A new excuse for justifying bad behavior…

Last week, police in Albuquerque were able to recover a stolen vehicle using a “Tile” tracking device attached to the SUV.

Tile Pro (2020) Black - 4-Pack

Police were notified by the SUV owners that the vehicle had been stolen from their property. Using an app associated with the tracking device, Police were able to begin following the vehicle. When it was finally stopped, police arrested two people and found a stash of illegal drugs and a gun inside it.

The woman suspect in the case told police she had been walking “for a while” in the vicinity of the vehicle. She said she had become “tired” from walking so much and, well, just decided to take it so she didn’t have to walk any more.

Which proves what your mother probably told you about avoiding making important decisions when you are too tired.

No trout this time, just spectacular scenery…

Sheer walls in Mineral Creek Canyon, Gila National Forest

I participated in a Trout Unlimited project last weekend in the Gila, helping to garner support for the region by introducing new people to fly fishing. A group of five of us, four from TU and our one “student” hiked up Mineral Creek canyon to try to catch Gila trout on a fly rod. Everyone seemed to be successful in catching the trout but me. I had to leave early and didn’t make it further up the creek where the fish seemed to be more receptive to a fly cast into the clear waters of this unexpected creek. 

See if you can spot our dog Chester in this photo

Every time I go into the Gila, I am amazed at how such a lush microclimate is able to thrive in a narrow rock canyon in close proximity to an arid landscape with cactus and stunted juniper growing on sheer cliffs just a few feet above the water in the creek. 

On this trip, I discovered something I had not seen on my previous hikes up the canyon. A natural arch in the rocks on the south side of the rim. 

Natural arch on south rim of Mineral Creek canyon
Telephoto of natural arch

And in the early 1900s, this area was bursting with mining activities. Many remnants of the mining boom, including old pieces of equipment and holes dug into rocks are still visible in rusting and rotting formats. On this trip, I found the remains of an old safe, its front door missing. I wonder how much labor was involved in originally transporting it to the mining camp and how a powerful rush of flood water shoved it down the canyon. 

Mining camp safe abandoned in Mineral Creek. Not too secure these days.

So no trout this trip, but still well worth the drive. Take some time to explore the Gila — it’s truly a fascinating place. And next trip, I guarantee a Gila trout. Maybe more than one.

Skunks 2, Chester 0… Then more drama…

(With apologies to Snoopy)

It was a dark and stormy night.

Chester, the Golden Doodle sensed that something was awry in the dark corners of his back yard. He ran to the back door, tail on high alert mode. His dimwitted co-owner, not picking up on the intelligent clues that Chester was offering, opened the back door.

Like a shot, Chester bolted toward the far corner of the yard, tracking something moving. No, it wasn’t the gray cat that had been taunting him in recent weeks. It was black and white and ambling along slowly.

The brain in Chester’s co-owner suddenly went into limited turbo-boost mood, recognizing that the object of Chester’s chase was another skunk.

Then peaceful late evening silence of the neighborhood was fractured.

“No, Chester, NO, NO, NO,” his master’s voice rang out. 

Chester, apparently remembering his previous encounter with a skunk about four weeks earlier, hit the brakes and tried to turn back. But it was too late, for the skunk had tossed a volley of toxic perfume his way. It glanced off Chester’s nose — not a full frontal attack like he had experienced earlier. But he was still fully odiferous. 

He ran back to the house, where of course he was not welcomed with the usual enthusiasm he had come to expect. He was collared, drug to the bathtub and doused with patchouli oil soap in a humiliating cleansing ordeal. He was dried off as best as can be done for an exceptionally wooly dog, then parked in his kennel for the night.

Meanwhile, outside, the drama continued. The skunk, apparently terrified by Chester’s advance and the shrieking of the owner, cowered in a corner next to an outdoor storage shed. A flashlight pinpointed two beady red-glowing eyes next to a flower pot. The skunk would occasionally make aggressive hops forward in hopes of scaring the owner away. It worked.

