August 10, 2001
Dear Subscriber:

There are no regular weekends in Cloudcroft. Everything is
a festival. The cherry festival, the art festival, and so on.
It's a Chamber of Commerce thing.

I heard in the village that the Forest Service was selling
permits to harvest firewood. I told Peg to put on some old
clothes. I oiled up the chainsaw and off we went to the Don 
and Peggy Loggin' and Splittin' Festival. The site was a Forest
Service campground near Cloudcroft.

We have two vacation properties to supply with firewood all
winter, not counting our own place. It takes about 4 cords
a year (a cord is wood stacked 4 feet wide, 4 feet high and
8 feet long). The ten dollars a cord the Forest Service
charges is about one tenth the cost of contracted delivery.
It just makes good sense to do the loggin' and splittin'
yourself, but you have to put in a little sweat equity.

The Don and Peggy Loggin' and Splittin' Festival (that's
"splittin'" with an "L"; we have SPITTERS around here, too, but
that's another festival) began last Thursday. Normally the
word "festival" is associated with a large gathering of people.
Our festival attracted no one. All our friends had something
better to do. That's all right. We're never around when they're
having their Loggin' and Splittin' Festivals either.

For those of you unfamiliar with the procurement and processing
of firewood, you start with a tree trunk. Not a nice green one
standing tall in the majestic forest with two or three Spotted
Owl nests in them...mercy sakes, no. The ones we use for 
firewood are those that have been removed from the forest 
because of disease or over-growth and are not fit enough to be
processed into building materials.


Step one (after applying sun lotion and shooting the breeze 
with campers at the cutting site) is to slice the trunk into
logs of suitable length to fit in the fire place. This step 
takes a good chain saw. I have a good one, or at least I 
thought I did.

The Park Ranger came over in his golf cart (they used to ride
horses, didn't they?).

"What kinda saw is that?" he asked. "Sounds like a bumble bee."

I kept my cool. "It's an 18-inch Poulan. The best and the
baddest they have to sell at WalMart." I said.

With that, Mr. Ranger went to the back of the golf cart and
whipped out his chain saw. It was huge.

"This is a Stihl 22-inch Forest Master", he said with more than
just a little obstinance. He pulled the rope start and the 
bystanders oohed and aahed. It sounded like a big Harley.

"How long are you cuttin'?" he yelled over the din of his 
monster saw.

"18 inches" I said.

"18 inches my hind pants pocket," he said (he was really 
beginning to irritate me), "those cuts you made are 17 inches

"Whatever" I said.

He moved to the next trunk and went through it about three 
times faster than I could have with my Poulan. Then he moved to
the next trunk and did the same thing in case everyone watching
missed his first demonstration.

He shut down his saw and said, "See those saw-chips? My saw 
makes big saw chips. Your's are the size of coffee grounds. The 
bigger the chips, the better the saw."

The campers gathered 'round to admire the ranger's work. Peg 
and I loaded the logs into the truck.

As I climbed in behind the wheel, I yelled to him, "Thanks for
cutting my logs. We only have 4 truck loads to go. We'll be
back tomorrow. Bring your saw."


After three days of loggin' (Mr. Ranger didn't come back, but I
did put a new chain on my saw so it would make big chips), we
had a stack of logs in front of our house about 8 feet high.
Some close to as wide as a 55-gallon drum.

Now we had to split each log into firewood.

You've probably seen "Bonanza" episodes where Hoss is out 
beside the house splittin' logs with a double-bladed ax. If 
Hoss had been around after the invention of the combustible 
engine and, consequently, the hydraulic log splitter, he would
have had a lot more time to chase girls with Little Joe.

Even with a gas-powered splitter, our job was no simple chore.
We had to lift those big-mama logs onto the splitter. My job
was to run the machine (of course it was...I'm the man). The
splitter consists of a large iron wedge upon which the log is
impaled (and split) by a hydraulic ram-rod. No kidding...if 
you're able to split 4 cords of wood without losing a finger
you're doing pretty good. I'm still typing with all my digits
so I guess I did all right.

Peggy mashed her finger, but hey, she's a girl. Nothing serious.
A bandage for two days, then a fresh coat of finger nail polish
and she was good to go.

