Pete: The story of Styve started two years ago, when the editors of Sierra sent me to Otero Mesa: an empty, environmentally integral part of New Mexico with strict instructions: “Ride your bike. Write about it.”
I rented a bike and disappeared into the desert for a week, camping on sand and riding down endless dirt roads into an astonishing headwind. You can read that article here.
While pre-reporting that article with the leaders of local conservation groups, however, I kept hearing the same name. “You gotta talk to Styve Homnick,” they said.
I did. For an entire day at his ranch, scribbling notes as he talked, growing wide-eyed and wondering if I’d found the centerpiece of my story on the final day of reporting.
Funny thing is, however, when a magazine sends you out to do a biking story, it wants a story in which bikes feature prominently. I couldn’t work Styve in until well past the middle of my piece.
But Styve loved the story and we kept in touch over the next few years, throwing around the idea of doing another one. Last spring, realizing I’d be driving through New Mexico with a couple of days before I had to be anywhere, I called him up and left a message.
We spent three days together this time, talking with Mescalero tribal members, rehashing his history with the tribe, shooing his dog, Laya, out of the room when she panted too loudly and the mic picked it up, apologizing to Laya, and then, finally, hiking around Alamo Mountain together.
Though this story is decidedly “about” Styve, if you want more information on the biology of Otero Mesa, the best source is Kevin Bixby and Walt Whitford’s paper The Last Desert Grasslands. Pages 9-11 were particularly helpful.
For information on the archaeology of Alamo Mountain, Deni J. Seymour is the unquestioned authority. Her paper PASARON POR AQUÍ (They Passed By Here) is a great place to start.