Summer 2021 Tour Ruidoso, New Mexico, Episode 2: Billy the Kid, Fort Stanton, and Lincoln

One day we took Billy the Kid Trail to Capitan, Fort Stanton, and the Village of Lincoln

Smokey Bear Historical Park

We missed seeing the Hubbard Museum, but were lucky to find the Smokey Bear Historical Park open for business in the Village of Capitan. The Historical Park contains a museum with various fire prevention displays, Smokey Bear memorabilia and trinkets to purchase, and a garden filled with native trees, plants, and flowers.

Smokey Bear memorabilia
Available for purchase
Firefighting displays
Photo of CCC crew. The first time I saw this photo, the guy leaning off the stake bed truck in the far right center drew my attention. He brought the picture to life for me.

After wandering through the museum, we headed out back to the shady garden where they buried Smokey Bear and where little plaques identify plants and trees and flowers.

Tiny cactus
Cactus bloom
Image of Smokey as a cub in the garden
Firefighter memorial
JT poses with Smokey

Here are a few Smokey Bear fun facts we learned:

  • While fighting a fire in the Capitan Mountains, a group of soldiers from Ft. Bliss, Texas, found a badly burned bear cub clinging to a charred tree on May 9, 1950.
  • Ray Bell, a New Mexico game warden, flew the injured five-pound cub to Santa Fe where veterinarian Dr. Ed Smith treated him.
  • Ray Bell’s wife and daughter, Ruth and Judy, helped nurse the cub back to health.
  • An article written by Dorothy Guck, a Lincoln County newspaper reporter, and photographs taken by Harold Walter brought national attention to the plight of Hotfoot Teddy, Smokey’s original name.
  • A formal fire prevention campaign began in 1942 by the USDA-Forest Service, adopting a bear as its symbol in 1944 and the message “Remember . . . Only YOU can prevent forest fires” in 1947.
  • Once recovered, Hotfoot Teddy became Smokey and sent to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., becoming the “living symbol” of fire prevention.
  • The Secretary of Agriculture controls the image of Smokey, which has allowed the collection of millions in royalties for forest fire prevention education efforts, including the Junior Ranger Program.
  • Smokey had received so much fan mail by 1965 the postal service gave him zip code, just like the President of the United States.
  • Smokey Bear was buried at the historical park, as is the original 1993 Smokey Bear Balloon, which was destroyed during a flight on October 10, 2004.

The message “Remember . . . Only YOU can prevent forest fires” must have worked on me all these years because whenever I’m near a forest, those words pop into my thoughts. In April 2001, the slogan was updated to “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.” I think the shorter version has more punch.

Fort Stanton

We said goodbye to Smokey and headed down the road to Fort Stanton. Fort Stanton is one of seven New Mexico Historic Sites and is managed by the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Main Museum and Visitor Center, originally constructed of local stone in 1855 and used as barracks for enlisted soldiers. Extensive remodel occurred during the hospital years and used as an administration building.

Founded as a military fort in 1855, it served a number of functions during the past 166 years including a tubercular hospital, Civilian Conservation Corps camp, state hospital, drug rehab, correctional facility, and since 2001, a living history museum.

The colors on the jackets symbolize the rank. Not sure which color goes with which rank.

There are 25 locations or buildings surrounding or near the parade grounds, nine of which are open to the public. The open buildings we went in contained equipment and furniture of the times along with information posters and signs detailing the history and people that worked there.

Photos and historic stories
Saddle and photo room inside visitor center
Parade grounds
Originally built in 1883 as a duplex to house two officers and their families. It’s now used by the Bureau of Land Management.
Fort Stanton Marine Hospital built in 1936 for up to 85 tubercular patients. Doctors were also tubercular patients.
Period furniture and equipment occupy the hospital rooms
X-ray machine in an exam room
A dentist office.

I lost interest in the buildings when grazing horses appeared on the parade grounds, and I set out photographing them instead of browsing inside buildings. I seem to remember that hunger was also a factor that kept us from exploring the fort in more detail.

One of the grazing horses
This building, built in 1855 as a single story building, was used for Fort Administration. During hospital years, it became the amusement building, with a general store, telephone exchange, post office, and a theater.

