Roswell, UFOs, and Billy the Kid… The 10,000 Mile Bike Trek

Are aliens for real? What about UFOs? I found this charming character in a diorama at the Roswell UFO Museum.

Are aliens for real? What about UFOs? I found this charming character in a diorama at the Roswell UFO Museum.

 

“While working with a camera crew supervising flight testing of advanced aircraft at Edward’s Air Force Base, California, the camera crew filmed the landing of a strange disc object that flew in over their heads and landed on a dry lake nearby. A camera crewman approached the saucer, it rose up above the area and flew off at a speed faster than any known aircraft.”

—NASA astronaut, L. Gordon Cooper.

 

I was getting tough, no doubt about it. In four days I had biked from Springerville, Arizona to Roswell, New Mexico. The first three days, I had crossed the Rockies and half of New Mexico, checking out Pie Town, the VLA, and the location of the world’s first atomic bomb blast. On day four, I had cycled up into the Capitan Mountains and found the gravesite of Smokey Bear. But my day wasn’t over. Twelve miles down the road was the community of Lincoln that had been the center of New Mexico’s infamous Lincoln County War in 1878.

My intention was to call it a day in Lincoln and go in search of Billy the Kid, or at least his ghost. He’s said to haunt the area. But I really couldn’t find any place I wanted to camp so I just kept pedaling— another 57 miles. For much of the afternoon, I travelled along the Rio Hondo River with its small ranches, pine trees and cottonwoods, a welcome break from the dry deserts I’d been crossing. Dusk found me flying down a hill into Roswell. I was bushed, it had been a 90-mile day across another mountain range, but I couldn’t help scanning the skies for UFOs. The area is known for being the crash of a flying saucer in 1947, an incident that is still debated today. I had seen one once. I wanted to see another.

The UFO/or weather balloon crash site was on the other side of this mountain.

The UFO/or weather balloon crash site is on the other side of this mountain.

So today’s post is about desperadoes and little green men. There’s a lot to cover. I’d best get to it. I’ve blogged about Billy the Kid before. Here’s what I had to say:

Henry McCarty, aka Kid Antrim, aka William Henry Bonney, aka Billy the Kid initiated his life of crime in Silver City during the 1870s stealing butter from the local ranchers. And then he got serious; he was caught with a bag of stolen Chinese laundry. His buddy Sombrero Jack had given it to him to hide.  The local sheriff decided to lock Billy up for a couple of days as a lesson that crime doesn’t pay but the Kid escaped through the chimney.

Two years later, at 16, he killed his first man. Five years and some 11-21 murders after that (depending on press reports), he would be shot down by Sheriff Pat Garret. Billy liked to twirl his guns and enjoyed the polka— a fun guy.

There wasn’t much fun involved in the Lincoln County War; lots of people got killed. It’s the age-old story about the new guys riding into town and trying to dethrone the old guys. The ‘old’ guys in this case were Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan. Arriving in the early 1870s, Murphy and Dolan had built large ranches and Lincoln’s only dry goods store and bank. They controlled the law and were able to set prices to maximize profits. Corrupt friends higher up in New Mexico politics had enabled them to gain lucrative contracts selling beef to the US Army. They made lots of money; they didn’t want to share.

Enter from stage left, John Turnstall, a wealthy Englishman, and Alexander McSween, a lawyer. Backed by John Chisum, one of the largest cattle barons of the Old West (he had a herd of 100,000 cattle), they set out to obtain what Murphy and Dolan had. So they established cattle herds and built a dry goods store and bank in Lincoln. Soon they were taking business away from Murphy and Dolan, an intolerable situation. Dolan challenged Turnstall to a gunfight which Turnstall avoided. Instead, he hired Billy the Kid, someone eminently qualified to fight his gun battles for him.

This is a copy of the only known photo of Billy the Kid. It's found in what was once Murphy and Dolan's dry goods store and headquarters in Lincoln, NM. Later it would become Sheriff Pat Garret's Office. Billy would escape from here by killing two deputy sheriffs.

This is a copy of the only known photo of Billy the Kid. It’s found in what was once Murphy and Dolan’s dry goods store and headquarters in Lincoln, NM. Later it would become Sheriff Pat Garret’s Office. Billy would escape from here by killing two of Garret’s deputies.

