As I write this, I am looking due west across the reservoir called Abiquiu Lake, straight onto Cerro Pedernal, of Georgia O’Keefe paintings. Our pilgrimage to here has brought us to northern New Mexico for four luxurious nights after our drive south from the Triangle X in Wyoming, barely nine days ago.
Since then, we hopscotched our way south, through a geological treasure chest. Flaming Gorge, a reference to the shear red Moenkopi sandstone that John Wesley Powell first wrote about in the mid-1800s, now has a dam on the Green River. We had visited the dam several years ago so this time, we camped and explored the area for a couple of nights. A herd of pronghorn considered the grassy meadow between our campsite and the water to be home and the antics of the herd offered daily entertainment.
While there, we took one of our most unusual road trips (note that this road is not cleared for T2!). The Sheep Creek Canyon Geological Area (in Utah) winds from the mesa top down to the creek and along its ten miles, you actually drive a road that slices through a cross-section of 400 million years of earth’s history. There are cliffs where the rock seems to have stopped in the midst of a spin, the result of faults and seismic activity of enormous proportions. Solo rock formations stand witness to the forces of water and wind and carry such names as “Tower Rock”. The state of Utah has exhibited a sense of humor in the road signs that give the actual geological terms and subtitle them with phrases like, “Dinosaurs once wandered around here”, and “Huge shark-like creatures once swam here when it was the ocean”. We promised each other that we need to return here because we never got to the highly regarded museum in Vernal. It is an awesome place.
Our journey then brought us to Peter’s beloved Arches National Park. As noted months ago, we scored a site in the park for two nights. We decided it was one of the top sites we’ve ever had. Here in Arches we were nestled right in with the spectacular red rocks. The trail to the right of our site wandered on the other side of the rocks up through small canyons to Broken Arch and completed a loop through juniper and sage meadows with the red sand that I had written about on our May trip here.
We arrived on the day of the Super Moon and the sky was clear, the air cool and deep natural dusk turned to dark as we walked up the hiking path to the red rocks at the top of the hill, waiting for the show to begin. Looking straight east, we saw a long dark mesa with gentle rolling curves, on the horizon. Nothing obstructed the view and since we weren’t sure just where the moon would rise, we had a good long vista. To the south, the LaSal Mountains stood in deep grey silhouettes.
Shortly after 7:00pm, we spotted a brighter pink tint in one of the swells and honed in on that area. It grew very gently brighter and then suddenly, a bright fuschia fingernail shape splashed above the mesa, like a quick stroke of a paintbrush loaded with color. “There it is!”, I remembered saying and as I was speaking, the top curve of the round globe of the rising moon began to slowly present itself.
All the science of a moonrise was inadequate when it came to expressing what we were witnessing. It rose quickly now, its color turning more orange-red as it cleared the mesa. What I felt was both new and ancient. It was somehow known to me as I realized that my response was just one pinpoint in the billions and billions of pinpoints that made up the collective memory of human ancestors witnessing a Super Moon rising.
And then the moon proceeded into eclipse, losing sections to the dark shadow cast by the earth until it glowed deep rust color and began to slowly move beyond the shadow and back into its own luminous reflective face. I didn’t sleep much that night as the re-appearing moon cast long silver shadows upon our little home in the red desert, sending rays of light along the interior of T2. The quiet was deep, and rich, and resonate, and grace-filled.
We had one more night in a beautiful cottonwood grove at a place called Navajo Lake before arriving here in Abiquiu: the home of the Rio Chama which shimmers its way out of the high country on its way to the Rio Grande. Abiquiu: neighbor to Ojo Caliente where we soaked in the waters late on a Thursday afternoon. Abiquiu: downriver from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, a Benedictine oasis of prayer at the end of a 13-mile dirt road and centered on a spectacular chapel designed by George Nakashama. Abiquiu: where Peter fell ill but recovered quickly within the silent and healing space of God’s grandeur.
We continue to be so grateful for this life we have been given, and for you who travel along with us.
Peter and Liz are on a pilgrimage to here across the U.S. in their Airstream.