Lincoln Historic Site

Settled in 1849, the village of Lincoln became the county seat when Lincoln County was established in 1869. Except for the paved main street, the town has preserved the look and feel from the late 1800s, with a few alterations. The site boasts 17 territorial-style adobe structures and outbuildings, 6 of which are open for touring (4 opened yearly and 2 seasonally).

Built in the 1850s, the thick walls of the Torreon (the keep) protected Spanish Americans from the Apaches. The Murphy-Dolan group stationed sharpshooters in the structure during the Lincoln County War.

So what is so special about Lincoln that earned the entire town as a New Mexico historic site designation?

The Lincoln War

In the early years of New Mexico Territory, range wars were common occurrences that pit one group of cattle ranchers against another or three or four. The Lincoln War, however, turned out to be one of the deadliest waged by both respectable and criminal types alike.

The saga is filled with a cast of characters with greed in their hearts, guns in their holsters, and in their minds, murder.

The Covento building, built in 1868 as a flat-roofed adobe building was used as a saloon, dance hall, community center, a county court, and a local parish of the Roman Catholic Church.

Instead of filling this post with a doctoral thesis on the Lincoln War, I present an extremely short synopsis.

Inside a portion shows the Covento as a courthouse.

Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan enjoyed an economic and political monopoly over the Lincoln area after procuring lucrative federal contracts to supply Fort Stanton and reservations nearby. They enjoyed the fruits of those contracts until November 1876. That’s when John Tunstall came to town with cattle rancher John Chisum and attorney Alexander McSween. They were intent on upsetting the monopoly by establishing a ranch, store, and bank to compete with Murphy-Dolan.

Additional displays tell stories about historic events or people. These panels tell the story of the Horrell War, which also resulted in numerous deaths.

Sides were drawn, gangs were formed, harassment and cattle rustling ensued, killings occurred, which led to more killings. Tunstall’s group formed the Regulators and Billy the Kid joined them. The Regulators and the Sheriff’s posse battle it out a few times and more men die.

San Juan Mission building

Then came the Battle of Lincoln. The Murphy-Dolan faction surrounded the Regulators in Lincoln on July 15, 1878. For the next three days, gunfire rang out in the town, along with a volley of taunts and shouts. The US Army troops arrived, pointed cannons at the Regulators, causing many of them to flee.

Inside the San Juan Mission building

The conflict culminated on July 19 when the Murphy-Dolan group set the McSween house on fire where McSween, two women and five children, Billy the Kid, and other Regulators were holed up. The women and children were allowed to leave, and the fighting continued until the Regulators fled. Some of them were gunned down during their escape. Billy the Kid escaped unscathed.

We missed seeing the Tunstall Store Museum as it was closed.

Not much resulted from the war other than the killing of at least nineteen men. The new governor of the territory declared amnesty for the remaining individuals involved in the war. As it turned out, the governor did not include Billy the Kid in the declaration. Sheriff Pat Garrett and his posse tracked Billy and two of his compadres, killing all of them in July 1881.

Old Dolan House. A sign out front advertises it as a B&B, yet it was closed during our visit.

One might say the person who benefited from the war was Susan McSween, Alexander McSween’s wife. She amassed a large amount of ranch holdings that averaged between 3,000 and 5,000 head of cattle and became known as the Cattle Queen of New Mexico. She died on January 3, 1931, at 85 years old.

After reading article after article and falling into research rabbit holes, I’m still debating who was respectable and who was criminal. Both sides engaged in a deadly game of tit for tat, so it’s hard to tell. Maybe the Old West definition of justice meant something totally different from how it’s defined today. Or maybe it is the same, minus all the killing. Or maybe I just have a Pollyannaish sensibility, looking for the good guy where one does not exist.

Up next: We stretch our legs on a hike, visit a ghost town, and stumble upon a surprise.