Being thwarted, Murphy turned to the local law, his law, Sheriff William Brady. Faster than you can say trumped-up charges, three deputies were out on the trail of Turnbull. Naturally they had to shoot and kill him. This irritated Billy no small amount and the war was on. Then things really got complicated with competing bands of outlaws and lawmen, local cattlemen, the US Army, two New Mexico governors, and the President of the Unite States involved. Ultimately the Kid and McSween were killed along with 16 or so other folks including Sheriff Brady. Murphy and Dolan ended up bankrupt. McSween’s widow seemed to end up owning much of the stuff. There must be a moral of some kind here.

Murphy's sharpshooters used this tower in the Lincoln County War. It was originally used for protection against marauding Apaches.

Murphy’s sharpshooters used this tower in the Lincoln County War. It was originally used for protection against marauding Apaches.

A letter of appeal that Billy wrote to Governor Lew Wallace who had been appointed to clean up the mess in Lincoln County and the corruption in New Mexico's government. What interested me was how neat, and how well written the letter was.

A letter of appeal that Billy wrote to Governor Lew Wallace who had been appointed to clean up the mess in Lincoln County and the corruption in New Mexico’s government. What interested me was how neat, and how well written the letter was.I doubt you will find penmanship like that in our schools today.

Peggy and I found these red peppers in Lincoln. They made it onto my blog because I thing there is an unwritten law in New Mexico that anyone who blogs about the state has to include a shot of red peppers.

Peggy and I found these red peppers in Lincoln. They made it onto my blog because there is an unwritten law in New Mexico that anyone who blogs about the state has to include a shot of red peppers.

This rock is here because I found it near Lincoln along Highway 380. I think Billy would have liked it.

This rock is here because I found it along NM Highway 380 near Lincoln. I think Billy would have liked it, or shot it.

My road shot for the day. I really enjoyed the trees and green grass I found riding along the Rio Hondo River. This may look dry and barren to you. Believe me, it wasn't.

My road photo for the day. I really enjoyed the trees and green grass I found riding along the Rio Hondo River. This may look dry and barren to you. I thought I was in Eden.

Now, on to little green men.

A little green man contemplates what to do about earth while standing on the streets of Roswell.

A little green man contemplates what to do about earth while standing on the streets of Roswell. Don’t worry; the sign on the right says he’s under 24 hour video surveillance.

It was 1968. I was standing outside on my small porch in Sacramento, California, innocently minding my own business and sipping scotch when aliens entered my life. A round, disk-like object flew into a cloud going in one direction, and then flew out going another, accelerating at an unbelievable speed. It was only seconds of my life, but ever since, I have been interested in UFOs.

My flying saucer looked a lot like this, except it was clearer.

My flying saucer looked a lot like this, except it was clearer. (From a photo in the UFO museum.)

You might imagine my excitement as I approached Roswell. The story of the 1947 crash of an unidentified flying object near Roswell has been the subject of numerous news stories over the years. A local rancher had found mysterious debris on his property and turned it over to the military. At first the military reported that a UFO had crashed. As a media storm gathered, the military quickly changed its story and said it was a weather balloon. Meanwhile, tales of dead alien bodies being found begin to circulate.  A nurse reputedly said she had seen the aliens and drew a picture. Everything, it was claimed, had been shipped off to Area 51 in Nevada.

It was the grist for dozens of sci-fi movies, books and TV shows— and one of the greatest conspiracy theories of all times. It continues to rage, refusing to die. And probably never will as long as people continue to see disk-like objects zipping across the sky.

Roswell loves its aliens and the UFO story. It’s cash in the bank; it draws thousands of tourists annually. When Peggy and I went through there retracing my bike route in April, we wandered around town taking photos of businesses that displayed alien-related themes. We also spent a couple of hours at the UFO Museum, which is dedicated to uncovering the truth about the crash, and continuing to propagate the UFO story. It’s all fun. BTW, if you want a silly but fun R-rated movie that ties aliens, Roswell, and Area 51 together, Peggy and I recommend “Paul.” You might also want to check out my blog: Area 51— Where Alien Conspiracy Theories Continue to Breed Like Rabbits.

I've always wondered about the food served at McDs.

I’ve always wondered about the food served at McDs.

