February 1, 2002
Dear Subscriber:

Most people doing business in a resort area agree it has a
close kinship to farming. The three most important things with
regard to a good season are the weather, the weather, and last
but not least, the weather.

It's not enough when you're a farmer to have this amount of
sunshine mixed with that amount of rain...it has to be
orchestrated. The rain has to come at a specific time and in
the right amounts. Not enough and it's time to turn on the well
pump (which costs money). Too much rain and the little seeds
get washed away and you have to re-plant (more money).

After all that the sunshine has to kick in for optimum harvest
and such undesirables as hail, insects and other calamities
must be avoided.

The chances of all that happening exactly when it is supposed
to are about as good as Cincinnati going to the Super Bowl.

That's why most farmers go to church a lot. They need all the
help they can get.

It's the same with the tourism business.

In the warm weather months we need sunshine and rain in just
the right combinations to keep the forest green and smelling

In the winter we need snow...preferably a healthy amount just
before Christmas, occasional flurries after that to keep the
stuff fluffy, and another big storm is nice around the end of
February to give everything that winter wonderland aura for the
spring break visitors.

I can't remember the last time it happened the way it was
supposed to.

The first snow this season was on time...just before
Christmas...but not really enough to open the ski area. Just a
little more, an inch or two, and they could start the chair
lifts and all the plans they had made after the winter bust a
year ago would come true.

The skies became stingy. December faded into January. The
weather actually turned warm. A snow flurry here and there, but
by the middle of January it was clear it would take a miracle
to extract a successful ski season out of this winter for

It snowed quite a bit yesterday (1/29/02) so I spent this
morning shoveling and blading. Then around 2pm, while I was
tarping the ATV...I heard it.


The sky turned dark and huge flakes began falling...almost too
wet to hold together. It was a winter thunderstorm. They
happen with regularity in The Sacramentos, but they're usually
reserved for the spring. Just another sign that this is not a
typical winter.

It is these wet snows that play havoc with the power lines. So
far no reports of any outages as a result of this one. The
only casualty so far is Peggy getting a face full of snow while
sweeping off the satellite dish. She's unhappy with the
experience but unhurt.

I've made a short story long. Fact is, the snow is good in
Cloudcroft. Too early for spring break and too late for
Christmas but good none the less.


Last week's story about my sister Vicki drew more email than
anything else we've ever done (it even out-did the wimpy toilet

The striking part about the email was the MOOD of your
responses. There were absolutely no "Oh, Don, Poor Don"
letters, but there was a sackful of notes celebrating Vicki's
life. It made us feel very gratified.

I saw Vicki this week. She's doing great.

If you missed last week's newsletter (or any newsletters before
that) they are archived on the front page of Cloudcroft.com.
Just click the Past Issues Here link.

It's still snowing like crazy out there. You just never know.


After writing the above yesterday, we continued to get snow and
now have quite an accumulation. We took the following photos
early this morning (1/30/02):


Don Vanlandingham

We pretty much covered the weather in our opening letter. About
6 inches on the ground and still snowing (Wed, pm). Highs have
been near 50. Lows in the low-20s.
Wade and Marcia Scott have kindly supplied us with the
following Christmas photos, taken in downtown Cloudcroft on
December 24, 2001:


There may have been a break in the Sacramento Mountains
Historical Museum break-in we reported last week. At least one
of the stolen weapons has reportedly been recovered. Since
there are juveniles allegedly involved, we are not at liberty
to publish names of the suspects.
A full-service grocery store. We are NOT a convenience store,
but we're convenient! We're friendly most of the time.
Mountaintop brand sauces, jams, jellies, and salad dressings.
Fresh baked bread and pastries. On Hwy 82, Cloudcroft.
While many know that Lincoln National Forest is the home of
Smokey Bear, few are familiar with the diversity that Smokey's
home has to offer. This forest encompasses 1.1 million acres,
and it ranges widely in almost every feature. Elevation runs
from 4,000 to 11,500 feet, and both deserts and sub-alpine
forests are located within Lincoln's boundaries. This provides
a recreational Mecca right at your fingertips — from downhill
skiing to rock climbing and caving.
Q - Does Cloudcroft have a medical facility?