Chester’s co-owner then came up with a ridiculous plan. Maybe the skunk could be scared away with the blast of a shotgun. Of course, discharging a firearm in a residential neighborhood is illegal, but by this time all logic in the co-owner’s brain had vaporized. 

After what seemed like hours of fumbling through a closet to locate a shotgun and digging through cluttered shelves in the garage for a shotgun shell, the plan was put into motion.

Chester’s co-owner bravely stepped out into the dark, weapon hoisted in the general direction of the skunk. His wife pleaded with him to return to sanity and come up with a better plan to deal with the skunk — of which there were many. His ears were deaf to the pleas as his testosterone infused instinct to protect his home from the sabre toothed tiger kicked in.

Suddenly a shot rang out.

BLAM!

The maid screamed.

(Well, okay, there wasn’t a maid and there was no scream. But there was a rather punctuated retribution from a female voice.)

A door slammed. 

(Actually it was the sound of a sliding glass door.)

Neighbors’ lights turned on. People scrambled to their back porch to see what was happening. Apologies were issued for the infraction. 

Yet, the skunk did not move. It continued its beady-eyed stare at Chester’s co-owner. It had not been injured — just enraged more and now intent on holding its ground.

Chester’s master, his ego deflated, then cowardly concluded he would wait until the morning to see if the skunk had moved on. 

Early the next morning, an inspection of the back yard was made. There was no evidence of a live skunk, dead skunk or skunk parts. The only evidence that a shotgun had been discharged was a sprinkler head that had been blasted out of its place in the lawn. 

A few days after the incident, Chester is still somewhat perfumed by a blend of skunk blast and patchouli oil. The skunk has not been seen in the vicinity. And Chester’s owner is contemplating additional firearms training while repairing his sprinkler system. 

Chester, looking embarrassed by his master’s actions

B.Y.O.T.&W.

There’s a website used mostly by car nerds looking for classic or collector cars called Bring A Trailer, or BaT, as it’s referred to in gearhead jargon. Here’s the website:

bringatrailer.com

After spotting the vehicle below in my neighborhood today, I’m wondering if someone has started a new website called “Bring Your Own Tires and Wheels.”

This late 80s vintage Toyota pickup truck has everything you need to become a classic — except for tires and wheels. It’s held off the ground by four jacks and has a “FOR SALE” license plate on the front. The undercarriage has been nicely sprayed with new black paint, possibly to fool someone into mistaking the black space as tires.

Well, you probably couldn’t roll it onto a trailer

It reminded me of another pickup I spotted in town sometime last year that was for sale but lacking something most people might want — doors.

But at least you could get this onto a trailer…

Which brings me to ponder the mindset of people in our town who are trying to sell vehicles missing obviously important components. I guess we should be glad they’re not trying to sell airplanes without wings. 

The sun may be setting on Sunspot…

Sunspot visitor center, with Chester ready to chase resident chipmunks and squirrels

My wife and our dog Chester traveled to Sunspot in the Sacramento Mountains this weekend, hoping to catch some turning aspen leaves. The drive was spectacular but the leaves were not quite ready to show their fall brilliance.

It was a good trip, but a bit sad as well.

Sunspot, which I mentioned in an earlier blog, was established in the late 1940s to observe the sun and in particular to spot massive solar flares which could disrupt communications worldwide. At one point, I was told it had the authority to shut down air transportation around the world if it detected a flare of such magnitude that could temporarily black out radio and navigational instruments. I have not been able to confirm that, but I suspect it did command a lot of authority.

I remember going to Sunspot with my family at the age of about 10 and learning about this high tech facility on our doorstep. We went on a day that was mostly cloudy, so when the sun broke through the clouds, we thought we might get a glimpse of the sun through one of the telescopes. The scientists operating the telescope, however, announced rather huffily that with the brief break in the clouds, he was “very busy” and didn’t have time to allow tourists to peek at the mysteries of the solar surface.

