Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
A Bit of New Mexico, April 26-28
This first run through New Mexico was cut short due to high winds (a regular occurrence in the spring I've been told). But, I did check out the Gila Cliff Dwelling NM and the White Sands NM while I was there.
The Gila Cliff Dwellings struck me differently than expected. I was thinking I'd probably be awe-struck by the ingenuity of the Mogollon peoples who built adobe rooms and conducted their society in these caves. And I certainly was amazed, but, more than that, I found myself identifying with them. The trek up to the caves was a peaceful walk along the canyon floor, up stone steps, to their built-in village. Once at the caves, the sense of place was strong ... and the outlook into the canyon and up to the mesa beyond was satisfying to my soul. I kept saying to myself ... "I could live here." (... and I would definitely get in better shape from the climb up and down, too!)
The night before my visit to the cliff dwellings, I stayed at a local NFS campground and enjoyed a great moon rise over some cliffs across from my campsite. I arrived early enough to enjoy a bit of down time and to watch the turkey vultures, with their huge wing span, ride the warm air currents rising from the cliffs. I loved going to sleep and waking up with the sound of the Gila River below.
The following morning I visited White Sands NM (before the heavy winds were to begin). The sand is pure gypsum and so white that it hurt my eyes to look at it without sunglasses. The gypsum is washed into the desert valley from the surrounding mountain ranges. When the water drys and the wind blows, dunes are formed ... 275 square miles of sand dunes! I loved learning about the plants and wildlife that live in or next to these dunes ... my favorite plant being the Hoary Rosemarymint with it's small violet flowers and leaves that smelled like mint when crushed.
The most fun sighting at the dunes was a bus full of school kids sledding on the sand like it was snow ... only they were in shorts and barefoot!