October 31, 2003
Dear Subscriber:

I've always liked motels.

I am especially partial to the 2 or 3 level kind of motel...
usually built in a U-shape that marketers planned as a bunker
from the rest of the world. They're self-contained. You don't
have to leave your haven for a dinner or a coke. It's all right
there without ever starting the car if you want it that way.

Of course there are some motels that give the rest of them a
bad name.

"Desk, this is room 13. This air conditioner doesn't work."

"Open the window."

I think it goes back to my childhood. There were no motels
in the little West Texas cotton town I grew up in (it was a big
event when we got our first stop light). When my folks took us
on a trip to Dallas when I was around 6 (1954), the trip
included a stay in a motel.

This little bumpkin was at first amazed to see the Dallas
skyline for the first time. I had seen such images before in
magazines but never in person. I was overwhelmed.

My nose was flattened against the car window. My eyes were as
wide as I could get them as I stared at those granite and glass
behemoths in downtown Dallas. I barely noticed when Dad pulled
into the motel.

It was The Tower Motel. This was back before the franchises had
taken over the motel business across the nation...back when they
used to build them in the shape of teepees and log cabin
bungalows. I wonder if The Tower is still there? It had a big
oil derrick on the top of the main building (lighted like a
Christmas tree at night). Dad went inside the office, came back
out, started up the car and rolled to the front of a row of
doors with numbers on them.

"This is it," he said. We got out of the car. Dad stuck a key
in one of the doors and a new world opened up to me.

My brother and I were old enough to have a basic command of
language, but we were at that moment reduced to a vocabulary of
one word.

"Wow" we kept saying. Not a loud and excited "wow" that comes
from opening your Christmas presents. It was a reverent under-
one's-breath "wow" that manifests itself from being genuinely

The room had two big beds in it and a TV mounted on the wall.
It had an attractive antiseptic fragrance I had never smelled
before. Someone knew we were coming because they had hung
towels in the bathroom for us. There was a sign on the door
that said "NO PETS". My Mom called me "Pet" sometimes. I
suddenly felt a little paranoid.

I checked things out. I discovered the family that stayed in
that room before us were The Gedions. I knew because they left
their bible in one of the nightstand drawers.

"Get on your bathing suits, boys," Mom said.

My brother and I looked at each other. The only time we wore
our bathing suits was when we played in the lawn sprinkler in
our back yard.

Wondering where the lawn sprinkler was, we hurried into our
swim trunks. When we came out of the bathroom there stood Mom.
It was the first time we had ever seen her in a swimsuit. I
remember it was blue but it didn't look like mine and my
brother's. It had a top and straps and stuff. I felt a little
naked in my suit that stopped at the waist.

Mom marched us out the door of our new little home and down the
sidewalk past a lady dressed in what looked like a nurse's
outfit pushing a big cart full of more towels and bottles of
cleaning supplies. There was a guy wearing a crispy white
uniform knocking on one of the other doors. Beside him was a
cart full of food. It smelled good. For a moment I was more
interested in that cart than where the lawn sprinkler was.

We heard kids laughing as we approached a white iron gate. Mom
opened the gate and we entered heaven.

Before us was a swimming pool that, to our thinking, was about
a mile long sprinkled with all kinds of grown-ups and kids...
some just sitting around the edge of the pool and others
splashing around in it. I was still a little confused...looking
for the lawn sprinkler...when Mom said, "Go ahead, boys...get

We did...and there we stayed all afternoon. It took us about
17 seconds to get to know all the other kids in the pool. Mom
found a lounge chair and just laid there reading a book. I
assumed parents were allowed only limited access to the pool.

The Tower Motel had a wonderful restaurant. I remember sitting
there in our Sunday best behind a whiter than white tablecloth
at about my nose level and tall glimmering glasses and napkins
folded like bunny rabbits and somebody playing a piano in the
corner. I was so hungry I forgot about my sunburn. Dad and Mom
ordered for us. We had chicken, which was just fine with me
because I think that's what I smelled on that guy's cart earlier
in the day.

That first experience is probably why I have always had a
special place in my heart for motels. We stayed in motels a few
times after that when we were kids. Each time my brother and I
planned ahead. We were in our bathing suits BEFORE the key
unlocked the motel room door. Changing clothes in the back seat
of a '54 Chevy station wagon is tricky, but when there's a

When I was 20 I took a job as a route salesman. My job dictated
that I stay in a motel about twice a week. Since the cost of my
lodging was a big issue with my boss, I stayed in places that
could not hold a candle to The Tower in Dallas.

