and if you are passing thru you don’t want to miss stopping by for a visit.
Well it’s getting on in the day and I feel like taking Dusty out for a ride around the ranch before we head out tomorrow. The nights are getting cooler as winter approaches and I would like to have us down into southern Arizona before it gets too cold. Here in Magdalena we are at an elevation of 6,548 feet and we still have a ways to climb before we start heading down into lower elevations and hopefully warmer weather as winter approaches We still have a few more places to visit on our way across New Mexico. We are looking forward to having a slice or two of pies in Pie Town Until next time stay safe. Take a little time off and visit America. As always PLEASE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! Later Chuck, Mary and the Gang.
October 5th thru 31st
Quemado to Apache Creek NM
Hey again! Sorry its been some time since I've written anything. A lot has been happening and some big decisions had to be made. Before I sat down to write anything and get all of you updated I had to be sure of a major decision concerning our travels and the coming of winter.
We had wanted to pull out of Quemado on Monday October 3rd but we were held up by wet weather. Friday afternoon the temp started dropping and each afternoon the clouds would start building off to the west over the mountains by about six pm each afternoon it would begin to rain. The rain was never heavy although one evening it did get a little scary with high winds and lightning striking very close to us. The dirt turned to red mud that reminded us of the red Georgia clay. Not only did it stick to everything it was very slippery.
Each day Barry would drive out to see if we needed anything and would always carry off our water jugs and refill them..Barry was a big help to us during our stay in Quemado, without his help it would have been very difficult to keep all the pets watered and fed.
Wednesday morning we finally got a break in the weather. We got an early start on getting the wagon packed and ready for the road. Before we could go very far I needed to do make a few modifications to the brakes. We rolled into J and Y Auto around 10:30am. Jerry is pretty busy most days but was able to get right to work on our brakes. It took a couple of hours cutting, fabricating and welding but in the end we had a brake system that will hold the wagon on the steepest downhill grades.
While we were getting the brakes done we had several admirers stop by for pictures and to wish us well along the way. Rose Mary fed us snacks and sodas and had one of the girls that work with her at J and Y to go over to the meat processors to get a few bones for Pete and Jr. When she returned she had two huge rear elk leg bones and about thirty pounds of fresh elk scraps. Many of these scraps were just to good to share with the dogs. Over the next few days Mary and I dined very well on elk meat.
By the time we were finished with the wagon we knew that we weren't going to travel very far this day. About six miles out of town on HWY 32 is the Quemado Cowboy Church Pastor Gerry and his wife Charlotte invited us to camp overnight and attend their services that evening. I have a sweet tooth that is next to impossible to satisfy. A few of the ladies attending church that evening had made some very good cookies and sweet chewy chocolate brownies that they insisted we take back to the wagon with us along with a bag of goodies from their pantry. After the services we said goodbye to everybody and called it a night ourselves.
Thursday morning we were up and on the road by 10:15. We were only going to travel twelve miles to a rest area high up in the mountains at around 7200 hundred feet. We had a great day of travel . As we rolled out of the desert and into the mountains then scenery just got prettier and prettier. We were passing by a nice looking home built off the road sitting up on a hill side when who should pull into the driveway bu8t Shawn a very nice young man who along with the rest of his family moved here from Chicago several years ago. Shawn had come by our camp in Quemado one day bringing us a box of peaches and pears and also took me to get water and gas for the generator not allowing me to pay for the gas. Shawn had his sister with him this time and once again loaded us up with fresh fruit. A little further up the road we were stopped by a lady with her two teenage kids. They had seen us earlier in the day and wanted to give us something special. Jesse the daughter and the only one whose name we got had baked us a loaf of whole wheat bread. It was so fresh that it was still warm from the oven and boy was it good!. I had a hard time getting any bread from Mary. It was pretty chilly and Mary had puit the bread inside her jacket to help stay warm. It was a little bit of a fight but in the end I was able to get a big slice of warm and chewy fresh bread. What a really thoughtful and wonderful treat. Thanks again Jesse.
At the top of the hill at the eighteen mile marker is a very nice rest area with covered picnic tables and restrooms. It was here that we were going to camp for the night. This is a great place to camp if you are traveling with horses and mules. We were in a fenced in area with good grazing and plenty of places to tether the gang along the fence line. At this elevation we were surrounded by tall and beautiful Ponderosa Pines. What a beautiful place to camp. At night after the sun went down we heard several elk bugleing.
I pulled the wagon into the fenced area by one of the lean too's and picnic tables to set up camp. As we were setting up camp Barry pulled in to check on us knowing that we would be camping here. A few days before Barry had seen me working on our fifty year old gas stove. A good stove its just starting to show its age and needs adjusting and cleaning ever so often. Barry had brought with him a new gas stove for us. He said he had a couple of them and wanted us to have one. Along with the stove Barry brought with him news of snow the next day. Thanks Barry!
By the time we cooked dinner on our new stove the temp was dropping fast so we hopped in the wagon and under the covers and huddled in for the night.
The next morning it the sky was gray and rain was falling lightly we decided to stay put for the day. Barry showed up about noon time. A few days before he had passed thru this area and stopped by the Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch about ten mile down the road and asked them about us camping there for a night or two and maybe purchasing from them a few bales of hay. Since we weren't going anywhere this day Barry offered to give me a ride down to the ranch and also to the Apace Creek Store a little further down the road.
At the ranch I met Pastor Craig Lang who shocked me by telling me that he had eight kids. Pastor Craig at first glance doesn't appear to more than about twenty five. He told me he is actually thirty two and of his eight kids four of them are adopted. Pastor Craig showed us around the ranch telling us a little of its history and mission. Here at the ranch they have several head of horses so they were able to sell je some hay at a very good price. After showing us around we made arrangements to pull in the next afternoon and set up camp for awhile.
The weather here in the mountains can be very fickle and deceiving. At our camp it was gray and gloomy and threatening to snow at any moment while just ten miles away at the Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch the sky was clear and sunny.
Just before the Ranch there is a long eight degree grade going downhill that would be the test of our new brakes. Its a long and scary grade that at its steepest point there isn't anywhere to pull off to the side because of a cement barrier to keep falling rocks from rolling into the road and into the side of passing cars. Barry offered to help us get past this area if need be by using his truck as an extra braking system.
Back at the camp while we were gone Shawn and his sister had stopped by to visit with Mary before they took off for Silver City about one hundred and thirty miles away.
Since we weren't going anywhere until the next day I took this as an opportunity to cook us a really good dinner of fried elk cubes with mashed potato's with gravy and grilled onions. It took me most of the afternoon to get everything cooked. Just as we were sitting down to eat the sky fell. I mean really fell! All of a sudden we were in a white out. Big wet white flakes of snow were coming down. We finished dinner and after checking on Pearle and her gang we hid out for the night in the comfort of the wagon.
It must not have snowed to long the next morning we woke to about an inch and a half of the white stuff and by the time we had the wagon loaded it was all but melted.
While we were getting the wagon loaded Pete and Ir. Were having a great time running around in the snow. Now here's something I can't figure out. All night long while it was snowing these two dogs acted as if they were freezing to death and the only way they were going to survive the night was by getting into bed with Mary and me. But as soon as the sun was up it was play time in the snow. I believe if they were able they would have had a snow ball fight.
About 9am I heard te sound of two Harley's coming up the hill. It wasn't long before the two riders came pulling into the rest area. I had to go over and ask if I could get a picture of them and their bikes in the snow. As it turned out just a mile or so down the road there wasn't any snow at all. I also took a picture of each of them with their camera's before seeing them off.
With the wagon all loaded complete with two wet dogs we were on our way to the Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Camp. Our plan was to roll as far as the grade where we would meet up with Barry and hook onto his truck if necessary.
We rolled out of the rest area back on Hwy32 and thru some of the prettiest country to be seen anywhere. We gradually dropped in elevation coming out of the mountains and onto a high plateau of grasses and short trees past pastures filled with cattle. After about three miles of this we started downhill again. At first we rolled down a few steep hills but nothing so bad that the girls had any trouble with the wagon pushing on them. The brake seemed to working just fine.
About noon time Barry passed us by on his way to where we were to meet up. By this time I was feeling pretty confident with the brakes. We met up Barry about 1pm at the top of the grade. I decided to give it a try as far as the retaining wall about a mile down the grade.
With my fingers and five remaining toes crossed we headed down the grade. I wasn't to worried since we had plenty of places to pull off into dirt if the wagon did start to get out of hand. Things were going pretty smoothly at first until we started to smell burnt rubber. The friction break was heating up causing our tires to smell. After stopping to check things out it just smelled worse than it was. Although the tires were getting warm and stinking a bi9t they were in no danger of melting. As we approached the cement retaining barrier I began to loose my nerve . The wagon was rolling along slowly and the girls were handling things just fine but as I looked at road ahead it just seemed to be getting steeper and with no where to pull off I just plain chickened out. I pulled off to the side and we hooked up to Barry's truck. Back on the road again Barry drove as if he had been helping wagons down hill his whole life. As we rolled slowly down the grade everything went just as I had hoped for. The brake held the wagon all the way down without any trouble at all. Sometimes its better to be safe than sorry. The only trouble and scare we got while inching our way down the grade was an idiot in a one ton Dodge Dually who was attempting to pass us on the right hand side. I almost wish that he had continued on in his efforts so I could have seen him go over the side of the cliff. As comedian Ron White say's “You can't fix stupid”.
The canyon that we were slowly creeping down has some fantastic rock formations on one side and a gorgeous valley on the other side. Looking over the side down over a few hundred feet into this valley I had to envy who ever it is that owns the land at the bottom where Apache Creek flows through and elk and deer along with other wild life graze on the green grasses.
Once we got to the bottom we unhooked the wagon from Barry's truck. Barry drove on ahead to the ranch to let them know we were on our way and would be there in an hour or so and to ask someone to have the stock gate opened for us.
Near the bottom of the grade we passed by a school bus stop that looks more like a cage than a bus stop for children. The hut for the children to sit in and wait for the bus is wrapped in fencing to protect the kids from predators such as mountain lions something these mountains are in no short supply of along with bears.
About 3pm we arrived at the ranch where we were met by several kids ranging in age from 17 on down to about 6 years old. After a little confusion the gate was opened and we rolled into a pasture where we were also greeted by “Frisky” a very old and very friendly Burro. Frisky ran right over and introduced himself to the girls. With an escort of several youngsters we rolled through the pasture past the barn and on up to the compound. We parked the wagon in front of the church and dormitory. Debbie Lang, Pastor Lang's wife greeted us and showed us where to put Pearle and the rest of the gang. As I busied myself getting the girls out of harness and down to the pasture with Dan and Dusty Mary and Jessica Gordon one of the many kids who live here at the ranch began unpacking the wagon.
Wouldn't you know it the confusion was still going on. Just as Jessica and Mary had finished unloading the wagon Debbie comes back and tells us that we needed to move the wagon out behind the church over by the pool and R/V site. With the help of Ron “Jessica's Dad” and one other truck we were able to get everything moved around back without to much effort. All this time I was wondering where Pastor Craig was. Turns out that he along with Ashley one of the full time volunteers that live and work here at the ranch were both attending classes to become EMT's something that there never seems to be enough of out in the country where the nearest small town or hospital is sometimes over fifty miles or more away. Craig had misunderstood me and thought that we were arriving the next day, Sunday. Anyway we got settled in for the night and after saying thank you and good night to I don't know how many kids and parents we all agreed to meet for church services the following morning.
Our first night at Apache Creek the temp dropped down to around 28 degrees had it not been for the space heater Debbie had loaned us for the night it would have been really hard to get me out of bed the next morning. I can sleep just fine under warm blankets getting up and moving is another thing.
The first thing I did after getting dressed was to go and check on Pearle and the rest of the gang. They were all fine doing what they do best. Heads to the ground munching away on grass. Church didn't start until 11am so I had a few hours to wander about the barn area checking out all the other horses they have here at Apache Creek. Around 10:30am I ventured back to the wagon to get dressed for church.
After services we met all those that attend church here at Apache Creek everyone was interested in our travels and a few came over to look over the wagon.
As I had mentioned earlier we had a pretty big decision to make concerning our travel plans. Several folks have suggested that we winter over somewhere since the winters in this part of the country can be pretty cold and miserable. Last winter the temp dropped to as low as 37degrees below zero with the wind chill. Keep in mind that last winter was an unusually cold winter for Texas and New Mexico. Our travel plans are to head across Arizona and over to the Grand Canyon passing through Prescott. To go this route requires us to travel across the mountains and higher elevations something that we just can't do in a wagon in the winter. I like snow but I also like to be able to look at it from a warm seat.
The gentleman that was tending to the horses here at Apache Creek was moving to another town and a new job just as we were arriving. Pastor Craig and I had talked about me taking over the job of horse wrangler for the winter months in exchange Mary and I have been given a place to stay in. This is only for the winter and come Spring we will be hitting the road again for California. This has been a very hard decision for me to make. I had thought of heading further south down around Phoenix AZ and the desert for the winter months. Heading further south just takes us further out of our way of our destination in Northern California Butte County. Besides Mary has never seen the Grand Canyon. When we started this trip I had no idea that eighteen months later we would still be on the road but I wouldn't trade a minute of it for anything else. What a wonderful time we have had so far and it just keeps getting better. John Stewart the man we bought Pearle and Pauline and the wagon from told me that it was going to take me at least two years to finish this trip. As he put it because I like to talk to people. Well John once again you were right. Over the next few months I will continue to update our website and keep you all informed on our stay here at the Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch. I am also planning to us this time to write our series of children s books 'The Adventures of Pearle and Pauline” America as seen through the eyes of my two favorite girls. The first book will be titled “Pearle and Pauline in Kentucky” each state that we pass thru will be another book. The books will be written for kids grade four and up each book will be a geography and history lesson of each state along with some of the silly antics Pearle and Pauline along with Dan, Dusty, Pete and Jr. have put Mary and I thru.
My duties here at Apache Creek not only involve taking care of twenty five horses and mules one donkey and a goat I will also be doing any mechanical work that needs to be done on the vehicles and equipment here at the ranch. Mary will also be doing a few odd jobs around the ranch also. I really need to get this edited and posted to our web site so I am going to close for now. In a few days I will be posting more top our website I will be telling you all about The Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch and all the things that Mary and I are doing here. We may be taking a break from the road for the winter but we still have a lot to tell you about this is a fantastic place to winter over at. I am looking forward to working with all the horses over the next few months. Most of them are well trained there are a few young colts that I will be training for riding. The horses here at Apache Creek are a very large part of the summer camps for the kids that come here and must be trained so that even the most inexperienced rider can saddle up and go for a trail ride safely. In the short time that we have been here I have gotten to know all the horses pretty well. I have taken a few trail rides up into the surrounding mountains and I have to tell you that it is just beautiful here. Until next time take care and please remember to keep SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS! I will try to update you all again by Thursday November 1st. Thank you all for being patient and for all your support and kind words. HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Don't let the goblins get you! Later Chuck, Mary and the Gang
Saturday November 5th 2011
Hello again. I had planned on having this all written and posted to the website by Thursday the 5th of November but with so much going on here at the Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch I just haven't had the time to sit down and write as I would like. Also it seems that by the time dinner time rolls around and the sun falls from the sky I am so tired from the days chores that all I want to do is crawl under the covers and fall asleep. We are at a little over six thousand feet elevation maybe that has something to do with why I go to bed so earl;y these days.
Before I get to far along here I must tell you all about the Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch . Back in 1975 Pastor Dean Lang founded the Ranch with a five dollar down payment a hand shake on a ten year mortgage and a dream the four hundred and twenty some odd acres has grown from a log cabin that was built around 1880 and was at one time the winter home of a mountain lion to to several small cabins, six motel rooms a gymnasium and roller skating rink, two dorm rooms one for the boys and the other for the girls a church a cafeteria two barns for the horses and four mobile homes to house the families that live here year round and volunteer their services to help keep the ranch up and running.
