Do you know where
your wallet is?
Despite the countless times I have lost, misplaced, or left it in
a restaurant, I never realized the consequences of the situation
until my purse was actually stolen. I knew it would involve cancelling
credit cards and bank accounts, replacing my driver’s license,
getting new Social Security, voter-registration, and phone cards,
new club membership, grocery store, and library cards, and new glasses,
but when friends all offered their deepest condolences, I began
to realize the gravity of the situation. “Oh, I’m so
sorry,” they said. “If there’s anything I can
do...” It was as though someone close to me had died.
I called every studio on the Placitas Studio
Tour to see if I had mindlessly left my purse there, but finally
accepted the fact that it had been stolen out of my car trunk by
the teenage boys we passed on a hike to Tejon earlier that day—rotten,
cute boys that had the nerve to say hi to us as we passed them.
No, I hadn’t locked the car.
Oh, I’d seen those funny public-service
ads about identity theft, but how can someone actually steal your
identity? You’re still you and they’re not. I flamed
with thoughts of some eighteen-year-old girl (with long brown hair)
down at the Launchpad in Albuquerque, laughing and drinking on my
driver’s license after changing the 5 to an 8 in my birth
And what about all my credit cards packaged
neatly together like multicolored picture postcards? Friends assured
me that I wouldn’t be libel for bogus credit-card charges,
but I suspected that it could still look bad and make it hard to
borrow money in the future—much like filing a claim on a car
accident that isn’t your fault. I naively thought we are more
than our credit history.
Then my concerns changed direction. My wallet
contained at least twenty years of personal history. It was two
inches thick and not closable. There were cherished old photos of
my three kids, miscellaneous receipts and ticket stubs that had
accumulated as an unintentional diary, uncashed gift cards, phone
numbers, and other happy bits and pieces carried around for no good
reason. Perhaps more than the financial loss and the hassle of replacing
my purse’s contents was the thought of some stranger frolicking
through this intimate view of my life.
I knew what the thieves looked like, but I
didn’t know their names, nor did I have any proof. Somebody
said I should file a report anyway, for credit card and insurance
purposes, so I reported the theft to the Sandoval County Sheriff’s
Department, which sent two deputies all the way out to our Placitas
house just to write up a report. They seemed surprisingly concerned
about my loss. The deputies told me that all a person needs is your
name, date of birth, and Social Security number to use your identity
to order credit cards. All these things were in my wallet. They
informed me that identity theft is the crime of choice among our
young local meth addicts.
So I signed up for the free thirty-day trial
period of one those privacy-guard programs with their promise that
for one low monthly payment I could protect myself from the horrors
of identity theft. They offer a comprehensive analysis of your personal
credit portfolio, a report notifying you of any inquiries or negative
information added to your files, and even reimbursement of lost
wages during the month of full-time work it might take to repair
your credit history. Things were looking darker, but the perhaps
imaginary relief from this identity-theft program and the fact that
my credit cards were now all cancelled made me feel a little better.
I waited daily for a call that someone had found my purse. My family
drove the road out to the trailhead three times, scouring the bushes
in case it had been discarded there. We looked at night with flashlights,
looking deep into dark culverts. If no wallet, I still wanted the
A few days later, my husband received notice
from the Veterans Administration notifying him that his Army identification
records from 1971 to 1973 had been stolen and that now he was among
twenty-six million vets at risk of identity theft. Other reports
said it was just post-1975 records, but that nobody really knew
Well, dang. We’ve worn our Social Security numbers like identity
badges for most of our lives—student IDs, dog tags, employee
IDs, voter-registration cards. Birth dates used to be something
Attorney General Madrid has advised all consumers
to order a free credit report and check it for accounts you did
not open, debts you did not incur, etcetera. My husband and I anxiously
awaited the release of the Identity Theft Repair Handbook.
But there’s a happy ending, maybe not
for the twenty-six million veterans, but for me. Ten days into all
the worry, we got a call from a woman who lived just down the road
from the trailhead to Tejon near where the alleged theft had occurred.
She told us her puppies had knocked over her trash cans and ripped
open some of the bags. My purse and contents had spilled out of
one of the bags and were among the scattered garbage. Gone was my
ninety dollars in cash, of course, but all else was miraculously
still there—driver’s license, Social Security card,
glasses, pictures—although now smelling like dead mice. Apparently
the boys weren’t concerned with identify theft.
And suddenly, I wasn’t either. I immediately
cancelled the privacy-guard membership and never checked my credit
report. Next thing you know, we’ll hear that somebody stole
the files from the privacy-guard people, so why should they have
all my information? I bought a skinny new wallet that contains two
of my credit cards, my driver’s license, and one duplicated
picture of my kids. The rest has been delegated to a bottom drawer
at home and the photos placed where they belong—in a nice,
For further information about protecting your
personal information, go to www.ago.state.nm.us
or call 1-800-678-1508.
Soon after ignition, the Parks Highway Fire south
of Fairbanks Alaska stopped traffic.
Forester’s log—Alaska adventuring
When I spent the first night of my recent Alaska odyssey sleeping
a few hours by the side of the road in Nenana, Alaska, I had no
idea this town would exert its pull on me in the most unusual way.
I had flown into Fairbanks on a Friday and was heading toward Denali
National Park. The main purpose of my Alaskan visit was to moderate
a panel at the thirtieth annual Intertribal Timber Council Conference
in Fairbanks. I planned to spend the weekends on either side of
the workshop exploring the Last Frontier.
After rafting on the Nenana River and hiking in Denali National
Park, I rendezvoused back in Fairbanks with several of my staff.