I would check in and head to my room. My evening held for me a
sandwich and paperwork. As I unlocked the door I could hear the
kids at the pool. The same sounds I remember at The Tower. I
came close on more than one occasion to putting on my trunks and
going to the pool, but I didn't. Some of life's experiences
can't be recaptured.

That was when I was introduced to the loneliness than can
accompany solo motel stays. I learned to appreciate the
solitude... alone with my own thoughts and Jack Parr on the TV.
It helped me develop a sort of immunity against loneliness. I
have friends today that won't eat in a restaurant by themselves
or go to a movie alone, much less stay in a 15-by-15 room by
themselves overnight. It doesn't bother me. Kinda gives me a
chance to get to know me a little better.

I was on my way back from Lubbock to Cloudcroft this past Sunday

If you've ever made the drive, you know US Hwy 82 goes straight
into the sun on late afternoons. It's blinding and, to my way
of thinking, a little dangerous.

I decided I didn't want to squint my way back to the mountains.
Besides I was a little stressed and mentally drained so I
stopped at a motel in Lovington.

I didn't expect much. Lovington is not Dallas. I didn't bring
by swim trunks so that wasn't an issue. The lady at the front
desk at The Lovington Inn was a breath of fresh air. As I
signed the card I asked her if the Pizza Hut delivered. She
said yes.

I opened the door to my room with one of those magnetic cards.
The room was immaculate...that motel room fresh smell. Someone
knew I was coming because there were fresh towels in the

It was my temporary Fortress of Solitude. I turned on the TV
and caught the last quarter of a football game. As I lay there
waiting for my pizza I decided to write an article about motels
but I didn't have a laptop. I would just have to write it when
I got home. I went outside to secure the pickup and saw two
truckers who had just checked in. We talked a few moments.
Nothing involved...just the usual "Where ya from?" and "Where ya
going?". Three Road Warriors debriefing each other after a day
on the blacktop.

I ate my pizza, turned off the light and dozed. As the curtain
of sleep came down I could hear the usual motel sounds. A can
of soda pop dropping into the bin of a distant vending machine.
Ice being dispensed into a plastic bucket.

Somewhere in my little boy memories, I could here kids playing
around the pool.

Don Vanlandingham

The SKI RUN FIRE is burning northwest of Ruidoso in Lincoln
National Forest and is 30% contained. Here is the latest press
release on the fire (special thanks to Beth Wilson for sending
us this information): 

Wildfire Information Fact Sheet - 10/30/03, 9:00 AM

Starting 10/30, Media Briefing and escort to fire area at 10 AM
daily Meet behind the Shell station at NM 48 and NM 532 (Ski Run
Road), Ruidoso 

Incident Name: SKI RUN FIRE

Start Date & Time: 10-27-2003 AT 8:17 PM (mountain time)

Start Location: NM State Highway 532 (Ski Run Road), 
approximately 6 miles west of NM State Highway 48

Cause of Fire: Human caused, still under investigation 

Area Vegetation: Mixed Conifer & Ponderosa pine forest types

Acres Burned: 250

Ownership(s): Federal (U.S. Forest Service) & Tribal (Mescalero
Apache Nation)

Incident Commander: Southwest Area Incident Management Team 

Structures Threatened: Eagle Creek Summer Cabins (USFS Leased
Land, 22 homes) Villa Madonna Subdivision (Private,
approximately 20 homes)

Structures Burned: 0

Evacuations: Voluntary evacuation has been lifted for residents
only in Eagle Creek Summer Homes and Villa Madonna Subdivision,
as of 1800 on 10/29/03. Heavy fire traffic and safety hazards
still exist; please use caution.

Please avoid visiting the fire area, if possible. If you must
enter the area, please use EXTREME caution and be fire safe.

Roads Closed: NM State Hwy 532 (Ski Run Road) is completely
closed. Lincoln National Forest Road 117 (Monjeau Road) is
completely closed.

% Contained: 30%

Target Containment: 11/01/2003

Fire Status: Fire fighters made good progress on the Ski Run
Fire yesterday despite strong afternoon winds. They completed
handline on the northern portion of the fire, using roads and
natural barriers as much as possible to limit fire fighter
exposure in the steep terrain.

Several burnout operations were conducted between the main fire
and the fireline, a tactic that is used to slow progress of the
main fire by starving it of fuel. Engines patrolled the fire
area through midnight. 

Two spot fires from last night were fully contained early this
morning. Today, crews will continue with line construction and
are prepared to conduct a 100-acre burnout on the southern
portion of the fire when wind conditions are favorable. High
winds are expected again today, which may limit air operations. 

