Last updated on Monday, February 24, 2003
In 1937, some very farsighted conservationists realized the need to protect the nation's remaining wetlands. The Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge was one of those acquired during that period under the Department of the Interior and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Strategically located on the Great Plains of the Southwest, it is near the Pecos River east of Roswell. The water of the shallow lake is very brackish, too bitter to drink, and was so named by early cattlemen. It is fed year round by small springs but often goes dry during the hot summer months.
Fall and winter are perfect times to trade the baster for the binoculars and head for the birds at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico.
Here, a temperate Rio Grande Valley climate and 57,000 acres of wetlands, wilderness and cultivated fields comprise a comfortable stay for thousands of waterfowl and sandhill cranes seeking refuge from northerly ice-covered waters, short daylight hours, cold nights and diminishing food supplies. The population starts building in September and extends through the second week of March, when the last of the cranes starts their migration northward.
I've been to Kilbourne twice and each time I came away with a five gallon bucket of peridotite for my rock garden. Outside of Kilbourne, you can only find this gemstone in Southwest Arizona, St. John's Isle in the Red Sea, and in Burma.
What hath Bacchus wrought? Drive down to 4201 Highway 28 at La Union, New Mexico and you'll find out. Twice a year vintners Ken and Denise Stark stage their festivals at La Viña Winery - the April Jazz Festival and the October Wine Festival. Both times of year are delightfully sunny and warm in Southern New Mexico.
Located two miles off U. S. Highway 54 to the east, this large eight-room railroad depot displays the history of a thriving town's brief life and economic demise. It was built in 1902, the same year Ancho was established.
Autumn slips across the desert quietly. Although nights grow chill, summer's heat lingers in the afternoons, and the greenery brought on by summer rains simply fades to dusty olive, bleached straw, and weathered brown. As the soil dries out, mesquites, desert willows, and ocotillo drop their leaves without any fanfare. But here and there where water flows - a spring, stream, an irrigation ditch, or a river - autumn shows in the rich yellows and golds of cottonwood trees.
Summer: 1966. The powdery sand blew off the rock face I was clinging to
and into my eyes. I blinked and squinted into the sun, craning my neck up to
look up the steeply canted rock.
Through dusty glasses I looked between my outstretched arms at the stretch of
the rock face above and suddenly felt utterly alone. I could not see anyone
above me, only hot white rock. My fingers were jammed into a crack and my
knuckles were bloodless from the grip.
It began about 60 years after the events that inspired it
took place, and it has been going on for about another 60 years since. It is
“The Last Escape of Billy the Kid” and it is held yearly at
Lincoln, New Mexico, where it all happened. Started in 1940 as
part of the Quatro Centennial, the pageant was, and is, staffed entirely by
local folks, many of whom are descended from the actual participants being
portrayed. The first local man to play Billy the Kid was renowned artist Peter
Hurd of San Patricio.
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