It has taken thirty six years of hard work and dedication from Pastor Lang his family and so many others that believed in his dream to make the ranch what it is today. Mary and I have yet to meet Pastor Lang and his wife Janice as they are in Florida where the Pastor is undergoing all the necessary procedures to have a pace maker implanted to help his ailing heart. A younger Pastor Lang has taken up the reins so to speak for his father. Pastor Craig Lang see's to all the day to day needs of the ranch and hols church services each Sunday morning and again on Thursday evening. Pastor Craig has his hands full and many days there just ain't enough hours in the day for him to accomplish everything that needs to be done around here. That’s where people like Ron Gordon and his wife Debbie, Ashley, Mary and me come in handy along with Gary and his wife. Ron's wife Debbie along with Craig s wife Debbie teach class five days a week here home schooling nine of the ten children that live here. Craig and Debbie have five kids from two years to fourteen years old. They are Naomi the youngest Nathan, Bethany , James and Rebecca who just turned ten last week and Michelle. Craig and Debbie also have a daughter that is attending college in California along with eleven year old Alazaya who lives with her grandmother part of the time. As I mentioned before Craig is only thirty two and not old enough to have had a child in college. Craig and Debbie have four children of their own and have adopted four others. Raising that many kids is a full time job right there. The Gordon s Ron and Debbie also have a large family made up children that they have been kind enough to adopt and give a better life. Two of their sons are grown and out on their own their oldest daughter Ashley lives here at the ranch and takes care of all the book work for the ranch along with studying to be an EMT each Saturday her and Craig attend a class for their EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training. The other kids all attend classes here they are Asia, Ester, Charity, Jessica, John and Sebastian. It has taken me almost a month to get all their names right. Craig also has a brother Kent who lives here at the ranch and heads up the singing for the church. Across the Highway and up the road a little ways live Mr. and Mrs. Ball they take care of some of the cabins and RV sites at that end of the ranch. This time of year they have been staying pretty busy seeing to the needs of the many elk hunters that stay here during the hunting season. That fills you in on all those that live here and are so much a part of daily lives here. In the months to follow all their names are sure to be mentioned in my writing.
The mission of the ranch is to reach out to not just deaf children but also to inner city youths to show them a better life through becoming a Christian. Here at the ranch through out the year large groups of kids can attend two week camps here for little to no money at all I'm not sure of how all this works but it does and if you would like for your child or a group of children to attend a camp here please contact Pastor Craig Lang for more info you can contact him or his wife Debbie at email@example.com or call them at 575-533-6820. From all that I have seen and read about the ranch it really is a very special place. In our short time here I have learned quite a lot about deaf people and came to realize that I myself was pretty ignorant as to just how difficult life can be for someone who does not have the gift of hearing. Over the years through different jobs I have done some work with the blind and have come to learn about most of the difficulties they face in their day to day lives. Most of the blind people that I have been associated with are those that have lost their site either from disease or from accidents. For people that have had a life of seeing and then to lose their site can be very hard and frustrating having to learn a whole new way of life. I have seen not only the success many of them have achieved but also the heartbreaking and sometimes tragic hardships so many of these people have had to face up to.
I was amazed to learn that a five year old child entering kindergarten has a vocabulary of about five thousand words. That's a lot of words to have learned in so short a period of time. But the average deaf child of the same age only knows about eight hundred words or signs. Think about it like the Chinese way of writing. The Chinese use what they call characterless and the average Chinese adult is only able to write about sixty five of these.
At this time I don't know a whole lot more about the life that a deaf person lives than most people do I am taking the time to learn as much as I possibly can during our stay here at Apache Creek each day for example I have been practicing the deaf alphabet. Just those twenty six letters can be confusing. I am told that learning to sign is not very difficult, ten year old Rebecca can carry on a conversation in sign language as well as most adults who have been signing for several years.
Reading Pastor Dean Lang's book Vision, Adventure, Faith my eyes were really opened wide when I read what he had written about deaf people and their knowledge of Christ. Something that we take for granted every day. Most deaf people have no idea Christ is or what is going on in church during the services. Pastor Lang wrote in his book deaf people mostly only know what they see or who they meet. When asked about what she knew about Jesus one little girl signed , He does not go to our deaf school if he did I would have met him. He probably lives around here but you see I can't talk to people here so I have never met him. Thinking about that little girl got me to thinking about just how frustrating life must be for a deaf person. A blind person can at least hear and speak. Not very many of are able to communicate through sign language so that leaves a very small community for deaf people to talk with. I would imagine that life could get very lonely. The little that I have learned here has made me want to learn as much as I am able. I was unaware that in many families where there is a deaf child that many of them don't even know the names of their brothers and sisters. Many parents and siblings don't know how to communicate with their deaf child or sibling. Deaf kids are sent off to schools for the deaf and while at home during the summer months they point to or get by at home the best they can. Can you imagine not being able to talk with your own child, to not be able to tell them all about who you are and who all their family members are? Thinking about things such as that has made me decide to learn as much sign language as I can during our stay here. Reading is something that I enjoy I can really get wrapped up in a good western many times I awake to find a book lying on my chest and the clock showing it to be the wee hours of the morning. Could you imaging what it must be like to not be able to read or to sound out the words on a street sign? There are so many things that we just take for granted.
Now back to life here at Apache creek. Mary and I been given the use of a nice three bedroom mobile home during our stay here thru the winter. Our heat comes from a wood stove that with the help of a box fan we carry in the wagon keeps us very warm and toasty at night. Thinking back to our travels thru Texas last winter and some of the frozen nights we snuggled together under blankets and comforters only to have to get up and face a day of cold travel we are very grateful to Craig and his family for inviting us to stay the winter here at Apache Creek. Don't think that we didn't enjoy traveling all last winter, we did and we not only had a fantastic time we met thousands of good folk along the way. There are days now that the sun is shinning and not a cloud in the sky that I find myself missing not being out on the road with the reins in my hands and the girls up ahead walking along pulling us up a hill or around a bend in the road. Each morning when I go down to the barn to feed I am greeted by my girl Pearle who is always happy to see me along with Pauline, Dan and Dusty. While I talk with them I wonder if they miss the travel as much as I do or if they are happy for the time off. They sure are getting a lot to eat and with all the apples falling from the trees in the garden they are eating their fill.
Our day’s here start each morning with our coffee at the kitchen table instead of in front of the cook stove where we make our plans for the day. Mary has a few chores to do around the ranch such as cleaning a room after it is vacated and washing the linen or her favorite chore of all with weed wacker in hand she attacks the weeds around the various buildings. Me I hop in the Ranger 4X4 and head to the barn where awaiting me each morning are twenty five hungry faces our four and the twenty one others that belong to the ranch. I start off by bringing into the barn first those that are in need of a little doctoring or some grain in their diet. Then I load a couple of bales of alfalfa in the back of the ranger and begin tossing flakes about to everyone. The first half of the day IO am usually down at the barn cleaning up and organizing and caring for cuts and scrapes or working with one of the young colts. I am usually accompanied not only by Pete and Jr. but also by Frisky a burro who is well into his twenties and Patience an eighteen month old pinto filly who last year was attacked by wolves and broke her left front ankle. Thanks to Ashley who refused to let Patience be put down she has recovered , she will never be able to be ridden any great distance but her and Frisky have the run of the place. Patience and Frisky follow me around the barn eating as they please and doing their best to lend a hoof when they think I need it. Each night Patience comes home with me and stays in the back yard while I have given up on keeping Frisky in the Pastures with the other horses. I don't know how he does it but I don't believe a fence has been built that can keep him in.
In the afternoons when I'm not working on a vehicle or mending tack I ride around repairing fences. Some of the fences were in bad need of repair from age and some neglect but the biggest problem has been with the elk. If they can't jump over it the bigger ones will lay on the fence forcing it to the ground so the younger ones can get thru . I am finding out that fencing is just about a full time job.
It's not all work here I have plenty of time to go for horseback rides up into the mountains or take the ranger and do a little panning for gold. Most times I find myself saddling a few horses and taking some of the kids on short trail rides. We all have a good time and the horses are getting exercise. I have only ridden Dan one time since we have been here and the results were not good. More about that later.
Today we had planned on Harnessing up the girls and taking all the kids for a wagon ride seven miles up the road to the Apache Creek Store where we were going to stop and eat ice cream and candy bars. We have been planning this day out for the past three weeks and all the children were looking forward to it. I awoke at 3am to the sound of thunder and rain. I went back to sleep hoping that it would pass. It did pass. Sorta! I looked out the window at 7am and the ground was covered with snow and it was still coming down. Our wagon ride may have been canceled but everybody still had to be fed. I dressed as warm as I could and headed for the barn with Pete and Jr. riding along. Kids being kids and not realizing what a cold day it would have been had we gone for the ride were a little disappointed but I wasn't without a plan. I borrowed Debbie’s Mini Van and took off for the store to load up on candy bars. On my way to the store running down the center of hwy32 as fast as he could run was Apache A dog belonging to Marcos one of the members of the church. Recognizing Apache I stopped and opened the door, he hopped right in. The problem was I didn't know where his home was. Apache rode to the store with me and then back to the ranch where he spent most of the day playing with the other dogs around here. The kids were all happy, they may not have got to go for a ride in the wagon but their little sweet tooth’s were satisfied.. I still have plenty more to write about but it is getting late in the day and Pearle along with all the others need to be fed. I am going to try to post this Monday morning so I will get back to writing tomorrow after church.
Sunday November 6th
Boy this time change gets me every-time! Spring forward Fall Back. Here I thought I was going to get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep this morning. Jr. doesn't understand things like this time changing business. Out of bed a cup of coffee in me and out the door into an Arctic blast. Yesterdays snow my have melted off but the ground was still white with a heavy frost and a stiff breeze blowing. Down to the barn we go Pete, Jr. and me, I open the gate to the barn yard and whose there waiting for me? Standing there in front of the barn door waiting for his morning grain is Frisky. How he goes from pasture to pasture I have yet to figure out. In two corrals beside the barn I have been keeping Pearle and the rest of the gang until I get a few more repairs done to the pasture fence that I plan to turn them loose in. Pearle has always had a bad habit of pawing at doors or pipe fences anything that will get my attention she now has Dan joining in on the act. The only way to stop the noise is to see to it that she gets fed first before anyone else. Yes she is very spoiled and I am to blame for it. This brings me back to the last time I took Dan out for a ride. It was Tuesday October 18th.Craig needed the use of the Ranger to take an elderly lady up into the mountains to rock hunt with no transportation around the ranch it was a good time to saddle up Dan and ride him. The whole time I had him in the barn grooming him and getting him ready to ride he was carrying on making as much noise as he could the only thing that settled him down was when I took him back outside so he could see Pearle. Before I climbed into the saddle I brought Pearl;e a bucket of grain thinking that if she was busy eating she wouldn't be worrying about where Dan had gotten off to. Our ride started out just fine. Being part Tennessee Walker Dan has a very comfortable trot to him that eats up ground in a hurry. He has really spoiled me for riding other horses. All was going well until we stopped by the house for lunch. Our house is about a quarter of a mile from the barn. The entire time Dan was tethered out in front of the house he was pacing around snorting and whinnying as loud he could. It was as if he was trying to tell me something. I just figured that he was wanting to get back to Pearle and was throwing a fit. After lunch we headed back to the barn when we got there I found Pearle lying on the ground her belly distended and several cuts on her legs and face. I got her to her feet as fast as I could but she was too weak to stand for very long and kept falling back to the ground. Pearle had a severe case of colic and was very near death. I was terrified and unable to get her back on her feet by myself. If she couldn't stay on her feet and walk to relieve the pressure she was sure to die. I raced back to the house as fast as Dan could carry me stopping just long enough to tell Mary to gather as many people as possible and get them to the barn. Back at the barn I was pulling and tugging on Pearle trying desperately to get her up. I managed to get her up one time for just about a minute before she collapsed again. Within minutes but what seemed like hours to me Mary, Craig, Ashley. Debbie , Pastor Delang visiting from Ohio and another man named Larry arrived working together we were able to get her back on her feet and walking as Craig led her.. Pearle would walk a few yards and then fall to the ground and attempt to roll over. Time and time again she would get back on her feet with the help of everyone while I would coax her and beg her to stay up. The only thing that will save a horse or mule with colic this bad is to get them walking to relieve the gas in their intestines that are sometimes twisted. Pearle was so exhausted that she just didn't have the energy or the will to go on. I would not allow myself to believe that she was going to die even though I have never seen an animal this bad off pull through. I asked Craig to bring the back hoe around so I could rig a sling to lift her up and get her standing upright. All during this time I had been forcing mineral oil down her throat.
Craig brought the back hoe around and I rigged the sling but before we could lift her off the ground an amazing thing happened. I had walked off to get something as I was coming back I saw everyone standing around Pearle just staring. As I approached I was saying alright everybody lets get her back up. Mary stopped me explaining that they were praying. In my mind all I could think was pray while we work Pearle is dying. How wrong can a man be? What I witnessed next I will never forget. As we began to lift Pearle with the tractor she started getting up on her own her ears perked up and her eyes began to clear. With the two straps around her belly there was no way she was going to fall back down. Within just a few minutes Pearle was standing on her own. She wasn't out of the woods yet she still had a long ways to go but she appeared to through the worst of it. I went back to the house leaving her in the hands of all those that were there so that I could get some warm clothes and a pot of coffee to bring back to the barn I was in for a long night caring for my girl. By the time I returned and assured everyone that I would be alright by myself watching over Pearle and thanked everyone for their efforts and most of all their prayers Pearle was looking much better. There we sat in the dark out in front of thr barn just the two us me yakking away at her and fussing over her and at her for putting me through such a scare. Around 9pm Larry came by to check on us and to keep me company. This was also a big night for Larry. Up until he met Pearle he was very nervous and scared around horses and mules. The funny thing is that Larry was right in there with me helping to give her an enema something that could have gotten both of us kicked very hard. Larry also helped get the mineral oil down her throat. Larry came here to go elk hunting and at the same time I think he overcame his fear of horses or Pearle at least. Larry stayed with us until around 11:30pm when Pearle started trying to get out of her sling. I knew she was feeling better so we took her out of the sling and led her into the barn. After we were settled in the barn Pearle, me and Patience who had volunteered her services as a four legged candy stripper Larry bid us good-nite. Inside the barn and under the lights I was able to begin cleaning up all the cuts Pearle had managed to inflict upon herself rolling around in the corral and scrapping herself on the posts. She was a mess none of her cuts were serious and have since begun to heal up nicely. After I had her all cleaned up she was able to drink a little water and only lay down one time for not more than thirty seconds the swelling in her belly had gone down and she was passing gas and other stuff I knew she was going to be just fine.. I sat down in a chair to drink some coffee while our candy stripper walked over to look Pearle over before coming over and lying at my foot and taking a nap. I must have fallen asleep I was awakened by Patience getting up we must have been a sight to see. Me sleeping in a chair with a horse asleep on the ground with my foot resting on her stomach. By 3:30am Pearle was feeling much better she was pacing about and braying insisting that I put her back in the corral with Dan. I knew she was better when she drank all her water and ate two apples. If Pearle is eating she is just fine.
The thought of losing any of my pets is something that I don't know how I would handle it. Pearle can be a royal pain in the backside she's bossy, greedy when it come to food sometimes hard headed and very jealous where I'm concerned. Like all of our pets she has stolen my heart and I think she knows it. I witnessed a special thing that evening. Had it not been for all those pitched in and woke up to sore muscles the next morning and a very special prayer I don't believe Pearle would be here with us today. I was very humbled by the whole experience. Pearle is back to her old self as if nothing ever happened. Its funny how animals see things.
