All images © Tim Keller unless otherwise noted


June 6, 2017    Living and Dying in Folsom Time

George McJunkin's grave in Folsom Cemetery, Capulin Volcano in background

With Capulin Volcano providing a backdrop, Black cowboy George McJunkin's grave is well-tended and alone in Folsom Cemetery, where we ended the eastward progress of our Memorial Day drive before turning around and retracing our route back over Johnson Mesa to home in Raton.

Christina Boyce at George McJunkin's grave in Folsom NM

Christina had read that Memorial Day originally honored African American soldiers. Northeastern New Mexico has never had many African Americans, so Christina suggested that we visit the grave of George McJunkin. The former slave was a working cowboy in Folsom who was also an amateur archaeologist and historian. Riding upstream on what is now the Doherty Ranch at the base of Johnson Mesa west of Folsom, McJunkin, in 1908, found in the eroded creekbed a spearpoint embedded in an early bison bone. His discovery was the first evidence of "Folsom Man," that humans lived and hunted in this area 10,000 years ago. At the time, it was the earliest known human presence in North America. (Earlier people have since been found a couple hundred miles south around Clovis.)

Jim and Marge Atwater, grave sites in Folsom Cemetery NM

Exploring the cemetery, we enjoyed reading the marker for Sarah "Sally" Rooke, the Folsom telephone operator who stayed at her station phoning as many neighbors as she could before a flash flood came down from Johnson Mesa, killing 18 people, including Ms. Rooke herself. (Read Mike Schoonover's fascinating Folsom history with George McJunkin, Sally Rooke, and much more.) We found our friends Jim and Marge Atwater, too (photo at left, with a nice bench). Jim died four years ago but Marge is still with us. The gorgeous big 1929 Craftsman home where Christina and I live at the base of Bartlett Mesa, on the northeast outskirts of Raton--this was the Atwaters' home thirty years ago, before we met them in Folsom.

For thirteen years we lived near Folsom in neighboring Des Moines, where someone once told us that we would finally come to be considered locals once we were buried in the local cemetery.

Small-town life, livin' in the country--it suits us just fine.




June 4, 2017    A Berry Wet Afternoon

Christina Boyce at Berry barn atop Johnson Mesa in rain

From Yankee we continued to the top of Johnson Mesa, staying ahead of the rain until we stopped at Scott Berry's place where we took pictures that only got better as the rain reached us. We wore rain parkas and just kept shooting, as in this photo of Christina beside one of the barns on Scott's place.

Johnson Mesa horses in rain

I first photographed this land and Scott's horses when I profiled him for The Chronicle-News when he became Raton's city manager almost three years ago. Rereading Scott's family saga now, I highly recommend it (click here). Scott's great grandfather, an Irish immigrant, homesteaded the land 120 years ago, initially planting potatoes before switching to cattle. Christina and I got some great new photographs (see more here at my photography blog) and enjoyed exploring in the rain.




June 2, 2017    Studebaker

Studebaker pickup truck in Yankee Canyon pasture

An ancient Studebaker pickup truck and its rusted companion Chevy coupe were my first good photographic finds on our Memorial Day afternoon road trip from Raton to Folsom and back via Highway 72 across Johnson Mesa.

 Rusted Chevrolet coupe in Yankee Canyon pastureThey were hidden up a narrow canyon behind the abandoned Yankee Lodge in the heart of Yankee Canyon near Sugarite Canyon State Park. Busy with other pursuits, I hadn't been out with a camera for weeks so it felt good to spend an afternoon seeing what I could find--or finding what I could see. I'll be posting more here, and other photos and stories here at my photography blog, including some great images from atop Johnson Mesa as a thunderstorm passed over us. The Studebaker and the Chevy, facing each other (below) in the tall green grass were a great start for a photographer's day trip.





May 30, 2017    Out to Pasture

Studebaker pickup truck and Chevrolet out to pasture in Yankee Canyon NM

Studebaker meets Chevrolet and they settle down.

We took an afternoon road trip up over Johnson Mesa on Memorial Day and began with a walk up behind the Yankee Lodge in Yankee Canyon east of Raton, where I found this Studebaker pickup truck (!) settled in for eternity with this old Chevrolet coupe.