It was Peg's job to stack. Stacking firewood is a science.
The individual wood units must be placed with enough air around
them so they will properly dry (it takes about 6 months after
cutting firewood before it is fireplace-worthy. Otherwise it
smokes a lot, goes out often and interrupts Monday Night 
Football games).

What can I say? Peg did a wonderful stacking job. In January,
when the snow is falling and it's cold outside and I'm in my
socks and I'm asked to go get an armload of firewood, I'm sure
I'll be reminded of who stacked all that stuff.

The Loggin' and Splittin' Festival has concluded. Next week
it's the Clean-Out-the-Septic-Tank Festival.

I'll bet my friends will have other things to do then, too.

Don Vanlandingham

The rainy season is subsiding, but there are still occasional
afternoon showers, just not every day like in July. The fire
threat in the forest remains low and there are no camping or
hiking restrictions.

Daily highs are around 75. Evening lows are about 50.
The Otero County Fair begins this weekend, with the Fair Parade
opening the events in Alamogordo down 10th street beginning at
4pm Saturday.

The fair runs through August 18th.
One of Cloudcroft's oldest and best established real estate
firms, Cloudcroft Real Estate is located on Highway 82 and 
easily accessible to visitors interested in beautiful and 
affordable mountain properties. No one in the Sacramento 
Mountains knows real estate in this area better, and they have
a hard-earned reputation for fairness and professional service
for buyers and sellers alike.

Cloudcroft Real Estate -- The Mountain Property Specialists!

See their link the Real Estate page of Cloudcroft.com for more


The Mountain Monthly is the newspaper for Cloudcroft and the
surrounding area. Besides covering local news and events, it
has sections for Forest Updates, Opinions, Schools, Sports, 
Spotlight, History, and Communities. Visitors use the paper as
a guide to the area; locals and part-time residents subscribe 
to keep up with local news, and to see if their picture is in
the paper!
Q - You mention MalMart often in your opening articles. Do
you own stock in WalMart or something?

A - To be accurate and honest...yes, but that has no bearing
on the use of WalMart in our articles. We shop in Cloudcroft 
when we can and shop in Alamogordo (including WalMart) when 
certain items aren't available in the village.
August 11 -- Persied Meteor Shower Watch.
White Sands National Monument, 8:30pm.
For more information, call (505) 479-6124.

August 11-18 -- Otero County Fair.
Frontier Village, Otero County Fairgrounds.
Alamogordo, New Mexico.

August 13, 14 -- Camp Meeting. Desert Reign Trio in
Concert. Rio Penasco RV Camp.

August 17 and 19 -- Singing in the Clouds.
High School Cafeteria.
For more information, call (505) 682-2733.

August 23 -- New Mexico State Game Commission meeting.
The Lodge. Public invited.

August 24 -- Cloudcroft/Hagerman football game (away).

September 1-2 -- Labor Day Fiesta. Sidewalk sales,
entertainment, street dance, and games for kids.
For more information, call (505) 682-2733.

September 1 -- Cloudcroft Bears vs Jal (football)

September 7 -- Cloudcroft Bears vs Tularosa (football)

September 15 -- Enchanted Jazz Festival.
Alamogordo, New Mexico.
For more information, call (505) 434-0559.

September 15 -- Cloudcroft Bears vs Hatch (football)

September 15-16 -- Hot Air Balloon Invitational.
White Sand National Monument.
For more information, call (505) 682-3785.

September 16 -- Governor's 10k Run/Walk.
40k Time Trial Bike Race.
For more information, call (505) 687-2133.

September 21 -- Cloudcroft Bears vs Ft. Sumner (football)

September 28 -- Cloudcroft Bears vs Lordsburg (football)

September 29-30 Aspencade Tours.

Cloudcroft Art Society meets the second Thursday of each month
in the Old Red Brick School House. Call (505) 682-2494 for
more information.

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

If you have news of public events in the Cloudcroft area, email

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


Dear Newsletter:

I went camping in your town last month. It was the greatest 
camping trip of my life. The residents in y'all's fine town are
friendly, informative and helpful. The Village of Cloudcroft 
is nice, small, laid back, and very fun to walk around during
an afternoon.

I took lots and lots of pictures (and I only stopped because 
of lack of film). I have decided I am going to spend my vacation
next summer there again. The temperature and weather is great. 
It was nice to leave behind the 100 degree days out here in 
Dallas, TX. 

