Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Leaving Caballo

It was with a heavy heart that I woke early Monday morning before dawn and watched the sun crest the mountains to the east. This was to be my last day at Caballo, at least for a while, as I move into an apartment this morning in Truth or Consequences.

The fine filigree fingers of the gnarly salt cedars sway in the breeze. Birds swoop overhead. Down at the banks of the Rio Grande fishermen in dawn light wait patiently for catfish bites.

Waiting patiently in dawn's light .... [please click]
Could I really leave this morning paradise? I wondered.

The lower riverside part of Caballo Lake park is a one-of-a-kind place. Nowhere else will you find the mix of salt cedars and cottonwoods, or hear water cascading over a dam, or see hawks and eagles in flight, or skunks and raccoon on the prowl at night, or cattle walking placidly by in the morning, or swallows wheeling above the river at dusk, or bats wheeling the sky at night.

At 10 a.m. a stampede into the field.
And the people who come here are special too. These are not the Class A motor home dwellers who park their rigs at the upper levels of the park, turn on the air conditioners and stay indoors. These are mostly tent and trailer campers who come in pickup trucks and cars from Las Cruces and El Paso to celebrate, build fires, cook steaks, drink beer, play music, fish.

July 4 is a special holiday here.

So is Easter when the park fills with extended family, sometimes as many as ten tents to a site.

It is a special occasion because 600-dozen eggs are placed in an open field to the south the night before. On Sunday morning the kids line up. At 10 a.m. the whistle blows, and they stampede into the field, picking it clean of eggs within minutes.

And so it is just after dawn. I have eaten breakfast, packed my bus, said my goodbyes to the river and the trees, the ground squirrels and the song birds. I turn the key and nothing happens. I depend on a 65-watt solar panel to keep my bus batteries charged and power a small refrigerator and other things. The past three days have been overcast. My batteries are too weak. I have a battery charger with me. I take the starting battery out, carry it to an electrical outlet and charge it for three hours. Now I am ready to go.

My 65-watt solar panel -- no good without sun.
(Later I find that a loose wire from the charge controller may have been at fault.)

But I am not thinking of my electrical gremlins as I pull out of Caballo. I am thinking of friends like Albert Carreras who comes here to relax and fish. Who plays Santa at Christmas to hundreds of kids in and around Las Cruces. Of Jack, the camp host, and his wife who did me so many favors. Of the smiles and the waves of so many.

I am thinking, too, strangely, of the cows that walk through placidly at night and dawn, whose 'moos' add a strangely bucolic note to the morning air. The mourning doves that take the place of roosters.

Morning cows at Caballo.
It is a magic place, I will be back, I tell myself. If not to this park then another. For now as the engine hums with life I am going to an apartment in a town with a stove, refrigerator, shower, running water, a bed, electricity, a desk -- because I need a place to write.

But as I look in the rear view mirror I know my heart is here as is in so many places the bus has taken me.

Time, though, to move on.



  1. sniff... and wow
    and I want to go
    beautiful post...

  2. I am enjoying your posts. I will be heading to New Mexico soon and will have to Caballo out. Hope you keep posting when you are in the apt.

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