A - Yes. The village has a well-staffed clinic for first aid
treatment of illness and injury.

The village EMS staff has a good reputation for quick and
thorough response to medical problems.

The nearest fully staffed hospital/emergency room is Gerald
Champion Hospital in Alamogordo...17 miles from the village of
February 2 -- Bears BB vs Hatch (V-JV) away.

February 2 -- Lady Bears BB vs Hatch (V-JV) away.

February 8 -- Bears BB vs Tularosa (V-JV) away.

February 8 -- Lady Bears BB vs Tularosa (V-JV) home.

February 8-10 -- Murder Mystery, Cloudcroft Light Opera Company
The Lodge. For more information call 505-682-2566

February 9 -- Bears BB vs Lordsburg (V-JV) away.

February 9 -- Lady Bears BB vs Lordsburg (V-JV) away.

February 9 -- Sunspot Casino Night
Sac Peak Community Center, 7:00pm - 12:30am

February 25-26 -- Circus Chimera, Otero County Fairgrounds
For more information, call 505-437-6120

Thru February -- An exhibit of oils by Jack Schuller. Ruidoso
Village Hall.

Thru February -- 11 Artists from Artisan Alley will have a show
at Eagle Ranch. The show runs the entire month, a reception
with the artists will be Friday, February 15, 7:30-9:30pm.

Cloudcroft Art Society meets the first Sunday of each month,
2-4pm, in the Old Red Brick School House. The February 3
meeting subject is "Perspective." Call (505) 682-2494 for
more information.

Senior Van from Timberon to Alamogordo leaves the Timberon
Lodge promptly at 8:30am 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 have just recently signed up to receive the Cloudcroft
newsletter. Although I don't recognize many of the names
involved, just hearing what is happening on the mountain is very

As a matter of information, I was a teacher at Cloudcroft High
School during the early 1950s--fifty years ago! My, how time
does fly.

If any of my former students are on-line now and then, I would
be pleased to see a letter to the editor from them. Thanks for
r the newsy items.

Clarence S. Adams 

[If you are a former student of and want to contact Mr. Adams,
email us and we will forward your email to him.]

Dear Newsletter:

Thanks so much for keeping these Kansans informed about the
goings-on in Cloudcroft. We have many fond memories of tubing
down the slopes when we were young and less worried about our
bones; camped in tents during the summer with lots of hiking
and laughs.

Lived in Hobbs in the 70's and escaped almost every week-end
to Cloudcroft. Now we return every August to play golf and stay
at the Lodge. No where else in the world (and we've been all
over) offers so much serenity and good old-fashioned enjoyment.

See you in August!!!
Ted & Teresa Harder,
Elkhart, Kansas

Dear Newsletter:

Up until a few weeks ago, I lived in El Paso and used to go to
Cloudcroft whenever I had the chance (which never seemed often

I have many wonderful memories of time spent there with friends
over the years and your newsletter has been a highlight in my
week since my friend told me about it a few months ago. Your
humor and heartwarming stories are great.

Thanks for taking the time to do the letter each week and I'll
continue to look forward to future newsletters.

Becki Smith
Manchester, TN

Dear Newsletter:

I have been receiving your newsletter for over a year now, and
it is as refreshing as receiving a letter from home!

I always stop what I am doing when it comes in and devour it!

I work for the Artesia Schools in the Administration office and
have the privilege of coming to Mayhill occasionally, but the
newsletter is just as good.

Thanks for sharing something that is so 'special' with all your
subscribers. May the Lord Bless and Keep You and Yours.

Margaret Clark

Dear Newsletter:

As a teacher - retired - of students with disabilities - I
always said that God knows what families to place special
children in, and it sounds like He did it again!

I loved hearing about Vicki. 

Carol Koss

Dear Newsletter:

What a wonderful and insightful look into the life of a person
growing up with one whom others might consider handicapped.

Vicki might be deficient in some ways, but certainly having
you for a brother, as well as the love from the rest of her
family, makes her more fortunate than a lot of folks. Thanks
for sharing a most personal story with all of us who love your

Cecile Montz
Eureka, MO

Dear Newsletter:

I have been a reader of this newsletter for couple of years. I
grew up in Roswell but have lived in Texas for the last 20

I just finished reading you last newsletter about your sister
and it made happy and sad at the same time. The happy part came
in when you and your brother played football with your sister,
while the sad part came in when you mentioned the prom and
parties she missed outside the home.