William Westmoreland

Dear Newsletter:

After reading the sentence, "I've been coming to Cloudcroft 
all my life" in one of your letters to the editor, I had a 
wonderful thought. My grandsons will probably be able to make
that statement. And that was the reason we built in Cloudcroft
four years ago; I hope they come to appreciate it as much as
we do.

Enjoyed your father-in-law insight. All our parents are gone
now, but we think of them often. We love to recall my mother's
little wisdoms, our favorite, "If you stir it, it's homemade."

Marcia Scott
Arlington, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

Della in Lubbock! How many mothers do you have (besides the
REAL one)? I've never seen a guy so popular with the ladies. 
How about Dr. Thomas? What does he think about your book?

I find myself really looking forward to these newsletters more
and more.

Best to all,
Lake Kiowa Mom

Dear Newsletter:

Don, I enjoyed your discourse re Dr. Thomas. I was at 
NMSU 80-85, and I surely appreciated him. I did not get to 
interact with him much; our most significant chats were at 
Mike's Barber Shop.

Tell him "Hi," but I doubt he'll remember me.

John Schaefer

Dear Newsletter:

Writing from Lubbock, Tx.... I remember you when you were here 
years ago. Thanks for the beautiful story about your father-in-
law. Loved reading it. You write so well and express your 
feelings in such a marvelous manner. 

Cloudcroft is like nothing I had ever had the privilege of 
visiting before. I attended the October Fest of 2000 and had
an absolutely delightful time. Hope to come again sometime.

Thanks again,
Kay Hanna-Little

Dear Newsletter:

The question regarding overheated brakes when driving US 82 
from Cloudcroft to Alamogordo brings back fond memories. In
the early 1970s I lived with my family in El Paso, we owned
a travel trailer that we pulled with either a pickup truck, 
or later with the predecessor to today's overgrown SUVs, the 
International Travelall. Our summer weekends were often spent
in Cloudcroft. We'd leave El Paso as soon as the wife and I
arrived home for work and have our supper in the coolness of 
the forest.

Driving back down that mountain on Sunday evenings was always
a hairy experience for me. When you have a precious family 
aboard, and often a neighbor kid or two, it makes one stop and
think about what would happen should that rig ever get loose. 
I'm so thankful that we never had even a close call. We did 
break down once just south of Orogrande and spent a night under
the desert stars - that was memorable too!

I won't mention where we camped in the forests since it has 
already become too popular for my tastes. But in those days we
had this quiet little meadow all to ourselves, most weekends.
To insure privacy, I would set out a "no trespassing" sign 
where we turned off the road. Yes, I know it was not right - 
it was after all National Forest land. But after one harrowing
weekend with loud boomboxers of that era, I came up with the
idea for the sign and it was a long time before we had problems
with noisy campers again.

What finally stopped our camping excursions to that location 
was the proliferation of the noisy off-road motorbikes that 
were at that time not restricted from the forest. I notice 
they still congregate in that same area and still rip around 
the trails in spite of the ban on off-road riding there.

J. L. Schuller

Dear Newsletter:

I was visiting the US in 1994 and spent one month in Alamogordo
and Cloudcroft. I met a very nice couple, Kit Doran and Polly
Walker, with the help of the organization called SERVAS and 
kept contact with them for a couple of years after I returned
to Denmark.

For the last 2-3 years I haven't heard anything from them and
I am now searching for them. Can you help me?

When I met Kit Doran in August 1994 he and Polly had recently
been divorced and he was living in Alamogordo and she was 
living in Cloudcroft and working there as a teacher. In fact,
I met her class and told them something about Europe and 

Later in October 1994 they got together again, found an 
apartment in Cloudcroft, and got married and moved to 
Australia, where Polly got a Rotary scholarship in Brisbane at
the University of Queensland.

Now I don't know where they are living, but I would very much 
like to get in touch with them. Can you help me?

Do you know a place where I could write and ask about them?

Please help me...thanks a lot!

Per Damkjaer Juhl

[If anyone can help Mr. Juhl, please email him.]

