Hopscotch has been around a few hundred years, and hopscotch on driveways used to be a girls game in our neighborhood when we were growing up. The game takes balance, co-ordination, and planning, doesn’t cost anything to play, and has variations of how you can play a game. You Tube has videos of kids explaining how to play the game, with demonstrations, and, now, it looks like it could be fun for anyone.
This chalked out game board on the next door neighbors driveway won’t last long in the sun, and a light rain will wash the lines, colors, snails, and hearts away. Still, chalk isn’t expensive, and the little drawings on the driveway are priceless reminders of how short childhoods are in our super charged modern world where kids grow up way to fast ahead of their bodies and minds, and get caught in adult nets quicker than you can jump from one square to the next on this driveway.
The neighbor’s grand kids were playing yesterday afternoon, visiting with their grandparents who were ” social distancing ” in the garage.tossing their markers into one of the squares in front of them, then hop, skip and jumping to the end of the game board, jumping and turning at the same time, then going back to the beginning,stopping and picking up their marker, then jumping safely home.
I have watched some videos and plan to try the game when no one is looking.
Getting a seventy plus year old body to do a game made for kids is never a pretty sight.
At the Casa Grande trading post and museum in Cerrillos, New Mexico, there is also a small petting zoo for the kids. There were, this morning, some fowl and goats in the locked pens, and, oddly, a solitary camel. The last Scotttreks camel experience was in a Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic airport smoking room, and that camel was ceramic and painted with smoking advertisements.
Camels, it appears, were big in the Southwest United States in the mid 1800’s when the United States Army created a Camel Corp and experimented with the animals, using them to pack goods as Army soldiers patrolled and kept order in the western territories before they became states. The camels were well suited to their task, and the landscape, but the experiment was shelved and the camels were sold off.
You can buy a camel today for a little more than $5000.00 but you need to know a few things about them before taking one home. Camels need space, exercise, lots of hay, and they are not always friendly. From people who own camels come reports that the large animals can show love, hate, be jealous, be warm and caring, fierce and dangerous. They can drink up to 20 gallons of water at a time and eat grass, hay, wheat and oats, seeds or dried twigs in the wild. Water is stored in their bloodstream, not their hump, and the hump, one or two, is stored fat the animal uses as a food supply when food is scarce. Camels can sleep standing up, spit when aggravated, and pee on their legs to keep themselves cool. There are claims that their milk will cure diabetes, TB, autism and AIDS, and, in the desert, they are used for transportation and even food by the Bedouins who depend on them in their nomadic lifestyle.
I’m wondering, this morning, if kids are really allowed to approach this camel, hoping that it is one of the sweet, gentle, lovable cartoon kind of camels that children love to get close too. I can imagine it’s caretakers and owners climbing aboard and taking a midnight ride down one of the arroyos that run through Cerrillos, scaring the devil out of the coyotes howling a mournful song on a moonlit night.
When Scotttreks goes on the road, there is never a moment when something quirky doesn’t pop up and bite you on the behind.
While I’m standing here, the camel doesn’t drop what it is doing and come over to see who I am, and what I want.
That, I’m feeling, gives me a pretty good idea that he’s not as interested in me, as I am in him.
In the 2000 U.S. Census, Cerrillos had 229 permanent residents. On the road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and a few miles north of Madrid, another New Mexico ghost town, Cerrillos has even more ghosts than Madrid.
The town has a few art galleries, shops, a U.S. Post Office, the nearby Cerrillos Hills State Park with hiking trails, the Cerrillos Mining Museum, a General Store, the Saint Joseph Catholic Church, train tracks, a lot of quiet, and a small town rural New Mexico pedigree.
According to a town history, on a board by a little public restroom by the headquarters of the Cerrillo’s Hills State Park, this town started as a tent city for miners,and was once considered to be the location for the state capital. This area has always been big on mining and the original inhabitants, the Tano Indians,way way back, were slave labor in the mines till they revolted. Turquoise, gold, silver, and lead are the main minerals that have brought people here looking for easy riches. There was a movie, ” Young Guns, ” made here, and many of the residents work in Santa Fe and commute, just liking to be away from city life.
Highlights of today’s visit was encountering a California “Hippie Bus ” with its occupants a family who spend their life on the road and were looking for turquoise in town. When they had trouble navigating, the woman would get out of the bus, step back and direct her driver till he got the bus going the right direction. Another place, good for the spirit, was the Saint Joseph Church at the end of a main street. The church goes back a hundred years and there is an open courtyard visitors can stroll through and meditate on the human condition. The Mining museum and trading post were closed but you could still see the camel, goats and birds at the petting zoo, along with mining machines all rusted and inoperable. A local man, waxing his older Volvo, that is a classic, told me his son was living in New York and he and his girlfriend haD to sneak out at night just to get relief from the lock down there.
” No way I’d want to live there, ” I volunteered, and the man, who was a contractor who builds in Santa Fe, agreed.
” We’re still working but you can only have five in the house at one time, ” he said, ” It makes making a living difficult.”
