Monday, October 10, 2022

The P. S. I Love You Southwest Memorial Tour Part Six

 Waning Gibbous Moon

The Billy the Kid Scenic Byway

Roswell was a tough act to follow. Only the most dangerous road in America and 21,000 ancient petroglyphs were going to get my mind off aliens and flying saucers. For starters, I set my course toward the Hondo Valley, a pleasant community with an educational roadside rest stop where I learned another tidbit or two about William Bonney or Henry Antrim or Kid Antrim or Brushy Bill Roberts or whatever you wish to call Billy the Kid.

Just beyond Hondo, this part of the Billy the Kid Byway leads to Lincoln, New Mexico, which practically begged me to pull over and stay there for the rest of my days. The legend of this place's past and the beauty of its preserved historical setting tugged at something inside of me that I didn't know was there. I felt intrinsically related to Lincoln like I was a piece of it. The fact that, in the early days of its existence, Lincoln's main thoroughfare was known as the most dangerous road in the Union (bang-bang shoot-'em ups) did not faze me. There is something else there much stronger that intrigues and attracts me. These photos don't do it justice. Whatever that "thing" is that was luring me to Lincoln is not made of stone, wood, and nails. Am I going to sell everything and move there any time soon? Probably not. Am I going to study more of Lincoln's history and try to understand why it calls to me? Most definitely. 

From Lincoln I almost passed by the town of Capitan without stopping. But I saw a restaurant and I craved a hot breakfast, so next thing I knew, there I was at the counter, drinking coffee and ordering up some eggs. What can I say except that is just about my favorite thing to do anywhere? The people at the restaurant were pleasant and kept to themselves, two traits very high on my hungry traveler's stranger etiquette list. I felt comfortable there and the food was decent. I amused myself as I ate by watching the two waitresses engineer the cantankerous, aging appliances and fuss with their bobby pins and spotted aprons. It was like a very slow motion still life.

Smokey Bear is really a big deal in Capitan. I'm going to take a wild guess and say Smokey Bear just might have originated somewhere in the Capitan woods. Okay, okay, I cheated. Dr. Googlie can tell you all about the origins of the real Smokey Bear (after the ad campaign) in the Spring of 1950. You gotta love it.

Moving on, if I had it to do all over, I would have taken a left turn to Ruidoso to do some exploring there. I have the idea that there is more Billy the Kid lore to be learned in that area, so I have it bookmarked for the next time I go wandering. Meanwhile, I have no regrets whatsoever that I pulled into the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site on the way to Tularosa. Who knows if Billy was ever there, but I was and I really enjoyed it. The literature claims there are more than 21,000 petroglyphs at the site. It would take weeks to find that many, but there are more than enough glyphs along the two miles of hiking trails to corral your attention and keep you in a state of wonder.

My sister Pat was a talented oil painter in her youth. I think she would have taken an interest in the Jornada Mogollon culture and their expressive etchings. We will probably never know if they had a purpose for these creations. Were they stories? Words? Thoughts? Directions? Warnings? Maps? Who knows? Walking among them leaves a lasting impact on you, that is for sure.

Peace, Love, and Riding with the Kid,

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