Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cloudcroft - Continued

That evening Dustin and I spent some time visiting with Eve. She owns the property where Dustin keeps Emme and CW. Eve is a wonderful person to talk to. She is in her 80’s and was recovering from recent hip surgery. She talked to us about a lot of things in the Cloudcroft area. She had moved there in the 50’s, saying that as soon as she saw it she knew that was where she wanted to live from then on. I hope I will be doing as well as she is when I am her age.

The next day I went with Dustin to visit more of Cloudcroft and the surrounding area.
In the late 1800’s lumberjacks were logging the area around what is now Cloudcroft, and a railroad was built to take the logs down the mountain. Soon the hotels, gift shops, and restraints were built to accommodate the tourists that were finding Cloudcroft a great place to visit.

We played tourist and went to many of the little gift shops along the main street of town. You can walk on the boardwalk there and sometimes watch artists hard at work. Then we had lunch at a cafĂ©, and then on to the gift shops in the huge lodge near the golf course. The Lodge has a spa, as well as fine dining, and a live in ghost, named Rebecca. I didn’t see her but some people say they do. It was there that I bought a postcard to mail to my sister in Oregon and a necklace as a high school graduation gift for my niece. I didn’t get much on my shopping trip but it was fun. Most of my souvenirs are always the ton of photos I take everywhere I go.

It is a wonderful place to visit, but you need to remember that it is at about the 9000-foot elevation, which can cause some people problems. If nothing else you may find climbing in elevation can cause you shortness of breath and to want to sleep quite a bit until you become used to the change. But the climb to Cloudcroft is well worth it. The area is covered in tall, stately spruce and ponderosa pine trees as well as aspen and oak. Even in mid-May it was still cool enough that we needed our jackets and the oak hadn’t leafed out yet. The grass was green and a few wildflowers where just starting to peak out. I knew that within a few weeks there would be wildflowers everywhere you wanted to look. Since we were driving the Jeep, Dustin and I took one side trip down a dirt road meant only for 4-wheel-drive vehicles. It was rough but gave us a great look at the true wild life of the Sacramento Mountains. Not only did we see the trees and plant life but we saw several elk. It would be a great place to go hiking. We saw some patches of snow left in shady spots and remembered that Cloudcroft is a great winter playground for skiers, and snowmobiling.

While we were out we saw the turnoff to Sunspot, NM. It sits on Sacramento Peck, a high moutain, a few miles from Cloudcroft. I had never heard of it. After doing some checking I sure wished we had gone there. Sunspot is an astronomy center. It is well regarded as having one of the most air pollutant free places in the United States. There is a big visitors center and you can look through some of the impressive telescopes and see the stars. I will certainly go there the next time I visit Cloudcroft.

That evening we went to feed Emme and CW and there were three deer in the field with them. I had seen six deer along the road near the ski resort when I had first got to Cloudcroft. Dustin told me of several big, bull elk that had hung around the ranch all winter. There is much more wild life there including raccoons, skunk, bobcat, bears, squirrels, and rabbits. I saw a red-tailed hawk floating over the ranch one afternoon as he tried to spot a mouse or mole in a field.

I took many photos of all the beautiful horses at the ranch. All together I think there were about twenty-five horses there. The babies were so cute and precious, the yearlings adorable, and the stallions were stunning. Dustin took the time to groom Arte, and then worked with him in the round pen for a bit, letting him run, buck, and play.

To my great disappointment no other foals were born while I was there. On the last day I watched as Dustin and the ranch manager brought in first one Saddlebred stallion and then the other to collect semen from them that was to be shipped next-day-delivery to mares in states far away for artificial insemination. After that the local veterinarian came by to do an ultrasound on one of the mares that had recently foaled to see if she was ready to breed again. She was, so some of the semen that had just been collected from a stallion was used to inseminate her so she would have a baby about 11 months from then. That is how long it takes horses to have their babies. Many horse breeders are using the artificial insemination process with their horses because it is so much safer for both the mare and the stallion.

I didn’t want to leave the mountain hideout that I had found but knew I must so early one morning I left for the low country. I followed the same route back to Albuquerque and wasn’t disappointed in the sights even though I now felt familiar with them as I went from high mountain country to low desert. It was all beautiful. I plan on going there again soon.

If you are interested in learning more about Cloudcroft and the other towns I have mentioned you can visit these websites.

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