I think what brought all this on with Pearle is that she suffers separation anxiety when separated from Dan. She can really get herself worked up. Maybe the combination of the grain and her getting so worked up caused her to colic. She has thrown her little fits every time I have taken Dan out for a ride and would follow along with us if I were to take her along. If this keeps up I just may have to find me another horse to ride. The two of them are so funny they are just like an eight year old little girl that likes the little boy next door sorta like Dennis the Menace and Margret, fuss and fight all the time but can't stand to be apart..
Not a whole lot has gone around here today that I know of, I have spent most of the day inside writing and staying warm. I did go out one time this afternoon to check on horses. As I was riding past the dorms I noticed Pastor Craig talking to two guys with bicycles loaded down for travel. I stopped to introduce myself and ask them about their trip. Aart Huig and Gerritt are both from the Netherlands. Aart started peddling his bike in Prudhoe Alaska his destination is Ushuaia (Dead-horse) in southern Chili the southern most tip of South America. Gerritt has been riding along with Aart from Calgary, Alberta and will end his journey shortly at the border of Mexico and the USA. What a fantastic journey I wasn't able to spend much time talking with these two they only stayed long enough to enjoy some of Debbie's cooking and after lunch were back on the road. Aart has a web site you are welcome to check out www.Today-you-can.com . I haven't had a chance to look at his site yet.
Mary and I have a very nice place to spend the winter here at Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch. The ranch is located on hwy32 in a box canyon that was known as Robbers Roost back in the days of stage coaches and outlaws. We are nestled in a valley at the bottom of the canyon with mountains on three sides of us. Looking out our bed room window towering almost three hundred feet above us is Cross Mountain at night we can watch the moon rise over the mountain on clear nights we have seen several shooting stars. Elk are everywhere each night we hear them bugleing away mixed in with the horses grazing at night it is not uncommon to see several elk. Thursday morning Mary and I were on our way into Silver City just four miles from the ranch at about 7am we had to stop while a herd of at least thirty big female elk with several young ones slowly walked across hwy32 in front
of us and on up into the mountain. What a magnificent sight to see. Most of those elk were as big if not bigger than Pearle and Pauline and they each weigh in at about fourteen hundred pounds! We haven't seen any bull elk here yet with their massive horns but they are around so its just a matter of time and we'll catch sight of one.
Last weekend a group from Arizona came to the ranch for a work camp. Several young people mostly teenagers spent the weekend here helping out around the ranch one group worked with Craig building a rock wall bridge over Apache creek that flows through the ranch disappearing underground about halfway across the ranch and re-appearing a mile or so further on down the canyon. I’m told there is a huge cavern underneath the creek and as the water level recedes in cavern and underground river the water flowing in the creek goes underground until the level once again rises and then the creek flows full. Its pretty neat to watch this water just get soaked right into the ground in front of your eyes. Another group helped Ron with the stock pens he is building while two other young ladies busied themselves with fence painting. They were only here Friday and Saturday. Before they went back to Arizona Saturday afternoon I took a small group of them for a trail ride up into the mountains at the back of the ranch. I didn't ride Dan on this trip. Our ride covere3d about seven miles and everyone had a good time. Riding through the mountains around here is awe inspiring. We rode through forests of Ponderosa pines some well over 150 feet high past cliffs with surfaces smoothed by the receding waters thousands of years ago. On our left above us were huge boulders and slabs of rock fifty feet in height and more on our right a sheer drop off of over a hundred feet into a now shallow creek. One we got to the top of the trail we could see mountain ranges stretching for miles. It reminds me so much of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that we are heading for in California.
I have so much more to write about but for now I am running short on time it is getting late here I have to get up early in the morning and feed all my four legged kids and I want to be able to get this posted to the web site in the morning. I will be writing all this week about what we are doing here at Apache Creek so please stay logged on and thank you all again for all of your support and patience with my not so steady updates of our journey through America. We really do live in the most beautiful country on Earth. Until next time stay safe and keep SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS! Later Chuck Mary and the Gang
November 7th thru 14th
Hello Everybody! Another week has passed here at Apache creek Deaf and Youth Ranch. I have been going thru a bad case of what can only be termed as “Wagon Fever”. As each day dawns I find myself longing for the road. I miss going to sleep each night in the comfort of the wagon. I am missing rolling along each day stopping every so often so folks can snap a few pictures and hear about our journey. Don't think that I don't appreciate our life here at Apache Creek. The folks here are all fantastic and we are living in a real family atmosphere. I guess I've just gotten accustomed to life in the wagon. Each day when I go down to feed all the horses I spend a few extra minutes with Pearle and the gang. Pearle has taken to following me very closely if I stop to suddenly I run the risk of her walking right over the top of me. Dan also is feeling the boredom of ranch life I look into his eyes when I talk to him and almost feel as if I am neglecting him and the others. Out on the road we are never apart. They are always tethered close to the wagon hearing every conversation that Mary and I have. Each morning when we wake up they are all right there to greet us. Now that they are free to run around the pasture with all the other horses I thought they would be happy for the time off. It doesn't seem that way. The four of them stick together as a group never mingling with the rest of the herd. The four of them run up to greet me as soon as I open the gate and stick close by me the entire time I am at the barn. I have never had animals that I feel so connected with. Now Pete and Jr. are another story. Pete is in seventh heaven, he has always been pretty much a couch potato choosing to spend his days inside laying on the furniture and snoozing the day away. Jr. is just happy all the time. Here at the ranch he has more time to run and explore all the sights. Jr. looks forward to each feeding time he loves to go down to the barn with me and feed. Pete comes along also only to spend his time barking at the pig that lives in a pen at the other barn. The pig doesn't seem to mind. Running around with the horses we also have a young ram that Jr. likes to play with. No one has thought to give this ram a name so I have been calling him Goat. Goat arrived here with two other horses who were donated to the ranch. Shortly after they arrived Goat disappeared up into the mountains. He showed back up about three weeks ago with a broken left front leg. I have tried several times to catch him but have been unable to. His leg seems to be healing on it's own he is now starting to put weight on it and chases after Jr.. Goat is starting to warm up to me a little at a time. At each feeding I see to it that he gets his share of feed I also made him a water trough so he can drink. Each day he gets a little closer top me and even allowed me to rub him on the head for a couple of seconds the other day..As far as Dan, Dusty, Pearle and Pauline go I guess I' just feel; as if I am neglecting them by not spending so much time with them as I do when we are traveling. I don't mean to sound as if I am babbling away. I really do miss the time we share with all our pets when we are on the move. We are right here with them every day but it's just not the same. Now that I've made myself out to be a real softy when it comes to our family of pets let me tell you all about the past week here.
Last Monday as I was sitting in Pastor Craig s office finishing up my writing the snow was coming down hard almost like a blizzard. In almost no time at all there were nearly two inches laying on the ground. After the snow quit falling within thirty minutes it was all melted and gone without a trace. I have never seen snow melt so fast.
As you already know here at the ranch I am caring for twenty five horses and mules and one goat. In this small herd I have some real characters to deal with. I have already told you about Patients the pinto filly that helps me with all my chores at the barn. I have also told you about Frisky. Each morning Frisky walks into the barn and stands in front of the door to the tack room waiting for me to bring him out his morning grain. He is very polite about waiting but if I don't get it to him as soon as he thinks I should he will walk in and grab a fifty pound bag in his teeth and begin to drag it around until I get the hint. I have been caring for two other horses that I bring into the barn each morning for a little extra treatment. Cody is a four year old sorrel gelding that came here to the ranch shortly before we arrived. Cody was donated to the ranch when his owner who was hospitalized was unable to care for him. Cody had lost a lot of weight and was looking pretty bad. In the short time that we have been here Cody has fattened back up and is looking pretty good. Each morning I bring him into the barn and feed him a good amount of sweet feed. I think Cody was someones pet. Not only does Cody look a lot like Dan he has the same attitude. He responds well to affection and has taken to following me around this as you can imagine does not sit to well with Dan and Pearle who believe that all my attention should go to them only. Cody needs a lot of work before he can be ridden. As I already told you I think he was a pet. I don't believe that he has ever been ridden. I learned this when I went to saddle him up last week. He stood well for me while I was saddling him but he was very nervous and stood there shaking very unsure of what he was supposed to do. He didn't try to buck the saddle off or act up badly he was just plain scared. I spent the next forty five minutes soothing him and assuring him that everything was going to be just fine. During that time we walked around in the round pen. Cody acted the same way with the saddle as Dusty did when we got him. Cody is a very smart horse I am looking forward to training. He has a great personality and should do very well here with the kids.
“Knuckle Head” or Magic as his registration papers say is another special case that I have been caring for each day. Knuckle Head is a six year old Paint stud that is responsible for the birth of at least three foa;s here at the ranch. Right after we got here and I took over caring for the horses here I noticed that he wasn't looking very good one morning his head was hanging down and he had a very high fever. I brought him from his pen into the barn where I found that his right rear leg was severely infected and swollen all the way up to his hip. Just above his ankle was a wound that went almost to the bone and was over six inch's in length and four inch's wide. I went to work getting the wound as clean as I could irrigating it with iodine soap and hydrogen peroxide. Once I got the wound clean and bandaged I gave him a shot of penicillin to bring down the fever and help with the infection. Over the next four days I gave him a shot each day and changed his dressing. After a few days the swelling began to go down and his fever had broken. Knuckle Head still wasn't out of the woods he was still pretty sick and his leg was still infected. Over the next three weeks I cleaned and changed the dressing every day. He had also lost a considerable amount of weight. The poor guy just didn't have any energy. Most stud horses that I have been around are always showing off to the ladies, he just didn't have it in him. Its been a little over a month now thanks to a lot of special attention and lots of sweet feed Knuckle Head is looking good he has fattened back up the infection is all gone and his leg is healing nicely. Each day when I let him out of his corral to go to the barn he has to strut his stuff past the girls letting them all know that he is back. As with Cody Knuckle Head and I have become very good friends.
Each and every horse here has its own special; personality. Duke and Dutchess are two very special Palomino's that are both brother and sister. They both stand about fifteen hands and are a beautifully matched pair. I have been spending some time working with and riding Dutchess. She is a very friendly yet headstrong young lady that likes to be in control of her rider. We have been working through this little problem of hers and she is coming along just fine. She does still have a problem with being barn spoiled. This is our biggest issue that we are working around. Dutchess is good for about an hours ride and then she wants to head back to the barn. When she gets this thought in her head she can be a real handful to handle. She will try turning around where ever you are at and try to run back to the barn. Like a little child she will throw a fit and start jumping about or spinning around in circles anything but what you want her to do. Unlike a three year old child she is over a thousand pounds of energy that has to be brought back under control. All trainers have different ways of dealing with a problem like this and some of their methods I don't agree with. I am never mean to an animal. The round pen is a great tool to work with I use the round pen a lot. That and a firm but gentle voice and hands will go a long way towards curing most any problem you may have with a horse.
With Dutchess once she gets back to the barn she has it in her head that she is done for the day and will throw another fit if you try to get her to go on another ride. She is just a spoiled young lady who is finding out that no means no and you can't always have that candy bar at the cash register. Her brother Duke is a big cut up he is always happy to see me and loves to play with my hat. I have had to reshape my Stetson three times now thanks to him. In the pasture Duke and Dutchess are inseparable. very much like Dan and Pearle where you see one you don't have to look far to find the other. It would take me all day to tell you about each horse here and it's personality but over the next couple of months you will get to know each horse. They are all so much fun I look forward to each day that I get to spend with them./ Feeding time is always a riot and can sometimes be hazardous to your feet if your not careful. They all know what truck to look for weather I have hay in the back or not they all come running to see me as soon as I pull into the pasture. With so many apples falling off the trees around here they have all gotten just a little spoiled and know that I'm usually carrying a bucket load with me. I went to the Apache Creek store a little while ago for my candy bar fix and a six pack of Orange Crush. On my way back to the house I pulled into the pasture to spend a little time with Pearle, Dan, Dusty and Pauline its a good thing I bought several Big Hunk candy bars those four gangster-ed me out of three of them before I was able to get back in the truck. What can I say I love my kids and spoil them rotten.
Not all my time here is spent playing with the horses I do have other chores to take care of. There are several trucks here that are in need of repair and a few tractors one by one I am working on getting all that I up and running again. This week I was able to get the John Deere 420 bulldozer up and running again. A new ignition switch and a couple of leaky hoses tightened up and I was down in the creek bed playing like a big kid with his Tonka Toy tractor. The roads around the ranch here have been in need of some filling in so I took this opportunity to get dirt form the creek and fill in some of the pot holes. If ya gotta work you may as well have some fun doing it. The next thing on my fix it list is the old road grader they here. Its been parked for a couple of years another oversized toy for me to play with.
Over the years a large amount of scrap metal has been building up around here old dilapidated horse trailers beyond repair, truck rims, bent fence posts, old wagons etc. there are several thousand dollars worth of scrap metal piled up in different places that I am going through and separating. I have been given a Ford 8000 flat bed truck to use and with Mary's help we are going to begin loading this truck and hauling it off to Albuquerque to the scrap yard. As you can see we will be busy all through the winter. The only ones sitting around and getting fat during this time off are the pets. Pearle came trotting up to the fence to see me the other day and I was amazed at how fat she has gotten just in the last month. All of the pets have gained weight during our trip we do feed them good. Looking at Pearle trotting up to me I had to laugh at how large her belly has gotten here lately. With the change of weather they have all grown out their winter coats. Dan looks like a shaggy wild mustang. Dusty is usually a pretty blond color turns very dark in the winter his legs turn black and around his eyes the hair turns to black also giving him the appearance that he has been in a fight he looks like he has two black eyes. Pearle and Pauline just get real shaggy.
I am a little late in getting this written and posted to the web site. I have so much more to tell you about but that will have to wait until next week. Mary and I are planning on taking a ride up in the canyon on horseback Saturday up to the top of Cross Mountain it looks to be a good trip into some really beautiful country. Until next time take care of one another and be safe. As always PLEASE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. We just celebrated Veterans Day If you know a Vet shake his or her hand and tell them thank you. We are all free Americans because of the sacrifices these people have made and continue to make. From Mary and me we would like to thank all of you that continue to follow us along and support us with your kind words of encouragement. We look forward to reading the many emails we receive and the new postings to our guest book. I am looking forward to the Spring when we will be back on the road with all the new faces and places we have yet to see. I will be adding lots of new picture to our photo gallery in the weeks to come so please stay logged on. Who knows you just may see your picture. Later Chuck, Mary and the Gang.
22 November 2011
Wow! What a year its been! One year ago today we were in Stepenville Arkansas it was then that Gilbert and Retha delivered Dusty to us and Pauline kicked me for the first time (She hasn't kicked me since). For those of you that have been following since then you will remember that it was my fault that she kicked me after giving me a few warnings. Even then she wasn't trying to hurt me. Dusty was a scared and nervous horse that day he broke loose from his tether rolling Mary across the ground and headed for town. After about an hour Bill Hickey, myself and another gentleman were able to corner him at a school and calm him down. Dusty has come a long way since that first day he is no longer the scared nervous and unsure horse he was back then. At that time we had only had Jr. for two months he was still so little that he couldn't get back up in the wagon by himself. Its been quite a year.
As of today we have been traveling for eighteen months and two days. We have crossed five states and met thousands of people. We have camped along side the road at rest areas or just where ever we were able to pull off. Other times we have stayed in parking lots, camp grounds, RV parks and peoples homes it has been an amazing time. I like to think we are a having a lot better time than those folks on the reality shows like the Amazing Race or Survivor. Sure there's no million dollar prize at the end there’s just a whole lot of really great memories. When we put our scrape book together it will have over a thousand pictures and over fifty newspaper articles and we haven't reached California yet!
