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About the cover


Observe This

Road-trip observations, from Silver City to Ruidoso and back.


As I write this, it is the end of October and I am fresh off of a trip to Roswell and a little ramblin' outdoors, but this time out, I was in my truck and not on my feet.

The purpose of this little foray was so that my Beloved could see her son and grandkids. I was along for the ride and to try to do a little "eyeballing" of the scenery as Jeri drove some of the way; it was a real eye-opener of observations.

The first thing I want to talk about is the price of gasoline along the way. Here in Silver City, it was $3.80 per gallon (I rounded it off) when we departed. I usually fill up on any trip out of town, but a friend had told me that gasoline was 25 cents a gallon cheaper in Deming, so I decided to wait until there.

Trouble was, it wasn't — at least not at the name-brand stations that I passed. In fact, at the Chevron off of I-10, it was 10 cents higher!

So we drove to Cruces, and marveled as the price dropped dramatically; as much as 60 cents per gallon ($3.19) at a Valero station. I use a credit card and so stopped at an Alon (Fina) that was still running at $3.23.

Now, we've all heard the excuse that gas is higher in Silver because it is so far out of the way, but in Ruidoso, which is just as far out of the way, it was 25 cents a gallon cheaper. Alamogordo was 30 cents cheaper and when we arrived in Roswell, it was again down to $3.28, but I figgered it would be there, since the population is around 50,000.

One more gas-price observation: Silver City is the only place where all of the gas prices are virtually the same, no matter the brand! Every other town and countryside, the prices varied, even across corners, and the variation was as much as 10 to 20 cents! And I'm talking only about the "name-brand" stations, not the "generic" ones.


While I'm pickin' on Silver City, I have one more negative observation: The signs advertising our fair town all say, "A great place for birding, hiking and biking." But not one mention of the "other sports," hunting and fishing — yet we claim to be the gateway to the Gila, and what is the Gila known for? Hunting and fishing!

I know, I know, these sports are considered "politically incorrect," but a heck of a lot of folks still participate in them. I guess those "antis" are squeakin' a might louder than the rest of us and getting all of the grease.

But it's a dang shame because the Game & Fish folks spent an awful lot of coin to establish a Gila trout fishery here. And dare I mention that Gila elk are considered some of the best hunting in the West?

Yet the "powers-that-be" feel compelled to slight and even ignore these two fine and popular pastimes.

On the positive side of the ledger, as we entered home once again and came over the last hill, I remarked to Jeri that Silver is still one of prettiest mountain towns that I have yet seen and I'm proud and happy to live here. I never tire of seeing her.

Only Ruidoso rivaled Silver in beauty on this trip, and it was partially lackluster because of the recent fire.


I will admit, though, that I find other places more appealing, but none are towns or cities — they are countrysides, and one of them is the lower Hondo Valley, below Ruidoso.

Its scarce population, beauty and remoteness make it, to me, a very desirable place to reside. Who knows? Maybe when Jeri retires, or some reader leaves me a million bucks (hint, hint), we will decide to move there!

On this trip, I was especially wanting to observe wildlife, and I was extremely disappointed. The only deer I saw was as we were returning and on our own ridge above the house. The only antelope that we saw were south of Hurley, both coming and going, about 30 in all.

The area around Roswell is known for goats, but we saw nary a one. In the Hondo, I did see about two-dozen Rio Grande turkeys; one flock was on a particular piece of property that was for sale. Hmmm?

I also saw one fox squirrel that was two houses down from my son's. An interesting aside: The fox squirrel is not native to Roswell, but was introduced by sportsmen in the 1960s and is now recognized as legal game.

Along those same lines, the Rio turkeys are not native to the Hondo Valley, but were illegally introduced to the area by well-known state senator Robert P. Anderson, who owned the vast ranch there. That too, was in the 1960s. (He also brought in Barbary sheep.)

Speaking of politicians, Jeri made an interesting observation in Roswell; in fact, from Ruidoso to Roswell, there was not one Obama or Democratic political sign. All the signs were touting one Republican or another — I venture to guess because those people are strong supporters of oil and gas exploration, while the current administration is not, to any great extent (my opinion, as I said).


We also saw only two state cops and two county cops the entire trip; I thought that was unusual. And on this trip, as well as the past dozen through the Apache reservation, we have yet to see a reservation cop. I suspect that they keep a low profile and are less eager to arrest speeders going to and from the casinos. And there's one heck of a lot of folks going to such establishments!

Speaking of which, I noted that the Apache casino at Akela had but two tractor-trailers and three autos, and how many of the latter were owned by employees? Not good, not good.

I also watched the weather on this trip, or specifically the temperatures. It was a pleasant mid-70s when we left and came home to Silver, while both ways in Cruces the temp was in the low 80s. The daily highs in Roswell were in the high 80s, and midday on Apache Summit was a brisk mid-60s both ways. Fall had truly arrived there! Indeed, the leaves in the Hondo were turning a vivid red-burnt-orange that covered the highway.

The bare forest around Ruidoso from the recent fire was a shock to me; I hadn't realized how close that blaze came to destroying the town! One mobile home on a hill had the fire scar on three sides, but fire never touched the place; angels were certainly working there!

One last note on the same subject that I opened this column with and that is gasoline. As I said, I filled up with Alon (formerly Fina) in Cruces and "Truck" achieved a whopping 23 miles per gallon and that included going up and over Apache Summit. Only once ever in four years did I have a better average (23.5). The rest of the trip, Truck achieved 18 to 21 mpg on Shell and 66 gas. Not too shabby for a 4WD sport-trac Ford!

As always, keep the sun forever at your back, the wind forever in your face, and may The Forever God bless you too!



When not Ramblin' Outdoors, Larry Lightner lives in Silver City.

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