It is easy to get lost in southern New Mexico, whether distracted by the views of the landscape or just trying to find your way.  Online and GPS maps of the area were out of date with roads that did not exist, directions that would not work, and guests coming to the Painted Pony Resort would often have some difficulty finding the place.  So additional maps to the estate were created and online mapping services were provided with updates to allow guests to find their way. 

A view this morning though provides evidence that getting lost in New Mexico is not limited to those driving.  Upon exiting the trailer this morning I noticed the contrails from 2 jets above the Peloncillo mountains.  One was a zigzag line while the other shorter one was straight.  My conclusion - another visitor to the area got lost.  I don't know if it is true but but it is consistent with guests sometimes having trouble finding the estate.  Unfortunately the jet could not pull over and ask directions, the runways on the estate are to short.

Lost, not lost
Presumably not lost, a launch from White Sands Missile Range did occur yesterday according to their facebook page and is the most likely explanation for the zigzag contrail.


Merchandising the Painted Pony Resort

Recently, the owner revived an idea we had discussed and worked on in the past, specifically merchandise from the Painted Pony Resort.  We discussed a number of logo options and the owner decided on a prehistoric sun sign similar to that found on the New Mexico state flag.  The sun sign is meant as a reminder of the deep blue cloudless sunny skies New Mexico is blessed with, and that the estate experiences more than 300 days/yr of cloudless skies.  Of course the estate name is prominently displayed as well at the registered trademark "An Escape To Tranquil Beauty".  After much searching, a vendor who could provide all the items we wished and in quantities that fit the initial budget, we settled on Discount mugs.  The logo was chosen and an image cleaned and formatted for printing.  After uploading the final design the products were ordered including hats, tee shirts, travel mugs, and can koozies, all useful items a guest would use on a visit to the estate.  All the items arrived in a timely fashion after approving and online proof of each item and the quality of each was good.  I immediately snagged a travel mug since I consume coffee constantly and was in need of a new mug for use on the tractor and Kubota.  These 14 oz mugs do not leak and hold enough coffee for several hours of work on the estate.  After building a small glass case to display the items which was placed in the computer room, samples of each item were arranged for viewing.  Now guests may purchase a memento of their visit to the estate, or pick up an item they would find useful during their visit.

Travel mugs, hats, tee shirts, and can koozies from the Painted Pony Resort

Merchandise display case in the main house computer room.


Cave Creek Canyon: Revealing the Heart of Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains

The first major publication from the Friends of Cave Creek Canyon is back from the publishers and available for purchase.  With 45 chapters, each written by a local expert, the book covers topics including background on the sky islands, geology, all the different types of wildlife, and much much more.  A true labor of love this will be the goto book about the Chiricahua Mountains for the next several decades.  It is available at the Chiricahua Desert Museum or may be ordered from the museum.  It should also be available from Amazon at some point.  There will be a book signing party at the desert museum on Jan 31st from 3-6 PM, where all the authors will be available to sign their chapters for those wishing individualized copies.

friends of cave creek canyon
The new book from the Friends of Cave Creek Canyon



This year has seen a bumper crop of tumbleweed on the landscape.  Since the guests at Christmas I have been hauling dead tumbleweed from around the Painted Pony Resort.  The quarter mile of fence at the north end of the estate has been cleaned 4 times to keep the driveway open.  The west fence line has also been cleaned and worked has centered around the houses, filling the tractor bucket and placing the dead tumbleweeds over the fence so they can continue their free range existence on the surrounding state land.  A problem arises with old fence lines where the buildup of tumbleweed can take down a fence so I'm always adding new t-posts to old fence lines to insure they stay in place, keeping cattle out and protecting existing landscape restoration efforts.  While cleaning yesterday I found this monster 5' tumbleweed by the front garden.  Coming from somewhere south of the estate it was completely dried and spreading seed as it rolled north crossing fence lines on the landscape.  Fortunately, herbicide keeps all graveled areas free of major tumbleweed problems but garden areas always have a crop of free range tumbleweed which I pull before they get big.  The only way I know to get rid of tumbleweed on the landscape is to out compete them with native grasses which means landscape restoration, encouraging both topsoil deposition and new grasses on the estate, but there is nothing I can accomplish with the surrounding state and federal lands except encourage and promote wise land management practices.

