Catron County, New Mexico has about 400 miles of paved road, and we're planning to walk every mile of it ... eventually ...

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Windmills won the West

On our way out this morning we scared a few elk babies - hate when that happens, as they all throw themselves at the fence and I worry that they'll injure themselves. Still, a few manage to get over everytime that probably haven't gotten over before.

The first boneheaded thing I did was to forget whether I had locked the car or not. Extra-special credit goes to the daughter who jogged back about a quarter mile to take care of it for me.

When we first started out there was no traffic at all, just the sounds of our footsteps and a few birds calling to each other. The only wildlife we saw during our walk was this fast-moving fuzzy caterpillar.

After a while, traffic picked up, and we saw our first sign of civilization.

A road-side rest for weary travelers, complete with mandatory stinky flyridden trashcans.

In The Best of The West, An Anthology of Classic Writing from the American West edited by Tony Hillerman, I came across a piece of writing by a man named Alan Bosworth, called "And the Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day", about Ozona County (not Catron County, not even in New Mexico, but a place that gets about the same amount of rain as we do here.) I'll give a bit of an excerpt: is a long way to water in any direction--especially down. The firstcomers were quick to acquire the few dependable waterholes....The whole land is tilted southwestward, and water runs off it with flash-flood speed. What stayed behind...was soon "too thick to swallow and too thin to chew," and cowboys forced to drink out of cowtracks in the mud quickly developed the habit of straining the water through their teeth. They could have understood the wariness of the late Gene Fowler, who all his life would never drink to the bottom of any glass because, when he was a boy in the Rockies, "there was always some sort of a bug surprise at the bottom."

"Well drillers and windmills saved the day....It seems rather strange and a little sad that no literature has ever really given the well driller and the windmill man their due. I do not know of a man of either breed who ever got rich, although they helped others to riches. The drillers were a peripatetic sort, always moving westward with the frontier; they might be compared with Johnny Appleseed, on an earlier and more fruitful border...

...whatever brand it was, the new windmill worked its magic deep in the earth, day and night, to bring a thin stream of bright water fluting from the lead pipe and splashing into some sort of storage reservoir--a dirt tank scraped out of the ground, a circular stone and cement tank, or a taller one made of galvanized iron. The perhaps apocryphal cowboy who swore he could drink water faster than the new mill could pump it was talking through his Stetson: given time, with the incessant wind, and the tank would be brimming over.

If you're looking for something to read, and you are interested at all in the American West, you might want to look for this anthology.

The windmill is no longer there, of course, but the tower for it is, and this circular stone and cement tank.

Today's statistics:
Fresh miles covered: 4.92
Moving average: 2.7 mph (lots of uphill today.)
Time in motion: 1:48:53
Time pausing to smell the roses: 11:13
Total time for walk: 2:00:02


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