.I'm baaaaaack!! My guests left this morning, and I'm resuming my regular life. Regular? Well, the sheets are being laundered, the vacuum is ready to run, and the dishes are getting done. Wouldn't you know, my dishwasher began, uhm, offering challenges right in the middle of all this? Fortunately, it is a small, inexpensive, easy to replace part, and I've only had to hand wash one load.
Soooooooo. What did we do? Uhm, what didn't we do?
Monday - They arrived after stopping at Old Lincoln on the way in to get a dose of history on Billy the Kid, the Lincoln County War, etc. I've done most of that before, so it was OK with me that they did that without me. We had dinner (the pasta for which I'm vaguely famous), visited a while and called it a day.
Tuesday - I took them to Capitan for a tour of the Smokey Bear Museum. This cousin is the daughter of the uncle who was part of the team that rescued the little bear who would become the icon for fire prevention back in 1950. She had not been there (the museum is, of course, newer and she moved away before its development), and I think she enjoyed it a lot. After that, we visited some art galleries in town, and they met some of my friends. Then we drove to Capitan Gap, where little Smokey was found, although we don't know where the exact location is. They let their dogs run around a little bit and get some exercise before we returned home. They insisted on taking me to dinner that night, since it was my birthday. We had good Mexican food and a margarita at one of my favorite restaurants, and we all enjoyed it. Of course, all day long we talked and even after coming home, talked some more.
Wednesday - We took a day to just sit at home and visit. Nothing great to report, other than both of them taking walks with the dogs, an every day event. Belinda followed an animal path behind my house and say lots of signs of deer and elk along the way. When she returned, she said she understood why I have trouble doing a lot of walking here; there is not one single road or path that does not include a steep incline.
Thursday - I had called to see about the hours at the Ft. Stanton Museum. I'd not been there, and I thought it might be interesting for us all. The hours on the answering machine said "Tuesday through Saturday, 10-4." But when we got there, a sign on the door said "April hours, Fri, Sat, Mon, 10-4." Grrrr. It's a small museum, but I thought it would be good because of the history. Ft. Stanton was home to the Buffalo Soldiers for many years, and was involved in some of the events of the Lincoln County War. Since we couldn't do that, I drove them to the cemetery on the grounds.
There are soldiers from the famous 9th Calvary buried there, and I'm sure, other soldiers of that era, too. "Black Jack" Pershing also served at Ft. Stanton. When the fort was abandoned by the military, it became a U.S. Marine Hospital that specialized in the treatment of patients with tuberculosis. After 40 years of serving tuberculosis patients, Fort Stanton then served as an internment camp for German and Japanese prisoners of war from World War II. In 1953, Fort Stanton and 1,320 acres surrounding it were donated to the New Mexico State Department of Public Welfare. Fort Stanton was transformed into a hospital for the developmentally disabled. In the mid-1990s, this hospital was closed. Fort Stanton is currently a New Mexico State Prison for Women. It has also served as a drug rehabilitation facility in recent years. The cemetery was taken over in the 1990's by the Merchant Marines and is one of the military cemeteries in NM.We walked through the cemetery, reading some of the headstones, and just musing about the people resting there and their lives.
After this, we drove into Ruidoso and stopped at the Hubbard Museum of the American West, where we spent a couple hours looking at historical saddles, wheeled transportation (buggies, wagons, stage coaches, etc.), reading about the area history and looking at historical photographs of the area.
Then we stopped for a late lunch and did a wee bit of shopping. Yes, that was one heck of a day!
Friday - Another take-it-easy day with Allan joining us. Visiting was the whole agenda.
Saturday - My guests wanted to go into Ruidoso for a little more shopping. I elected to stay home. They had a lot of fun, found a number of bargains, and (God love 'em) brought me a gift certificate from my favorite dress shop in town. How unnecessary and wonderfully sweet of them! I fixed a good steak dinner and we all tumbled into bed.
Sunday - I woke to find Jazmyn had an eye swollen shut. I started her on antibiotic ointment which I keep here at all times. These little guys with prominent eyes are a bit more apt to have such problems than other breeds. We had plans to drive to Alamogordo to spend the day with more cousins, and I didn't feel I could leave her here without having the medication reapplied, so she got to go with us. By day's end, the eye looked a little better.