Safe Travels

Summer 2021 Tour Ruidoso, New Mexico Episode 1: We roast in Tucson and arrive in Ruidoso

We left the cool San Diego breezes for the furnace of Tucson, where temps reached 115 degrees or more. Tucson/Lazydays KOA Resort was our stop to split up the 12-hour drive to Ruidoso. It was 6:30 pm when we arrived. About an hour later, Jon walked in the door and sat down. Seconds later someone knocked on the door. It was the security guard who had showed us to our site. He said management wanted us to move.

What? No!

A regular guest wanted our site because it had a tree, and they were staying until October. Really? The tree was a scrawny little thing, and the site was one of several that had a cover for shade. Jon talked the manager out of his crazy idea and averted a heatstroke.

The next day we washed clothes, cleaned house, and stayed cool in the air conditioned trailer. We ended the day with an early dinner at Obon Sushi + Bar + Ramen, a place we had eaten before and highly recommend.

While walking back to the truck, I captured a few murals we saw in an alley and a couple of buildings. It’s never too hot to snap a few photos.

Rialto, California, is where I grew up, so whenever I see the name, I have to take a photo. Wikipedia lists 22 theaters named Rialto across the United States.
Mural found in the alley next to the theater
Love the images and colors in this one
3D Effect

On Thursday, June 17, 2021, we drove the final 6 hours to RV Resort of Ruidoso, New Mexico. The location of our site could not have been better. The park is terraced, and our site was below one site and above another so that we did not feel crammed together. The bonus was that we only had neighbors on the weekend. Compared to all the other sites in the park, I think ours was the best.

RV Resort of Ruidoso campsite.
View from our picnic table

We jumped at the chance to have Bailey’s mother and step-father show us around town. This helped us get our bearings and see where everything was located. The gracious company and our lunch at Oso Grill in Capitan was the highlight. Thanks Dale and Dorothy.

Good eats at Oso Grill in Capitan

On Saturday, we headed to the Hubbard Museum of the American West. Sadly, it had not reopened after its pandemic closure, so we admired the statuary outside.

The empty parking was a sign the museum was closed.

I had seen the galloping horses from the street when we were driving around the day before and wanted to see them up close.

The breeds represented are Standard, Thoroughbred, Quarter horse, Appaloosa, Paint, Arabian, and Morgan.

The Free Spirits at Noisy Water are a collection of eight bronze horse sculptures created by Dave McGary who is known for his realistic and colorful portrayals of Native Americans.

It’s hard to believe the tail and mane are made of bronze too.

The horses appear to jump and gallop, their muscles taut, manes and tails flowing. I was amazed to learn that the eight horses weigh 3,000-5,000 pounds each and are supported and balanced by only nine hooves.

It’s unbelievable the foal galloping next to its mother has all four hooves off the ground.

Plaques detail information on each of the seven breeds represented. The distance from the leaping horse at the top of the hill to these two out front spans 255 feet.

McGary was a master working with bronze

After capturing the photos of the horses, we walked across the street to see if Billy the Kid Scenic Byway Visitor Center was open.

Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway Visitor Center

We picked up maps and pamphlets and wandered around the museum. Billy the Kid (born Henry McCarty and also known as William H. Bonney, Henry Antrim, and Kid Antrim) was a busy guy in Lincoln County. He left a trail of so many historical spots where he committed crimes, where he was jailed, or where he hid out from the lawmen, that he rates a National Scenic Byway. The roads connect the dots between Ruidoso, Capitan, Fort Stanton, Lincoln, and Ruidoso Downs along Highways 48, 380, 230, and 70.

Billy the innocent?

With all the attention Billy gets in this area, you’d think he was a national hero, not an outlaw and murderer. I guess notoriety, no matter what kind, is something to commemorate.

Visitors can learn about many of Billy’s escapades, including his role in the Lincoln County Wars, from the displays.

Billy says, “Learn more about me in Lincoln. I’ll see you there.”

We’ll share a few more tidbits about Billy the Kid in future episodes.

Interested in extraterrestrials? They’re featured here to give a shout out to Roswell.

Extraterrestrials are also featured. Roswell is only 75 miles away.

Smokey the Bear is another popular guy in Lincoln County with a museum dedicated to his life and memory in the Village of Capitan.

Don’t forget the photo op with Smokey.

