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A Few Notes Of Passing Interest


Between Mora and Angelfire, New Mexico

I've noticed that the black flies here in the mountains are bigger and slower than the ones I'm used to in Texas. And louder. If you happen to leave your door open during your nap, they'll make you dream fitfully in black and white. Old war movies. Spitfires and B-29s.

And I never know when a nap is coming at me, these days.

I bought a fly swatter at the Wal-Mart in Las Vegas, N.M. Actually they came packaged in pairs, which I took as an omen. Never know when you might need back-up.

In all fairness, though, I have to say they are a tough, tenacious bunch. I was particularly impressed with a certain Sampson of their lot. I decided to skip Taos on the way up. It's a good town for walking, but finding a place to park the Behemoth I'm living in just didn't seem attractive to me this time round. The traffic is crazy there around the square, and you can't avoid it.

Perhaps you have noticed that Dapple has become The Behemoth. I guess I'm just not romantic enough to own a Dapple.

I took a winding narrow road out of Mora, past Coyote Creek State Park. When the road opened up a bit approaching Angelfire, I stopped in a turnout, turned round to arrange a nice view of the Sangre de Cristos, and made a sandwich. A few flies got in, so I lay about with the swatter till they granted me a funereal peace.

After I got back in the truck and started off down the hill, I noticed through the windshield that one of these smug odious vermin had made himself a perch exactly where the hood ornament would be, if I had such a thing.

I sped up to 30 mph. He was unconcerned. 40 mph. He couldn't care less. 50 mph. If a fly could yawn, he would. As I approached 60 mph, I saw him hunker down a little on the slick surface of the paint.

Got you now, sucker.

But, as luck would have it, a car slowed down in front of me, approaching a curve, and I had to let up. I didn't want to explain the cause of my injuries to the attending physician.

As I slowed down to 30 mph, that black devil flew away.

But I cannot say blew away. Give him his due. He left calmly, at a time and place of his own choosing.

Chama, New Mexico

As I noted before, I stayed in the Rio Chama RV Park, next to a trestle bridge for the Cumbres and Toltec steam excursion train. The Station is about a half mile west.

While watching the horrible news on TV that evening, I heard a couple of loud spaced reports, like shotguns going off nearby. I thought, "It's black powder season - but in town?"

I went down to the tracks and met one the guys who ride around in golf carts helping people park their houses. He was walking back from the woods along the track.

"Somebody shooting down here?"

"Nah. That was me. Firecrackers. Them bears are tryin' to climb the fence again."

It turns out that a sow and 2 cubs had been getting into the garbage cans, and apparently tore up a screen door the day before. One of the weapons used by the Forest Service to control them is rubber bullets, which are packed with a light powder charge into a 12 gauge shotgun shell. On request, they pass them out in small numbers to residents.

I heard one fellow laughing about his "doofus" neighbor who picked up a few and then realized he only had a 20 gauge to shoot them with.

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

I have been coming to Pagosa to ski for 20 years. I always stayed at the Spa Motel, to make use of the hot spring baths, the swimming pool, and the occasional massage. One of my favorite memories of this place is the time years ago when it snowed so much the ticket office at Wolf Creek was buried, and the whole enterprise shut down for days.

I eventually escaped to Purgatory, pointing my Bronco carefully down the middle of the white space between humps of fencing along the buried highway, hoping to stay on the road. But the night before I left, I spent an interesting hour in the warm outdoor swimming pool, watching those big heavy flakes crowd down out of the black sky, plopping into the pool around me.

I'm sure they didn't really hiss as they hit the water, but that's the way I remember it.

The swimming pool is still ok, but I am sorry to report the indoor soaking pool is not being maintained properly. This may be just one bad day, so check it out if you come through. They give out flannel sheets to wrap up in when you are steaming, and you can lay back on benches and drift off till you cool down and go back in.

The water is still 108 degrees, or maybe more, but when I went it hadn't been cleaned in a while. There was stuff floating on the surface, and it had an oily feel, and the whole room smelled like some sort of nasty soup or old dish water.

The good news is that the place across the street (The Springs) is greatly improved from my last visit. These are a series of outdoor pools (bathing suit required) in tiers down to the river, going from 110 degrees down to tepid. If I were just a little bit younger, I'd have to say the babes in string bikinis ain't so hard to look at, either.

$12 for the day. I'm talking about the pools.

Creede, Colorado

I was wandering desolately down the main street, beseeching complete strangers for access to a phone line so I could e-mail you guys, when I saw a large orange tabby limping across the road. She was collared, tagged, and belled. Her left rear foot was held up high, and it looked like something red stained the paw.

I ducked into the Kentucky Belle, which is a grocery store, and told the clerk it looked like someone's cat was hurt.

"Big orange cat?"


"That's the Town Cat. She don't belong to anyone special. She got froze to a bridge."

The girl was checking out groceries and talking over her shoulder. She was obviously busy, so I didn't press her, though now I wish I had. This was a healthy animal, with an imperious air only slightly spoiled by her 3 legged gait. On closer inspection, the red stuff on her paw looked like some kind of medicine.

The Town Cat. I guess if you're going to get froze to a bridge, this is the place to do it.


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