We had a fabulous day visiting with the family and eating marvelous food. We went to the cemetery and cleaned up the family plot while there were extras to help. I do a little of this from time to time when I'm down there, but it's a lot for one person, especially one who is getting up there in years. On the drive home Belinda, Rob, Allan and I stopped at K-Bob's, an area steak house chain, for dinner. Since we had steak the night before, we all got other things, but it was really good. I had a chicken fried steak that was awesome! The meat was tender and juicy, and the coating was wonderfully crispy. Yum!
Monday - The day started with a trip to the Vet. It turns out that Jazi has an abrasion on the eye, just in the top of the colored area. The vet put drops in the eye, and we could see a very large area that was, happily, already healing. He gave her a shot to relieve the itching and irritation for her, and I'll be continuing the ointment for two weeks. Poor little girl. She still is a little "squinty," but it is improving each day.
Late in the morning, Belinda, Rob and I took a short drive, about 8 miles or so from my house, to a small lake. Allan met us there and we had a picnic lunch, then Allan went on to work. The three of us hiked up a trail from the campground. I don't know how far we went, but I'm guessing we were about a mile from the camp into the national forest wilderness area that abuts the camp. While it was an uphill climb, it wasn't the severe incline such as I have around my house. I huffed and puffed up hills, then walked on semi-level paths for a bit and caught my breath, then uphill again. It was good exercise, enough to push me, but not enough to do damage.
You can see from these two pictures it is an incline, but not a killer.
I'm always saddened when inconsiderate people damage the wilderness areas. You see the graffiti on this sign, and Rob picked up some aluminum cans along the way while I picked up a candy wrapper. These places are kept in their natural state, with no human intervention such as cutting trees, clearing underbrush, etc. It is that way so we can go on foot or on horseback and see the natural beauty as it has been forever. You don't get to see the unspoiled forest any other way, and I can't understand how people think it is OK to litter there, even more than anywhere else in our world.
OK, rant over.
I love seeing the renewal, here as a new little tree just about three feet tall, right alongside the old fallen warrior which will become soil replenishment over the years. Ahhh, what a natural, beautiful cycle.
The forest is dappled with sunlight on the ground, cool and peaceful, and the sky is a similar with the leafless branches, the evergreens, and the expanse of rich blue peeking through it all.
Rob is an avid photographer. He stayed in this position for upward of ten minutes, waiting for a tiny butterfly to open its wings!
The tiny stream was alongside the path most of the way. I like how the blue sky reflects in the water, and alongside the fresh green of the new grass.
Please click on this so you can see the detail. The delicate white flowers are so tiny you can hardly see them as you walk along. Compare them to the pine needles alongside. And those are "regular" size needles, not the long ones like ponderosa.
Lots of wild strawberries were alongside the path. Mmmmm, to go back in a few months and taste them!
When we returned home, Rob made me a gift of a walking stick he carved himself of Wyoming Juniper. He actually had several to pick from, and this is what I chose. It is large, approximately five feet tall, nearly as tall as me. I chose it because the length will be helpful when coming downhill, my biggest time of concern. I hold it about 18 inches from the head while walking or climbing, then slide near the top of the shaft to extend down ahead of me on the descent. The shorter ones would require me to bend to place it down the hill, so this will be easier on my back.
Speaking of my back, when we turned to return to the camp, I noticed that my lower back felt tight. I wondered if I would have a sore back today, as well as sore legs. I'm happy to report that all is fine, with just a bit of soreness in my knees. Good old arthritis. I'm very encouraged to return to some of the similar paths around the lake with one or two of my pups to get exercise, perhaps 2-3 times a week. Sound good? Wanna come along? Bring it!
Oh, goodness, it was a good week. We had a bite of breakfast this morning, and they left for Albuquerque. They will visit Belinda's son there for a few days, then move on to Wyoming. They are going to oversee the hosts of several campgrounds for the summer. Next winter, they are going to be near Ocala, FL, where they are going to be in charge of clearing hiking trails. What a life, eh?
I've had a wonderful, wonderful time, but it is also good to be back here. Could my life be any better? Nope, I don't think so. Oh wait. Maybe if I had a million dollars in the bank. But that's all it would take. Honest.