This week I am back in the beautiful Enchanted Circle region of New Mexico which has been a source of inspiration for my writing and has played an important in the development of Footprints in the Dew. Merry Christmas to you all!
Welcome back. Mine Shaft, Powder Keg and Bad Medicine, there’s only one place in the world where you’ll come in contact with these bad boy ski runs and that’s coming down from the top of the 10,350 foot mountain range called Red River. The history of this old mining town starts with the gold rush but nowadays its tourists that bring in the gold and with plenty of snow this year the local merchants should be hitting the mother lode.
Here are a few facts about a town that has a year round population of 600 but plays host to thousands of visitors each year: There are 41 lodging establishments, 16 restaurants and 25 annual special events including “Mardi Gras in the Mountains”, “Rivers & Brews Blues Fest”, and the “Harder than Hell” mountain bike race. It is also the only ski area I know of where elk, deer and yes sometimes bear walk right down the main street. When there is heavy snow this is often the only pass open through the mountains. Another great thing about the town is once you get there you don’t need your car because the ski lift sits right in the center of town surrounded by shops and eateries. Red River is 168 miles from Albuquerque, 260 miles from Denver, 285 miles from Amarillo and 612 miles from Bartlesville.
Once again Loretta and I will be adding a touch of mystery to our trip when we spend time with a ghost who was recently spotted roaming the halls of the historic St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico. When I passed through here a few months ago some paranormal investigators had bugged the place from top to bottom, making me afraid to even take a shower. Apparently things have been getting weirder there as they have recorded some more distinct but ghostly images.
I’ll be here and at the Angel Fire Resort for Christmas and I’ll be sending in a report on the snow conditions, the number of visitors and the beauty of this area called the Enchanted Circle next week. Since our first visit several years ago Angel Fire Resort has been steadily growing and improving both their trails and their ski season activities. They have added a new C-4 Black diamond trail and have opened a Nordic Center for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Snowboarders will find more than a dozen freestyle features including reconfigured jumps and transitions. In addition I understand that they will have a torchlight parade and fireworks on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve which should be beautiful. They are also offering special lodging and skiing packages and will be serving gourmet Christmas and New Year’s dinners in the Elements Restaurant at the Lodge.
But first I’ll be stopping at a place that former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and his wife call “God’s Country.” The beautiful forests and alpine meadows that are filled with wildlife made Keating declare that “the UUBar is more like a state than a ranch.” The UUBar lies next to the Philmont Scout Ranch and also shares a border with one of Ted Turner’s ranches. All three ranches are managed with an eye to conservation of wildlife habitat and the wildlife corridors between the three ranches. Good stewardship of their resources and the goal of protecting these spectacular places for future generations are the guiding principles for these owners and land managers. Along the way I expect to see plenty of elk and pronghorn antelope along with many other creatures that call this area home.
The Enchanted Circle also includes Taos, New Mexico where Easy Rider was filmed and where actor Dennis Hopper who recently died is buried. Off the road a piece between Red River and Taos is San Luis where the mutilated cows have been showing up and I know it would be interesting to spend more time there if time allows. The Continental Divide is to the west, the Carson National Forest is north, the Turkey Mountains are east and so my friends for the next two weeks you are in the Sangre de Christo mountain range where the average snow fall is 188 inches. Till then I’ll see ya down the road….