It isn't required, but Peggy and I found numerous businesses in Roswell with alien themes. This was a print shop.

It isn’t required, but Peggy and I found numerous businesses in Roswell with alien themes. This was a print shop.

As expected, you could find cute T-shirts...

As expected, you can find cute T-shirts…

Fun signs...

Fun signs…

And other alien stuff.

And other alien stuff.

The UFO Museum is filled with interesting facts and speculation about the UFO crash.

The UFO Museum is filled with interesting facts and speculation about the UFO crash.

This news story was based on the original release from the US Army, before it begin claiming a weather balloon had crashed.

This news story was based on the original release from the US Army, before it claimed a weather balloon had crashed.

I'll conclude today's post with this cartoon I found in the museum (grin).

This cartoon was the last thing I found in the museum. I left smiling.

NEXT BLOG: On to Texas. I am surprised I am not still bicycling across it.

A New Approach to Blogging… Off to a Rocky Start

City of Rocks State Park in southwestern New Mexico.

Way down in a remote corner of New Mexico, Peggy and I came upon the City of Rocks State Park where nature had carved volcanic rock into a world you might find in science fiction or fantasy.

To date, I have been blogging for close to five years. This is my 475th post. It’s time for a change. It won’t be radical, but my intention is to blog three slightly different posts each week. Intention is the key word here. It may or may not happen. Bloggers understand this. Sometimes life gets in the way— or the next book. (Grin) Blogging three times a week may prove to be too much. But if I do…

Mondays and Wednesdays will continue to focus on travel. Mondays will reflect my standard blogs with an equal mixture of writing and photography. Wednesdays will be more of a photographic essay, heavy on photos. This will enable me to bounce around the world a bit more plus free up some time. Since I have close to 20,000 photos in my photo bank, I don’t expect to run out any time soon.

Fridays will be more along the line of opinion pieces. I intend to write about things I am passionate about, things that concern me. Expect such topics as searching for God in all the wrong places; is technology dumbing down the world; and how 25 cents saved one million lives. I intend to have fun, dabble in a little controversy. I’ll probably get in trouble.

Today is a preview of what you can expect on Wednesdays. Enjoy the rocks.

Peggy and I had just finished backpacking for a week in the Gila Wilderness of southwestern New Mexico and were on our way to Deming via Silver City (Billy the Kid country). It was getting late when we came across a sign that pointed to the City of Rocks State Park. It sounded intriguing, we were tired, and the park had a campground. We turned left— and found ourselves in another world…

The City of Rocks State Park near Silver City New Mexico.

Private vehicle and tent camping spaces are spread out around the perimeter of the rocks.

This is an example of one of the campsites hidden among the rocks.

This is an example of one of the campsites hidden among the rocks.

City of Rocks State Park near Deming, New Mexico.

I would describe these rocks as having personality. Each one is unique.

Paths wander in and among the square mile park. Convenient rocks invite hikers, such as Peggy, to sit and enjoy the beauty and solitude.

Paths wander throughout the square mile park. Convenient rocks invite hikers, such as Peggy, to sit and enjoy the beauty and solitude.

What to expect when hiking through the rocks.

What to expect when hiking through the rocks.

City of Rocks State Park near Silver City, New Mexico is filled with uniquely carved rocks.

I felt this fellow might fit in on Easter Island.

Golden grass provides an interesting contrast to the rocks.

Golden grass provides an interesting contrast to the rocks.

Trees and rocks create interesting photos at City of Rocks State Park in southwestern New Mexico.

Trees also add visual interest in this final photo. If you find yourself in southwest New Mexico, the City of Rocks State Park is definitely worth a detour. NEXT BLOG: It’s back to the beautiful bridges of the Oregon Coast.

 

Forget Waldo. Where’s the Petroglyph? Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

Groups of petroglyphs found at Three Rivers Site, New Mexico.

Petroglyphs are often found in the same location. How many can you find in the above photo? My answer is at the bottom of the blog.

When you find one petroglyph, you will almost always find more, frequently on the same rock. There is a general rule of thumb that Peggy and I follow: The more you look, the more you will find. Sometimes the petroglyphs were created at the same time and were tied together. More often, individual glyphs are added over time– in some cases over a period stretching out for a thousand years. Or more. Why waste a good rock?