Dear Newsletter:

In anticipation of a visit to Cloudcroft later in August I have
been going to weather.com and have been seeing temperatures in
the 90's. My friends, the ones we will join at their cabin 
there, said "No way." Sure enough, they called someone up 
there who said, "No way has it been in the 90's". So, how 
about it, what were the July temperatures like?

Thanks for the newsletters. We enjoy them although we only get
up to Cloudcroft once a year for a few days. I sure enjoy 
Cloudcroft.com, especially the Real Estate and Lodging sites.
I can dream can't I?

Betty Alexander
Corpus Christi, Texas

[A number of the weather sites give Alamogordo temperatures as
Cloudcroft temperatures. For more accurate information, click
on the weather links on Cloudcroft.com.]

Dear Newsletter:

This email may be long, but I was in a writing mood and decided
to let you know how happy we are to have a house in Cloudcroft
and how we always look forward to your newsletter on Thursdays.
There are about six people I send it to after we've read it. 
Keep up the good work!!!

Our home in Wimberley, Texas, is a town not much bigger than
Cloudcroft, but does have one signal light. We are located 
between Austin and San Antonio and West of San Marcos on Ranch
Road 12 in the foot hills of the "Hill Country". We have the 
Blanco River and Cypress Creek to swim in and our home is 
situated on the side of a hill looking East, South and West 
into the beautiful valley below. 

We're also very involved in everything in town because this is
such a volunteer community.

Jay is in the Lions Club and eats lunch every Fri with all his
friends at the grocery store deli. We call them the "ROMEO's 
(Retired Old Men Eating Out). Even though he isn't retired, he 
works out of the house and sometimes drives to Austin for IBM 
projects he's working on. He has picked up his guitar playing 
again after about a 25 year hiatus and plays every Wed night 
with a bunch of musicians at an open mike night. I'm glad he 
goes away from home to play because his practicing the same 
tunes over and over again and listening to him sing the first 
five words of ever song ever written tends to drive me up the
wall. During these practice sessions at home, though, I have
to escape to the outdoors and watch our resident deer and 
grasshoppers eat thousands of dollars worth of plants. I don't
know which is the lesser of two evils. Deer, grasshoppers or 
his strumming and singing.

Up until last Sept 2000, I managed the Sr. Citizens Thrift 
Shop. I've worked there since we moved here 5 yrs ago from 
Richmond, Texas. I also work one day a week at an antique shop
which takes me from "RAGS to RICHES". The antique store is a
safe place to work, though I can't afford the prices, but 
certainly can afford the stuff at the thrift shop. I don't 
think I've bought any NEW clothes since I moved here and Jay
has a new T-shirt every week. You know how old men invariably
spill stuff on their bellies, he dirties one up and he gets a
new one the next week I'm at the thrift store. I don't even 
have to wash anymore, I just buy him a new shirt and throw the
dirty one away.

I've always enjoyed dealing in relics from the past and junk
from the present. The 20 years we lived in Richmond my friends
and I had two garage sales a year, so I came to the Thrift Shop
here with very good qualifications.

When we built our house in Wimberley, I decided I'd like to 
have a B&B. Jay had had a heart attach before we left Richmond
and I figured if he had another one after we got here I might 
need a way to support myself if something happened to him. 
Besides, with just the two of us, we really didn't need much 
house anyway, so we decided to share our spectacular view with
visitors and built two extra rooms away from the house to rent

I don't cook breakfast though, our visitors receive a voucher 
which enables them to have a full breakfast at Cypress Creek 
Cafe on the square, so we call our place Cedar Hill Guest 
Quarters. We thought a nice big breakfast at the cafe is better
than some stale sweet roll and frozen orange juice, which is 
what a lot of B&B's around here serve. Jay also thinks men who
come to stay with us should start the day out right, with a 
full carbohydrate, fat-loaded breakfast of pancakes, eggs, hash
browns and 2" high biscuits. But, as soon as our old adopted,
blind and toothless greyhound Angel dies, maybe we'll do 
breakfast here. I can't see guests coming into the house for a
nice breakfast and having a waist high old dog with one eye and
no teeth begging at their elbow and another little dog, our 
Toy, eating their crumbs off the floor. It's bad enough having
an 18-yr-old cat out on the back patio, which I have to bring
in each night we have guest. She would keep them awake all 
night with her howling if I left her out.