Resources Assigned: 7 Crews, 14 Engines, 1 Dozer, 4 Helicopters,
4 Watertenders, a total of 298 personnel.

Special note: "Buck" Sanchez, District Ranger for Smokey Bear
Ranger District, Lincoln National Forest, would like to share
his appreciation with the public and all cooperating agencies -
including the Mescalero Apache Nation, the Village of Ruidoso,
Lincoln County and State Officials - for the effort and support
they have provided during this incident. 

Information Contacts:
Beth Wilson: (505) 491-3171 
Bill Duemling (505) 937-1499

The first snow of the season on Sunday. A little less than an
inch. It melted quickly but moisture is moisture.

Highs in the low-60s. Lows around freezing.
The "Christmas Tree" that was next to First National Bank in
downtown Cloudcroft has been cut down.

The tree had been decorated for the holiday season for years.
It had become diseased and despite some local objections it was
taken down.
For elegant, romantic dining with breathtaking views of White
Sands and New Mexico sunsets, try Rebecca's. Named after our
resident ghost, Rebecca's serves three meals daily. Our
award-winning chef prepares the finest continental cuisine to
tantalize your palate. Or try Rebecca's Lounge where the wooden
bar from Al Capone's estate completes an authentic speakeasy
The fight for our way of life goes on. WSTF is on one of the
fronts of that battle.


Q - The California fires are horrible. Is there any chance of
such a destructive fire in the Sacramento Mountains?

A - The political climate in California has made it next to
impossible to thin brush, dead and diseased trees and thick
undergrowth. Sadly, the people of California are realizing the
results of that neglect.

Some of the same problems exist in the Sacramento Mountains.

I know of no one in this area that doesn't have a deep and
abiding respect for the forests and the wildlife here, but some
nature lovers have carried their ideals to extremes. They have
organized into a formidable political lobby and have effectively
prevented a healthy pruning of the forests to protect wildlife
and property owners from what is happening in California today.

There have been several serious fires around the Cloudcroft area
in the past ten years. Fortunately nothing of the magnitude of
the California fires but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

This area owes it's survival from serious fires to the tenacity
and dedication of area fire fighters...both Forest Service and

Conditions conducive to major wildfire in California are
probably worse than here. The Santa Anna Winds there are more
formidable this time of the year than in the Rockie Mountains.
It is much drier on the West Coast now than it is in the

The most serious threat of fire in the Cloudcroft area is in the
spring when the area is the driest and the winds are the
October 31 -- Trick or Treat Costume Contest. Call The Chamber
for details. 682-2733

October 31 -- Blackwood Legacy Quartet Gospel Music. Chimney
Spring, 2679 Highway 82, Mayhill 7:30pm. $10 per person.

November 1 -- Cloudcroft at home against Hagerman. (2pm)
Varsity football.

November 22 -- Cloudcroft Chamber of Commerce banquet.

November 29th -- Santa Land opens. Cloudcroft.

December 6th -- ULLR Fest.

December 13 -- Pet Parade. Burro Street. Cloudcroft.

December 20 -- Christmas in Cloudcroft. Zenith Park.

December 24 - Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, 7pm.
Cloudcroft United Methodist Church

Cloudcroft Art Society meets the second Sunday of each month,
2-4pm, in the Old Red Brick School House. Call (505) 682-3004
for more information and details on the Cloudcroft Summer Art

Would you like to help deliver meals to the homebound around
Cloudcroft? Monday through Friday deliveries. Call the
Cloudcroft Senior Center at (505)-682-3022. For information on
other Senior Center services, see their web site, listed on the
Cloudcroft.com Links button.


Mountain Garden Club meets every third Monday of each month.
Call (505) 682-2910 for more information.

Senior Van from Timberon to Alamogordo leaves the Timberon
Lodge promptly at 8:30 every Tuesday morning.

Free Vitals Clinic. Cloudcroft Senior Citizens Center, every
Wednesday. High Rolls Senior Citizens Center, first Thursday
of each month.

For an online calendar of area events, click the Events Calendar
link in the left column of our home page:


Dear Newsletter:

I wanted to write to you and tell you how much your newsletter
makes me feel like I'm still living up in Cloudcroft, even
though it's been two months since I've moved back to El Paso. 

I had to miss the gorgeous fall foliage and haven't had a chance
to get back up to my "home." But your newsletter consoles me,
if only vicariously. 

