After my post last week about how unknown New Mexico is within the United States, it occurred to me that I should have added a map showing just where it is. Tucked between Texas and Arizona, it also shares borders with Oklahoma, Colorado, and at one mathematically imaginary point it touches Utah at “Four Corners” (fodder for another blog someday). New Mexico also shares an international boundary with Mexico. The state is “between” several other well-recognized places both on the map and in the imagination.
What follows are virtual postcards with leftover observations which did not fit into the previous post.
One of New Mexico’s most infamous sons was William H. Bonney, better known to most as Billy the Kid. He became famous as a gunman during the Lincoln County War between cattlemen fighting over grazing rights. His accomplishments are catalogued in a museum in Ruidoso Downs, NM, in that county, but he is buried far away in Fort Sumner, NM. Like
many people who have captured the imagination of their time, Billy’s personal history has been expanded through repetition and exaggeration so that it is hard to know the truth of his twenty-one years on earth. Does the Kid rest easy now? His tombstone has been stolen twice, so now it is “in shackles” to prevent another theft, and the entire site where he is buried with two companions is encased in a cage. See my photo at left.
Isn’t it funny how traveling to another region makes you more aware of your own basic assumptions? Street names in Albuquerque certainly earn a double-take from New England visitors. The primary streets in the old heart of the city are Gold, Silver, Lead and Coal – indicators of local industry and wealth. There is Avenida Cesar Chavez, named in Spanish you notice. Revealing a remnant of the segregated past of the West, many cities have an Indian School Road. There are no Pompositticutt Roads or Musketaquid Streets there, but it does help to know Spanish pronunciations.
One site which truly impressed
both my husband and me was White Sands National Monument. This is an area of pure white gypsum sand dunes occurring naturally; gypsum dissolved in mountain run-off is left behind as crystals when pools of water evaporate. In some places these dunes look like any other dunes with very sparse vegetation just barely hanging on. But in other spots you would think you are in the middle of a snow field. They sell plastic saucer sleds at the Ranger Station for kids to slide down the irresistible hills – no chance of frostbite, only heat stroke or sunburn. The shaded picnic tables are unique to the location and made us question whether we had wandered into Roswell, NM, not too far away. (Cue the theme from “Twilight Zone.”)
At the end of last week’s post I challenged you to name the 48th state, admitted five weeks after New Mexico, on Valentine’s Day, 1912. That would be Arizona, also celebrating one hundred years in the United States. After these two states joined the union, making it what later became the “lower 48,” no other states were admitted until 1959 when both Alaska and Hawaii joined. Congratulations to Liz who was the first to reply correctly!
30 August 2012
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.