Somebody a whole lot's smarter than me told me that it would take me at least two years to finish this little adventure of ours and he was correct in his guesstimation. I have been fortunate enough to have traveled around the globe more than just a couple of times and would not trade a day of it for the time that Mary and I have spent together in the past eighteen months. During this time a lot of you have gotten to know quite a lot about us and have encouraged us to keep going with all your kind words and support. I hope I don't come off to sappy over the next paragraph or two.
Thanksgiving will be here in just two days many of us will sit down to a huge dinner with family and friends. We will eat so much that many of us will have to loosen our belts and unbutton our pants while we cheer on our favorite foot ball team on the idiot box. The next day we will begin to eat those really good turkey sandwich's that are always so good after turkey day.
Every year Mary cooks up a huge dinner for the two of us. Some years in the past we have enjoyed Thanksgiving with friends in Florida but each year Mary has cooked us dinner except for last Thanksgiving when we were camped at an arena in Magnolia Arkansas and our hosts brought us over a really great dinner.
Since 2002 Thanksgiving has been a bit of a difficult time of the year for Mary and I we have a lot to be thankful for. Wee have our pets, each other and a lot of friends. Still this isn't the best time of year for us. It is said that the holiday season can be the hardest part of the year for lot's of people and I reckon we aren't any different from so many others. At about 3am Nov. 26 2002 the day before Thanksgiving we lost our daughter to Aicardi Syndrome the rarest genetic syndrome in the world. Pyper was just barely seven months old. I believe that her death was the hardest thing that either of us had ever had ever experienced. Just one year later we lost Mary's mother to lung cancer. Losing a child has got to be the hardest thing that any of us will ever have to go thru. We are very thankful for the short time that we had with Pyper and while she may not be with us physically we hold her memory very close to our hearts and know that she is in a much better place where she doesn't live with the pain she had to endure each day of her short life. I hope when she gazes down on her mom and me she is happy with what she see's. She is in good hands and good company with her Grandma and so many others we have had to say so long to over the years.
All of us that are fortunate enough to have been born here in America have so much to be thankful for. A lot of times when I watch the news, read a news paper or just listen to someone complain about how bad they have it I have to shake my head and wonder. We as Americans tend to take a lot for granted these days. If a family doesn't have two cars in the yard they feel slighted a lot of younger kids fell that maybe they should turn their parents into child services if they don't have a cell phone or the latest in clothing fashion. This might sound funny to you and you may even know someone like I'm writing about. So many people today think that just because they are American the world owes them something. Wrong! We have it pretty good here in the good ol” USA. Just think about what your life would be like if you were born a few miles south of say the Rio Grande River in Mexico or in some poor third world country run by rich power hungry dictators if you're lucky enough to be born rich in one of those countries life can be pretty lousy. Geez can you imagine no cell phone or lap top how's a kid supposed to get by with no text messaging or game boy's. Yep we got it pretty darn good here in America we have a lot to be thankful for.
Mary and me have been pretty busy here this past week. Mary has been straightening up some of the storage buildings here around the ranch and lending me a hand from time to time getting the flat bed loaded with scrap metal to haul into Albuquerque to the scrap yard. Feeding time around here is always an entertaining time with twenty five hungry horses and mules. This week I have also added one pig to my feeding duties. Wilbur is a pretty comical character as far as pigs go. Pastor Craig brought Wilbur to the ranch here a few months back to raise up for slaughter when he gets fat enough. Between you and me I think Wilbur is going to have a long and happy life here at the ranch. Wilbur get a lot of attention from the kids around here being fed twice a day and talked to. Wilbur is also pretty smart he knows his name and will always greet you with a friendly grunt if you stop by to see him. I don't think Craig would remain the popular pastor and father that he is if anything was to happen to Wilbur. Down at the Gordon house they have a new calf Moses is a Texas Longhorn about three or four months old “ Moses the Cow” even has a face book address. Ron and Debbie's kids have managed to pretty much spoil young Moses inm the short time that he has been here. Jessica has taught Moses how to give a kiss and has taken to the leash very well better than some dogs I know.
Down at the barn Pearle and the Gang are all doing well and Knuckleheads leg is healing up nicely he has fattened back up and is beginning to act like the stud that he is. A couple more weeks and I should be able to start him on a riding routine. The plan is to have him gelded once the leg is fully healed. Gelding him is probably a good thing. If horses were responsible for child support Knucklehead would be in a lot of trouble. He is responsible for three of the four colts here at the ranch.
Two of my favorite horses here are Buck and Elmer. They are the two old men of the herd. Buck is a pinto nearing thirty years old and having some trouble eating. He has lost some teeth with age and it is getting a little hard for him to chew his hay. He was showing his age pretty bad not so long ago as was Elmer who is well into his twenties also. Elmer is a white gelding of Arabian mix. Unlike Buck Elmer still likes to be ridden and gets ridden once a week or so by Charity one of the Gordon's kids. Because of their older age they were having some trouble come feeding time getting their fair share of grub. I separated them from the herd for a month and added grain to their diet each day. Elmer has packed on some weight and added a little pep to his step. Buck has put on a few pounds as well it takes him longer to eat than Elmer each time he takes a bite of grain it seems like half of it falls out of his mouth. He can take as long as he needs to eat as long as he's happy as far as I'm concerned . Both Buck and Elmer are looking and feeling better. They both crack me up when it comes to their grain they start strutting around like a couple of young colts as soon as they see the feed buckets
I've mentioned that sometimes I feel as if I have been neglecting my gang. I don't spend as much time with them now that I have so many other animals to care for but I do spend more time with them than the others. Dan has always been very close to me here lately I have bringing him and Pearle into the barn and giving them a little extra care along with some grain and a good grooming. Pearle loves to be groomed and talked to. Dan is like my old dog Pete he just wants my attention and some affection. Pauline and Dusty are content as long as they are with each other. Pauline enjoys me rubbing her down and talking to her while she eats as does Dusty. Sometimes I feel like a guilty parent that is neglecting his kids while paying more attention to the kids down the block. I really do love my pets.
Pearle was in the barn the other day helping her self to a bale of hay she drug a one hundred pound bale out into the middle of the barn and bit all three strings in half scattering hay all over the place. Her and Dan were having their own little lunch meeting. Now you are probably asking yourself. Why didn't he just have them tied up? Well I did both of them can and will untie knots. With mules a good rule to live by is to always have you mule chained or you may come back to find your mule has disappeared. I think Dan as well as Dusty have both learned this trick from Pearle.
Jr. is becoming quite the ranch hound. Him and Pete go with me to feed each day. Pete likes to spend his time at the barn with Wilbur. Jr. has taken to herding the horses around and putting them in their place when they get to fighting over the hay. I don't know if he knows what he is doing or not but I get a real kick of watching him.
We have some hunters here from out of state this week three of them are from Georgia and the other two are from North Carolina it's like having friends from home here with them here. They have been going out each morning and afternoon hoping to get an elk. When I came back from loading some metal earlier today I stopped by to visit with them one of them had gotten lucky and shot a young bull with a small six point rack. Lucky for him but not for the elk. I'm glad that at least one of them has been able to get an elk. It would be a shame to drive all that distance to go home empty handed.
Speaking of elk I drove into Quemado yesterday to mail out some things and to call a few friends on my cell phone. I really like it here but I have to go nearly forty miles to get a signal on my phone. Another one of those things we take for granted. How many of us even had a cell phone twelve years ago? While I was in Quemado I stopped by and invited Barry to have lunch with me. While we were eating our huevo rancheros in walked Tim Rawlings, Tim is a guide and outfitter that we first met while we were camped up in Datil. While we were camped in Quemado at the arena Tim and his friends stopped out to see us and took our water jugs into town to be filled. Tim does several types of guide hunts here in New Mexico and has a pretty good reputation along with just being a good guy to know. He does a lot of trophy hunts for elk, deer, antelope and mountain lion he can be reached at 602-499-2409 or at www.sohunts.com or www.nmhunts.com tell him that guy in the wagon sent ya.
Quemado as I've already mentioned is a very small town and like a lot of small towns across America a lot of it's business's have closed up over the years. I am happy to say that Quemado once again has a hardware and feed store once again. I stopped into see the owners of “Southwestern Supply” while I was in town they are so new that they haven't had their business cards delivered yet but they did write down their phone number for me it is 575-773-4222. They have just opened and are still getting their shelves stocked. It's good to see new privately owned business's open up in small towns it shows that folks are still trying. So if you live in the area and are in Quemado stop in show them your support.
All the way into and all the way back from Quemado it was snowing or sleeting the only place it was sticking was in the canyons and up in higher country. I did see two big Mexican Grey Wolves when they crossed the road in front of me. Theses wolves are not well tolerated in this area and have been known to stalk people. I am a fan of wolves and have supported them for years. No where in the world has their ever been documented proof that a wolf or a pack of wolves have ever attacked a human being.. This Mexican Grey Wolf is a different kind of wolf all together from what I've been reading it a wolf that has been bred by man with dogs and isn't actually a real wolf at all and is giving wolves a bad name. Before I say to much more and speak out of turn I need to do some more reading up on this breed of wolf.
As I wrote earlier it has been quite a year. In some respects it has flown by and in others it has been slow. It seems almost like last week I was sitting in the gas station in Stephensville Arkansas pecking away on this lap top telling you all about our travels that week from Fordyce out past Camden with Bill Hickey’s wagon and Gilbert and Retha in their wagon and our Thanksgiving dinner from Bryan and his family. Wow! Arkansas is a lot of miles behind us not to mention all the towns and people we met rolling across Texas through the drought and wild fire, pulling up to Ted Nugents ranch gate and snapping a few pictures to Easter in the modern day ghost town of Silver Texas to Colorado City and Dunn TX. Where the rattle snake bit me. The great people we met in LeMessa TX. Spending our one year anniversary on the road in Brownfield TX. While we waited for our wheel to be repaired. The Muleshoe Day's Parade in Muleshoe TX. Where Dan and Dusty won the best horse award and Pearle and Pauline were the only mules in the parade, 4th of July at Joe's Boot Store in Clovis NM to the grave of Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner NM Camping out at the Valley of Fires State Park out side of Carrizozo while we searched for wheels for the wagon finally finding what we needed at the home of Leroy Lopez in Carrizozo across the White Sands Missile site thru the high desert and into Magdalena to Lee and Lori’s Rancho Magdalena to camping across from the VLA satellite area. Camping in Datil and eating a really huge steak on my birthday to Pie Town and into Quemado and now here we are a year later here at the Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch where we are wintering over thanks to the really fine folks here. This Thanksgiving Mary and I really do have a lot to be thankful for so much of it has been made possible thanks to all of out there who follow us along on our website or stop us along the side of the road and invite to stay a night or two at your homes. Your gifts and donations. Yes America really is a great place to live.
When we rolled out of Crab Orchard eighteen months ago I thought I didn't exactly have a precise route mapped out and and no idea that eighteen months later we would still be trekking along at fifteen to twenty miles a day. Our original route would not have even taken us as far south as New Mexico or plans didn't include Arkansas or even Texas. Along the way we have taken a few wrong turns here and there and gone a few miles out of our way at times. There's some frustrating day's and nights with high winds dust, snow, sleet, rain and hail. We have been very fortunate that our health as well the health of the pets has been good and no one has had any serious injuries. About the worst thing to have happened is that Dan got a nasty scrape on his nose near Comanche Texas that healed up without any scarring and Pauline had to be seen by a vet twice in Kentucky once for acid indigestion and another time for a cough. Until Pearle came down with a serious case of colic last month and almost died I thought she was nearly bullet proof. Dusty, Pete and Jr. haven't had any sickness at all that I can think of. We are looking forward to Spring and the rest of the trip we are planning on visiting the Grand Canyon on our way across Arizona. Every mile we travel just seems to get better and better. No body has mean or threatening to us sure there have been a few ill mannered knuckleheads experiencing signs of road rage or “Rectal Cranium Inversion” that had an opinion or three about sharing the road with us but that's to expected and is of little or no concern.
I've rambled on long enough I need to get over to Craig's office and get on the internet so I can get this published to the web-site. Enjoy your thanks giving dinner, don't eat too much. When you think about all that we have to be thankful for please remember all those who came before us that made America what it is and made our freedoms possible and as always please SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!
Until next week take care and thank you all. Chuck, Mary and the Gang
December 4th 2011
Hello again from snowy Apache Creek. The weather here has been pretty finicky here lately for the past four mornings we have woken up to snow covered ground sometimes as much as four inch's of the white fluffy stuff. By around 11am there is barely a trace of snow left on the ground. It's just warm enough to melt the snow off yet too cold to go around without a jacket on. Yesterday it snowed on and off all day as soon as the snow would melt away we would get another fresh batch. Today's snow is just about gone we hear that the temp is going to drop into the single digits for the next few days along with more snow. The kids here are all looking forward to the snow sticking so they can all go sledding. The horses here are all doing fine with the snow they all huddle up together in a large group to stay warm until I come along with the food then they all scatter to the piles of hay I throw out for them.
The elk are keeping me busy with torn up fences each morning after I feed the horses and do a head count I ride around the fence lines to check for damages sometimes a boulder will roll down from the mountains knocking out a section of fence but most times thanks to the snow I see incriminating hoof prints from our friends the elk. They are pretty predictable following the same path each night so I usually know where to check first. For the folks that live around here year round the sight of a herd of elk is nothing new to them almost like an every day occurrence me on the other hand am still awe- struck at the sight of just a single elk. I am constantly amazed that these massive animals as big as a large mule will roam around in herds of a hundred or more and in the blink of an eye will vanish from sight right in front of you. Elk hunting season has come to an end for this year and deer season is upon us.. At the present time it is black powder hunting for youths only on the weekends for two more weeks then the regular deer season opens until sometime in January. I have seen several deer tracks and rubs and scrapes from the bucks but have not been able to see a single deer yet. I'll keep looking though who knows maybe I'll stumble up on one or two.
When I haven't been mending fences or feeding the stock I have been staying busy filling the pot holes and ruts in the roads around here and loading scrap metal on the flat bed. Getting this truck loaded has become a much bigger job than I thought when I came up with this brilliant idea. So far I have managed to get about three tons of scrap loaded I still have along way to go for my goal of eight tons for the first load into Albuquerque. Another thing that has been keeping me busy is keeping enough fire wood handy to keep us warm at night. There is no shortage of good seasoned wood laying around the ranch all I really have to do is cut it to length and split it . Yeah! Sounds easy right? It's a little bit of a chore but it's great exercise. Since we have been here at the ranch I have dropped about fifteen pounds and tightened up quite a bit. Mary, Pearle, Pauline, Dan, Dusty and Pete have all been putting on the weight Jr. runs everywhere he goes so weight gain ain't a problem for him. Mary thinks she is getting fat, I don't think so she had lost a lot of weight on the road packing and unpacking the wagon all the time. As far as I can see she is putting it on in all the right places. Pearle, well what can I say? She's just a big healthy girl. I get a smile on my face every day when she comes trotting up to me for her treats first you see her head and big ears pointing straight up and then you can't help but notice her huge belly swaying from side to side as she trots along. Pearle is so funny. At feeding time I load the ranger or Toyota up with hay and drive around the pasture tossing out flakes in different places to keep everyone separated and not fighting over the food. Pearle gallops along following me from each stop snagging a bite each time I stop. When she's not chasing me about she is trying to get in the barn as I have mentioned in the past doors are not to much of an obstacle for her if I don't close a door all the way or tight enough she will get it open and come in and help her self. She's my girl and I love her and all her silly antics. Speaking of which I have been typing away on the fist of my series of “The Adventures of Pearle and Pauline”. For those of you who are new fans of our website these books are being written by myself for young readers fourth grade and up. Each book is about a different state filled with historical and geographical information as well as humorous tales of all the antics that Pearle and Pauline along with their side kicks Dan, Dusty, Pete and Jr. put their humans through while seeing the sights of America. In other words it's America as seen thru the eyes of our pets. The first book will be titled “The Adventures of Pearle and Pauline in Kentucky”. In these books Pearle and Pauline do not belong to Mary and me it's the other way around we belong to them. For all you pet owners out there I'm sure you can relate to that idea.. I am hoping to be finished with Pearle and Pauline In Kentucky around the first of the new year . I'm not sure about a publisher yet and knowing these things take time and several rejections before someone is willing to foot the bill for publishing the plan for now is to make the first copies available thru this website on disc. A lot of folks out there have expressed an interest about this. I'm not planning to get rich or be the next great author to come along I'm just hoping to make enough to make our rescue and adoption center for horses and mules a reality. Another thing is that Pearle really likes to eat.