I have three daughters Amanda 15, Madison 5 and Mallory 5.
Madison and Mallory are twins, Madison has Downs Syndrome; she
is the happiest kid I've ever been around and we never see her
as handicap.

I related to your story like none other I've ever heard, I
guess because you were the brother talking about growing up
with a special sister and I'm the father raising a special
daughter. It was good to hear the story of a siblings growing
up in this situation. I know my other two daughters feel the
same as you do.

Michael Frazier

Dear Newsletter:

I enjoy getting the news from Cloudcroft...I am away from
there, reluctantly for about 5-6 months of the year, and
really like to keep posted.

The article about your sister was so dear. I worked for many
years with wonderful individuals like your sis in a residential
program designed to allow as much independent living as possible
and received so much from the experience. Many lessons these
special folks can teach us all...thanks for the article.

Will continue to read all the news until I return in April.
Glad to hear there was more snow, I know the moisture is

Martha Wilcox
Spring, Tx

Dear Newsletter:

Enjoyed hearing about your sister, Vicki. She sounds like a
truly amazing person.

What a coincidence...my name is Vicki and I also turned 50 this
past October.

We just moved to Cloudcroft...got here Jan 3 and so far are
loving it. We will be renting while we look for something
permanent. I hope someday to run into you and Peggy, at the
post office or one of the little shops on Burro street. 

Keep up the good work on the newsletter. 

Vicki Underwood
Cloudcroft, NM

Dear Newsletter:

Thank you for your story about Vicki.

People just don't know what they are missing by having a
"normal" family. My mother kept several children when I was
growing. One was a very special "litte person" named Rudy.
There was nothing that stopped him or slowed him down and I
was a better person for having him in my life.

Later in life, Bubba entered. He had spinal meningitis when he
was 8 month's old and they said he would never be "normal" and
that he should be put in an institution. He graduated from high 
school at the age of 21 in Arlington, TX and has a job in a
sheltered workshop in Arlington.

He is an absolute joy to be around. He turned 37 last October.
My husband and I received free tickets to Holiday in the Park 
(Christmas version of Six Flags Over Texas) and were not going
to be able to use them, so I gave them to Bubba and his
stepmother, Sandra, and they had a ball.

He never has a bad day and he always has a smile and a good
word for everyone that touches his life each day and I feel
blessed to have had him in my life for the last 30 years.

Thanks again,
Phyllis Shaddix
Ft. Worth, TX

Dear Newsletter:

Your tribute to your sister and your family makes me feel like
hot chocolate with whipped cream. It is warming, comforting and

Every week I hear family stories from around the world relating
to the fastest moving history of all times since I teach a
Write Your Life Story Class here in the South Bay Area of Los
Angeles County and this story ranks right up there with the

Thank you for sharing your family with us and giving us food
for thought as we rejoice with you. 

Ruth Herbert 
Lomita, California

Dear Newsletter:

First of all, this note is for you and no one else, unless you
wish to share. Having just read the January 25th newsletter I
am sitting here with tears in my eyes. Not tears of sorrow,
don't get me wrong. They are tears of joy. You see, I too am
a "special" little sister. I am the youngest of four and when
I was 23 I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. It is a form
of Muscular Dystrophy. I had had symptoms all my life and we
never associated it with anything serious. My life is very
different from Vivki's, but in so many ways so very similar.
I would like to think that in this note you will find the
written thanks that Vicki has never been able to give you.

It takes a very special sibling to make those of us that live
a different life feel loved and safe and cared for. I am so
lucky, I have two sister and one brother and their spouses who
would go to the extremes to see that is the case. I see that
Vicki is also so loved. When my sisters and brother hug me and
tell me they love me it means so much more. It means they are
there for me and always will be no matter what. I see that you
are there for Vicki in the same way.

I know you are not looking for kudos. I know that you don't
think of your love and support for your sister as anything
special. Speaking as one who is on the receiving end...you are
a good man and Vicki thinks you are a wonderful person with a
special ability to love. You are her angel.

