Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Shot in the Dark

Leaving Taos, we expected to be in Colorado Springs by evening. Not so! Thank goodness our schedule is flexible enough to allow us to stop when we find a reason to do so.   Before we left the area, there was one more thing we wanted to see, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in nearby Angel Fire. Constructed by his parents, Dr. Victor Westphall and Jeanne Westphall, the memorial was originally built to honor the memory of U.S. Marine Corps First Lieutenant Victor David Westphall III and his fellow soldiers who were killed at Con Thien, South Vietnam on May 22, 1968.

The memorial was dedicated on May 22, 1971, the third anniversary of Lieutanant Westphall's death. The memorial is now administered as a park by the State of New Mexico. Under the agreement with the Westphall Foundation, there is no fee charged to visit the memorial, and the chapel remains open 24/7. The memorial is striking architecturally, and it and the exhibits inside are a worthy tribute to the memory of all who served and died in that war. Please take the time to visit if you are in the area.

Because we spent so much time in Angel Fire at the memorial, we got a late start on our trip north on Wednesday, August 15. Fortunately we stopped in Cimarron, NM, on our way. In their excellent visitors center, we picked up information about the area, including a brochure from the NRA Whittington Center outside Raton, NM. We decided to overnight there instead of pushing on to Colorado Springs. It was a good decision! The Whittington Center is situated on 33,000 acres just 10 miles south of Raton. The RV park has 200+ sites situated on a hilltop with magnificent views of the surrounding prairies and mountains.  Here is a photo of our campsite.

In addition to hiking/biking trails and wildlife, the Whittington Center has 14 shooting ranges for everything from skeet and trap shooting, to pistols, to black-powder rifles, to long-range hunting rifles. Here are images of a pronghorn on one of the skeet ranges, and a doe we displaced from the pistol range.

We had a great time. Before we left on Thursday morning, John and I took time to shoot a round of skeet, then practiced our pistol skills. Here is a shot of the target from his last clip.  It's not bad (better than mine by a long shot!) but who can concentrate on a range with this view!

We only wish we had stayed longer. But then, that gives us a good reason to return.  We want to have our coffee watching more sunrises like this one.


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