Friday, June 23, 2006

June 23, 2006
Skirted five different fires to get up here to Moriarity, New Mexico this afternoon. Carole Glenn called me at 12:55 and said, "Rob just called and you go on the main stage in five minutes. Are you going to make it?"

"Nope," I had to honestly tell her. "I'm at least two hours away." I was in Socorro, New Mexico and it took another two and a half hours to make it to the big top at the Founder's Ranch, east of Albuquerque for the SASS End of Trail Festival. Over 980 shooters were on hand to hear me talk about True West Moments and I was stuck following a truck up I-25.

Spent the night last night in Mogollon at Lew and Tara's tricked out miner's cabin. I had to have permission to get past the forest service guards down on the flats. Lots of smoke and fire crews everywhere. Sat on their expansive porch and had a great steak dinner as we solved life and listened to the two-way radio crackle with fire crew chatter:

"Big Boy. You comin' up tomorrow to pump water?"

"I don't know yet. You need me up there? Over."

Of course, Lew and Tara were completely burned out last year in Rackensack Canyon, northest of Cave Creek, so the very idea that they could be burned out in New Mexico as well, seemed like an awful cruel trick for nature to be pulling on them. Lew lost all of the old MIneshaft bar relics and a car and tons of collectables. When I asked about home owner's insurance he just shook his head. Evidently they will only pay 25% of the estimated full value, but only after you go out and buy the replacements, paying full value. Of course, most people can't afford to do this, so the insurance companies skate away. Nasty stuff.

The Bear Fire is the one threatening their locale, and it's one of those huge ones with its own weather system. Really scary.

Listen to the Forest Service's Bear Fire update #3:

"The Bear Fire was detected on 6/19/06 and is burning in mixed conifer forest, ponderosa pine and grasslands 15 miles northeast of Glenwood, NM. The fire is now estimated to be 24,300 acres. . .The fire passed the Negrito Lookout without destroying it. The western side of the fire has not reached the bearwallow Lookout. Crews will be working today to secure the western fire edge."

And if you ever wondered what their philosophy about these fires is, wonder no more: "Wildland fire use is the management of naturally-ignited wildland fires to accomplish specific pre-stated resource management objectives in predefined geographic areas outlined in Fire Management Plans."

Gee, it sounds almost like they planned the fires, no?

I got up early this morning and took off at seven, hoping to jump out before it got any worse. As I pulled into Reserve, the fire line headquarters sprawled for acres and acress with dome tents dotting the river bed and huge trucks with bulldozers and heavy equipment on the back went up and down the road into town. It looked like a war zone, and I guess it really is one. At Henry's full serve, crews from idaho, Springerville and other places around the West filled up with gas and bought snacks, as Henry and I walked down to take a good look at the Elfego Baca unveiling billboard on the site of the proposed museum. The billboard looks great (good job Gus Walker!) and I took a couple photos for posterity.

Got to Founder's Ranch at three (Arizona time).

My talk got moved to tomorrow. Doing two speeches, one at 11 and the one with Joey at one. Walked around the SASS ranch and had a nice talk with Buck Taylor and Goldie. Buck is in the new Commanche Moon, the prequel to Lonesome Dove. He says Val Kilmer is in it with a shaved head and his character's name is "Skull." Could be good. Saw my old friend Jim Dunham, who works now at the Boothe Museum in Georgia. Met several new subscribers who found us in The Cowboy Chronicle (the SASS organ). That was nice to hear.

Watched part of Waddie Mitchell's act in the big tent (funny cowboy from Jiggs, Nevada) and then came down old Route 66 to Moriarity to our motel. Meanwhile, Rob Bandhauer drove into Albuquerque to pick up Joey Dillon at the airport. As I said, we're doing our big joint show tomorrow.

"Find the truth and print it."
—My new slogan, thought up between Datil and Magdalena

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