A Journey Through Time, Space & Dirt
Wandering through New Mexico is like taking a little trip through time and space. You know those science fiction movies (love them) where the space time continuum keeps shifting and the protagonist has to keep guessing where and when he is? Ya… kind of like that. It is like each area or town found a time in history where it thrived and stayed there. Kind of cool.
I had the opportunity to take this little journey a few weeks back. My mission was to take some stock photos for the publisher I work for. Of course, there were a few fun and interesting places that just happened to be on my route. There are beautiful forests, peaks and lakes in New Mexico but you have to look for them. In general, the dirt and adobe landscape will even have you dreaming in earth tones after a few days.
I want to write about each of my little adventures in some detail but for know a quick trip will have to do.
As I travelled through the early part of the Space Age, I came upon my first destination. White Sands National Monument is a combination really cool tourist site and missile testing range. White Sands is awesome and a colorless visual overload of line, shape and curve. I wandered and climbed, got lost and found myself. Oh, and took lots of pictures.
A quick trip through a whole lot of not much brings me to my most looked forward to destination. It’s a big sacred rock sticking up out of the desert called Ship Rock. I had studied this place in depth and was determined to ‘hear the voices’ of this simple place. I had to hang out in this pre-western migration era an evening, a night and a morning but they did sing to me.
A short saunter east brought me into a time that never existed on this planet. Bisti Badlands is longish hike through the landscape of another planet. Although I never really understood the language spoken hear, I came, I listened and I took some pictures.
A little south, over and down brings me into a native time not as old as Ship Rock but much older than me. Chaco Canyon National Historical Park brought all of those books about mysterious, disappearing Indian tribes I read as a youth screaming to the front of my memory. The power of the kiva, maze-like dwellings and secret paths through a seemingly solid cliff face all became real to the kid in me or maybe I should say the kid that IS me.
From here, a quick trip to meet a friend and fellow photographer brings me into the very modern and busy time that holds the city of Santa Fe. Little did I know that the nice lady on my phone would lead me through the modern city, around a corner and straight into a much older time housed within The Plaza. This central meeting place of Catholic Missions, open air restaurants, Indian artisans, street musicians and art galleries without end is so cool it let me ignore the thousands of people around me breathing my air. Oh, and that friend that I mentioned, he bought me lunch. This place is definitely on my ‘come back soon’ list.
From here I travelled east, popping in and out of the bygone era of Historic Route 66 with its really strange truck stops, old diners and artist shops with acres of art made out of old beer bottles. I spent a couple days in a place that was like home only different. I met lots of nice people and even more nice cows in the fairly new dairy country of Portales and Clovis. This is a more modern area that is self-contained and a long way from anything.
Next I journeyed north through cattle country, past windmills and through the high desert of northeast New Mexico and the Texas panhandle. This is dustbowl country. This is cowboy country. This is the old west where John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart drove cattle and shot bad guys. This also turns out to be both the high point and the low point of my journey. If you make it to a Clayton, New Mexico, a place made famous by the hanging of Black Jack Ketchum and dinosaur footprints, go a little this way and a little that way, you will come to one of the working corrals of the Polling family ranch. This is a time zone that should never go away. This is a time where family, friends and hard work are still the foundation. The morning I spent here was hot, dirty and awesome.
This is the part where too much sun, bad food, exhaustion or some kind of flu bug sucked all that was good out of me. I spend the next two days travelling through Amarillo to meet the guys who clone cows, back through dairy country and past a ranch near my starting point of Albuquerque. I remember only little glimpses of this journey seen through the cloud of a very bad attitude.
It is only now, a couple weeks after surviving a miserable car and plane ride back home, that all the good memories are finally taking out the last remnants of that bad attitude and letting me share this very fun and rewarding journey.
New Mexico is a lot of things but the part that stands out in my mind is that it is a place far enough away from anything else that a lot of the world’s noise can’t reach it. It is a hard land that allows families and reclusive artists to thrive. It is big, flat and quiet… and very strange.
Keywords: New Mexico
What a journey! Loved reading about it, seeing what you saw, hearing voices and anticipating your next adventure. Not only do you capture outstanding images, that gives the viewer visual appeal and evoke emotions-- you write extremely well. Written creatively that keeps the reader spellbound and wanting more. Nicely done.
Mike: I enjoyed not only the pictures, but the emotion. You were able to slow down my eyes and brain with your dialogue. I stopped to look around at the edges of each photo and then top, bottom, left and right to grab the entire area. Very much enjoyed the Ship Rock and White Sands photos the most...
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