Along the Natchez Trace

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sevilleta NWR after 3 years and More....

It has been 3 years since we've been in this area.  I had to look back on my records.... we volunteered at Bosque NWR from October, 2001 through February, 2002.  Came back in January, 2003 and worked at the Bosque briefly....  and again in April of 2003.  In September of 2006 we began our volunteer service at Sevilleta NWR.... worked through December....  came back again in March of 2007 and worked a month.  Came back on August 23 of 2007 and worked through November.  And our last tour of duty here was November 9, 2010 until March 20, 2011.  It was in 2001 we saw our first Whooping Crane... the last survivor of the Kent Clegg experiment, and happened to be the last year that bird of that experiment was ever sighted.  So we have a lot of history in this area over the years.  It is so much "home" that we know (and use) the local Wells Fargo Bank, I know the priest at San Miguel, and we even know what beers the local brewery produces.

So having been out of the area for nearly 3 years it was exciting to see some of our old friends and our old "haunts" again.

Yep!  This is the Refuge Headquarters...
Looks about the same...  we can see the solar panels on the roof of the office area...  they were installed during our last time here.

It didn't take long to park and head inside.  First person we see is my old "boss"...  Janine.
She was such a pleasure to work with.  We had worked under other "bosses", which was fine, but Janine was newly hired shortly before we arrived, so it was a whole new ballgame.
Jon, the biologist was new also.  Both of them had "hired on" under a different manager.  Due to other circumstances that manager was gone and a new manager was in place between the time they had accepted their positions and they actually arrived for their jobs.  As you can imagine, that was a stressful time for everyone.  But it was great working with both Janine and Jon...  they gave me opportunities to work on projects that were only dreams at that time.

Janine and Jon
I was so happy to see them again.

The Visitor Center of Sevilleta NWR was on tap for some major renovations.  It is located about 50 miles south of Albuquerque, where the Regional Office is located.  The Bosque del Apache NWR is another 45 miles or so south.  The Bosque is much more publicly oriented it gets a LOT more attention.  Sevilleta NWR was specifically designated as a learning facility and much of the 230,000 acres are not publicly accessible.  As a result, this refuge gets kind of short shrift when it comes to funding etc.

We were thrilled to see that the Visitor Center had been totally renovated.  

 The above are some of the things now on display to the public.

Kathy had just become the new manager when we left....
We loved seeing her again and seeing what a great job she's done in developing the area.

One thing the refuge has is a facility to raise and hold Mexican Grey Wolves in a regulated captivity area until they can be released in the wild.
They have a web-cam set up so visitors can observe the wolves in their holding pens...

Bill & I have participated in a few "wolf captures" in the past.  There are times when a wolf needs to be captured either for the vet to check, or maybe the wolf will need transported to another facility.
It is quite an exciting event to take part in.  
It was interesting to see the web-cam, especially since we'd been in that area and could picture in our minds exactly what was going on.

 This floor model of the refuge acreage shows the 4 different biomes in this vast area.  
I don't know which I love the most...  the West Mesa, which is up in the mountains...  or maybe the prairie dog villages in the grasslands...  but then I love Goat Pass, even though I have to put the truck in 4-wheel drive...  or maybe Cibolla Springs...  okay... I love it all.

More of the Visitor Center

We stayed quite a while visiting with our old friends...  catching up on who was where, who had moved on, etc.  It's always such a good feeling to feel welcome again after such a long time.

We drove on down I 25, past Socorro...  on to San Antonio.  It's a very tiny town, but is famous for the Owl Cafe...  made famous during the cold war days by personnel from the (fairly) nearby Trinity Site, and also by Conrad Hilton.
That isn't what attracts me...we try to get here when Sechler's Farms roast their green chilies... right across the street from the Owl.
We weren't disappointed...  they were busy roasting and we could just inhale the aroma of those fantastic, flavorful chilies.  When we lived here we'd buy enough to last a few months because we could use one of the Refuge freezers to store them.  But this time we bought 1 bag of hot and 1 bag of medium....  just enough to get us by a couple of days.

The Owl is famous, but Manny's Buckhorn, which is just across the street and down a couple of buildings has, in my opinion, the better green chili cheeseburger....

In fact, Manny was invited for a cook-off with some famous TV chef and Manny's burgers won.  We don't have a TV so I don't know who this was, but you might remember.  
I've been craving a green chili cheeseburger every since I knew we would be heading this way.  And, you're hearing this from a woman who eats beef maybe 4 or 5 times a year!
What can I say?
Damn!  They're GOOD!

After our dinner at Manny's we drove up the road a few miles to visit an old friend.
Daniel was one of the "brown shirts" at Bosque when we volunteered there in 2001.  Although I didn't work for him directly, I ended up working for him off and on over the years.  He and his partner, Socorro, have a cactus farm? operation? heck... what do you call a place that grows and sells cacti?  Anyway, he has always been a special friend and I was so glad we caught him at home.

Our friend, Daniel, alongside his amaranth plant.  
One time when I stopped by the Bosque, Daniel took we with him to "relocate" a rattlesnake to a hiberniculum...  I just this past week saw a photo of that hiberniculum on the USFWS website.
Daniel's one of those folks you meet up with that you just want to stay friends with forever.

It was late by the time Bill & I left Daniel and Socorro's place....
Back to the Birdwatcher's RV Park.  We planned to get a good night's rest and take a drive through the Bosque del Apache NWR early the next morning.

So....  this blog is going to continue to another day.

That's All For Today!


  1. What an amazing place! And...what a life!

  2. Bill and Daniel look similar, they could pass for brothers. Thanks for the tour. Another beautiful part of Texas.

  3. Sure is a beautiful visitor center, the renos are amazing.

  4. Very nice ... as you may or may not know... I'm just not a desert kind of kid for too long. I am always fascinated by those who are.

    I traveled all over that area... I guess I could go back and fetch where it was I went to the Whooping Crane Festival ... guess I'll do that. That was spectacular! .... no no it was Sand Cranes! ... gonna go back to last year and find out where that was...

    I enjoy the differences of the arid states but not for long. I wanted to experience what people who love the desert experience.

    I loved the sunsets and sunrises... nothing like it. the beauty of far off never ending colors and shadows. rippling effect of nature ... it is gorgeous but the feeling I got when I finally hit my trees and hills and cool cold clear water ... describes how you felt when you 'saw' home.

    interesting innit ;)

  5. butterbean carpenterAugust 23, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Howdy Sharon & Bill,

    If y'all don't s l o w down some you'll have to go back to work in order to get ANY REST !!!! So glad you got to see your 'old' friends.... I forgot one reason we wanted y'all to come by was to get some of those peppers from Granbury !!! Oh well, bring some when you come back by !!!!
    Hope y'all are having a very wonderful HAPPY DAY !!!!!!!!!!

  6. Wow, it sounds like you are having a wonderful time!

  7. Looks like you were really enjoying the food! Yummy!

  8. Such a wonderful time you're having - and meeting up with old friends, as well as making new ones.