Category Archives: Television

High Chaparral and Rifleman Country

The drive through southeastern Arizona and along the U.S. border with Mexico in southern New Mexico brings with it numerous reminders of the Wild, Wild West.  That’s especially true if you grew up watching Westerns on television.  Depart Bisbee, Arizona, southeast bound on Arizona 80 to Douglas, Arizona.  From Douglas, continue northward on Arizona 80 (formerly U.S. Route 80) into New Mexico, where the highway becomes New Mexico 80.  Shortly after passing into New Mexico you will find yourself at the intersection for New Mexico State Road 9, which will ultimately lead you to El Paso.

What, you may ask, is so special about this route?  The answer is simple: For the most part is parallels the old El Paso and Southwestern Railroad line (also known briefly as the Arizona and South Eastern Railroad), and in some stretches of New Mexico 9 the road is actually built atop the old railroad grade.

Not only will you see signs of the long-abandoned rail system, you’ll also find alongside what appears to be many of the Old West telegraph poles that accompanied the line — beautifully preserved in the hot, dry climate of the  Chihuahuan Desert.  Many poles not only retain their glass insulators, but some even have remnants of telegraph wire hanging from them.

Now for a bit of television history:

  • Southeastern Arizona is High Chaparral country.  The mythical cattle ranch of Big John Cannon was supposedly not far from here — about midway between Tucson and Tombstone — but the series also dealt with Cochise , Gernomino, and their Chiricahua Apache tribe.  That would appear to place the High Chaparral Ranch much closer to the Dragoon Mountains than to either Tombstone of Tuscon.
  • If you watched The Rifleman (by far the best of the old, thirty-minute, black-and-white Westerns of the late ’50s to early ’60s), then you might place the fictional North Fork, New Mexico somewhere near Santa Fe in the north of that state.  That’s unless you’re paying attention to other references made during the series — references frequently made to southern New Mexico towns such as Las Cruces, Silver City, and Lordsburg.  that would place North Fork much closer to the U.S.-Mexican Border in the extreme southern half of the state.

So, what does High Chaparral and Rifleman country look like?  It looks a bit like this (click on an image to bring up an album of larger versions):

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Filed under Photography, Television, Travel

Roller Derby Isn’t Dead

At least not yet.

If you’re a man my age, you remember watching women’s roller derby on television back in the ’60s.  And if you’re my age, you don’t admit to that, either.  You also don’t admit to having watched Kansas City Bomber starring Rachel Welch.  But, come on, admit it . . . you know you did.

I hadn’t thought of roller derby in many years.  Indeed, I rather thought it had pretty much died long ago.  So, imagine my surprise when Ursula told me that one of her REALTOR colleagues was in a local roller derby team.

Now, my Swiss-born wife had never even heard of roller derby, let alone watched one.  Thus, I can honestly say that this was her idea, not mine.  And so it was last Saturday evening that we found ourselves at a match between El Paso’s Tex Pistols against Tucson’s Bandoleros.

Now for the rules.  I’m sure there are some.

I think El Paso won:


Filed under Humor, Movies, Photography, Television

Portmeirion—Part 3

Despite what you might think looking at the photographs in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series on Portmeirion, the skies weren’t just varying shades of gray.  Occasionally the buildings of Portmeirion were framed in blue during our stay.  You’ll also see how the topography changes during high tide—blue waters caressing the frontage of the main hotel and lapping at the base of White Horses.

Fans of The Prisoner will also note other points of interest—”Town Hall” and the statue of Hercules holding the world for Atlas; Battery Square with its shops connected by a pedestrian bridge (the shop on the left is The Prisoner Shop); a stunning shot of the Bell Tower; and, of course, the Village Green with its pool and the fountain from which “Rover” springs forth. Rover, for the uninitiated, was the sentry that made The Village escape proof—a gigantic, almost gelatinous ball that would chase down and suffocate those who made the attempt.  Rover was in fact nothing more than a large weather balloon, but the beastly roar emanating from it made it appear far more ominous than its true identity would dictate.

If you plan a visit to the British Isles in general and Wales in particular, you need not be a fan of The Prisoner to enjoy a stay here.  The accommodations are incredible, and the views even more so.  But before you go, you owe it to yourself to find a copy of the series and prepare yourself for the experience.

Have you put The Prisoner into your Netflix queue, yet?  Before it arrives, a word of warning:  What you think the series is about is not what the series is about.  The beginning leads you to believe this is, at its core, a spy drama.  It’s nothing of the sort, and you don’t get a sense of that until at least two-thirds of the way into the series.  There are hints throughout, even starting as early as Episode One, of the deeper meaning, but . . . well, that would be telling.

I will say this much:  Listen for references to individuality, social conformity, and society.  Then prepare for a shock at the final, psychedelic conclusion.  Indeed, you may want to watch the series a second time to see what you missed in the lead-up to the finale.  How shocking was it?  Well, let’s just say that angry viewers who missed the clues, who were unaccustomed to having to think about what they watched on the proverbial “Idiot Box” known as television, were positively outraged.  Because of the intense emotions the final episode evoked, Patrick McGoohan reportedly found it necessary to pack up his family and flee England—first to Switzerland, and then to the U.S. (the country of his birth).

Now for some closing images of this remarkable, enchanted place:


Filed under Photography, Television, Travel