|Tim in Pecos, Texas|
Pecos, Texas, developed a reputation for violence in the 1890s after several gunfights occurred here. Judge Roy Bean traveled to Pecos every few months to hold court. Although Pecos also claims to be the home of the world’s first rodeo in 1893, and is known for its sweet cantaloupes, we found its western history more intriguing.
A stop at the West of the Pecos Museum therefore seemed in order, and we saw the saloon where one of the gunfights took place, as well as the grave of Clay Allison, a notorious gunfighter who “never killed a man that didn’t need killing.” The museum is chock full of all types of memorabilia, and we wandered from room to room trying to take it all in.
|West of the Pecos Museum|
|They're Friendly Here|
|Displays of Cowboy Hats and Barbed Wire|
We wrapped up our stay in Pecos and headed north to New Mexico. I can’t believe that I was in Texas for almost three weeks and never once had the opportunity to eat barbeque or chili. How could that happen? Isn’t that a crime? Oh well. We did have several great Tex-Mex meals, but that’s just not the same. We now have one more reason to return to Texas.
We arrived in New Mexico on the trail of Billy the Kid. Yes, it was to be a day for outlaws. Although Tim had lived in New Mexico for many years, he had never visited the mountains and valleys west of Roswell. It’s a beautiful part of New Mexico, with peaceful valleys and snow-capped mountain peaks. Small towns like Lincoln and Capitan have preserved much of their heritage.
|Beautiful Valleys with Mountains in the Distance|
The town of Lincoln is located along the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway. The town became nationally-known during the bloody Lincoln County War of the late 1870s, and Billy the Kid was one of the central participants. Many of the buildings in the town are now a part of the Lincoln State Monument. It has often been said that Lincoln is one of the most authentic and best-preserved old west towns in the United States. After walking though the town today and visiting the museums in the historic buildings, I would have to agree. Lincoln is still a real town, and has only a few simple commercial establishments to cater to tourists. It’s the antithesis of Tombstone, which I consider to be the ultimate “tourist trap.” Lincoln is charming and a very low-key place, and I really enjoyed our visit.
|The Courthouse in Lincoln Where Billy the Kid Killed Two Guards|
and Escaped in 1881
|Montano Store Is Now a Museum|
|San Juan Mission|
|Interior of the San Juan Mission|
|The Torreon on the Right|
We followed our visit to Lincoln with a stop at the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan. It was nearby in the Capitan Mountains that an orphaned bear cub was rescued during a forest fire in 1950. This little bear went on to become the most famous bear of all times, and the living symbol of fire prevention efforts. The park has a small museum with photographs and memorabilia about Smokey. Smokey lived at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, until his death in 1976, but is buried here in the park. It was so nostalgic to view all of the exhibits about Smokey. To commemorate our visit, Tim and I simply had to purchase a little “Smokey Bear.” He’s the same size as Ranger Lowell, our National Park ranger bear, and both are now sitting on our dashboard. They have garnered quite a bit of attention.
|Smokey Bear Was Found in Capitan Gap in the Background as a Badly Burned Bear Cub|
(I Can't Believe that Someone Would Shoot Smokey!)
|Smokey's Message Is Still Being Told|