Desert Exposure June 2014 Ramblin' Outdoors


Another Desert
Jean Chandanais Bohlender paints Americans in Afghanistan

Super New Mexico
From the Hulk to Aqualad, ground zerofor memorable comic book characters

Back to School
Turning 65, time to tackle college algebra again

Learning the Ropes
Photographing NMSU's "rodeo school"

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Southwest Gardener
Henry Lightcap's Journal
100 Hikes
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Ramblin' Outdoors
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Continental Divide

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Red or Green

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Designing an Ecosystem

About the cover


Being a Cheerleader

Why it's hard to beat our corner of the Southwest.


Have you ever stopped to ponder and cogitate over how good we have it here in the greater Southwest? The other day I did just that.

The news has been full of all sorts of natural disasters that are plaguing the rest of the country. Last winter was one of the worst on record for cold and snow in the upper Midwest, the northeast and even the deep South.

By comparison, in the 26 years that I have resided here in Grant County, this past winter was the mildest and best I've seen. I can recall only one day where the daytime high was below 35 degrees. Most days were between the upper 40s and the low 60s.

Every other year, at our house, we experience thermometer readings on one to four nights in the single digits; this year it never dropped below the high teens.

For the first time ever, I was able to ride my mountain bike every week since last July — it was that nice out (at least to Yours Truly).

I remember when we moved here, cold turkey, back in the late 1980s. Soon after, the National Weather Service stated that Silver City had the best all-around climate of anywhere in the US. That was an affirmation that we had made the right choice!

Yeah, there are naysayers who will see only a half-empty glass. They'll tell you that we need rain; that it's too dry; that the spring winds are unbearable. But I've come around to seeing a half-full glass for my own self and have seen the benefits of thanking my Forever God for how He has blessed us.

I cogitate over the facts that we don't ever suffer from hurricanes, earthquakes of any noticeable magnitudes, area-wide floods, killer tornadoes, record snowstorms, or the threat of some mountain or cauldron blowing its lid off.

When's the last time some resident worried about a mudslide or sinkhole taking their home out?

Sure, we do get wildfires, and that is a legitimate threat for some, but even that threat is minimal compared to California. We just ain't in the same league that they are.

Because of all of our plusses, you and I can enjoy just about any outdoor activity that we can come up with, and do it year-round. There are not too many other geographic places that can make that claim.


Oh, the first half-decade or so after the Missus and I moved here, we did endeavor to look at other places, seeking still greener pastures, from our old home of California (before we moved to Pennsylvania) to the state of Missouri.

We really like Julian, northwest of San Diego, up in the forested mountains, but the politics of southern California is just too much for us. I can see why northern California has wanted to be its own state for the last 30 years!

We really like Springerville to our north, in Arizona — a beautiful spot, but it's just too danged cold there to suit our old bones. That's why we left Pennsylvania!

To the southwest or more westerly are the hamlets of Willcox and Benson. I like their locations and small size a bunch, but the politics of the larger cities again ruin them for the same reason; all of the southern Californians have moved there and their influence is substantial, especially when it comes to hunting and guns. Why do you think that we are inundated by Arizonians every fall and spring?

In the late 1990s, I hunted a lot in the hill country of Texas. I like that area a lot, and looked hard at moving there, but they have their pitfalls not to my liking: no public lands to play in, rattlesnakes as big as boa constrictors (well, almost anyway — I hate rattlesnakes!), big spiders, ticks and other crawlies, and humidity that is all but unbearable. Hey, 5%-15% humidity does tend to spoil one here.

And then there was Missouri. Every time we drove through it and saw all of those abandoned farmlands in the 1990s, I coveted buying a farm there. Now those same farms are bringing big bucks. I couldn't imagine what a 50-year-old at the time would do for a living in the rural country, though. Plus they get killer tornadoes, flooded lands, humidity and very, very cold temperatures. No way!

So after a period of time, we decided that Silver City looked pretty danged great, and that was the end of looking for greener pastures.


On another note, our northern neighbor, Colorado, doesn't look too good to me right now. Andy Barrie and his wife live in Breckinridge in Summit County; it seems they have been battling the county for many years and dollars now because the county wants to declare "right of eminent domain" over one of their vacation properties, which is supposedly quite charming with a neat little rustic cabin.

They lost out, ran out of money, and had to "settle" on what the county wanted to give them and were actually forced to sell their property.

Now, I'm not a Libertarian when it comes to the view that all lands should be privatized; you and I need lands to play on. But I do agree with the Libertarians that private land today should remain in the hands of those who own it, unless they CHOOSE to sell it to the government.

By the way, when we talk about the government owning so much land, guess what? That is you and I who actually own that land through our taxes!

But that is another rabbit to chase — back to the issue at hand. This land-grab smacks very closely to the old Earth First! idea of "Sky Islands" that would be set aside for wildlife use and not for humans, and those corridors from Mexico to Canada to unite those "islands."

Thank the Almighty that we don't have that problem here! (Yet!)

Along the same lines, this past March the good ol' Environmental Protection Agency attempted to institute a land-grab of its own concerning authority over more streams and wetlands, and this could very well affect folks here in New Mexico.

The agency has proposed a change in the Clean Water Act that would give it authority over TEMPORARY wetlands and streambeds. That act could conceivably be extended to seasonal ponds, tanks, streambeds and ditches on private lands!

The agency would then be empowered to come onto your property and mine and tell us what we can and cannot do. That smacks of Big Brother to me.

By the way, in 2001 and 2006 the Supreme Court ruled that the fed's authority was only "relatively" permanent on continuously flowing and sizeable waters like oceans, rivers, lakes and constant streams. But what does "relatively" mean?

This last note is something: States are making laws to prohibit the use of DRONES for hunting. Say what? It seems some unscrupulous hunters are using drones to find game and direct hunters to it. In New Mexico both hunter groups and animal rightists are joining forces, petitioning lawmakers to outlaw such a practice; I agree wholeheartedly.

New Mexico already outlawed the use of airplanes to fly over and find game for hunters on the ground, so there is a good chance the drones will be outlawed, too.

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 happily in Silver City.


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