Sadly, only one of the four original solar telescopes is still being used, and much of the work there seems to be for minor research projects under the auspices of New Mexico State University. At its peak, there were almost 150 people stationed at the mountaintop research facility. Now, more powerful and sophisticated telescopes are doing the work, including a new one in Hawaii. Much of Sunspot now seems to be in a state of moderate disrepair.

It’s still worth a trip there to drive through the beautiful forest and view the vast Tularosa Basin from the crest of the Sacramentos. There is a very well done visitor center, with interactive displays and a nice gift shop.

The blog I wrote earlier about Sunspot concerned a mysterious shutdown of the facility, which turned out to be an investigation into unauthorized use of the site’s computers for searches for pornographic materials.  The story briefly stirred a series of conspiracy theories about how some aliens had been spotted by a telescope at the site. I’m sure it was a disappointing ending of the story for conspiracy theorists.

I’m attaching a link to a story which appeared recently in Wired magazine, which discusses both the porn incident and the future options for the facility. One of those options sadly includes complete dismantling of Sunspot and restoration of the area to natural habitat. Returning the site to natural habitat is okay, but I wish there could continue to be research done at this facility. 

https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wired.com%2Fstory%2Fthe-strange-sad-case-of-sunspot-the-empty-astronomy-town%2F&data=04%7C01%7C%7C82957644e96f4d29844108d981bb2e05%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637683463191760008%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C1000&sdata=ob7oPS7ihBJtiP1MhdDuQzY%2F99jfYiDAYbeg8ltQdVQ%3D&reserved=0

 

Burritos acting badly…

Earlier this year, I wrote about an Albuquerque city bus driver who was distracted while munching on a burrito during his route along Central and rear-ended another car.

Earlier this week, we had another incident of a driver under the influence of burrito (DUIB — I think it could be pronounced “dweeb”). 

In this case, it was an Albuquerque city policeman who, while taking a prisoner to the city-county correctional facility,  was captured on his police cruiser’s dash cam driving with his knees on the steering wheel while eating not one, not two but three burritos.

When the incident was first reported, the Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association said it was not a crime to eat a burrito in a police car while on duty. Then the video of steering with knees was released and the burrito incident was apparently topped off with big serving of crow.

Image result for burrito picture art

In all fairness, my daughter once had a friend, who while driving to a concert in Phoenix, took a picture of herself driving with her feet. And I’ve been known to order extremely stupid things to eat while driving — a chili cheese dog for example — which certainly took away a lot of my focus on keeping my car straight while hurtling down the Interstate at 75 miles per hour.  Honestly, a burrito would have been much safer — they’re probably the best choice if you have to eat at the wheel.

All of this got me to thinking about why burritos often seem to invoke funny responses or comments.

I found it humorous last year when our neighborhood Mexican eatery added WiFi and announced to customers that the password was “Burrito 1.”

Free WiFi for burrito lovers

And further down the street, there is a Mexican food carry out place in a convenience store which specializes in burritos. The kitchen offers no less than 81 varieties of burritos. And they have names for everyone of them: “Macho Man,” “Breakfast Bomber,” “Burrito Too Far,” “Jerry Springer” “Junkyard Dog,” “Ultimate Sin” and my favorite, “The Undertaker.”

But in keeping with the oddly humorous nature of burritos, the employees are asked to wear t-shirts that announce “Body By Burrito.”

It only needs to be “good enough” in New Mexico…

Last week, the New Mexico Supreme Court handed down a decision that probably encompasses a lot of attitudes in our state.

The ruling said in essence that if most of your car’s taillights were working, it was “good enough.”

If only one was working, it would be “good enough” in New Mexico

The decision grew out of a case involving a traffic stop by an Albuquerque policeman who cited the driver of a car that had only one of two taillights working on one side of the vehicle. The rest of the car’s taillights were in working order, and according to state law, appeared to be able to pass the test of being visible from 500 feet away. 

