We completed our trips in June with a visit to the Northeastern area of New Mexico near Abiquiu and the landscapes made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe. Though commonly attributed to the same geological make-up; including once ancient ocean and volcano sediments, this area presents a striking difference compared to the Northwest area of our New Mexico journey.
Arriving at the Ghost Ranch was arriving in an eclectic revival of a once Dude Ranch now turned educational community. Better words cannot be spoken that how the ranch describes themselves…
“In this land of shifting light, boundless skies and fused cultures, Ghost Ranch offer over 250 workshops annually. The towering rock walls and vivid colors of our northern New Mexico location — where Georgia O’Keeffe painted for fifty years — offer a place for renewal, retreat and transformation.” (source- http://www.ghostranch.org)
The ranch has a rich history, first being known as “Rancho de los Brujos” (Ranch of the Witches) a myth begun by a pair of brothers running the land in the early 1900’s to keep people away from their cattle rustling operation. It later evolved into Ghost Ranch as an operating dude ranch and continues to grow and support the land and her visitors in a open and diversely loving way.
After taking a 360 view atop Pack hill, a memorial to once owners Arthur Pack and his wife Phoebe, we had a well prepared lunch and connected with the afternoon tour of the Georgia O’Keeffe landscapes. We were off to see the exact locations so well celebrated and enjoyed by art lover’s around the world.
While we were immersed in an expansive landscape showing its layers like rings of tree tell age we were captivated in the discovery that this magnificent purple mountains O’Keeffe’s was representing were actually the smaller hills in the foreground. O’Keeffe’s micro-view of interpretation meant that in her time the area in the above image was represented in much closer detail, as seen below. Her images would account for only a specific piece of the topography, calling them in simple name such as; purple hills with little bushes:
As we continued along the road we soon arrived at one of her most well known landscapes, standing before the very trees she painted decades before. The landscape almost remaining in perfect stasis since O’ Keeffe walked in the area.
Perdenal, the flat-topped mountain that was the jewel of O’Keeffe’s eye, in this area was so prevalent on the horizon one could understand why O’Keeffe often claimed it to be given to her by God for painting it enough.
We concluded our tour of the O’Keeffe landscapes at the chimney rocks along the Kitchen Mesa red and yellow cliffs she painted many times. O’Keeffe being joined by other well known character’s such as’ Ansel Adams, John Wayne, and Charles Lindbergh we were grateful to learn the history behind the inhabitants of this ranch over the years and how it has become such a sustaining, innovative presence in the area.
Leaving the ranch we were on to the Bandelier National Monument to see the cliff dwellings, curious to how they would compare in structure and style to those that we saw in an earlier trip to Chaco Canyon.
Bandelier was striking and quite different than the Chaco Canyon area. More vegetation and access to water in this area, Bandelier expands 33,750 acres with 70 miles of trails and an elevation of 7,000 ft. above sea level. The cliff dwellings found here were created by the Ancestral Pueblo people over 10,000 years ago.
Walking among these ancient structures was fascinating and we could not help but transport our energy to the time these structures were full of a thriving populus working for the ongoing health and support of the tribe.
Among the dwellings were preserved petroglyphs left by the Ancient Pueblo people. After hearing from a local volunteer ranger for the park that the people were known for their use of humor and laughter in not only celebration but also as mockery to those that fall out of alignment with the tribe values, it became clear why so many of the images were smiling back at us…
Beyond the main dwellings of this hike was a climb to a dwelling called “The Alcove” that rises 140 ft. As we made our way along the now dried out river wash of previous flooding were surrounded by beautiful trees and plantlife and walking on a path of glitter shining grey sands.
Arriving at the climb you cannot help but be a bit intimidated by the heights. A series of ladders and steps made up the climb and it was go fast or risk not going at all. About half way up the climb a resting point that was much needed…
With the pinnacles of this trail reached we hiked out just in time to get caught in a hail storm that had been slowly brewing over the late morning in the sky, proving that only in this land of the other-worldly will you get caught in a hailstorm on the Summer Solstice.
We have a return visit planned to hike more trails in the Bandelier as well as more trips back to Southern New Mexico coming up in September 2014. With nine trips in our books we are enjoying the work of reviewing what we have captured and finding the best of the moments in poetry and image.
A portion of the proceeds from the Walking Enchantment project sales will benefit the top nominated charities sponsored in our fundraising program that will be announced very soon in August 2014! We appreciate your support of this project and our donation opportunities with your friends, family and social media communities!