Friday, November 16, 2012

DAY 86- Alpacas & Rough Riders…

Yesterday when I drove through Mora, which is north of Vegas, NM, I saw a sign about feeding Alpacas at a place called Victory Ranch.  It was almost the Ranch’s closing time when I drove through but I thought I might still check it out.  So here I was doing a bit of backtracking so that I could have the opportunity to feed live Alpacas.  Yes, that’s the story of my life these days; as sad as it may sound.
Photo- Alpacas out grazing in the field at Victory Ranch.

I drove to Mora about 29 miles north and halfway through town I turned right and headed east.  At mile marker one, the ranch was off to the left.  I had driven by Alpacas who were out on in the field for about the last ½ mile.  I followed the signs and took a dirt track back to a barn like store towards the rear of the complex.  I parked and went in.  There were all kinds of wonderful wool products available for sale.  I asked the girl if I was too late for the 11AM feeding for the Alpacas.  It was a couple minutes after 11AM, and the next feeding time posted was 1PM.  She said that it should be no problem and got on the phone.

I paid my $5 fee and she set me up watching a video about Alpacas while I waited for Brian to show up.  She said he does the educational talk before you go out to feed the Alpacas.  I had just barely managed to sit down and watch the video when Brian turned up with a Folgers plastic coffee can in hand.
Photo- Brian, Mr. Educational, at Victory Ranch.

Brian led me out to the veranda part of the store, had me sit down on a bench, and started explaining the history of Alpacas.  Alpacas are related to camels.  There used to be camels in North America and some moved over the land to South America and others moved over to Asia and Africa.  They’ve all adapted to the climates and have changed from the original camels.  The camels in North America became extinct in the 1200’s; but the others have survived.

Brian went on to explain that the different aspects such as; breeding, sheering, and how the farm is set up.  There are four dogs and four lamas to protect the Alpacas.  The four dogs I understood but the Alpacas?  That was new to me.  But they are gentle with the herd and fierce when it comes to protecting the herd.  They will attempt to stomp on any predator.  It’s their natural instinct, and they are also related to the Alpacas only they were breed for carrying rather than for their fur.  He went on to tell a couple of stories of when they’ve had the lamas cornered wolves.  It was all very interesting.
Photo- Coal entering into the pen with the kindergarten crew of Alpacas.

Photos- Feeding the Alpacas.
Then, Brian used a walkie talkie and had Coal come take me out to feed the Alpacas.  I would be in the pen with what they called the kindergarteners; all of which were still in their first year.  They did the feedings of these youngest ones so that they could get used to being around people.  That way it would be easier later on to deal with them when it was sheering time.  Coal walked to the pen and right away they spotted the red Folgers coffee can.  They knew what was coming and they were all gathering at the gate.  Coal poured a little on the ground and then let me fill my little cup with some so I could start feeding them.  Quite a few of them were working on the ground but a few were watching as I got prepared to feed them.

I put some from my cup into my open slightly cupped hand and here they came!  One that was called Duke was especially a greedy one and stayed right by my cupped hand waiting for me to fill it.  Duke had this figured out.  I kept on moving my hand to let other get a chance and there were plenty of them wanting their chance.  There were almost 20 of them in the pen.  In general they were not very aggressive at all; rather docile.  They have no upper front teeth just bottom teeth so it was rather interesting having them feed out of your hand.  The feed had molasses and oats in it and this was a treat for them; normally they would be munching on grass out in the field area.  I was allowed to continue feeding until the Folgers coffee can was empty.  It was a fun experience.
Photo- Duke, the greedy Alpaca!

I drove back south through the ghost town of Mora and past Storrie Lake; into Las Vegas I went.  I was headed to the town museum where part of the museum is dedicated to the Teddie Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.  I parked outside and went in.  I was welcomed and told there was no charge but there was a donation box if I wanted to donate.
Photo- Gear from the Rough Riders in one of the cases in the Las Vegas,NM Museum.

The Rough Riders as they came to be known were the 1st US Voluntary Cavalry Regiment led by Theodore Roosevelt.  Quite a bit of the collection in the Las Vegas museum is material from the Cuban Campaign of 1898 Spanish-American War.  But there are photos and objects from the Rough Rider “Reunions” that took place in Las Vegas, NM too.  The Rough Riders were a tight knit group and met for yearly for reunions.  The first reunion took place in August of 1899.  Las Vegas at that time was the BIG city in the area and was convenient by railroad.  There were reunions in other cities such as; Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs, San Antonio, and Prescott, AZ.  But those that were left voted to hold any further reunions in Las Vegas.  The last “reunion” was held in 1968; one of the last two remaining past away later that year.  The last man standing of the Rough Riders pasted away in 1975.
Photo- Plaque of famous quote made by Teddie Roosevelt.

Also at this small town there were memorabilia and signs from the HUGE Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo which were quite the event in Las Vegas for years.  It also seemed to fit in nicely with the Rough Rider Reunions.  Las Vegas also happens to be on the Santa Fe Trail which there was old road signs and move memorabilia from that too.  It was quite the interesting little museum.

Photo- Statue in Las Vegas Plaza area.
Photo- Some of the historic building on the Plaza in Las Vegas, NM.

Next, I wandered down to the Plaza area of Las Vegas.  It’s an oval city park plaza area that is surrounded by older historic buildings.  There was a colorful sculpture in honor of “Our Lady of Sorrow Parrish” and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  Our Lady of Sorrow Parrish was the first Catholic Church in the area.  I walked around the square and checked out the buildings and what not.  Then, I had lunch at El Rialto Restaurant which Coal at Victory Ranch had recommended.  He grew up in Las Vegas and said it was his favorite place outside of his girlfriend’s cooking.  But he did say that anything in the Plaza area was good.

I ordered the three combo taco special with posole, which I have never had before.  It was the posole or Mexican rice, and I had never tried it so I thought what the heck (sorry hanging out in Utah too many years).  Posole is hominy spiced up, AND I happened to discover that I didn’t like it.  However, I LOVED the tacos.  These tacos were made from scratch right down to the taco shell.  They were amazing!  Then, I had fresh made to order sopapilla with honey for dessert.

Next, I was zooming along on the road on my way to Albuquerque for the night.  From there I would head further south, and I hope on to warmer weather.  I ended up getting stuck for a while in Albuquerque rush hour traffic.  But I will say it still didn’t hold a candle to the San Diego Rush hour before Monday Night Football.  I took an easy night in and ended up doing laundry.  I was a bit over due for this but now was the time.

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