The court justice said that New Mexico law only stipulates that certain vehicle equipment be “in good working order.” He said if the vehicle had to be held at standards that were completely free of flaws or defects “it would impose an absurd standard for vehicles on New Mexico roads and highways because it would require that equipment be in perfect condition, beyond a reasonable expectation that equipment functions for its intended use.”

In this particular case, the officer who stopped the vehicle for the suspected taillight violation also found the driver for being under the influence and arrested him. But because the stop was determined to have been illegal, DWI charges against the driver were dismissed.

I think most of us who view the often dilapidated rolling stock on our highways and roads in New Mexico would agree that few, if any, vehicles are in “perfect condition.”

So for those of us who have one or two burned out bulbs in our taillights, or a taillight patched up with duct tape or red cellophane, you can keep driving — knowing that you fully comply with the attitude of only needing to be “good enough” in the Land of Enchantment. 

 

 

A flight plan that hatched, then fell out of the nest…

A New Mexico man’s plan to buy an airplane in Wisconsin in 2018 proved there should have been a little more flight planning than just checking the weather.

The would-be purchaser had asked another man, from Portales, to fly with him to Wisconsin to pick up the aircraft after it was purchased, then fly it back to New Mexico. That’s when the problems began.

Problem No. 1 — The man he had asked to fly the plane did not have a current license (or “certificate” in FAA jargon) to be a pilot.

Problem No. 2 — The plane that was being purchased, a Cessna of some type, was not considered to be airworthy.

Problem No. 3 — One of problems contributing to the plane’s non-airworthy status was that the landing gear was not working properly.

Problem No. 4 — Somewhere over Iowa, the plane’s engine failed and the aircraft was forced to land at a nearby private airport near Waterloo.

Problem No. 5 — The illegal pilot failed to call into the airport declaring that he needed to make an emergency preparation. 

At that point, the FAA got involved. A three-year investigation led to a $5,000 fine and two years probation for the illegal pilot. There was no mention of penalties for the purchaser of the non-airworthy aircraft.

So several thoughts crossed my mind. 

First, how did the purchaser not know or not care that the pilot he had hired to fly his plane didn’t have a license. I imagine the conversation went like this:

          “Can you fly my plane back from Wisconsin?”

          “Well, I don’t have a license to fly a plane, but I once figured out how to drive a John            Deere tractor. I suspect there ain’t much difference between the two.”

And then, why in the world would you ask someone to fly an un-airworthy aircraft several hundred miles. That conservation maybe went like this.

          “The plane’s not airworthy.”

          “That’s okay as long as the dang engine runs and the landing gear works.”

 

My thought is that the plane had a retractable landing gear that was stuck in the down position, but maybe could have folded up on landing.   It apparently held because the plane was reportedly not damaged as a result of the emergency landing. 

I recall one of my flight instructors once telling me that flying is a simple mathematical equation. 

“If the number of landings equal the number of takeoffs, you’ve had a good flight,” he said.

Well, maybe not in this particular case. 

A Cessna Cardinal retracting its landing gear after takeoff — not neccesarily like the one in this story.

They got more than they wished for…

A story in last week’s Albuquerque Journal about Tesla opening a factory outlet in New Mexico led me to reflect on a somewhat similar set of circumstances in the state several years ago. Both involved efforts by trade groups to protect their turf in the Land of Enchantment.

The Tesla outlet, the Journal reported, will be opened on the Nambe Pueblo, just north of Santa Fe. 

The Journal reported that Tesla chose the location, no so much as to be near two upscale New Mexico cities — Santa Fe and Los Alamos — but because they could avoid a restrictive New Mexico law by opening shop on a Native American pueblo. It’s the first such operation on Native American land, according to Tesla officials.

