So I spent most of this week in the American Southwest (particularly an area sometimes known as Oasisamerica, which is a fun term), visiting my sister. She is currently living in Ganado, Arizona, which is a difficult place to get to (you may recall her Christmastime difficulties). So we flew into Albuquerque, New Mexico, and drove three hours northwest. My time there was essentially spent in landscape viewing and game playing which is perfectly fine by me. I’ve included some pictures (bear in mind that I am no photographer) to give you a sense of what was up with the Southwest in winter.
Fun fact, the night we first arrived in Ganado, I went outside in the coldest weather I’ve ever personally experienced: 7° F (aka -14 C). Just because. The first couple days were very cold but by the end it warmed up substantially and, by the time we were back in Albuquerque exploring, it was 63°. So there you have it.
I learned, mostly by Wikipedia, quite a bit about the Navajo, Hopi, and ancestral Puebloans. Interesting stuff. I also witnessed firsthand contemporary Navajo and Hopi life which, shall we say, reaffirms my belief that more needs to be done. “Underserved communities” = understatement. We visited Second Mesa, the center of the Hopi universe, and a number of other cool places.
Scenery-wise, wow. I tell you what, wow.
The mesa-butte-canyon general scheme was familiar to me, but I didn’t really understand it until I saw it. I mean, like, the mesas have mesas. There’s not just two levels, it’s an incredibly complex landscape that I can neither describe as flat nor totally not-flat. It is also neither totally desert not totally not-desert. There is a forest (that is really neither a real forest nor non-forest) near where my sister lives, full of tall Ponderosa pines and short sage and juniper trees. But also, there are several actual deserts nearby. It’s sort of confusing.
But I am not confused about its beauty, which is immense. The colors, which are not just red like I had thought, cover the whole spectrum from red to white to yellow to purple to black to green. Junipers are lovely, as is sage. The rocks are incredibly complex, with rills and valleys and elephant skin and spires and crevices and everything. The Petrified Forest 10/10 can recommend. The red clay mud 0/10 would avoid. The snow lay a blanket, varying and delicate, across most of the land we traveled and it was a vision of the region I did not expect but took to heart nevertheless.
Pictures cannot do it justice, especially mine, so I will only encourage a visit. And visit in the winter, after the snow but before the mud. Because there aren’t many people there and a wintry desert it a special something. But also go in the summer to see what the snow obscured.
Anyway, I didn’t have much to say this week. There’s actually loads more I could say about our adventures and things, but I’ll leave it there. I just wanted to share a couple pictures and encourage you to visit and learn more. That’s why I’m not translating the title. If you’re curious, look it up yourself and learn about the Navajo, the Hopi, kachinas, hogans, and whatever else you may find. Have fun!