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Magnets and Mountain Lions
|Saturday, 26 April 2003|
|written by Teresa|
Editor's Note: The following article was written a couple of weeks ago, shortly after we left New Mexico; however, we haven't had time to post it until now!
Long before we took to the road we had fallen prey to the sad habit of collecting fridge magnets and had been building a map of visited states on the door of our enormous stationary fridge. While our present cooling device does not have a metallic door, we are doing our best to convince the cooker hood that it can fulfil this crucial role. Due to the limited space, we have tried to limit ourselves to small examples of the art. One notable exception to this rule is the "Glow in the Dark" magnet from Carlsbad Caverns which is in such bad taste that it is almost too much even for us.
Unfortunately this little hobby is showing signs of getting out of control. We have abandoned any semblance of good taste and have applied a map outline of the States onto the outside of the camper. The map comes complete with brightly coloured cut outs of each state that we can put in place once we have been there. This of course raises the issue of what it means to visit a state. For instance, are we allowed to put Arizona in it's rightful position just because we clipped one corner of it in February? These and other world relevant and metaphysical questions are debated hotly around the campfire.
Map accoutrements include little stickers that we could apply to certain states, marking their particular relevance to us. These stickers show people hunting, fishing, golfing, and square dancing. Now there are a number of possibilities here. The first is that the map makers were a malevolent group of Yuppie designers determined to have the last laugh in this naff project that demeaned their finer senses. Alternatively they may just have had one too many Umbrellad Margaritas. And then there is always the possibility that Sterling and I are just out of step and need to get in line.
We spent our last evening in New Mexico caught in a web of synchronicity at Sugarite Canyon State Park. If I were to relate all the details it would seem too far fetched. A short snap shot might be more believable. Three people are sitting around a struggling campfire talking of places visited and experiences on the road. It transpires that we had been in Guadalupe Mountains National Park at the same time. Conversation turns to Nevada Barr's book, Track of the Cat which is based in the Park and from there to mountain lions in general. A story is told of a mid-day saunter, in the foothills of the Rockies, shadowed along an uncomfortably close ridge by one of the large cats. The story teller, not being a dog owner at the time, willed the lion to be interested in a poodle recently sighted on another path but luckily it was a little early for lunch and all involved survived to see another day. I was in the process of saying that I had heard rangers in a number of western parks bemoaning the fact that they had never seen one of the reclusive cats, when a truck pulls up. Enter Ranger Bob, stage left, inquiring whether we have pets and advising us to keep them inside as he has just seen a mountain lion crossing the road not a quarter of a mile away. Now it's always possible that he had been eaves-dropping with a highly sophisticated device and the temptation to spook the visitors was just too much. On the other hand it might have been one of those delightful coincidences that spice our lives and enrich our existence.
Sugarite itself is in the mountains of northern New Mexico, close enough to the state line that we cycled to Colorado one afternoon. I have to confess that this was only four miles away but I would say in our defence that the course tilted upward the entire way. At over eight thousand feet, my legs and lungs were not overly happy on the way out but felt very strong on the way home. A few days later we walked the trail up to Montoya Lake through both patches of snow still clinging to the hillside and stretches of mud resulting from the spring melt. Bear prints were evident on the path and frogs sang their spring enticement from the small ponds collecting in the dips and folds of the land. The beasties are on their way out of hibernation and while springtime is lagging behind the advance made in the desert it is nevertheless evident in the form of tiny shoots pushing up through the ground and buds burgeoning on the trees.
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