Tesla sells its cars directly to its customers, not through a locally owned franchises, as is the case with most other new car/truck operations. In New Mexico, that was a problem because the New Mexico auto dealers organization had long opposed direct sales by manufacturers to customers, hoping to protect their franchise interest and profitability. 
They also claimed the franchise system led to more local jobs in the state and additional tax revenues. Efforts to change the law to allow direct sales to customers from manufacturers had “repeatedly failed in the (New Mexico) legislature, often amid tense debate,” the Journal said.

So Tesla found a convenient loophole by locating within the boundaries of a tribal nation, circumventing  the state law requiring vehicles to be sold through franchises.  So now, instead of having to drive to Arizona or Colorado where direct vehicle sales are permitted, you can cruise up to the Nambe factory Telsa outlet, pick up something on the lot or drive off in your specially ordered Tesla through  what the company calls “touchless delivery.”

The decision brings to mind the question of whether other such franchise protection measures may be made moot when manufacturers of cars — or other products or services — merely move operations on to any one of many Native American pueblos or reservations in the state in order to circumvent certain state laws. 

What this circumvention reminded me of was a somewhat similar situation regarding sales of beer in New Mexico in the late 1970s and 1980s. The state’s liquor distributors had lobbied for and convinced the legislature to pass the “beer price affirmation law” in 1979 that essentially said beer manufacturers could not charge higher prices for the same product in New Mexico that was charged in other states.  Beer distributors said they were having to pay more for the same 12-ounce bottle or can of beer than distributors in other states. Manufacturers argued that because of the state’s sparse population and expansive geography, it cost more to get its products distributed to all far flung corners of the Land of Enchantment. 

Beer brewers took umbrage at the new law and responded by changing the size of the beer bottles or cans that were sold in New Mexico. By doing so, they were able to claim that the product they sold in the state was unique to the state and not like any other beer sold in the rest of the United States,. As a result, they could charge distributors whatever price they wanted for their uniquely sized beer offering. Anheuser Busch, maker of Budweiser and Michelob, went from the traditional 12-ounche bottle or can of beer to a 10-ounce size and charged essentially the same for what the 12-ounce version had been sold to the distributor. They surreptitiously marketed their beer as “the perfect 10” size, and of course sales cratered. Eventually, the distributing company, which had held the Anheuser-Bush franchise for years in New Mexico, was sold largely due to the fiasco. Other brands increased the size of their product by one-half an an ounce — creating a uniquely sized New Mexico offering — and increased their prices, reducing those distributors’ profits.

The New Mexico beer distributors eventually had to retreat from their stand and the legislature repealed the law. The only winner in the short term were lawyers who lined their pockets as a result of endless lawsuits. Beer drinkers either got less of the frothy brew  for the same amount of money or a tiny bit more for a lot more money.

 

 

No, Chester hasn’t been smoking pot, he’s just high on life in general…

Last Saturday, our excessively affable and energetic Golden Doodle, Chester, encountered a skunk in our back yard.  Although Chester was apparently interested in making a friend, the skunk would have none of it.  Luckily ,Chester didn’t get a full frontal blast on his face — just a glancing blow on his side. 

I had just gone to bed when I smelled an overpowering skunk odor, then spotted Chester quickly trotting around the yard. We hauled him inside to prevent any further encounters with our visiting Pepe le Pew.  Margo quickly found an online remedy for diffusing skunk odor, consisting of baking soda, dish soap and hydrogen peroxide. We had to literally drag Chester into the bathtub where we doused him with the concoction and gave him a good bath. We made him sleep overnight in his kennel so he could dry off without spreading his “perfume” elsewhere in the house.

The next morning, although he was still not happy with me for his forced bath, the odor was much more tolerable.

We had previously scheduled one of his grooming sessions for yesterday and figured that his hair trim and a bath would further reduce the smell.

When I picked him up at the groomer, I was told that they had used a specific shampoo that was good for reducing or eliminating skunk odor. I bought the remaining bit of shampoo that they had used in case we had another encounter in the future. But as I drove home with Chester munching on a treat in the back seat of the truck, I began noticing an odor that I remembered but could not place. 

