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Lakes Sumner and Santa Rosa

April 1, 2018

Lake Santa Rosa State Park. 30th March


Yesterday, on leaving Lake Sumner, we headed back into the town of Fort Sumner. Billy the Kid had been killed a few kms out of town and thought it worthwhile visiting his grave. He had escaped from jail at Capitan, about 120kms south and had made his way up to his friends, the Maxwells. It was here he was shot by Pat Garrett. The head stone has a story; it disappeared in 1951 and wasn’t discovered till some 26 years later in Texas. Then it happened again in 1981 and found four days later in California. The governor sent the sheriff across to California to retrieve it. The tomb is now surrounded by a two metre high cage and the grave cemented.

But it was what was next to the grave was the interesting discovery. The signs ‘Bosque Redondo Heritage Site’ had been roadside for quite some time so we decided to have a look before visiting the grave.

In 1862 the government had become tired of troubles they were having with the Navajo and decided to relocate the tribes to Fort Sumner. Over the course of two years they captured an estimated 10,000 Navajo and forced them to walk some 450 miles from their home in the four corners area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. Not just the men but women and children as well. They called it “The Long March”. A third died on the journey and many more died in the concentration camp conditions they experienced at the end of their march.

The same happened to the Mescalero Apaches from further south with about 500 of them ending at Bosque Redondo. At the camp they were meant to learn how to farm and grow crops. An anathema to the Plains Indian.

The experiment lasted a bare 6 years when first the Apaches escaped and then the Navajo negotiated a reservation at their original home.

I had read about it all a while back but didn’t associate Bosque Redondo with the event. It was a sobering experience. The memorial was very well presented giving the visitor a pretty good idea of their suffering.

Today we headed west along Route 66 to where we are tonight. A fair bit of the way the old road runs alongside the interstate but the old bill boards and derelict buildings are a memento of times past.


31st March

We decided to stay another day at the lake. Although the camp site is not on the lake there was a pleasant walk around the shore worth trying out. Catching up on a bit of washing, getting in some reading and with warm weather it is very nice. They had snow here three days ago, the same night we had the freezing weather at Lake Sumner. We decided to buy a 110v heater yesterday and when we stop at a powered site at least we can go to bed and wake up warm. Were talking to some Oklahomans at the Tucumcari RV Park who were shocked we didn’t have heating and seeing our path is north we can expect more colder weather.

A word on the RVs you see everywhere on the road. They are monsters! Up to 50’ long with at 2-4 slide outs. Then they hook a car or trailer for a car on the back. The parks all have drive through sites otherwise they would have difficulty getting in position. Often when they activate the slide-outs there is only millimetres between one RV and the one next door. The inhabitants never seem to come out once they are set up. They never seem to talk to their neighbours. The toilet blocks are used only by tenters or the smaller campervans such as ours which don’t have the facilities on board. Great for us. I would say there is a good split between caravans, motorhomes and 5th wheelers but the 5th wheelers seem to be the biggest. Our little bakkie intrigues some of them who wander over to have a chat which is nice.

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