Thank you for loving and caring for your little sister so much
and God Bless you.

Nancy Martin
Milton, FL

Dear Newsletter:

I've written to you before and I'm writing to you again, to
basically say the same thing. You are a TRULY talented writer
who knows how to tell a story in a way which touches people's
emotions, and you tell the story in a way which is entertaining.

Without sounding mushy or condescending, you are a prime example
of what is best in America, you are a prime example of the
deep rooted kindness, caring way of the American people. I like
your style and the way your stories each week touch me. I mean
this very sincerely. God bless you and Peg. 

Mike Gerrick 
Carlisle, PA

Dear Newsletter:

I often enjoy your newsletters with tears and laughter,
sometimes both at the same time.

I work for the Texas Department of MHMR so hearing a story like
this, brings a lump to my throat and warmth to my heart. Maybe
we are doing some good things for our special population in

I also have a brother-in-law who has down's syndrome and will
eventually be put in a special home when his parents pass on.
I know what you mean about the specialness of these folks, they
certainly possess a kind of "unconditional love" and
determination that we could all learn from. I'm going to pass
this on to our Commissioner, I think she would really enjoy
hearing about a success story in one of our group homes. 

Many thanks,
Ann Moeller
Austin, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

I am a special education teacher in El Paso, TX. I thoroughly
enjoyed reading you piece on your sister Vicki. We special
educators are always fighting for our more challenged brothers
and sisters.

Sounds like Vicki was also lucky to have you as a brother. 

Sandy Weston 
El Paso, TX

Dear Newsletter:

The newsletter regarding your obvious tender love for your
sister was beautiful. I rarely find time to finish a book,
but I do look forward to reading your newsletters. I haven't
been to Cloudcroft since 1978. You make us all feel as though
we're there. Keep up the good work!

Becky Haverland
Huntington, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

Thank you for sharing Vicki with us. It's no mystery to me why
she has exceeded the life expectancy given her.

Love, especially unconditional love, is better than anything
the medical field can offer. 

Sherry N. Taylor,
Granbury, Tx

Dear Newsletter:

I have been an avid reader of the newsletter for over a year
now. This is my first response. Your letter about Vicki was so
powerful that I had to stop reading because I could no longer
read the words.

I, too, was blessed with a person in my life who has cerebral
palsy. I was in fourth grade when Mark came to our school. It
is safe to say that I was changed irrevocably by his presence
in my life. Like Vicki, he was smarter than many gave him credit

Mark lives in a small community in the hill country of Texas
where he is an honorary fireman. He even has a badge and if you
ever meet him, you will see the badge! I am so grateful for
his continued presence in my life.

I am also thankful, Don, for your insightful letter. With all
of the sorrow and loss that we have experienced (as a country),
it is uplifting to be reminded of beauty and grace all around
us. I know that is what Mark has brought to my life and I bet
Vicki brought that to your life as well.

I will post your letter on my bathroom mirror. The next time I
start to complain about anything, or take anything for granted,
I will re-read your letter. Life is so full of beautiful and
wonderful experiences. Sometimes you have to look for them, but
they are there. So I say to all who read this, look for the
silver lining, make lemonade out of lemons or whatever cliché
you need to remind you to be grateful and to count your
blessings and to live life fully.

By the way, we were in Cloudcroft over the holidays and had a
wonderful time. We shall return.

Stacy Miller
Fort Worth

Dear Newsletter:

I had the good fortune of visiting your delightful Cloudcroft
with a girlfriend, Diania, who has property there, her
retirement home! What a view! She is too young to retire, but
longs to give up the Nashville scene and move there. She added
me to your newsletter subscription shortly after our visit, and
I have enjoyed it ever since. That was about a year and half 
ago. You make me feel like a part of a community that I only
visited briefly, but I did fall in love with it.

As I read your tribute to your sister Vicki tonight, it touched
my very much and I felt compelled to write. We all do have
challenges and some are a little more difficult. Hooray for
your sister.

God willing, I will get to visit again, but I most certainly
will continue to enjoy your Newsletter, so many articles have
amused me and I could even relate to some, like the dog

Ellen Near
Fairview, Tennessee

Dear Newsletter:

Again, enjoyed your newsletter as always. I never had a sister.
Two big brothers, used to beat me up a little; not a bad thing,
made me a little tougher, ha.