The search is endlessly fascinating because you never know what’s going to pop up, or where. You may find hastily sketched glyphs for hours and then come on someone’s masterpiece, hidden away in a rock crevice or high up on a cliff.

Today, I am going to finish off my blogs about the Three Rivers Petroglyph site in New Mexico with photos featuring groups of petroglyphs on the same rock or nearby rocks. See how many you can find and let your imagination run wild with what they mean.

Petroglyph grouping at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

There may be even more petroglyphs here than in the first photograph. Check out the rock crevice behind the star. (Can you find the star? grin) I like the trail sneaking off over the rock on the right.

Petroglyph grouping at Thrre Rivers Petroglyph site in New Mexico.

Here’s where interpretation can be fun. From left to right: Is the frog/lizard sticking its tongue out to catch a fly on top of the rock? Then there is the upside down man figure with the feet of a windmill. Next to it is the glow in the dark, Datura yoyo followed by an impressive bear foot, or is it a scared guy with his hair sticking out? And what’s with the turkey foot in the face of the Thunderbird/eagle? Did you catch the bear foot on top of the rock at the right?

Petroglyph grouping at Three rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Hard to get more jumbled than this. Check out the lizard on the left with the X-ray eyes. Bottom left shows a guy shooting a bow and arrow. I like the Bighorn Sheep climbing the steep mountain.

Cloud, lightning and sun petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in New Mexico.

I’ve included this rock art because of the interesting petroglyph in the middle. Think of it as a weather forecast: It’s partly cloudy with a chance of thunder storms. The cloud with lightning is fairly common. But this one has the sun peeking out behind.

Milky Way petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in New Mexico.

I’ll conclude with what I am calling a starry, starry night with Van Gogh in mind. At first, I thought river, but the more I looked at it, I decided the little specks were stars and the stream was the Milky Way. Maybe, maybe not– but it seems a fitting image to end this series with. Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure the round object is a UFO.

BTW: I found 15 petroglyphs in the first photo.

NEXT BLOG: The journey to Alaska begins. First up I will introduce you to Quivera the Van– our faithful traveling companion. Question: Could you and a companion live in 120 square feet for four years?

Sheep Cults and Ancient Mazes… The Rock Art of Three Rivers

Petroglyph maze at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

Set off by distant mountains, this petroglyph appears to be a maze.

It is fun to speculate on what petroglyphs mean. It can also be frustrating. What was the artist thinking when he created the above glyph? “This will make a nice blanket design.” Or how about, “Here is the path our ancestors followed to get out of the underworld.” Or, “Here’s a fun maze.” Or, “Like wow, that Datura is some serious dope.

The petroglyph is definitely a maze; follow the lines. Beyond this, speculation becomes iffy. The book by Alex Peterson, A Field Guide to Rock Symbols of the Greater Southwest, attempts to interpret the meaning of various petroglyphs. I’ve used him extensively. But Patterson provides a cover-all-contingencies disclaimer in the beginning of his book, “There is no proof that any of these meanings are correct.

For example, join Peggy in checking out the rock art below. It’s obviously an anthropomorph (human-like), given that it standing upright and has a head. The robe has various patterns or symbols on it and a fringe at the bottom. Patterson notes that similar characters appear again and again in rock art, that “they almost certainly represent the costumed principals of the sheep cult and may have been shamans.” Sheep cults and shamans– sounds intriguing, doesn’t it.

Peggy Mekemson checks out a petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

We often find petroglyphs carved on difficult to reach places. If it is difficult for us, imagine what it must have been like for the rock artist.

At least Peggy is looking at a human-like figure. So far in my blog, I have featured identifiable subjects including people, animals, birds, reptiles, insects and one splattered frog. Today I am going to present geometric figures. Patterson has interpretations for many of these symbols, but what about the petroglyph featured below? All I can think of is, “Okay, children, today you are going to practice making squares.”

Petroglyph of squares at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Plans for a subdivision?

One of the most common geometric symbols is the circle. There are circles within circles, crosses in circles, circles made of dots surrounding other circles, etc. Naturally the sun and the moon come to mind. Also ripples on water. Once again, Patterson suggests Datura may be involved. It seems that people have similar visions when they close their eyes while under the influence. Wouldn’t know.

