Spotting the Turtle in the mountain and the Elephant in the butte took me awhile. Mountains never look like animals or people. They look like mountains. Naming them after whatever object they might look like only attests to the power of alcohol and 17th century trail fatigue. The guy that thought a mountain looked like "Fray Cristobal" was drunk on mescal or delirious from the Jornada del Muerto. Or overindulged as a child with sightings of tetillas in the hills.
The TorC turtle made his stony self known to me as the snow melted off his back on a sunny day just after Christmas. I was soaking my arthritic ass (though that not be the afflicted portion of my body) in one of the lovely outdoor pools at Riverbend and staring across the Rio at a particular part of the mountain (not pictured) - a portion of Los Caballos, so named because horses roamed there and not because mountains looked like horses.
Suddenly there was the turtle - if there can be a sudden about either granite or turtle. He's been there draped across that ridge forever. His rocky shell black against the white snow made him obvious and showy. His prominant front left leg hangs down lazily like he's been soaking too.
"There's the fucking turtle!" I exclaimed a little too loudly. I wasn't even drunk.
There is no direct evidence that either Thomas B. Catron or Bronson M. Cutting ever visited any of New Mexico's hot mineral springs.* On the other hand, nobody says they didn't. Bronson was sick so he might have tried a soaking cure, though it would have more likely been administered in the Swiss Alps. His father had that kind of money. Anyhow, Truth or Consequences or Palomas Hot Springs, as it would have been known in Cutting's day, catered primarily to the working class who built Elephant Butte Dam.
The pursuit of optimal soaking conditions and locations is legitimate book research nonetheless and my excuse for wasting time down here. So I'm doing lots of it.
Other research activities involve long drives in the desert and visits to the Geronimo Springs Museum - the museum that should be in a museum museum.
*These are the bookend characters of my to-be-some-day historical fiction, and they're both vampires! OK. Not really. But Catron was a little scary.