Day 7, our last day in New Mexico. We had plans to visit Bill & Leslie at their home in Abiquíu, Gainesville transplants, artists, and attendees of breakfast club. This morning was a special treat for me because the ground was blanketed in soft snow. It wasn’t much by Santa Fe winter standards, but it really was a wish come true. You can read more about that here. After a short snowball fight and scraping the car windows we hit the road northwest for Abiquíu.
The weird thing about this part of NM, was the lack of road options headed north. We appreciated this fact when we got on US-84 only for traffic to come to a standstill due to slow moving construction equipment. We hopped off the highway and pulled over on the side of the road because the view was incredible. It truly was a winter wonderland! Photoshoot and sketching session complete, we reassessed our directions on the map only to discover there really was no other option but US-84. There were some smaller roads that branched off, but all seemed to stop and none seemed to connect. We got back on the highway and made our way to Abiquíu, trading a winter wonderland for the dryness of desert and mountains.
Bill & Leslie were delightful people. Leslie and I happened to be reading the same book, Shawn McNiff’s Trust the Process. They asked us what we wanted to see. I was keen on red rock mountains, wanting to experience the bigness of the west. They were the most patient and knowledgeable tour-guides we could have asked for! There was a lot of pulling over on the side of the road on this day trip. A lot! They never seemed inconvenienced by this and that made all the difference in the world.
It may not have been snowing in this part of the state, but it was brisk and very windy. Peter and I would hop out of the car as quickly as we could. My camera was mounted on a monopod and I would shoot everything I could lay my eyes on. It was nearly dizzying between the strong gusts of wind and me practically spinning in circles at the sight of everything. Meanwhile, Peter would create some quick value and color sketches of the scenery. All in all I took 699 photographs on this day. The most I took for the entire trip.
We slowly made our way to Ghost Ranch, with a final stop along the Chama River. The views were breathtaking and captivating. There was one view in particular along the entire day trip that caught my eye in many photographs. The view of the Cerro Pedernal in the distance. It was only in hindsight that I realized how much this view captivated Georgia O’Keeffe, making appearances in numerous paintings. The opening quote of this blog is a testament to how she felt about Cerro Pedernal. I could see why. It’s a dominating presence even in the distance, with an endearing slanted flat top. I just couldn’t help myself! It’s almost posing for the camera (or canvas) as if to say, here I am!
The west has had a piece of my heart since my first visit six years ago. It is unlike my home state of Florida and even east coast mountains in so many ways. There is so much distance that really cannot be felt in Florida. There is a strong, ancient presence from the mountains. There is so much earth. Florida is all water, and don’t get me wrong I LOVE water, but there is something so solid about the west, so grounding for me. The lighting is impermanent and the clouds so lush. I especially loved how strong sunlight shining between thick clouds created extreme highs and lows in the values of rock faces. Two completely different photographs in a split second as the clouds glide across the sun.
The show isn’t over yet folks! You didn’t think I could spend an entire day in the wide open expansiveness of Abiquíu without taking any abstract mountain shots did you!? Impossible really. The textures, the hidden faces, the hard edges, the dark shadows against light rock faces. I’m certain I could spend multiple lifetimes here and never run out of subject matter to abstract through the camera. All of the photographs in the slideshow below were taken from the side of the road. It just goes to show you that there are beautiful compositions hiding in plain sight if we just take the time to notice them (and the patience to pull over every 2 miles).
We made our way back to Bill and Leslie’s quiet refuge for a delightful dinner and conversation. We watched the sunset from the roof as I bid the “Land of Enchantment” goodbye, but silently prayed not for long. Many thanks were exchanged for a wonderful final day, and many laments that we couldn’t stay longer. Our flight back to Florida was set to depart the next morning.
Au revoir New Mexico! Thank you for the beauty you hold, for your groundedness, for your inspiration, for the many kind souls we met. They don’t call it the “Land of Enchantment” for nothing, as I soundly slept in the tiniest of casitas spellbound by every moment of this weeklong trip.
I sincerely hope you enjoyed my weeklong journey to Santa Fe, NM. If you have any questions, comments, inspirational tidbits, please leave them in the comment block below. As always, thank you for following along. I look forward to sharing the next journey with all of you.