I am now the news editor for El Paso Inc. newspaper, and am
contemplating writing a story about El Pasoans with second homes
in Cloudcroft. This is where you come in. I need information
about El Pasoans who own cabins in Cloudcroft and whether they
bought the cabins for investment purposes or for pure pleasure.
I know of many families who never use their cabins, and I'd like
to know why they're holding onto them. In short, I'm doing an
economic piece on the tax implications and the investment
"angle" of second homes. 

If there are any El Pasoans reading this, I welcome you to share
with me your experiences of buying a cabin in Cloudcroft, i.e.
the market, your intentions for the cabin (upgrade and sell,
rent out, keep in the family, etc.), and how often you use
your cabin. Any information, any anecdotes, would be

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, please feel
free to e-mail me at: news@elpasoinc.com. 

Thanks again for a delightful newsletter. Makes my Thursdays.

Amanda Kemp 

Dear Newsletter:

Hello again Don. This is the old BUG from Las Cruces who is
still trying to find a place of my liking in Cloudcroft.

Well you did it again Don. You told the old story about Miss
Daisy and my eyes started to water up when you said that God
will take her for His own. You sure know how to tug on ones'
heart my friend. Or was it the picture in my mind of Daisy
with her dark eyes and COCKED head that did the trick?

If you've ever had any thoughts of quitting this Newsletter,
please forget it. I don't know how I will get through Thursday
without it.

Thanks again for being you.

Dominick Fiumara,
Las Cruces, NM

Dear Newsletter:

I am always moved by your stories of your faithful canine
companions and they always remind me of the one that was with
me growing up.

My mother (a Cloudcroft resident) has always had a large heart
for dogs of all kinds and one day at a pound she came across
a white German shepherd that was as mean as he could be, but
instantly she had a connection with him.

Buddy was a year old and had been abused by his previous owner,
was on 'death row' in the pound, and had no trust in humans.
Yet, everyday she went back to the pound and sat outside his
cell and talked to him and everyday he trusted her more and

Finally she asked to be let into his cage, the employees thought
she was crazy but honored her request. Buddy came home with her
that day and remained with us for nearly 10 years.

Throughout those years his loyalty and companionship was nothing
short of extraordinary; my mother could worry less with him by
my side.

It was on of the worst days of my teenage years when he left our
family but we all knew it was for the best.

Buddy passed away in '94 and has been deeply missed and will
always be missed.

Mom, thanks for bringing him home. Hey, maybe he's playing with

Dallas, TX

Dear Newsletter:

Well, Don, you've finally done it! You made me cry reading
about Miss Daisy. I feel for those who haven't known the joy
and the pain of loving and losing those wonderful, furry beings
that come into our lives. 
My Miss Daisy was a magnificent Irish Setter named Casey, who
was rescued by Austin Animal Trustees and brought into the
pet shop where I worked to be groomed before being put up for
adoption at Pet Smart. I took one look at that beautiful, sleek
mahogany body and those big brown eyes and I was done for.

Casey had been abandoned -- how could anyone do that? -- 
probably because she had heart worms. She recovered and became
my friend and companion. About 3 when she came into my life, I
was lucky enough to have her for 10 years before she died of
cancer. I miss her still.
Now Charlie is in my life. A little Bearded Collie, Charlie is
also a rescued dog. I found him at one of our farmer's markets
leashed to railing with a big sign over his head. It said, "Hi,
my name is Charlie and I'm very cute. But if no one adopts me
by 4:00 pm, I have to go to the pound." Now who could resist
that? Not this sucker. Charlie's white and gray hair -- he looks
like a small English Sheep Dog -- is now about six inches long
and he's currently waiting for his evening brushing, which he
loves, thank heavens. If not for that he'd be one huge tangled
Thank you for sharing Miss Daisy, even if reading about her did
make me cry. If there really is a heaven, I refuse to believe
our animals won't be there waiting. When I was little, I told
my mother that if Bobby -- my furry companion who was much like
Charlie -- couldn't go to heaven, that I wasn't going to go
there either. I may not make it, but I'm sure Bobby, and Lucky,
and Taffa, and Harriet Petunia, and Sam, and Cimarron, and
Grace, and Natter will be there whether I make it or not.
Sandy Woods

Dear Newsletter:

Another comment on health and high altitudes.

I've read no mention of people who require supplemental oxygen
on a daily basis. Many times a doctor will suggest they move to
a lower altitude, preferably sea level, in order to have a more
comfortable living experience.

I've had several acquaintances who had to leave this area
(Ruidoso - which is even lower than Cloudcroft) because of their
oxygen deficiency problems. I know others at this moment who
refuse to move because they can't bear the thought, and they
willingly suffer the daily consequences.