As you already know I have a very great love for my little family and these days there are times that I feel as if I am neglecting a few of them with so many other horse to care for. Dan seems to be affected by this worse than the others . Each day I am trying to spend more and more time with him but it seems that I have inherited another very unruly child by the name of Cody. When we arrived here at the ranch Cody had also just arrived a week or so before us. I've mentioned Cody before he is a sorrel gelding about five years old and very much like Dan in so many ways. Cody was a bag of bones when he came here thru no fault of his former owner he had been under fed and was in pretty rough shape. Today Cody has filled back out and is looking pretty good. The problem here is Cody has taken a real shine to me following me around like a little puppy. Anytime I am in the pastures or down at the barn Cody is right behind me he will follow me all day long where ever I go. Now this is very flattering except that he has taken over a roll that Dan has had for sometime now. Cody is a little bigger than Dan and has gotten to be very possessive over me not only does he not allow Dan to get near me he chases off any others that come around including Knucklehead a paint stud we have here that also has taken a real liking to me. I am beginning to understand how parents of several children must feel when it comes to balancing their time equally. Pearle, Pauline and Dusty have also been affected by this but don't seem to be taking it as hard as Dan. With Pearle all I have to do is give her a hug and some treats and she's just fine. Pauline and Dusty are happy just to have each other and seem to be content as long as I give them a few minutes here and there during the day. I am having to separate Dan and Cody so Dan can have his time with me. I haven't been able to ride Dan as much as I was hoping to during our stay here the days are short and my to do list long. I don't need a financial manager I need a time manager. I have to admit I am having a great time here with all the horses.
All last week Mary and I had another small chore to attend to Mark and Bonnie a couple we have become friends with here thru the church had to go out of town unexpectedly and ask if we would stop by their place each day to feed their cats. Cat people crack me up. Before I get myself in trouble here we did have a cat that I did become very attached to over a five year period “Spit” our cat took off shortly after we began our trip. Spit had been everywhere with us and while she did really well on a sail boat she just wasn't cut out for life in a covered wagon and one night while we were camped in Kentucky she ran off. Back to Mark and Bonnie’s cats. What a life these three felines have. They have their own little warm and cozy kitty condo's and eat very well. Their meal each day consisted of some dry cat food mixed with tuna and turkey and topped with shredded cheese. All that was lacking was some toast and a little miracle whip and I would have been dining right along side them. Who am I to talk we have six of the most spoiled animals in the world. If ya got pets ya gotta spoil them.
This past Friday Mary and I drove into the village of Reserve the big city in these parts. Reserve is about eighteen miles from the ranch and is the county seat here in Catron County. Catron County is the largest county in the state and I believe the least populated Reserve has a population of less than a thousand people, I'm not sure but I believe it is also the largest town in the county I may be wrong. Reserve is where we have to go get any groceries or fresh veggies it's also the closest place to get gas or get a bite to eat. Mary and I made a day of going to town, Reserve may be small but it has a little something for just about everybody for those artsy types right next door to the Wild West Coffee Co. is an antique store of sorts that also displays and sells many different types and styles of art by local artists and also serves hand scooped ice cream cones for a buck I had the pumpkin and it was really good they were out of business cards and neither Mary or I can remember the name. Sarah James owns the Wild West Coffee Co. it's the Wi-Fi hot spot in town it's a small coffee shop and bakery that also serves espresso they are located at 95 B main St. phone 575-533-6145 Sarah is also a collector of vinyl records you remember those don't ya? If you are into trading out some old records give her a call. Across the street from the Wild West is “Ella”s Cafe” owned by Aaron and Marianne we had stopped by to see a friend while we were in town and ask where the best place to eat was he sent us straight to Ella”s. At Ella's they offer home style cooking the menu has a lot of choices Mary had a burger and I enjoyed a plate of huevo”s rancheros the food was excellent and the price was fair. Inside Ella's you can spend an hour just looking at the pictures on the walls all sorts of hunting photos from years gone by and one of the nicest dining room tables I have ever seen made from four planks of wood about six inch's thick all cut from the same tree and coated in heavy urethane it's something to see. Aaron made the table Marianne told me it took two trips by truck to get it to the cafe because of it's weight it's not a table that you just slide out of the way to clean under. When you are passing thru Reserve stop in for a meal they are open Sunday and Monday 7am -2pm and Tuesday-Saturday 7am-8pm give them a call at 575-533-6111. The local grocery store is Jake's no frozen beef here it's cut fresh and as thick or thin as you like. Reserve isn't a large town but it does have just about anything you would want in a small community besides having the county court house Reserve is where all the kids in the area attend school. Reserve is a very nice place to stop in and visit if you are passing thru it's also the only place to gas up for quite a few miles. The hotel in town burned down not long ago but there is a very nice RV park about six or seven miles east of town that has all the hook ups. I am learning some of the history of Reserve and the surrounding area and will be filling you in on it in the near future some of it is very exciting. This part of New Mexico has a very colorful past of ranchers, rustlers and outlaws.
Mary and I are fitting in well here at Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch I have finally learned the names of all the kids running around here and have become the go to guy for broken toys and bicycles. Mary stays pretty busy straightening up around the cabins, rooms and storage buildings. Pete and Jr. are loving life being able to run loose most of the time and having other dogs to play with. Christmas is quickly sneaking up on us I am having a great time just being around children who are still fascinated in the belief of that guy with the sleigh and rein deer. As I mentioned earlier Jake's is the place to go for meat and veggies while we were shopping there Friday I ask the butcher to cut us a thick sirloin not as big as the one I bought for my birthday back in Datil just a good thick steak for the grill along with several fresh jalapeno peppers that we stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. It was pretty cold hopping in and out of the house every few minutes to check on the grill but it was well worth it when we sat down to eat dinner. Feeding time at the barn this afternoon was entertaining as usual. I have a choice of three gates I can go thru to get to the barn the trick is to get to the barn open the door and get backed into the barn before everybody shows up. If I don't get backed in quick enough I will have several horses in the barn with me while I'm trying to load hay. It's a real feeding frenzy twenty five heads all trying to get their noses around the side of the truck cab and the barn door to get a bite of hay. For some reason and I don't know why they all want to graze from the bed of the truck. I don't care how many flakes of hay I will toss out around the pasture they all want what is in the back of the truck. This afternoon I wasn't quite quick enough and Frisky along with Cody and Patience snuck past me. Now this little trio here are some of the the most spoiled of the bunch. Frisky the burro is the old man of the herd and I do treat him a little more special than the others he will come in the barn and walk straight to the tack room passing up the hay bales. I keep all the grain in the tack room and each day I give him a coffee can full of grain. Cody and Patience go straight for the hay and I am forced to either work around them or take them back out. Today I decided to take them back out. I had a plan and it was a good plan I thought. My girl Pearle. Pearle figured out real quick that there was something goin on inside the barn and she wanted to be a part of what ever it was. She knows where the grain is kept also. While Pearle was outside kicking on one door trying to get my attention I was trying to lead Patience out another door Patience bein Patience was bein stubborn and wouldn't let me lead her out the door. Pearle saw this and took advantage of the situation seeing an open door she just sorta pushed her self past me and Patience going straight to the tack room. The tack room is only about five feet wide and about thirty feet long along one wall we have saddles on racks and others hanging on wall racks along the other wall I have hung all the bridles and halters in a nice neat row. It has taken me a while but I am sorta proud of how nice I have the tack room looking. Just as you enter the tack room and turn right over in a corner about ten feet away is a fifty five gallon drum filled with sweet feed Pearle's favorite. Now the door to the tack room is like any other door you can get a refrigerator thru it but it's not easy you know a regular size door. Now imagine if you will a mule that weighs over fourteen hundred pounds and almost six feet high at her back in this tiny space. A mule is a very cautious animal and will normally not put itself in any kind of bad situation NORMALLY! My little girl Pearle is not your normal mule throwing caution to the wind where ever and when ever food is concerned.. Here I am with Pearle in the tack room her head buried in the drum of sweet feed. Usually I can get her attention with a feed bucket with a little sweet feed in it and she will follow me any where. The feed bucket trick wasn't workin today there was no way she was going to trade a feed bucket for a fifty five gallon drum. I have never accused her of bein stupid. I must have left the small door on the barn open during all the confusion while I was trying to back Pearle out of the tack room I heard a commotion in the barn not only had Dan, Pauline and Dusty entered the barn so had Duke and his sister Dutchess It's like a leak in a boat instead of water pouring in I have horses pouring in as fast as they can get thru the door. It was like a midnight madness sale with crazy horses. Pearle was oblivious to everything going on behind her I managed to get her head out of the drum long enough to get the lid back on I tossed a little sweet feed on the top of the lid to keep her busy while I squeezed past her big butt and out onto the madness of the barn floor. Dan wasn't a problem I put him in a stall Pauline doesn't have a halter on but Dusty does and she will usually follow Dusty. While I'm getting a lead rope on Dusty Duke or Dutchess or someone got everybody upset and running in circles and kicking up lots of dust before I knew what was happening Pauline had charged into me knocking me to the ground while the others all ran past me and over me before they all came to a stop at the same time how I didn't get stepped on our kicked I don't know but when the dust cleared everyone of them with the exception of Pearle was looking down at me with that hurry up and feed me look on their faces. It took me a minute or two to get up off the floor. I opened the sliding doors and they all walked out as pretty as could be except for Dan who was in a stall Cody who never looked up from the hay bales and you know who in the tack room. It took some doing but I finally got everyone back outside and fed. I was pretty lucky that all I got was knocked down. I know none of these horses would hurt me intentionally anything can happen in a small space with several hungry anxious animals poodles or horses. I'm still wondering if Pearle even knows what went on behind her back. It's getting late I have a big to do list tomorrow and I need to get this posted to the web site. YIPPIE ONLY 21 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!! Until next time please don't shop till you drop. Take care be safe out there the closer it gets to Christmas the crazier people drive and the shorter tempers get. Be safe and as always PLEASE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! Later Chuck, Mary and the gang
I am not very good at adding pictures as you can see. In these two pictures this may look amusing but it was very scary moment for Dusty and me. I had tied Dusty to the trailer leaving him with just enough rope that he was able to lie down and roll on the ground. He rolled right under the trailer and when he went to stand up he was stuck. We had to use a tractor to lift the front of the wagon up high enough for him to walk out from under the trailer. He looks pretty calm sitting here but in fact he was a nervous wreck I was able to keep him calm by talking to him and petting him. So you see its not always Pearle that is the center of attention.
Christmas Eve 2011
Merry Christmas from all of us here at Apache Creek. Just like the old song goes “Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas” this is the first white Christmas Mary and I have seen in ten years. The last time we were in snow for Christmas was in Butte County California along the Feather River at our camp in “Whiskey Flats” our destination. Whiskey Flats is an old gold mining claim just outside of the town of Paradise. One night in 1916 the dam just above Whiskey Flats burst leveling the then settlement of Whiskey Flats with flood waters. Back in 2001 and 2002 Mary and I lived in a camper there at Whiskey Flats where we were gold mining. Yes we did find a good amount of gold back then the shiny stuff was selling for $280.00 an ounce a lot less than today's prices of over a thousand dollars an ounce. If I'd only known.
We have had snow on the ground here since Thanksgiving just the other night we were covered with another six inch's of fluffy snow. Pastor Craig and his family along with the Gordon's and a few others loaded up in the church van and headed into Reserve to go Christmas caroling. While they were away I snuck into the church to take care of some much needed painting on the pews and the pulpit and alter. I went outside to take a break from my painting to find the snow coming down in big heavy flakes. By the time I had finished around 1am we had almost four inch's. All this snow sure is pretty hanging from the tree branches and roof tops. The kids have all been having fun playing in it yesterday Craig was pulling a few of them around on a snowboard attached to the back of a four wheel drive truck. Most of the mountain sides around the ranch are too steep and rocky to attempt any sledding down. Pete and Jr. along with the other dogs here Mutt and Dotty have all been hopping around in the snow Mutt is getting on in years and looks pretty silly when he tries to keep up with the younger dogs but he hangs right in there. I have told you all about how Pearle will bang on doors with her front hoof to get my attention. Dotty must have taken a few lessons from Pearle. While we were in church Wednesday evening Dotty was at the door banging on it to be let in. She can very disrupt full when it comes to getting her way. We all got a laugh out of her banging and Pastor Craig just had to speak a little louder.
Thinking about Christmas here at the ranch and the past history of the outlaw Black Jack Ketchum and all the others that helped in giving this canyon its former name of Robbers Roost I got to wondering if old Black Jack and his cronies ever celebrated Christmas. I can just imagine a bunch of outlaws sitting around the hide out passing around their stolen gifts of six shooters, rifles, spurs and bullets all wrapped in colorful paper. Hey its a thought.
As I said the snow is pretty but does make it a bit of chore to get around in especially if you are on crutches. I get around pretty good I have to keep an eye out for patches of bare ice those rubber tips just don't have any grip on ice. Getting back and forth to the barn hasn't been to bad with the use of a four wheel drive Toyota truck Pete, Jr. and I slip and slide right along. Each morning and afternoon all the horses meet us at the barn door trying to nibble the left over hay out of the truck bed as I am backing into the barn to get the bales for breakfast and dinner. With all this snow and cold nights I have been keeping two of the oldest horses in the barn and on a diet of hay and sweet feed. Elmer is a white horse that looks as if he has a lot of Arab blood in him, Elmer I'm guessing is in his mid twenties while Rebel a Paint horse is nearing thirty five years of age. These are my two senior citizens when we first arrived here I took the two of them and put them in a corral together to feed them separate from the other horses and they were fattening up pretty good Elmer was even getting a pep in his step when Charity would take him out for a ride. Rebel was looking better putting on a few pounds at his age its hard for him to keep weight on he's just a skinny old man. I put the two of them back out with the rest of the herd for about a month letting them graze and feed on hay. I guess at their age they need something more than hay and grass. With the cold and the snow I brought them back in the barn and added sweet feed back into their diet they appreciate it. Each morning when I open the door I am greeted by their whinny's and nuzzling. Rebel has lost some teeth with the years and has a bit of a time holding grain in his mouth while eats it takes him a little longer but he gets the job done and seems to have some extra energy. On nice days I have been leaving the back of the barn open so the two of them can go out and get some fresh air Rebel has been trotting around in the snow and even rolling around in it like a young colt at times. Its good to see the two of them feeling good. My buddy Frisky still comes in the barn a few times a week to get his share of sweet feed and has taken to standing outside the door and braying for me to let him in.
Along with the cold weather we have been burning a lot of fire wood and it hasn't been a problem for Mary and me to keep enough wood here at the house to keep us warm. All around the ranch there are lots of trees laying on the ground just waiting to be cut into stove size lengths and split. Swinging an axe to split the logs is somewhat of a balancing act for me on one leg and get to be a real chore when the axe gets stuck in a log. This past Monday Craig invited me to go along with him and Willy to cut fire wood while they cut and split it I stacked it in the truck it was a pretty good system and in just an hour or so we nearly had a full truck load. I had some logs stacked at the house that need to be split and ask if one of them would come by and split them for me. Not only did they split the logs for us they unloaded that entire truck load of wood in front of our house. When I went to help with the wood cutting I had no idea that it was going to our house sure makes it a lot easier for Mary and me..
