January 7, 2005
Dear Subscriber:

I went to a county fair once. Walking down the midway I spotted
a game where you could win a big stuffed gorilla if you knocked
over the bottles with a softball.

I paid my 50 cents. The guy behind the counter handed me a
ball. I reared back and threw it. The bottles came tumbling

"A winnah!" the guy yelled. "We have another winnah!" With
more than a little ceremony (for the benefit of onlookers) he
handed me a stuffed gorilla and as I turned to leave, I
overheard the barker's young assistant say "I didn't think he
was supposed to be able to do that." The barker said, "That's
why he did it. He didn't know he wasn't supposed to."

A few years later, when I was in advertising sales, I had this
client that was a very successful restaurateur. I asked him
one day what he attributed to his success. He said 7 out of 10
restaurants close within two years of their opening. It's a
tough business. Lots of competition. It's hard to find and
keep good employees. You have to serve good food but good food
costs a lot and you can't charge your customers too much or they
won't come back.

"So, how did you make it when others didn't?" I asked again.

"I was too dumb to know I couldn't."

I guess that's why Peggy and I moved to Cloudcroft. Too dumb
to know better.

We had good jobs in Lubbock, but we had made the mistake of
buying a place in Cloudcroft as an investment and a weekend
getaway. Our love for the place overcame our better judgment
and in 1995 we quit our jobs in Texas and moved to the

My idea was that we open a little midway style recording studio
where people could drop in and record a song to a back-up tape.
You know...a memento of their vacation. Cloudcroft already had
a photo shop where people could drop in and put on old period
costumes and have their pictures taken. It seemed to do pretty

We struggled with that little studio (and a cafe we leased next
door) for 4 years. We discovered people were basically shy and
didn't want to sing in front of strangers...at least not enough
of them to make us a living.

Then came the internet boom and Cloudcroft.com. Eventually we
were able to make our pickup payment and have enough left over
each month to put gas in it.

In the past ten years we have lived here, we've seen lots of
Dons and Peggys. People that had had enough of traffic lights
and smog and wanted to live someplace other people could only
get away to on vacation. We've seen lots of bright ideas on
how to make a living in a little isolated mountain town...some
a lot more far fetched than a recording studio.

Some schemes are tried over and over by different people. Most
of them are art based. Many people think they can take a few
art classes, move to the mountains and sell their work to
tourists. Cloudcroft has some very gifted artists and we've
seen some not so gifted ones come and go.

"That's a wonderful painting. Inspired by the freedom of
expression much like Picasso. The strokes are bold. The colors
are inspiring and mind opening. It is an abstract expression
that says to me there is an on-going battle with relation to
man's inhumanity toward man. What a wonderful abstract."

"It's not an abstract, it's a dog."

"I'll give you 30 dollars for it."

"You just bought yourself an abstract."

My suggestion to tourists that want to take home a little bit of
Cloudcroft is to stick to the shops. There's some great stuff
in the shops and since the owners have to pay utilities and
rent, they're a lot less likely to rip you off.

Stay away from what I call the card-table merchants. Those are
the people that sneak in on Friday morning, set up their card
tables and sell their junk until Saturday afternoon then they
fold up and move on. Cloudcroft has some pretty strict
ordinances against such fly-by-night merchants, but there are
still some that give it a shot.

"Hey...wanna buy an original native-made Navajo blanket?"

"Nice blanket."

"Yeah. It took weeks to make. Made by a family that lives on
the reservation near Window Rock. Some of their blankets sell
for over a thousand dollars."

"What's this label?"

"Probably a label of authenticity. You know."

"Says here...'Wash in warm water and tumble dry'".

"Even works of art have to be cleaned. I'll take $5 for it."

Turquoise is a tough one. Hard to spot the real stuff from the
fake stuff. Rule of thumb...don't buy turquoise off a table with
folding legs.

The artisans at the shows in Cloudcroft's Zenith Park are
carefully regulated. The bratwurst, funnel cake, frito pies and
heartburn are authentic, too.

Years ago Cloudcroft had a problem with tailgate rip-off
merchants. Not so much any more, but you need to be on guard.

If you're in the market for a custom painted mailbox, just be
sure the little flowers don't peel off.

Don Vanlandingham

Unseasonably warm until today (Wednesday) when it turned cold.
Moisture during the weekly reporting period in the form of
rain. A little over an inch.

High was 49 on Friday (12-31). Low was 19 at 10am Wednesday

Annual rainfall to date (as of January 1, 2005) 1.27 inches.

Total precipitation for 2004, 25.45 inches.

Go to Cloudcroft.com for up to the minute Cloudcroft weather
information. It's free.
On January 3, 2005 Misha our two year old Husky escaped, from
the yard. We live in the village near the old rodeo arena. 


The snow from the roof had piled up next to the fence giving
her an escape ramp to jump the fence. Misha has in the past 
gotten out of the yard, we had to concrete rocks to the base
of the fence to prevent tunneling, however Misha has always
returned home. 