A 5' tumbleweed

a second view


Creating an Online Presence

Creating and building an online presence, whether for business or personal pleasure is not an easy task.  The number of failures far exceeds the number of successes as exemplified by some of the material available online.  Presenting oneself to the planet is a delicate task, requiring forethought and planning to avoid embarrassment or worse.  In this age of "me" or individualized presentations exemplified by the rapid rise of social media sites, without sufficient care an off chance remark easily leads to to dissatisfaction and at worst a backlash.  Presenting something positive and avoiding a backlash is especially important if the online presence is in support of a business.

The guiding principle utilized in material posted to the blogs or websites is nothing is published that my mother would not find enjoyable to read or see, followed closely by - if in doubt don't publish it.  These 2 simple canons prevent 95% of potential errors, followed by the realization that "language is our common currency and some days my wallet is empty" or we all make mistakes and sometimes it is better to admit the mistake and push ahead.

Equally important for the creation of a effective online presentation is the question - is it about people and personalities or is it about ideas and concepts.  With the rise of social media the people and personalities approach is encouraged.  A good example of this is the foxification of news reporting where Fox has been highly successful in the people and personality approach to news.  But frequently the people and personalities over shadow the ideas and concepts (the news as facts and information) and this can easily lead to problems and a back lash.  To circumvent this potential problem a nom de plume or pen name is used on the blogs so readers may concentrate on the material presented and not the individual presenting it.  Pen names have a rich history and it a convenient way to focus attention away from the individual.  It also provides a mechanism to participate in the individualized presentations of social media.  The nom de plume BAlvarius serves such a function allowing the focus to remain on the ideas and concepts while at the same time providing a personality for those interested.  While many adopt a nom de plume for less than savory reasons, mainly to attack others from a perceived position  of anonymity, the pen name is best used to convey ideas and concepts, letting the reader make up their own mind about the quality and content.

One of the fundamental principles in building a successful online presence is once the material is out there how do people find it?  How to connect with a potential readership?  A number of mechanisms are promoted by various sources, just Google "building blog readership".  Many claim to have a number of secrets to increase readership, some of which are useful and some not.  Many of the techniques are geared toward driving traffic to a monetized site as a way to generate profit.  To avoid these approaches no ads are used on the blogs creating an environment free from distractions which can reduce the quality of a visit.  Instead, everything presented is created here expressly for the enjoyment of readers, no recycling or aggregation which would rely on the work of others.  Photography is main tool used to create material for consumption and living in a landscape that is easy on the eyes helps.  Electronic devices from phones to desk top computers have embedded cameras supporting the notion that our species is very visual and responds well to images.  But where to place all this created material and how to direct potential viewers back to the source?  With photographs there are many online resources for the storage of photographs, see below, and many of these sites allow one to create back links providing a pathway back to the source.  In addition to visuals participating and commenting on other sites is also a good mechanism for providing links back to original work.  In Blogger, links lead back to a Google page and in others a website link may be added to the avatar when commenting allowing interested parties to find out more.  This was used successfully by some businesses which commented on posts that were high in the Google rankings as a way to provide links to their particular business which related directly to the topic under discussion.  While some may consider this a form of spam, presenting the opportunity for a visitor to visit another business seems reasonable.

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned from all this effort was the 1% observation.  That is only 1% will ever find the site, and only 1% of those will take the time to view the material, and of those only 1% will like it.

A visual representation of back links created to Blogging from the Boot Heel and ultimately to the Painted Pony Resort

BAlvarius out geocaching.


Advantages to Promoting Other Local Businesses

The Painted Pony Resort with its 756 acres is an estate rental with the aim of providing a large facility for gatherings whether it be a wedding, workshop, or family reunion.  But the estate is not the only lodging business in the area.  Many other businesses offer local lodging targeting different market segments and it only makes sense to provides references to other establishments for online visitors looking for a place to stay in the area.  Both the Painted Pony Resort website and the associated Blogging from the Boot Heel maintain listings of other local lodging resources as a courtesy to online visitors searching for area lodging as well as provide a map showing lodging in the area, see below.

A recent analysis of the blogs quarterly visitor statistics showed that exit links to other local lodging sites comprised 17% (82) of the total exit links (483).  Of the 17% of exit links to area lodging 83% (68) were to other local businesses while the rest were to the Painted Pony Resort.  While the estate is appropriate for groups it does necessarily meet the needs of individuals looking for a place to stay, but the ability to find other more appropriate lodging is important.  Meeting the needs of potential visitors and guests is important not only maintaining the integrity of the area but also in promoting visitation.  Providing tools for online visitors about the Coronado National Forest and other public lands in the area as well as resources for visiting the area will not only encourage visitation but allow visitors to find the specific resources that best fit their needs.


