Billy the Kid, Lava Fields and Deadly Snakes

Saturday was Jim’s day. We woke early, which for us means about 8:00, and headed off to the village of Lincoln, where Billy the Kid met his Maker. This was our third trip and Jim was determined that this time we would make it through the tour of the original Wild West buildings; which included the store owned by John Tunstall. And if you are a Billy the Kid aficionado or maybe you just watched Young Guns, you will know who that was. The courthouse that Billy made his final escape from is also there. So really a fascinating town if you are interested in Wild West history.

Courthouse in Lincoln, NM

Courthouse in Lincoln, NM

The Torren Lincoln, NM

The Torren Lincoln, NM

Now this is cool. The Torren, a rock fort tower that the people of Lincoln would hide in when the Apaches decided it was time to terrorize the residents.

After everyone but Jim had had their fill of Lincoln we headed off to the Smokey Bear cafe in Capitan to have dinner. I wouldn’t suggest that you spend your hard earned money (or even your birthday money) there. After traveling through a hail storm, that made the road look like the middle of winter and sounded as though the angels were pummeling us with marbles, we arrived at the cafe, only to find that it was entirely run by teenagers. Now I have nothing against teenagers, but I don’t want them cooking for me; at least not if I’m paying for it.

So we’ve eaten our semi burnt food and are waiting to see who will come down with food poisoning first when it’s time to head off to the lava fields of the Valley of Fires. Okay, I’ve been living in an RV for four months now and always in a tiny town where nothing but the local bar stays open past 5:00 pm, and I just can’t get excited about lava. All I want is a mall, a Barnes and Noble and an Indian women to thread my eyebrows for me. But this is Jim’s day and the closest mall is probably in El Paso anyway, so off to the lava we go.

It was more interesting than I expected. My only contact with volcanoes or lava is the pumice stone I use to remove callouses from my feet. And this 2 mile x 20 mile field of lava didn’t need a volcano to create it, it came up out of the ground. Can you imagine walking out to the yard with your magazine and glass of tea only to find that hot molten rock was oozing up through your flower bed?  Although I had the mental image of black nothingness when we arrived what I found were hundreds of varieties of plants and flowers and many forms of wildlife.

Valley of Fires New Mexico

And that is where the rattlesnake comes in. Four years I spent in Texas and never did I see a rattlesnake, not even a living scorpion (thank God). But here I am sticking to the path, not straying into danger and there only a few feet in front of me lies a venomous snake. If I didn’t have a habit of looking at the ground when I walk my sandaled foot would have met that snakes bare fangs. And I wouldn’t be here to write this blog and tell you all about it.

Rattlesnake Valley of FiresSo what was our response to this deadly serpent? Throwing rocks at it so that Jim could get a good video of it slithering away and rattling its tail. That snake was determined to get some sun because it took three handfuls of rocks (pebbles really) to get it to move and then it showed its displeasure with us by coiling up on the side of the path ready to strike if we dared to step foot on its territory.

It was pretty exciting.

And here is the video that we risked our lives for. (not really, I think we could have outrun him)

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