Pursuing Peace

July 13-18, 2023

Of course, we knew it couldn't last. Last year we had an extremely generous monsoon, clocking more than 24" of precipitation for the year (16" is the average). But this year's monsoon is dangerously late. We've received a mere .57" of rain since June 1, and temperatures are averaging 10 degrees above normal. In a normal year, Silver City sees temperatures above 90 degress for seven days on average. This year, we're at 25 and counting. Few of us have whole-house air conditioning (we didn't need it). And the wealth of outdoor activities that sweetens life here is now out of reach. By 10:00 am, it's too hot to hike or even sit outside at our favorite coffee shop. We were happy we had a trip on the calendar, to visit our friends Tom and Ann near Albuquerque and attend Ann's performance with the New Mexico Peace Choir.

As a hedge against the unusual heat, we packed extra water and made sure we had a full tank of propane so we could run the air conditioning. But, we were heading north, and the monsoon was on its way. How bad could it be?

Datil Wells Campground

We pulled into Datil Wells, one of our favorite campgrounds, around 3:00 pm, and were shocked to see the mercury still hovering at 99°. At 7440', we expected it to be much cooler. We sat outside watching the stars until it was cool enough to go inside.

chair on picnic table

Sheldon-like, I set up my chair on the picnic table to maximize elevation, airflow and shade.

Dennis and Elio

Dennis and Elio taking a sunset walk.

coffee shop in Magsalena

We always take a break in Magdalena, and this time we were delighted to discover a new coffee shop!

Evett's Cafe

Evett's Café reopened in 2019, sputtered during Covid, and is now going strong as a cafe/art gallery.

inside the Boxcar museum

Then, we visited the wonderful Magdalena Boxcar Museum, which has very informative displays on the Magdalena Trail, local mining operations, and the Alamo Navajo.

poster about Alamo Navaho

Fascinating history of the Alamo Navajo!

sharing dessert with friends

Out to dinner at the Greenside Cafe in Cedar Crest with Tom and Ann. One dessert, four spoons!

Dennis and Tom

Dennis and Tom, friends for more than 40 years.

stone fountain designed by Kit

Remembering the one who's no longer with us.

The New Mexico Peace Choir and post-performance party were absolutely delightful! But meanwhile, the monsoon failed to put in an appearance, and the temperature continued to climb. 100. 103. 105. Impossible for this elevation at this time of year! The day of the concert, we left the cats in the RV, plugged into a 30-amp circuit, with the AC running full blast. But when we returned, we discovered that the AC had blinked out, and it was 101°. The cats were okay, but lethargic and breathing hard. We wrapped them in wet towels and got the AC running. In a few minutes, they were back to normal. But now we know we can't count on the fragile systems that protect us in this insane heat. We also need to rethink the makeshift cooling system at home to account for the certainty that the "extraordinary" heat waves we're experiencing now are only going to get worse.

Shaffer Hotel ceiling

We were lucky to find the dining room open at the fabulous Shaffer Hotel in Mountainaire. The ceiling and light fixtures were all carved and painted by Clem "Pop" Shaffer, who built the hotel in 1923.

Shaffer Hotel ceiling

Yes, those are swastikas, but they were inpired by the Navajo "whirling logs" symbol, and predate its adoption by the Nazis.

Shaffer Hotel stone fence

Shaffer also built the whimsical cement fence adjacent to the hotel, which is studded with stone animals.

Big dish at the VLA

Dennis' favorite dish. We drove straight home that day, sobered by the close call, and our heightened awareness of the dangers of camping in extreme heat.