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Rich Kurczak --    Web Link - Rich .mac web site

July 20, 2006
Last Days in Cliff, New Mexico ­ Tarantulas, Silver City, Cliff Dwellings

The state cookie of New Mexico is Bizcochito, and tarantulas become very active after a rainstorm.!

The Bizcochito trivia was in a brochure we picked up in Silver City ­ an artist and university town about 30 miles from Cliff. The town is small (15,000 residents) and in the midst of transitioning from its mining and ranching roots to a colorful future that focuses on attracting tourists to the many art galleries that line main and side streets in the old downtown (pic 1) The Gila Cliff Dwellings are an houršs drive from Silver City, and the extremely laid-back attraction allows you to actually walk into and through the dwellings and surrounding terraces. Once inside the huge dwellings, built under a massive cave ledge (pic 2), the soot of a thousand cooking fires is visible on the ceiling and the coolness of the surrounding rock reduces the air temperature at least 10 degrees. Again ­ the ability to interact "hands on" with this ancient culture makes a huge difference in the experience.

We spotted our first tarantula after a heavy afternoon thunderstorm (pic 3). It seemed a rare sighting, so we watched him scramble about for 5 or 10 minutes until he finally vanished into its burrow. Fifteen minutes later, we spotted a second on the side of the house. We now suspect that this property could possibly hosts thousands of large spiders with insatiable curiosity for out of town tourists.

Next week's plans are open ­ Leaving Cliff & departing for Africa Sept. 4 (sunset pic 4). More to come!

click pictures for larger views