When I got home with Chester, Margo noticed the odor and also said it was something vaguely familiar. We looked at the shampoo bottle and there was our clue  — it was made with patchouli oil. 

Flowers in his hair and patchouli oil in his fur

Now for you Boomers who were around in the 60s and 70s, the scent of patchouli oil was probably familiar if you happened to be around people who smoked a lot of pot. It was used to cover up the smell of burning cannabis. When you walked into someone’s house or apartment and were overcome by patchouli oil smell or passed someone on a street who reeked of it, you could be pretty certain marijuana had been smoked nearby. Of course, I’m pretty sure that cops at this time were not fooled by this trickery.

So now, it smells like Chester has been experimenting with pot. 

Our son wondered if Chester had started to listen to tunes by the Grateful Dead. Our daughter said her kids wanted to know what Chester smelled like. (I guess we could douse a handkerchief with the shampoo and send it to them, but the Post Office might turn us in as suspected drug dealers.)

Of course, our concern now is that if someone comes into our home or passes us while we walk Chester, they might suspect we have been toking up. 

Hopefully those we encounter with aging Boomer brains will vaguely remember that odor but won’t connect the dots. I hope so. In the meantime, I’m going to fire up some Jimi Hendrix on my I-phone with Chester nearby.  And no, I won’t be smoking pot. 

It was a pretty good question…

During the 1999 New Mexico Legislature, a resolution was proposed to give New Mexico an “official state question.” I remember hearing an interview on National Public Radio with the late Sen. Ben Lujan, father of our current U.S. Senator Ben Ray Lujan, explaining why the question “Red or Green” was important to the state. The rather incredulous interviewer didn’t quite get the significance of how important it is in New Mexico to choose your style of chile when ordering your favorite enchiladas, burrito, juevos rancheros or tostadas.

As far as I can determine, New Mexico is the only state with an “official state question,” and it almost didn’t have one, thanks to then Gov. Gary Johnson.

Johnson tried to kill the idea several times because he felt the legislative effort was frivolous and that the question had “neither merit nor meaning for our taxpayers.”  He eventually gave up on his veto quest. It’s estimated that the questions gets asked at least 200,000 times a day, so it apparently means something to a lot of folks in the Land of Enchantment.

What was interesting is that during the same legislative session, a proposal  was introduced to make a dark blue and green plaid as the official state tartan. The legislature, apparently sensing that the Scottish tartan “had neither merit or meaning” in New Mexico, promptly “kilt” it.

(Okay you can groan now.)

Chile confidential…

Every spring/early summer, the New Mexico State University experimental garden just down the street from our house sells various plants that they have perfected/raised from seed and put in planting containers for sale to the public. This year, I bought three medium heat chile plants and two Big Jim chile plants to put in our raised garden at the side of the house.

We were able to grow corn, basil, cucumbers onions and chile this year in our garden, and it’s has been very successful. Well okay, the corn looked better than last year’s crop, but it wasn’t as “super sweet” as the seed packet said it would be. My Nebraska farm wife says it tasted like “field corn” — that’s the stuff that’s fed to those legendary cattle that sacrifice themselves to make yummy Omaha Steaks. 

But back to the chile. I thought I would only get a few pods from my five chile plants. Boy was I wrong on that. I’ve been harvesting five to six nice pods every day in the last three weeks from the plants. Most have been much smaller than the stuff you buy at chile stands around town, but they’ve all been tasty.

Earlier in August, I purchased several large sacks of mild and Big Jim Heritage chile from our good friends, David and Linda Taylor, to roast in my back yard with my hand-cranked chile roaster. 

Hand cranked fire roasted chiles, powered by Corona Beer

I filled up two drawers of our freezer with the chiles I roasted, thinking I was set for the year. Then my NMSU Ag Research Station plants began exploding and I’ve had to figure out how to cram even more of them in my freezer. 

