Dinosaur Tracks, Rosebud Agate, and a Little Horse Stuff

By Patty Wilber

This past week my family (my mom, dad, brother, sister, son, and daughter-in-law with one on the way) was visiting and while I did manage to ride, and I had a break through with Five (he is relaxing and and is finally willing to lope both ways in the arena!) what I really want to highlight is our trip to Union County in the northeast corner of New Mexico.

We live near the middle of the state and our first leg to  Clayton Lake State Park to see the dinosaur tracks was 199 miles. We completely lucked out and the weather was in the 80s up there, so the 1/4 mile hike to the trackway site was not a torture test.

The dam for Clayton Lake was constructed in 1955, but in 1982, the lake filled up and ran over the emergency spillway, washing away a layer of material and uncovering over 500 tracks! It was fun to imagine the huge dinosaurs sinking in mud as they moved across the ancient shoreline! (And in one case, dragging a tail.)

Then we went back to Clayton (12 miles) to stay at The Eklund, a historic hotel. It was established as a saloon in 1892.  We enjoyed the old time decorations and creaky floors.  The beds were comfortable and the rooms were unique (in a good way).  We ate at the restaurant at the hotel (which was convenient and adequate, even if our 7 pm dinner reservation did not result in being seated until 7:50), enjoyed watching an amazing lightning show somewhere to the north, and in the morning, there was a nice free breakfast!

In Clayton, a local also taught us that if you are at one of those gas stations where the pump seems to be taking 100 years to give you one gallon of fuel, you just whack the fuel dispenser on the curb and, wah lah, problem fixed.

And finally, Clayton is the childhood home of Charmanye James, who won 11 Women’s Professional Barrel Racing Championships, 10 with one horse, Scamper, an American Quarter Horse gelding.  She cloned him and started breeding that colt, named Clayton, in 2008.  His get are not registered quarter horses, and after a short search, I was not able to find any information on whether Clayton’s get were successful at barrels, so apparently not as good as Scamper, himself, anyway.

The next day, was my dad’s 85 birthday, and we drove about 40 miles (30? on good a good gravel road) to the Willet Creek Agate Company to rock hound for rosebud agate.  The weather was even cooler and we had a very fine time treasure hunting with Jeremy, the proprietor and guide.  His great grand parents homesteaded the land in 19…19? (I did not take notes). Rosebud agate is stunning and a blast to find. We also found a 12 pound chunk of chocolate chert which we left with Jeremy, and some common opal. The agate was my favorite.

Rosebud agate at the Willet Creek Agate Company. And yes, it actually looks like that in areas on the ranch!

We had a picnic lunch on the porch of this currently empty house on the ranch. L to R Daughter-in law, Erika; my mom, Mary Ann; my dad, Jim; our guide, Jeremy; me, in the pineapple hat; my sister, Kathy;  my brother, Mike and son Mark.  Jim took the photo.

Here are two of the bigger pieces we brought home. We have some smaller pieces that have less matrix and more agate, too.

The whole top of this piece is red and blue. I probably should have photographed it, but it is getting late. This is a couple pounds in mass.

The cost was fifty dollars per person for the day and $1 per pound of rock that we took home. Since we do not have any rock polishing or cutting tools, Jim and I restricted our take to 11 pounds.

I think it would be a blast to do a rock hounding horseback riding weekend there–there is plenty to explore.  Unfortunately, that is not currently an option, but there might be a camping weekend tour in the future.

After the ranch, we continued north and then west and ended up, just on accident, by Capulin Volcano National Monument, so of course we stopped there!  The whole area was ridiculously and uncharacteristically green, and it was just stunning!

Park Service stock photo.

Me, near the rim. Photo by Jim.

My mom, me and my sis at the overlook. Crazy green.

We continued on to Raton then down I25 to Las Vegas for dinner and finally got home around 11 pm.  That was a darn good adventure!

Cancer Treatment Update.  Cancer?  What cancer?  Next infusion is July 27th.  In the meantime, I actually feel fine!

About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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