In the National Park Service shop I was puzzled by black tee shirts with GUMO in large letters on the front.  Goo-moh?  How was I supposed to know it should be pronounced Gwa-moh?  It took me a moment or two to make the translation.  The Park Service’s standard use of two letters of two words coding for the parks does not work when U is functioning as a consonant.  I was at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.Peak0219

 

The park was crowded.  The clerk said it was spring break, but I saw many older couples too.  The date was March 9, just before the reality of the coronavirus epidemic hit us all.  That morning in the busy little shop will remain my “before” image; so much we did not know.

P1010216

Fortunately, our national monuments, landscapes and parks will be here to come back to.  This park has one unusual historical landmark, the remains of buildings from a stop on the Butterfield Stage Route.

butterfield10226

The Butterfield mail route ran through these mountains from 1851 to 1859, when a safer route was chosen.  Then in 1861 the Civil War interrupted it.  For a business that only lasted ten years, the Butterfield Stage has a big place in southwestern lore.  Since they needed to change horses every twenty miles there are many ruins across the southwest, but few are as easy to get to as this one.

butterfied 20221