The Village of Ruidoso is in Lincoln County and next to the Lincoln National Forest. It had a population of approximately 8,000 in 2019 and sits at an elevation of 6,920 feet (2,051 meters). Ruidoso is a popular destination for the ski resorts in the winter. The rest of the year, the village and surrounding area offers lake and river fishing, hiking, exploring local history, and horse racing at Ruidoso Downs.

Artist: Michael Fish

Next we drove to Midtown Ruidoso to check out the independent stores and eateries. We didn’t stay long. With so many out-of-town visitors, it was difficult to find parking and hard to walk on the sidewalk with the families and friends taking up the entire width.

Avoid the crowds on Saturday

We found a much calmer atmosphere when we came back early in the morning one day during the week. With no crowds and few people, I had fun photographing the murals that graced many of the buildings. The Midtown Association funded the public art project, creating a fun outing for photographers and for people who share on social media.

Artist: Jeff Hayes
Artist: Trish Wade
Artisits: Logan Flerity, James Flores, and JB Heard
Artisit: Michael Fish
Artist: M. Rabourn
Artist: Trish Wade

While taking the mural photos, I came across this Citizens Bank building. I sure would like to know why that little wooden door is there.

Little Wooden Door

Another curiosity were the antique vehicles out front of Rusty Balls Speed Shop.

That moving van is going nowhere.

And the final spot in this post goes to the Ruidoso Fire Department’s community-built Wall of Courage mosaic monument. The monument measures twenty by seventy-five feet.

Wall of Courage, Brian Sarinova, designer and lead artist

Stay tuned for more episodes covering our week in Ruidoso.

Safe Travels

Summer 2021 Tour San Diego, California Episode 3: Valle de Guadalupe, B.C., Mexico

We’re back with our last episode of San Diego, California. Lack of WiFi and data service kept us offline for several weeks. Then my laptop needed an update to connect via WiFi. Now that we’re home, we can continue with our regular blog schedule. In this episode, we visit Valle de Guadalupe, B.C. Mexico and look at the construction taking place at the old Jack Murphy Stadium.

A Wine Tasting Tour in Baja? What about COVID? We heard Mexico’s protocols were more stringent than those in the United States. They continued with social distancing and wearing of masks, whether vaccinated or not, except for drinking and eating, making us feel comfortable and safe.

On Saturday, June 12, 2021, Kevin, Bailey, Jon and I crossed the border at Tijuana as foreign pedestrians. After crossing to the Mexico side, we met Jaime, our tour guide for the day. Bailey served as our interpreter since the rest of us Gringos only spoke English.

Border Crossing in Tijuana

It was a scenic one and a half hour drive. As we passed Rosarito Beach Hotel, Jon and I laughed as we remembered the hotel when we visited in 1975 or 76. Our accommodations were not in the multi-story building we had just driven past. Instead, the “hotel” was composed of a few rows of single-story manufactured buildings with maybe four or six rooms per unit. I’m sure the bed was lumpy, the linen suspect, and unless my memory is faulty, a shared bathroom was involved. My, how things have changed over the past 47 years.

The landscape had also changed with the added freeway and toll roads and the amount of growth south of Tijuana and into Ensenada. Nothing was like we remembered.

When we turned off and headed east into Valle de Guadalupe, it was as if we were driving into Sonoma or Napa, California. Vineyards blanketed the bowl-like valley below brownish hills. One notable difference was the sparseness of paved roads. Although the main roads were paved, dirt roads usually led the way to the wineries.

Our first stop was at Sol Y Barro, which translates to sun and mud. It’s the sun and mud, or soil, that makes the wine, or so our server told us. We liked the winery for its comfortable rustic atmosphere amid the vineyard. Nothing fancy there, just good tasting wine and friendly service.

Sol Y Barro Entrance
Sol Y Barro Building
View from our table

The second stop was supposed to include lunch. When our guide pulled into the parking lot and saw five tour buses sitting there waiting for their passengers, he chose a different winery instead. That was fine with us. We weren’t ready to get up close and personal with a bunch of people we didn’t know, even if our stomachs were growling.

