Spring Break in Taos – Part 4:  Santa Fe to Globe

NOTE:  Be sure to read the previous posts to get some context for this one.

On Friday morning we headed west out of Santa Fe, the target destination was Globe, AZ.  This section would take us through some interesting country.  At Albuquerque we stopped at Petroglyphs National Monument where 23,000 petroglyphs dating back to 1,000 AD are pecked into the Basalt Rampart that is a remnant of an old lava bed.

A basaltic rampart at the edge of urban sprawl in Albuquerque, NM.  This old wall of lava hides over 23,000 petroglyphs.  Canon S120

A basaltic rampart at the edge of urban sprawl in Albuquerque, NM. This old wall of lava hides over 23,000 petroglyphs. Canon S120

I can’t tell you how many times I have driven by the signs to this place and never before stopped.  But after some encouragement from my travelling companion we drove off the highway to it and she was quite right, this was a very interesting place and worth the stop.  The visitor’s center had a very nicely done video setting the story in place (with some incredible time-lapse sequences) and then we were off to explore one of the close collections of this ancient art.  There are some major hike-in sites but even this close one was fascinating.

Bird and animal petroglyphs.  Canon S120

Bird and animal petroglyphs. Canon S120

There is virtually every kind of symbol among these glyphs.  They are created by pecking away the outer weathered skin and revealing the lighter rock underneath.  This is the largest condensed collection of petroglyphs in the country and it is right on the edge of a housing development.

Petroglyph short story

Petroglyph short story.  Canon S120

There are macaws, snakes, virtually all of the critters in the area plus some other symbols and shapes whose meanings are largely deduced from similar symbolism in their descendants of these people.

Symbolic petroglyphs.  Canon S120

Symbolic petroglyphs. Canon S120

Soon we were back to the Highway and again headed west.   West of Albuquerque is the Laguna Pueblo, its Mission commanding the high ground around the homes and standing as a beacon to the residents.  The deep New Mexico blue skies were filled with contrails of passing jet liners. The original inhabitants of the pueblos could never have conceived of a huge metal bird carrying a hundred souls through the sky – it would have to be the work of the spirit world.

Contrails over Laguna Pueblo.  The original inhabitants could never have dreampt of an airliner carrying a hundred souls through the sky.  Canon S120

Contrails over Laguna Pueblo. The original inhabitants could never have dreampt of an airliner carrying a hundred souls through the sky. Canon S120

But what makes much of New Mexico so magical to me is this frequent, nearly seamless blending of old and new, ancient and modern; of timeless cultures still devoted to keeping the balance between those things on the land with those things over it and under it, living alongside of a time-obsessed culture convinced such things are not even worthy of consideration when we have cell phones, the internet, social media, and jet planes.

Turning off of I-40 to head south and west toward Globe, our destination, we first went through an area called Malpais National Monument where there are some fascinating formations, some right by the side of the road.  “Ventana”  (window) is a large free standing arch. You can see the glowing light filtering down through the opening.

An arch in the Malpais National Monument glows as the sunlight is warmed by reflections off of the rock.  Canon 5D Mk II

An arch in the Malpais National Monument glows as the sunlight is warmed by reflections off of the rock. Canon 5D Mk II

And along the rim there are some fantastic sandstone formations.  The first shot shows the type of feature where the ancient people found much of their water; a natural basin in the rocks.

Water catch basic in the sandstone rocks at Malpais National Monument.  These catch basins provide water for both animals and early inhabitants of this otherwise dry landscape.  Canon 5D MkII

Water catch basic in the sandstone rocks at Malpais National Monument. These catch basins provide water for both animals and early inhabitants of this otherwise dry landscape. Canon 5D MkII

From that same sandstone outcrop one can see the valley spread out below the cliffs.  Most of the land you can see is part of the Acoma reservation.  The flanks of Mt. Taylor start to rise on the right in the far background.  It is no wonder that the people who first wandered into this landscape developed an affinity for the land and a sense of balance and connection between sky and land and all that inhabit them.

