Sunday, September 28, 2014

FIRED UP ... In Tucumcari!!

I found out quickly in my travels if you ask people in a small town what there is to see, you will find some amazing treasures.  I knew Mesalands Community College had a dinosaur museum ... really? in Tucumcari New Mexico??  Yes they do ... because they have classes and students that actually go out in the desert and find fossils, which they learn how to recover, clean and display.  It's a great little museum where you will learn quite a bit.  You can even RIDE a dinosaur if you wish!!
I wouldn't want to meet this guy in a dark alley ... look at those teeth!!  Most of what they have here are smaller dinosaurs, even though this looks like T-Rex.
There are so many different dinosaur names that I couldn't keep them straight.  If these classes had been offered at MY school, you can bet I would have been signing up.  This is fascinating stuff!!
Here's one I've never seen ... the hollow head crest of a Parasaurolophus, 75 million years old, found in New Mexico.  
This is what they think it looked like in real life.  Pretty crazy!!  The hollow tube is a resonance chamber they used to "talk" to each other.  
We've all seen the velociraptor in Jurassic Park ... that's it on the top right, with the American alligator on the bottom left.  Not quite as big as in the movie ... I think they took dramatic license and increased it's size considerably for effect!!  Who knew??  
We heard around town that FIRED UP was on for Saturday night, so we decided to check it out, having really no idea what it was about!!
Held at the newly renovated train depot that used to bring thousands of passengers to this booming town, it was all about Main Street ... a comprehensive downtown revitalization program to encourage development while keeping historic preservation in mind.  In other words, bringing Tucumcari back to life.
It's actually like a big street fair however, that must have brought out everyone who lives here.  By 7:00 the place was packed!!  The first order of business was to elect Prince Tocom and Princess Kari to reign over the festivities!!  The girls were decked out in their finest Indian Princess costumes that someone had spent a LOT of time creating!!  
Same for the boys ... these guys were decked out in their Indian BEST!!  All 4 and 5 years olds, they told us their favorite color, their pets name, yelled "thank you" and waved to the crowd.  It is interesting to note that almost all had only one parent ... and most were single dads.
The winners!!!!!
This is Vince Smith of San Jon NM, demonstrating his dutch oven skills.  We didn't get to taste any of the peach cobbler, but it must have been good since he's won several competitions, including some at Cheyenne Frontier Days last month.  We bought some roasted corn with any topping you could ask for (Barbara said the cinnamon-sugar was the BEST) ... homemade cookies and I made a beeline for the local 4-H table where they were selling S'mores!!!  What a GREAT idea ... and they were yummy!!!
Way off in a corner was a Leather/Antique store that just drew me right in the door where I found this old table top grinding stone for sharpening knives.  It's a nice conversation piece for my kitchen counter!!  Tom found an ammo can in perfect condition for $10.  
Here's Mark Lake, demonstrating Raku pottery.  He makes the pieces, bakes them in a kiln, then finishes them off in buckets filled with stray.  The hot pot sets the straw on fire, which bakes the finish.  It was pretty smoky and didn't smell all that nice, but the results were fascinating!!
Here he's just taking my pot out of the bucket.  Now you KNOW I couldn't get away without some local art!!  It's not only the art, but supporting the people who continue to make things by hand.
Here's the final result!!
Here's another purchase to support the locals ... The Thomas Family Cookbook.  The nice elderly lady selling these spent some time in California before returning to her roots outside of Tucumcari.  This cookbook is full of recipes from her great grandmother, including sopaipillas, Navajo fry bread, hard tack, pasole, knishes, best ever dog shampoo, poop cookies (not misspelled) and creme brûlée!!  All that and helpful hints every few pages ... how could I pass THAT up!!
The Sons of Confederate Veterans had a great time firing cannons at each other, as did the audience.  This was pretty impressive to say the least!!
THIS however, was the best of the festival ... the 2-Man Blacksmithing and Artistic Blacksmithing Contest.  I'm sooooo glad to see this type of work, not only still being done here, but taught in the local college.  This truck is just amazing ... not because of the fire painted on the side, but because of how it's built.  The trailer opens up to become 10 blacksmithing stations.  The gentleman that owns this truck with his son, is a champion blacksmith, traveling the Midwest promoting blacksmithing excellence and training through competitions.  
Having been involved with horseshoers all my life, these guys were fun to watch.  It's amazing how they can take a plain flat piece of steel and shape it into a useable horseshoe.  In the artistic competition, they made a door knocker and a corkscrew ... both pretty amazing ... that you could silent bid on, but the prices quickly got too high for me!!
Horseshoes aren't made from square stock ... they are almost triangle shaped ... so here he hammers the steel in a mold to get the shape.  There's lots of flotsam flying off the steel as they heat, mold and hammer away ... kind of like coal cinders on a steam train.  We got covered!!!
They had one hour to make two shoes to definite specifications ... one very large for a clydesdale and one small ... one guy making the shoe, the other assisting.  When done, they started the clock again and changes places.  They were working almost 3 hours straight!!
It just tuckered this baby out completely!!
And me along with her.  I actually thought I might sleep in today, but that wasn't to be.  The RV park was full when we returned to our rigs and this morning I can't believe how rude they were.  Slamming doors, running what I thought was a generator, it was so loud ... at 7:00 on a Sunday morning.  The two rigs on either side of me weren't the least bit quiet as they packed up.  I was up at 6:00 anyway, but I'm sure the other people here didn't appreciate the racket!!

This is our last night before heading off to the balloon fiesta.  Here's to smooth sailing since some storms are expected to roll in Monday ... the clouds and winds are gathering as I type!!

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