I just wanted to note, it's a very special thing to have very
special people in our lives. I know Vicki is a very special
person. Here's to another 50.

Happy Birthday Vicki!

Tim Ryan,
Cibolo, Tx

Dear Newsletter:

You managed to do it again - bring tears to my eyes with the
story about your sister. What a wonderful brother she has in
you. I'm going to forward your newsletter to my sisters right

Keep up the good work.

El Paso, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

Last fall we bought a cabin in the Cloudcroft area and are
enjoying it so much! I have just read some of your online
newsletters and also enjoy the bits of information and
comments. We moved to New Mexico eight years ago from a small
mountain community in California and have finally found 
another "home". Although we only spend weekends there now,
we are looking forward to being able to stay there full time
in the years to come.

Thank you for sharing the wonderful stories about your sister
Vicki. I too had a younger sister with a variety of physical
problems, including the inability to speak. (The part about
tattling was all too true!) So many people don't realize how
much the "handicapped" have to offer, instead of seeing only
what's wrong. I often wondered if she were the "normal" one, 
the way people ought to be, and the rest of us had the problems!

I think of myself as so lucky to have grown up with all the
love and acceptance and special qualities that she brought to
our lives. One of the good things in your story was the part
about underestimating what you thought your sister could do -
even though she didn't - and that's one of the best lessons to
learn about ourselves as well. My sister too was not supposed
to live for the 42 years she did, but they were worth far more
than any time could measure.

Thanks again for your newsletter.

Mary Curik
Los Lunas, NM


As to the rash of restaurant closings mentioned in today's

While it might be "sexy" to blame such things on the events of
Sept 11 and the following aftershocks, I think it is not
responsible to overlook the real problems which are:

*The Sellers (previous owners) of the establishments grossly
oversold the people they sold them to and burdened the new
owners with unmanageable amounts of debt.

*It is virtually impossible to get and retain adequate numbers
of employees to operate a restaurant in this area.

It is possible to overcome the labor problem by utilizing
family members and liquor sales most certainly help on the
revenue side. Not everyone has a large enough or cooperative
enough family to pull it off. Liquor license costs are

It is likely that we will all be "eating in" quite a bit for
the foreseeable future.

Bill Turner

Dear Don and Readers,

I would like to thank everyone for the wonderful support that
you have given the Western in the last couple of weeks. Allen
and I were very distressed after the first two e-mails from
folks who were less than satisfied with our restaurant. Don't
get me wrong that you shouldn't let us know what we are doing
wrong, because we do want to know and we will do everything to
"fix" a valuable criticism.

We immediately shared the two complaints with our employees.
Our waitress crew is like our own family. They have been with
us for years. They were horrified that they had possibly offended
someone who didn't deserve to be offended.

The Christmas holidays are the best 10 days in the business year
for Cloudcroft. They are the most intense working days that we
experience all year. We prepare for it each year, but it still
is brutal for everyone. Long waits are a nuisance for those who
are visiting and are in a hurry to get back out and have more
fun. Business staffs are hurried and generally overworked with
long hours.

But, we LOVE the Christmas holidays. It keeps the entire town
afloat until May! I can promise that if you will come up to
Cloudcroft to visit between now and May 31, you can have your
choice of tables, choice of waitresses, and of course no waiting
time outside in the cold. We now depend on our friendly, loyal
locals and the occasional tourists to keep the doors open until

I believe that I speak for all of the business people of
Cloudcroft, that it is a challenge to keep a business open on
this mountain. We all depend on our "visitors" and we would not
consciously do anything to loose even one customer. We need all
of you. This village is made up of a tenacious and generally
peaceful group of people. Almost everyone in Cloudcroft is here
to serve the "visitor" in some capacity. I admire our village
and the job that we do as a team to entertain you while you are
in Cloudcroft. 

It's our job. We will continue to try harder. Thanks again for
the support. Your kind words will help us get through the winter
and we look forward to your summer visits!

Regards to you all,
Carol and Allen Henry
Western Cafe owners

PS: Don, I do wish that I could meet your sister. What a
beautiful story!

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Copyright © 2002 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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