Solid circles surrounded by a circle with dots at Three Rivers Petroglyph site. Possibly influenced by Datura use.

Almost everywhere we looked at Three Rivers Petroglyph site we found circles. Many had outer circles made up of dots.

Petroglyph circle with cross found at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

A number of the circle also feature crosses of various types. This was one of the more intriguing.

Circle petroglyph with possible sun at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

I also found this interesting. My first thought is the sun.

Large spiral circle at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in New Mexico.

This is the most impressive circle petroglyph Peggy and I found at Three Rivers. It is actually a spiral. Start at the center and work outward. Which brings me to…

Spiral petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

… this spiral, which led me to think a bout a spiral galaxy. Could the Jornada have been in contact with little green men from outer space. Naw…….

Petroglyph found at Three Rivers petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Various interpretations. One is about a four eyed insect standing manlike who is bitten on the testicles by a sidewinder rattlesnake, a fate which would make any guy’s eyes go buggy.

Some of the geometric patterns may be pottery or textile designs. Modern shops through out the South West feature pottery, blankets and other items made by Native Americans featuring similar motifs.

Geometric petroglyph found at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

This repetition of pattern suggests a design that might be used for a blanket.

 

Geometric petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

Here’s another. This petroglyph might represent a butterfly.

Finally, we have petroglyphs that are almost map-like, featuring lakes, rivers, springs, hills and even farmlands.

Petroglyph found at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in New Mexico.

Who knows? Climb down the ladder to the crops at the bottom? (grin) Could the foot print on the right be saying “Walk this way?”

Three Rivers Petroglyph site rock art.

On of my favorites at Three Rivers. Peterson says the wavy lines represent water but what’s with the square eyes.

Horse petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

This captures it all: a cute horse with extended tail and big feet, Datura driven circles, and a simple pattern of squares. There is even a snake in the grass. Maybe that accounts for the horse’s stance.

NEXT BLOG: I will finish off the series on Three Rivers Petroglyph site with several collages of rock art. Petroglyphs are rarely found alone.

 

The Slithery Serpents of the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

Rattlesnake petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph Site in southern New Mexico.

I could rave about how this fellows curves follow the rock. In fact I am raving about it. Also check out the serpent hear on this guy and his buzzy tail. Rattlesnake for sure.

Bad snakes have been giving good snakes a bum rap for eons. It all started when the Biblical Eve bit into the apple she had obtained from the proverbial snake in the tree and realized she was naked. It must have been a shocking discovery. Snakes have been pummeled, stomped, cut up, diced, crushed, shot, speared and smashed ever since.

Actually, there is no such thing as a bad snake; there are only snakes that have had a bad childhood and will bite you if you step on them or wake them up when they are sunbathing on their favorite rock or lollygagging in a scummy pond. They don’t really mean to kill you; it’s a waste of good venom. Normally, we are too big to eat.

I’ve had numerous snake encounters over the years from the rainforests of the Amazon and West Africa to the rattlesnake country of the American West. Believe me when I say there is nothing like stepping on a log and having it come alive with the buzz of rattlesnakes. I once set an Olympic record for the standing long jump when that happened. Another time, I almost sat on a rattler when I was going to the bathroom in the woods. I couldn’t poop for days.

The Jornada Mogollon people of the Three Rivers Petroglyph site must have had a special relationship with snakes. There are numerous snake glyphs scattered throughout the area… and these are BIG snakes with BIG heads and jaws. “The better to bite you with my dear.” I suspect the snakes were considered sacred and worshipped, which is what the nearby Navajo and Hopi people did.

These long snakes slithering down the rocks are worthy of an Indiana Jones movie.

These long snakes slithering down the rocks are worthy of an Indiana Jones movie.

Petroglyph snake with large head in Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

In the world of big snake heads, this Three Rivers serpent would be a record holder.

Rattlesnakes weren’t the only poisonous denizens of the desert recorded in the petroglyphs of Three Rivers. There were also spiders and scorpions.  On the more benign side of the equation, there were numerous rock art lizards.

Spider petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

I think this large, scary bug is probably a spider.

Scorpion petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

My money would be on a scorpion here. Check out the rounded end of his tail and the two pincher claws up front.