As usual the elk are still keeping me busy with the fences. Speaking of elk I must correct myself. In my last writing I had written that elk season was over I was wrong deer season had opened for youth hunts while elk were still in season I must have gotten the wrong info some where “See that’s just how rumors get started” the way I learned of my mistake was when two hunters came by the ranch riding with Craig their truck had broken down up in Lee Russell Canyon and they needed to get it and an elk out that they had shot that morning. I offered to skin the elk for them in exchange for the hide. Later that afternoon they brought the elk to the house for me to skin out a small cow not much bigger than a good sized deer. Skinning it out was a pretty easy chore the dogs were able to get a few bites to eat along with the leg bones and they were nice enough to pay me fifteen dollars for the job. I plan on tanning the hide keeping the hair on for a throw cover on the bed or over a couch or something. I had to chase Dotty down a few times to get my hide back. Jr. and Pete with Dotty's help made quick work of the leg bones.
Last night everyone got together at Pastor Lang's house for a Christmas party and pot luck dinner with all kinds of sweet stuff for desert. Mary baked a lemon bread to add to all the other desert treats that were on the table for dinner there was ham, fried potato's, and assorted veggies and jalapeno’s stuffed with cheese and wrapped with bacon. Every body left with full bellies. After dinner the kids and there were a lot of them all spread about the house playing games and having a great time. Before the party I dropped Mary off at the Lang's and headed back to the barn to feed everyone. I have gotten in habit of looking for each horse when I get to the barn. When I got out of the truck I noticed everyone was there waiting on me except for Pauline (I bet you thought I was goin to say Pearle) I got to looking around and found Pauline stuck in a corner of the barn outside where plows and other things are stored under an overhang. She had gotten herself in there I guess to get out of the snow and ended up in a corner not sure of how to get back out. She was patiently standing there with a look on her face like gee dad you think you could help me out here. I too a bit of doing but I was able to help her out of little jam. I have since fixed it so she can't get her self stuck in that predicament again.
That about covers everything here for now We wish you all a Merry Christmas. Tonight’s the big night all over the world kids will crawl into bed trying so hard to fall asleep so they can wake up to see what the big guy has left under the tree for them. Parents all over have been hiding gifts away in attics and friends houses for weeks in an attempt to keep little eyes from finding out they are getting. I hid a little red convertible down the street a few years back for Mary. Here at Apache Creek Mary and I have been hiding a three wheeled bike for Craig's older brother Kent. Kent is unable to drive and lives on the other end of the ranch so the family has gotten him this bike to make getting around a little easier for him. Along with Kent's bike Mary and I have a new Bicycle for for Craig's oldest boy James. I have been kept busy fixing the chain on his old bike. The method to my madness is this its just a whole lot easier to get him a new bike so we did.
Last year at this time we were camped alongside the water at Lake of the Pines in Ore City Texas we were the guests of Steve Hinton and his family. Christmas day Steve and his wife gave us the use of one of their motel rooms along with a really nice dinner. Christmas morning a hunter gave Mary three ducks he had shot earlier. I cleaned the ducks to add to our dinner. That was on the other side of Texas a lot of miles and a year have gone by since then but it just seems like it was yesterday. Ore City was where we did our first TV interview for the local news. We have met so many friendly folks in the past year and just like Christmas last year we were fortunate enough to be at the Lake of the Pines RV and Motel in Ore City this year we are warm and snug here at Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch. Next year who knows where we will be. Heres hoping your Christmas is all you hope it to be. From Mary and me and our little gang have a safe and Merry Christmas. As always Please SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! Later Chuck, Mary and the Gang.
5 Feb. 2012
I know I know It's been too long since I've opened up the old lap top and done any writing. I cannot offer up any excuses other than this one reason. Since the beginning of the year I have really been overwhelmed with work here at the ranch trying to get as much done around here as I can before we get back on the road again the day after Easter A day that Mary and I are very much looking forward to. Not that we haven't enjoyed our stay here sure there have been some ups and downs but all in all its been a nice stay. We have so much more to see and do along the way and thousands of people to meet before we reach our destination the town of Paradise in Butte County California. Pearle and the rest of the gang are growing more bored with each passing day they are all as shaggy as can be with their thick winter coats Dan looks more like a wild mustang than a Tennessee Walker, Dusty's normally golden color takes on black hi-lites in the winter especially around his eyes he looks as if he has gone ten rounds with Rocky Balboa Pearle and Pauline have gotten extra furry and their manes have grown out so tall they resemble a couple of punk rockers with Mohawk hair doo's. I have managed to get the four of them hooked on a new treat “Big Hunk” candy bars these have always been a favorite of mine and until we got this far west I was unable to find in most stores back east. Lucky for us just down the road at the Apache Creek Store they always carry a large stock of them. Now I know why Granny wouldn't buy them for me when I was a kid, they are very chewy and hard on your filling's. I have managed to pull out one of my older filling's.
Mary and I had a very nice and quiet Christmas with plenty of snow on the ground. New Years Eve was very special to me. Craig's brother Troy and his family were visiting here at the ranch over Christmas. Troy and his wife Heather have several Foster kids. December 31st was Angel's seventh birthday I met Angel that morning as I was leaving the barn headed back to the house Troy pulled alongside me in his truck and this little voice greeted me with “Hello Cowboy” in the truck with Troy was a miniature version of a cowboy wearing an oversized hat big belt buckle and new cowboy boots. I had learned from Heather the day before about this day being his birthday and that he wanted for his special day more than anything else to go for a ride on a horse. I hadn't been for a ride in sometime with all the snow and ice here it had just been too cold but we only get one seventh birthday and with all these horses here just begging to be ridden an hour later I rode up the house on Chisholm a big sure footed cutting horse after a few pictures we were on our way for Angels first ride. We rode all over the ranch along some trails with snow in places almost knee deep. Angel and I had a really good time and I have a new friend every day the rest of his stay here at the ranch Angel would greet me each day with a big hug. During our ride he told me that he had been in three different foster homes I just can't imagine the confusion and heart break this little guy has to face in his short life he really tugged hard at my heart strings.
For Christmas Mary and I gave a bicycle to James, Craig and Debbie’s oldest son. There was a method to my madness here. Each and every time James would take his old bike out for a ride I was having to play mechanic on the chain and sprocket on the rear tire of his old bike, he had just ridden the wheels off the thing as the old saying goes. James has really impressed us with how well he cares for his shiny red BMX bike each time he gets off of it he takes care to make sure it is standing on it's kick stand. Untill just a few days ago it has been to muddy to do much riding around here but he has managed to ride several miles inside the gym here that doubles as a skating rink and basketball court.
By now I'm sure most of us have forgotten our New Year's Resolution's You know all those things we say we are going to do with the start of each new year thins like losing weight, saving money and my all time favorite the morning after “I'll never do that again”. New Years Eve this year we ate too much of everything and the strongest drink at the Lang home was soda it was a pot luck buffet with all sorts of food and sweet deserts I made stuffed jalapeno .with bacon and cream cheese. Mary and I were back at home and in bed before the stroke of mid nite quite a change from years gone by.
Most of January we had snow on the ground here along with lots of slick ice spots making getting around on crutch's a real; treat I quit counting how many times I've slipped and hit the ground it just goes to show how much we can put our bodies thru and still be able to get up and keep going.
As always the elk have been keeping me busy with the fences along with the sometimes big boulders that roll off the hillsides across the highway and into the fences. I've managed to discover which two female elk have been breaking the top strand of barbed wire in the same place at least once a week. I rolled into the pasture early one morning just as they were hopping over the fence they both stopped just long enough to give me that haha look before Jr. leaped out of the back of the truck and took off chasing them. The would both run ahead of him just out of reach stop and allow him to catch up before bolting again I think they were having a great time letting him chase after them. Another morning as I was pulling up to the barn to feed I thought something appeared a little out of sorts with the horses waiting for me at the barn. Standing there in front of the barn with the horses were my two favorite fence breakers like they were there for breakfast also.. It sure would be neat to be able to approach them like I do the horses.
Mary gets up at the crack of dawn each morning and her and Jr. go out on the porch for a few minutes to greet the day and do what ever they do at that early hour. One morning about two weeks ago Mary came running back into the bed room all excited grabbed the camera and ran out the door, on a rocky flat peak just about a hundred feet above the house standing there like they were posing for a picture post card were two female elk that she has seen several times in the early morning at ground level near the house. She was able to get a picture before they wandered off for the day It's too bad the photo came out a little fuzzy I think because of the old batteries in the camera I had to put in new ones so I could see the picture. It was one of those once in a life time moments now each morning we have both gotten in the habit of looking up in hopes of getting that shot again.
We were finally able to take a load of scrap iron into Albuquerque to the salvage yard two weeks ago. Early one morning Craig, Ashley and myself hopped in the truck and took off. What a ride. I had transferred the metal onto a flatbed trailer and strapped it down with several straps stopping every so often to make sure they were staying tight we still managed to break a couple of straps and lose a few pieces off the trailer lucky for us the roads around here are not well traveled and we were able to stop and retrieve most of what we lost out of the road before someone came along and ran it over possibly getting a flat tire or worse. With the scrape we were able to carry on the smaller trailer we still profited close to six hundred dollars for the ranch just the other day Craig and Debbie took in another load earning close to the same amount. On our way back from Albuquerque that night we stopped along the side of the road for a minute to check things out in the night as I stepped from the drivers side I felt something under my foot STUPID ME! I thought I was standing on a clump of grass or something it wasn't until 130 miles later when were getting out of the truck back at the ranch that I realized that clump of grass or something was in fact my wallet! I immediately got on the phone called the Socorro Police Department told them the whole story and ask if they could send someone out to look for my wallet, they called me back the next morning with no good news. Craig and Debbie also looked on their trip to no avail. I have been able to replace a few things thanks to the internet but there were a few things that I will not be able to replace if you have ever lost your wallet or purse you know the feeling. Try proving that you really are who you say you are without any identification and forget going into a bank and trying to get out any money Wells Fargo wouldn't even call my branch in Daytona Beach so that the manager there who knows me could verify I am who I say I am.. I called for new cards and gave the person on the other end of the line the address here in New Mexico to send me new cards. They sent out new cards alright just to my address in Florida so here we sit. Luckily I was able to make arrangements for a friend in Florida to go into the bank and withdraw money for us and wire it to us the other day at a cost of fifty bucks to the western union. Go figure the bank here in NM won't talk to anyone in FLA but I can get on the phone and make arrangements for someone to walk in get money out of my account.. Oh well I have no one to blame but me I should have bent over and picked up my wallet and I wouldn't be having these problems.
Poor old Knucklehead the paint stud I have working so hard on to get his rear leg back in shape is still suffering some health issues a vet came out to the ranch one afternoon and put him to sleep for little while and gelded him for reasons I will not go into at this time I was unable to see to his proper care afterwords and he became infected in his groin area. I am once again able to care for him and am at this this time treating his infection and soreness he is once again on the mend. At the same time the vet checked over Rebel and said what we all pretty much already knew he is old and in his last days I am hoping for a couple more years. Rebel is somewhere around thirty five years old and is nearing the end of his life here. He got pretty sick on me here last month and became dehydrated and weak so I brought him home with me overnight and watched over him giving him medicine and lots of fluids over the next few weeks. I must be doing a good job he has been staying in the barn with his buddy Elmer another older horse though not quite as old and is still able to be ridden from time to time by Charity one of the Gordon's daughters . Elmer still likes to be ridden and trots along real well for Charity. Rebel is doing much better these days each day I turn him and Elmer out in the pasture behind the barn the past few days even Rebel has taken to trotting around the pasture and even kicked up his hind legs a time or two he's a good old man and I have really become attached to him. Frisky has become more and more spoiled insisting each morning that he be let in the barn so that he can have his morning sweet feed along with Rebel and Elmer. I have teaching Willy all that I can about the day to care of the horses here along with some bonding and training tips so that when we leave here there will be someone here that will be able to care for all of them. Willy has really taken to the horses and I believe that he loves them almost as much as I do and they seem to be taking to him also.
Along with everything else I have been loading tons and tons of rocks onto a trailer each day and then tossing them off the trailer into problem areas along the roads and the bridge over the creek coming into the ranch . Each year Apache Creek floods from the snow melt and the annual heavy rains creating several washout areas its these places that I have been filling with rocks There are no shortage of rocks here in Catron County. Each day I get on the tractor with the trailer behind and after I feed the horses and take of things down at the barn I collect rocks from along side the highway or out in the fields it doesn't take to long to load up a couple of tons. It is a lot of work to pick them up and toss them onto the trailer. It takes me about two or three hours to load the trailer but only about a half hour to unload them. I can lean against the side of the trailer for balance when I'm unloading them. This may sound like a lot of back breaking work and yes it is but its also very good exercise. With no weight room around its a great way to make up for the lack of a weight set. Of course it does leave me pretty tired come the end of the day.
As I wrote earlier our time here is quickly drawing to and end here and we are anxiously looking forward to getting back on the road. We plan to head over to the Grand Canyon a place that Mary has not seen yet and then to the Hoover Dam where we are hoping to be allowed to get a picture of the wagon on the Dam we don't know yet if that will be possible since they have built a way around the Dam since 9-11. Back in 2001 I took Mary to see the Hoover Dam she had seen it pictures but had never been there. As she stepped out on the dam and looked over I was reminded of myself one night back in 1969 when my step dad and I walked out onto the Hoover Dam I was awestruck to say the least we had read all about the construction of the Hoover Dam that year in school and watched a film of it during construction the pictures and that film in no way were able to capture just how immense it really is. As you stand on the Dam and look several hundred feet down to the Colorado river below and then turn around and see Lake Meade just a few feet behind you and almost close enough to touch a person cannot help but to be amazed at what an awesome and massive structure it really is. There are several other sites we hope to see as we continue along our journey we hope you all will continue to follow us along and support us with your kind words and encouragement.
Well its getting on towards midnite here at Apache Creek we both have a full day ahead of tomorrow and I still need to get this published to the web site. As always be safe and take care of one another and please continue to SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. Not only the ones on the ground in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the world but also those on board the many ships cruising the oceans of the world all in an effort to keep us here in America free to live our lives as we wish. Is this a GREAT country or WHAT? Until next time and I promise it won't be so long next time check in in a week or so. Good nite from Chuck, Mary, Pearle, Pauline, Dusty, Pete and Jr. By the way lest I forget as of a few hours ago Jr. has become a daddy of just how many puppies we don't know yet. Its a good thing animals don't have to pay things like child support. I don't believe Jr. would be very good a holding down a job full time other than being a really good and loyal friend. The poor guy has been like a love sick teenager here lately and a nervous expectant father all day running over to check on Dottie every time I turned him loose today. I will fill you all in next week.
February 14, 2012
Apache Creek NM
Here it is once again that one day of the year that all of us guys with a special lady in our lives had better be thinking about her today or else. What a great day to be in the jewelery or flower business you know this day had to have been thought up by one or both of them. Either way its a good day to be a woman. No offense ladies.
Valentines Day last year we were in Old Magnolia Town Texas just outside of the city of Palestine it was a cold wet day that never got above freezing but thanks to David and Deborah Hobbs we were warm and dry. This year here at Apache Creek Valentines Day has been pretty much the same as last year. The wind has been howling on and off all day with snow blowing in side ways all thru the day.