Jack Schuller

Dear Newsletter:

In answer to the question about the altitude and pre-existing
medical conditions.

My husband and I bought a lovely home in Robin Hood, took a
year to remodel, then moved in. We loved the whole Cloudcroft
area, the trees, the cool weather, the snow and the beautiful

Not long after moving there to stay, my blood pressure, which
was controller with medication, began to fluctuate. Nothing the
doctor tried helped, and we had to leave our mountain retirement
home, a little over a year later. The difference in the altitude
was the cause.

We moved to Waco, TX and I have not had any trouble since. We
still miss Cloudcroft and all the lovely, friendly people and
will visit often, to see friends and neighbors.

Myrna Yun
Woodway (a suburb of Waco), TX

Dear Newsletter:

The October 24 issue had a number of comments about the "Safety 
Corridor" and mountain driving in general. The "Safety Corridor"
is a fine example of wrong minded attempts to provide "safety"
while ignoring the real problems.

As I see it, the problems with travel on US 82 and indeed on any
highway of less than freeway size and straightness is that the
skill level of many drivers is appallingly low, causing the act
of going around a corner to be a challenge. This is compounded
by the inattention of many drivers. This lack of attention can't
even be blamed on cell phones as there are many places in the
mountains that they don't work. The lack of attention can be
blamed on in car conversations, swatting at children, eating in
the car and looking at ones self in the mirror, among others.

Also, New Mexico has no inspection programs for passenger
vehicles, which when coupled with having the oldest fleet of
passenger vehicles in the nation, assures that many of the
vehicles sharing the road with you have bad brakes, tires etc.
And to top it off, we experience a level of DWI (DUI) that is
within the top 5 in the nation based on miles driven. Our
judges routinely allow multiple DWI offenders back on the road
with hardly a penalty.

So, I pray that there will be no more accidents in the "Safety 
Corridor". If there are, the State might respond by reducing
the speed limit to walking speed and making us all put 3 x 5
foot red flags on our vehicles.

Come on people, pay attention to what you are doing on the
highways! It is a matter of life and death.

By the way, the State Motor Transport Division is to be
commended for increased truck inspections on US 82. I just wish
they had the money to do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Bill Turner
Cloudcroft, NM

Dear Newsletter:

See what I mean about the Ozarks. The letter from Dale Gonzales
shows that we can really love Cloudcroft, but still want to
live in the Ozarks.

Great story on Daisy. Our Misty is a little like your Daisy was.
Cocked head just gets to you, especially when the ears are up.
She is a 14 year old mixed, Shar-Pei/cocker, a CockaPei or a
Sharper, which ever you like best and is now completely deaf.

She never leaves my wife's side because of her loss of hearing.
I guess she is afraid she will miss something.

Peace and love
Frank & Sue Melohn
Mtn. Home, AR.

Dear Newsletter:

I have a partial solution to the Miller problem. I visit my
home in Ponderosa Pines on weekends. The house is full of
Millers, they hide in the sliding doors and windows.
I get the vacuum cleaner with the hose attachment, turn it on
and slowly open the sliding doors and windows. When the doors
and windows are opened, I quickly suck the moths down the
vacuum hose. I also go around the house and vacuum them from
the walls, kitchen cabinets etc. I turn on the kitchen
fluorescent light and pluck them out of the air with the
vacuum hose.
This makes great sport and noticeably less moths flying around
in the house at night.
The Cloudcroft area is just about as perfect a place as there
is, but I guess there is no utopia. Damn months.
John Camilliere

Dear Newsletter:

I have been wanting to vent to someone about the things we have
to watch on television these days. I will make this short.
When the NFL season began this year, they had a special on TV
in Washington DC with the capital building in the background.
We all got to watch Brittany Spears do on prime time what you
used to have to go to a strip joint to see. To kick off football
season, no less!
How has it come to this? Is there anything that can be done
about it? 
Love the newsletter. Miss Daisy sounds just like our Miss
Puddin'. We have only had her a year and don't think we could
live without her.
Yvonne Dunklin
Midlothian, TX

Dear Newsletter:

I've been following your newsletter for quite a while now and
I do so enjoy it. I am a mountain girl trapped on the NM
flatlands, for the moment. I am hoping to become part of your
community SOON! 

Anyway, my specific comment is that I lived in Leadville,
Colorado, elevation 10,000 feet. I lived there for almost a
decade and loved every minute of it. Leadville boasts the
highest golf course in the United States. So, just curious who
REALLY has the highest golf course? A bit of trivia I may look

Lisa A. Rison
Soon to be Cloudcroft resident (if all goes well)

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Copyright © 2003 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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