A number of petroglyphs at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in New Mexico.

This is where we found the scorpion. I suspect that his modern-day cousins are lurking in the rocks surrounding him.

Lizards are considered much more benign than snakes, spiders and scorpions. For example, my eight year old grandson Ethan caught several during his recent visit.

Lizards are considered much more benign than snakes, spiders and scorpions. For example, my eight year old grandson Ethan caught several during his recent visit. He was only chomped on a couple of times.

A petroglyph lizard foud at the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site.

Pregnant petroglyph lizard?

Petroglyph lizard at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico

A well-fed petroglyph lizard?

This frog doesn’t belong here along with the reptiles and bugs but he absolutely had to go somewhere.

Frog petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

Gotta love this guy.

NEXT BLOG: Patterns in the rock. We will look at some of the many geometric patterns found among the petroglyphs and guess at their meaning.

Pretty Weird Stuff… Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

Butterfly petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

A lot of the rock art at the Three Rivers Petroglyph site is simply fun, such as this butterfly.

Is there a whale among the Three River petroglyphs? How about a ship? Or an octopus? The fish isn’t so strange, nor are the buggy bugs. But how did the ocean life end up in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert? Maybe I am simply suffering from an overactive imagination brought on by staring at thousands of petroglyphs. I can guarantee I haven’t been imbibing in the Datura used by Shaman to create altered states. That stuff is dangerous. (Actually, it can be deadly.) The residents of Jamestown once fed it to British soldiers in 1676 and knocked them out of commission for 11 days. Afterwards, the plant was named Jimson Weed, after Jamestown.

Possible whale petroglyph at the Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

It looks like a whale to me… or at least a whale of a fish.

Octopus petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

And what’s with this octopus. Did the Jornada people travel to the ocean?

Ship petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

I guess if you have a whale and an octopus, it is only natural to have a ship with sails. Check out the guy jumping around in the back.

Possible seal petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

This looks suspiciously like a seal, minus the hind legs.

Fish petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Okay, I’ll buy a fish petroglyph. Not sure about the circle. Maybe the fish is being served up on a platter.

Datura, also known as Jimson Weed

Datura, a beautiful but dangerous plant. I took this photo on the American River Parkway in Sacramento.

Buggy eyed petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

What you might run into after consuming a few too many Datura seeds.

Arrow petroglyphs at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

Or possibly you might meet a pair of arrows with attitude.

NEXT BLOG: Snakes, lizards and a few more bugs.

 

 

 

Strange Gods… The Rock Art of Three Rivers Petroglyph Site

Petroglyph in Three Rivers Petroglyph site of southern New Mexico.

This is one of my favorite glyphs from the Three Rivers Petroglyph site in Southern New Mexico– but what does it mean? I’ll go out on the proverbial limb. My guess is it represents a drug induced shamanistic vision. There is some thought that the circle with dots represents Datura, a powerful hallucinogen (and also a favorite flower subject of Georgia O’Keeffe).

A lot of guessing takes place in determining the meaning of rock art. Present day Native American myths and rituals provide some clues. Others can be deduced from the petroglyph itself. An antelope filled full of arrows relates to hunting, but is it a record of an actual event or a hopeful prediction of the future?

Today I am featuring petroglyphs from the Three Rivers site that represent humans and gods. Some can seem quite strange while the one below seems… quite human.

A realistic portrayal of a human found at the Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

This is the most realistic portrayal of a human we found among the Three River Petroglyphs. Note the ear rings.

Petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

I also found this triangular face fascinating. Many of the petroglyphs at Three Rivers take advantage of the rocks natural features. This one uses the ridge to set off the nose and eyes, and cracks to outline the chin.

Petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in Southern New Mexico.

According to Alex Patterson in his book, Rock Art Symbols, this is either the Mother of Animals or a woman waiting for her honey. It could be she is having a baby. Check out her expression. Two different versions are below.

Petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Another possible version of Mother of Animals at Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

Petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

And a third.

Three Rivers Petroglyph.

I introduced a close up of this character in my last blog. Here he is located in his rock setting. I am thinking “boo!”

Petroglyph from Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Talk about scary, this guy qualifies. Big eyes and big, sharp teeth

Three Rivers petroglyph.