This morning after Mary wished me a happy Valentines Day Day she reminded me of my “Honey Do List” once again we were low on fire wood and needed to get some in before the weather got too bad. No problem we would get on it after Willie and I fed the horses. I have been training Willie top take over the caring for of the horses after we leave here in April. I really enjoy working with Willie, Willie is 26 and is from Greenville South Carolina so we have always have a lot to talk about both of us being from the south. Willie's knowledge of horses is somewhat limited this is not a bad thing. Each morning he meets me here at the house and we head down to the barn to get the day started the first thing we do is to see to Elmer and Rebel our two senior citizens and Patience who I have also been keeping in the barn the past week or so. Patience broke here leg at the joint just above her left hoof last year thanks to the efforts of Ashley she wasn't put down and has recovered well enough to live a good life as a very spoiled pet. She does however suffer from arthritis in that joint and will all her life just like us she has to have her treatments. The cold weather has been causing her to limp more than usual so I have been wrapping here ankle each day with a bandage soaked in liniment and adding a scoop of glucosimine into her feed she's still limping around but doesn't seem to have any trouble chasing after me at feeding time. As for as Dan, Dusty, Pearle and Pauline they are all doing just fine I look forward each morning to Dan greeting me at the corral fence nuzzling me with his nose and kicking at Pearle to let her know that she can have her time with me just as soon as he is done with me, they are both so spoiled and jealous of one another just like a brother and sister while Pauline and Dusty stand aside patiently waiting their turn. I had Cody in the same corral with Dan and the others but had to separate him from the others. At feeding time Cody was chasing them away from the feed. Its not that Cody is a mean horse or anything like that if you recall when we arrived here Cody had also just gotten here and was severely under weight and starving, well he is no longer under weight or starving but he hasn't forgotten those days of going without so when it comes to feeding time he is going to make sure he gets his fair share first. In time he will come around and learn to share with others it just takes time. Knucklehead is healing up fine from the infection he picked up after being gelded and we will start his training in a week or so for now Willie and I have been working with Duke. Duke is a hand full he is a big beautiful Palomino standing fifteen hands tall and weighing in at around eleven hundred pounds of solid muscle and full of mischief. No one has ever taken the time to train him properly each time his training has been started from what I have been told he has thrown every rider off his back and they have just given up on him and just given him the run of the ranch. Duke has a great personality and loves his attention. Willie and Duke make the perfect team together. They have both bonded with each other and are learning each day to trust the other more and more with this building their confidence in the other. Each day they begin their day together with Willie grooming Duke all the while talking to him we have worked our way up from from long walks together with Willie leading most of the time while Duke has been getting used to wearing a saddle and a ”hack a more” to Willie now sitting in the saddle in a stall in the barn. Willie has been sitting on Duke for the past two days an hour at a time all the while talking to and stroking Duke. I have been using this method of training since I was a teenager and have had some very good results with horse and rider becoming a team. A few more days of this and we should be ready to begin a little riding in the round pen, that’s where the training really begins up until then it is just learning to trust each other once we get to the round pen then they start to learn how to work together reining, body language , confidence etc. fun fun fun. Duke is a great horse with lots of potential while Willie is easy going and eager to learn together I think they make a great team. I am in no way the worlds greatest horse trainer or horse whisperer I have my methods while other trainers have theirs and from time to time I see some one training a horse to do something and I learn something new and add that to my little bag of tricks. The main thing I stress is to take it slowly be gentle and learn to communicate with your horse its really quite simple when you think about it. If you have pets at home you learn to communicate with your dog or cat by spending time with them the same applies to horses. They are a lot like having a really big dog that doesn't jump up on the couch or in your bed.
Duke wasn't ready to be saddled up this morning and gave Willie a time getting caught but in the end his belly won over and with the help of a feed bucket and a little grain we got the morning started. Duke was in a skittish mood this morning with the wind howling and the barn making loud noises we had a few more distractions than normal. Sometimes distractions can be a useful tool Each time the wind would kick up and the barn would groan Willie would sooth Duke rubbing his neck and assuring him all was well. From time to time Duke would kick and paw at the ground and tug at the post he was tethered to but we got thru the morning just fine. During all this Patience was standing by as if she was my assistant. Anytime I am doing something in the barn she is always there by my side to lend a hoof or moral support. The night I spent in the barn with Pearle when she had colic Patience was rite there with us the entire time. If you haven't noticed by now I would much rather hang around with horses and mules than I would people. Please don't take that as an insult by any means. Mary has told me more times than I can remember that I have a whole different personality when I'm around the horses that I'm a gentler more easy going person with them. Oh well! What can I say? Guilty as charged. I love horses and kids. Kids say what they think and a horse will never lie to or steal from you. Sure Dan and Pearle have gotten into the treats several times and carried off some apples and carrots but the only thing Dan, Dusty, Pearle and Pauline are guilty of stealing is my heart. Enough of the mushy stuff back to our story.
After we finished up at the barn this morning I dropped Willie off and got on that Honey Do List. Mary and I went out to the wood pile and split and loaded the trailer with fire wood. Back when I still had two legs one of the things that I really enjoyed doing was splitting fire wood. It always made me feel good to swing an axe and split logs it was good exercise. After losing the leg I felt my balance just wasn't good enough to be swinging an axe I might get off balance and chop my other leg off. It just goes to show you where there is a will there is a way. Mary and I have a pretty good system worked out she will stand the logs on end for me while I sorta half sit and half lean against the trailer I am able to swing the axe and split logs just like I used too in no time at all we can split and load a trailer with enough wood to see us thru a week or more. Just as we finished with the wood today and were taking a break in the house the snow started falling or I should say flying with the wind gusting the air was filled with white flakes flying in all sorts of directions. It quit snowing after a couple of hours I don't know what it will do tonite I guess we'll find out when get up in the morning.
Along with everything that we have been doing here at the ranch I have also learned a little about trapping and skinning bob cats. Gail Keller a trapper from Louisiana stays here at the ranch each year during the trapping season that runs from November thru March. I was luck enough to become friends with Gail just after he arrived here in January. Gail only stayed about three weeks this year but in those three weeks he ate dinner with Mary and me almost every night except for the one evening when he took us into town and treated us to a sit down dinner at Carmen’s Restaurant in Reserve with a round of refreshments across the street at Uncle Bill's Bar we had a great night out away from the ranch. During the short time that he was here he was nice enough to take me under his wing so to speak and teach me a little bit more than the basics to trapping bobcats., rabbits and the odd skunk. Not only did he teach me about trapping he showed me the proper way to skin a cat. The morning we out we didn't find any cats in the traps I did however learn several different ways to set the traps and where the best places to set them by learning how a bobcat travels and what it will and will not walk on. During his stay this year Gail only trapped three bobcats they are a very aloof prey. Each skin had a value of over three hundred dollars. Along with the bobcats he trapped he also trapped a few rabbits that I skinned and cleaned and Mary fried up for the three of for dinner one evening. Yum Yum, Mary sure can fry a mean rabbit. I was in town one day and ran into Gail at Black Gold Emporium he had been out checking his traps that morning and had trapped a skunk try as he might he still managed to get a little skunk juice on him and let me tell you a little bit really does go along way. Poor Gail after a little bit he couldn't smell the offending odor about him but I guess the Reserve Librarian could he was told to leave the library at once in a not so friendly way. Gail left to go back to St. Amant LA the Thursday before the Super Bowl he said he was going to try to come back in a few weeks we look forward to his return. Before Gail left he set me up with a few traps he gave me three traps for catching things like rabbits and such and a half dozen leg traps the ones used to trap bobcats and yes skunks. Gail blogs daily at www.latrappersandalligatorhunts.com We had a really good time getting to know Gail I have lived on and off in Jefferson Parish LA just across the river from New Orleans and have a lot of Cajun friends now I one more friend in the bayou country.
Last week I moved the mares and colts to another pasture about two miles up the road HWY 32 is not very heavily traveled so walking them down the roadside shouldn't have been that big a deal. The plan was an easy one and well thought out all I had to do was toss a bunch of hay on the back of the trailer connected to the tractor and drive along very slowly and they would follow along as if I were the Pied piper. Everything was going along just fine for the first half mile or so the few cars and trucks that did pass by slowed down as they passed us by and my little herd of eight mares and colts were tagging along nicely UNTIL! Until we came to pasture where I had moved the rest of the horses then everybody wanted to stop and socialize I had just got them started back down the road again and away from the other horses when along some oversized woman in an SUV that was in to much of a hurry to slow down even for thirty seconds laying on her horn and spooking everyone in eight different directions. I hope you're happy FATSO! I can't imagine what she was in such a hurry for as far as I know nowhere in Catron County is there an all you can buffet. I finally got everyone settled down and in one group again but they weren't about to leave the others in the other pasture and follow me. Ha! I had a plan! I managed to get a halter on Pepper an Appaloosa mare with a young colt she's kind of the leader of the mares with her caught and tethered to the trailer I figured the rest would follow along. NEVER NEVER just figure anything when it comes to horses. I did manage to get Bebe and her foal to follow us the rest of the way to the pasture leaving the other four to continue their socializing. As we arrived at the pasture John Hines a neighbor stopped and opened the gate for us to pass thru. Great four down four to go. Back I go to get the other four. Back at the fence are Majestic a pinto mare and her foal lightning a pretty gray roan colt and a sorrel colt who we haven't named yet but who I now have a few names for. I was able to halter Majestic and her foal and tether them to the trailer but not the other two. Off we go rolling along slowly Lightning was following along with us leaving only the sorrel colt who wanted to come along with us but is just now at that age where well he might just want to hang out with the older guys. Torn between what to do he stood and watched the three others walk off and leave him behind. Just when it was looking like I might have to go back and fetch him later along comes an eighteen wheeler as he slowed to a near crawl for us the noise of his engine was just enough to convince Mr. Hard head to catch up with us . Everything is going along just beautiful when all of a sudden Hard head and Lightning bolt ahead of us up the road to the other pasture no problem I figure they will be there at the gate waiting for us when we get there. All of a sudden they come charging back toward us two kids just having a good time. Between the two pastures is the Property belonging to John Hines brother who resides in Phoenix most of the time. John had come down to check on his brothers property leaving the gate open thru the gate runs my two loose boys and into the wrong property. OK I'll just leave them there and come get them in a bit. I finally get to the pasture six down two to go. Lightning and Hard head are pacing up and down the fence line looking for a way to get in with the others. With Johns help we take down a section of fence in the creek and manage to the last two stragglers where they belong. This whole deal took me five hours to go two miles. Was I mad? No not at all I had a pretty good time except that buffet hunter. It was just another day with the horses.
That just about covers everything around here for now. Craig and Debbie flew out of Phoenix this morning in route to Orlando Fla. To see his mom and dad Craig s father Pastor Dean Lang the man that started Apache Creek Deaf and Youth Ranch nearly 37 years ago has been recovering from heart surgery done on December 28th at their home near Orlando they will be gone for a week or so. Until next time Y’all take care stay safe and as always SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. To everyone out there HAPPY VALENTINES DAY . Later Chuck, Mary and the Gang. OH! I almost forgot as of last Friday there are ten little Jr. look a likes that have just entered the world. Dottie had a litter of ten puppies thanks to her wooing Jr.. If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eye's I would not have believed it. The entire time Dottie was having the puppies Jr. was a nervous wreck pacing about and whining worse than any expectant I've ever seen . After she had the puppies he settled down and has been fine ever since . Go figure.
Apache Creek NM, 24 Feb, 2012
“Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends we're so glad you could attend move along ,move along” Emerson, Lake and Palmer 1973 from the album “Brain Salad Surgery”
As I have stated many times things are always changing on our journey thru America and once again change's are in the works. Our plans to get back on the road the day after Easter have been moved up to sometime around March 15th . This is a good thing it seems that furry little rascal the Ground Hog popped his head up out the ground this year and gave us all an early Spring. The weather here has been really nice this past week or so it still gets down to freezing in the early morning hours but the days have been warming up into the high 60's with plenty of sunshine. It won't be long before Pearle and the rest of the gang begin to shed their winter coats. I was looking thru some pictures just the other night of Pearle, Pauline, Dan and Dusty and noticed just how buff (I can never get away with calling Pearle fat) they all have gotten during their time off, not that any of them were in any danger of blowing away before their vacation but the extra hay along with the “Big Hunk” candy bars have added to Pearle's waistline, I have never seen a mule with love handles up until now. I have had the four of them corralled up in a large holding pen down at the barn for the past month, yesterday I opened the gate to let then run and get some much needed exercise and to release all that pent up energy. Pauline was the first out the gate then came Pearle Dan was a little confused but with Dusty's help managed to find the open gate then the race was on. Dan loves to run and strut his stuff in his own high stepping way that is a beautiful sight to see, Pearle also is really quite something to see as she gallops at full speed kicking up her hind legs. Poor Pauline she loves to get in on the act also and can hold her own neck in neck with her sister she's just not as graceful as Pearle when it comes to high speed maneuvers. Pauline attempted a U-Turn at full speed her heart was in it but her legs just wouldn't cooperate with her and down she went in a pile of dust. The fall didn't hurt her nearly as much as it hurt her pride she gave me that you didn't see me look after she stood up and shook all the dust from her..Dusty trotted over to her I think for moral support they were all having a great time even Frisky got in on the act running and bucking for a bit. Elmer and Rebel were out in the pasture getting some exercise Elmer has been acting a lot like a horse half his age here lately even Rebel has been showing signs of excess energy. There must be something in the spring air. Speaking of Rebel I always had the feeling that my old friend here had a bit of a proud past just by the way he carries himself. As many of you already know Rebel is somewhere around thirty five years old and living out his golden years now just lazing about enjoying his morning grain and the warmth of the sun on him when he lays down and stretches out. I learned from Craig that Rebel was donated to the ranch a few years back along with the saddle that he wore for so many years. Rebel it turns out is a registered Paint horse from a very good bloodline he was trained to be a working cow horse and served his previous owner very well for many years on a ranch in Magdalena NM before earning a well deserved retirement. Rebel and I have spent many hours together in the barn and walking around the pasture. All thru the winter he and Elmer have lived in the barn away from the snow and bad weather getting pampered. For the past two weeks I have been keeping Patience in the barn and away from the others in a effort to keep her from trying to do too much on her bad leg. She has been limping about a lot more than usual here lately and some days she has been in so much pain that her left front leg has been having a hard time supporting her weight there have been time that she just stands there in one place while her leg shakes. I have been doing all I can with lineament wraps and treatments of glucosimine in her grain along with some aspirin. She seems to be improving some but she will always be in pain and will always limp. As much she is hurting she is always happy to see me giving me more affection than I deserve.
