Back in the 40's, 50's and 60's Buddy went to Nashville and ended up playing in the back up bands of several Big Name country artists of the time. He's got old playbills from concerts by Hank Williams Sr and Patsy Cline where he played in the band. He's one of those very talented musicians who can sing and play just about anything.
On his birthday night, all the musicians brought their instruments and they jammed for a few hours playing old time gospel, bluegrass and western music. I was lucky enough to get most of it on video. This was just one clip of dozens. Buddy says they were really rusty from not having played together in a long time but I didn't mind and I doubt anyone else did either. This video clip is pretty big so I wouldn't try to download it without a high speed connection. Forgive the still photos, they are screen captures from the video.
It was a really fun night of listening to good music, eating, talking to new people and remembering the past. Buddy kept teasing me about how when he met me 25 years ago I was rail thin and had carrot red hair. Now I weigh twice as much and my hair is going grey. I told him he ought to know that's what happens when you get old. He had black hair in braids down to his waist when I met him and a mustache too.
The next day, Saturday I was up and out of the house just after Buddy and Irma at about 8 am. I was going to go photograph the ghost town of Colmor and I wanted to be out before the sun got too hot. On the way to the town I got a little turned around and ended up on the Ocate Ranch property which was fine because I got some great shots of sunflowers and cloud formations.
I finally did get to Colmor and found more than I had expected. Buddy had told me for a couple years there was nothing there. I think now what he meant is there was no town left and no people. He failed to mention a treasure trove of ruin. More can be seen here. Colmor in the rural_ruin community.
I stayed there for a few hours and kept trying to find a way to get up to the old school on the hill. But it was behind barbed wire fences and looking like the owner didn't want anybody going in there. So I resolved to get permission and come back another day.
I drove back to Springer and then down the back road to Maxwell, a town we used to visit on slow nights in Cimarron back in 94. There was a bar full of locals that sold Mescal shots for a buck each and a good pool table and a juke box loaded with old country and western songs.
From there it was down a long dusty gravel road to the bar at Colfax, affectionately known as Cold Beer, NM. I hung our for awhile talking to Roger, the bartender who also owns the St. James Hotel in Cimarron. He and I worked as bartenders together at the St. James back in 94, before he bought the place. I sat and had a couple Shiner Bock drafts and was the first and only customer for about half an hour. Then a couple bikers came in and bought me a beer. Then a trucker and a rancher came in and I bought everyone a beer.
Shortly thereafter, I started feeling hungry so I decided I'd head up to Taos Canyon to see if my friend Dawn Chandler was in. I was going to take her to dinner and share a bottle of wine I had along. But she was nowhere to be found so I kept on going up to Taos. I went to Michael's Kitchen and had a great dinner of burritos with green chili sauce, lemonade and sopapillas for desert. Then I did a walking tour around Taos, poking my head in galleries and tripping down alleyways looking for things to photograph. I found the paintings of an old artist friend in one gallery. A guy named Stephen Quiller who's work I used review when I lived in Creede, CO and ran the newspaper there in 87. Lots of interesting things around Taos for a photographer to see. Not so much on that day, but Taos is starting to get crowded like Santa Fe, so the allure has worn off for me over the years. I still like to go there to eat though. Plus I love the architecture. Arches everywhere.
One day I will have these doors. I just need a house to put them on.
Leaving Taos behind, I made my way back down the winding Canyon road. Stopped again at Dawn's but she still wasn't home so I left her a note and went on my way. The sun was dropping lower in the sky as I stopped in a big meadow in the Upper Canyon to get some photos. I saw a couple of hawks there but no bears or elk as I was hoping.
On down the Canyon, to where it opened to the Moreno Valley and Eagle Nest Lake. Past Angel Fire and the VietNam Veterans memorial. Past Idlewild where I used to help Perry Kitchel build A-Frame houses. Past the turnoff to Red River and the ruins of Elizabethtown and through the town of Eagle Nest where I used to wait tables at the Laguna Vista restaurant.
Then on the outskirts town, I pulled up to get a shot of this cabin with Baldy Mountain in the background. It was gorgeous with the sun hitting it just right. I chanced to look down at my feet at the variety of wild flowers and other mountain plants. My last view of the Moreno Valley was the old and decrepit Eagle Nest Lodge down on the Lake.
I drove Cimarron Canyon way too fast (but it's a hell of a rush), windows down, listening to the rushing waters of the Cimarron River. When I got back to Cimarron after nightfall, I headed to the St. James Hotel. Normally it would have been packed with college kids who work on staff at Philmont Scout Ranch just 4 miles away. But the Philmont Rangers were having a 50th Reunion dinner out at the rodeo grounds and since there was free beer, many of the staff had gone there. I could have gone myself as I'm a member of the Staff Association. But I wasn't looking for a crowd really and there was always a bit of a rivalry between the Rangers and the rest of us on staff. Plus there had been a big Hispanic family wedding with a reception at the James so I think the locals had chased the college kids off. I sat at the bar and had a couple more Shiner drafts before heading off to my bed on the couch at Buddy and Irma's. They had given me a key so I let myself in the back door, took off my boots to make as little sound as possible and crept over to my couch to read until I fell off to sleep.
Next post - Journeys in the Canyon, the old Colmor School, Colfax ghost town and on to Colorado.