Friday, November 9, 2012

Cloudcroft, NM: Karr Canyon and the Mystery of Binoculars 58

Karr  Canyon, near Cloudcroft, New Mexico

AKA: New Mexico: Fall Colors, Part 3

After I emerged victorious from imaginary mountain lion attacks, I made my way back through High Rolls and headed to Cloudcroft proper. 

But almost as soon as I got onto Highway 82, I saw a sign with a graphic of binoculars and the number 58, pointing right.

58 Binoculars

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and why not? So I turned right onto Karr Canyon Road in search of what I presumed to be a scenic viewpoint a few hundred yards away.

The beginning held so much promise, with a spectacular vision of tall columns of leafy sunshine.

And after rounding some pleasant curves, I approached a postcard-beautiful meadow at the foot of the mountains, filled with multi-colored, waving grasses and shrubs in medieval-tapestry colors like claret, champagne, and ivory. Alas, I knew my camera was not going to be able to overcome the still-strong sunlight to recreate how gorgeous this scene was. It's worth returning to this area during a different time of day to try to capture it. In the meantime, this was the best I could do:

But where was this scenic view #58? I pushed on. I seemed to be climbing, and soon I entered a forest. Then yay! Another sign with the binoculars and the 58!

(What was the 58? The name of the road? The mile marker? The 58th scenic view in NM? I didn't know, but I was guessing a mile marker, but weren't the mile markers ascending rather than descending? I didn't know.) 

I kept going, even when the pavement stopped.

The forest pressed in closer. I passed an area with picnic tables and even a vault toilet structure. The road was pretty rough, and I kept climbing.

I saw a trio of deer over on the left, and they bounded away.

Occasionally, sun pushed through the dense canopy and I thought I might be cresting the mountain, where I'd arrive at the view.  But then I'd climb some more.

My wuss side kept talking to me about vehicle breakdowns, heavily-armed mountain-living survivalists, methheads, and I had no whistle to defend myself.

But I kept going.

Until. I realized, no, it was just too late in the day, this first day of not-daylight-savings time. So I turned around and came back, with a plan to find out what this 58 business was so I could visit it another day. I got to see the lovely yellow columns again on my way out.

When I emerged, again unscathed, I took a right onto 82 and decided to look into the Old Apple Barn, a touristy store outside of Cloudcroft.

The Old Apple Barn

The Apple Barn, near Cloudcroft, New Mexico

I went inside the Old Apple Barn, confident that I'd see a lot of uninteresting tourist crap. Well, there was a lot of tourist crap, but most of it was, in fact, interesting. A pleasant surprise. I even found something I'd been looking for: A thing to hold my small purse items to make it easier to change bags - my purse, my backpack, my 'festival' bag. And a postcard.

I coveted some bamboo (?!) plates, but their price made it easier to break loose the hold.

I bought an apple for 40 cents, which I ate on my way back home. It was so tasty. The cashier offered me a free smidge of fudge to take with me, but I virtuously declined the invitation.

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