To say that I love color would be an understatement. I agree with Paul Simon: “Everything looks worse in black and white.” Well, except maybe my face on a bad day... :-)
I think that people from the Midwest and South often think the desert must be a drab, flat, dry, boring landscape. Having spent time in the desert in the past, I knew this wasn’t exactly true. However, I’ve been even more enamored with some of the stunning colors, textures, and elevations I’ve experienced in New Mexico over the past two and a half weeks.
The word of the day today was definitely “cerulean.” I’m kind of a word nerd, and as a kid, I took great pleasure in knowing the names of all my crayon colors. Someone had clearly scribbled all over the sky in one of my favorites.
Cerulean above me, I traversed over the Continental Divide (elevation 7,080 feet), into the Gila National Forest, and back, forth, up, and down through some stunning landscapes. Just when I thought I had seen the most beautiful vista, a new one appeared around the bend. The vegetation and rock formations were constantly morphing. There were not enough pull offs or scenic viewpoints to properly enjoy this lovely wilderness.
And it truly was wilderness. My phone declared “no service” for most of the 2+ hours it took to reach my destination, which was only 46 miles from my starting point in Silver City. I wondered a few times how many cars had tumbled off the narrow road into the great Gila beyond.
Since I’m walking down memory lane, about the time I was memorizing Crayola’s box of 72 hues I was also pretty intrigued with Mesa Verde National Park. The thought of living in a cave on a cliff sounded pretty good to me, and honestly, it still does. Today, I visited a similar but smaller abode, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.
Gila Cliff Dwellings were constructed in much the same way as Mesa Verde (which I visited 25+ years ago), although the landscape was different. The cliffs in the Gila wilderness evoke Gaudi’s architecture, with beautiful shapely curves in the taupe rock face. The development is much smaller, but still intriguing. It’s amazing that so much remains considering it was constructed around 1280, and its inhabitants mysteriously left after only 30 or so years of occupancy.
I can see why they chose the spot. In addition to the sweepingly beautiful vista from their front porch, they had ready access to water from a spring and the Gila River, something that is of obvious importance anywhere, but especially so in the desert landscape.
Brutally long (and beautiful) drive notwithstanding, I was glad to have experienced this national treasure. I do, however, have one disappointment after my very long drive back to Las Cruces from Gila land. I still cannot tell my niece that I have encountered a Gila Monster. I’ll keep looking!