Our guide had arranged a tour at Baron Balch’e followed by a tasting. The winery tour guide told us about the wine-making process while escorting us through the steel vats, barrel room, and bottle room. It shocked me to learn they use egg whites (1 to 2.5 egg whites to 60 gallons of wine) during the process. The egg whites contain albumen which reduces harsh astringent tannins. I had never heard of that before.

Stainless Steel Fermentation Tanks
Our tour guide explains the process.
Barrel Room
The mural depicts the different stages of growing grapes
The Bottle Room
check out the post and ceiling in the winery gift shop
A little smooch to go with our tasting

Our final stop was at El Cielo Winery. Food at last. Was it our hunger, or was the Baja-Yucatan fusion cuisine really that delicious? I’ll give all the props to the chef at Latitude 32 for his inspired dishes. With our bellies full, we proceeded to another round of fine wine tasting and entertainment by the resident peacock that wandered through the tables and delighted the guests.

The restaurant is on the right and wine tasting on the left
Or, choose a table on the lawn and order from the Smoke Kitchen
Bailey’s iPhone captured this view from the restaurant
Step right up for stomping photos
Wine tasting patio with fireplace
Oh, hello there.
Mr. Peacock poses with Bailey
Kevin poses with Mr. Peacock
I couldn’t resist a closeup of his shimmering colors.
Jon’s feeling no pain
Vineyard and hills
Drink up. It’s time to go

We let Jaime do the driving back to the border. We were all tired, a bit tipsy, and wanted to get home. But first we had to navigate a line to meet with the border agent and reenter the United States. Our day trip to Valle Guadalupe was a great adventure even if we were all wiped out from the wine, food, and long drive back. Next time, it would be fun to stay overnight.

San Ysidro Port of Entry

Before I wrap up the San Diego series of our Summer 2021 Tour, I want to take one last look at San Diego Stadium (also known as Jack Murphy Stadium (1981-1996), Qualcomm (1997-2017), and SDCCU (2018-2020). The stadium sat for decades at the foot of Mission Village Dr. on Friars Road where the Chargers played their first game on August 20, 1967.

Stadium gate

Instead of a concrete structure, we saw piles of dirt, work trucks, and equipment preparing the acreage for its new life.

Piles of dirt have replaced the concrete structure

Although the stadium is gone, college football, other sports, and events will continue at the site when San Diego State University completes the new stadium. Besides a new stadium, the $3.5 billion project will include housing, office and retail, hotels, 80 acres of parks and open space, and a 34-acre river park on city property. These amenities are expected to roll out over the next 8-10 years.

The stadium trolley station is temporarily closed until construction completion.

It was sad to look at the rubble that was once the stadium and parking lot. However, after learning about all that will replace the aging Jack Murphy Stadium, I can see the benefit of letting go of the past and looking toward the future.

Cranes lift steel girders in place on a new building

I finished taking photos of the construction site, and then we went to The Original Pancake House for breakfast. We arrived early enough so that we only had about a 10-minute wait for a table. My mouth waters just thinking about the apple waffle with apple syrup I had and Jon’s pecan pancakes and side of sausage looked pretty good too.

Great breakfast place in San Diego

Next up: All appeared clear for travel in New Mexico, so we pointed the truck east toward Ruidoso.

Safe Travels

Summer 2021 Tour San Diego, California Episode 2: We take a hike at Torrey Pines State Park and Reserve and Explore Local Beach Scenes and the Bay

A hike or two is always on our itinerary when we visit the San Diego area, and this trip was no exception. We parked at Torrey Pines State Beach and joined other hikers up the steep road. At the top of the hill, we walked past the visitor center, restrooms, and drinking water toward the trail that leads through a portion of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve’s southern maritime chaparral.

Visitor center
Time for a rest, water, and inbox check. Bailey, Kevin and Jon.
View of the chaparral and ocean from the trail

The chaparral supports a variety of plant life. We followed the Razor Point Loop and Beach trails, walked out to either Razor Point or Yucca Point (I’m not sure which), and admired the views of the beach below and the ocean beyond when we stopped at various viewpoints.