We had never discussed leaving Richmond but came to Wimberley 
to visit friends Jay had worked with for years. We met our 
daughters Kelli and Kristi in Austin one Sat. afternoon and 
around 2pm arrived for our visit. By 5pm we'd bought property
which Kristi and Kelli appropriately named Cedar Hill due to 
the fact that we are on the side of a hill overlooking the 
Wimberley Valley and are inundated with Cedar trees. Clever,

I could just see another heart attack coming on especially 
since we'd already given the place a name. Jay didn't sleep 
all night. I'm sure you don't know, but he's not accustomed to
changes. As you can tell, I'm the compulsive one in the family
until last year when the four of us took one final week's 
vacation as a family and journeyed to Cloudcroft before Kelli
started work in Houston at Fulbright & Jaworski law firm. Her
dear husband, Josh Jones, to whom she had been married to for
just under a year and a half was kind enough to let her leave
him for the week and head off to cooler territories. He never
dreamed what she'd get into while she was away.

While there, our family did a lot of sightseeing, but when Jay
took his afternoon naps, us girls would take hikes, sightsee
and drive around. During one of our girly afternoon excursions
we decided it would be fun to have a cabin in Cloudcroft. You
know, most ordinary women go shopping for clothes, not us, it's
houses or land. The bad part, though, was how would we pay for
it. Since Jay and I had money invested here and Kelli and Josh
were somewhat newlyweds just starting out, living in an 
apartment, we decided Kristi, being the single one could apply
for a loan. Of course Jay thought we'd lost our minds and 
didn't think too much of this GREAT idea we'd come up with and
I'm sure thought it would pass. He never dreamed Kristi could
even quality for a loan, but guess what? The last day we were
there, we found a cute little cabin with Jim Goodwin's help and
put $$$ down and the rest is history.

I didn't know what would come first, Josh divorcing Kelli when
she got back home or Jay killing me in Cloudcroft and burying
my body somewhere up in those 9,000 feet of mountains. After
all, Josh and Kelli were going to own a vacation house in 
another state, but didn't even have a house of their own in
Houston where they worked and lived. We knew there was 
something definitely wrong with this picture, but we moved
forward anyway. Three compulsive women now, not just one, I
think they got it from me.

You got to hand it to those two guys, even though they weren't
real happy with us, they're the ones who now want to add a hot
tub, a new roof, a deck and a new room.

Jay and I had vacationed and week-end trailered for 15 years
with the girls and have been all across the country. They'd 
never stayed in a motel until they were in high school and went
on a choir tour. After that, motel/hotel life was for them. 
Needless to say, we sold the trailer.

The cabin in Cloudcroft sounded so appealing to me because 
instead of hauling a trailer and our grand kids around the 
country like we did the girls, I thought it would be nice to
take them to one place where they could climb mountains, learn
to ski, play in the White Sands and be in the outdoors while
their mothers and dads traipsed across Europe or some foreign
place on their vacations. We're not dealing with grand kids 
yet, just grand dogs, but when the time comes I know we'll 
have fun up in the mountains of Cloudcroft where it's nice and

Needless to say, the cabin in Cloudcroft is very small, but 
does have 2 bathrooms which is almost unheard of there. It's
only 700 sq feet with 2 bedrooms. It's great for 2, fine 
for 4, but a little crowded with 5, soon to be 6 with Kristi's
new husband. 

The loan did go through in Oct of 2000. 

Thanksgiving 2000, Jay and I rented a U-haul trailer and carted
all the stuff out there I had purchased at the Thrift Shop here.
Are you surprised, the parents in their older years have to do
all the work? After Jay and I moved in the cabin and had 
everything in place, the kids arrived along with three other
relatives. No room for 8, so relatives had to stay somewhere 
else. We had a fabulous Thanksgiving watching the snow fall 
while eating a splendid Thanksgiving buffet at The Lodge. I 
didn't even have to cook. Don't know if I could have anyway, 
because the oven in the cabin is so small a turkey wouldn't fit
in it. What a treat to be waited on, though. A good time was 
definitely had by all.

