The Burros of Carrizozo
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The desert eventually gave way to foothills, the yucca to pinion pines. The foothills climbed into the mountains and then dropped down into a long, green valley and the sleepy little town of Carrizozo. I parked in front of a historic old brick building and while I walked across the road to the post office to mail a letter, Ilana happened across an old timer on a street corner, who, admiring Chance, engaged in a long conversation about how he now wanted a dog but wasn't sure if the time was right. Years ago, he said, he had built a number of brick walls around his backyard to keep out the neighbors dogs
Ilana asked him where the best place in town for lunch was. "Well, he said, tucking his cane under his arm and scratching his grizzled chin, "there's this little place down the street, kind of a sign of new life in town, where the people with the computers hang out." He said they served a pretty good lunch but closed at 2 p.m., which it now was. "Then there's the Four Winds, not as good but the food is edible."
We sidled up to the bar at the Four Winds Cafe and ordered the fish and chips, which was deep fried almost beyond recognition, while the french fries, which looked over-cooked, actually tasted undercooked. I kept eating them because I couldn't believe something that looked so good could taste that bad. This has only happened once before in my life, when my brother Larry and I, on a camping trip through the Western United States taken in our twenties, cooked up some pancakes one morning that tasted like rubber. I just kept eating them because I couldn't believe a pancake that looked so good and smelled so good could taste like rubber
The young man behind the counter was a transplant from San Bernadino who used to commute many miles to work there. "Now my commute is the walk across the street to the restaurant," he said. His family had bought the place and he had moved there to help out. "What is there to do here?" Ilana asked. "Not much," he said, "but it keeps me out of trouble."
After our meal of "edible" food, we drove down the main street and parked the Gypsy Wagon. I grabbed the camera and took pictures of the pride of the town of Carrizozo, the brightly painted ceramic burros that grace the doorways and stand atop the roofs of the old shops. They are the work of the local artists and a complete delight to behold. Strangely, they fit perfectly in with the quirky character of this sleepy little town.
Another half hour down the road we came to Lincoln State Park, which is actually the entire town of Lincoln, New Mexico. It is the site of the famous Lincoln County Wars of the early nineteenth century. It started as a fight between two store keepers, one who was a long-time Lincoln resident and the other an English gentleman who came into town and set up a competing store. The local guy previously had the only general store in town, running a little fife-tom with special deals being given to the local government, the town sheriff, who got compensation to back him in legal disputes, and even the U.S