This little town used to be full of hotels, saloons, dance halls, shops and short order houses, brothels and boarding houses, but it is now just a sleepy little burg for sightseers and tourists.
Cerrillos means ” Little Hills ” in Spanish, and , later IN the evening, as the sun goes down, these little hills will get a pinkish tint that makes them look like some of the art canvases in the shops.
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s this little town was feeling it’s oats.
Now, Cerrillos is a place to escape the bustle of the big city, revisit the state’s mining history, pick up some rare turquoise mined from this area, hike in the ” Little Hills”, and spend a lazy Saturday petting camels in the petting zoo.
Highway 14 is a small ribbon of a road, two undulating lanes that roll and twist, that take traffic to Madrid and Cerrillos, New Mexico, and on to Santa Fe, or Albuquerque, depending on what direction you are pointing your car.
New Mexico has always been a mining and ranching state. It is one of the largest U.S. states with a population over two million and most of those two million living in cities like Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces. The state is as hard as this countryside and was one of the last territories to become a U.S. state in 1912. Highway 14 takes you through undulating rugged hills dotted with junipers, arroyos, and canyons, under blue blue skies with a few white puffs of clouds. The people who live out here are tough, practical, artistic, and don’t take a cotton to ” city life. ”
Two things to see on the drive to Madrid from Cerrillos, enough to warrant a stop and a photo, are a Trojan Horse and a crazy looking bird that is out of someone’s imagination..
It is funny how the Greeks are still reminding us that they were here too. This Trojan Horse, by the side of the Highway 14, overlooks the valley below and doesn’t look like he is going to take ” No ” for an answer.
A little further down the road, almost to Madrid, is a crazy bird, by the side of the Highway 14. He looks like he is from another world too. He advertises one of the many galleries in this area, and even though this gallery is closed, it shows the spirit of this entire area. Even tough old ” homesteaders ” have an artistic side and prefer the country to the city, any day.
Pulling into Madrid, finding a place to park isn’t hard today. The town is closed because of a virus, and one suspects that most residents in these parts are happy to see their streets empty.
New Mexico has lots of little back roads, like Highway 14, and along most of them are glimpses like these into a state that holds to it’s western heritage with one hand and the space age with the other.
” You an appraiser? ” the ball capped man, leaning against a pickup, asks me as I stand in the street and take a photo of a house for sale.
” No, ” I say, ” I’m just taking pretty pictures. ”
There are plenty of pretty pictures in Madrid, and some of them are Quirky. Madrid is a New Mexico ghost town about thirty five miles northeast of Albuquerque, closer to Santa Fe, and it has a storied history. Some say ghosts are still hanging out here on moonlit nights with coyotes howling and winds gently blowing the cottonwood trees that line the hamlet’s streets.
Madrid, that had an official population of 204 in 2010, used to be a mining town, and the company town produced anthracite coal for passenger trains because it burned cleaner. The town mostly huddles close to New Mexico Highway 14 and some notable sights to see are the Mineshaft Tavern and Museum, the Old Boarding House that was the only place to get coffee this morning, the Oscar Hubar Ball Field that was the first lighted ball field west of the Mississippi in the 1920’s.
Madrid was owned by corporations and when the demand for coal trickled down in the 1940’s, the town shut down. It was reclaimed by hippies and non conformists in the 1950,60’s and 70’s. There are numerous shops along Highway 14 through town that sell pottery, jewelry, turquoise, art, spiritual counseling, and Tarot readings. The town is a popular destination for motorcyclists, and, in 2007, the movie ” Wild Hogs ” was set and filmed here. In one of the opening scenes of the popular television series ” Breaking Bad, ” Walter White, after cooking some meth, calls his wife, Skyler, and suggests a trip to Madrid for a family lunch.
Today, the town is virtually shut down by a decree from our Governor, and walking the street is pleasant.
Some of the highlights of the visit are having hot coffee in the Old Boarding House, discovering Heaven, finding nooks and niches in the town that shows it’s ” attitude. ”
People, who live here, seem to have long beards, give you an extra long look, and all have three or four dogs around their homestead.
I’m guessing that some of the town’s residents still mine a little coal for their pot bellied stoves on cold winter days when the winds whip down Main Street and even dogs don’t want to be out.
For those with a little extra time, Madrid makes a close place to Albuquerque to see and enjoy.
As the same man who asked me ” if I was an appraiser, ” said, ” Getting out of the city is always good. ”
We don’t mine coal anymore but it sure feels, today, that I’m working for the company store.
” We are not in the food business. We are in the people business. ” Joe Rogers Sr. – Co founder of Waffle House Inc. says on their website.
The Waffle House has been in business since 1955 and has seen some history. The country, since then, has been through the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, several recessions, the Gulf Wars, the Moon Landing, Aids epidemic, legalization of pot in some states, the creation of food stamps, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 9-11 bombing, the introduction of computers and cell phones, the ” citification ” of America.
This store hasn’t been here since 1955 but it has been here enough years to be a landmark in our local area, always busy on the weekends, but open 24/7 for quick economical food cooked right in front of you.