As for the other horses around here they are all doing well Willy and I have been doing some training with Duke. Duke has had some training in the past but no one has ever stayed with it long enough to get him settled down enough to where he could be ridden comfortably. Duke is like a big rambunctious kid full of energy and full of playfulness. He just can't seem to separate work from play sorta like a big spoiled mule that I know and love. I like to train horses and their riders together to form a good team. Willy and Duke have bonded very well with each other Duke really trusts Willy and the two of them are working together pretty good so far of course Willy has had to pick himself up off the ground a few times in the past week. Duke has just been testing him he hasn't tried to hurt Willy he has just learned that it's no so difficult to toss him out of the saddle. Unlike everyone else that he has bucked off Willy has gotten right back in the saddle and Duke has come to respect him all the more for it and is starting to settle down and act like a gentlemen. Both Willy and Duke are learning good horsemanship. Willy's riding ability and confidence have come along way since the first time he and I went for a ride back in December. Before I had Willy get on Duke's back and ride him in the round pen we first attached two car tires to the saddle. The object of the tires is to let the horse get used to the weight on his back while the tires attached to each side of the saddle give the impression of a riders legs on either side. This also saves a lot of bumps and bruises from getting bucked off it's a gentle way getting a green broke horse used to saddle and rider it also works real well for any horse that has gotten barn soured from lack of riding. After about an hour with the tires in the round pen we removed them from the saddle and Willy stepped up in the saddle for his first ride on Duke in the round pen., After about thirty minutes of riding in the round pen we called it a day. Duke did very well in the round pen that first day. The next morning Willy saddled up Duke and began riding him in a long run that they have beside the round pen the run is about two hundred feet long and about twelve feet wide this works really well giving the horse just enough room to trot but not enough to get into a full gallop. This is where the fun really began for Duke I'm not so sure about Willy. Duke was acting very good walking one way then trotting back the other I guess he was getting a little bored with just going from one end of the run to the other Willy had him trotting along nicely when just for fun I guess Duke put his head between his front legs and started bucking to Willy's credit I really thought he had it all under control until about the fourth buck when one of his feet came out of the stirrup and off he went. Willy was not hurt and got up off the ground with a smile on his face, he said it was almost like riding a mechanical bull only the this time he didn't have a padded mat to land on. Willy walked right over to Duke took the reins in his hands and got right back in the saddle. This little episode would repeat itself over the next three days . Duke usually only tries to toss Willy out of the saddle one time and then he's done with that game. Willy is getting better at staying in the saddle. The last time he came out of the saddle wasn't from Duke's acting up he say's he just fell off. I didn't see it happen since they were all the way at the other end of the pasture and it was getting dark Duke came trotting up to me without Willy in the saddle I knew Willy was OK while he was hoofing it back to the barn he was calling to Duke the whole time. The funny thing here is this each time Willy walks out into the pasture Duke comes running right over to greet him except for those times that he tosses him out of the saddle then he comes running up to me. I think a couple more weeks of training and Willy and Duke are going to make a really good team. At the same time I have been doing a little work with Dukes sister Dutchess, Dutchess is a good horse to ride she just has a few bad habits one of which is who is in charge her or the person on her back and when she thinks its time to go back to the barn its time to go she will stop wherever you are at on the trail and try to turn around and go back home. She has gotten a lot better on our last few rides, like her brother she also has a little problem separating work from play. The two of them are both very special horses that in time are going to make a nice pair of trail and pleasure riding horses I would really like to take the time to train them for barrel racing they are both just the right size and have a tremendous burst of speed.. With the right rider they would really make someone proud.
All last week Craig and Debbie were in Orlando Florida visiting with Craig's dad Pastor Dean Lang. Pastor Lang recently under went surgery to have a pace maker installed and has been recovering from at his home there in Orlando. While they were away things around here went along pretty much as they always do. The biggest chore to be done was to get the hay unloaded from the flat bed and stacked in the barn Willy and I unloaded and stacked 190 three string bales each weighing around 135 pounds. Willy did most of the heavy lifting while I drove the back hoe. Someone with a little ingenuity came up the idea of welding bracket onto the top of the bucket enabling a forklift attachment to be connected to the bucket. It doesn't work as well as a regular fork lift but it works just great for unloading hay and logs off of trailers. Willy and I slid a pallet onto the forks and were able to unload eight bales at a time we did this over to afternoons. Willy really got a good work out I learned for myself just how much of a workout the third day when I unloaded and stacked the final twenty bales myself. While we were busy unloading all this hay we were not without an audience. We put Duke in the corral with Pearle and the others while Cody and Knucklehead were in another corral they lined up along the fence rail like a bunch of supervisors as we toiled away the only one running around loose during all this was Frisky who was helping himself to all the loose hay that fell from the truck. I have still been busy loading rocks and unloading rocks. Craig and several of the kids around here even got in on the act of gathering rocks so that Craig can finish building his rock wall on each side of the bridge that goes over the creek entering the ranch. They were all gathering rocks alongside hwy 32 yesterday afternoon when a NM Highway Patrolman stopped by and left Craig with a stack of four tickets for various infractions the most serious not having a car seat for two of his youngest kids that should have been in car seats. I reckon the trooper was just a little curious as to what twelve people were doing in one pickup. I have been lucky so far not to have been given a ticket myself for driving an unregistered truck to feed the horses that we have put in a pasture about a mile or so up the road, most times I drive the tractor they don't seem to mind a tractor on the road.
Each Friday is camp clean up day everyone gets together and cleans up an area of the ranch. While everyone was off at one end of the ranch cleaning Mary and I were down at the barn cleaning out the horse trough what a mess this was. The trough that we chose to clean out is a six hundred gallon trough complete with one live fish. Craig and the kids put a fish they had caught out a Lake Quemado last year in the trough. Over the winter the trough had gotten pretty green looking so we drained the water, caught the fish and cleaned out all the nasty stuff from the bottom now the horses have fresher tasting water and the fish has a cleaner aquarium to swim around in.
Getting ready to hit the road again I moved the wagon over to the house this morning to start getting it ready Pastor Gary Kanauph and Johnny Hines brought us over a new queen size mattress the mattress we had in the wagon was given to us back in Magnolia Arkansas and was pretty old then but has served us very well but has seen its better nights. Thanks Gary and Johnny.
Last month a goat was slaughtered here at the ranch and we were given one of the hind quarters along with the back strap I have been slowly cooking it on a grill all day with some of my homemade BBQ sauce it's smelling and looking good a few more hours and dinner will be served.
Well folks I still have a few things to get done yet this afternoon so I'm going to close for now. We are looking forward to hitting the road again and seeing new sights and meeting more good people as we roll along the back roads of America . Until next time take care and be safe. Thank you all for following us along and keeping up with us especially during theses months that we not been traveling. Ass always PLEASE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. Later Chuck, Mary and the Gang.
Apache Creek NM
Sunday march 11 2012
Hello from Apache Creek this will the last posting that we will be doing from here the big day for our departure will be Tuesday 13 March if the weather holds. We had a big surprise on Thursday when we got hit by a late snow storm that dumped over six inches of that white fluffy stuff on the ground from here to Magdalena over a hundred miles away. Now how would I know this you might ask? I was crazy enough to be out hitch hiking to Socorro NM. I had to visit with the editor of a travel magazine in Socorro and then hop the shuttle into Belin where I caught the Rail Runner train on into Albuquerque for a visit to the Veterans Hospital to update some paper work. I'll get back to my thumbing travels in a little while, first let me fill you in on everything else that has been happening around here.
Mary and I have been pretty busy getting everything packed and loaded into the wagon and preparing to hit the road once again. Geez! This is a lot of work its like moving from one place to another even though the wagon is just outside the door. Packing and loading, cleaning walls, floors and the oven arranging the inside of the wagon getting new shoes for Pearle and the gang, checking over the harness's and it seems like a million other things.
We started getting ready last Friday with our monthly trip into Silver City for supplies and what not, Debbie Gordon was kind enough to drive Mary and me into town (Silver City is 140 miles from here). Once we got to Silver City I got a shock that we were not prepared for. As I've mentioned before Mary and I are able to travel the way we do only because I receive a monthly disability check that after my student loan payment is taken out leaves us with the grand total of $925.00 each month. Well this month my check was reduced to $764.00 something we were not prepared for, After buying gas for Debbie's van along with my medicine and paying Doug Baird to put the shoe's on everybody there wasn't much left over for our supplies. This would cause great panic in some folks but not me. Since we began this adventure we have been confronted with several obstacles and hurdles to go around or over and we have always managed. As long as I am able to care for Mary and the rest of our family of four legged children and no one goes to sleep at night with an empty belly I am happy. I'm just holding the reins and going where I am pointed.
Today is a day of remembrance for me sorta like an anniversary. It was on Sunday March 11 1990 that my life was changed forever. I was returning to North Carolina on my motorcycle after spending a fun week in Daytona at Bike Week. I was on hwy 378 near Lake City South Carolina when I was hit head on by someone passing on a solid yellow line. It sure did make a mess of me and my bike but I'm still here enjoying life. I just had to learn how to do a few things differently.
Back to last Friday. The morning started out like any other here, I went down to the barn to feed everyone before we took off for town. When I pulled into the barn yard over in one of the corrals was a yearling female elk who had wandered into the corral and couldn't figure out how to get out. No problem! Chuck to the rescue. I walked into the corral thinking I might shoo her out the gate, instead she hopped over the fence, that should have gotten her on her way if it hadn't been for the cattle guard on the other side that snagged her leg. There she was laying on the ground with her hoof stuck in in the grate and struggling to get loose. My biggest concern was that she might break her leg and have to be destroyed. I approached her very slowly talking to her in an attempt to calm her down and get her to stop struggling. I don't have any idea what I thought I was going to accomplish besides getting kicked from one end of the county to the other. I managed to calm her down by talking to her and sat down on the ground in front of her. What happened next has got to be one of those once in a life time experiences that you read about in Readers Digest you know things that happen to other folks but never to you like winning the lottery. I reached my hand out and rubbed her on her head twice before she was able to pull her leg free. She stood over the top of me shook her self off and limped about three steps before slowly trotting off up the road into Lee Russell Canyon. I believe she is one of same two elk that I have been seeing some mornings at the barn one of the same ones that have been keeping me busy repairing fences.. What a great way to start off the day petting an elk Wow! I could hardly wait to get back to the house and tell Mary. Now that the excitement was over we took off for town. Now I don't know why but it seems that every time I have gone to Silver City no matter how early in the morning I leave out I never get back here before 8 or 9pm but with Debbie Gordon driving 10mph under the speed limit most of the way there and back we were back in Apache Creek before 5pm. And that included stopping by Taco Bell and stuffing our faces with authentic imitation 100% bad for you phony Mexican food that tastes so good when you haven't had it in over a year.
Other than getting ready to hit the road again there hasn't been all that much goin on around here the wind has been blowing pretty hard most days we have been told its just that time of year.. Tuesday morning Doug Baird a farrier and part time minister stopped over to shoe everyone. You wouldn't know it to look at Doug but he has been shoeing horses for over fifty years he did a real good job and even Dusty who still has trouble trusting new faces stood still for him. I had put the drilltex on the shoes myself being the first time I done this it fell off of one of the shoes when Doug went to shaping it so he was nice enough to take a couple shoes back too his place and apply it for me but that meant having to come back the following morning to finish Pauline. Wednesday morning the wind was howling gusting up to over fifty mph at times . With all this wind howling and rattling loose metal on the barn Pauline was as nervous as a cat in a room full of mouse traps. Doug rubbed a little all natural oil of some sort into her nose and in a few minutes she was calm enough to get the job finished. Then dry climate out here has really made everyone’s hooves super hard especially Dan's, Doug bent several nails getting his shoe's on.
With no transportation to get to Socorro on Thursday I decided that hitch hiking wasn't so bad. There has been a lot of times that I have gotten from point A to B by sticking out my thumb. Before I was old enough to drive that was the way get around in Brunswick County North Carolina we didn't
have public transportation. Anyway Mary wakes me up early telling me I picked a bad time to travel because it was snowing. I looked out the window to about a half inch of snow and heavy flakes coming down. After my morning coffee we walked down to the barn fed everyone I kissed Mary good bye and walked on out to the road. It didn't take long before the sheriff came along and offered me a ride to Quemado. By this time the snow was really coming down and the road was covered all the way to Quemado we were in a regular blizzard. In Quemado on Hwy60 the snow plows were hard at work in just a few minutes Tom Csurilla the owner of the Top of The World Land Co., LLC pulled over and gave me a ride on into Pie Town. I had never met Tom before but Mary had met his wife and daughter back in September when we had pulled over at their store just outside of Pie Town and bought sausage biscuits and coffee. Their store sits atop the Great Divide hence the name. Tom sells acreage and has plenty for sale at some pretty good prices he can be contacted at www.topoftheworldland.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org or just call him 1-800-658-8750. Before leaving Pie Town Tom took me into the store and fed me black berry cobbler and hot coffee before I got back out on the road. After stuffing my face with cobbler and hot coffee there I was standing in a blizzard with snow up to my ankle talking to Duane on my cell phone when along comes a guy named Sam who drove all the way into Socorro. I made it into Socorro in just over two hours a distance of over 130 miles. After I finished my business in Socorro I hopped on the shuttle to Belin a cost of only fifty cents where I caught the Rail Runner train on into Albuquerque for two dollars. The train ride took just under an hour. In Albuquerque my luck was still holding as I was getting off the train a guy named Sammy offered to help and ask where I was headed. It turned out that Sammy was a Vet and had an appointment at the VA the next morning. Sammy insisted that I stay the night at his place and we would catch a cab together the next morning. Great I had a place to stay with a couch to sleep on sure beats sitting in the VA lobby all night. As it turns out Sammy was also in the Navy so we spent most of the night telling sea stories. We got to the VA early Friday morning. I have to say this the VA Hospital in Albuquerque is huge and seems to be run very efficiently. I was in and out by 11am and on my way back to the train station. I had missed all the early trains back to Belin and had to wait until 2:45pm to catch the next train. I made it back into Socorro by 4:30 and caught a ride in the back of a pickup on into Magdalena. By the time we made it into Magdalena I was near froze it was getting dark and snow was still falling. I thought about heading over to the Rancho Magdalena to Lee and Lori's house but thought it rude to drop in unannounced instead I got a room for the night in town at the Western Motel and RV Park where for just over $40.00 I was set up in a warm clean room with something I haven't seen all winter Cable TV whoo hoo!!!!!!!! I walked across the street to the local watering hole where I was able to get a pizza for dinner then back to the room to indulge in some TV. if you are passing thru Magdalena and need a place for the night check out the Western Motel or go on line www.thewesternmotel.com Before leaving the motel Saturday morning I met two guys from Switzerland peddling their way across America they had left out of Los Angelos two weeks ago one of them is riding to New Orleans while the other is headed to New York. As I was walking out of town who should pull up to me but Lee after I explained what I was up to he was a little upset that I hadn't dropped in unannounced the night before. Lee canceled his plans for the day and drove me all the way back to the ranch. We had a great time riding along Lee filled me in on all sorts of local history and land marks what a wealth of information plus it was good to have a ride all the way home with someone I knew. We made it back to Apache Creek just after 1pm Lee dropped me off said hi to Mary and headed back to Magdalena..
I have to get this posted and get back to helping Mary get the wagon loaded and ready to get back on the road.. While we are happy to be getting back on the road its with a mixed emotions and a heavy heart that we leave this place. I have laid awake nights here lately worrying about leaving all the horses. When we arrived there were some that were in pretty rough shape Knucklehead for one was very sick with an infected leg a few others were underweight and a few other problems. While there are plenty of people here that are capable of seeing to their day to day needs I'm sad to say that no one is jumping up to take over the responsibility. I had been showing Willy all that he would have to do each day to see to their needs and had hopes that he would be able to take over when we left. Its a lot of work caring for this many horses and its a seven day a week job. To begin with they have to be fed twice a day every day and they don't understand hey just because its Sunday and you have to go to church we still need to be fed. It seems that no one here has the time that takes to care for all these horses and Craig isn't willing to hire someone full time to do it. I am sorry to have mention this on this website. Mary and I are out see America and tell about all the good there is here in the greatest country on Earth. I am very concerned about the future of the horses here at Apache Creek and I pray that someone will step up the plate and start doing the job..
The weather is looking good for the next few days no dark clouds in the forecast only plenty of sunshine and warm days. I don't mind if it gets a little cold a night I'll just move closer to Mary. Pearle, Dan Pauline and Dusty have added a few extra pounds over the winter and with their new shoes they are ready for the road. They are still all looking pretty shaggy with their winter coats that should start shedding in the next week or so. Pete and Jr. well what can I say they are always ready to go for a ride. Tuesday morning we plan to hit the road so if you see us out there don't be afraid to stop us and say hi we look forward meeting new faces every day. Our route out of here will take us into the town of Reserve from there to Hwy 180 to Alpine AZ then onto hwy273 to Mcnary and over to Sholo. This summer I plan to show Mary the Grand Canyon and maybe even take a mule ride to the bottom. Crossing AZ. this time of year there will plenty of sites and events to take in hopefully a rodeo or two. Gotta go now so I can get this published. Mary has been giving me those “Get up off your butt looks”. Until next week y’all take care of one another and as always please SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!!!!!!! We are all so lucky to call America home. Later Chuck, Mary and the Gang.