I’ve been roasting all of these on my regular outdoor barbeque grill. It’s a lot more labor intensive, but somehow more satisfying. Here’s some of the most recent pods I picked and roasted. 

 

One day’s harvest roasting on the grill. Red ones are good for color in your green chile chicken stew and they add a little sweetness.

Pre-K perspectives…

Yeah, I know almost every one of you readers has cute grandkid stories. But bear with me on this one — it’s about what a class of pre-kindergarten kids had to say after one full week in school.

Last week, students in my youngest grandson’s class were learning about each other and the families of the other kids in the pre-K group. At the end of the week, they were asked to list what they loved. The kids’ answers were written on a white board and a picture of the board was sent to the parents.

The answers were pretty funny and touching at the same time.

One said what she loved most was her mother and another said it was her sister. Another said he liked eating breakfast with his brother. Others liked various parts of their body, predictably naming hands  and eyes. One liked her neck and another her ankles. Quite honestly, I can’t think of when I ever thought much about how my ankles looked except perhaps when I twisted one and it became fat and purple.

Our youngest grandson just turned three. When our two older grandsons were about the same age, they all became infatuated with large moving machinery. My oldest loved fire trucks and garbage trucks, our second oldest had a fascination with tractors. Our youngest gets excited about construction vehicles.

So it came as no surprise that what he listed as loving was “excavators.”

A couple of other “loves” were pretty amusing.

Now I’m trying to be sensitive about gender identity, but I thought it amusing that a child named Bernie said his/her/their favorite item was a “senorita dress.” Bernie could be short for Bernadette or Bernard — it doesn’t matter as long as he/she/they feel good about a party dress.

But I can only imagine the chagrin of a mother who read her child’s top thing they loved as “being able to wipe myself.”

Raton is a great place… especially if you’re a bear.

An adult black bear, apparently thinking it needed to cool off during the summer of 2005, wandered into the lobby of a Holiday Inn in Raton. It walked past a terrified front desk clerk, then ambled down the hallway to the swimming pool area.

While taking a dip in the pool, the New Mexico Game and Fish Department was summoned to evict the unauthorized guest and remove it from the premises while paying guests scrambled out of the pool area and huddled in the safety of their room. The bear was relocated to the nearby forest where hopefully it could find suitable swimming accommodations in nearby creeks. 

Eight years later, another Raton area bear discovered that the dumpster behind the town’s Sonic drive-in was an especially easy place to find tasty snacks. Apparently startled when Game and Fish Department officers showed up, the bear scrambled up a nearby power pole and refused any efforts to come down. Eventually the terrified but no longer hungry critter was shot with a tranquilizer gun, tumbled to the ground and was relocated in an area of the forest that was miles away from the nearest junk food outlet.

 

Looking for a swimming pool or a Sonic drive-in.

Growing up in Ruidoso, I had several encounters with black bears in my youth. Most were at a safe distance. We had a bear that raided the garbage can outside our home regularly early in the morning during one summer. We could hear the clanking when it removed the supposedly “bear proof” lid from our garbage can, so we would rush out on our back porch to spot it with a flashlight. The bear would immediately scamper behind a skinny ponderosa pine, thinking its rather large black body would somehow be obscured by the eight-inch diameter trunk. In the morning, it would be my job to go out and clean up the mess left by the bear — an almost daily ritual that summer. 

The scariest incident occurred one summer when I was fishing high up on the north fork of the Ruidoso River. I had come to a crossing on the river, which was obscured by a row of bushes as I approached it. When I turned the corner, there was a black bear on the other side of the river — about 15 feet away. I looked at it and it looked at me with a high degree of fear. Luckily the bear was as scared of me as I was of it. We both beat a hasty retreat in the opposite direction and I never saw it again. I was fortunate it wasn’t a mother bear with a couple of cubs tagging along.