Later that first week, I left the city limits, motoring west and looping briefly through the rural stretches of Bernalillo, Cibola, and Valencia counties. In the distances I saw Sierra Ladrones and Mt. Taylor. I plunged into and out of the massive basin of the Rio Puerco; the basin contains a lone, barren hill, Cerro Colorado, its prominence─that is, its height from base to peak─roughly half that of the tallest mountain in my native New Jersey. (Now that’s big, I thought. Imagine the number of New Jerseys I could fit in this state.) I skirted the Cañoncito Navajo Indian Reservation (today the re-named To’hajiilee Indian Reservation of Breaking Bad fame) and sliced across the Laguna Indian Reservation, although I don’t believe I saw a single Indian. I saw countless mesas and massive ramps of broken rock that seemed to have sprung violently from the land like pieces of warped linoleum. I saw eroded rangelands of dust, destroyed, unbeknownst to me, by overgrazing. In the extinct settlement of Correo, New Mexico, I passed the ghostly ruin of the Wild Horse Mesa Bar, likely the last stop of many a cowboy and Indian. I drove Route 6, a remnant of Route 66, to Los Lunas; the highway paralleled the main line of the Santa Fe Railroad, and I kept pace with mile-long freight trains traveling 60 miles per hour. Returning north to Albuquerque, I shadowed the Rio Grande.
Published by Philip Davis
Raised in New Jersey, Philip Jay Davis has spent 40 years in the West, 25 of them in the Southwest. He has degrees in English from Hobart College and the University of New Mexico. Now retired, he has been a factory worker, carpenter’s helper, miner, community service organizer, day-care worker, bookkeeper, cab driver, computer operator and programmer, college instructor, environmentalist, nurse aide, and licensed practical nurse. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife and two dogs. This is his first experience with a blog. View all posts by Philip Davis