Prickly pear blossom
People enjoying the beach at the foot of the stairs
Beachcombers gather around and on Flatrock

Sets of stairs led the way down to the beach. It was low tide, so we didn’t have to worry about climbing over rocks and dodging waves to return to the parking lot, which we had to do a few years ago. Instead, we had a leisurely walk back to the car.

Lunch was in order after our trek, so we piled into the car and drove to Del Mar. Bailey recommended Poseidon, and we couldn’t have been happier about our choices and, due to the late hour, our lunch turned into dinner.

Hungry for seafood? Head to Poseidon. With outdoor seating overlooking the ocean, it’s a favorite place.
View of Del Mar beach looking south
Del Mar beach looking north
Check out the detail on this sand castle.
Flowers along the walking path in Del Mar
Purple and yellow is a good color combo in nature

Imperial Beach was another town we explored this trip, not so much the town itself, but for the beer at Mike Hess and tacos served up by City Tacos.

Mike Hess Brewing
San Diego’s mild weather is perfect for outdoor seating.
Kevin and Jon enjoy their beers and conversation while I sneak away to take photos.

We also drove around town gawking at different houses and condos. Some of the properties showed off their pride of ownership. Other condos and houses were undergoing needed renovation work, while others waited for someone to repair the damage caused by the harsh beach air.

Art in the Park at Imperial Beach

In my last post on Chula Vista, I incorrectly identified the photo below as a Chula Vista building. It is actually in Imperial Beach, next door to Doggos Gus. A restaurant dedicated to serving up bacon-wrapped hot dogs with Mexican style toppings. They also serve burgers and have a vege option.

Please, someone rescue this building.
Imperial Beach with San Diego skyline at the horizon
Visit Tin Fish Restaurant at the end of Imperial Beach Pier for fish and chips and lobster rolls

On another day, we started at Liberty Station in Point Loma and walked to Harbor Island. At Liberty Station we passed by art galleries and museums, shops, restaurants, and various businesses.

Visions Art Museum exhibits works of art by quilt and textiles artists
Veltz Fine Art specializes in one-of-a-kind sculpture surfaces inspired by nature

Kevin treated us to beignets from a stand at Liberty Public Market. They were yummy and reminded me of the beignets Jon and I ate with our coffee and chicory at the Café du Monde in New Orleans years ago.

Liberty Public Market seating area

Children climbed on the playgrounds, and families and friends gathered for picnics and celebrations at the park.

The naval theme is present throughout since Liberty Station was once part of the Navy Base.

Children and families at play
Three ship guns in the middle right of photo
The USS Recruit, where new sailors learned how to maneuver around a ship

We crossed the bay on the pedestrian bridge on Halsey Road and walked through Spanish Landing Park and Cancer Survivor’s Park, where bronze statues walk through what looked like windows. The sculptures, created by Victor Salmones, depict people of all ages as they enter and walk through their treatments and come out on the other side.

Halsey pedestrian bridge from Point Loma to Harbor Island
Public Art at Spanish Landing Park
Public art in Cancer Survivor’s Park
View of bay and marina from Spanish Landing Park

Along Harbor Island Park, we passed by the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina and the Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island properties until we reached our reward. Dinner at Tom Ham’s. After three miles, my mouth watered for the scrumptious meal and libation that awaited me inside.

Our patio seating was the perfect place to watch powerboats and sailboats skim across the bay and admire the San Diego skyline on the horizon.

San Diego Bay and skyline

While we finished our dinner, the USS Coronado (LCS 4) navigated through the bay on its way out to sea. The Independence-class littoral combat ships are magnificent to see under sail and even more impressive up close. We had the opportunity to tour the USS Manchester (LCS 14) in San Francisco during Fleet Week in October 2018.

USS Coronado (LCS 4)

After the drinks and food, we all laughed at the idea of walking three miles back to the car. I was so glad Bailey said, “I’ll call an Uber.” If I had walked anymore that day, full-blown blisters would have erupted on the bottoms of my feet. Note to self: Wear good socks and shoes next time you go on a three-mile trek.

Next Up: Wine Tasting in Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe

Safe Travels