Mountains & Mesas, Canyons & Clouds of Dust

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Yesterday’s drive across New Mexico into Northwestern Arizona was stunning.  Mesas stretched straight lines across the horizon, with steep sides of white and red and variegated rocks.  Mountains lifted spruce and sage up over the mesa tops into the clear sky.  Wide open plateaus dotted with juniper and pinon spread out as far as we could see, climbed into forests of pine, then descended again to flat vistas with ridges of rocks in the distance.  Hard wind drove across the wide spaces, picking up loose sand and whipping clouds of dust into the sky.

Then we arrived at Canyon de Chelly, a sacred space for the Navajo People.  People have lived in the canyon for over 5,000 years, farming the soil of the canyon bottom and building homes in the alcoves of the canyon walls.  Access to the floor of the canyon is restricted to one public trail or a trip into the miles and miles of canyon with a Navajo guide.  We drove along the South Rim, stopping at overlooks, and hiked down the public trail to the White House ruins, the remains of cliff dwellings.  More than stunning, almost more than we could take in.

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