Fall means several things at my house. Green chile roasting and freezing. Raking leaves in the backyard. Planting arugula for a winter crop. Smoking a turkey to see how it might work to do the same on Thanksgiving Day. And gathering enough wood to burn in the fireplace until spring.
Luckily I live with a guy who traded some electrical work for a couple of cords of wood. Dave wired a house in Mosquero in exchange for wood, with the only requirement being that we had to retrieve it. From Ray Vigil’s Dad’s place in Mosquero Canyon.
So last Saturday we left Logan and headed north on Hwy 39. We took a left at Trigg Road, three miles out of town, with the plan that we’d end up directly south of Mosquero. Without a map, and without my very clear memory of Trigg Road past Ute Creek, we took a wrong turn and ended on a dirt road that put us on the south side of the Gallegos Ranch (great place to end up, I’d say).
It wasn’t a big deal – we just caught Hwy 39 again, traveled about 10 miles and then turned off the road at Mosquero Canyon Road.
It’s a gorgeous drive. Gorgeous place to live. Ray’s dad lives off the grid in his family’s turn-of-the-century (circa 1900) rock house, gathering his own electricity from a wind generator. As promised, there was an old pickup-bed-trailer full of our cut cedar, and there was Mr. Vigil, entertaining us with stories of what it was like to grow up in Mosquero Canyon in the 30’s and 40’s.
There were two friendly dogs and a new kitten. “Better grow up to be a mouser or I’ll feed him to the coyotes,” Mr. Vigil laughed. It was clear the kitten was safe with this guy.
Before we got too far from Logan, there were the herds of antelope lounging in the pastures, with Tucumcari Mountain in the background.
There was the Vigil ranch, high on a hill in the Canyon with a great view.
There was the road west from the ranch through the canyon, crossing Mosquero Creek four or five times before we climbed out on the mesa (no bridges, so don’t try this in a car).
There was the Dawson train rail bed up on the mesa going into Mosquero (we so need a post on the Dawson coal mines and train), and then there was Mosquero, where we had hoped to grab a burger at Pat’s bar. And then there was a stack of wood to burn in the fireplace on Sunday. The perfect way to celebrate Fall.
Mosquero Canyon. Not a bad place to spend a Saturday. I highly recommend it. The turnoff from Hwy 39 is approx 34 miles north of Logan.
If you prefer to dirt road it out of Mosquero, simply turn south on Third Street and then left on Mosquero Canyon Road about seven miles south of town. Don’t try it in a car and don’t try it in bad weather. But try it sometime soon. It’s the quintessential New Mexico destination – rural, rough and beautiful.