WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI
Redondo Mesa: Arid, Highland, Perilous
Dirt trails kick up endless yellow dust.
Long fields of grassland broken up by gnarled brown shrubs.
Occasional hills and escarpments of red rock dominate the countryside.
Spring: Pink flowers on madrone trees; temperate breezes and abundant sun.
Summer: Sweltering; heat haze; occasional lightning storms.
Fall: Monsoon rains alternating with ceaseless cold wind.
Winter: Grey snow and dark skies; most water features are at least partially frozen.
Discoveries & Dangers:
Area: Redondo Mesa
Elevated area of reddish-gray rock with a flat top, sixty horses high. Sides are steep cliffs, but a few natives claim to know the way up. One can see for miles from this vantage point.
-What do local legends say about this place?
-What is on top of the mesa?
-Who calls the mesa their home?
Site: Circle R Ranch
Jack McGurk recently found a cut in his wire fence and a dozen of his best cattle missing. Woe to the rustler he and his cowboys get their hands on. His ranch house will have a lukewarm welcome for those who have yet to earn his trust.
Site: Fort Tracy
Low adobe buildings and a wood stockade near a passable stream. Captain Hamilton commands a squadron of the 1st New Mexico Volunteer Cavalry and is seldom seen without a pipe in his mouth. His men are well-trained in the six-gun and the sabre, but they have five hundred square miles to watch over, and can’t be everywhere at once. The missing Apache girl has gone sweet on a young cavalryman, and she doesn’t want to go back to her tribe. The Captain is looking the other way for the moment.
Area: Oculto la Fuente
Almost completely hidden beneath a low grass-covered rise is an ancient sinkhole with a clear, icy spring and rocky beach at the bottom of the opening. It’s a mule’s work to get to the bottom of the sinkhole, but once you are there no one is going to find you unless they know where to look.
-What treasure is hidden under the cold water?
-Who knows the secret of the sinkhole?
Three men on horseback, armed with six-shooters and long knives and still wearing their torn and ragged ex-Confederate uniforms. Leading ten head of cattle whose branding marks look a mess. The men are desperate and don’t like questions.
Encounter: Mescalero Apaches
Eight braves armed with hatchets and Mexican carbines are searching for a young girl from their tribe who was taken during a US cavalry raid on their settlement. The leader of this band was bound to the girl, and will not return without her. They are mounted on ponies and will take cover and attempt to ambush any passerby.