When Jay and I returned home to Wimberley I realized I couldn't
find my jewelry. I had left it there or hidden it here in the
house, but couldn't remember what I had done with it. It's not
much, but it was jewelry I thought I'd leave the girls some 
day. I was devastated because I was losing my mind, not being
able to remember where it was. But good old Jay came through 
with flying colors and for Xmas he gave me a trip back out to
Cloudcroft to look for the lost jewels. He really believed I 
had left them there on purpose and thought I just wanted to go
back but I really couldn't remember what I had done with them.

Since we were going to Fort Worth for Xmas anyway, we figured
we'd drive the six hours from there and be in Cloudcroft in no
time, easy trip, right? Wrong. So, the day after Xmas with the
"Mother Ship" (what the girls call our Ford Expedition) loaded
with our Xmas gifts, luggage, our blind and toothless greyhound
Angel and little dog Toy, we headed West along I20 right into
the snow storm of the century.

We drove in sleet, rain, hail, thunder and snow finally reaching
Cloudcroft 14 hours later in the dead of night. The good part,
though, is I'd packed bottled H20, and food for us to eat along
the way, but decided to save it in case we got stranded.

The roads were so bad we stopped at a truck stop in Abilene and
decided to eat hamburgers along with many stranded truck drivers
and listen to the latest update from them regarding the road
conditions. Believe me, the news was bad, but we ventured on 
anyway with I20 closing right after we left Abilene. For warmth,
I figured the antique Hudson Bay wool blanket Kelli had given 
me for Xmas would keep us from freezing to death and the food
I'd saved would keep us from starving to death if we were 
stranded out in the frozen, snow covered desert.

It was a good thing the "Mother Ship" has extra big tires and
the roads heading your way are flat and straight, because the
ice and snow we drove in was frozen around the wheel wells and
all we could do was drive in a straight line. What an adventure!

When we finally reached Cloudcroft around 10pm that night, the
cabin was so cold our breath froze in mid-air as we talked. 
Luckily, we got the heat turned on, wrapped the dogs in an 
electric blanket to keep them from freezing during the night, 
then looked for my jewelry, which I found in the top dresser 
drawer. Jay swore I knew it was there all the time. I told him
no, I didn't know, it was an answer to a prayer. I knew then I
wasn't losing my mind, at least not yet. We kept our clothes 
on, hopped into bed under a down comforter and thanked the Lord
we'd made it safe and sound, and prayed again He wouldn't let
us freeze to death in our sleep. How awful for the girls to 
find us that way.

After Xmas, in February, Kelli and Josh along with his brother
and sister-in-law came back to Cloudcroft to ski and Kristi 
and Rick were there to make up and coming wedding plans at The
Lodge. Let me tell you how much fun (ha!) this is trying to 
pull a wedding off 500 miles away from home, calling across the
entire state of New Mexico looking for a string quartet which
I finally found after about 20 long distance calls. She's done
a great job with the plans, though, and Jay and I are just 
waiting to write out the checks. I'm just happy we're not doing
this in some foreign country. 

Jay and I were in Cloudcroft in May under much better weather 
conditions and I will be returning again next week for a few 
days, taking wedding stuff. I'm making this trip alone, because
come Sept when we return for the wedding, the dress will fill
up the entire rear of the "Mother Ship" and there will barely
be room for me and Jay and the little dog Toy. Angel, the old
bind and toothless greyhound has to go to daycare here.

While there in May the loudest noise Jay and I heard all week
was a hummingbird flying past our open windows. We named our
place "Arcadia," which means a region of ideal rustic 
simplicity and contentment. Got it from some book I read and
thought the name was appropriate. You know how everybody here
and there and everywhere name their places, well we wanted to
keep up with the standards of things.

The weather for the upcoming wedding on Sept 8, 2001 hopefully
will be nice and cool. We're looking for 70's during the day,
not the 100+'s like it is here, and 40's there at night. The
weather is one of the reasons Kristi and Rick decided to be 
married Cloudcroft; the other reason, it's so beautiful and
The Lodge is really something to behold. It's such a 
magnificent place and they'll be married in the back courtyard
between two gigantic pine trees in front of the red and white
gazebo surrounded by their families and close friends. I just
hope his mother doesn't pick up sandwiches at the local 
grocery store to serve the guests.

We are looking forward to having a good time. 

Gay Lynn Chism
Cedar Hill Guest Quarters
Wimberley, TX

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Copyright © 2001 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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