Misha when she escapes, and she is a professional, runs the
neighborhood for about eight hours, and then Misha always
comes home to rest. Misha has a weight chest and gray markings.
Misha has a pink collar with a black ID tag. Misha was the
runt of the litter and is thin only about 44 pounds. 
Contact Jeff or Crystal at 505-682-1123
Thank You,
Jeff & Crystal Schneider


Cloudcroft's on-going water problems were exacerbated by a
major leak last week. According to the village office, the
leaks were traced to the high school construction site and to
two village residences.
Cloudcroft Cabin is 8 miles from the village in the Waterfall
area. It sleeps 6 and is nicely appointed. Amenities include,
woodstove, firewood, dish TV, VCR, videos, washer, dryer,
fully-equiped kitchen. James Canyon Cabin is 8 miles out off
Hwy 82. It sleeps 9, has a huge stone fireplace, 2 full baths,
washer-dryer, cable TV, and VCR. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is
necessary at each cabin during winter months. For more info,
call Jack or Sarah Keith at (505) 885-9092. E-mail us at
skscarlett@yahoo.com or see the link to our web site on the
Lodging page of Cloudcroft.com:


New Mexico snow conditions.


Q - Is there a fund set up for Deputy Robert Hedman's family?

A - Yes.

For those of you new to The Newsletter, Deputy Hedman died in
the line of duty while answering a domestic disturbance call near
Cloudcroft last month. He was the first peace officer killed on
duty in the over 100 years history of this village. If you
would like to contribute, call the Cloudcroft First National
Bank at (505) 682-2531. See the link to their web site on the
Finance page of Cloudcroft.com:


February 4, 5, 6, 7 -- Mardi Gras celebration. Cloudcroft.

Would you like to help deliver meals to the homebound around
Cloudcroft? Monday through Friday deliveries. Call the
Cloudcroft Senior Center at (505)-682-3022. For information on
other Senior Center services, see their web site, listed on the
Cloudcroft.com Links button.


Mountain Garden Club meets every third Monday of each month.
Call (505) 682-2910 for more information.

Senior Van from Timberon to Alamogordo leaves the Timberon
Lodge promptly at 8:30 every Wednesday morning.

Free Vitals Clinic. Cloudcroft Senior Citizens Center, every
Wednesday. High Rolls Senior Citizens Center, first Thursday
of each month.
Dear Newsletter:

My thoughts and prayers go out to Deputy Hedman's family. I
too was shocked to think that something like this could happen
in Cloudcroft. I have a son who is in law enforcement in Austin
and domestic disputes are some of the more dangerous calls
they receive. 

God Bless all peace officers and our military serving here and
overseas. You are appreciated. 
P. Williams

Dear Newsletter:

I never thought that I would be personally touched by an
incident of violence that took one of your officers just
before Christmas, along with the other two citizens.

Unfortunately, my family and I are now counted in those
thousands of victims of domestic violence. Our hearts go out
to the family of Officer Hedman, and we totally agree that
the other officer did what he had to do to stop Flippen.

However, we are the family of the female that was killed by
Flippen. In all of the news we have been able to find about
this horrible incident, she seems to be treated as an
afterthought. I would like for you to know she was more than
just that.

Her name was Deborah Jeanne Burnet Rhoudes, born and raised in
Mississippi. She was my niece and a troubled soul. She was also
a victim. 

She is survived, as you know by her young daughter, but she
also leaves behind a brother and two sisters, her mom and dad,
a stepmom, and her aunts and uncles. Her parents, one of her
aunts and uncles, my husband and myself: all of us reached out
to Debbie to try and keep her safe. But Debbie, unlike her
other siblings, felt a need to live life on the edge. 

This odyssey began when she was only 12, and there was nothing
we could do to stop this dangerous lifestyle. Her other siblings
are all fine, upstanding citizens. Many years passed when we had
no idea where she was. Debbie recently just reached out to us
again, and I had been in correspondence with her. While many of
you may judge Debbie as a bad person, I can remember her as a
child who never met a stranger and was always loved by her
family and friends. 

She was funny, athletic, and popular in school. Why she chose
to live her life as she did we will never know! We realized
that one day she may have to suffer the consequences of that
lifestyle. That realization came to be on Saturday, December
18th. As a result, our family will also forever mark the
Christmas holidays with a sadness because Debbie, too, became
a victim.

Again, we are praying for the families of both officers. We
are also praying for the family of the shooter because I am
sure they are questioning what they could have done
differently. We pray her young daughter will not be permanently
scarred by the violence. I hope the citizens of your community
will say a small prayer for Debbie and all the other victims
of violence in this world. I know I will from now on.

Thank you,
Mary Burnet Porter

Dear Newsletter:

My husband and I will be moving to Cloudcroft within the next
couple of years. We will be totally retired. Cloudcroft is one
of the most beautiful places we have ever visited and we have
been coming there for 20 years.

We're just looking so forward to moving there. Hallelujah! I
sure hope we can find reasonable housing!

