Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Trailing Billy the Kid for 21 years (Ironic, no?)

October 16, 2012

   I have been on the Billy the Kid trail since 1989 when I finished reading "The Saga of Billy the Kid" by Walter Noble Burns. It took me a while to find the time to go on my first research trip and that happened in 1991. So basically I have been hunting the kid in earnest for the past 21 years. One year for every year of his life.


   Last weekend I motored over to New Mexico, following my favorite route through Pie Town, Datil, Magdalena and Socorro.


This route is very serene to me with very few cars, lots of open highway and sometimes, like last Thursday, spectacular storms like these clouds over Nutrioso, Arizona. Meanwhile, here is a cloud burst east of Magdalena:

After hitting Socorro, I take a quick dip down I-25 and then get off at San Antonio, which ironically is the hometown of the founder of the Hilton Hotel chain (hard to believe Nicky Hilton grew up in this small Mexican community). My family discovered the Owl Bar & Restaurant, famous for its green chile cheeseburgers early on and usually make it our lunch stop on the way to Lincoln. Here I am with my kids, Deena and Tommy, in booth number 3 back in 1994:



And here I am last weekend in the very same booth:


The only difference (besides the graying mustache) is today I have to order the chicken, not the beef (heart issues). Virtually every trip I see the old sights, like Trinity Flats, and my memory swings back to previous trips and I'm always haunted by the fact that the Kid saw these same hills and valleys, rode through them with The Boys, laughing and shooting up the landscape.

   We launched a slide show of all the photographs I took at the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium last weekend. Check out all 68 of them right here:

Stylin' at Cowboy Symposium

There are many ways to skin a cat, but evidently only a few ways to update a historical photo for the cover of a magazine. Separated at birth?

Meanwhile, it turns out I did end up on the cover of the LA Times Travel Section a couple weeks ago.


Thanks to Roxanna Cole for sending me a copy.

"I'll make you famous."

—Emilio Estevev as Billy in Young Guns