Cultural Resource Inventory, the First Land Patents.

 One of the missing pieces in the cultural resource inventory is information on the original European settlers on lands comprising the Painted Pony Resort.  Specifically, who filed the first land patents on acreage around the resort.  A search of the General Land Office records (GLO) turned up several names of individuals who patented land parcels that now comprise the estate.  Three names, Asa O. Garland, John B. Garland, and John W. M. Cornforth all applied for land patents in the early 1900's on lands now comprising the estate.  The foundations of 2 of these homesteads have been recovered, one belonging to Asa O Garland and one belonging to John W. M. Cornforth (both of these homesteads appear on the first topographic map of the area published in 1917).  The homestead on the parcel originally patented by the Cornforth's was notable for an electric range burner found among the scattering of artifacts and foundations.  This is consistent with notion that this particular homestead was in existence until the late 1950's when rural electrification reached the valley.  The Cornforth's are buried in the Rodeo cemetery and his marker may be viewed here.  Although no information on ownership of the specific parcel with the main houses has yet been uncovered, further research may locate the original patent applicant as well as patents for the eastern portion of the estate.

Previous cultural resource inventory posts:

Forty acre parcels with the names of the original settlers and locations of homesteads.


A Little Snow over the Holidays

2014 was a good year for rain in the high desert of southwestern New Mexico.  The Painted Pony Resort received 14.69" of rain this year and to top things off, the estate received its first snow fall on New Years day.  While the mountains received a light dusting of snow on Christmas day and additional snow over the next week in the high country, out in the valley, we were greeted by snow on the first morning of the new year.  Hoping for a continuation of the rainfall patterns which will result in beautiful spring wild flowers and poppies carpeting the valley.

A snowy New Years morning in the San Simon valley


Expanding Again

I have been fortunate to oversee the expansions of the Painted Pony Resort from an initial 80 acre complex with 9 bedrooms and and 13 beds to a 756 acre complex with 12 bedrooms and 17 beds.  But a recent decision to create a bunk room in the Bungalow will increase the number of beds available for family reunions to 21.  Family reunions can be stressful when trying to find room for all the children and the estate is responding to the need by dedicating a space for little ones.  Several sets of bunk beds are being placed in a large room in the bungalow.  This space served the original owner a closet but is now re-tasked as an additional bedroom for children.

Our goal is a family friendly environment with privacy for reunions and the 756 acres of deeded land surrounded by federal and state lands provides such an opportunity.  With access to both the Pelocillo and Chiricahua mountains it is a great place to hold reunions.


Water Management

Living in the high desert of New Mexico one would suppose that water management would not be high on the list of priorities but in reality water management issues are always a concern.  With only 2 periods of rain every year, the winter rains and summer monsoons, the area can receive a significant amount of rainfall in a short period of time.  On rangeland with sufficient grasses the water is slowed and while the occasional flash flood may occur it is heavily utilized rangeland where most problems develop.  On the main estate at the Painted Pony Resort water management has always been a priority and as a result the 4+ inches of rain received this fall from the remnants of hurricane Odile did little damage.  With this years expansion of the estate further east some of the new water problems are being addressed.  About 2 years ago the road across the riverbed at the north end of the estate, which drains the Peloncillo mountains, began to receive runoff and the road quickly deteriorated with a 3-4' gully forming down the middle. This was the result of a major arroyo changing course after filling in its' old route.  With the movement to the south the ranch road was the  easiest route for the water resulting in the rapid down cutting of the ranch road.  If the arroyo could be persuaded to instead move north all the road problems would be solved.  Fortunately, the owner is currently in residence and enjoys running the tractor and road grader.  So he created several diversions in the arroyo, kicking the flow back north expanding and enlarging my earlier efforts.  The results are that the water flow will move back north and hopefully refill an existing cattle tank on the neighbors property (which was fed by this arroyo) and the old channel will provide a source of sand and gravel for the roads around the estate.

Looking east up the heavily eroded ranch road.
Looking west at the first diversion above the eroded area shown in the first photograph.

Looking northwest at the main diversion channel in the old arroyo.
Looking east up the arroyo.