Studebaker pickup truck and Chevrolet out to pasture in Yankee Canyon

Yankee Lodge appears to be long defunct and I climbed a gate to go exploring for photographs. I didn't get anything I liked at the lodge itself, but up behind it I stuck gold with the trucks and an old barn. I especially liked the way the Studebaker and Chevy are facing each other in the tall deep-green grass.

Yankee Canyon barn

There's an old black Ford pickup next to the barn, and a great huge rusted vise attached to a work bench out in the open air. Yankee Canyon is the gorgeous gateway to Johnson Mesa. Driving up the canyon, no one gets to see hidden treasures set back from the road. Sometimes photography calls for exploration, for climbing fences and getting off the beaten path.




April 15, 2017    The Texas Panhandle

Pigeons flock at Texas TechTexas Panhandle wind farm

Walking the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock one evening last week, we quickly pulled out our iPhone 7 cameras to photograph countless birds as they flocked--almost swarmed--overhead and into trees to roost for the night. I thought they might be starlings or the like, but an online search just now tells me that they're pigeons and considered a real problem at Texas Tech.

Another Texas Panhandle proliferation is the opposite of a problem. The immense growth of sprawling wind farms surprised us almost as much as the pigeons. Tens of thousands of wind turbines extend across the entire region. We find them beautiful, especially in contrast to oil wells and derricks, which they're largely replacing throughout West Texas. Their size is astonishing, a long semi-truck trailer needed to carry a single blade. Across the wide expanse of the panhandle, I couldn't help think of Don Quixote amidst these giants.




April 12, 2017    The Blanco River

Tim Keller and Christina Boyce on the Blanco River downstream from Wimberley TX

On Tuesday last week, our two dogs, three cats, and one housesitter stayed indoors here at home in Raton as snow fell outside. Seven hundred miles southeast, Christina and I lingered in the Blanco River a mile downstream from Wimberley, Texas, as the afternoon temperature reached 90. We knew it was snowing at home, which added to our pleasure as we dangled our toes in the refreshing water.

Wading in the Blanco River, Wimberley Texas

Our road trip to the Texas Hill Country was a trip down memory lane as I revisited favorite places from my eight years living in San Marcos and Wimberley. We found my old garage apartment on Wimberley's Flite Acres Road. The main house next to it was gone, as were many houses washed away in the historic flood almost two years ago, Memorial Day weekend 2015. A For Sale sign stood by the driveway. Suddenly I realized that we were free to walk down and enjoy the placid river, as I did throughout the two years I lived there but never thought I'd be free to enjoy again. After so long, with so much change in Wimberley, I wasn't even confident that I'd be able to locate the old property. It was the first week of April but the river and the temperature took me back to my long summer days there. The thought of snow falling at home only made the afternoon feel more timeless.




April 10, 2017    Memory Lane...and Memory River

Crystal River Inn, San Marcos TX  San Marcos River, Texas Hill Country

Among the outcomes of my father's passing in December, Christina and I now own the house that I lived in decades ago when I earned my master's degree at what is now Texas State University San Marcos and taught for eight years at San Marcos High School. After I left town, my dad kept the house as a good investment, with a local property manager keeping it rented to college students. Christina and I enjoyed a road trip last week, timed for spring to coincide with bluebonnets and mild temperatures, to check out the house and walk down memory lane--I hadn't been in San Marcos for 25 years.

Real Ale Company, Blanco TX

We enjoyed three restaurants that are still going strong after opening when I was there 40 years ago--Grin's, Herbert's Taco Hut, and Palmer's Restaurant, where I once worked as a cook. I enjoyed local craft brews, including these three beers from Real Ale Brewing Company in Blanco, which I liked enough to bring home a case. We stayed at the Crystal River Inn, a B&B on West Hopkins in the heart of town, the same street that I first lived on when I moved to town. (Read all about my San Marcos years in my memoir, Ameripass - Aimless in America.) There's no Crystal River in the Texas Hill Country, but staying at the inn downtown allowed us to take long walks each day and night, exploring the town and the college and, always best of all, the San Marcos River that runs right through both town and college. We liked it all so much that we're planning to take another road trip there each year.






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