Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 25- New Mexico & Apache Territory

October 9th 2010 Day 25 Saturday

After enjoying the morning at Great Sand Dunes yesterday we decided to keep going. We had to make sure we would be in California for my twin uncles’ 50th birthday celebration on October 22nd and we still had a ways to go!

From the Mosca, Colorado area, where Great Sand Dunes is, we headed south on Hwy 285 and then cut West on Hwy 17 towards New Mexico. The only exposure I had had to the state was that my aunt and uncle have a home there and I’d seen beautiful pictures from their time there but I’d never actually been. What I pictured was dry desert landscape scattered with tumbleweeds and cacti and a hot, unending sun. I was surprised then when we started winding up into mountains of conifers and aspens as we neared the border.

The border of Colorado and New Mexico wasn't as arid as I had expected.
We finally came to the sign announcing we were entering New Mexico, “The Land of Enchantment.” Evidently it is also the land of shotguns!

Welcome to New Mexico! Land of Shotguns!
Soon after entering this 98 year old state the landscape flattened out and began to more closely resemble the land I had envisioned it being. We had initially wanted to go to Taos and Santa Fe but we wanted to be able to spend at least a week helping out at a ranch in Southern California where some family friends lived so we were constrained for time if we were going to make it to the Bay Area by October 21st. So we kept close to the border with Colorado and drove across the northwest corner of New Mexico. 

I would like the opportunity to return someday and check out Taos and Santa Fe because we did not form a very favorable view of the state with our short experience in it. The roads, at least where we were, weren't that great and it was overall a pretty desolate and lonely stretch of road. We would occasionally pass through settlements on the Jicarillo Apache Indian reservation scattered with dilapidated trailers and worn-looking people. It pains me to say that we passed a billboard boasting that something like "83% of our high school students don't drink and drive!" I did a double take. Was this a statistic to be proud of? Are you telling me that 17% of your underage high schoolers do drink and drive??

We came across a Navajo cultural exhibit that shared space with a Burger King. They had interesting examples of the dwellings that their ancestors had lived in but the irony of one of this fierce Indian tribe sharing land with a Burger King to celebrate their heritage and educate visitors did not escape me. That has been the most depressing aspect of our trip, driving through numerous reservations that all have looked run-down. I would really like the opportunity to speak with a Native American scholar because from what I have seen the state of Native Americans in the USA is extremely tragic, infuriating, and extremely complex considering the history and psychology of the issue as a whole. I have many more thoughts on the issue but before I share them I need to get some outside perspective. It's something you can count on being discussed at a later date, however.

It is a curious landscape in this part of the country. It is generally flat but there are sudden spikes of rock that jut out of the ground, some more dramatic than others.

It was generally a fairly bleak landscape but I like this photo that I took of the interesting geology.
It has been really interesting to contemplate how the world views of people might differ depending on where they are from and what kind of life they know. I feel very fortunate to have been exposed to many different lifestyles and ecosystems. For example, Tyler and I were discussing what it would be like to grow up here, so far from any "civilization" and from any life in general, and how that would affect the way you viewed the world and your place in it. 

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