Petroglyphs can be quite graphic in their portrayals…

Petroglyph from Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

…And abstract. Geometric patterns are often included.

You can tell your god or someone's status in society by the headdress he or she wears. The plant on the left may be corn.

You can tell your god by the headdress he or she wears. The plant may be corn.

Petroglyph from Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

I’ll conclude this blog with this spiky haired character who appears to be waving bye-bye.

NEXT BLOG: We will enter into the petroglyph animal kingdom of Three Rivers.

Mountain lion petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

I check out a mountain lion petroglyph.

New Mexico’s Three Rivers Petroglyph Site… Where Art Rocks

Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico.

A layer of clouds stretching along the Sacramento Mountains adds beauty and mystery to the Three Rivers Petroglyph site. It is easy to understand why Native Americans chose the area for their rock art.

This marks the beginning of a new series where we leave the beautiful but crowded cities of Europe to visit the lonely, wide-open spaces of the American and Canadian west. Our journey will take us from New Mexico’s northern Chihuahuan desert to Alaska’s remote Kodiak Islands.

For the next three weeks we will explore the mystical world of Native American rock art found in the Three Rivers Petroglyph site of southern New Mexico. Afterwards Peggy and I will spend six weeks travelling up the Alaska Highway through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to Alaska and back.  We will finish off our summer at the celebration known as Burning Man held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

Peggy and I have been visiting rock art sites throughout the Southwestern United States for the past 15 years. The Three Rivers’ site is one of our favorites. Some 21,000 petroglyphs featuring everything from people to bugs are spread out over 50 acres. Created by the Jornada Mogollon people of the Chihuahuan Desert, the glyphs were pecked into rock using stone tools for a period of over 500 years starting in 900 AD.

This is wide-open country set off by dramatic mountains. Within a hundred miles of Three Rivers, Billy the Kid fought in the Lincoln County Wars, Smokey the Bear was found hidden in a tree avoiding a forest fire, bug eyed aliens became synonymous with Roswell, and history was forever changed with the explosion of the world’s first atomic bomb.

I rode through the area on my bicycle as part of my ten thousand mile trek around North America. It’s a long way between pit stops.

Mountains and deserts of Southern new Mexico

What southern New Mexico looks like from a bicycle.

Native Americans often chose special sites for their rock art and it is immediately apparent that the Three Rivers site is special. The words “raw beauty” come to mind. Set on a ridge, the site provides commanding views of the surrounding desert and mountains. Today’s blog will explore the natural beauty of the region. In my next blogs I will feature petroglyphs of people, animals, birds, geometric designs, animal tracks, reptiles, bugs and anything else that caught the fancy of the Jornada people– including a whale and a mysterious ship.

Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Another photo featuring the Sacramento Mountains and clouds from the perspective of the Three Rivers Petroglyph site.

Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico with Sacramento Mountains providing the backdrop.

Native Americans often chose cliff areas such as those on the left for their rock art.

Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Our van, Quivera, provides a perspective on the region. We took this photo from the ridge where the majority of petroglyphs are located. We pretty much had the site to ourselves during the two days we were there.

Peggy stands on the ridge next to a rock likely to hold petroglyphs. Some glyphs are immediately obvious while others are hidden. Sharp eyes are required.

Peggy stands on the ridge next to a rock likely to hold petroglyphs. Some glyphs are immediately obvious while others are hidden. Sharp eyes are required.

Petroglyphs at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in southern New Mexico.

Faded bear and what may be badger prints are shown on these rocks. Petroglyphs are made by using a stone to peck away the outer layer of rock varnish (a layer of minerals that attaches to the rock over time).

Lichen on rock at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in Southern New Mexico.

We also found the lichens to be quite attractive.

Lizard glyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in Southern New Mexico.

Many rocks at Three Rivers are covered with petroglyphs. In addition to the prominent lizard,we found circles, geometric designs, and a possible map on the various faces of this rock.

Evening clouds over the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico.

Sunset lights up the Sacramento Mountains. I found the contrast created by the cloud layer quite interesting.

NEXT BLOG: I will look at glyphs that feature the Jornada Mogollon people and their gods.

Petroglyph at Three Rivers Petroglyph site in Southern New Mexico

One of the many strange beings we found lurking among the rocks.