Thank you,
Mr. and Mrs. John David Wade

Dear Newsletter:

Thank you for your interesting newsletters - always a pleasure
to read.
As Winter days begin to grow shorter, we Cloudcroft residents
soon think of Spring. The seed and flower catalogs arrive,
reminding us that snow will eventually give way to Spring
sunshine and the chance to grow flowers along our walkways.
Rose catalogs beacon ... but ... most catalogs warn that roses
are only to be grown in Zones 4 and above. 
This leads us to the question - what is Cloudcroft's growing
zone? Some books indicate Zone 2 (eek! - no roses). Other
books are more benign and indicate Zone 4. Before we order
roses, we need to know if we are simply buying beauties which
will soon succumb to our chilly climate, or perhaps beautiful
roses which will thrive in our beautiful high altitude
Most of your letters to the editor do not include your reply,
but we hope this one will provoke an answer so that we can
know whether to continue dreaming over the old roses catalogs
or put them aside ....
Thank you, and a very Happy New Year to you.
Rosalie and Bliss Thompson
Cloudcroft, NM

Dear Newsletter:

I received a copy of the newsletter from my husband's aunt. I 
so much enjoyed it that I have become a subscriber. 

Your newsletter brings to mind for someone who lives in the
city - a close knit family that includes the whole area. It's
a wonderful feeling and one I am grateful to have felt while
reading the newsletter. 

Thank you very much and while I have never been to the area
around Cloudcroft, it sounds like somewhere I want to try. My
husband and I raised three great kids and have five terrific
grandchildren, but we have also become foster parents and are
in the process of adopting two of those foster kids now. So,
we are starting over and couldn't be happier. 

Our planned traveling days of retirement have been put on hold,
but the joys and rewards of parenthood are once again glowing
in our home.

Have a wonderful year
Marsha in Roanoke, VA

Dear Newsletter:

I really enjoyed your comments about all the new "diseases"
that have come about the last several years. My job when I was
still in school was to learn and get good grades...it was MY
responsibility...not my teacher's nor the school's 

When I was occasionally not successful, I was held personally
accountable. I admit to being kind of befuddled, and somewhat
incredulous, when I heard that someone actually benefited from
suing the provider of a cup of coffee the individual spilled in
their own lap. What's up with that?
We will be back up in your beautiful part of the country in a
couple of weeks. Please be sure and save some snow for us.
Harry & Pat Guillote
Temple, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

I have always enjoyed and continue to enjoy your observations
of life in general and in particular your willingness to be
transparent regarding your own short comings, which I can
identify with. I join you in your being sick and tired of the
PC people and philosophy that is being shoved down our throats
by the so called 'elite' of our culture. 

I do have one question, isn't your statement "If they're
living their lives contrary to my beliefs and convictions,
that's their business" nothing more than the PC position of
As a person I believe I am to be gracious and kind to all
people but I will not compromise my convictions or restrain
my objections to individuals who would endeavor to warp or
destroy that which our fore fathers sacrificed their lives

When a person(s) lifestyle, habits or preferences will
ultimately do damage to myself or more importantly to the
generations that follow me than I must stand up and say, 
"your wrong and I will do everything I can, within the
restraints of the law to stop you from bringing what will
most certainly be harmful to my life and the of future

We use to call this 'doing what is right' , but we seemed
to have lost our ability to discern what is right. So we get
tossed to and fro in the wind of public opinion and in
crisis we have nothing to stand on.
Oh well,
Just wondering...
Thanks again Don
Ed Sinke
El Paso

Dear Newsletter:

After almost thirty years, I'm still the first person into work
every morning! Coffee is made and I'm typing up notes from the
day before as the remainder of my team starts showing up.
Little sly remarks are past around just as would be with any 
tight-nit group, "don't you have a home?" – "He sleeps here all
night!" – "Hey leave him alone, somebody gotta make the
coffee." This is about the point when I reach up and check off
another day on the calendar, it's Tuesday January 4, 2005 just
236 days to go.
Chuck, my Cloudcroft rock, actually he just barely a stone but
he likes being called a rock; it's one of those macho things I
guess. Anyway Chuck is starting to look a little anxious and I
was almost ready to take him back to the property during my
next visit to Cloud Country West. And just then he started
criticizing me about bringing him to Phoenix in the first 
place. You know, when he gets like this it just causes me a lot
of undue problems. By the time I get him settled down, all the
guys in the office are quiet, motionless and staring at me
with that funny look. They apparently have a hard time
understanding us older employees.
My youngest daughter's graduation from ALEA (Arizona Law
Enforcement Academy) is this coming Friday 1-7-05 and thus
the last chick leaves the nest so to speak. 
The next thing I need to accomplish is to get the guy, who is
staying in the cabin that I just bought, to move out! He is
actually in just as big a hurry to move as I am to have him
move. But he too is waiting for a person to vacate his newly
purchased home. It seems my guy doesn't care for the snow or
cold of the mountains. And his guy has to finish his tour of
duty at Holliman Air Force Base.
Shut up Chuck, I told you I take you back when I feel like it.
Here comes the "looks" again. You know these guys are going to
miss me when I'm gone. Mostly because the coffee maker belongs
to me! I think I'll come into work late tomorrow…
Bill White
Phoenix, AZ 

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Copyright © 2005 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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