Sandstone bluff overlooks Acoma reservation land at Malpais National Monument.  The flanks of Mount Taylor are in the background right side. Canon 5D MkII

Sandstone bluff overlooks Acoma reservation land at Malpais National Monument. The flanks of Mount Taylor are in the background right side. Canon 5D MkII

I am usually the one behind the camera but while I was up on the sandstone outcrop, Cynthia took a shot of me.

NOT A SELFIE!!!  This shot was taken by (and © by) Cynthia Sincair.  But it does show me where I love to be, camera in hand.  Canon 5D MkIII

NOT A SELFIE!!! This shot was taken by (and © by) Cynthia Sincair. But it does show me where I love to be, camera in hand. Canon 5D MkIII

It makes me question why I ever allowed my hair, what there is of it, to be dyed white?Hmmmm.  Oh well, after coming down off of the rocks it was back on the road toward Globe.

You know, the mountain men used to say, sometimes you eat the bear but sometimes the bear eats you.  Well up till now on this trip it looked as if the bear was going to be mighty sorry for hanging around.  But you really never know about bears, sometimes, just when you think you have them on the run, they will turn around and swat you hard alongside the head.

This first swat came in the form of an Arizona State Trooper who noticed I was a little north of the speed limit and busted me.  I can hardly complain.  I have deserved tickets so many times when I finally get one it seems only like cosmic justice.  But this time I did not realize I was speeding.  Oh well… karma hard at work to keep my attention, I suppose.

Yet, the incident definitely ripped a huge hole in my otherwise delightful day.  But then, we came upon Salt Creek Canyon, about 30 miles north east of Globe.  The light was getting rich so there was an opportunity for some canyon shots.  This is a gorgeous canyon especially in this late afternoon light as it skims across the various outcroppings painting them with a bright warm brush against the cool dark green of the pines and scrub.

The overlook provided a breathtaking wide view of this spectacular scene and, of course I took it.  But like taking a shot of the Grand Canyon, though on a much smaller scale, when reduced to display size on a computer screen, the majesty is gone.  I have a Grand Canyon shot that measures 160” x 80” that is wonderful large but just dies and loses all sense of grandeur when reduced to “normal” size.  Images have scale, something painters know but many photographers never quite get.  They think because they could move an enlarger up and down that it made no difference except perhaps for what could be charged for a piece.  But it makes a huge difference if the vision and message for the piece are important to you.

But, thinking about that very problem, I did then search for a smaller view in which the sense of the canyon’s beauty could be scaled down for reasonable viewing and  still provide a “feel” for what was appearing in front of me.

Late afternoon light accents outcrops in the Salt River Canyon, Arizona, near Globe, AZ.  Canon 5D MkII

Late afternoon light accents outcrops in the Salt River Canyon, Arizona, near Globe, AZ. Canon 5D MkII.

The road drops nearly to the river and then leaps across on a well-designed bridge set.  From down at water’s edge you can look upward to see the design of the bridges.

Bridge(s) over Salt River.  Canon S120

Bridge(s) over Salt River. Canon S120

Around the floor are scattered some interesting smaller tableaux of details.  Here is an example.

Nature detail on the floor of the Salt River Canyon in Arizona.  Canon S120

Nature detail on the floor of the Salt River Canyon in Arizona. Canon S120

Wow, this time we nearly knocked the bear onto the ropes.  But he was not finished yet and roared back with a totally messed up reservation for our rooms and the ultimate jerk of a manager at the Globe Day’s Inn.  This guy had a PhD in how not to perform customer service after graduating summa cum laude in rudeness at hospitality school…  So we ended up across the road at the Best Western. It was GREAT, with excellent service and helpfulness.

The day had put us through some great country but for me, with maybe a couple of exceptions, it had been a day of mostly “I was there” shots, so when we finally headed to our rooms the bear was a little ahead on points for the day.  But overall, trip wise, I think we were ahead and in any case the contest was still very much alive.  Tomorrow, the last day, would tell the tale and publish the final score.

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About ndking

Commercial Photographer and Professor of Photography at San Diego City College
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