The Tanana Chiefs Council, in Fairbanks, was sponsoring the native-focused
national-forestry gathering. On Wednesday of the conference, my
staff broke into two groups. While a small group went to visit Denali
National Park, most of our group participated in the conference-hosted
field trip. After a morning of learning about black spruce, white
spruce, and birch-aspen forest ecology, Nenana tribal leaders set
out a beautiful lunch on the Tanana River beach in Nenana. Tribal
children entertained us with traditional dancing and singing.
At our next forest stop above the town, several of us noticed
a plume of smoke starting in the valley below. As our speakers talked
of thinning, forest pests, and the effects of global warming on
boreal forests, we watched the smoke column grow. My Denali-bound
employees called in to report that their attempts were thwarted
by a closed highway, tall flames, and smoke jumpers coming out of
Despite the excitement of watching the fire develop, my staff
was more excited with the conference agenda. On Thursday, five of
my employees presented papers relating to our work on Fort Apache
Reservation, in Arizona. All tribal forestry technicians, this was
their first opportunity to speak at a national conference. The speeches
drew wonderful evaluations and generated thoughtful discussions.
Later on that near summer-solstice Alaskan night, we were mesmerized
by the smoke column, now quite visible from Fairbanks. The next
morning I drove my staff to the airport. On my list of Fairbanks
sightseeing for the day, I planned to stop into the Alaska Fire
Center and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
When I wandered into the Parks Highway Fire Information Center,
it was still hastily being organized. The sole woman staffing the
center had a cell-phone headset and was rapidly answering multiple
calls. Recognizing the chaotic rush that comes in the first days
of a fire incident, I quickly volunteered to answer phones. I figured
I was looking for adventure, and what would be more adventurous
for a seasoned fire information officer from the Southwest than
to spend an afternoon helping on a real Alaskan wildfire? When I
explained I had experience talking about fires, she looked at me
in awe. Rather than volunteer for an afternoon, she needed me to
stay for at least a week. After few calls to my home unit in Arizona,
I was officially one of the 551 firefighters that would respond
to the incident.
That evening in Nenana, I attended a community meeting and got
my first briefing on the fire. Just as the university professors
two days earlier had described, the homogenous stands of black spruce
were burning intensely and fire was rapidly spreading. One home
and some cabins had already burned. More were threatened. People
with smoke-related health concerns were encouraged to leave the
area. Many other residents had evacuated. That night the town lost
power and another home burned.
I spent the next nine days working out of Nenana. The days were
full, as changing winds threatened additional communities along
the Parks Highway. I had a chance to learn about firefighting techniques
utilizing trains, helicopters, river access, and slopping through
As I came to know residents and firefighters, my enchantment with
Nenana grew. Although I found myself fantasizing about moving to
the Great Land of Adventure, I was needed back in Arizona, where
fires were also burning. My planned week in Alaska had stretched
past two weeks and I now had lifelong friends all over the state.
“The Forester’s Log” is a monthly column written
by forester Mary Stuever, who can be contacted at email@example.com.
Sugarite Canyon State Park ranked in Camping Life’s
Top 10 List
Of the nearly fifty-five hundred state parks throughout the United
States, Sugarite Canyon Lake State Park was chosen as one of the
top ten state parks in the country by the National Association of
State Park Directors.
The list, which was released in the March/April edition of Camping
Life—a nationally distributed magazine—indicates
that Sugarite Canyon was ranked as the ninth-best state park in
the country, with Arkansas' Petit Jean State Park leading the way
in the number one spot.
“Sugarite is a crown jewel of the New Mexico State Park System
and we're pleased and honored that others see that too,” said
State Parks director Dave Simon.
NASPD took several factors into consideration when determining
their selections. The contenders were evaluated based a combination
of qualities, including unique combination of land, water, flora,
fauna, vistas, legend and lore.
As noted in Camping Life, Sugarite Canyon, which lies
at the New Mexico-Colorado border, off of Highway 526, just east
of Raton, possesses a variety of terrain, with two scenic lakes
that allow for an abundance of wildlife. The topography of the park
is described in the magazine as “Great Plains meets the Rocky
Mountains.” Butterfly season in the park is at its prime from
May to July, when dozens of varieties can be seen fluttering around
the park. The park's historic coal camps and neighboring trail (remnants
of the camps are spread throughout the park) provide accounts of
the past, rich in legend and lore.
“I'm glad that other people are finding out just how unique
and spectacular Sugarite Canyon is, which are the very reasons I
have worked at the park for the past twenty years,” said park
manager Bob Dye. “I think Camping Life did an excellent
job of highlighting the unique history, natural resources, and beauty
we have to offer.”
Dye said that there has been a recent influx of visitors, which
could be attributed to the Camping Life article.
Sugarite Canyon has also been the center of publicity, after a
documentary video entitled “Walking Home Along the Trails
of Sugarite” recently won two national Telly awards for the
depiction of Sugarite's coal camps. The video can be seen at the
park during normal visitation hours.
For more information, contact Sugarite Canyon State Park at 505)-445-5607
or log onto www.nmparks.com.
Master Gardeners will present planting tips
On August 7 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. the Sandoval County Master
Gardeners will host a lecture by Dr. Curtis Smith, a horticulture
specialist at New Mexico State University. Smith’s topics
will be Vegetables: What to harvest for early spring, What to plant
now to flower in the spring; and Trees: Planting dos and don’ts.
The lecture will be held in the South Conference Room in Rio Rancho
City Hall, 3900 Southern Boulevard SE, in Rio Rancho.
Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from local experts
about gardening in New Mexico. The lecture is free and open to the
public. For more information, call Sandoval County Extension Office,