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Working For The BLM & The Fish Fry
by Kate Ankrom
January, 11, 2004 
Dale and I are volunteering at the BLM in Taos, New Mexico, and are so happy, here.
We have full hook-ups, they are supplying our propane and our phone line.  We are alone in the marvelous canyon...we are in the Rio Bravos campground, about 2 miles into the canyon.  We are contracted to work 14 hours a week, and they are paying us over $500 a month--I feel like WE should be paying THEM!  The Rio Grande runs past our RV.  We haven't seen much wildlife, except for ducks and Canada Geese, but we HEAR coyotes at night, and see tracks of larger animals.  The night sky is marvelous--before the moon comes up above the canyon rim, the stars sparkle like jewels on velvet.
We are really doing well--last summer with the fire, and the bikes being stolen, we lost a lot of money.  But we worked in December in Phoenix selling Christmas Trees and made almost $4000, and figure to save that much at least during this stay at the BLM, so we may buy a small car or SUV for local trips--I'll just drive along behind Dale as we move the RV.  
We have been hiking and biking, and this week plan to go out hunting petroglyphs.

January 29, 2004
Just a note to tell you about the other day...Dale and I had volunteered to help with the fish stocking at Wild Rivers...what do I know?  I thought they wanted me to knit little socks for the fishes...But no!!  Up at the crack of dawn...out the door to the BLM, and into a van with 7 other people for an hours ride to Wild Rivers, a huge protected area along and above the gorge, which is wilder and colder than here, because of the higher altitude.  There are black bears, elk and cougars roaming the area. 
It was minus 4 degrees on the way into the park.  We were ACTUALLY going to help stock the Red River and the Rio Grande with itsy bitsy baby fish--about 1 or 2 inches long.  Gee, that doesn't sound too bad, does it?  OK.  This is what we had to do...each of us (there were about 30 of us, mostly BLM employees, but some volunteers, like us) had to carry a backpack with a 5 gallon plastic container filled with water and 1500 brown trout fry.  This weighed about 40 pounds, plus pack, and lunch...Then, we had to hike this rocky, STEEP, icy path 800-1000 feet down into the gorge!!  Not only THAT, but we had to climb down a wooden ladder (carrying this backpack), and down 3 sets of metal stairs with rickety railings anchored onto the side of the cliff.  And you KNOW about my fear of heights!!  It was 1.2 miles DOWN...and 1.2 miles BACK UP!!  When we finally got down, we had to acclimate the baby fish to the river--that took about 45 minutes, before they could be released, and we could be on our way back to the top.  My knees and hips were screaming at me, but Dale helped me every step of the way.  At one point, on the way back up, I almost had a panic attack at having to go back up one of the sets of stairs.  I was literally fighting down the fear...but Dale calmed me by saying "One of these days, Nick or Tony will be in a difficult place, and they'll ask themselves "What would GRANDMA do??""
The scenery was magnificent!!  Truly, truly.  Whenever I could look up from watching my feet...And to watch those little baby fish start to swim around!  COOL!!
And guess what?  Dale and I got to be on the local evening NEWS!!  There was a cameraman at the start of the hike, and he wanted to interview us!  He asked me what I was looking forward to seeing in the Gorge, and I told him I was looking forward to seeing the TRUCK again, at the END of it!!!  And they had the NERVE to say on the broadcast that I was just kidding!!