At one time, this place was my early morning hangout for coffee and conversation.
Since the Covid-19 explosion, this business, as well as all restaurants and food places in New Mexico, that can’t do drive up, or delivery, have been shut down, by order of our Governor, following what other Governors are doing in other states.
Why the Waffle House remained open during all the other bumps in our United States history, but is shut up tight for this bump, is something talking heads will discuss on television shows on Saturdays.
Whether life will resume, as we knew it, after this whirlwind of emotion has passed, is an unknown.
Even ” People Businesses” are in jeopardy these days.
For everyone associated with this business, ” shut down” has become very very personal.
Back in ancient days, cave men only had fires to keep them warm, and the skins of animals fashioned into clothes. We doubt all the women looked like Raquel Welch, but then the men weren’t Brad Pitts either. Both sexes must have found something to like about the other though because we are still overpopulating the planet.
Last night, the electricity went out and all I had was a phone that worked on batteries, a flashlight with batteries, and some matches. Sitting in the dark, I Googled the Public Service Company of New Mexico, after checking my circuit breakers in the garage, and confirmed there was a power outage in my part of the city.
Sitting in the dark without electricity, not hearing your refrigerator work hard to keep your stuff from spoiling, the living room was very very dark, I kept thinking about those old ancients huddled around their fires, back in caves, looking out the door of their homes, with no doors, at a great star filled sky with no plausible answers for what created it, except for a God, or Gods.
The only thing I know about electricity is that it works when you flip a switch, or plug something into an outlet in the wall. It runs our world.
Sitting in the dark with cell phone in hand, I read about coronovirus and realize we could have it much worse.
When the power goes off, we aren’t a whole hell of a lot better than those cave men.
Inside Meow Wolf, there is a house, a mysterious house whose owners are no where to be found. They have their left artifacts; an old desk, an old saggy comfortable couch, a bathroom with toothbrushes still in the cup, closets with clothes hanging, a washer and dryer with clothes to be cleaned. As you roam through the house you find rooms just like you would find in a normal home, but, here, the rooms don’t look like our houses and it has secret passageways, and tunnels and challenges.
In a performance area of the installation, these two young men juggle and do acrobatics for their modern audiences, much like they might have done for ancient kings when the castle was dreary and the king threw a party for some of his political allies.
When this performance is done, we wander through the rest of the house, getting lost, finding rooms we have already been in. Finally, sensory overloaded, we leave the house and its ghosts and go find a green chili burrito and cup of coffee.
Getting lost in someone else’s house is okay, but you never want to be at a point, in your house, that you can’t find the bathroom.
At an annual celebration of the famed World War 2 correspondent, Ernie Pyle, at his home in Albuquerque, N.M., a docent tells the small group about the permanent closing of Pyle’s childhood home, in his birthplace,in Indiana.
Ernie Pyle was a celebrated World War 2 correspondent, but, today, there are many Americans who don’t know much about World War 2 except what they see in the movies. They don’t know Ernie Pyle, or Julius Caesar, or Frederick Douglas. They believe the American Civil War was only about the abolishment of slavery and the United States Constitution is outdated and irrelevant, written by stuffy white men who owned slaves and wore white wigs..
Where does history go when it is behind us?
Does God put His memos, research papers,videos and photos on shelves in his personal library? Does he go back and review his plans and progress for the Universe, make changes in the roll out of his vision ? Does knowing history mean we can stop or modify what is happening to us while we are in the middle of its happening?
On this pleasant afternoon, we are taken on a guided tour of Ernie Pyle’s life and times, in a place he fixed bacon and eggs for breakfast and read his newspaper thrown on the front porch by a neighborhood boy on a bicycle.
His house feels like a home and I walk away suspecting that Ernie would offer me a cold drink of lemonade on a hot summer day and have some good jokes to soften the wounds of World War 2 as we both set at a little table on his front porch.
His writings and home survive him, and remembering him and his calling is something we still try to do.
The beauty of his writing and life is that it seems like it was lived for everybody but him.
Creede’s reason for existence started and ended with silver.
Rich mines were tunneled into the Earth and precious minerals were extracted. At one time Creede had 10,000 inhabitants. The population now is 290, the mines have played out, and the economy depends on seasonal tourists escaping Texas heat.
In the winter this small mountain town shuts down and everyone who can leave, leaves. The skeleton crew left behind play cards, huddle around pot bellied stoves and keep the road open for crazy hunters who just won’t leave the deer alone.
Walking here, or sitting on a bench under a shade tree, you don’t see hardened miners with dust in their beards, horses pulling loaded wagons, but you are surrounded by slouching wood frame buildings, hitching posts, closed saloons waiting for a modern makeover. Creede has its own 1800’s style repertory theater that puts on performances during the tourist season,and,if they had a casino here,the place would sparkle like a handful of gold nuggets.
Being a tourist here is comfortable.
In 2019, hotels and accommodations here have cable and wi-fi, the phone service is good,and the little grocery has vittles you need. If it were too old, none of us would be here.
We 21st century visitors to the past, like old, but not at the expense of our 21st century luxuries.