Between Socorro and Truth or Consequences, NM lies the small town of San Antonio. If a driver exits I-25 at San Antonio and takes Highway 1 running parallel to the interstate, one will pass through the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosque),
A bosque (/ˈboʊskɛ/BOHS-ke) is a gallery forest found along the riparianflood plains of stream and river banks in the southwestern United States. It derives its name from the Spanish word for woodlands.
In the predominantly arid or semi-arid southwestern United States, the bosque is an oasis-like ribbon of green vegetation, often canopied, that only exists near rivers, streams, or other water courses. The most notable bosque is the 200-mile (320 km)-long ecosystem along the middle Rio Grande in New Mexico that extends from Santa Fe south past Socorro including the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
I took Highway 1 once and stopped at the Refuge’s visitor center. It had a clean women’s restroom (I can’t vouch for the men’s room), a gift shop, and exhibits aimed mostly at kids.
I can’t remember why I went up to the information desk, but a very nice lady was working there. While we chatted, a man–another visitor–joined us. The info woman showed us on a map where to find the scenic-loop drive good for bird watching. I decided to skip the scenic loop drive. The $5 entrance fee didn’t seem worth it because it was almost dark, I’m not a birder, and I was the only person in the van. Better to have a scenic-loop companion and get our money’s worth.
Before I could say thank you and walk off, the nice information desk woman mentioned the penguins that come to the Bosque.
Penguins? I asked.
Penguins? the tourist man next to me echoed my confusion.
Penguins, The information woman said firmly.
How do they get here? either the man or I asked.
Have you ever seen a penguin? the information woman asked.
I thought about it. On TV, I said. Then I thought about it more. I’d seen penguins at an aquarium once. That was real life, albeit through glass. The penguins swam around a huge tank. One wall was glass so visitors could watch them diving and paddling.
I considered what I knew about penguins. They didn’t fly, right? They couldn’t possibly fly to New Mexico, right? They lived where it was cold, right? Southern New Mexico–even Southern New Mexico in winter–couldn’t be nearly cold enough for penguins, right?
All of those penguin thoughts flashed through my mind. Maybe everything I thought I knew about penguins was wrong. Maybe they did fly to New Mexico and hang out at the Bosque del Apache.
The information woman was still talking, but the tourist man interrupted to ask again, Penguins?
Penguins? the information woman asked as she realized her mistake. Did I say “penguins”? I meant pelicans.
I knew she was embarrasses, and I felt bad for her. She’s seemed so sure, but she’d been so wrong.