Made a quick trip to Mesa Verde this weekend. Drove my mother and sister up for employment. I flew back to Houston on 5/26 (actually, I’m in Denver on a 3 hour layover, hoping to get home today). Saturday the 23rd we drove to Tucumcari. Long drive for me, long ride for them. Sunday morning we drove by what once was my mother’s cousins house. A very disappointing experience. Herbert is long gone but the house is still there. The giant trees are gone and the front yard is considerably smaller due to a widening of the road some years back. Also, the house has had a brick veneer added.
Herbert was the only child of Neal Smith (my mother’s uncle by marriage) to survive to adulthood. Neal Smith homesteaded near Duran near the turn of the century. He then hired on with the railroad while remaining a rancher. I remember him as being very old in the late 50’s. This is the story he told my mother when she was a small child as to the origin of the name Tucumcari: It seems that a railroad foreman was overseeing a crew of Native Americans. The foreman told a worker
to move a tie from point A to point B. The Native American looked at the tie and declared “One nocumcari, tucumcari.” I have a photo somewhere of Uncle Neal with a Native American friend named Jerri at Taos Pueblo.
We stopped at a rest area just outside South Fork, Colo. I had to show my mother a famous (to me) picnic table. Be the first to name the major ( maybe minor) motion picture it was in and win ...... something. I don't know what, but something. The only person reading this that has visited the shrine, I mean location, is disqualified.
Anyway, we made it up to the park and my mother’s summer quarters by 6pm Sunday. Nice accommodations. Probably constructed in the 40’s and rented out to tourists. There are 17 units surviving. All in relatively good repair. We spent Monday in Cortez buying groceries. Back at the cottage by 3pm. My mother and sister took a nap so I drove to the Museum and Spruce Tree House. The first sign on the trail stated a need to carry water. The next sign read “no food or drink”. Go figure.
This morning off to
the Cortes airport for a 10:50 flight to Denver. Incredibly small airport and plane. I had an isle seat. So did the other 18 passengers. Hope to make it home today. Back to Mesa Verde this summer for an extended stay.
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